Under the bushel

I found this video on Youtube recently and wanted to share it with you all…


The video talks about Gordon, a former cabinet maker who found his career ending because of our changing tastes. Our need for a fast, cheap, disposable lifestyle left Gordon without employment and forced onto the streets.

The Salvation Army recently changed the name of their hostels to lifehouses, and I grumbled at the cost of coming up with such a name (I’m a Yorkshire lass who calls a spade a spade). I still don’t think much to the name, but I’m glad we have some places left where homeless people can find their feet.

Although my dissertation and much of my research is on spirituality and textiles, as a lover of the ‘old’ ways and crafts I found this video truly wonderful.

A perfect example of how craft skills can be used for good and for the church. Gordon now volunteers (it’s a shame his unique skills couldn’t end in paid work) at a Salvation Army charity shop in Glasgow.

Then again, is his amazing painting skills, and the willingness for the charity shop to hold a mini gallery.

The real beauty though, is in people putting Gordon’s skills and opportunities together. That’s where the real magic happens.

There seems to be a lack of connection between people and skills, especially in the church. I expect many people are nodding their heads at this, and perhaps some nodding in annoyance feeling unused. (Grrrr, no one ever asks me to take the collection!)

The bitterness of attending a church and feeling as though you have no part to play is soul destroying and maybe even a large part in people feeling church isn’t for them anymore.

The old saying, ‘use me or lose me’ comes to mind.

I want to ask who’s fault is it? but I suspect the ‘blame’ is more a lack of confidence for most of us. We might sit there seeing a void and knowing we could fill it, yet we don’t have the confidence to put ourselves forward.

Some time ago church had a trend of getting folks to complete forms to find out where our gifts lay. Like a cosmopolitan quiz finding your ideal partner, the church quiz decided whether we were a hostess, preacher, listener or one of the dozen other skills the Bible lists. The church then could use the results to funnel it’s congregation into the relevant vacant position. The end hope was that everyone had a place in church and a role that suited their abilities.

It all sounded great, until you look at your individual church and realise what works in one, won’t work in another, besides, they didn’t need a social media guru back then. I always thought a better idea would be for everyone in the church to hand in their CV’s, probably the only document where we are confident enough to be honest (and perhaps boastful).

I think about people like my nephew who studied sound recording at university, yet was never asked to work the sound desk at church. What better option than someone with a degree in the subject?

I wonder whether giving him a job he was good at and enjoyed might have encouraged him to keep turning up on Sundays.

And yet, did the church know? Did they realise they had a professional in their midst?

The Bible says we shouldn’t hide our light under a bushel (Matthew 5:15) but that’s exactly what we do. Our confidence has been knocked by the world (and sometimes the church) and it’s not easy to raise ourselves up and point out our abilities.

We are in need of those miracle people who have the vision to stand in the gap between our ability and the churches need.

That person in Glasgow who figured out Gordon’s skills were just what was needed in the charity shop, that shop worker who spotted his talent as an artist and realised he needed an exhibition.

These are the miracles that bring a man back on his feet, the opportunities that can only be seen by visionaries.


So what next for Gordon?

Perhaps he could design and build a mercy seat that helped disabled people to approach without the option of sitting on it and facing the congregation?

Maybe he could be used to design the facilities at some of the new lifehouses, with his personal experience and craftsmanship.

I’m looking forward to finding out.




The creatives office – EPY week 2

The EPY (Enterprise Year) gives me an office type place of work in Huddersfield, which I aim to work from four days a week. It’s a nice office, quite empty at the moment because many of the other students are still on summer holidays. It also forces me to move from home and play mode to office and work mode.

On the down side, being a creative person, it’s not the most inspiring environment. The colour scheme is very grey, light brown and a touch of muted green. I don’t ‘get’ the hot desking thing. Since it’s everyones nature to sit at the same desk everyday, this idea that we can use any desk seems pointless. There’s nothing personal to identify me as an individual. There’s no plants, no sound, I’ve taken to wearing headphones, even though there’s not always something playing on them. There’s nothing to say “I Was Here”.

I’ve never had a ‘desk job’, I’ve worked in kitchens, restaurants, hotels, hostels, day centres, clubs, even worked at the Magic Circle (Now that’s an interesting workplace!) I always thought I’d hate working in an office, and I’m finding out that it’s true.

A few months ago I had a meeting at the Electric Works in Sheffield, a similar office type place, but with one major difference, a three storey metal slide. It was a long, tough day. Discussing the effects of poverty is never easy and some of us were struggling to see hope by the end of the meetings. A few tears had been shed, frustrations shared, anger, hurt, and despair. What a sorry bunch we were. However, when it was all over we got in the lift and rode to the top floor, then one by one, got on a slide and… well, the video will show you what happened.

My main frustration about having the office space is that it forces me to be organised more than I imagined. But its a good frustration.

I feel as though I have two workspaces, the office in Huddersfield and my creative space in Leeds. I can’t say I’ll spent the morning on paperwork then the afternoon on making things because the commute between the two is too long. I can’t face a dull paper work hour and follow it with a bit of creating because my creating tools are in Leeds. Most frustrating is that I can’t come up with an idea in the office and immediately grab the wool to see if it would work.

I bring a stuffed backpack with me everyday, filled with things I might need to get me through the day and every morning I leave behind a small pile of things I just can’t fit into the bag.

Not all is lost though. This office, plain as it is, is forcing me to sit and write blogs more regularly, it’s forcing me to finally get serious about the workings of my own business. It’s like the skeleton of the business, forcing me to gather my facts on similar business ideas, forcing me to face the financial costs of business.

Lets face it, if I had an office space within 50 feet of my creative space I’d spend my days distracting myself with pretty knits. Sure, I’d make a lot more stock to sell (or would I?), but the backbone, researching the costs of competitors, looking into toy safety laws, being realistic about pricing, those things that will keep a business standing in the long run, those very important things just wouldn’t get done.

It’d be nice to have a plant though, or some fish… cats! what about cats in the office while you work? I like the idea of finishing everyday with a slide, but then… how many days of sliding would it take before that was no longer special? If the extraordinary became ordinary where would we go next?

Perhaps, on reflection, having a slide in the office might not be as fantastic as it seems. I like the sense of fun that a slide brings, but having it everyday would make it ordinary, and that might make it a chore, and adding one more chore to my to do list just takes the enjoyment out of it.



Artwork is Work

This morning I received an email
Hello Joy, 

This morning during Social Services prayers I took the opportunity to ask my colleagues to judge the entries in the logo competition. 

I am delighted to be able to let you know that one of your designs has been chosen and will be the logo for the SAFE Summer School of Arts. 

Unfortunately there is no prize but we will make sure that your name is mentioned. 


With best wishes,


Learning Disability Inclusion Development Manager.

The Salvation Army, Social Services

The Salvation Army have a large group of members with disabilities who choose to become SAFE members (Salvation Army Fellowship of Endeavour) and as a member of the Salvation Army with a disability I paid my yearly £5 to be a member of this group.

Recently a call was put out for someone to design their logo for the SAFE summer school of arts, where SAFE members do arty things like play a brass instrument or sing in a choir (maybe other arty things are included, but I’m not sure).

No prize or reward was mentioned, but since I’m always moaning that church doesn’t include non-music arts I felt obliged to enter. Hooray I won and here is the design which had to be based on the theme, “I am found”.

See! All that debt I’m occurring at Uni is paying off.

I’m glad I won, but it brings me back to the age old question, Is it right for an artist to work for free?

Yes, I know in my last post I spoke about an embroiderers gift to the church in the form of altar cloths, but you only need to type a Google search for Bible and fair wage to see what God thinks. A job well done is deserving of a fair wage.

It’s one of those difficult questions, when is it right to work for free and work for money?

Back in May, Sainsubury’s in Camden got into bother for putting an advert in the paper asking for a budding artist to design and paint their staff canteen. The reward? Getting your work recognised, (by Who, the staff at the checkout?), something to start off your career and build your reputation.

Artists responded with a similar advert asking for a well-stocked supermarket to volunteer to stock artists kitchens with food to build their reputations.

Two years earlier a similar story circled the Internet of a big bucks company asking artists to apply for a ‘competition’ and at least the winner got a flight to Vegas.

Now, before any of you get cross with me, I know the competition didn’t offer a prize, I know it wasn’t a paid job and I know that I didn’t have to enter if I didn’t want to.

All valid points, but hear me out.

Do you think a Christian composer of worship music works for free? No, that’s why every church has to pay for a music license. Worship composers get commissions on their work.

Our church regularly plays short videos made by visual artists during their services, some I expect are ‘borrowed’ from the Internet, but the creator of the video won’t be seeing credit or commission for their work. They won’t be receiving a little cheque at the end of the year because yet again we’ve watched the little heart logo video on Sunday.

Even a preacher gets a fair wage, and rightly so.

What really bugs me is that I spent several hours designing a logo for free, to be used by a Christian charity that has a bit of money, for a weeks holiday which I can’t afford. 

Maybe I should talk more on this blog about living in poverty. About having the government take away my disability payments (although I went to court Tuesday and have won my disability payments back without the judge even needing to see me). 

I should talk about what it’s like to not even have enough money to pay for the meal at church (which is made for the poor of the community) or how hard I laughed when watching a documentary three nights ago on how Londoners are paying for expensive bone broth (bovril to you and me) as a snack, when I’m having a mug of chicken bovril as my evening meal. 

Or how I spent most of yesterday afternoon in bed because hunger is easier to manage when your asleep.

But don’t worry, because the folks who can pay for a holiday will be able to be more blessed because I’ve worked for free.

I feel like sending a photo of my empty fridge and cupboards as a thank you response.

But you’re right, no prize was offered… Because visual arts isn’t valued in the church.

Last week, whilst designing a future pattern I was in the Leeds Parish Church, it was a nice visit and I had a free cup of tea, which they had no idea how much that was needed and appreciated. More about that visit in another post I think.

There are some beautiful textiles in the church but as I walked around I caught an image which just sums up how I often feel the church, especially the Salvation Army, considers designers and artists. Opposite the huge organ, which is one of the first things I noticed when I walked in the door, was a large wooden cabinet and behind that was a piece of artwork, well, let me just show you the photo…

I’m sure the people who spent time painting whatever is behind the cabinet are feeling very proud that their offering to the church has been so well received.
1. Artists advert to supermarkets. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/sainsburys-asked-artists-free-work-so-artists-asked-sainsburys-free-food-171529
2. Artists response to call out for free work because they dig his style. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/meet-hero-designer-who-publicly-shamed-showtime-asking-him-work-free-159579

Crayon Play 1

We started with a video from Mathery studio…


They re-created crayons and turned them into wearable tools for play.

So we made our own at University.


Here’s the instructions if you want to make your own.

Doc 18-03-2015 10-43 AM1

Doc 18-03-2015 10-44 AM1

This got me thinking.

What else could I do with crayons…

This got me thinking…

What else could I do with crayons?

Two Designer Makers

Following on from my comments regarding naked Barbies in charity shops I’ve decided to compare 2 designer makers who make use of these dolls in a creative way.

Margaux Lange – www.margauxlange.com (All images are from her website)

A jewellery designer I’ve been watching for some time, partly because of my love of Babies and partly for my love of silver jewellery.

Her jewellery, well, it speaks for itself…


Hand crafted sterling silver bezel with parts of Barbie and Ken inlaid and a resin heart.

I look at her work and am amazed how she comes up with the concept. How do you see Barbie breasts and see a love heart?


Margaux says

Whether you love her or hate her, there are few who feel neutral about the plastic princess. I’m fascinated with who she is as a pop culture icon, her distinguished celebrity status, and the enormous impact she has had on our society.

I enjoy the funny juxtaposition of wearing the body, on the body. Barbie has become the accessory instead of being accessorized. I take pleasure in the contrast and contradiction of transforming something mass-produced into unique, handmade, wearable pieces of art.

Lange, M. (2015). Artist statement. Retrieved from http://www.margauxlange.com/.

G Jarvis – www.etsy.com/uk/shop/gjarvisjewelryetc – Images from the website

Jarvis also uses thrown away dolls as jewellery inspiration and at first glance you might be mistaken for taking both designers as one person.


The above ‘Island girl’ necklace is made using a Barbie face using a bottle cap as a bezel and resin, glitter and metal flowers.


Her Barbie and Ken compositions are also made from plastic bezels and resin. Barbie has long been criticised for her unrealistic body shape but both Barbie and Ken would be in need of surgery to get into these positions.

Jarvis calls her work bottle cap art and hopes it makes people laugh.

When comparing the two designers there is quite a lot to learn about the business of a designer maker.

Both Jarvis and Lange have an Etsy shop, but Lange also has a website with artist statements and a press page. She has a professional look and calls her work as the Plastic body art series.

Jarvis jewellery is very similar, but there is little information about Jarvis as a designer, what her inspiration was, how she came to use dolls.

The materials used by each designer is different with one using sterling silver and one using recycled plastic bottle tops.

The final difference is in the price.

Both designers have a similar earring product.

Langes simple hand earrings use hand crafted sterling silver settings. I can’t find a current price for the earrings but her jewellery average £50-£150.


Jarvis has similar earrings, Barbie hands with plastic caps and surgical steel ear wires. They cost £7.48


Two designers both with similar ideas but it’s the finish of the product, the materials used, the story of the item and artist that makes one worth 5 times more than the other.

Where do ideas come from? Risk Taking

In the search for ideas for designer makers we looked at risk taking at Uni.

Do I take risks?

Probably not much these days, which is awful.

We tried two techniques for risk taking to come up with ideas.

The Dice game

Make 2 dice and write on each side a word like dots, flowers, glasses.

Also write a list of things – wood, flower, food, crayons…

Roll each dice twice and jot down what you come up with

I got Flowers, Motif, glasses, bright hair

Now go out and find two people that fit the description of the words.





We were lucky, these two were walking into Uni together.

Now take your list of things and ask each person to choose a word from the list



Now using the words you’ve been given make something.

I found this flower on the internet


Image: Unknown, . (2013). . , Whollies Website: http://wholles.com/smiling-white-flower.html.

There’s a good reason why everything has to be done through the computer at the moment… I’ve broken my ankle and am at my mums. I only have my computer with me.

A little bit of Photoshop time and I come up with this…


I’m not too keen on Tie-Dye and my photoshop skills grow slowly.

But then I’ve been meaning to look more at Shibori knitting and this might be the right time.

On the knitting machine I made a square of stocking stitch from British wool, Using a shibori (tie-dye) technique I tied 2p coins in the wool and washed it.

Then I dyed it one colour! Oh No, you can’t tie-dye in one colour…


I’ve already had two people asking for a scarf like this, so I guess that idea was worth it.

Where do ideas come from?

Where do ideas come from?

How do I come up with ideas?

Thinking about my most popular pattern, my little crochet doll


How did I decide to make a doll pattern?

Well, I suppose the main reason was not finding what I wanted and seeing a need.

I remembered as a child I loved dolls and had Barbie, Sindy and Pippa dolls galore, I had many dolls, but a couple favourites and clothes aplenty. I regularly visit toy shops because I collect dolls and like to know what’s popular,

One thing I noticed was the lack of clothing for dolls, specifically Barbie dolls. It seemed if you wanted a new outfit you had to buy the doll to go along with it. One problem with this is that while an outfit could be pocket money prices a new doll isn’t. I also noticed the growing trend in charity shops of naked Barbies.

Times have not changed. Children might have many dolls but only a few favourites and they still want clothes aplenty. Since you couldn’t buy dolls clothes anymore used dolls are passed on without clothing, which explained the mass naked Barbie shelves in second hand shops.

For the doll companies it makes money sense not to make clothes, why sell a chef outfit for £3 when you can sell the chef doll for £15?

Or maybe the giants at the top of the doll market forgot what it was like to play. Even action man was better back then, a human doll with many outfits.

I watched children playing and saw the same thing over and over. A child got a doll, undressed it and dressed it.

That’s what children liked.

What we needed was a doll with a huge wardrobe and that’s why I started the crochet doll pattern.

Going back to traditional play values I made a simple doll with a few adjustments, the hair colour is integrated onto the scalp so young children don’t have hair to chew on, but hair can be added as the child grows. There are two body shapes, one with a waist and small bust and one simple body for parents who don’t want shaped dolls as role models.

I speak to children and find out what they want to be and check toy shops for trends in play. Kids want fairies, princesses and mermaids but shops are filled with goth and ghost dolls. I might make a goth outfit at somepoint, but I’m sticking with what the kids tell me they want.

As with other creations my Tardis bag came from teaching myself a bit of electronics. Where can I use my new skill in making lights work?


My crochet dummy pattern came from a request by a doll shop owner


My Suarez mask came from a joke in the pub!


But on the whole my ideas come from…

What I love – Dolls, bears, crochet, fun…

What is needed – clothes for dolls, dolls that are cute, something to stop footballers biting other players

Skills I can do – Crochet, clay, electronics

Designer Makers I like

Here’s a list of designer makers I like. They might not be big names, or money making wonders and might never be exhibitors but I like them.

For me a designer maker is someone who makes things to sell and not a huge scale exhibitor, I like the idea of small time local designer makers.

Crochet Designer Makers

Denizmum – aka Ulku Akcam

Image: Akcam, U. . , Etsy:https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/69189992/amigurumi-16-inc-miniature-giraffe?ref=shop_home_active_19.

I like her style of cute crochet and has an ability to create animals and people in great detail.

Irene Strangehttp://www.irenestrange.co.uk/

Image: Strange, I. (2010). Ladybird Purse. ,http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lola-the-ladybird—-amigurumi-coin-purse.

Irene Strange was one of the first amigurumi crocheters I fell in love with. As with many designers I found several patterns I liked and realised they were from the same person.

Irene’s style is recognised for her use of colour and kitch style animals. Her ladybird pattern was one of the first patterns I bought, easy to understand and includes little details like lining and the tiny ladybird on the zip.

Felt Designer Makers

Ginger Melon

GingerMelon, . . , Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Gingermelon?ref=l2-shopheader-name.

I love her felt patterns and dolls that you can dress.

Polymer Clay Designer Makers

Odd Fae – Dawn M Schiller – http://www.oddfae.blogspot.co.uk/

Image: Schiller, D.M. (2015). . , Etsy:https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/222063646/ooak-pocketwatch-oddfae-fairy-troll?ref=shop_home_feat_2.

Christi Friesen – http://www.christifriesen.com/

Image: Friesen, C. (2015). . , Website: http://www.christifriesenart.com/beads-s/1867.htm.

Clay Designer Makers

Kevin Hickson – https://www.facebook.com/kevin.hickson.397

Image: Hickson, K. (2015). . , Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/kevin.hickson.397.

Beth Smith  – https://www.facebook.com/bethandoscar?fref=ts

Image: Smith, B. (2015). . , Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/bethandoscar?fref=ts.

And finally…

Betty Viragohttps://bettyvirago.com/

Images: All my own work

I can’t really make a list of designer makers without adding myself, can I?

I always describe myself as a yarn spinner, but what fills my time is making dolls. So maybe I should start calling myself a doll maker, or maybe I should stop trying to label everything and just say I like making things.

The role of the Commercial Designer

We have been looking at the role of the commercial designer for the past six weeks. A commercial designer is hired to design new ideas for a customer, but much more than that.

 Textile design covers a wide range of areas with clothing being just a part of the industry. Everything from seating and carpets to clerical vestments have been carefully designed and thought through by a commercial designer.

A good commercial designer needs to be versatile enough to work with a variety of companies and products. They need to be able to understand the concepts of other designers, brands and companies, yet be able to work alone or in a team and be confident at bringing their own ideas forward.

When a commercial designer receives a brief they need to be able to consider the beliefs and specifications of the brand they are working for. Considerations need to be kept in mind such as cost, timescale and sustainability. Does the brand have specific requirements in materials used? What is the product used for and does the material stand up to the job it is designed for?

A commercial designer needs to be constantly researching to keep aware of trends and innovations in design. Studying trend resources such as WGSN and style blogs, attending trade shows like Premiere Vision.

A good understanding of the market you are designing for is essential, but you should also have a good knowledge of the market as a whole. If you are designing for a high street brand you need to be aware of other high street retailers, but also fashion from other sectors like haute couture. Keeping as wide a knowledge base as possible helps to bring more ideas and new concepts to the brief.

Keeping in touch with the competition is a good way of seeing what has worked and not done so well, regular competition shopping and web browsing helps to know where other brands are going and when changes happen. Trend spotting helps you see what local trends are developing amongst the local community another way to involve consumers in the process is through focus groups and interviews that help give you a perspective on what people are looking for.


Image courtesy : http://www.future-fashion-design.eu/portals/0/Images/ffd_concept.png

Finally, with all the information gathered, a designer needs to bring the concept through to a design idea. You need to be able to communicate your idea to others both on the design team and other teams who may or may not initially understand your idea. The confidence to speak out for something you believe in, yet the willingness to listen to comments on your work with an open mind is vital to the process. To be able to take on board criticism and use it to re-create a better product will only help in the long run.

Once the design process had ended and the product is finished and on the shop floor the commercial designer needs to assess the process, finding out what worked well and what needed improving.

Three Artists – In a 3D world

Johan Carpner www.johancarpner.se originally trained and worked as a graphic designer before the birth of his son helped guide him towards his current style. He describes his inspiration as “wilderness in nature”, the tangle of plants growing and the eventual beauty that grows from the tangled mess – Bringing order into chaos.


His lamps create a magical sense of looking up, out of the forrest, I can almost imagine the reflections on walls and floors as the twisting of the stems moves you from home to the forrest.


Nina Jobs seems to have an incredible ability to create a 3D look with 2D imagery.


She works with a variety of skilled professions to create products loved by both architects, interior designers and consumers. My favourite product has to be the carafe.


The glass ball shaped lid fits under the carafe to create a whole new way of looking at the product.

My final designer of the three, Angel Chang, integrates clothing with electronics and intelligent dyes. Her thermochromatic dyes that she weaves into fabric brings new life and colour when worn or breathed upon.


I’ve been looking at adding electronics to textiles for some time, and am currently working on adding an MP3 player to a hoodie (just waiting for some parts to arrive and I can put it together) but Angel’s work takes e-textiles to a whole new style. Several people have managed the music in a hoodie project, but she does it with a style that is attractive to a whole new consumer, not just the nerdy geek!


Hope you enjoy these three designers.

Johan Carpner images from www.johancarpner.se

Nina Jobs images from www.ninajobs.se

Angel Chang images from http://www.crunchwear.com