Meet the Maker – Nina Falk & Adam Robertson of Kalopsia Collective

What is your greatest achievement so far, and what are you particularly proud?

Kalopsia has been part of various projects from making costumes for international circus performance groups, lecturing and teaching at a variety of universities and research departments, developing galleries and exhibition projects to environmental feasibility studies, hosting the Scottish Government’s “Circular Economy” launch 2016 and showcasing textiles print at venues such as Premier Vision in Paris there is a lot to be proud of.

15590954_1140412012746166_7769644258980217729_o

How would you describe what you do?

Kalopsia is a forward thinking Textiles Micro-Manufacturing company which is pushing the boundaries of what and how Textiles production should look like.

– In 2012, Kalopsia began asking the question “What is Textiles?”.And now, four years later, we keep questioning our industry with goals to increase awareness and knowledge of ecological, ethical and sustainable Textiles.
This background may seem unconventional but our aims are simple:

We believe a sustainable industry is vital to the future of Scottish textiles. We believe that we are ergonomic and we take active steps to ensure that textile waste is kept to a minimum. Working alongside designers, we encourage a made-to-order production which is more economical and less wasteful. Kalopsia encourages a culture of rejecting mass produced, poorly made ‘fast fashion’ and favours high quality textiles that have been made with craftsmanship and skill from concept to manufacture.

We offer low volume, high quality, bespoke manufacturing services here in Edinburgh for anyone in the UK and beyond.

Describe your work space?

It’s a clean white space with two rooms one at the front for all the admin with storage and a comfy arm chair upholstered by the amazing Eve from Native Flok in one of our “Konstrukt” fabrics. The other room is our production and sewing space which has is a light and airy room with high ceilings; there is always one of our designers work in progress on the cutting table and a hanging rail with prototypes of the new garment range we’re currently working on.

When do you work best, are you up with the lark or a night owl?

We are not morning people so we have to have a couple of hours in the morning to start the day. This normally begins with two cups of coffee and a discussion about the day, the work load, meeting notes and ‘to-do’ lists. As we are not only colleagues, we are “conveniently” married too, we can stay up and work all evening if we need too…which is probably the time we are the most creative.

us-2

How do you overcome designers block?

When we notice something that frustrates us. When we feel that something isn’t ‘right’, that weirdly feeds our creativity as much as a great film or exhibition.

Where did your love for design originally develop from, what or who, have been your influences?

We met in Norwich in 2009 whilst studying Textiles at Norwich University of the Arts. Adam, is a Pattern and Graphic designer coming from a family background in garment manufacturing and design with his mum being a head seamstress for Marks and Spencer’s underwear back in the day. Nina’s love for design really started in 2001 after a ‘Fashion, Tailor’ degree in Sweden. She later began her first fashion label and shop almost 14 years ago in Stockholm and has since been making products for music videos and TV personalities.

Your home is on fire, what is the one thing you save from the blaze?

Adam’s is obvious – his xbox or Benji (his teddy) and Nina’s would be a necklace from my grandmother.

In terms of procrastination, what are you doing, when you should be doing something else?

Binge watching good series on Netflix (Like most people?) But It’s also amazing how much you can get done when you’re trying to avoid doing the one thing you should be doing. We’re probably built more of Kalopsia whilst trying to avoid the one thing that needed to be done than anything else!

img_2458

Food & drink: We like our food!

It’s been a long week, what’s in your glass (or mug) on a Friday night.

Red wine or a local beer (some times gin but that’s mostly Adam!)

You have clients coming round, do you bake or buy in the treats to go with your tea/coffee, what are they and why?

Neither of us bake which means we probably would buy something. Nina doesn’t like chocolate but we both like “Prinsesstårta” (Princess cake) which is a traditional Swedish whipped cream and green marzipan cake, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and often decorated with a pink marzipan rose.

img_6023

Music: What’s on your Studio Play list:

In the studio we listen to a lot of blues, soul, jazz, funk and psychedelic rock (Nina’s favourite) but really what we are always looking for are those few tracks that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up like ‘Alexander – Truth’ or ‘Major Lazer – Jessica’ or ‘Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Into my arms’ and ‘Leo Kottke – Girl from the North Country (the cover is on Youtube, it can be a bit hard to come by.)

Advice: A few pearls of wisdom here.

 

What is the best advice, you’ve ever been given, business, creative or both and who gave it to you.

– “Don’t start your company on the 16th of March, it will wreck havoc with your tax returns. “- ‘Our accountant’

– Start now, don’t wait, even if your studying or in another job.

15111106_1101072716680096_4798084881770362748_o

If you were starting out again now, what advice would you give your younger self?

“Don’t let people get to you that you don’t respect.” It was said to us a few years back by our mentor and something we keep reminding ourselves when times are hard.

We like to hear about new and up and coming designer and artists, can you recommend someone new that we should know about, and why do you like their work?

It’s so hard to pick, it feels like we are at the start of a massive shift in British design and manufacturing. There will not just be one there will be a wave of new and ground breaking brands, designers and creators taking us by storm over the next few years. We are just so excited to be part of it. A good thing with our job is that we are exploring new designers almost daily.

What is it that draws you to work with fabric and what benefits to your process does Digital Printing bring?

In our in-house textiles print collection “Konstrukt” we are playing with colour and textures and this is when Digital print is vital to us when using such wide ranges of colour. We, like many others, get very excited to see our prints and ideas come to life. A lot of the work we are doing involves colour ways and details that would be impossible to print using traditional methods, so being able to digitally print allows us to take our computer generated ideas and bring them in to a physical world without compromising the design.

And lastly, whose words inspire you, a quote to live life by?

“We don’t really do quotes. Quotes are for the weak, like IQ tests or washing your hands” us

 

If you want to find out more about Kalopsia you can find them in all these lovely places too:

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : Blog

Meet the Maker – Sky Procter of Sky Siouki

What is your greatest achievement so far, and what are you particularly proud?

Getting through to the interview stage of Liberty’s Best of British Open Call at the beginning of the year was pretty exciting. I got to show my products to managing director Ed Burstell himself and the head homewares buyer! They were very impressed by the quality of my work but said the colours were perhaps a little too subtle for Liberty.

It has also felt like a big achievement just to have produced lots of new designs and products in the past year. I’ve made a big effort to somewhat re-brand Sky Siouki over the last year with my launch of the Flight collection and new ranges of cards, tea towels, mugs, notebooks and zip pouches more recently. It has been a real success so I feel very proud of myself for using what I’d learnt in the early years of running my business to my advantage and pushing things forward without giving up when the going got tough.

How would you describe your work?

My work is very hand-rendered and nature inspired – I’d say those are the two key elements. Nature has always been my biggest inspiration since I just love animals and the countryside. I’m also very inspired by Shilo Engelbrecht and Jessica Zoob’s textiles for Romo plus painters like Cy Twombly and Madeline Denaro. Although I trained as a printed textile designer I have since evolved into more of an illustrator than anything else but I will always hold a place in my heart for texture and fabric. I just use pencil to draw my illustrations. I’m an awful perfectionist so each bird or animal tends to take me days as I insist on doing it all by eye but the result always feels so worth it.

I also paint all the abstract artworks placed behind my illustrations which involve a whole range of media including oil and acrylic paint, gold leaf, collaged papers, charcoal, pastel and graphite. I love this part because it’s such a contrast to the highly detailed drawings  do, in both appearance and process. It’s a much more expressive and free process which can feel really therapeutic. I do try to stick to a colour palette since this was deemed very important during my degree in textile design. I feel like my designs wouldn’t hold together as a collection without at least a rough set of hues to guide me. I love using pops of rich, vibrant colour amongst more earthy subdued tones.

Describe your work space?

My dining table! I work from home which is great for flexibility although it can mean I’m not very good at stopping work for the day sometimes. I have a couple of large shelves either side of the table where I keep most of my files, materials and stock. I am beginning to outgrow the space so a studio may be on the cards soon.

When do you work best, are you up with the lark or a night owl?

Somewhere in the middle. I make sure to get up fairly early every weekday and start my day at the gym as it makes me feel more energised for the day. Because I work from home I make the most of the time that I have the place to myself whilst my boyfriend is at his job during the weekdays and then usually try to wrap things up by dinner time so I have some relaxing time in the evenings. That kind of goes out the window at busy times like Christmas but I do my best to keep up a routine as it helps me stay disciplined.

barn-owl-cushion

How do you overcome designers block?

To be honest it’s not something I tend to experience very much. I certainly have off days when I just seem to be a bit slow or the work I produce isn’t my best but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I always put on my favourite music and burning incense also often helps me to get immersed in what I’m doing. Good daylight helps too, I find it hard to focus working on dark dreary days.

Where did your love for design originally develop from, what or who, have been your influences?

My mum is a fine artist and my dad used to be a graphic designer so I’ve certainly been influenced by growing up in a creative environment. My mum has always encouraged me to come to life drawing classes and visit galleries with her. I’ve always loved the work of a lot of 20th century painters like Monet, Klimt and Schiele but my interest in design has probably evolved as I’ve gotten older and become more interested in having my own home. I’m such a sucker for homewares… just can’t resist a pretty little bowl or a vibrantly printed tea towel. I’m always drawn in by the colour and the feel of a product.

drawing-finished

Your home is on fire, what is the one thing you save from the blaze?

So I hate to be cliched, but it’d have to be my childhood teddy bear. He’s called Guardian Bear and I’ve had him since I was born. He looks a little worse for wear these days but I’m scared he wouldn’t survive the washing machine.

Save from the fire.JPG

In terms of procrastination, what are you doing, when you should be doing something else?

Haha, well… all the obvious ones I guess! Pinning on Pinterest, scrolling through Instagram, online shopping, or googling some random question that’s sprung to mind. I pass a few charity shops on the short walk to the Post Office so that can often be a distraction, and if none of the above I’ll probably just be leering at the contents of my fridge or nibbling on cheese – not sure if easy access to cheese is a pro or a con of working from home.

drawing-process

Food & drink: We like our food!

It’s been a long week, what’s in your glass (or mug) on a Friday night.

Depends how I feel. Most weeks I’m quite content with a mug of Pukka tea, really love the Turmeric Gold they do. I don’t drink an awful lot these days but if I do, it has to be gin. My favourites are Martin Millers or 6 O’Clock Gin with a tasty tonic.

You have clients coming round, do you bake or buy in the treats to go with your tea/coffee, what are they and why?

I love to bake so I’d have to bake the treats myself, nothing beats homemade! I’d probably go for my banana carrot muffins as they’re oaty and wholesome so not overly sweet if it’s still a bit early in the day for cake.

Music: What’s on your Studio Play list:

Physical Track: Sexual Healing – Hot 8 Brass Band. I’ve just got tickets to see them in May and cannot wait! I do also love the Marvin Gaye original.

Inheritance Track: Saint of Me – The Rolling Stones. My dad’s a big stones fan which I’ve definitely inherited from him. For some reason this is the song I always remember singing along to when I was little.

Emotional Track: Cat People (Putting Out Fire) – David Bowie. Such a powerful song, always makes me feel good.

Album: Alt-J – This Is All Yours

Advice: A few pearls of wisdom here. 

printed-cotton-panama

What is the best advice, you’ve ever been given, business, creative or both and who gave it to you.

My dad has given me all of the best advice. He has a wonderful positive outlook on life and always says ‘life is what happens while you make plans’. He always reminds me that you just have to take life as it comes because not everything is in your control and you can only ever try your best.

If you were starting out again now, what advice would you give your younger self?

Test the waters first. I’d had so much positive feedback on my work during my degree show and New Designers that I hadn’t imagined making sales would be so challenging. I invested quite a lot into making stock at the start and have now learnt it’s much smarter to start with a very small batch and see how popular a product is before producing larger quantities. Sounds so obvious now!

cushion-covers

We like to hear about new and up and coming designer and artists, can you recommend someone new that we should know about, and why do you like their work?

A friend I studied textiles with at uni called Emma Jennings has recently started out with her own printed textiles brand and her designs are gorgeous! Her collection is jungle inspired with lots of lemurs and elephants on cushions, fabrics and wallpaper. I’d love to see her do well as she definitely deserves it!

What is it that draws you to work with fabric and what benefits to your process does Digital Printing bring?

I just love the feel of a high quality, natural fabric and the designs take on a whole new quality when printed onto BeFab’s gorgeous Fife linen. The soft texture and delicate weave highlights the intricacies in my drawings wonderfully and creates very subtle blends  of colour. Other fabric printers I sampled with before choosing BeFab have made the colour look very garish and the details too harsh so it makes a real difference to have such good printers like Solii and Zoe.

Digital printing suits my design style really well because there is so much detail and colour variation in my work. If I had to colour separate my designs to be screen-printed they would most likely loose a lot of all those subtle variations that I spend so much time on creating. I have also always championed digital print because compared with screen-printing there is a lot less water and dye wastage involved making it a more ethical process which is an integral value to my brand.

cushion-stack

And lastly, whose words inspire you, a quote to live life by?

Something a yoga teacher recounted at the end of a class once.

‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.’

I’m not sure where it’s originally from but it’s very relevant to the intention of practicing yoga and mediation which is something I try to live by. It’s very easy to get stressed when running your own business and so finding yoga has helped me a lot with staying positive.

If you want to find out more about Sky you can find her in all these lovely places too:

Website : Facebook : Twitter : InstagramPinterest : Blog

BeFab Sponsors a Final year Student

Sponsorship of £300 for One Talented, Driven, Final year Student.

We know all too well how much Final Projects cost, so above the 10% Student Discount we already offer to all our talented student clients BeFab Be Creative are looking to award one student this year with £300 worth of printing with BeFab, we also have a few other prizes up our sleeve but those all depends on how much we like your applications.

Who can apply?

Any final year Degree or Postgraduate Student can apply.

What are we looking for?

We’re looking to support a talented, capable and driven individual to give them a step up to create their final collection/project whether that be in Fashion or Textiles Design.

How do I apply?

Step one : Create an account with BeFab Be Creative

Two: Fill in our application here.

Three: Order a sample print* on your chosen fabric here using code ‘SAS222016’ to gain your temporary student discount* and help us identify your application.

Helpful hints

Sample print will be printed and as per our normal sampling service. Samples are printed at 20cm by 1/2 the width of your chosen fabric, you will receive one 1/2 and BeFab Be Creative will retain the other half as reference for application and any future prints you may wish to do.

You can find out more about how to get the best out of your sample print here.

What we ask in return

All we ask in return is for the recipient of any cash award to mention BeFab Be Creative on their Social Media channels as a sponsor and for our logo to be included in the catalogue at any final promenade and or end of year show.

Deadline

Completed Applications must be received by 12 noon on Tuesday the 17th of January. 

BeFab Be Creative decision will me made and announced by Wednesday 25th of January

Best of luck and we look forward to seeing your designs!

Zoë & Solii
The BeFab Sisters

*Sample order start at £7 to £9.6 depending on the fabric chosen

**Discount code provided here is valid for the BeFab’s Sponsorship Application period only.

If you wish to apply for a personal student discount which will be valid until end of Sept of your graduating year please send hello@befabbecreative.co.uk a email containing the following information:

Valid matriculation card number, details of your course including year of (expected) graduation and the User Name which your BeFab account has been created under. On receipt of this email we will create a unique discount code for you to use with your BeFab account, this will be emailed to you for you to use each time you order.

BeFab’s 2016 Christmas Gift Guide.

Happy December! Despite the fact that the studio has been a little like one of Santa’s works shops for most of November.  We have both quietly been forward planing and buying gifts for weeks, we don’t really, I mean REALLY do Christmas until December 1st hits.

This might have something to do with having to be planing Christmas in April in my past life at Habitat. But don’t mistake that for Bah Humbug! OH NO! We love Christmas!

shop-small-happy-dance

We meet and talk so many amazing designers and makers throughout the year, and not just the fabric people, no!  So this is our chance to talk about just a handful of them and some of the amazing things we’ve been coveting.  Not only do they make amazing things, they are some of the nicest people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting too. Now, I know I’m preaching to the converted here but we think it’s important to support small business because you know we all really do do a little happy dance when someone buys from us. I know we do!

Lucky Cloud Skin Care

So this amazing business is run by the lovely Lucy and her products are prefect for those of us with sensitive skin but you don’t have to have sensitive skin to love what she makes, you also don’t have to be vegan but if you are you’ll like these even more.  You don’t have to take my word for it though, British Vogue thinks so too!  So, snap up yours before the rest of us do! The lip butters are a steel at just £4 so make great idea for a stocking filler.

Prices from £4-£35     www.luckycloudskincare.com

lucky-cloud-lip-butters

Sky Siouki

There is literaly nothing I don’t like about this ladies illustrations. Her colour choices and detail are beautiful and every time I see her name on our print list I do a little happy dance (not always just in my head!) but she has more to her than just textiles.  I have already ordered a barn owl mug and cards for someone who will remain nameless.

Prices from £5-£60     www.skysiouki.tictail.com

skysiouki-barn-owl-cushion

Boo Chew

Not your average necklace. You know how little people like to put everything in their mouths? Yeh! They like to chew on stuff, sometimes cos their teething and some times just because, nothing is sacred.  Problem solved for mums (or aunties) here. ‘Worn by you, chewed by Boo’

Prices £7-£16     www.boochew.com

boochew-necklace

Mimi Hammill

I’m not sure these need much introduction but if they do and you (or someone you love) likes colour then this ladies your gal!  Her silk scarves are printed on our silk satin and they are simply the most versatile scarves to wear.  Every time you put it on it will look like a new scarf, it’s hard to explain but basically they are very clever and you will be very much loved if you put one of these under someone’s Christmas tree this year!

Prices £80      www.mimihammill.com

mimihammill_scarf-concept-photo-by-scastillo__01

Sandra Vick

There seems to be a bird theme forming here! But oh my goodness aren’t these just the best!  We fell in love with Sandra Vick’s paintings when I stumbled upon her on Instagram having know idea she lived just outside Edinburgh.   It’s so lovely to see her textiles in the studio, I don’t think I could afford an original painting but maybe a print or one of these.

Prices £10 -£43     www.sandravick.co.uksandra-vick-bags

Sorell O C Boards

There will always be something wooden in any gift list of ours, we’re foresters daughters after all! These are the by product of some amazing furniture makers, so what to do with the wood too small to be made into furniture but too good to be firewood (oh far to good for firewood, gasp!) this of course. They are finished beautifully so perfect for serving your cheese on the 25th, or all the other days for that mater!!

Prices £45-70     www.sorell.co.uk

sorell-o-c-boards-wide

Nu Blvck

We’ve been working with these guys on some interesting things, all things slow fashion related.  By that we mean collaborating with artisan designers and makers (that’s us too! eep!) to make iconic designs, heirloom pieces that will stand the testament of time and style.

Prices £15-£275     https://www.nublvck.com

nu-blvck-coin-purse

CARVE

OH MY GOODNESS!!! You HAVE to do one of these, the only thing is, is it’s a little more Scottish location specific, but I have to add to our list as this might quite literally have been the best thing I’ve done all year!  Give as gift for someone, or to yourself (they are the best presents!) and you get the chance to carve your own ring out of jewellers wax. Then the amazing people at CARVE have it cast in silver (or gold for an additional fee) for you. Best Thing Ever!  I genuinely cant recommend it enough!

Price £65+     www.wearecarve.com

carve-a-ring-how

Susan Castillo

Because Susan has magical skills and the most amazing style, everyone should have a little something of her designs in their life. Even if just a beautiful jotter and maybe a matching pencil case too?

Prices £3.95-£65     www.susancastillo.co.uk

scastillo_pencil_cosmetic_lifestyle3of11

Sky Weavers

And something for the gentlemen, if the man in your life needs a bit of an upgrade on the tie front this is a great way to go, Sky Weavers are a small Weavers based on the Isle of Sky (if you hadn’t guess) and they do all of their weaving using a bicycle pedal powered loom so a great story for a bicycle loving man about town too. They also make other woven things but the ties are our favourites.

 Prices £25-£125 www.skyeweavers.co.uk

skye-weavers-green-diamond-tie-city-550x550

I hope what ever it is you give (or receive) this year, your Christmas is a happy one.

Solii x

 

Meet the Maker -Holly Picthall of Wilful North

What is your greatest achievement so far, and what are you particularly proud?

I graduated in 2014 and I think one of my greatest achievements was achieving a 1st in my degree because I worked my butt off! After that getting on Notonthehighstreet.com was a big thing for me and I’m super proud to call myself a NOTHS partner, especially since it took me so long to actually apply!

meetthemaker3

How would you describe your work?

I would describe my work as bit quirky, a lot of my favourite pieces are inspired by weird British folk traditions and folklore in general. I love layering my work up so they’re really digitally printed, mixed media pieces using everything from natural dyed fabrics, scanned in and manipulated to watercolours, pen, collage – it often takes me a long time to decide on something I’m happy with and often looks completely different to I originally imagined.

meetthemaker7

Describe your work space?

Messy! My work space is a little desk in my room… which I’ve tidied up considerably for the purpose of taking the pictures here. This is where I do most of my designing but it’s not my only workspace, there’s also my trusty sewing machine which I had for what feels like an age… and where ever I am to roll hems.

When do you work best, are you up with the lark or a night owl?

I normally work best in the morning, it’s when I find my head is clearest, I have the most ideas and motivation early in the morning.

How do you overcome designers block?

Aah! Something I’m struggling with at the moment! I normally turn to pinterest, watch lots of documentaries and failing that I do nothing. I often find that when I’ve got lots of ideas and plans it’s best to give myself some space to re-evaluate and make lots of lists.

Where did your love for design originally develop from, what or who, have been your influences?

I’ve always been interested in art and in drawing and designing. When I was little my dad used to do these coloured sketches of the Lake District and I was always so amazed at how he could draw the landscape so accurately. We used to go to a lot of different galleries and lots of trips when I was younger so I think that was a big influence on me

meetthemaker2

 

 

Your home is on fire, what is the one thing you save from the blaze?

I have an old printers drawer on my wall, the drawer its self isn’t particularly special before there’s lots of little bits on it that I’d save – keepsakes of both my Grandmas, polaroids and some tiny mice my dad brought back from Germany when I was a child among other bits I’ve collected.

savefromfire

In terms of procrastination, what are you doing, when you should be doing something else?

If I’m procrastinating I’ll always find some excuse to go to the art or fabric shop, or my favourite place which is a local antiques/bric-a-brac warehouse. I could spend hours and hours in there!

Food & drink: We like our food!

It’s been a long week, what’s in your glass (or mug) on a Friday night.

A nice glass of red if I’m staying in, Aperol Spritz if I’m going out.

You have clients coming round, do you bake or buy in the treats to go with your tea/coffee, what are they and why?

If I was feeling fancy I’d probably make Aussie Crunch… although it’s not all that fancy or posh! It’s basically a chocolate, coconut, cornflake cake and I’m pretty sure it’s (almost) unique to the Bolton area. Whenever I’ve mentioned it to people from other parts of the country, they’ve never heard of it!

Music: What’s on your Studio Play list:

Physical Track:          Sally Cinnamon by The Stone Roses will always get me up and dancing or feeling motivated.

Inheritance Track:      Anything Bob Dylan, both my parents listened to him when I was younger. Although it took me a while to get into his music myself, I now love it and I’ve seen him live twice which I think is an achievement considering his age!

Emotional Track:      Carey by Joni Mitchell because it just makes me happy – this is my holiday song, I always listen to this one on the plane.

Album:                        Graceland by Paul Simon is my favourite album of all time and will never not be.

Advice: A few pearls of wisdom here

What is the best advice, you’ve ever been given, business, creative or both and who gave it to you.

This business is hard but your customer is there and they’ll find you.

My lovely friend Chrissie has given me lots of good advice and support from before I ever started my business and she was the first person to stock my scarves at her millinery studio Hat Therapy, in Hebden Bridge.

I also have to give a little shout out to #folksyhour on twitter where I also find lots of invaluable advice and support from other creatives.

If you were starting out again now, what advice would you give your younger self?

Just start.

We like to hear about new and up and coming designer and artists, can you recommend someone new that we should know about, and why do you like their work?

Trudi Murray isn’t a “new” artist but I absolutely love her work and think everyone should check her out! So much colour and depth in her paintings

North and Fauna is run by the lovely Sarah who was also on my degree course, she does gorgeous illustrations and has recently become a Not on the High Street partner

At the moment I’m also OBSESSED with Unskilled Worker – the best, dreamy illustrations of fashion peoples

What is it that draws you to work with fabric and what benefits to your process does Digital Printing bring?

I love the fluidity of fabric, the way parts of a design are hidden or revealed in the folds. I particularly love the pearlescent quality the silk satin I use for my scarves has, people always comment on the special quality it has.

I find freedom in digital printing, there’s no limit on colour and textures you can create with digital print. It also mean’s my prints are a little kinder to the environment and can be printed to order which is always  a nice bonus

img_1035-1

 

And lastly, whose words inspire you, a quote to live life by?

I have two quotes I live by:

“Don’t wear beige, it might kill you” Sue Kreitzman

And

“You can find inspiration in everything, and if you can’t, look again” Paul Smith

If you want to find out more about Holly you can find her in all these lovely places too:

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Instagram Pinterest

 

Stir Up Sunday Christmas Cake Time at BeFab

Image

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stir-up Sunday is an informal term in Anglican Churches for the last Sunday before the season of Advent. The Christmas pudding is one of the essential British Christmas traditions, traditionally families would gather together in the kitchen to mix and steam the Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday, however we have adopted along with many others as the time to make our Christmas cake.

The making of the Christmas cake has always been an event when Solii and I were growing up, our mum is an amazing cook and has taught us such a lot over the years, she is our go to for advice in the kitchen.

As kids we would hang out with mum when it was time to make the Christmas cake and other Christmas goodies, I think I have fonder memories of this time than actual Christmas day. The smell of spices and Christmas baking is why I think Solii and I have a slight addiction to anything with cinnamon in it, for Solii it’s a cinnamon bun and for me it is a cinnamon and raisin bagel, but I definitely would not pass up a cinnamon bun if there was one going.

spices-min

The one thing Solii, mum and I do disagree on is whether to ice the cake or not, Solii and Mum like leaving the cake with just a marzipan layer, nice and simple, but for some reason I like a challenge. I have great ideas of royal icing my Christmas cake, it’s not so much that I like the icing to eat but I think it adds a bit of drama. Also when you live in the Scotland, the white icing on a Christmas Cake may be the closest thing to snow you will see on Christmas day. However, as I am sure you are all aware Christmas comes round quicker and quicker each year so it has to be said on most occasions I forgo the icing and go for simple marzipan.

Since being married, gosh going on nearly 14 years, Christmas cake has also become a important part of my married life, Jonathan (my wonderful husband, he has to be to put up with a lot) loves, I mean loves Christmas cake, he eats big wedges of it and if I am not careful I don’t get a look in, so I have to put strict controls in place or it will be gone before my birthday on the 28th Dec.

The Making of the Christmas cake

So less chat and lets get on with making the Christmas cake. The recipe I have used since getting married is Nigella Lawson’s “Time-Honoured Christmas Cake” which can be found in her book “FEAST Food That Celebrates Life”, what a great title for a cook book.

Now when I say use Nigella’s recipe I think a better description would be I follow it rather loosely. This is what Solii and I do when we cook or bake, we find a recipe and then we tweak it.

Zoë’s Tweaked Christmas Cake Recipe

Size – 23cm Round / 20cm Square

Oven Temperature – 150°C

Cooking Time – 2½  to 3 ½ hours

Cake Ingredients

Sultanas                     275g  Nigella (700g)

Raisins                        700g   Nigella (225g)

(l love Waitrose’s Vine Fruit Mix, they tend to stock it seasonally so I have to stock up for the summer months, I have been known to threaten to have a tantrum when its  not been stock, ask Mum)

Currents                     0g        Nigella (50g)

(I am not a fan of currents)

Glacé Cherries           110g

Mixed Peel                 110g

Almonds                     100g

(This is an addition to Nigella’s recipe, mum’s cake would always have almonds in it, and they keep saying they are good for you!)

Brandy/Sherry          120ml

(I use Muscatel a fortified wine, which brings back happy memories visiting our grandfather in northern Spain, also it is very good for tickly coughs and tastes great.)

Butter                         225g

Brown Sugar              195g

Orange Zest               1 teaspoon

Lemon Zest                1 teaspoon

(Its best to use organic un-waxed orange & lemons)

Large Eggs                 2

Marmalade                2 tablespoons

Almond Essence        1 teaspoon

Plain Flour                 350g

Mixed Spice               1 teaspoon

Ground cinnamon     ¼ teaspoon

Grated Nutmeg          ¼ teaspoon

Salt                              a pinch if using unsalted butter

Decorating Ingredients

Apricot Jam or Marmalade   200g

Marzipan                                500g

Ready to Roll Icing                1kg

Method

  1. Place all the dried fruit into a large bowl, and add the brandy, sherry or in my case Muscatel. Cover it and let it soak overnight; I usually leave it for 2 nights.
  2. Preheat your oven to 150° Wrap the outside of your tin with double thickness of brown paper, tying it with cooks string, then line the inside of the tin with baking parchment, both need to come up a good 10cm above the rim of the tin.
  3. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the orange and lemon zest. Then add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the marmalade and almond essence into the mixture, ensure well combined.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients together, then mix the fruit mixture alternately with the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, combining thoroughly

(this is when you get that wonderful Christmassy smell, the spices combining with the zest of the lemon and orange)

  1. Transfer the cake mixture carefully into the prepared tin and bake following the time given, or until a cake tester (a cocktail stick) comes out clean.
  2. When the cake is cooked, brush with a couple of tablespoons of your chosen booze, then wrap the cake immediately still in its tin with a double layer of tin foil, this traps the heat and forms a lovely boozy Christmas steam, which will keep the cake soft on top.

Another trick to stop your cake top drying out is to apply a very thin layer of water to the top of the cake before it goes into the oven, just wet your fingers or use a pastry brush, this creates a little bit of steam while cooking. This is a trick I picked up from mum via her Cordon Bleu cookbook, which we worked out she has had longer than I have been on this earth.

There is a funny story about this technique, back in the day when I was in secondary school I chose to study Home Economics, which may have not been the best use of my time as mum had already taught me to cook and sew to a pretty high standard. In 4th year it was an annual tradition that the 4th year Home Economics class would bake Christmas cakes for all the old peoples homes in Grantown on Spey. So following the schools recipe I put my mixture into the prepared tin and I began to add the thin film of water onto the top of mixture, as I had always done, this is when I got absolutely screamed at by my teacher (they don’t make teachers like they used too) however I was quick witted enough to know that the Home Economics department had the full Cordon Blue cookery school book set so I went across and selected said book “Party Cooking” and showed her the technique, cant remember if I got an apology but I think I had earned a bit of respect that day. I am not often right about things especially married to Jonathan who is an encyclopaedia, so when I am, boy do I milk it.

Moving on

  1. Once the cake is totally cold remove it from the tin and rewrap the cake tightly with greaseproof paper then foil storing in an airtight container in a cool spot. They say up to 3 weeks but I have left it much longer and I am still here.
  2. Prior to the marzipan and icing your cake you can feed your Christmas cake, this means giving it some more booze! To do this unwrap the cake pierce it on the top and bottom with a skewer and gently spoon you’re chosen booze onto the cake, once absorbed rewrap the cake and store in its airtight container. This can be done once a week for a couple of weeks if you like your Christmas cake really rich.

bare-cake-min

Decorating your cake

  1. Heat the marmalade or apricot jam in a pan and when hot and runny strain into a bowl to remove the rind or chunks of fruit.
  2. With a pastry brush, paint all over the cake to make a tacky surface.
  3. Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan and drape over the cake. Press against the cake and cut off the excess with a sharp knife.
  4. Dust the work surface again with icing sugar, beat the icing block a few times with your rolling pin (gets some anger out), then dust the top with icing sugar and roll out.
  5. Cover the cake again cutting off the excess, once happy transfer to a cake stand or cake board
  6. If you want to use royal icing there are loads of recipes online its quite simple to make. You can create a nice flat surface by slowly building up the layers of icing, allowing it to set hard between each layer or you can do the peaked method, which involves putting the icing on the cake and spreading it out and use the back of a soon to gently pull up on the icing to create the peaks.

I will be doing a follow up post on how to decorated the cakes, we like our Christmas cake to be rich and boozy so I will need to give the a feed or two over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out.

Merry Christmas

Zoë & Solii

Meet the Maker – Emily May of Tequila Mockingbird

What is your greatest achievement so far, and what are you particularly proud?

I graduated in 2014 and at New Designers won the Clothworkers’ Award for Printed Textiles.  When Scarlett Oliver presented me with the prize she said ‘we loved your work, but we loved you too.’ It was a comment that sent my confidence through the roof and made me believe that I was capable of anything as long as I was true to myself.

I went on to enter The Winston Churchill Design Competition with a silk scarf I created and was lucky enough to win second prize and 13 months of experience working for Pentland Brands Plc.  The Clothworkers’ still invite me to their annual banquet and this year asked me to go back to New Designers and judge the 2016 winner.  I owe an awful lot to them, not least that unshakable determination they gave me.

How would you describe your work?

I love words and a passion for narrative and storytelling lies behind everything I create. One of the things I find most fascinating about scarf design is the fact that a scarf is a simple square, it has boundaries, but the things you can do within them are endless.  It gives me a real buzz to think that when a client comes to me with a list of things they love and I turn their ideas into a beautiful one off piece it’ll be sparking conversations for years to come.

em-books-befab-blog

Describe your work space?

I have a studio in the garden that’s crammed full of old tins, bits of embroidery, and posters of the digestive system.  It never really dawned on me till recently how influenced I am by vintage objects and faded typography, I must have been unconsciously collecting for years, I looked up, suddenly realised I was surrounded and thought ‘ahh, I understand why I spend my weekends painting down at the junk yard now’.

When do you work best, are you up with the lark or a night owl?

I’m a bit of both really.  When I have an idea my brain doesn’t really pipe down until I’ve got up and dealt with it.  That does involve working late, but sometimes a problem I’ve been struggling with works itself out overnight and I’ll start really early to plot out a design.

How do you overcome designers block?

It depends on how big the block is because sometimes I find just by putting down the pen and hand rolling some hems helps.  It’s a really therapeutic process and needs just the right amount of concentration to let your imagination wander.  But if the block is a tough one getting out of the studio is always the answer.  It doesn’t have to be to anywhere exciting, just by going to look at some shops and seeing what’s occurring currently in the design world can work wonders.

em-process-2-befab-blog

Where did your love for design originally develop from, what or who have been your influences?

It’s no new thing to hear that a designer is dyslexic.  When I was small struggled with everything academic and spent rainy day playtimes drawing cats dying of starvation (still have this) and very unflattering pictures of my mum with an enormous bottom washing my sister’s hair in the bath (this too).  I’ve always been influenced by art that’s made me laugh or kept me interested for more than just the time you spend standing in front of it.  One of my favourite pieces of all time is ‘Wooden Boulder’ by David Nash, look it up and I dare you not to fall in love with it.

Your home is on fire, what is the one thing you save from the blaze?

I have a beautiful old Winsor and Newton wooden paintbox.  It’s a great conversation starter if I’m drawing out and about people are generally more interested in it than the thing I’m working on at the time.  It’s also one of my favourite things to illustrate, I like to paint it every year or so as it makes a great marker to see how I’m improving.

em-paintbox-befab-blog

In terms of procrastination, what are you doing, when you should be doing something else?

I hate to say it but I’m always on instagram.  When I first started sharing my work it was a sort of necessary evil for getting myself out there but it now plays an important part of my process.  Anyone creative is bound to be very visual and instagram is just that, loads and loads of pictures.  For me it’s a great place to be inspired and test what works and what doesn’t without any pressure.  People don’t have to draw pictures to develop their own aesthetic, and you can look back through posts and feel like the curator of you own little museum.  It is great.

It’s been a long week, what’s in your glass (or mug) on a Friday night?

Anything cold & crisps down at The Brown Bear in front of the fire.

You have clients coming round, do you bake or buy in the treats to go with your tea/coffee, what are they and why?

Being a coeliac I am forever unhappy with what the shops have to offer so I’m always testing out new recipes.  Although, my latest craze is homemade hummus so if a client makes an appointment at the moment they’re going to subjected to various different flavours including peanut butter, and artichoke, with oatcakes.

Music: What’s on your Studio Play list:

Physical Track:     Girlfriend is Better- Talking Heads

When I commuted every day this was my walking into work, power up, ready for anything song.  Still makes me feel fierce and cool.

Inheritance Track:     The Ballad of Barry and Freda- Victoria Wood

My mum made sure that my sister and I were exposed to Victoria Wood from a very young age.  I have a vivid memory of singing ‘bash me on the bottom with the woman’s weekly’ as I stood on a stool to brush my teeth.  Age 6- this is the first song I ever learnt all the words to and there’s hope I’ll never be any less inappropriate.

Emotional Track:     Cut Here- The Cure

An old favourite.

Album:     Anything by The Divine Comedy, they’re my favourite band of all time.  But, at the moment I’d say their ‘Victory for the Comic Muse’ gets repeated more than the neighbours can tolerate.

Advice: A few pearls of wisdom here.

What is the best advice, you’ve ever been given, business, creative or both and who gave it to you?

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”  Ira Glass

em-paint-befab-blog

If you were starting out again now, what advice would you give your younger self.

Just keep going.

We like to hear about new and up and coming designer and artists, can you recommend someone new that we should know about, and why do you like their work?

I got involved in Handmade at Kew this year and made some fantastic new friends and met some great new designers, Rachel Mynott is both of these things.  Her collection of ‘Up the Garden Path’ silk scarves are stunning.  She uses ink to illustrate her designs and has the most beautiful autumnal colour palette, and I really really want one.

What is it that draws you to work with fabric and what benefits to your process does Digital Printing bring?

I love the idea that a scarf can be something to make someone feel beautiful, contain a print to make a person laugh, or simply be a piece of art in itself.  I work in watercolour and chose to print onto silk twill because the weave of the fabric brings out the variations in the colour and gives it a unique depth.  When a design is printed, and the hem has been hand rolled a very tactile and magical object is created.

em-collection-befab-blog

And lastly, whose words inspire you, a quote to live life by?

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out” Dr. Suess

If you want to find out more about Emily you can find her in all these lovely places too:

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : Blog