Designer Maker Blog 2018

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Denim Jack cropped

Each month I write a blog linked to my work as a designer maker. This blog is very different to the one I write as a D&T teacher. It focuses only on textiles and is not limited to D&T textiles which is the main focus of my work in D&T. It therefore varies from D&T based textiles themes to craft textiles, art textiles and anything else textiles related that catches my eye. 

Scroll down to see the blogs for this year.

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Degree Show Season

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I’m lucky enough to have a local university, Nottingham Trent, that has a great art and design department with loads of fantastic courses and I always look forward to the degree shows each year. The spaces the university uses to showcase work are large, light and airy and are an excellent backdrop for the work. The variety of work is huge, and I particularly like the way student outcomes are often not restricted by traditional materials. The shows make a great day out and I always come away feeling inspired and admiring the talent on show. Here are some of my favourites from the June 2018 shows from the following degrees: Product Design, Furniture and Product Design, Decorative Arts, Textile Design, Fashion Design, Knitwear Design. 

For more information on all of the work on show look at the show catalogues:

Textile Design

All other catalogues

Decorative Arts BA Lilijia Zhu 2 copy


Decorative Arts BA Amber Bull 2 copy


Fashion Design Victoria Rose Lees copy


Furniture & Product Design BA Frances Williams 2 copy


Knitwear Rowan Saunders copy


Furniture & Product Design BA Vanessa Chan Tara Yeandel copy


Textile Design BA Emma Cain copy


Product Design BA Graighagh Watson Frank Nickson copy


Textile Design BA Kirsty McIntyre copy


Textile Design BA Perveen Ali copy


See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Nicholas Daley, Menswear Designer

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There’s nothing that makes a D&T teacher prouder than seeing their students go onto successful careers, particularly when it’s in a design related area. I was therefore incredibly proud to be invited to the collection of my ex-student, Nicholas Daley, who showed his Autumn/Winter 2018 ‘Red Clay’ menswear collection as part of London Fashion Week Men’s in January 2018.


Nicholas graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2013 and went on to set up his own label, producing collections strongly influenced by his dual heritage, his love of music and his passion for British manufacturing. These influences were clear in his latest collection which was inspired by his Scottish and Jamaican heritage and the music of Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

His support for British manufacturing has led Nicholas to work with leading UK manufacturers in all his collections. For his ‘Red Clay’ collection this included working with Scottish fabric mill Lovat to develop a bespoke herringbone tweed, as well as Scottish knitwear company William Locke, and milliners Christys, with whom he developed baker boy and pork pie hats as part of his collection. The attention to detail in his pieces reflect his passion for traditional methods of production and his focus on high quality creative pieces.

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The ‘Red Clay’ collection was showcased as a live jazz session rather than a traditional fashion show with the band wearing Nicholas’s designs. This created a fabulous atmosphere in the venue, making the event feel more intimate, with the audience being a real part of the show. Both the collection and the format of the show got rave reviews including being featured in Vogue, GQ Magazine and many others.

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As a menswear designer Nicholas breaks the mould of the traditional stereotyped image of what a successful fashion and textiles student is. At school he was never afraid to show his enjoyment for textiles and was a leading figure in many of the events run by our department (Lutterworth College in Leicestershire) aimed at challenging the perceptions of what textiles is, and in particular in encouraging other boys to consider textiles as a potential career.

At GCSE Nicholas was a slightly reluctant teenager who enjoyed textiles but, like lots of students at that age, he often had to be cajoled and pushed to maximise his potential, something we joked about when I met him at the ‘Red Clay’ show! The freedom of A level encouraged him to develop a strong work ethic, and this along with his natural creativity and a keen desire to focus on the technical aspects of his work, led to some excellent outcomes, including a complex jacket he designed for his AS level which included a hood with integral speakers, an early indication of his ongoing love for music that continues to influence his later work.

In 2017 Nicholas was chosen as one of fifteen designers awarded NEWGEN support by the British Fashion Council. This scheme supports the very best emerging talent with the aim of building global high end fashion brands of the future. Support for Nicholas and the other NEWGEN designers has included mentoring, business support as well as opportunities for showcasing their work, such as being featured at London Fashion Week Men’s.

For Nicholas the year has culminated in him and the other NEWGEN designers meeting the Queen as part of London Fashion Week – a photograph which made me smile both with pride, but also with some amusement, who would have thought in those days back in the classroom that one day he would meet the Queen at such a prestigious event!

For many students the seeds of a life long passion and career in design starts with their GCSE and A level choices. Whilst, like Nicholas, these students go onto university and into the work place gaining invaluable and focused experience along the way from many highly skilled experts, it’s often a teacher at secondary school who kick started and nurtured that initial interest. Success stories like Nicholas’s make all the hard work worth it!

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Visit the Nicholas Daley website

See reviews in GQ Magazine & on the Vogue website

See Nicholas Daley meet the Queen


See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk


Creating Colour Charts

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One of my favourite apps at the moment is the Pantone Studio app which allows you to create colour charts from photos. It’s really easy and quick to use and this bit of the app is also free. I now see colour charts everywhere!

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See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Festive Fun!

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January is a time for looking forward to the New Year but instead I’m going to look back to December when I got into the Christmas spirit with an activity based advent calendar rather than the usual chocolates. I had great fun seeing what was behind each window every day - even better when I’d not been able to open the windows for several days and had a bumper hour building elves, snow ploughs, candles and various other festive themed items (and some not so festive!). Here’s a look back to what was in my calendar. 

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advent calendar
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rudolph mrs & mr Claus
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See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Nottingham Lace Inspired Collection

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As someone who was born in Nottingham and, after living in many other areas of the country, someone who is now living back in the town, I’m always interested in local history, especially anything related to design. I was therefore particularly interested in the Oasis womenswear collection inspired by the Nottingham lace archives at Nottingham Trent University. The retailer developed a 25 piece collection including dresses, shoes and accessories and students studying Fashion Design at the university also had the chance to have their own design included as part of the collection. The winner was Robert Goddard and his dress can be seen below. 

Other items from the collection can also be seen below. 

What a great way of celebrating the town’s history, alongside giving opportunities for new, young designers in the area. 


See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

2017 Product in a Tin Competition for Schools Winners & Runners Up

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socks in a tin

Each year I run a competition for schools and for the last few years the theme has been a ‘product in a tin’. The competition is inspired by socks sold in a tin by Jollie Socks and competition entrants have to design and make a product of their choice that will fit into tin the same size as a Pringles snack sized tin. The Jollie Socks tin acts as the packaging for the socks to be sold in but, for the competition, it's optional for entrants to decorate the tin, instead it mainly acts as a size restraint for the product. 

Entries usually start arriving around late Spring each year, finishing at the beginning of August when the competition closes. It's is always such a pleasure to open the entries and to see such a wide variety of outcomes, most of which are to a high standard. It’s also a pleasure to read the application forms that accompany each product and to find out what inspired the design. Take a look below at this year’s competition winners and runners up. 


First Prize Winner

Ellie Hadlington Prize Giving

Ellie Hadlington, a student at Wolverhampton Girls' High School, won first prize in the 2017 competition with a fabulous dementia cuff inspired by a course she attended on the needs of dementia sufferers. Find out more about Ellie’s entry and what inspired her here, along with full details on all competition winners.

1st Place 2017


2nd & 3rd Prize Runners Up

2nd place 2017
joint 3rd 2017
joint 3rd place 2017


#InspiredBy and Merit Prizes

Product in a tin competition
Product in a tin competition 2


See more details on all of the 2017 competition winners

See full details about this year's competition


See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Getting Creative at Christmas

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Who doesn’t love an advent calendar for Christmas? Here’s one that’s also good for your waistline as instead of chocolates you get to build a Christmas character each day using Wilko’s Blox (a cheaper version of Lego although it does have to be said it is no where near the quality of Lego). The box opens up so you can showcase what you build to create a Christmas scene.

This idea instantly appealed to me as being a bit more creative and interactive than the usual advent calendar so this month’s blog is going to be a little bit different. Roll on 1st December!

See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Freddie Gilroy & the Belsen Stragglers

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Freddie Gilroy & the Belsen Stragglers

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Back in the summer we visited Scarborough as part of a birthday celebration. It has been many years since we visited the area so there were lots of new things to explore, particularly around North Beach where we stayed and which we don’t remember ever visiting before.

A quieter side of the town, North Beach is also the home to a giant steel sculpture called Freddie Gilroy & the Belsen Stragglers. The sculpture by Ray Lonsdale celebrates Freddie Gilroy, a former miner, who, as a young man, was one of the first Allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp where they discovered 60,000 prisoners, most of whom were seriously ill, along with thousands of unburied bodies.

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The sculpture represents everyday people who are pulled out of their ordinary lives because of war, and in doing so who experience extraordinary things which impact on their lives in a profound way.

 Although Freddie was originally from County Durham, the sculpture became a permanent fixture in Scarborough after it was on display there for a short period. A local pensioner donated money to keep the sculpture in the town and it has been a permanent feature ever since.

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The sculpture is incredible for its size, how it uses the material and for the emotion of both the story and the character within the sculpture itself. It is something that is well worth a visit if you are ever in the area as only being near it can really communicate the sense of scale and emotion of the piece.

Ray Lonsdale also has another giant sculpture in nearby Filey called High Tide in Short Wellies. Also made from steel the sculpture is inspired by the decline in the fishing industry, a traditional source of income for the local area. 

There is also another steel structure built by Lonsdale in his home town of County Durham titled Eleven O One.

Find out more about the work of Ray Lonsdale

See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Knit for Peace (& Your Own Wellbeing)

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Knitting was one of the first textiles skills I learnt and it is something I have done on and off over the years, especially when I was a lot younger. I even chose hand knitting as an area to specialise in the final year of my degree. 

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It came as no surprise to me to see the results of a study for Knit for Peace which said that the health benefits of knitting are significant, including lowering blood pressure, increasing sense of well being and purpose, encouraging activity, offering opportunities for social interaction as well as much more. 

The report also identified that the benefits increased when knitters had a reason to knit beyond the obvious family and friends. This was particularly of interest to me as one of the reasons I stopped knitting in later life was because you can only knit yourself and others so many jumpers before you (and they!) get bored. This has been the case with a lot of the creative work I do and it’s been the reason I have gone through different phases focusing on different textiles techniques. Indeed one of the reasons I started selling my own work was to give myself a purpose. 

The aim of the Knit for Peace organisation is to support those in need, whether it be refugees from Syria, street children in India or for hospitals in the UK, along with giving knitters a purpose for their work. The website has lots of resources to get knitters started, including patterns, information on knitting groups, and different causes knitting can be donated to. Knitters can take on simple or more complex challenges depending on their skills and the time they have available. 

I’m going to take part in their Keep Britain Warm campaign making knitted dressing gowns. The knitting is very basic - just lots of knitted squares sewn together but this will be something I can pick and and put down without having to follow a pattern and it will be something I and even if I only have a limited amount of time. Why not get involved too?

See the Knit for Peace report on the benefits of knitting


See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk

Adventures with Millie in Liverpool

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This weekend we visited Liverpool, my husband’s home town, along with my niece Millie. She says Liverpool is one of her favourite towns because there is so much to see and do and because of the atmosphere and vibrancy of the city. 

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As with most of our visits to any city we're always on the lookout for anything creative and this visit was no exception. The day started off with a bit of shopping and seeing this fabulous colourful canopy of umbrellas in one of the main shopping areas. Next we visited the Tate Gallery to see the famous ‘The Bed’ by Tracey Emin. The controversial piece art was interesting to see if only to try and understand why the last time it was sold it fetched 2.5 million pounds! Millie wasn’t very impressed and thought her bedroom looked worse!

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Much more impressive were the lambananas sculptures inspired by Japanese artist Taro Chiezo, original superlambanana, which itself was inspired by lamb and bananas being popular goods travelling through the busy docks in the past. 

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Equally impressive and inspiring was the architecture of the town with contemporary and traditional architecture sitting side by side. One of the things Millie particularly likes is the variety of architecture and the impressive size of things which gives the city a grand and vibrant feel. We saw some of the architecture from the famous ferry that crosses the Mersey, on a windy day it was a little cold but well worth it. 

Liverpool

As well as visiting the city we also visited the beach at Crossby to see the Antony Gormley ‘Another Feature’ statues on the Beach. 

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This is a permanent installation of 100 cast iron life size figures spread out along 3 kilometres of the shore and going almost one kilometre out to sea. It’s quite a powerful thing to see the figures, especially the ones in the sea itself. 

Andrew Gormley

A fabulous few days in a fabulous city with lots of inspiration and ideas. We all look forward to visiting again soon. 

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See more of Millie’s design and make adventures!

See blogs from previous years

Look in the side bar to view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education & coaching 

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email julie@julieboyd.co.uk


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