Thursday, April 29, 2010

Designer Interview starring Angela Cuthill of ArtySmarty (with rather fabulous giveaway!)

Angela is originally from Tasmania (!)and has lived in Dublin (with some long visits home in between) for the last ten years. She studied ceramics and fine art, followed by an MA in art curation. Her husband is Irish and they live in a pretty house on Primrose Avenue. She set up her lovely company ArtySmarty in the last year- creating jewelery, bags and other quirky items.

As a giveaway there is one of Angela's latest necklaces..
Be sure to leave a comment and you just might receive it in the post!

What are you working away on at the moment?
I have been going through a major bag and ‘pocket’ making moment recently. There are some beautiful fabrics available and I want to make useful items so people can enjoy beautiful pattern, design and colour in their everyday life. Things like i-phone covers, business covers, sunglasses cases and tiny tote bags can brighten up dull objects.

Who are your favourite designers and artists?
I have a strong visual art background so my favourites would be more traditional fine arts, say, painting and sculpture. Three big ones for me are;
Michael Morris
Richard Wastell
Ricky Swallows

What are your secret resource websites or blogs!?
Well, my most useful website resource for supplies would have to be Etsy they have all sorts of bits and bobs to buy and I love seeing all of the amazing work that other people are producing and selling on the site. I also spend a lot of time checking out blogs, Etsy Ireland, which is a collective of Irish crafters who sell on Etsy and meet up and discuss ideas have a super blog. They post really user friendly info on how to take great photos of your stuff, how-to’s and any other number of subjects.

What do you love most about what you do?
Flexibility would have to be the big one and of course the creativity. If one day I feel like making bags then I can, if I am working elsewhere I can take my laptop and work on some marketing or new designs. I guess we all want variety in our jobs and a sense of satisfaction when we complete something, I think you get that, especially so, when you have something tangible at the end of your working day.

What's the first thing you remember making?
When I was very small I was bought an air-dry clay kit by my parents that had all of the materials to make some kind of animal figure that you could paint when it dried. I can remember exactly what the figure looked like, some kind of cat, but I loved it so much I went into full production and they were all over the house!

Is the contrast of your subject matter intentional, for example robots and ladies in their undergarments?
I have kind of a wide interest area and I think this is reflected in the work that I produce, while it’s not really intentional. Some days I think I should narrow down the scope of what I do and specialize more but I seem to be getting more ideas as I progress rather than finding one I want to concentrate on.

Your future dreams and plans?
Business wise, I’d like to stock my work in shops all over Ireland and perhaps begin to think about the U.K. and Australia as well. I’d be pretty happy if I could carry on in the future with the same amount of creative freedom that I have now. 

Your thoughts on the design scene in Ireland? Positives and negatives!
There is some amazing contemporary design work being produced in Ireland and it would be great to see them valued more highly. And Ireland is relatively small, which makes it all pretty competitive. I think an outsiders view of Irish design would be more traditional crafts like pottery but there is so much more out there and it’s a shame it’s not better represented.

Where can your work be purchased?
There is a few different options, you can buy direct from my e-commerce site

Or if you don’t trust the modern wonders of the internet I am stocked in a few shops;
MayFly 64 Pleasants Place (next to the Cake Café off Camden Street)
The Irish Design Shop Bow Lane East
Se Si in Temple Bar
Om Diva in the Georges Street Arcade
And if you happen to be in Waterford, Ardmore Pottery and Craft Shop.

I also go to the Dublin Flea Market which happens on the last Sunday of the month in New Market Square, off Cork Street, Dublin 8 each month.

And last of all could you draw an interpretation of 'DesignFingers'!?

Many thanks Angela!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Create your very own inspiration

It's vital to feel excited when you are starting a new project- to be eager to start work on it. Be that due to what you envisage the final work will look like, or what you are using for a starting point or inspiration.

Creating your own inspiration can be very rewarding indeed. A couple summers ago I was commissioned to do a group of designs that involved farm animals. I was finding it very tough to get into the project and realized I needed to create some inspiration for myself. So I organized a trip and visited an lovely organic farm and photographed some obligingly photogenic animals! You can only imagine how easy the project was after that. Its often worth taking the time to create great starting points.. plus it can be hugely enjoyable!

Slightly wary..

Much more at ease, preparing for the photo.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Perfect for lazy Sunday mornings

I'm loving getting up to brighter (and often sunnier!) mornings. But as I still relish a sleep in on the weekend a sleeping mask can be very handy, so I decided to create a prettier one-, modeled here by my kind boyfriend. Once you try these you will be completely won over and it's a very simple project indeed!

So you need thread, elastic, fabrics for the back and front of your mask (so it's reversible), thin padding for the middle ( I used thin wool fabric) and your shape cut out on paper. Baking paper is a handy substitute for pattern paper.
To draw out your sleeping mask shape make sure its symmetrical by folding it down the center and cutting it out that way. You can find further shapes on google images- 'sleeping mask pattern'.

Lay down your fabrics and elastic-
Firstly your 2 fabrics with the print/correct sides facing in on themselves.
Inside your patterned fabrics is your elastic. For the length place it around the back of your head, reaching from one temple to the other and add a couple cms. You want it snug but not tight. So it's inside your fabrics with the ends poking out each side
Then on the bottom the wool fabric/padding.

Now trace around your mask shape. You can do this in pencil as you won't see it.
Keep in mind that if the printed fabrics are stripes or a geometric design that you have them laid out correctly.

Now a simple running stitch on the machine along the pencil line, taking the pins out before you reach them. Go nice and slowly around the curves, and leave a gap at the top or side of about 4 cm/3 finger width.

Now trim around your sewn shape, leaving about a cm of fabric remaining.

This is the back of the mask, with the wool fabric/padding. In case the fabric buckles a little later make some cuts ,through all the layers, at the tight curve where the nose will be. But don't get too close to the stitches!

Now turn your mask inside out! Little fiddly. Then iron it, also neatly ironing the unstitched edges in preparation for hand stitching.

Choose thread that blends in with your fabric, knot the end and insert it up under the fabric so the knot is hidden. You are now going to stitch neat diagonal tacking stitches the whole way along the gap. This is the same hand stitch as used in the make bunting project.

Keep the stitches nice and small! And try to hide the knot at the end. You can always push it between the fabrics with the head of a pin. Remember you can also leave your gap along one of the sides.

One of the fabrics I used was a print of my own, and this was fabric left over from altering a skirt. Enjoy your Sunday sleep ins and naps!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Taking work all the way..

Apologies for the belated post! I'm sure you'll forgive me when you feast your eyes on the following-
Recently I've happened upon these two artist's and their amazing and inspirational work. Maren Esdar and AJ Fosik. Though their work is completely and utterly different, there is a common thread between them- they have taken their own unique style and way of working and explored it to its extremes. By staying with it and seeing where it will take them, they have created a amazing body of work. So wherever your design or art work leads you- stick with it!
In the case of Maren Esdar her work graced many a page in my notebooks in college. There is a sense of ephemeral, fleeting beauty in her illustrations, combined with the playful and bizarre.
A student of mine had recently created some collages that brought Esdars work to mind and thus I found her site and rediscovered her work. She currently resides in Hamburg and you can find many a beautiful illustration on her website,

AJ Fosik's creatures need their very own film to star to in. I'm truly blown away by these creations. I'm inclined to call them 'pretend monsters', or 'pretty monsters', as there really is something pretty and secretly charming about them. The combination of playful colors and rows of teeth/eyes/ jagged edges is brilliant . These sculptures are so satisfying to the eye- the colors, the perfect symmetry, the detailed layered. Delicious. He is currently is based in Philadelphia and had a solo show in San Francisco last year. Maybe London could be his next stop as it's slightly closer to home?