Add a touch of craft to your home thanks to your north London neighbours
PUBLISHED: 17:05 20 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:45 20 October 2016
Finding each other has helped one group of north London makers collaborate and launch new businesses from humble hobbies. Now Muswell Hill Creatives are going on tour. Catch them at a craft fair near you this autumn.
“You don’t immediately think of Muswell Hill as a creative place but actually it is there’s a lot going on,” says ceramicist Isabella Lepri.
Bitten by the ceramics bug through evening classes, Lepri later installed a potter’s wheel at home. But it was a solitary pursuit until a chance encounter in the playground of her children’s primary school two years ago.
Approached by Muswell Hill Creatives’ founder, Rachael Booth-Clibborn, she jumped at the chance to participate.
“It’s the best thing that’s happened to me for a long time. It’s allowed me to develop as a maker,” Lepri explains.
“I work on my own at home so having the Creatives is a real breath of fresh air for ideas and development.”
As well as sharing contacts and knowledge about events, business development and online shops, Lepri has also developed a creative partnership through the group.
Seeing their items displayed alongside each other at a pop up event at fringe 108 in Alexandra Park, Lepri and Rob Jones discovered that her vases worked very well as bases for his shibori (a traditional Japanese method of resist dyeing fabric to create beautifully intricate patterns) lampshades.
The duo are now launching a debut range of lamps at Made London in Marylebone this weekend.
Jones uses recycled Japanese kimono silk or vintage French linen (“I like to re-use things if I can”, he says) coloured with natural dyes including indigo, madder and Brazil wood to create his seductively patterned and coloured lampshades.
Working together, the pair whittled their selection down to a choice of colour ways and finishes for the shades and the pear-shaped bases, which can be mixed and matched – the blue-green glaze with pink shade is a particularly covetable pairing, although the unglazed black with monochrome shibori comes a close second.
Jones, who trades as Romor Designs, also credits Muswell Hill Creatives with opening all sorts of doors for him beyond the lamp collaboration since he decided to pursue a career in textiles full time.
“One of the great things about the group is the interconnections. Things happen to you because you’re part of the group,” he says.
“We share a lot of information about various fairs and craft pop up shops I’ve ended up doing.”
From supporting each other on social media, to swapping craft skills and finding studio space, the group has proved invaluable to Jones.
“Being in Muswell Hill Creatives has catapaulted my business from a standing start in March.
“Now I’m at Made London, I’m teaching workshops and I’m thinking about my detailed business plan for next year.”
Other Muswell Hill Creatives for interiors fans to watch out for
Austrian Martina Latimer, aka at sarah’s, spent a decade working in business administration but after falling for patchwork started at sarah’s in 2012. She makes bespoke cushions, bed runners and patchwork quilts using traditional techniques and has recently added baby quilts to her range.
From her base in Muswell Hill, Samantha Sweet makes hand blown and cut glass milk bottles and tumblers, which are now stocked in Liberty, Conran and Selfridges. With 20 years glass working experience behind her, Sweet uses traditional skills to make contemporary pieces.
Liz Harrap Horton
Liz Harrap Horton handmakes cards featuring natural designs drawn from time spent in her Muswell Hill garden or on holiday in Cornwall. The bold, colourful designs are produced using linocut and letterpress in her home studio and can be commissioned as well as bought off the peg.
Elvira van Vredenburgh
Having set up and run a print studio selling her own and other designers’ work to fashion and furnishing companies worldwise, Elvira van Vredenburgh has now branched out on her own to create and sell greetings cards and gift wrap featuring her designs, including signature bird pieces.
Where to find members of Muswell Hill Creatives this autumn
Made London, One Marylebone, NW1, October 20-23
Renegade Craft Fair, November 5 and 6 2016, The Old Truman Brewery (Rachel Orme, Elvira van Vredenburgh)
Craft Central Colour Saturation pop up, November 7-13 (Romor Designs and Isabella Lepri)
Much Ado Books, Alfriston, East Sussex pop up shop, November 12 and 13
Crafty Fox Winter Market, Oval Space, Bethnal Green, November 19 (Elvira van Vredenburgh)
Muswell Hill Creatives Winter Market, St James’s Square, N10, November 26
Etsy Christmas Market, Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre, December 3 (Romor Designs, Wyckoff Smith Jewellery). December 4 (at sarah’s, Elvira van Vredenburgh, Wyckoff Smith Jewellery)
Crafty Fox Christmas Market, The Dogstar, Brixton, December 3 (Elvira van Vredenburgh)
MHC at Fringe Christmas pop up, 108 Alexandra Park Road, N10, December 9-17
Urban Makers East Christmas Market, Mile End Ecology Pavillion, December 10 (Rob Jones). December 11, (Elvira van Vredenburgh)