Designer Maker Blog

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Each month Julie writes a designer maker blog which is very different to the D&T blog. It's more of a personal blog reflecting her interests outside of teaching in all areas of design, but particularly within textiles.

Scroll down to see the blogs for this year.

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11: A Year in Photos

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10: A Year in Photos

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9: A Year in Photos

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8: A Year in Photos

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7: A Year in Photos

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6: A Year in Photos

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14 aug
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5: A Year in Photos

21st - 27th June
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4: A Year in Photos

24 may


31st may - 6th June 2021


7 - 20 June



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3: A Year in Photos

26 apr - 2 May
3 may - 9 May
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2: A Year in Photos:

Up to 11 april 21
up to 21st ap 21


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1: A Year in Photos

When we moved house in February 2020 I set myself a project to take a photo a day to record the first year in our new house. I did this as a challenge some years ago and it was a great creative journey, as well as being fun to do and look back on. 

One of the aims of the challenge was to record the progress on our house renovation, as well as a way of getting to know the new area we lived in, but literally just a couple of weeks after we moved in Covid hit and my year of photos became a record of something much bigger. 

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Taking a photo every day was a challenge at times, especially as many days were uneventful because of lockdowns and restrictions. This forced me to think beyond what I saw as a ‘good’ photo and it encouraged me to be more creative and to notice the everyday and ordinary things.

Whilst some photos were of everyday ordinary things others recorded key events in an unusual year -  from moving in and trying to get the central heating to work (which took most of the first year to properly fix), our first walk to the beach which is 8 minutes walk from our house, and the start of the pandemic and the press coverage around it. 

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Now that we have lived in our house just over a year I’ve set myself a new project. I didn’t want to put myself under the pressure of having to take a photo everyday so this time I’m focusing on taking photos each week and then pulling out a couple that represent the last seven days. This means photos might be from the same day if it was a quiet week, or from a number of days. Like last year the aim is to record the timeline of events across the year but also to challenge me to once again see and celebrate the ordinary things around me. 

So, here are photos from the first month of year 2 in our new adventure by the sea in New Brighton on the Wirral. 

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Maltesers

Time for some creative thinking or just an excuse to eat Maltesers? I love the Pantone Connect app not just because it gives me justification for eating chocolate but because it’s a great way of recording all the inspiration that’s around us (and this bit of the app is free to use). 

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Treasure or Trash?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Seeing this rubbish on my local beach was sad to see but on the flip side when viewed from a different perspective there are also elements of beauty in the images. In it’s new home each item had taken on a new look, changed by the elements and the sea and by the odd juxtaposition of something ugly in such a beautiful place. From the sunken boat with the ripples of sand and sea around it and the colours of the deep puddle it sits in; the tyre with its new decorative centre; the barrier covered in thick lichen that has virtually hidden the original orange colour; the half submerged shopping trolley looking like a wire sculpture; and the abandoned bike with its bold red colour standing out against the beach, everything has an element of beauty if looked at differently.  

What do you see - treasure or trash? Beauty or ugliness?

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New Gallery

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During these challenging times it’s great to see the little art gallery Oakland Gallery that’s opened on the high street in our small town of New Brighton on the Wirral. It’s first exhibition showcases contemporary art and street art and lots of the work is by many of the famous artists that have done the street art that’s on a lot of the buildings all over the town. 

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It’s been a real tonic both to see a business opening up on the high street at such a challenging time as well as having the chance to see the work of so many artists on our doorstep. 

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The ’Sick Micky' piece of art by Tom Blackford also has personal links to our move to New Brighton. A lovely local building was being allowed to go into decline by Wetherspoons who own both the building and the pub next to it. This caused a lot of concern in the community and the ‘Sick Mickey’ art work Blackford painted on the side was seen as representing the feelings of many in the town. Wetherspoons repeatedly removed the art work only for Blackford to paint another image in the same place. 

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You need extremely deep pockets to be able to afford most of the art work (several thousands deep in many cases) so we’ll just have to make do with popping into the gallery and looking at the street art on the buildings. 

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See the Exhibition brochure and find out more about the Oakland Gallery


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Through the Eyes of a Child

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Caterpillar

Since moving into our new house a regular theme of my blog has been the beauty in nature and there’s lots of reasons for this. Our new home is by the sea with amazing sea views and beaches just round the corner with constantly changing scenary so each day we feel we see something new. We can’t help but be in awe of our surroundings and take lots of photos both to build memories in our new home as well as for inspiration in our design work. 

Another reason for this focus on nature is the restrictions of Covid-19 which means we’re home much more so we’re paying more attention to everyday things around us. In particular, we sit in our garden a lot, or in the kitchen looking out onto our garden, and although it’s very small the previous owner clearly had a love of gardening so our first summer in our new home has been full of surprises with lots of exotic and unusual flowers and plants. 

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During one of my garden tidy ups I came across this caterpillar which looked so much like a leaf that I was just about to pick it up and throw it away! Instead I went and grabbed my camera and spent ages admiring it’s amazing camouflage and vivid green colour and once again marvelled at nature as a designer. 


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Insa Street Art

Our new home in New Brighton on the Wirral has started to become known for it graffiti street art on some of the buildings and a recent high street addition has been art done by graffiti artist Insa. Like the other street art in the area the artwork really grabs your attention and makes a bold statement - something I like as in these uncertain times of Covid-19 it feels like a positive statement that my new town wants to shout out and be noticed. 

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Insa is a British artist and designer who graduated from Goldsmith’s, London, beginning his career as a graffiti writer, painting streets and buildings as he travelled. He’s known for his trademark ‘graffiti fetish’ pattern which in the building he’s done in New Brighton can be seen on top of a background of amazing rainbow colours. 

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It feels amazing that my new hometown has work by an artist whose work features in major global cities such as Tokyo, LA, New York, San Francisco Luxembourg, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels and Montreal as well as being held in the V&A collection and Tate London.



Visit the Insa website to see more of his work


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Challenging Concepts on Beauty

We moved house at the beginning of the year and our new garden is very small with just a couple of raised beds and some decking. We aren’t particularly keen gardeners so the size of the garden is ideal for us both as an area to relax in and just the right size in terms of upkeep. The raised beds had one or two plants in when we moved in but nothing that caught our attention and it was another job to add to the list of things to do over the coming months. 

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As spring approached a range of unusual flowers seemed to pop up from nowhere indicating that whoever lived in the house before us was obviously a keen gardener. In particular, despite the garden being very small they had obviously liked plants on a large and slightly exotic scale, with giant lilies and various other oversized blooms and leaves coming and going over the last few months. This has all been a real pleasure to watch, with us marvelling at the skills of nature as a designer, all made even better as we’ve benefited from someone else’s hard work!

One particular plant has, however, held our interest for a number of reasons. It seemed to appear overnight with significant visible growth each day. We even joked at one point that it was like the Jack and the Beanstalk story as it was growing so tall so quickly. As quickly the plant grew an off shoot which we suspected might eventually be a flower this also grew to over 2 foot tall with a rather amusing appearance!

There was much debate about what the flower might eventually look like, all of which was based on the assumption that nature creates pretty things. One morning we got up to something that was the opposite of what we expected - not at all the classic beautiful flower but something that had a strange beauty all of it’s own because of how different it looked (and with frankly slightly scary overtones!). 

The deep burgundy colour of the leaves and flower stem were fascinating to look at, as was the overall size of everything at over 2 foot. We did however quite quickly notice that the plant gave off an extremely unpleasant odour, something that in our small garden was very noticeable. We also commented on the number of flies that were in the garden, something that we didn’t realise until later was linked to the flower. 

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After some searching online we discovered our plant is called Dracunulus Vulgaris also known as voodoo lily or stinky lily. Apparently the odour we had noticed is designed by nature to smell like rotting meat in order to attract flies - something it was doing very successfully! 

We were equally amused, amazed and revolted by the plant. As designers ourselves it was fascinating to see how nature had designed this amazing plant. Apparently the plant is popular with gardeners who want to make a statement in their garden and it certainly does that! The old phrase about ‘beauty being in the eye of the beholder’ also came to mind along with how this amazing plant challenges stereotypes of what beauty in nature is. 


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Nature: The Ultimate Designer

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Nature: The Ultimate Designer











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The Emett Clock

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For as long as I can remember the Emett Clock has been a centre piece of the Victoria Centre shopping centre in Nottingham. Often used as a meeting place, the clock strikes on the hour, playing a tune and opening up with dancing animals and moving flowers and butterflies. 

Dating back to 1973 it recently went away to be refurbished and I realised how much I missed something that has been a key part of my time in Nottingham, both growing up as a child, as a visiting adult whilst living elsewhere in the country, and now as an adult living back in Nottingham. 

People regularly throw coins into the water at the base of the clock and these are collected and given to charity. 

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To celebrate the restoration of the Emett Clock children were invited to design their own butterflies and they were displayed with the clock when it reopened. 

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After restoration the clock was eventually returned to the shopping centre, although in a new position, and it's once again something I see every time I go shopping. It’s great to have something that is considered a design icon in my local town, as well as it being a fond reminder of my long term links to the town. 

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