Saturday 21 September 2019

Designed to last - hand-made crafts for Christmas

Hand-made crafts are all the vogue this Christmas, writes Jo Linehan. She chooses her favourite Irish-designed goodies

Just some of the selection of seasonal items that you can find in the Kilkenny Shop
Just some of the selection of seasonal items that you can find in the Kilkenny Shop
Limited edition candle, €15.95: For the candle lover, go festive with Handmade Soap Company’s Cinnamon, Clove, and Nutmeg + Pine candles;
Summer Sky blanket, €115: This lambswool blanket will last a generation;
'Swim in your own Lane' wall print, from €12: Choose from a selection by Dusty Boy and customise to size, frame and with text;
Handthrown jug, €88: Elegant simplicity in a stoneware jug that comes in a choice of glazes;
Wedge table, €190: Handy side table in modern traditional design by John Glynn until December 15 at pop-up shop,
Daniel Woodsmith bowls, €34: Always a good gift, especially for those who seem to have everything, these ceramics are made with Dublin clay;
Handmade leather chef's apron, from €190: Designed to last, a polished leather that wipes clean and has adjustable straps;
Sam agus Nessa P Bear Clock, €50: For little ones, a fun way to learn about time;

It has never been easier to do a homemade Christmas. Artisanal food and drinks, local organic produce, a Coillte-farmed Christmas tree, and now, all the hand-crafted home and interior gifts and accessories you could dream of.

This year, crafted pieces are more in vogue than ever before, with the launch of three new craft-inspired enterprises. Fashion impresario Louis Copeland has launched Made of Irish, a hand-picked collection of Irish-made gifts, with a focus on homewares. Up West, in Cong's Ashford Castle, their revamped boutique offers a curated collection of luxe local Irish design and craft gifts. And in the capital, this month sees the launch of We Make Good, a design and homewares brand, championing crafted, ethical gifts.

It's certainly becoming easier to buy hand-crafted gifts - but why should you? Well, because when you buy a handmade interior piece for yourself, or a loved one, you're investing in a piece that has been made with love and great design and - more often than not - local materials. And they are beautiful.

Take, for example, a print by Dublin-based design duo Dusty Boy. Justin Campbell and Kate Rose Crean experiment with patterns, colour stories, graphics, and layouts together before Justin takes over and digitally puts everything together before hand-finishing almost every item with his old but trusty foil machine.

The result is a selection of graphic, printed illustrations and slogans. "One of my favourite prints this Christmas is a simple illustration of a girl, and it's all about sending a message of self-love and care," says Kate Rose. "A gentle reminder, when you look at it in your home, to be kind to yourself every single day and to set small but important intentions for the day ahead."

If throws and blankets are more your speed, look to Mayo designer Deirdre Duffy of Wild Cocoon Blankets. Woven by master weavers in Co Donegal, using 100pc Merino Lambswool, one of these wrapped under the Christmas tree will make a present that someone will never forget. "These are made to evoke happy memories," says Deirdre, 'Being cocooned in a woollen blanket, feeling the weight and protection of it. That's something special."

Meanwhile, in Snugboro, Co Wicklow, makers Conor Kelly and Nell Roddy of Snug have been creating hand-made furniture together for the last four years. For them, investing in one of their pieces could never compare to buying a mass produced piece.

"Having a unique piece of furniture in your home creates a sense of authenticity and individualism. Knowing the heritage of the furniture you buy means you're much more invested in the piece. We often get customers visiting our workshop in Wicklow as people want to feel more connected to what they buy, they enjoy the collaborative nature of commissioning furniture and realise that it's not a daunting experience, but a very rewarding one, that supports local craftspeople."

Instead of the usual last-minute trawl online for gifts this Christmas, visit a pop-up craft store or, better still, some craftsfolk, and pick up a piece that has a story to tell.

Sunday Independent

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