Summer Exhibition at Grain Barge

 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hanging some of my framed prints in the beautiful Bristol venue, Grain Barge. It’s the first solo exhibition I have put on for a little while so it was exciting to hang some of my newer designs for 2018 together with some older ones. The venue is a barge converted into a restaurant and bar as you may be able to guess from the name! Run by the same team as Tobacco Factory on North Street, they boast a gorgeous locally sourced menu and amazing views across Bristol marina which can be enjoyed from the glass walled bar area as well as the top deck!

 

Grain-Barge-Summer-Exhibition-Bristol-Sky-Siouki

 

The venue makes for an ideal setting for my work as it is very light filled and full of rustic charm since the interior is largely made up of reclaimed materials. Love having a natural wooden wall as a backdrop to the main grid of work shown above rather than the usual white walls I’m used to in gallery spaces.

 

Hanging-Grain-Barge-Summer-Exhibition-Bristol-Sky-Siouki

Owl-Grain-Barge-Summer-Exhibition-Bristol-Sky-Siouki

 

All artwork exhibited in there is available for sale and includes nine of my giclée print designs all framed and ready to go straight on your own walls at home! If you always find it a struggle to get prints framed after buying them, this is the perfect opportunity to save yourself the hassle. The exhibition is on until August 14th so why not grab a pint in the sun, and maybe some dinner too, and have a good nosey at the show!

 

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9 Reasons To Buy From Designer-Makers

This week I wanted to highlight the importance of buying from designer-makers and independent brands here on the blog. Every order means so much to us, and although it may cost a little more hopefully the reasons below will help you realise why shopping independent is worth every penny.

1.  ETHICAL.

Buying from a designer maker most likely means that each item is handmade meaning in turn that each item has been ethically made. You can rest assured when you buy from an independent like Sky Siouki that nothing even remotely resembling a sweatshop has been involved in the process of making your item and I hope you’ll agree that’s a piece of mind worth having.

Sky Siouki Hand sewing cushions

2. HIGH QUALITY.

Most of us designer makers really care about the products we make and so we want them to be the best quality possible. We don’t intend on making something that’s only going to fall apart by the end of the year because we’ve put our sweat and tears into those products and we want you to be able to cherish them forever. Besides that we’d be doing ourselves an injustice by spending hours and hours over designing something, only to produce it using materials that make it look cheap or sub-standard.

3. UNIQUE.

You have the opportunity to find something ever so special, and perhaps even one of a kind, if you buy from a designer-maker. I think most of us can agree how exciting it feels when you discover something so beautiful and unusual that no-one else you know has and has an ethereal quality like no other thing you’ve seen before. Take these needle-felted sculptures by The Whispering Wild for example, each one is one of a kind and has taken hours to produce.

Whispers of Wild Needlefelt Hare

4. SUPPORT INDEPENDENT.

Behind each product is a person who is trying their absolute hardest to make their passion and talents into a business. Designer-makers are not money hungry business owners trying to get rich quick. We have chosen the road less travelled against all odds and it is by no means an easy feat so each and every customer is incredibly valuable to us and your support honestly means the world.

5. SUPPORT LOCAL.

When you buy from a designer-maker in your country, or perhaps even the same county or city if you often buy at markets, you are supporting your local economy too. By supporting local economy you help to boost your community and may even get to know the real person behind the product.

6. PERSONAL.

If you’re looking for an extra special item many designer-makers can even make something personalised just for you. Love this adorable cat couple commission by ceramicist Little Birdy for someone’s wedding cake topper! Who else but an incredible designer-maker could create such a thing?!

Little Birdy Cat Wedding Cake Toppers

7. THOUGHTFUL GIFTS.

When you give someone a gift made by a designer-maker you’re going to make the recipient feel all the more loved for it. To go to the effort to find something so much more rare, unusual and beautiful than something simply found in a high-street store shows that you have carefully considered what to get that person and spent time picking it out especially.

8. BEAUTIFULLY PRESENTED.

Designer makers almost always go the extra mile when it comes to our packaging and finishing touches. We want your item to arrive with a bang, or maybe a sparkly flurry, when it reaches your doorstep! As well as the product being handmade, so is the packaging, so the box is most likely going to look almost as exciting as what’s inside which is perfect if it’s a gift.

Paly Glass Botanical Frames

9. STORY BEHIND EVERY ITEM.

Behind each item or design there is no doubt a story in some shape or form making that item all the more interesting. For me each of my designs take their own journey through their process of creation and each bird has it’s only little story to tell within that. For other products, their stories may lie in their subtle imperfections or perhaps a wild dream the designer once had. I like to think that Little Birdy must have some amazing dreams looking at her Mer-puss and Narwhal creations!

 

So there you have it. Remember next time you’re gift shopping that buying from a designer-maker supports others and spreads kindness. Love and care has been put into each and every piece you buy from a designer-maker, care to design it from the heart, craft it well out of the best materials, and present it in the prettiest package.

 

TOP 5… Botanical Fabrics

Since Spring is finally approaching, this month I’m featuring five plant themed prints for the home. I’ve gotten very into botanical studies of late and think there’s a lot to be admired in the beautiful variety of leaf shapes and sizes as well as just pretty florals. Botanical prints are really on trend right now and I’m enjoying the range of fabrics featuring delicately illustrated plants that’s about at the moment. I’ve featured interior fabrics since that’s my speciality but I have to say they are some gorgeous fashion prints about too. Here are my Top 5 leafy fabrics for the home…

1. Woodland Ferns by Sanderson

Love the drama of this colourway although if it’s a bit too dark for you it is also available in paler hues. The black really brings out all the intricate details of the leaves though and would look great used to furnish seats of dining table chairs or stools.

Sanderson

 

2. Foliage by Shelley Steer

I love this designer’s style. You should also check out the cactus print she did for Australian brand Sanctuary Boutique Linens – gorgeous! Palm prints are so big right now, especially love the mix of dark green over pale peach pink here too.

Shelley Steer

 

3. Jindai by Designers Guild

Quite similar to the Sanderson design but with a slightly more handprinted feel, I love the variety of shapes and textures used here. It is available in other colours but I think the monochrome has a lovely simplicity.

Designers Guild

 

4. Mathilda by Abigail Borg

A bit more of a quirky, graphic print in Abigail Borg’s classic illustrated style. I love her use of line and all the delicate detail within this print. The black and white over a bright colour creates a stunning contrast. This one also comes in other colours.

Abigail Borg

 

5. Topical Tropical by Timorous Beasties

This one is much more of a statement print but what an incredible burst of colour and energy. The amount of detail in Timorous Beasties’ prints never ceases to amaze me, I love the contrast of scale they’ve used in this design. The directional style would be ideal for long drapes.

Timorous Beasties

Liberty Best of British Open Call 2016

Last weekend I made a trip to London to go and queue up for Liberty’s Best of British Open Call 2016 and present my latest cushion designs to their buyers. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Liberty of London, it’s a huge department store right in the centre of London on Regent St and it’s kind of a big deal. It’s an absolutely beautiful building and has been there since 1875. To be stocked in the store would be an incredible achievement and has been a dream of mine for some time so attending the open call had to be worth a shot. I actually went to the open call for the first time back in August 2014 but this time I felt more determined for some reason and more confident in my new collection.

Liberty

I arrived at about 8:45am. The queue was already pretty long but once the doors opened at 9am we suddenly moved forward by quite a bit and thankfully I moved into the building out of the cold by around 10:30am, joining the queue going up around the staircase. Both times I’ve found everyone else in the queue to be very friendly and there is a lovely encouraging atmosphere. The queue continues up the staircase for quite a while as the meetings are held right at the top of the building but someone came round calling people forward who had homewares as there were obviously less people waiting to see the homeware buyers. At the top there are lots of chairs laid out and you have to register your name and category and then wait another hour or so to be called. This is by far the most nerve-racking bit!

Queueing Up The Staircase

Soon enough my name was called around 1pm and I was put in front of Ed Burstell, the managing director of the whole store, and Julie Hassan, the head home buyer! I felt super nervous when I saw that they were the panel I’d be presenting to but you’re only given 4 minutes so it went incredibly fast. Julie gave me a lot of very specific and useful feedback on my designs and I was impressed by how in-depth she was, even opening up the zips and reading the tags.

Although they didn’t say it, the general impression I got was that my designs are a little too subdued for Liberty’s shelves which in hindsight when visiting the store on my way out seemed very clear to me. I didn’t take any of my first collection because I’ve grown to feel a lot more proud of my latest work but when they saw a photo of my previous designs in my lookbook they were a lot more intrigued by it and I realised how much my design style has changed and perhaps Liberty isn’t where my work necessarily fits anymore. I’m so pleased I went anyway as it was such a great experience and I appreciated how honest Julie was. The first time I went I felt like the buyers I met with were perhaps just being nice to me so it was refreshing to get some real feedback. I kind of wish I’d taken a mix of my old and new work now but you never know how much difference these things would really make. I also found out that around 3,000 people applied by email to see the buyers on the day but only 600 were invited so I feel really privileged to know that I was chosen.

Waiting To Be Seen

This year I’ve set myself a challenge to go for 100 opportunities and Liberty was number one. Now that I have this experience to reflect on I want to focus on trying to gain stockists that my new work is more suited to next and from there I can hopefully gage the right direction to continue in. If you have any questions about going to the Liberty open call please feel free to drop me a comment!

8 Independent Stores for Online Christmas Shopping

It’s mid November and I am beginning to realise I can’t go on ignoring Christmas shopping much longer! I’ve been so focused on making Christmas gifts for other people to buy that I’ve barely thought about buying any myself. I think I’ll be relying on a lot of online shopping this Christmas, but that by no means you can’t still shop independent. I love that the ‘Shop Independent This Christmas’ slogan has become so popular and it’s certainly one I’m backing so I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best online stores I could find to buy beautiful, handcrafted and ethically made gifts. Not only because I’m an independent designer myself, but because you get something so much better quality and more unique when you shop indie.

  1. The Other Duckling – Discovered this one only today via the brilliant Homegirl London blog and love nearly everything they have to offer! They mainly stock vintage things, which is great as it makes it so much easier to find what you’re after than in an actual vintage shop. Hard to choose a favourite, but love this quirky china dog lamp! So kitsch but somehow charming too.

China Dog Lamp

 

2. The Lost Lanes – Admittedly, one of my stockists, but I loved this site before they became a stockist hence why I wanted to sell on there! They’ve recently made it a big part of their ethos to only sell ethically made products by independent UK designers and give details of how each product is made to be ethical with easy to understand symbols. This eco soy candle sounds divine!

Banana Nut Bread Soy Candle

 

3. Decorator’s Notebook – Another one with a strong focus on ethically made products with a beautiful selection of boho style products for the home. I’m so in love with the Indian Kantha quilts they stock, all made using recycled saris by a fairtrade company that helps women who were victims of sex trafficking.

Kantha Quilt

 

4. Eclect Design – Ok, I realise this feature is getting a bit homeware fanatical but I mean what more would you expect from me? There are yet more gorgeous homewares on this website. I LOVE this mug, and anyone who knows me will know it’s because I love deer. May just have to ask Santa for this one myself this year.

Menagerie Deer Mug

 

5. Wolf & Badger – Also with two real-life stores based in London but for those of us who don’t live in London or just prefer to shop from the comfort of our sofas, you can also shop online! They sell a brilliant mix of clothing, accessories and homeware all by independent designers. Just to prove I do like things beyond interiors, check out this gorgeous cork skin handbag from their site!

Pelcor Cayenne Cork Handbag

 

6. In Spaces – Another of my stockists with an extensive collection of interior products. Just came across possibly the coolest clock ever on there and had to share it. It’s a mechanimated weather clock that detects the current atmospheric pressure and responds by displaying the appropriate weather art. Amazing!

Traditional Mechanimated Weather Clock

 

7. Here Today Here Tomorrow – This store is all about sustainable, ethical fashion – something I feel there needs to be a lot more of in this world. Have to admit I always say buying someone clothes is a little risky, unless of course they’ve put something specific on a certain wish-list… These stylish handmade trousers have been woven using a traditional Nepalese technique.

Fairtrade Dhaka Trousers

 

8. The Shop Floor Project – Full of quirky UK artist made products. How lovely is the idea for this cushion collection… each features a collage of the home of a famous British writer. Of course I had to choose Beatrix Potter as my favourite.

 

Beatrix Potter House Cushion

If you’ve got anymore suggestions drop me a comment below! Think I need all the help I can get this year. And of course you can buy gifts from Sky Siouki too, my online shop is right here!

The New Sky Siouki Collection – ‘Flight’

This week was very exciting for me as I finally got to launch my brand new collection of designs after a long time coming! I’ve spent many weeks articulately drawing birds of prey and botanicals and spraying lashings of oil and acrylic paint to canvas boards and so it feels amazing to have now produced some final products just in time for Christmas. The new designs are currently available as linen cushions, A3 giclée prints and stone coasters although there may be more to come in the new year.

Cushions

I can’t believe I started planning this collection all the way back in June. There have been a few obstacles along the way as there tend to be in life but I’m so pleased to have got there in the end. The process really made me realise how limiting the project deadlines at university were and although I would never take back anything I did during my degree, I never could have produced a collection like this at uni because of the high expectations for quantity of work. I feel so much better about having four strong designs that I put my all into and didn’t rush than if I’d produced 20 quick and easy designs that meant little to me. These designs seemed to come together so much more naturally than ever before and I’m not sure if this was because I wasn’t under pressure to tick all the boxes on the marking scheme or perhaps just because it’s been so long since I created something new that all of my enthusiasm just fuelled me forwards.

Jackal Buzzard Cushion

After much deliberation I’ve named the collection ‘Flight’ highlighting the central focus on birds of prey but I also really liked that this word seems to suggest ideas of feeling uplifted and weightless. The collection has quite a natural, fresh look and the paintings used are very expressive and dynamic all of which I felt the word Flight emulated well as it relates to nature and movement. It is simple but creates impact, as does the composition of the designs.

Coasters

When I set out to design this collection I made a conscious decision to move away from the look of my previous work and create something more subdued in colour, less kitsch and more elegant. I didn’t originally intend to only draw birds of prey but once I’d drawn one, the rest sort of just followed. I’ve always loved birds and birds of prey in particular make me feel incredibly awed and empowered so I decided since it was working to just go with it.

Since I started Sky Siouki my tastes have changed a fair bit which I think this collection reflects very truthfully. I hope that it still sits well alongside the Curious Kingdom collection since my style of drawing tends to be quite recognisable but I also would be encouraged to know if customers can distinguish the change in direction I have taken. Anyway, this has been quite a wordy post but hopefully an interesting insight into my design process and the journey designing ‘Flight’ has taken me on. I hope the journey isn’t over yet!

You can have a proper look at my new products available in my online shop and I post little insights into my working day everyday on Instagram too.

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TOP 5… Spring Inspired Prints

Springtime is now in full swing and so in light of all the lovely weather we’ve been having, this month’s Top 5 feature is on Spring inspired prints! All the prints I’ve picked are for interiors either on furnishing fabrics, wallpapers or interior accessories.

Spring Inspired Prints

  1. Lotus Pink Cushion by Bonnie & Neil £75 – Love the vibrancy of this pink botanical print by Australian brand Bonnie & Neil, contrasted nicely with a fun black trim.
  2. Bashful Bunnies Silk Cushion by Silken Favours £95 – I’m a huge Silken Favours fan and a major rabbit lover too so when this new silk bunny design came out it was bound to be an instant hit with me.

  3. PowderPuff Rose Fabric by Abigail Ryan £89 per metre – Abigail Ryan’s graphic florals and bold colours create a really strong Spring vibe full of warmth and joy.

  4. Harrys Garden Fabric by Louise Body £55 per metre – This design is a little more subdued but the sweet little garden birds inject some Springtime life into the delicately illustrated design.

  5. Harvest Hare Wallpaper in Corn by Mark Hearld £60 per roll – Mark Hearld’s linocut designs have a beautiful timeless quality. This wallpaper would make any room feel warm and happy even when it’s not Spring.

Keep up with more of my Top 5 features on the Shopping section of my blog.