Meet Elspeth Horsfield, a Northumberland-based maker...
‘Meet the Maker’ is a series of blog posts made with the help of our suppliers at The Sill Shop, so we can spotlight their wonderful products for everyone to see. Maybe you might find some last minute Christmas present inspiration!
This week we have Elspeth Horsfield, a creator of Magnificent Scarves in Northumberland. See what got her into her craft and a little more about her business below!
Can you tell us what you make?
I make hand painted silk scarves.
Where is your business based?
In north Northumberland.
What inspired you to become an artisan producer?
I’ve always been interested in drawing and painting. I did some classes in silk painting and took to it straight away. I loved the unpredictability of the medium, and its scope for experimentation. I did further classes and started making scarves. I had taken redundancy from work with a mental health charity and was able to start a new venture.
Can you describe how you started the business?
I built up some stock, and then gradually found some outlets in Northumberland to sell them.
Can you describe your creative process when developing new products?
It’s quite varied. Sometimes I start with an idea in mind, for example a landscape, or an abstract design. Sometimes I start with a blank page and make a mark, and the rest flows from there. Often, I begin with one idea, and end up with something completely different. I work very intuitively, responding to whatever is appearing on the scarf in front of me, gradually building up colour and pattern. I am inspired by the medium itself, and the ever-changing beauty of the Northumberland countryside. I am always observing patterns and processes: e.g., ripples on water, the bark of a tree, the whorls of lichen, the swirls in a wooden floor, ice melting, logs burning. Consciously or unconsciously, these make their way onto the scarves.
What sets your products apart from others in the market?
They’re all unique. I couldn’t repeat them if I tried.
Can you describe your typical day?
Some days I get up and go straight to the studio and paint silk. Often, I leave scarves on the frame overnight so I can come to them fresh in the morning and decide if more work is needed. Some days I go out walking with a sketchbook to seek inspiration. Other days involve more menial tasks: steaming, ironing, and boxing up the scarves, dropping them off at outlets, and keeping on top of admin.
What are the key values that guide your work?
Producing high quality and unique scarves, that express my love of colour, movement, and unpredictability.
How do you market and promote your products?
I approach different outlets, and then leave the selling to them. I also give talks about silk painting to Women’s Institute groups around the county. I sometimes do some Christmas craft fairs.
Where’s your favourite place in Northumberland National Park, and why?
That’s a tricky one! It’s all beautiful. If I was pushed to choose though I would say the Cheviots, especially the College Valley. I love the wildness and solitude, the open skies, the wonderful views and the sense of space. Wind blowing through grasses, and a soft, almost gentle, beauty.
I’d better get myself along there!
If you’d fancy one of her stunning silk scarves for yourself or a friend this Christmas, pop into The Sill and see which one suits your style. There’s something for everyone at The Sill Shop!