Monday, 17 July 2017

About me

Hello everyone, it seems like a long time since i just chattered away and talked about me. We'd better rectify that then, hadn't we?




Life has changed a lot for me over the last couple of years and although I love change and tend to thrive on change, I'm still adjusting to this new life style.

Two years ago, I was developing prototypes of my handmade shelves with added crochet and starting to think about building a business. I was working full time and had teenage children. I was spending my spare time renovating our house, a former dentists from the 1900's.

Now, I'm a new mummy again- well new ish, my little one is 14 months old as I write this. He's walking, climbing, and trying very hard to speak to us! I'm my own boss of two different businesses. I've hardly moved the house on at all, but it's our forever home so it's ok!



Not going out to work very often and not having colleagues are pretty big changes. Working 13 hour days looking after a baby and then starting work on my businesses is also very different. It doesn't feel like work at all and that means I am exceptionally grateful to have such a wonderful lifestyle. I do take time everyday to appreciate my life, my work, my family and friends, my health and my house and businesses. I do chat away at people when I see them though as I think I am a little in danger of not having enough conversation in my life. That's one of the definite downsides of living with four boys and being the only girl. 

My days are spent dividing my time between my two businesses and making sure I have plenty of time to play with my little man. I struggle to fit household tasks around these, but just keep telling myself that there's more to life than neatly ironed clothes. The teenagers are mostly having to fend for themselves. Ideally that will just mean they grow up to be very independent. They won't allow me to take pictures anymore, so I can't introduce you to them! 

My consultancy business is as an evaluation expert. Unless you've worked on charity and publicly funded projects in the past you probably have no idea what that means. I've been a project manager for charity projects for the last 14 years and along the way I've learned that evaluation is one of my key strengths. I'm one of those weird people who loves English and Maths and is good at both. I happen to enjoy analytical work and meeting people and evaluation means I get to do all the bits I love.

How it works is that when charities and community groups receive public money for projects, which could be from the lottery, from health funding agencies or charitable trusts, they call upon someone like me to show the impact of their work. What this means, for example, is that if a group of young people are developing a project around building a community garden and they are being supported by a gardening group: I can work with them to find out which bits of the project were particularly successful, what taking part meant to the young people and what the project did for the local community, the wildlife, the community who see the garden every day. I help projects measure things like confidence or resilience and happiness among other difficult-to-measure-things. By bringing someone like me in, the project staff can focus on running the project, I can help them to find out how they should plan another project and I can show how the project was a worthwhile investment to other funders, which hopefully means more projects in the future. It's my way of helping to make the world a better place. 

I really love this work, it's flexible and I'm my own boss and I get to problem solve too!

Then the other business is destabled. As you are reading this on my destabled website the chances are fairly high that you already know something about my work here. I'm a furniture designer and maker. Each of my products is designed and refined by myself and then made by hand by me. I work with wood and crochet and make a capsule collection of products; shelves, wall hooks, bookends, and my latest design - bedside tables.



My products are designed to echo the forest, and the shape of trees but in a clean and contemporary manner. Each of my wooden shelves and bedside tables are made from solid wood which have the knots removed, to show the shape of the original tree. This means that each piece I make is a completely unique design, just like no two trees are ever identical.

I start with the wood and make design decisions throughout. Smaller knots tend to have smaller holes and larger knots have larger holes.



The larger holes are filled with crochet. These are woolen knots, again, made by me! I use the finest hand dyed yarns and then add paint to create a truly original product which is a usable item too.





I am often asked where the inspiration for adding crochet came from, and the truth is I'm just not entirely sure. I have been crochet-ing for a few years and often used to hold my work up to the light to see how the pattern was coming along. Out of nowhere I decided I wanted that crochet to be a part of furniture. I started teaching myself woodwork only because I had a vision of what I wanted my shelves to look like. It took me a long time to get them to look like the ones you see now, which is the vision I had. I kept my early works though, to remind myself how far I've come. I'm a fairly confident person on the whole, but I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to share those first attempts! 

I use dovetail joints, they're strong and sturdy and look great. Again, that was a pretty huge learning experience. Luckily I really do love learning. To manage this lifestyle I've chosen, I've pretty much given up watching TV. I catch the odd show or movie, and sometimes I put documentaries on in the office while I tidy up or do a job where I don't need to concentrate so much. 




I don't mind not watching TV. I'm quite impatient anyway and always felt a bit like I was wasting time if I just sat down and watched something. I'm quite driven and give myself a hard time if I'm not productive. I need to stop doing that so much, as life with a baby just isn't productive and I need to get better at appreciating the little moments we have together, rather than thinking of all the things I still have on my to do list. 

I don't like wasting materials, and had all these circles of wood leftover from my shelves. I spent ages trying to think of a way to use them and then I remembered that branches of trees are natures coat hooks. Is that a saying? I've possibly just made that up! Anyway - that was the inspiration and now I use the holes I remove to make simple and elegant wall hooks. I like to try and think of it as I am using all of the tree. I use hooks a lot at home, and still need more. As I type this I realise more and more that I make the products that I need. Is that what every designer does? 



I've always loved to read. Trips to the library as a child were my favourite thing to do and I still read a lot as an adult. Not as much recently, I lost the ability to concentrate when I had antenatal depression (you can read about that here) and although I do now feel healed, I just don't have the time. I could make time probably, but I want to focus on blogging, and learning to improve my photography and improving my social media skills so I haven't really put reading as a priority right now. 

Again, I was thinking of my love of forests and woodlands and places and travel and all those images combined in my head to create a vision of these bookends which are shaped like signposts and these can be personalised with any combination of six special places. I love hearing the places people choose. Making these gives me a sense of wanderlust every time! 



Our house is a forever house, as I mentioned before and it has lots of wonderful original features. One of the most amazing parts is that we have an outbuilding with a garage, a den above and a stabIe. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I think I own a stable! It's like a dream come true. The stable is my workshop, I make all these products in my stable, it's my little haven and I spent a lot of time in there designing, hence the name destabled.

It's so easy to talk about yourself isn't it! I've just kept writing and there's more to say! I'd like to discuss how I spend an average day, the spaces I work in, what I've learned setting up a business, and much more. I feel however that this post has come to rest at a natural place, so I shall save those ideas for another time.