The New Year has always felt like a strange, bittersweet time to me; I'm always torn between the excitement and energy that comes with a fresh start, and the sorrow of leaving the past year behind. This year I'm trying to use these mixed emotions to reflect over the past 12 months and figure out what I'd like to achieve over the next.
Last Summer I moved into my new studio space - was it really going to be any other colour?
2022 marked a turning point in my life - my partner and I moved into our first home together in July after an almost year-long renovation. This saw almost all other aspects of my life, Hex & Henbane included, feel like they were put on hold.
I had every intention of blogging about our renovation as the work progressed, but it very quickly became all-consuming. I really threw myself into the work, spending any free time I had up at the house stripping wallpaper, sanding woodwork, building shelves or fitting panelling. There were many low points during the process, some days it felt like we weren't making any progress at all and it was sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As cliched as it sounds, seeing my vision for each room become a reality was such an amazing feeling, the hard work was very much worthwhile.
It's almost six months since we moved in, and some days I still find it hard to believe that we live in such a beautiful home. Knowing how much of the work I did myself makes it feel all the more special - over the coming months I'd like to revisit our renovation journey and start to share some of the process with you. If there's any area in particular you'd like to know more about please let me know in the comments, if I can help to ease even a little renovation stress for you I will!
Having so little time to invest into Hex & Henbane last year left me reflecting a lot on why I started the brand in the first place, the core values behind my work and the direction in which I'd like to take it.
I was never going to be mass producing products to meet the latest trend, instead taking a slower, more considered approach to what it means to be a designer; my main goal has always been to create designs and products that will last the test of time. Perhaps now more than ever this is important - in this day and age it's easy for things to feel temporary, to be cherished for a short time before being tossed aside for something new. The huge impact the textiles and printing industries have on the environment is always at the back of my mind, let alone the waste that comes with low-quality, trend-focused products that weren't made to last. Though I might not be able to tackle these issues on a large scale, through my own practice I feel it's my duty as a designer to source the best quality materials, use local suppliers and manufacturers where possible and ultimately try to ensure I'm bringing high quality products to the market that are produced conscientiously to adorn your homes for years to come.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that I have a keen interest in the history of Art and Design, with a particular attachment to the Arts and Crafts movement of the mid 1800's. The inspiration for my designs often comes from anecdotes and snippets of information picked up whilst reading about such things, using symbolic imagery I translate these ideas into colour and pattern. I like to think that this design process results in my products holding onto a story of their own, allowing objects which would otherwise be purely decorative to invoke tales of the past. I've very much missed this research process, so alongside working on some new designs I'm looking to start a new series of blog posts which will explore this history and hopefully help to inspire you, too.
Out in my natural habitat, bouldering at Curbar
I've always struggled to know how much of my personal life to share on here, but have recently concluded that Hex & Henbane is so personal to me that I shouldn't necessarily keep it separate. Since moving into our new home, I've been changing my lifestyle to try and live more simply.
I'm finding a lot of pleasure in reading, cooking, gardening and baking, and now that the renovation work is finished this year I'm hoping to set to work on the garden. Long-term I'd like to live as self-sufficiently as possible, so this year I'm going to try and start growing some of my own food. This isn't something I have a lot of experience in, but I'll use my blog to keep a record of how it's going and share what I've learnt (and what mistakes I'll inevitably make!) Who knows, if it isn't a complete flop I might even share some recipe ideas too.
Some time ago now I wrote a blog on the importance of craft, and started to share some craft tutorials that are easy to do at home with minimal equipment. Now that renovating isn't taking up all my creative energy, I'd like to start sharing more of these. I think it's important to share such traditional skills, and perhaps more importantly to show that learning a craft and creating something beautiful can be a lot more accessible than you might think.
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll no doubt have seen countless story posts from days out in the mountains, or climbing in the Peak District. Outside of art, my heart really lies in the great outdoors. More than anything, this year I'm looking forward to spending more time in the solitude of the hills, really pushing myself with my climbing and just doing more of what I love. It wouldn't surprise me if this love of nature starts to creep in to my designing, too.
To anyone who read this far, thank you - I'm very aware that I've just been rambling away about anything and everything that's been floating around in my head for the last half of the year. I suppose I needed to put my ideas out into the world to have a tangible way of holding myself accountable to actually put them into practice. As you can probably tell from my writing, I never seem to switch off and always have hundreds of things on my mind; sometimes it's just nice to write them down and start to feel more organised.
To everyone who has followed Hex & Henbane, shared my work or made purchases, thank you - it's down to you that I get to work doing what I love, and that is a very lucky position to be in.