Friday, 5 August 2016

Times they are a changing . . .

This year has seen a great deal of change for me and Helen Foot Design.  Anyone who follows my facebook, twitter or instagram might have spotted some of these shifts.

Firstly, it's been a fantastic year for commission work so far.  Dot One orders have been keeping me very busy indeed and we've been extremely fortunate to have some celebrity endorsement to help us along our way.  One of the first pieces we produced was for Romesh Ranganathan back in January and he can be seen in the image below wearing his DNA scarf on It's Not Rocket Science.

Second up, I started the shift of moving out of my studio of 5 years to creating a home work space.  The Creative Studio has been a fantastic place to grow Helen Foot Design but it's not always been the most practical space to work in, being freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer!  I moved house back in March in order to accommodate my new home studio and have been slowly but surely getting everything shifted over since.  It's meant a bit of downsizing but it's forced this secret hoarder to clear out the clutter and think about streamlining what I need for the business moving forwards.  Last week we did the final sweep and handed the keys back in.  It's the end of an era but the start of something fresh and new!

The Creative Studio looking bare before we handed the keys back over.

The end of the academic year also saw me say goodbye to my teaching post at Hereford College of Arts.  I've spent 4 great years guiding some lovely students through their BA's and it's been wonderful to see their hard work pay off in an abundance of successes over the years.  I'm especially proud of my weavers who all seem to be taking great strides with their creative careers, through Masters degrees, Texprint success and starting their own labels.  I spent a lot of time working with students to think about their futures and how to achieve their goals and ultimately it got me thinking about my own career priorities.  With such a busy year I knew something had to give and I decided it was the right time to concentrate on my own practice again.  I hope to carry on teaching as a Visiting Lecturer so that I can work more flexibly around other work commitments.

Farewell Hereford College of Arts

For now my house is still full of boxes to be unpacked as I settle into my new work space.  Hopefully the chaos will have calmed by next week and I can crack on with the next wave of weaving.  I'll be showing again at MADE London from the 20-23 October, this time on a joint stand with Dot One, so do pop the dates in your diary and come say hello.   I'll be offering some special discounts at the show and online in the run up to Christmas, so watch this space.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 . . .

Where does the time go?!  2015 seemed to go by in a flash and I can't believe we are at the start of another exciting new year already.  Last year really was packed.  Here's a reminder of my top moments from 2015 . . .

  •  I went to Peru.  It was amazing.  Expect to see some new work inspired by this adventure later in 2016.

Handweaving in Cusco, Peru.

  • I made a new collection. It's five colourways of wiggly fun accessories!
  • I started collaborating with Dot One and thanks to some amazing press at the end of 2015 we now have a packed order book. 
  • I had some fabulous helpers.  Huge thanks go out to everyone who has interned with me this year; Morwenna, Chinarose, Georgia, Alice and Molly, you guys were fantastic!

2016 starts off with a bang.  I've got lots of weaving to do with Dot One (more on this later in January), our collaboration work will also be on show in 'Simpatico' at Unit Twelve Gallery in Staffordshire from the 7th of January to 26th March. But for now it's the beginning of another term in the academic calendar and I'm back in to Hereford College of Arts to catch up with my students tomorrow.  Let the new year commence! Happy 2016 everyone!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Introducing the Canvas Collection . . .

After months of build up I can't quite believe that MADE London has already come and gone.  As my first show after a 2 year break while I concentrated on commission work, I was a little nervous about delving into the world of shows again.  But MADE certainly did not disappoint.  Held in the beautiful One Marylebone it showcased 4 floors of the most fantastic makers and I am so thrilled to have been selected as one of them.  My thanks go out to Tutton & Young for organising such a great show.

I launched my new Canvas Collection at MADE (which I fondly refer to as my wiggles).  Incorporating borders made from french knitting which have been woven into the scarves, the design is a follow on from the scarves I developed for the Cambrian Mountains Wool exhibition (which is currently touring the UK and on show this weekend at Made by Hand in Cardiff).  The colourways have been inspired by some of my favorite artists; Sonia Delauney, Peter Doig, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Heron and Per Kirkeby.  The colour combinations are bold and blended, while woven structures are subtle so as not to detract from the statement meandering knitted tubes.  A harmonious hybrid of knitting and weaving.


The collection received lots of attention at MADE, including the eye of actress Emma Thompson who bought a 'Kirkeby' as a gift for a friend.  If you want to follow Emma's lead and get some wiggles on this Winter the collection will be available to buy online very shortly for £175 each.  If you can't wait, email me your order to

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Countdown to Peru . . .

At the end of next week I'm off to Peru for 3 weeks.  To say the least I'm rather excited as it's my 1st holiday abroad in about 12 years! But all work and no play makes Helen a dull girl.  I'll be visiting some fantastic sites; Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca and the Amazon rainforest.  I've just bought a massive new memory card for my camera so expect to see a lot of photos on my return! But before the off I've got a commission to do, my new collection prep to finish and find time to learn some Spanish (eek)! AdiĆ³s!

Fabulous colour blocking from these ladies on the Uros Islands, Titicaca, I should fit right in!
 Image from here.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Meeting HRH The Prince of Wales . . .

For a little while now I have had to keep a secret.  It's not something I'm particularly good at doing! But apart from spilling the beans to a few of my nearest and dearest I managed to keep schtum.  And now the secret is out . . .

For those of you who follow me on social media you may have spotted that on Friday I met a very famous face, HRH The Prince of Wales!

At the beautiful Nanteos Mansion just outside of Aberystwyth, Cambrian Mountains Wool were hosting a private view to celebrate the work produced for the 'International Design and Make Challenge 2015' project.  I am one of 37 designers who produced work for the challenge. At the event on Friday I was able to meet the fellow makers (one of whom had even traveled over from the USA specially for the PV), the organisers and associates of Cambrian Mountains Wool.  We were told in advance there would be a special guest in attendance but nothing more, but when we were asked for extra information in order to carry out security checks it soon clicked who the very special guest might be!

The Cambrian Mountains Wool Project is part of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative, of which His Royal Highness is President.  It's one of the many projects HRH supports associated with promoting wool. The Prince launched the Campaign for Wool in January 2010 as an initiative to expand the market for British and Commonwealth wool and promote awareness of its environmental benefits.  Wool is my absolute favorite fiber to work with and it was the sustainability of wool that I spoke to HRH about when we met.

photo courtesy of

Now the day is over it feels quite surreal that it actually happened but it was an amazing experience.  A huge thank you to Cambrian Mountains Wool for making me part of their project and allowing me this unforgettable opportunity!

Read my previous post to learn more about my work for the challenge

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Collaborating with Dot One . . .

Last year I embarked on an intriguing commission with product designer Iona Inglesby for her Masters show at the Royal College of Art.  Iona had taken her families DNA and transformed it into a series of bright colour block designs which I then wove using a double cloth.

Now Iona has now set up Dot One, offering up her unique design services for commissions.

Dot One translates your genetic data into understandable colour patterns creating your own DNA 'tartan'. The design embeds trends of inheritance, similarities between siblings or records the merging of two families. All you need to do is a simple cheek swab and let your DNA do the designing!

Iona and I recently met up in London to talk about her latest commission and are now hatching a plan to combine our design skills to produce some limited edition products collaboratively.  Sampling is currently taking place and we hope to have more information about this exciting work very shortly, so watch this space!

 Images courtesy of Dot One

Sunday, 7 June 2015


This year marks 10 years since I completed my BA at Winchester School of Art and 5 years since I finished my MA at the RCA.  As my distance traveled since graduation grows ever longer and now I'm a lecturer and business owner I can't help but feel reflective of my own graduation experiences. I certainly did not get the most from the experience the first time I graduated (or maybe even the second) but I was young and boy did I learn from my mistakes.  But now I'm older (and hopefully wiser) I want to pass on some pearls of my wisdom.  So here are my top 10 tips for new (textile) graduates:

1.  First things first, update your CV.  It might seem obvious but it's such an important part of the first impression you will make with a potential employer.  Get it looking slick and make sure it's not too wordy.  You need clear formatting, bullet points rather than paragraphs and a couple of great referees (make sure you get their permission 1st).

2.  Know who you are contacting. VERY IMPORTANT this one.  There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than getting contacted by someone who didn't think to look up their name and it screams GENERIC EMAIL.  If someone can't be bothered to go on my website and read my blurbs to find out a bit about me, then I can't be bothered to read their email, let alone write back.  Simple.

3.  Hand in hand with point 2, if you are applying for jobs make sure you are a) responding to an advert (if there isn't a position to fill your wasting your time and spamming companies), b) know where the business is based (don't apply for something miles away if you have no intention of moving and c) have the right amount of qualifications (if they ask for 2 years industry experience or more, you're probably going for a job you're not experienced enough to do, find something more appropriate).

4.  It's a small world. Good word of mouth is essential, but similarly bad words spread too.  The impressions you have made on your tutors/internships/employers are SO important.  It's amazing how connected this industry is, don't forget that.  Most of the jobs I've had over the last 10 years have been from recommendations by people I've met along the way.  Internships turned into full time employment, good word of mouth manifested in lecturing jobs and commissions turned into collaborations.  It's a rolling ball, keep it rolling!

5.  Stay friendly with the contacts you have already made, they are your foot in the door to the industry you want to be a part of.  Just make sure you maintain professionality throughout and don't overstep the mark.  If you start asking questions you could just have typed into google you may find yourself skating on thin ice.  Make contact during business hours and whatever you do don't confuse them with your best friends and send them texts in the middle of the night!

6.  Make sure your social media content is impeccable.  Recruiters will look up facebook profiles (I've done it myself!) so make sure your private life stays private.  Change your security settings for your personal profile and think about setting up a 'page' for your professional profile.  I love linking up with my past interns via facebook but not every employer would want to be this informal.  Linkedin is a great alternative in these cases and I've also known people to get headhunted through the site, so make sure you have a profile set up.

7.  Be someone worth knowing.  You may have been a large fish in a small pond while you were at college but there are thousands of other people graduating at the same time as you and that ponds about to become an ocean! Find a way to stand out from the crowd.  It's not all about the innovation in your collection, being wildly cutting edge or the fact you just secured yourself a First.  When studios are looking to take someone on it is often more important to find someone who will integrate smoothly into a small team.  Be genuine, be polite, be dependable, become indispensable.

8.  If you love being a practical designer find a way to access the equipment you need in order to carry on working after college.  Does your college offer alumni access to workshops or are they part of the Artists Access to Art Colleges scheme?  There are also opportunities to join studios where you can access shared facilities or other perks like the Cultivated program at Unit Twelve Gallery. What is there available in your local area?  I also found the HOTHOUSE scheme the Crafts Council runs to be incredibly helpful when I first started my business, applications for their next intake open in July.

9.  It's alright to not know exactly what you want to do, it takes time to find your path and it may change along the way.  It took me almost a year to get my 1st full time job in the industry after my BA.  I worked as a Sales Assistant straight out of college until frustration drove me to throw myself back out there into the textiles world.  The sales world definitely wouldn't miss me the way I missed weaving! And since then I've dabbled in a few different roles.  It's because of the varied experiences I've had I know more clearly where I want to steer myself with the next 10 years of my career.

10.  Don't expect an easy ride.  Despite my good fortune at times along the way, there have also been crushing blows.  I know exactly what it feels like to be rejected, I've had more applications refused than accepted, I've been made redundant, I've gambled money on shows and lost.  It hurts. BUT the only thing you can do is pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and carry on.  Success isn't instantaneous.  You have to be tough and you have to work bloody hard for it.  So why rush? Remember your building a career.  I know I'm in it for the long game!


all images from google.