once owned a peacock called Raja. If I’m honest I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with peacocks, ever since I went to London zoo at the age of 4 and a keeper gave me a feather; and then again at 8 when I went to Warwick castle with the school and saw them roaming around the grounds. I think I’m mostly mesmerised by their iridescence, because I’m equally fascinated by butterflies and jewel beetles. So when the chance came around to have a peacock of my own, I didn’t need to be asked twice. In my head I had pictured Lazy, summer days with my family in the garden and the peacock roaming around pecking carelessly on the lawn, or sunny himself in the adjacent fields. And one spring day my dream was realized when a courier turned up from Leeds and delivered Raja, together with a peahen we named Jazmin. When they first arrived they were 6 months old and I watched on in absolute amazement whilst they changed from plain brown birds to magnificent Persian creatures. Every day a new splash of colour would appear and gradually, over the course of two years that spectacular train of feathers developed. Jazmin also acquired turquoise eyeliner and a sheen of emerald that she could flash or hide at will. So, did he spend the long lazy summer days sunning himself in my garden?, did he heck, my goodness he was thick. It turned out there was only two things driving Raja forward..Jazmin, and custard creams. He would follow her around like a balloon on a long string, drifting off in the breeze then running to catch the poor thing up. She was definitely the thinking side of the partnership and the truth was, if I had control of her...I had control of him. Every now and then she would look me in the eye as if to say “Can’t you do something about him?” However, there was about 4-6 weeks every year when a switch would go in his head and even the little sense he had disserted him . We would get a little warning that this phase was about to start because Jazmin would disappear completely, the chickens refused to leave their coop, and Raja would become obsessed by our yard broom. Every May, Like clockwork, he would fly straight onto the roof of the only people in the village who weren’t’ so keen on him... and bellow right down their chimney, goodness only knows how loud this was by the time it reached their open fireplace. On Sundays he would sit on the roof of the little arts and craft, village, church, then, like an image from a William Morris design, he would squawk along to all the hymns. And despite the fact that we are surrounded by fields and tall trees with ample amounts of substantial things to perch on, he would insist on squeezing himself onto the 3” ledge that was my neighbours bathroom window ledge, just in time to frighten the pants off her as she pulled her curtains. Every now and then during this time, the same church would decide to hold a flower festival. A small army of willing volunteers would spend days creating marvellous wreaths and swags full of flowers and berries to adorn the outside of the historic building. Raja would perch himself on the well opposite and you just knew he was thinking... “Buffet!”. I quickly learnt to lock him up at the first sign of florist’s wire and oasis. I spent two and a half years chasing Raja around, offering to replace newly, planted, lime green plants that had caught his eye, or laying elaborate trails of custard creams just to get him back from where ever he’d had got himself stuck. Or walking into my bedroom to find him sitting on the back of the chair, because with the whole of the countryside to wonder around , why wouldn’t you squeeze through the smallest of openings into which ever house took your fancy? There wasn’t a day went by when I wasn’t caught up in some drama or calamity caused by him, and there isn’t day that goes by that I don’t miss him. It remains to this day one of the biggest privileges of my life that I once owned a peacock called Raja. So where was I? Oh yes that’s right, scarves. I was inspired by Raja’s fabulous train to create my peacock scarf. Although most of the design is created by painting and working on the images, the eye of each feather remains Raja’s.
I’ve finally started my blog! I know it’s usual to use your blog to keep everybody up to date with new projects and products, I thought however, it would be worthwhile just using the first two or three posts to talk about how I got to where I am, and to talk a little about the designs I already have on the site. Hopefully in the process I can answer some of the questions I'm often get asked.
A lot of the background information on me can be found in about the designer, but in short, my background is in costume and design. Within this role I have often had the need to produce small amounts of bespoke fabric when nothing else could be found. Although this would usually be hand painted or screen painted, the notion that, if you can’t find what you want...you make it, is not new to me.
As you will discover one of my passions is history, so The “Wars of the Roses” design was a pure indulgence on my part. I was researching the period, and had spent the previous weeks clambering over Garter stalls at St George’s Chapel Windsor and pouring over books on heraldry in the British Library. Although the research had nothing to do with design, I couldn’t help thinking that some of this stuff would make great fabric, so the designs were already starting to develop in my head. And so I fancied a scarf that would reflect the beauty and vibrancy of the images I was seeing, but when I looked, I couldn't find anything, so in true costumier fashion, I thought I’d make one myself.
Medieval art and illumination is full of icons and hidden messages, and I wanted my scarf to give a reference to this, so the finished design...for those who care... depicts a brief history of the struggles during this conflict.
In short, The Wars of the Roses were a dynastic struggle between two branches of the same family. Over the period of 30 years they met up and down the country in a series of scuffles, grudge matches and full blown battles. In the beginning it was a struggle to control the crown, in the end, a struggle for the crown itself. By the end of this conflict, the crown had changed hands 7 times and only one of these kings had died naturally in bed.
I wanted to create a design that told a little bit of this story and to pay homage to all of these kings, from Henry VI, through Richard III to the final victor, Henry VII, who was to become the master of iconology as spin. With a background of chain mail, and a nod to the layout of the heraldic flags used to such effect during this period, the royal emblems of all the kings are laid across the design sandwiched between the constantly changing red and white roses, which have come to depict the two branches of this feuding dynasty. Like so many medieval conflicts, the causes of The Wars Of The Roses, were complex and deeply rooted in previous disputes, both sides often raging against something they would eventually become, and so the design also reflects this repetition of state, as it relentlessly repeats across the scarf. I had the best of times creating this design and It was so well received I ended up producing a small batch, and the need for a website to sell them on arose...and that’s it really...here we are!