Iv’e all ways been drawn to craft and all things homemade, but until I came across Jane Blease Design I had never thought to pay a visit to Manchester Craft Center. It’s a wonderful hub of creativity,filled to the brim with handmade products, three days just wasn’t enough time to fully explore all it’s treasures. (Details about Manchester Craft and it’s in house designers can be found here http://www.craftanddesign.com). Whilst spending time at Radiance with Hannah Nunn I came across Jane’s work for the first time. Hannah stocked a selection of Jane’s lampshades and accessories which immediately caught my eye. Coming from a family with a background in timber, Jane’s manipulation of wood veneer really interested me. I later saw Jane’s work again at the Manchester Craft exhibition and decided I’d kindly ask for some work experience, and after a few months of persuasive e-mails from me, Jane very kindly offerd to take me under her wing for three sunny days in manchester.
Initially I had no specific plan of what I’d like to learn from my time with Jane, I just knew I wanted to be as much help as possible. Thankfully Jane was absolutely brilliant, we chatted about her time at uni and her experiences after graduating and I began to feel like life after third year may not be so scary after all. It was important to me to gain understanding of how Jane got to where she is today and what obstacles she overcame along the way, I also wanted to see first hand, the work involved in the day to day running of Janes business.
Jane has built up a large body of work that includes a variety of materials and making processes which makes her studio a very interesting place to visit. Although the wood veneer lamp shades and accessories are what Jane mainly sells from say to day, the works pictured above show her talent for understanding the potential of a raw material. Through the use of various techniques such as laser cutting, plastic re-forming and hand sewing Jane’s works are an eclectic mixture of traditional and modern craft techniques.
Whilst discussing the benefits and problems of using wood instead of a textile, Jane and I stitched colourful broaches and bookmarks. Ideal for the customer with a smaller budget these laser-cut peaces are quick to make, and come in a variety of colours providing Jane with a larger customer base.Perfect as gifts or souvenir’s, the broaches and book marks are also sold by Jane’s stockist’s co-ordinating with the lamp shades bringing together her works as a brand.
All of the wood veneer design’s come in oak, ash and walnut shades with georgous thread detail. The grain of the wood provides the lampshades with a warm glow that evenly distributes the light from the bulb. The coloured stitching provides each lamp with individuality making the customer feel special and unique, but even without colour these designs are very effective.
The Lampshades begin life as flat sheets of wood veneer that are then laser cut into a pattern designed by Jane. The patterns allow enough space for a needle to pass through the circles to add the hints of colour with the thread. The flat sheet is then applied very carefully to a wire frame, they can then be hung or placed on a stand. This process requires allot of time and patients and can be complicated as natural materials have a mind of their own. It’s only the laser cutting part of production that takes place away from the studio, but this means all design work must be prepared in advance.
The wooden art works are made via the same process as the shades, they come in a variety of sizes and colour’s as well as patterns.I was lucky enough to return home to wales with one to keep !.
My time at Jane Blease Design was more valuable than I could have ever predicted.Although I am still in the early days of my design career, Jane helped me see that working independently is allot of hard work but that it’s also very rewarding.Long hours and complete dedication to your work is what’s needed to build something like what Jane has. I learnt about everything from craftsmanship to supplier’s and also picked up a few business tips that may come in handy in the future. Even a short amount of time with Jane has taught me so much , I’m so grateful for all of the time and wealth of information she was willing to give me.