Sewing a seed.....
I have always enjoyed making things, seeing someone or something that catches my imagination and takes it down a particular avenue of thought. I love sewing and stitch using old and discarded fabric with a history - but not only that. I like working with paper, wood and old vintage metals, to make something unexpected that brings a smile.
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 machine that seemed fierce at the time. With her help aged 9 years I made a giant tortoise that I could sit on, dragons and yes dogs, lots of dogs. My Dads garage was a magical place where he was able to make anything (or so it seemed to me) from wood or metal using a simple lathe, drill and infinite patience. I learnt from him that if you can think it you can make it.
Family dogs of all shapes and sizes were always around our feet, the first to jump for joy on a walk or to sit by our side or the end of the bed in the evening.
A Working Life
The world of work and the need to earn a living pushed all those things aside and for many years I stopped drawing, sewing and making completely. Keen to be in the thick of it, the hustle and bustle of life was everything to me. I left England to live in Romania, The Netherlands and Sweden moving house every two years. I never stopped for a moment, and never stopped to think until good fortune gave me the chance to pause and look at the life around me.
All Change in 2009
In 2009 a financial crisis hit Europe and my job teaching Business English in Amsterdam disappeared overnight. From being busy and out and about, I found that I had the time to reflect and perhaps change my priorities. I wanted to make again.
Re- learning to design and make creatures took some time. I chanced upon a book by John Murphy called “Stupid Sock Creatures” that suggested I 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. Abby Glassenberg’s 2013 book Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction was a turning point and I learnt how to make hounds that could sit and stand without falling over, had legs that waggled. Shortly after I learnt about needle-felting and began to make hounds with faces that had character. 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
Me and Mr H returned South London, England in 2014 and with time to unpack and make myself at home again - Hawkes Hounds was really born. I made the Hounds and he captured them with his camera. In 2017 my hounds trotted along to Sam Tofts’ Little Mustard Shop and sat alongside her whimsical characters until the shop closed at the end of 2019. Since then I have been working through a waiting list of commission hounds and planning a mini exhibition for 2021 …
When we moved to Romania in 2000 the Street Dogs and their cheeky puppies started to work their charm on our lives and by 2005 we were the proud owners of three, Max, Graham and Frank. Graham sadly passed away before we left, but Max and Frank went on to be joined by Princess Margaret the Show Cocker (and junior Swedish kennel club champion 2006) to be my companions and confidents in all my travels.
You can see dogs like Max and Frank at any dog rescue web site, sporting toothy under bites, heads that don't quite match bodies, but always, always, always with big characters and a story to tell. My own mutts are here. Max who had rickets as a puppy with really bendy front legs who tried to remedy it by getting hold of a packet of calcium tablets and ate the whole lot in one go. Frank, appeared at the gate after living under a car across the street in Bucharest. Frank used to get so excited with life that he would jump straight up onto the car bonnet before we went out. Thankfully the car had collected a few scratches of its own before. These are the faces that inspired me in the beginning, and I will always sketch mutts like these when I need to get making.