Thursday, 5 December 2013



I have some real inspirations out there and one of those that I have particular respect for is Angel who taught me all about block printing, how it is not lucrative, but how it is an art to be enjoyed, how you need to really enjoy it to be able to do it and how you have to take your time and be patient to get the result.  This is a useful lesson that I try and apply to my life in general.  Things are hectic with 3 children under 6, a house that is a working project and a business that I really want to see grow.  Its too easy to dispel this thoughtful way of producing, literally by hand, and if I want to be commercial some sacrifices will have to be made, but she is always there in my mind to be bring me back to what its all really about.  I really enjoyed this little article in the Telegraph that emphasises her dedication to each element of the fairies that she makes through out the year....

Meet the artisans behind your Christmas baubles and cards

The ruthless commercialisation of Christmas is undeniable, but not universal. These artisans are working to create some of the finest handmade seasonal essentials

Angel Hughes works year round to produce her handmade Christmas fairies
Angel Hughes works year round to produce her handmade Christmas fairies Photo: Benjamin McMahon
The angel maker (main picture, top)
Tobias and the Angel, the popular home store in Barnes, south-west London, is well known for its hand-blocked textiles and custom-built furniture. But for the vast majority of the year, its owner, Angel Hughes, and her team of ‘two and a half’ are also hard at work preparing for the shop’s busiest time: Christmas. Hughes’s handmade Christmas decorations include fairies, stars and fabric-covered baubles. ‘I have to start in January,’ she explains. ‘It’s a monumental job and isn’t something you can catch up on.’
Hughes is passionate about Christmas decorations. ‘I think it all stems from being brought up in Düsseldorf, where my father worked for the British Council,’ she says. ‘German Christmas decorations are so beautiful.’ Hughes says that the detail-heavy pieces she creates are part of her drive towards authenticity. ‘You could take the coats off my angels if you felt so inclined,’ she says. She is referring to the ‘glamorous angels’ that she has been making and selling each Christmas for more than 20 years. Handmade by Hughes and her team, these 10- and 11in creations are intricately and beautifully dressed in outfits made almost exclusively of vintage textiles, of which Hughes is an avid collector. ‘Finding a bit of trimming on a card long enough for me to do something with is really exciting. And I’ve already found some lace to make the fairy skirts out of next year.’ She says the vintage cloth she finds is far more beautifully made than modern fabric, making it perfect for the angels and their richly layered outfits.
Each takes between two and five days to make. (‘that’s if you’re really at it constantly’). And to keep a certain level of exclusivity, no more than eight of each is made. ‘Making them kills me,’ she says. ‘And they’re hardly a money-spinner. I can only afford to make them because I own the shop. But I love doing it.’ Hughes first introduced the angels, which start at £225, a few years after the shop opened in 1986, and says they’ve become ever more glamorous as the years have gone by. ‘Some of this year’s really are a bit over the top,’ she says, laughing. ‘But I like that; I think Christmas is a time where you can put something out there that’s as good as you can make it.’ Siân Ranscombe.

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