In the Beginning
I have always enjoyed making things with my hands, from thinking up the design, to planning how, and finally the making. My Mum let me use her old Viking Husqvarna sewing machine when I was 8 years old and I remember being particularly proud of making a complete set of clothes from my battered Barbie doll using scraps of fabric and press studs. Mum was less impressed. Fast forward 40 years or so...
Travelling around Europe
Between 2000 and 2014 I lived in one of the then most eastern corner of Europe - Romania , then the flattest - The Netherlands, and finally the home of IKEA - Sweden.
Packing up and moving home was a habit and crafting and sewing was fitted in when there was the space and the time and the inspiration. But ideas had started brewing.....
It was an overcast day in 2008, I was waiting at a tram stop in Amsterdam and had a few minutes to kill. I had just finished giving an oh- so-so English Language class to summer students, whose eyes had glazed over as I tried to teach them the joys of the English Language. It was hot and sticky and frankly not nice…. what could I do to cheer myself up?
With those few minutes I wandered into Waterstones Bookshop to find some coolness and found myself in the “Craft and Hobby” section. In need of a pick-me-up, my eyes fell on “Stupid Sock Creatures” by John Murphy and I started to smile. I bought the book and laughed at Murphy’s creations all the way home. That book sewed the seed of an idea that I should stop teaching English and start making my own creatures that would make people smile and want to own. John Murphy had done it, why couldn’t I? Soon every spare wool sock in the house had been sewn and stuffed. My early designs were fairly abstract and frankly weird, but as time passed I watched, sketched and made more and more dogs, and started to sell on Etsy.
That was 2008, and teaching English is now a dim and distant memory. The sock creatures are now Hawkes’ Hounds, canine companions still using a sock but now sporting pure wool or felt bodies. I have developed my own style, developed my own techniques to create my unique hounds. Back in South London the hounds started to take on a life of their own, getting more and more detailed.
In December 2017 my hounds started to take their place in The Little Mustard Shop, 33 Clifton Hill, Brighton - the inspirational shop of Sam Toft. Terriers, Dachshounds and Dalmatians have all taken their place there, until it closed in 2019. I now make commissions and for the joy of making a new hound.
Max Frank Margaret
With the exception of "Princess Margaret" the petite English Cocker Spaniel (who jealously guards her kennel club breeder certificate and Swedish junior champion award 2006)who sits by my side most of the day.... my heart is always sold on mutts who don't have a pedigree bone in their body.
You can see them 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.