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31 08, 2017

NEW Honey Bee – The Story Behind The Collection

By | August 31st, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

The NEW Honey Bee Collection
Hand printed on pure washed natural linen, with five
signature 
products: the new iPad case, popular Glasses Case,
new multi-purpose zipped Pouch, new handy Coin Purse and new Bucket Bag

Designing a new collection is one of those jobs which initially fills me with terror! I have a sketch book full of ideas, but even that is not enough when faced with the task of coming up with something new. Once I get going, get through the barrier of self doubt and onto the open road, start piecing together ideas, cutting fabric, sewing, exposing screens and mixing inks – there is no stopping me and that is the bit of the journey I love.

This new Honey Bee Collection went through the same kind of journey. Preparation started in early February, sketches, product ideas and fabric colours littered the table in the studio as we set about designing exciting new products; the iPad case, coin purse, pouch and bucket bag.
I spent hours, taking care not to get stung, watching bees whizz in and out of my father’s hives, legs laden with pollen. Capturing them on my camera seemed to be the easiest way to study then and I returned to the studio with a full sketch book  and inspiration aplenty.

There is always great excitement in the studio when we are ready to print a new collection….hours have been spent getting the designs just right, working out their placement on the linen and how the design will work with the product.
There were bees everywhere…little paper cut outs flying around the studio before settling onto the linen in perfect formation! The first time you screen print is always the best…we crowd around the print bed, fingers crossed that we have got it right, drag the ink across the screen, to reveal all that hard work committed to print. The Honey Bee collection produced gasps of delight and with just a very slight tweak was ready to go!

Once printed, the making begins…. Hayley and Megan work with me in the studio and are both very skilled makers. It is their job to make up a sample of the new collection which we then test drive with an independent team of critics! Once we are satisfied…or rather, they are satisfied…we begin the production process. Each piece is individually hand printed using traditional artisan screen printing techniques and made here in the studio. 

A really exciting addition to this new collection are the hand made porcelain buttons which feature on both the iPad case and bucket bag. Working with a lovely friend, potter Jill Holland, who lives in the village, we made beautiful buttons and impressed them with the fine bee design, finishing them with a cobalt underglaze. I think you’ll agree that these gorgeous buttons make the pieces very special.

Look out too for the introduction of velvet – another of my favourite fabrics, as linings in both the coin purse and pouch, with velvet ribbon on all the zip pulls.

With the honey bee in serious danger from intensive farming methods and increased use of pesticides, creating a collection dedicated to these magical little insects has give me great satisfaction. My father has an incredible wealth of bee keeping knowledge, breeds bees for other bee keepers and can often be found up a tree catching a swarm…much to my Mother’s horror, I might add!! His hives are the scene of much activity during the summer months and there is always a pot of honey on the kitchen counter for me to take home when I visit….. along with eggs from my Mother’s chickens of course!

The Honey Bee Collection is now available online at www.helenround.com along with our fabulous new video all about the making of the collection

 

 

3 05, 2017

Bread For Body And Soul

By | May 3rd, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

As many of you know, I am a keen baker and a big sourdough convert!

Sourdough really is simple. I make my loaf before I go to bed, leave it on the side to prove overnight then put it in the oven when I wake. The making takes less than 10 minutes and the baking about 30 minutes…the waiting is the hardest part….we all know that hot bread, straight from the oven gives you indigestion!!

You can buy sourdough almost anywhere now…supermarkets have finally caught on to our need for more than just sliced white (thank goodness), but nothing beats a loaf from an artisan bakery or even better, warm from your own oven. Don’t be put off by the idea of a ‘starter’ or the thought of kneading for hours….find yourself a good recipe and you’ll wonder why you didn’t take it up earlier.

If that all feels like too much…..most places now have small independent bakeries where they can buy beautiful fresh bread in many guises. We are lucky to have a lovely bakery such as this, just a short distance away and their bread is so popular you need to order it to ensure yourself of a loaf! We visited recently and managed to catch Chris just popping his beautiful loaves in the oven….take a look….

A bit further away from home, but of interest to our USA followers, do check out Breadtopia. Based, in Fairfield, Iowa (about as breadbasket as America gets), Denyce, Eric and their family are self confessed ‘bread freaks’! They, like us, believe that ‘home made bread, fresh from the oven, feeds your body and soul like no other food’, and work really hard to promote home baking.

We are delighted to be working with Breatopia and have recently shipped out a collection of linen bread bags, aprons and tea towels which they now sell in their shop. Do check out their website and if you are in need of a ‘no-knead’ bread recipe they have the perfect one. As for sourdough, I tried this no-knead sourdough recipe at the weekend and it worked really well. There’s even a video to help you along! They also have a great blog and an amazing forum where recipes are shared. It is one of those websites that you can spend hours perusing and really get lost in…perfect while you are waiting for your just baked loaf to cool! Do make sure you visit their tutorial page too….there is a great video for sourdough pizza…perfect for soon to be summer picnics. All in all, a really fabulous find and great to connect with a family business who are passionate about artisan bread making and are working really hard to ensure that ‘baking perfect bread at home is available to everyone’.

 

Shop Here For Your Linen Bread Bag

 

28 03, 2017

Sing Like No One Is Listening!!

By | March 28th, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Not a singer in sight…but plenty of linen!!

We often have music playing in the studio….not always, but usually for part of the day. Often, when Meg and Hayley are sewing and I am screen printing, we bring up our favourite tunes on a Spotify playlist. A real eclectic mix of tunes which caters for all three of our tastes has been compiled into the ‘Studio Playlist’ and is something we all enjoy and have been known to sing along to. It does make me grin when they suggest tunes I was listening to in my 20’s…….

On one particular occasion, it was one of those days in Cornwall where ‘mizzle’ (Cornish for light rain!) is all around…..Meg and Hayley were whizzing along on the machines, singing very loudly to The Proclaimers, 500 miles, in their very bad Scottish accents. Suddenly, I noticed the parcel deliveryman climbing the steps on his approach to the studio… oblivious to his presence, they continued to sing and were mortified when he opened the door and popped his head in to pick up the parcels! To make matters worse, he was new to the job and not used to our ‘peculiar’ ways….poor man!! Strangely….we haven’t seen him since!

We hope you enjoy this playlist as much as we do and are always on the look out for great tunes to sew to…so please do send over your suggestions…and when you next hear The Proclaimers, make sure you sing along…very loudly!!

Don’t forget to ‘like’ our Facebook page to keep up to date with more goings on in the studio.
You can also find us on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

Got a favourite tune you think we should be listening to? Add it below or comment on our Facebook post….and we will give it a listen and maybe even add it to our Studio Playlist.

16 02, 2017

Bright Lights, Big City…….

By | February 16th, 2017|Uncategorised|1 Comment

Having recently returned from Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham, I must admit to feeling somewhat shell shocked. For those of you who have never been, imagine the biggest superstore you can (think Asda, Tesco B&Q etc)…quite large, wouldn’t you agree? Well, now scale up your imagination and visualise the floor area covered by 20 of these superstores….there you have it Spring Fair…the International Trade Show of the UK.

To say I am pleased to return to Cornwall, is an understatement. Does anyone really ‘enjoy’ spending five days under artificial lighting with artificial air….I don’t know?? Come on…own up if you are out there!

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Any opportunity to don a hi vis jacket and I’m there!!!

 

Helen Round Spring Fair 2017

Three and a half hours later….we are adding the finishing touches….. btw..we didn’t choose this colour carpet, it was given to us as part of the GB Trail!!!

There are always happy positives to come out of such ordeals….I get to chat to some of our lovely existing stockists, I get to meet new stockists and, on this occasion, I have a lightbulb moment where, I am reminded of just why I decided to take the plunge, give up the well paid day job and create my own business.

For those of you who have visited the studio or met us at events or follow us on social media you will know that we are a small business with a big heart. We are passionate about craft, passionate about quality and make things which we feel are both beautiful and practical. We don’t get things made in China or India, we make them in the studio, behind my house, in Cornwall. Hayley and Meg sew each product and I print each piece of linen by hand using traditional artisan screen printing techniques. We love what we do and we hope that this shines through in the products that we make. We send all our waste fabric to the local school, wash our screens using recycled rain water and really try to do our bit to help planet. We love Cornwall and feel very lucky to live and work here.

Apprentices at Helen Round 6 small

Hayley making Aga Tops

 

Apprentices at Helen Round 5 small

Meg making bread bags

Despite the enormity of Spring Fair and the alien environment, it was really great to have the opportunity to meet up with retailers who share our passion for high quality, who work really hard to search for British Made products and have shops which stock interesting and unique pieces that are not found all over the high street. I don’t know about you, but these are the shops I love to visit when buying a gift for friends and family….or myself!

A special thanks has to go to Helen Lester Hinchliffe, a stockist and now a good friend who spent three days helping out at the show…without whom, I would have certainly struggled to survive….!! Helen’s shop, The Upcycled Home Company,  is undoubtedly a treasure, and somewhere we are proud to stock. If you visit the Rame Peninsula, you must go….allow yourself at least half an hour of browsing time…maybe more!

Here’s to all those lovely shops stocking British Made products and to all those makers who work hard to make such beautiful things. #hyperlocal

If you, like me are passionate about buying products with provenance, do visit The Contemporary Craft Festival, 9-11th June in Devon. We hope to see you there!

16 01, 2017

India……

By | January 16th, 2017|Uncategorised|2 Comments

HELEN ROUND Indian Bazzar 2In an ancient bazaar, situated behind the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, I squeezed my way into this narrow market stall to take a closer look at the amazing array of sparkly trim….some were so high up, the only way to reach them was to use a broom; poke them and hope you caught the one you wanted as it fell!!

I have always dreamed of visiting India, and this New Year, I got my chance. Travelling to the Kerala in the South, to “God’s Country” (interestingly Cornwall gets called the same), I had planned two weeks holiday visiting forest and jungle, city and coast. Arriving in India at this time was a bit of a gamble. News travels fast these days and a few weeks prior to my visit, the country was in turmoil with the Government making severe changes to the monetary system resulting in enormous queues at ATM’s and limits on cash withdrawal. I decided to continue with my plan to visit and was so pleased I did……India is a everything you see in films and on the TV… and much much more.

HELEN ROUND India tailor 1

lightening speed on the machine

I deliberately didn’t visit India with work in mind, but when you are a lifetime lover of textiles, it is sometimes hard to separate work and pleasure! I was fascinated by the amazing colours and the beautiful silks lining the shelves of the tailors shops behind the temples, marvelled at the speed and skills of the machinists, using very simple machines and some using their laps as cutting tables!

HELEN ROUND India silks

piles of sari silks stack the shelves

HELEN ROUND India tailor

pattern cutting…”I’ll make you a dress in an hour”, he said!

I spent quite a while chatting to these tailors, most of whom had been in the same job for over 25 years, taught by their fathers and desperately trying to keep their skills alive. As is the case with many traditional crafts, generations of skills are being lost, taken over by mass manufacturing and a need to have things made cheaply. Tailors have worked around the temple for hundreds of years.

HELEN ROUND Indian Bazzar 3

machinist at work behind the temple 

HELEN ROUND tea plantation

high in the hills where tea grows…..

In the mountainous region of Munnar, it was fascinating to visit Aranya Natural textiles, where traditional hand dyeing, block printing and paper making skills are being actively promoted. The Srishti programme runs various programmes for education, training and rehabilitation of differently abled children of Munnar’s tea plantation workers. It is a fascinating project and was great to spend time there watching dyeing and printing in progress. I was unable to take photographs here as it is a place of education, but if you are interested, you can find further details on their website.

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I was hoping to find linen whilst in India, but maybe I was in the wrong place, as didn’t manage to find anything nearly as wonderful as the cloth we get from The Baltics. There was silk and cotton in abundance…maybe I should consider a range of products made from silk and cotton? I was encouraged to find that small businesses still manage to exist in India and are able to make a living from traditional skills. It reminded me what I love about textiles and how the process of hand printing, dyeing and other techniques such as batik and tie dye are magical and how important it is to not let them get swallowed up the processes of mass production. Things we make by hand have so much more value than those that are churned out by the millions in factories. As most of you know, our products are all printed by hand using traditional screen printing methods and made in the studio…..it’s great to know that similar traditions are being kept alive in India.

I loved India and I plan to return…that is, once I have managed to get over the madness of the tuk tuk drivers and drivers in general!! There is no such thing as a white line in the road and if there was, no one would take a blind bit of notice!! Its a freeway where whoever goes fastest gets in front and on a hairpin bend, you overtake and hope that anything coming the other way will stop in time!

HELEN ROUND varkala

not a car in sight…..Varkala on the Arabian sea

As a celebration of all things handmade, we have 10% off our linen fabric (offer ends Friday 20th January 2017)…..visit our shop for further details.

7 07, 2016

Period Living Magazine Visit The Studio

By | July 7th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments

 

HELEN ROUND STUDIO

Take a peek into the studio with these fantastic images taken for Period Living Magazine, by photographer Anya Rice. In this months magazine, you can read more about the story of Helen Round, learn more about the inspiration behind the designs and find out more about the day to day happenings in our Cornish studio.

Linen Bread Bags - neatly stacked ready for orders

Lovely linen cushions, peg bags and bread bags – neatly stacked and ready for orders……

HELEN ROUND leather shopper

Adding leather handles to our shoppers…we start off with a whole leather hide, cut the straps, punch the holes and then attach with rivets to the bags to create a strong fixing

HELEN ROUND mood board

A snap shot from our inspiration board with printed linen samples, sketches and fabric swatches. Take a look at our lovely choice of linen fabric

HELEN ROUND mug

Always time for a cup of tea in between printing and cutting…seen here in the mug from The Coastal Collection

14 05, 2016

Making Linen Bread Bags And Bread

By | May 14th, 2016|Hand Printed Linen Textiles, Helen Round, In the studio, Made In Cornwall, Uncategorised|0 Comments

imageWith REAL BREAD WEEK fast approaching (14-22 May), I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some thoughts and recipes about bread and bread bags with you! We recently visited our lovely local bakery in Kingsand to film one of their wonderful Sourdough classes and have included Chris’s recipe and a link to our exciting new video below.

The idea of bread bags is a fairly new concept for us here in the UK…the French have been using them for years, but with the rise in popularity of home baking and bread making, comes the need for something in which to store bread. I’m sure we have all once owned a bread bin and witnessed the mould which seems to miraculously grow overnight….! Bread likes to breathe and in a sealed container it gets hot and sweaty – a perfect breeding ground for mould spores. Put your bread in a linen bread bag and it’s a different story. Linen, being a natural fibre, allows the bread to breathe. It is a fabric with a high water content and this in turn helps to keep a good crust (quite unlike a plastic bag that will soften the crust and cause the bread to sweat…not a nice thought!).

We are obviously big fans of linen bread bags here in the studio; they’re not just very practical, they are beautiful too. They take up much less space on your work top and for those with limited kitchen worktop space, there is even a hook for handy hanging. Add this to the fact that you can also use your bread bag, with the top rolled down, to serve bread at the table, as a basket…they have to be a winner. We have two in our kitchen, one for the sourdough and one for other bread products. Long gone are the plastic carrier bags and the bulky bread bin!!

It’s not just us that are fans either….River Cottage in Axminster recently commissioned us to make bread bags to help celebrate their 10th year at Park Farm….you can find them in their lovely shop along with our linen tea towels, both especially printed with their birthday logo.

Have a look at our new video ‘Making Bread Bags & Bread’….do let us know what you think. Special thanks go to Matilda Butler for making another great film.

If, like us, you are passionate about real bread, you can get involved in Real Bread Week here.

If you fancy having a go at making your own sourdough then try Chris’s recipe or even better book yourself onto one of his courses.

Making A Starter
Before you can begin to make sourdough bread you will need to make a Starter.

Day 1 Weigh 50g strong bread flour.  Add 50g water, ideally at 24o centigrade.  Mix and leave for 24 hours in a warm place
Day 2 After 24 hours, take 50g of the mixture, add 50g flour and 50g water, ideally at 24o centigrade.  Mix and leave for 24 hours in a warm place.
Day 3 Repeat day 2.  You should be seeing some bubbles on the surface of the mixture.  If not don’t worry.
Day 4 Repeat day 2.  You should be seeing some bubbles on the surface of the mixture.  If you don’t have any bubbles, something is wrong and you should start again.
Day 5 You should see bubbles and it is now ready to be used to raise bread or can be stored in the fridge in a lidded pot ready for your to use to bake bread. 

Preparing your Starter
Twenty-four hours before you want to start to make bread you need to prepare your Starter.  This is called making a Levain.

Method
The day before you want to bake

-In the morning, take your Starter out of the fridge and mix 25g of Starter with 25g of flour and 25g of water.
– Leave this mixture in a warm place – approximately 22o centigrade
-In the evening use 25g of the Starter and mix with 75g of flour and 75g of water
-The following day your Starter will be ready to use.  It will be bubbly and should have increased in size by 20%
-Keep 50g of Starter in a lidded pot in the fridge.  This is now your Starter for the next loaf.  It can be stored for up to 3 months

Sourdough Recipe

Ingredients

450g Strong White Bread Flour
50g Wholemeal Bread Flour
7.5g Finely Ground Sea Salt
300g/325ml Tap Water
125g Starter/Levain

Method

  1. Weigh 450g strong white bread flour and 50g wholemeal bread flour into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Measure 325ml tap water into a small bowl/jug, tare scales, weigh 125g Starter into the tap water
  3. Pour the water and Starter into the flour
  4. Roll-up sleeves and mix ingredients together for 2-3 minutes until all the ingredients are completely combined
  5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 15 minutes
  6. After 30 minutes sprinkle salt over the dough and mix thoroughly for one minute
  7. After 20 minutes, pull and stretch the dough, repeating several times
  8. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave for 20 minutes
  9. Repeat this process of folding the dough four times, leave in a warm room (22o) for 15 minutes between each fold
  10. Leave the dough to prove for 3 to 4 hours.
  11. Score your loaf. Bake for 40 minutes at 240o or 220o fan oven until the bread is a deep golden colour.  To test whether your bread is baked tap the bottom – it should sound hollow.

 

 

27 04, 2016

FREE Linen Bistro Apron Pattern Made From Beautiful Linen Fabric

By | April 27th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments

HELEN ROUND linen apron free pattern A

The Sewing Bee Is Back!!

To celebrate the launch of the new 2016 series of the Great British Sewing Bee on Thursday 5th May, we have developed a lovely new pattern for a linen bistro apron, which is FREE to download on our website. Easy to make, even for the novices amongst you, all you need is a sewing machine, a few pins, thread, a sharp pair of scissors and a metre of linen fabric.

The linen fabric is available in our online shop and is the perfect weight for the apron. Choose from 6 lovely linen colours; raspberry (as shown above), natural, blue, cowslip, orange and navy. Great to wear in the kitchen and the garden, the apron has nice long ties and a handy pocket.

Helen Round linen fabric

We had great fun here in the studio devising the pattern and taking the photographs for the step by step guide of what to do and when. We are great fans of the Sewing Bee and can’t wait to meet the new contestants and pick out a winner (sweepstakes will be taking place!) 

This is one of those programmes that my daughter and I always make time to watch together and marvel at just how the contestants manage to stitch such wonderful creations (or sometimes not so wonderful…) in such a short space of time, and all under the watchful eye of the BBC camera crew!!

Click Here For Your Free Pattern

Once you’ve made your linen apron, do send us your pictures ….we would love to see them. You can add them to the Facebook or email us. HAPPY SEWING!

 

8 03, 2016

Interview with Amy Cooper

By | March 8th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments

amy-cooper-ceramics-original-collection
Last month, with the help of my lovely Mum, we selected 6 designer makers for our Mother’s Day Gift Selection…one of them was Amy Cooper and this month, as Spring approaches and the days grow longer we catch up with Amy, a ceramicist from West Cornwall who always has light in her life!

I have met Amy on a number of occasions at shows and fairs….and it is always great to see her, find out what’s been happening and admire her new work.

I’m always keen to find out how other creatives got started and I asked Amy whatever possessed her to start her own business?
I’d done years of bar and cleaning jobs and I always knew what I really wanted to do was make a living out of being creative. At 25 I went back to college on a total mission. I set up my business straight from university and I haven’t looked back.
And…..what about being your own boss?
One of the best things is being able to work the hours I choose. Although for the first few years and in busy times this feels like all of them! Since having my children it has been a total blessing to be able to arrange my work life around them; it is sometimes quite a hard discipline to down tools at 3pm but I know these years with the kids are short and precious and I am usually back to work after they are in bed for a couple of hours. I also get to go for walks for work and listen to my music or radio 4 all day. I love carrying an idea through from start to finish. I love working with my husband and love the way our business and family life combine.
What top tip would you pass onto someone just starting out as a designer maker?
Try out lots of different outlets and shows. Don’t be apologetic about your work. Make friends with your neighbours. Be proactive. Share your joy of making with potential       customers, tell them what you love about what you do and why. Remember there will be good and bad shows, don’t be afraid to put your money where your mouth is!
What do you do when you’re not working?!
Static trapeze and being a mummy! There is always so much to do running a small business…….sometimes the creative bit can get very squeezed.
How do you stay motivated?
I do try and take on the odd left field project to keep my creative brain alive and       fizzing!
Plans for the future……?
This year I am making some work for an exhibition to celebrate the 30th birthday of a gallery in Delft that I have been working with for over 10 years. It is a non lighting     project which I’m really enjoying so far. I am also making some work for a Cornwall Crafts Association 15/18 Now project to be exhibited at Trelissick House in the Summer, also non lighting!These projects always create a bit more pressure but also hopefully feed my practice in the long term!

Thanks Amy! To see more of Amy’s beautiful work do take a look at her website.

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amy-cooper-ceramics-imagery-collection