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Want to Breathe New Life into your Home without the Hassle of Redecorating? Try this!

Cage brass pendant light over dining tableWhen you work hard and have a busy life there’s nothing worse than walking into your home at the end of the day and being hit by how dim and gloomy it looks. You don’t want it to be like this. Your home should be a lovely uplifting place to return to, where you can relax and enjoy your time away from the stresses of work.

One of the quickest and easiest ways of transforming your home and making it a more relaxing, nurturing place to be is to upgrade your lighting.

There are three main types of lighting to consider, each of which serves a different purpose.

Types of lighting

Ambient lighting is the overall illumination of a room. It is usually provided by wall lights, lights set into the ceiling or pendant lighting. You can use the ambient lighting to create a particular atmosphere, for example, use bright lighting to bring energy to your office and lower lighting in rooms where you want to relax like your bedroom. Dimmer switches are also good, allowing you to adjust the lighting levels and therefore the atmosphere.

Task lighting refers to lights you need for specific purposes. These include lights around mirrors in the bathroom or bedroom, reading lamps whether in the bedroom, on a desk or next to your favourite armchair, and lights in the kitchen to highlight the work surfaces when you’re preparing food.

Pure floor lamps

Finally, accent lighting is lighting that’s more about the aesthetics. Common accent lighting includes picture lights or spotlights to highlight an alcove or feature wall. Candles also fall into this category being mainly used to create a specific ambience rather than as a functional light source.

Do a lighting audit

Take a walk around the rooms in your home (you’ll probably want to do this later in the evening when it’s easier to analyse) and consider the different types of lighting in each room.

  • Is the ambient lighting sufficient? Does it create the atmosphere you want for that room?
  • Do you have the right task lighting available? Is there sufficient light in all the places where you might want to read, craft, put on your make-up or do other close work?
  • Are there any areas that would benefit from accent lighting?

Make a to do list of improvements as you go round and keep a particular eye out for opportunities for quick wins.

Quick and easy lighting improvements

  • Octopus print lamp shadeReplace outdated pendant lighting. There are some really beautiful pendant lights available that make a real statement in a room.
  • Add reading lamps anywhere that you find yourself peering at the newspaper!
  • Install dimmer switches in rooms where you would like the option of softer, lower-level lighting.
  • Use floor lamps to light specific areas of a room and provide an alternative to the main ambient lighting.
  • And probably the quickest and easiest, update existing lamps or pendants with bright new lamp shades.

Finally, if you want to bring a splash of colour to any room then my top recommendation would be the Funk lighting from Danish lighting designers Nordlux. This beautiful, affordable range allows you to mix and match acrylic shades in 2 different sizes and 13 different colours with low energy lightbulbs and 15 different colours of light fittings to create exactly the effect you want. You can see the whole Nordlux Funk range here.

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Cheese Board Ideas

Rosie Brewer cheese boards and butter knivesWe have just received some beautiful new stock from Rosie Brewer including these unique cheese boards and wooden butter knives. This got me thinking about cheese (it doesn’t take a lot!) and what a simple but heartening meal it can make. I have a big collection of food and cookery books so I’ve had a look through to find some top cheese board ideas.

What to serve with cheese

Cheese comes in so many varieties that there are no hard and fast rules but a good starting point is always some nice cheese biscuits or good fresh bread. Add to this some pickled onions and fruit and you’ve got a classic ploughman’s lunch. Continue reading Cheese Board Ideas

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Lucy’s Stripey Picture

Here at Davies & Maker it’s our mission to find special things for your home, so we thought it would be fun to share some of our favourite things. My stripey picture is the perfect place to start because it is one of my very favourite things and it was made by Hilary, the other half of Davies & Maker, as a present for me.

Stripey picture
Lucy’s stripey picture from Hilary

I have always loved stripey things so about 10 years ago, when Hilary was doing a lot of textile art and quilting, a stripey gift was the perfect thing to make for me. I loved the things Hilary created and I didn’t know she was making this so it was a lovely surprise. It’s very precious because she made it specially for me, it’s very beautiful and it’s stripey 🙂

When I decided to share this as my first favourite thing I asked Hilary a bit more about how she made it so if you’re feeling creative you can make your own!

Detail of stripey picture

The fabric is mercerised cotton, hand-dyed using regular fabric dye.  You get the varying shades of a single colour by setting up a series of containers with different concentrations of dye in each and then using them to dye separate pieces of fabric.  Scrunching the fabric up a bit when it’s in the dye gives it that slightly tie-dyed effect. Hilary used Metapex dye detergent to remove any unattached excess dye from the fabric.

Once your fabric is ready, play around with it until you get an arrangement of colours that you like.  You could do all of the stripes the same width or vary them as Hilary did here.  I love that narrow shot of bright pink.

Detail of stripey picture

Cut your fabric strips, sew them together (very neatly!), add a plain border and then mount on a box frame. And there you have it, a treasured gift and the first of my favourite things.

We’ll be sharing more of our favourite things and what they mean to us over the coming months so sign up to our newsletter and keep in touch.

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The British Craft Trade Fair In Harrogate

Early last month Hilary and I headed off for a lovely day out at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate. It was our first trade fair as Davies & Maker so we were very excited and it didn’t disappoint. Held in a large hall at the Great Yorkshire Showground, it was packed with beautiful things: There were about 500 exhibitors, all artists and makers promoting their products that are handmade in the UK.

Hilary at the British Craft Trade Fair
Hilary and ceramicist Katie Pruden

We had a strict “don’t get distracted by all the gorgeous jewellery” rule and devoted our time to searching out beautiful homeware. It was fantastic to see how much amazing work is being produced in the UK and fascinating to speak to lots of the people who create that work. It’s so interesting to hear about the paths that lead people to what they do and we’ll be sharing some of their stories over the coming months.

Rupert Blamire salt igloo (salt pig)
Salt igloo from Rupert Blamire

So, let me introduce you to our top choices: The people who we thought were just perfect for Davies & Maker and whose products are already in the shop or will be in the next few weeks.

Hello Sunshine

Tabby cat clockYou couldn’t fail to notice Hello Sunshine and Jo Want’s bright, fun laser-cut work. A lot of her work is jewellery but her lovely cat clocks caught our eye and we’ve got them in stock already.

They make a great gift for the cat-lovers in your life and they come really beautifully packaged which makes them even more special.

Rosie Brewer

Rosie Brewer cheeseboardsRosie Brewer is a designer and maker who specialises in woodwork. As big cheese fans, we were immediately attracted by her lovely little cheese boards. We will have some of those and her wooden knives (these are great!) in stock in the next week or two.

It’s Rosie’s aim to make “objects which are both useful and beautiful. Everything … made to be used and enjoyed” which aligns perfectly with our ethos at Davies & Maker.

Rupert Blamire

Rupert Blamire ocean spray salad dressing jugWe were already familiar with the work of Rupert Blamire because Hilary has a couple of his oil decanters and one of his useful little salad dressing jugs. Billed as “the perfect gift for foodies everywhere” it was great to see his whole collection en masse because the ocean-inspired colours are just stunning.

We couldn’t wait to get our order in and it’s already arrived and available in the shop.

Blacksmith Munro

Blacksmith Munro log basketNow if you’d asked us what we expected to find at the trade fair I don’t think either of us would have thought of log baskets or pokers but they are just some of the beautiful products hand-forged by Katie Wright at Blacksmith Munro.

She combines a traditional craft with feminine design to create work which is both beautiful and functional. We will have the log baskets and pokers available for special order and should have a selection of her coat hooks in stock around the end of the month.

Helen Faulkner

Helen Faulkner bowlHelen Faulkner is a potter based in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. She designs and makes hand-thrown terracotta tableware in a range of beautiful colours.

We’ve got a selection from her blue and cream ranges on order and hope to have that in the shop by the end of May.

I hope you’ve spotted at least one or two things that you like or that would make the perfect present for somebody you know. Of course there were plenty of other people and products that we’d love to stock so we’ve put them on our wish list for the future. Make sure you don’t miss any new products (or special offers) by signing up for our newsletter here.

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Featured Artist: Ben Partridge

Ben at work
Ben busy printing

One of our aims at Davies & Maker is to source and highlight the work of some of the many fantastic artists and craftspeople out there. Today we are featuring Ben Partridge and his business, The Owlery, which sells textiles and paper products based on his animal print designs.

I first met Ben at the Peddler Night Market in Sheffield late last year. I love animals and animal-themed art so I was instantly attracted to his boldly coloured animal patterns. When Hilary and I decided to start Davies & Maker and were looking for beautiful homewares, Ben was an obvious choice.

I had a chat to Ben yesterday when we went to collect some stock from him and asked him how he got into art and print-making. It turns out that Ben hasn’t taken the usual art school route but is entirely self-taught and only started out on this journey two and a half years ago which is amazing!

His initial introduction to print-making was during his teacher training. It was one of three afternoons learning about art in primary schools that gave him the opportunity to try various types of print-making.  The group were given free rein to try out lots of different print-making tools and spend an afternoon playing with them and Ben’s passion for this wonderful craft was born.

Following teacher training Ben worked with special needs students in secondary education where there was a big emphasis on enterprise projects to inspire the young people and give them skills for life. This gave him lots more opportunities to explore print-making and the business aspects required to turn art and craft into a commercial venture. Ben still works in teaching while managing to produce loads of beautiful work in his spare time.

Ben's work at the British Craft Trade Fair
Ben’s work at the British Craft Trade Fair

I asked Ben where his ideas come from and whether he ever struggles for inspiration. He has always done animal-inspired designs and finds inspiration all over the place: On school visits to zoos and wildlife parks, by keeping his eye on the trends in colour and design, or simply walking down the street.

Bee print lamp shade in use
Bee print lampshade

All of these seeds of ideas go into his notebook where they wait and evolve until they are either dismissed or developed into a new design. It isn’t a process that can be rushed and even a finished piece might sit in Ben’s workshop for a couple of months before he is certain that he wants to show it to the world. I’m glad he finally does!

Ben works in collaboration with other local artists and makers in order to create high quality, hand-finished products. Currently we stock ranges of his work featuring seagulls, bees and octopuses and you can read more about his inspiration for the individual pieces in the product descriptions.

To hear all about our featured artists and designers as well as new products and special offers please sign up for our newsletter here.