I have painted, sewn and crafted for many years, learning from by both my mother and grandmother who made too many dresses and skirts and stuffed toys to mention. Their influence remains in the many threads and notions that I have inherited from them and still use today My Grandmother taught me to sketch the animals around us and those of my imagination, and my mother taught me to sew - helping me to use her old heavy dark green Husquavarna machine that seemed fierce at the time. With her help aged 9 years I made my first stuffed animal - a giant tortoise. Hawkes Hounds began in 2009 when I chanced upon John Murphys' book “Stupid Sock Creatures” and I realised could make animals from old socks. The humour and designs got me laughing – and thinking. I dusted off my sewing machine and I started making my own creatures and selling on Etsy. All the while my faithful hounds sat by my feet as I sketched and stitched and little by little, I stopped making alien-like creatures and I started to make Hounds. In Abby Glassenberg’s 2013 book Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction I learned how to make hounds that could sit and stand without falling over, had legs that waggled. I started use repurposed wool fabric from old coats and hats or skirts as well as old woolly socks as a base. Wire framework now made the hounds poseable and strong.
I start with a sketch and from that I make a pattern and a template for body, legs and tail. Next, I choose the best sock for the head, wool or synthetic walking sock all previously discarded, washed and clean – chosen for texture and wear. Slowly using a very long needle and strong thread I sculpt until a head is formed. I pull, gather and tweak, making needle-felted eyes and eyelashes from fabric until the character is born. The body is next, laying out many soft, worn or frayed fabrics alongside the head I choose the best match. I then cut, sew, stuff and pull until the hound is created.
I was lucky to get the chance to live and work abroad in Romania, The Netherlands and Sweden and was for a time uprooted and open to this new life. I had time to sit and watch for a while. I noticed characterful, faithfull dogs who kept their owners company or an abandoned street dog waiting patiently on street corners begging, come rain or shine. Needless to say we adopted three stray hounds and have never been dogless since! Today I am a textile artist living in the very edge of South London where concrete and brick give way to green woods, fields and the Surrey Hills. Hawkes Hounds are my creations inspired by those loyal companions that I see and meet when walking my dog. Young and not so young, youthful and grumpy the companions who listen to us and stay by us with no judgement at all. My hounds are not perfect copies of the real thing, but caricatures that may remind you of a dog you now or knew in the past.