January Studio Sale coming up

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Our next Studio Sale is coming up next weekend and we’ve been doing a huge New Year clear out in the studio, making room for new stock. If you haven’t come along before, our Studio Sale events are a great opportunity to see behind the scenes in our working studio space. The huge print table groans under the weight of hundreds of cushions and there’s several chests of fabric remnants to rummage through that we’ve recently revitalised with new samples and end pieces. Towels, kitchen textiles and lampshades will also be reduced to clear, and there’s art displayed on all the walls. We’re two minutes from Highbury & Islington and the shopping mecca of Upper Street so pop along and have a lovely sales shopping day to banish the January blues!

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Christmas Cards

We have been gearing up for the festive season here and that means… starting on the Christmas cards! Last year was the first time we crafted these hand-printed beauties and they proved really popular. Throughout the year we’re constantly experimenting on card, printing different patchwork pieces or painting large scale watercolour designs for bed linen. By the time Christmas comes round we have piles of pieces that have been painted in ombré stripes of every colour. Instead of wasting them, we screen-print festive colours and metallic pigments over the card to create layered botanical silhouettes.

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Once we’re happy with the look of the prints, we cut them to size and they’re fixed to co-ordinating coloured card. Many thanks to Katie, our lovely intern, who is helping us print, cut and package all of the goodies.

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We’re so pleased with the end result and hope to have them up online soon for the first time. Each one is unique and hand-crafted so they’re the perfect way to give someone a special little piece of Clarissa Hulse artwork this Christmas.

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Tania’s summer garden

I made it out to Tania’s garden in Wiltshire for a weekend during late-summer and was blown away by the beautiful dahlias. The showy flower originates in Mexico and was grown as a food crop by the Aztecs. There are over 40 different species of dahlia and from there, many, many hybrids can be produced at home. With so much variation in colour, size and structure, the dahlia can provide real show-stopping coverage during late summer and early autumn. I walked around the garden until my basket was over-flowing and then got to work taking these close-up shots at the kitchen table. Many of the layered waterlily variety of dahlias were just coming into flower and I love the way their ruffly over-lapping layers of petals are only half unfurled. I felt really inspired by the colour of their silky petals – rich reds, purples and pinks, often with contrasting white and yellow accents.

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It was a beautiful sunny weekend but there was the feeling of summer drawing to a close, a chilly mist in the air in the morning and appearance of delicate seedheads sitting among the late season poppies.

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Focus/16: An Invitation

Anybody free on Monday? Come down to the Harlequin showroom at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre where I will be chatting about the inspiration behind the Callista fabric and wallpaper collection. This is a great opportunity to see the new collection in the flesh and some of my photography that feeds into the design process. I will be talking at 11am and 3pm but the showroom will be open all day, and Linda Thacker, the lovely Harlequin designer, will be presenting the new Harlequin collections too.

Monday 19th September

11.00am – 11.30am

3.00pm – 3.30pm

Where: Harlequin Showroom, First Floor, South Dome

Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, London, SW10 0XE 

Tel: +44 845 1236805

As a way to pique your interest, here’s some photos taken in the studio showing the mood board that slowly took shape as I worked on the Callista collection. Colourways, designs and textures were landed on after lots of experimenting with watercolours, printing and drawing.

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I’d love to see you there but if you can’t make it keep your eyes peeled for future blog posts on Callista and a behind the scenes peek at the smokebomb photoshoot!

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Summer in Greece

I spend most summers in Greece, visiting my dad and hanging out on the beach with my family. It’s such an inspiring place for my work because the scorching heat means a lot of plants have become completely parched and are reaching the end of their life cycle…sounds morbid, I know, but it’s at this point that grasses and seed heads morph into the most beautiful shapes. They look so striking silhouetted against the sunset.

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We decided to rent a boat for a couple of days this year and had the best time exploring tiny coves and bays without another person in sight. Incredibly, a turtle appeared off the side of the boat one day and I must admit I got so excited that I didn’t realise I was actually filming my own foot the whole time instead of this guy! Luckily my husband was able to keep his cool!

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Chelsea Flower Show

Just a quick one today to share with you all some photos taken at the enduringly inspiring Chelsea Flower Show…

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Pink, pink, pink

I wanted to share a colour moodboard with you all to get a feel for how I work. This one has been created on the computer but in the studio I have a large wall that is always covered in fabric scraps, photos, painted swatches and other random bits, all pinned up overlapping one another. When I’m working on a new collection, the colourways are one of the most important parts to get right, and inspiration often comes from my large stock of nature-based photography!

Perhaps surprisingly, I find pink a really versatile colour. In recent collections it has been found clashing loudly against red or lime green, or subtly fading into grape and plum shades. My all time favourite shade is coral- I love the shot of the peony in the middle here, gently unfurling it’s silky leaves to show off its sunflower-yellow stamina.

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Textures in Tenerife

I’m in Tenerife and fascinated by the variety of flora here. The Canary Islands sit quite isolated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa and have the fourth greatest variety of endemic flora in the world! The volcanic soil, jutting topography and resulting micro-climates mean that different types of plants have adapted and thrived in different areas of the island. The north of the island is luscious, warm and wet whereas the south is arid and lunar. Here’s a collection of some plants that I found foraging on mountain trails – from juicy succulents to vibrant fanning palm leaves, there were so many textures brought to life by the winter sun.

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Palm leaf

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Succulent

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Spiky cactus

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A collection from the first mountain plant forage!

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Frost

I spent the weekend staying with my friend Tania in Wiltshire. She has the most gorgeous garden and it is always a hotbed of inspiration for my designs. That’s not to say that I was feeling inspired when Tania first shook me awake at the crack of dawn, urging me to grab my camera and get outside into the freezing cold. But once I was reluctantly up and out, the spectacle was absolutely mind-blowing. The garden had been transformed overnight by the frost into a sparkling, glittering, sequinned wonderland, like a scene from a Disney film.

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Autumn

Autumn is by far my favourite season. I am naturally drawn to warm shades – fiery red and burnished copper – and I don’t think that there is any other time of year with the landscape looks as dramatic with colour, light and mist. A lot of these shots were taken on the hoof- a case of seeing thick fog rolling in or a terrific sunset out the kitchen window and running out the door to the closest park with my camera, shouting over my shoulder to my husband to hold the fort with the kids!

The fog in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington was really atmospheric on this chilly October morning.

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The sunsets are also very special at this time of year. I love the way the burnt orange sky brings out the colour in the leaves.

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Cobwebs

I’ve been taking these crisp macro shots of spider webs at every opportunity recently. Water droplets clinging to the silk threads make them look like tiny chandeliers.

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South Africa part 2- Fynbos Fires

Whilst traveling around Cape Town I was quite shocked by the destruction caused by recent fires which had decimated huge swathes of the Fynbos growing on the hillsides. It was quite an extraordinary sight as the contrast of the black charred bushes against the white sandy soil cut striking and dramatic silhouettes. The moody cloudy skies made the scene even more dramatic.

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As I ran about taking photos whilst my family yawned in the car by roadside (a daily occurrence in my family) I came across a sign explaining that the fires are an important part of the plant life cycle of Fynbos as it is a fire-adapted vegetation that requires regular burning for it’s persistence. Far from a disaster, fire provides the the crucial trigger that sets the ‘successional clock’ and recycles precious nutrients back into the soil. It provides the stimulus for dormant seeds to germinate and the opportunity for many annuals, and bulbs to grow, flower and seed during times of abundant nutrients and sunlight. The optimal fire cycle for fynbos is between 10-14 years. Shorter fire cycles can wipe out slow maturing species, while species start dying when intervals become too long.

Here are some of the photos I took of the burnt Protea bushes.


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South Africa part 1 (of a few!)

I’m afraid my blog posts are rather like buses…

Having just returned from the most incredible holiday/ plant research trip in South Africa taking 1500 plus pictures it is really quite overwhelming to know where to start in organising them! But don’t worry… I won’t be posting them all  here

We visited Cape Town and then traveled down the coast stopping in Harmanus for a few days. I can honestly say that South Africa has quite blown my mind. I was obviously aware there would be varied and unusual flora but nothing quite prepared me for the massive extent of the plant life that I barely scratched the surface of, and in the most incredible wild and beautiful settings. With barely a person around!

So here are a few posts that I have endeavoured to keep focused!

Of course I need to start with some plant life…

 

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First stop was Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens… utter heaven. A vast array of incredible flora with exotic birds flying around, set against a backdrop of Table Mountain, I felt as though I had just stepped onto the set of the latest Disney Princess movie!

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Plectanthus…. clouds of vivid purpley blues, with lovely twirly stamens.

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Protea Mimetes Cucullatus

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I love the textures of paint splatters dripped onto these delicate leaves.

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Dried palm leaf spiraling.

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My favourite Christmas present

When the London skies are flat and grey and there is sleety drizzle falling from the skies I have to find my inspiration indoors…

I have been having a little play with these beautiful vintage glasses given to me for Christmas. I have been huge fan of antique glass for years, and whenever I get a chance I buy the odd glass from junk shops that can be used as a vase. IMG_1465

 

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Pink peppercorns… a design in the making!

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Astrantia… those colours!

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Sunsets and seedheads

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I am clearly stuck in the 70’s somehow as there is just nothing I love more than a silhouetted plant in the sunset. I adore the fiery colours, the ombres and the stark crisp beautiful outlines of plants, the more broken and random the better.

I was lucky enough to stay with friends in Norfolk near Brancaster Beach this weekend and as soon as I saw the sun going down I raced out to the nearby field leaving the kids half fed and my friends mid-conversation. When the light is right you’ve just gotta go! It was well worth it as the wide Norfolk skies are perfect for this kind of photography. Here are the results of my endeavours.

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Backing Cloth Artwork

BACKING CLOTH ARTWORK

I think serendipity might be one of my favourite words. One of the reasons I am so attracted to printing is the fact that happy accidents occur almost all the time. Printing is a little bit like cooking; even if you follow the same recipe you get different results every time, and sometimes things can just go completely wrong… but then be so right! Better than if you had spent hours agonising over that design decision.

The backing cloth is a perfect illustration of this. The cloth is essentially the calico that is stuck onto the print table and onto which the fabric that we are printing is pinned. After time the calico builds up a ‘patina’ of random prints, which is usually quite beautiful. After years of rhapsodising over these cloths and trying to figure out what to do with them we came up with the bright idea of framing them and selling them individually numbered, as each one is unique.

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Abstract Feathers

ABSTRACT FEATHERS

Obviously plants are my thing, but I am also captivated by another of nature’s clever and beautiful colourful and perfect constructs … feathers.

I have an Olloclip (macro lens) for my iphone and virtually anything looks amazing close through it, but my mind was just blown when I turned it onto my feather collection. I played around with the coloured backgrounds I placed them on. Here are the results of my endeavours.

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