Thank you to everyone who has been contributing to, liking and sharing the Indie Giveaway so far! It's great fun to interact with you all and show these awesome brands and makers some love. Keep it coming! This week I want to introduce you to Sinead Black, the mastermind and creator behind Bricolage Quilts.
Sinead is an interior designer and quilt-maker living here in Northern Ireland but her experience and work has travelled the globe! I first saw a glimpse of Sinead's quilting work on Instagram and was insta-wow'ed and have followed along since. You'll see what I mean when I say she has such a knack for colour, texture and flow, making these quilts top of my Christmas/birthday/baby/Wednesday wish-list.
So let's meet Sinead, shall we?!
Sinead! Tell us a bit more about your lovely creative self?...
Hello! I'm Sinead Black, Interior Designer + Quiltmaker. I studied Interior Design at The Glasgow School of Art and have worked in design & architecture in London, Scotland, Glasgow, Melbourne & Dublin. I am also a teacher and have lectured in Interior Design at The Glasgow School & am currently a Part-Time lecturer at the University of Ulster in York Street, Belfast. After living in various places, I returned to live and work in Northern Ireland in 2008 and am currently based in Holywood, Co. Down with my architect husband and 4 children (aged 17-6 years). My quilts are listed on the CraftNI Directory, DCCoI Directory and ‘Guild Trip’ Directory in Canada!
How did you get into quilting and what is it you love about it?
I have always loved sewing and my mother was a great embroiderer. I got into quilting almost by accident. As my children grew, I found I had gradually accumulated fabrics and clothing of sentimental value, which I wanted to make into something lasting for each of them. Two years ago I stumbled upon an article in ‘The Guardian’ about Cassandra Ellis, a quiltmaker in London specialising in bespoke quilts – to cut a long story short, I did a wonderful workshop with her, and the seed was planted. On a personal level, I lost my lovely mother last year and inherited her sewing boxes, so it has been a bit of a personal homage to her. I love the slowness of the quilting process and the fact that you can see the patient hand of the maker.
That is a beautiful way to describe it. What has been your favourite creation so far and why?
Really your last creation is usually your favourite! However, I think my favourite creation has been the first quilt I made as it was such a personal process. It encompasses a lot of baby clothes and fabrics from grandparents and friends, which are special to our family – the children love looking at it and remembering where each piece of cloth came from.
I love that - they really are such heirloom pieces. Have you ever dabbled in other crafts or creative outlets? Whats the one craft you wish you could master?
Working as a designer over the years, I have always been fortunate to be involved with other disciplines over the course of different projects. However, I have always loved linocuts and printmaking so I would like to master that, as I am a great fan of detail in design.
Your quilts are stunning - the fabrics and colours you use are ethereal and earthy. Where do you find the most inspiration – online or real life?
Like most people, I get inspiration from everywhere and anywhere. When there is almost a glut of information at everyone’s fingertips, I do find I take inspiration often from the simplest things: colours of nature, light, shadow, patterns, even detail from my children’s drawings. From a design point of view, I have always loved the Bauhaus particularly in terms of graphic pattern and colour, and that’s something we referenced when designing the ‘Bricolage’ logo. I also draw influence from other modern quilters such as Lindsay Stead in Canada and the natural dyeing used by Folk Fibers in the US.
For all of the beginner or wannabe quilters out there, what tips/resources can you recommend for getting started well?
One thing I would say is don’t be put off by ‘rules’ associated with quilting. Contrary to the purists, you can make quilts out of most cloth and that’s the true way that quilts came about when they were made using whatever was available. That’s what ‘Bricolage’ means – to make something using whatever is available. It can also result in a very personal quilt that can become an heirloom for your family. The quilters of Gee’s Bend in Alabama in the US are a perfect example of beautiful quilts made through necessity. In terms of getting started, Cassandra Ellis’ book ‘Quilt Love’ is a great book to help you get started – an easy, practical read and well laid out for that first attempt at quilting. I have plans in the New Year to run some workshops to help get people started, so watch this space!
That's exciting! So what is the best part of being a ‘maker’ here in Northern Ireland
I think one of the great things for me has been access to a fabulous quality raw material in the linen that I use for the quilts. I have close links with Flax Mill Textiles in Dungiven where Hermann and Marion work hard weaving their cloth that I use for most quilts. I love the fact that linen often doesn’t ‘behave’ as it should during the making process, so the result can differ from first expectations. I have found that people are very supportive in N. Ireland towards makers, in terms of advice and resources. It’s really good to see makers coming through who are continuing and often reviving traditions and processes, bringing them for a new generation to enjoy.
I love that too - there is such a depth of history to these crafts that would be a massive cultural shame to leave behind. As a maker, and owner of an independent business, how do you feel about supporting indie businesses on the lead up to Christmas?
I think that people are now more aware and value independent businesses more after the excesses of the boom years, and that’s a good thing. I feel it’s vital to support local businesses if we are to ensure a vibrant and interesting culture, and this is especially important in the run-up to Christmas, whether it’s craft, design or food. I think it’s great that there are lots of markets now available for makers and it can only be beneficial to encourage people in changing their shopping habits, however gradual that may be.
What is your best Christmas memory?
I come from a very large family, so most of my memories involve lots of people and lots of lovely food! My best memory was a very snowy Christmas with lots of sleighing and a well loved Tiny Tears from Santa…a double whammy!
Ha! Sounds magical! What are some of your own favourite traditions during the Christmas season?
Most of our own traditions come through our children, one of which is called an Advent Spiral. It’s a Waldorf education tradition at the start of Advent, where each child lights their own candle and lays it on an evergreen spiral on the floor, while music and carols are played. It’s a lovely calming start at the lead-up to Christmas, and a moment to take a breath before the busy-ness sets in!
That sounds incredibly calming and one to catalogue for only a few days time when Advent begins.
Sinead, thank you so much for sharing your journey of making and creating with us. As you can see below, there is such detail and heart put into Sinead's creations and I just love how they reflect our Northern Irish history in linen production as well as capturing the colours and tones of our wild and rugged landscape.
Sinead makes bespoke quilts (which come in the most beautiful keepsake box), runs workshops and is in the process of setting up an online shop of sorts, so this week's giveaway is wide open for you to decide how to connect with a really generous voucher for £100! It is also open worldwide, so
To win the voucher, all you have to do is this:
+ Like & Share the image on my facebook page outlining the giveaway! When you have shared it – comment ‘DONE!’ so we know!
+ You can share it as many times as you want between now and the close of the giveaway at MIDNIGHT, on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29th!
+ Winner will be announced on Monday, November 30th.
Happy Sharing! xo