Tag Archives: design

Sketchy Design: 365-13



I’ve got some time in the jewellery workshop starting again this week, and I’m really looking forward to it – it’s been nearly a year since I’ve made anything with silver and I LOVE the classes (and there are still some places available if you fancy it!). I do struggle for ideas though and translating inspiration into design, so I’m really excited to be doing some commissions for friends and family this time, which really helps me work out what  to create.

Planning and sketching designs is something I really could do with practicing so I was surprised how easily this sketch for a friend’s wedding jewellery came to me, and am very much looking forward to getting stuck in to making things again!


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Filed under 365 project, Inspiration, Jewellery, Nice Things, Photography

Grandma’s Chairs: 365-12

Dining in style

Dining in style

Over Christmas I went to visit my Auntie Pauline and my uncle & cousins. which I love doing. We’ve not really managed to spend much time together until recent years, but I’m loving getting to know another bit of my family better now. As there were ten of us, Pauline needed to retrieve some extra dining chairs from her attic (well, she delegated the job to my cousins, well done lads!).  I didn’t notice these “extra” ones round the table till we’d all finished eating and people had started moving into another room, but when I did, I saw that they were my Grandma’s old dining chairs which Pauline had been taking care of since she passed away five years ago . Wonderful! I’d not really thought about what had happened to them but they are such lovely chairs – I remember them first appearing in her house when I was small, and being quite intrigued by them. They are a simple design but I’ve always thought them distinctive and I suppose when I think about it now, friendly and welcoming. Seeing them again brought back some lovely memories. And to my delight, Pauline offered them to me as she wanted someone in the family to use them rather than being hidden in her attic.  As luck would have it, I have a dining room in my new house, which has a dining table but no chairs, so I had the perfect home for them! I think they give my house a really cosy, homely feel and I love having them around – and sitting on them to write or eat at the table is just wonderful.

Everybody's Cosy Place

Everybody’s Cosy Place












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Filed under 365 project, Comfort, Inspiration, Photography

Font Geek

Tinker is displeased at the news of his impending holiday

With less than a week left in total to get all my stuff packed up, I’m running around like the proverbial decapitated farmyard fowl. At the weekend, I did what was probably the most difficult thing so far, and took my cats to their holiday home in Oldham till I get back in June. (The good news is that they’ve settled in fine, but it just doesn’t feel right being in my house without having to watch for something furry trying to steal my lunch).

Anyway, to cheer me up, my boyfriend got me TOP TRUMPS WITH FONTS!

Type Trumps!

Now, not only am I a lover of Top Trumps, with fond memories of battling my brother for the steam train with the biggest wheel diameter (2.06m, although I’m buggered if I remember which engine it was), I also really like fonts. A bad font annoys me, one well chosen to illustrate the subject delights me. I was rubbish at art at school but I remember fondly the GCSE art project I did about different fonts, and another inspired by the design and layout of art deco railway posters. Which probably goes a long way to explaining why I was rubbish at art.

Type Trumps not only has loads of different ones, all the cards are individual and designed for that font. I particularly like that they’ve made the effort to work the categories for Times (New Roman) into prose like a newspaper:

The Times (Roman)

and that the Univers 39 Ultra Thin Condensed is designed like a movie poster:

Need to go see a film now

Oh and the card for the font they use for road signs on the German Autobahns? It’s in German! (Added bonus – I get to practice my rusty German skills!)

Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch

And there’s a superpower category too, and if you pick that one there’s no defined winner – you have to argue why your font’s superpower makes it the coolest. (The one made famous by Nazi Germany is a definite loser if that happens). But happily, there are a shedload of actual really cool things that each font was used for, which if I’m honest I’d have real trouble choosing between.

See, told you I was a geek. I’ll leave you with the card for my favourite font ever:

Underground, Overground

Who wants to play?!

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Icelandic Design Fortnight


Continuing the theme of 2-week chunks of time,  I have been asked to blog about Icelandic design to tie in with Inspired by Iceland‘s Icelandic Design fortnight, and well, if you’ve twigged how awesome I think Iceland is (clue – it’s over there in the post-cloud in letters the same size as the word “GIGS”), it won’t come as a surprise that I said yes.

Aww, you mean I *have* to write about Iceland?

Icelandic design for me is inherently Icelandic. I know that sounds obvious, but let me explain. It doesn’t have any pretensions to copy other Westernised cultures, and you can clearly see inspiration drawn from Icelandic tradition and landscape, things which the Icelanders are rightly proud of. They also understand the importance of individuality. When I was last there, I complimented my friend Klara who was wearing this fantastic salvaged dress made out of 2 t-shirts – one bright red and one bright yellow – chopped up and sewn together. (I wish I had a picture but I had to run for the bus). It was completely unique, looked amazing on her, (even though on paper you might think it sounds awful), and we got to chatting about why Icelanders express themselves so strikingly through fashion. Klara reckons it’s a product of the small community, where everyone knows your business and you’re fighting to be seen as you and not who everyone thinks you are.

Random Reykjavik graffiti. Unlikely to have been inspired by volcanic lava.

That’s why I think I like Icelandic creativity so much. It’s minimal, elegant, proud, personal. Evocative without being obvious, it draws you in and makes you want to immerse yourself in it. Whether that’s music, film, literature, fashion, shopping – or practical design from jewellery, through to furniture and architecture. They even make boring stuff (like making things go) lovely (Iceland has pioneered the use of geothermal power and a happy by-product of that is the creation of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, seeing as how they thought the excess heat at the nearby geothermal power station shouldn’t go to waste. They also use it to heat the sea at a couple of Icelandic beaches. Who else woulda thought of doing something useful like that?).

So – pretty picture time! I’m going to show you some things that I really like from Iceland:

Reykjavik Harbour

As you can imagine, volcanic lava features quite heavily in the Icelandic landscape and architecture, and huge chunks of it are readily available. Reykjavik harbour is bordered by tons of the stuff, haphazardly arranged like it’s a really big rock pool in your very rich Auntie’s garden. I don’t know what it is I like about these huge chunks of the earth’s core spewed up to the surface, but I can spend hours sitting on them, standing on them, walking on them, and not doing much else. I should probably get out more, but hey. So I really like this series of stools that have been inspired by weatherworn rocks that Inspired by Iceland have sent me to look at (they’re called Fjörulallar by a designer called  Guðrún Björk Jónsdóttir). Love the way you can see bits of rock poking through!


I also wanted to show you a dress I bought on my last visit. Handknitting with wool from Icelandic sheep is big in Iceland. I got this one from a wonderful shop on Skólavörðustígur next to the Babalú cafe where they’ll be handknitting stuff in front of you. Here I take the opportunity to pose for you (whilst looking like a complete idiot) to show off my proper Icelandic dress, which not only is handmade by a very nice Icelandic lady, using wool from Icelandic sheep, it echoes the design of the traditional Lopapeysa jumper design, whilst being different enough to be definitely not a Lopapeysa. Four Icelandic things all rolled into one, oh and green is my favourite colour! Watch for me prancing around in it in Leeds:

It’s a dress. It’s green. It’s from Iceland. I’m happy.

I’d like to leave you with some pictures of Icelandic jewellery. There are tons of gold & jewellery shops on Laugavegur, which, despite being waaay out of my price range (and hey, I can melt metal, I’ll make things myself..), have window displays to die for, which translates roughly as a lot of striking use of gold and silver echoing Icelandic nature, or being minimal & sophisticated, or being individual & quirky (or if we’re really breaking it down – SHINY THINGS!).

Retro car Bracelet by Hringa Jewellery (www.hringajewellery.com)

Landscape inspired silver ring

Next time I go I’m making sure I have enough to time to get out of Reykjavik centre and check out what people are making outside of the capital. Now where’s my passport..?

InspiredbyIceland.com want to tell you how awesome Iceland is. Yes they’re trying to get you to go and visit, but honestly, why wouldn’t you want to? Tell them what you like about Iceland and find out about more cool Icelandic stuff on their Facebook page. Or just book a flight to Keflavik.



Filed under Europe, Iceland, Jewellery