Nook of the North – creator of embroidered jewellery inspired by mid-century design

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, interview

Meet the Maker – Nook of the North

Rebecca Clarke is the jeweller behind Nook of the North. Her pieces are inspired by the shapes and linear forms of mid-century design and patterns as well as the textiles, embroideries and ceramics in the collections of Temple Newsam where she works part-time. We caught up with Becca to find out more about her stitched jewellery, her love of mid-century design and her heroes of craft…

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello my name is Rebecca Clarke. I’m mother to three small ones and I work part-time for Leeds Museums and Galleries at Temple Newsam. My alter ego is Nook of the North; maker of Mid-Century inspired thread and brass jewellery. I work from a studio in our home in a small village near Leeds in Yorkshire.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

My alter ego is Nook of the North; maker of Mid-Century-inspired thread and brass jewellery.

Have you always been interested in craft and making?
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved drawing and sewing. As an only grandchild, I was very close to my grandmother and we would sit together embroidering tablecloths and knitting little scarves for my dolls. She was always making or doing something and I’ve inherited that gene.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

I was very close to my grandmother and we would sit together embroidering tablecloths and knitting little scarves for my dolls. She was always making or doing something and I’ve inherited that gene.

How did you start making jewellery?
I had an amazing art teacher at high school. She was a ceramicist and encouraged me to explore 3D form rather than just painting and drawing. This sparked an interest in Fine Art, which I went on to study. During my studies I took an elective in jewellery making at the Birmingham School of Jewellery. I’d never worked with metal before and was hooked. My degree focussed very much on the concept, but it was the making that I enjoyed the most. Over the past 10 years I’ve evolved a technique that I’m well suited to.

Where did the idea for your stitched necklaces come from?
Stitching the edges of fabric pendants started as a way to showcase treasured fabrics from my travels around Asia. Gradually the binding and stitching became more interesting to me and I developed the technique that I use today.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

Stitching the edges of fabric pendants started as a way to showcase treasured fabrics from my travels around Asia.

Can you explain how you make your pieces?
Quite often I’ll start making a collage from shapes that I cut from my paper stash or from magazines. I then make several drawings before I even think about stitching. I choose colours depending on what I like at the moment and then start backing and preparing the fabric.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

I feel very privileged to have access to the collections at Temple Newsam and particularly like the embroidered pieces – I can’t imagine how many hours were involved and I respect the talent they showcase.

Who are your heroes of craft?
I’ve found lots of extremely talented crafters on Instagram. My favourites are Annyen Lam, a Canadian Artist whose Tinyblades Project involves creating a miniature papercut everyday. Her work is so intricate and precise, it’s unbelievable. I also love the work of Lisa Smirnova who embroiders clothing and portraits. I wish I could attend one of her workshops in Moscow. Although not strictly crafters, I always refer to the works of Barbara Hepworth and Lucienne Day. Whenever I have creative block, I like to look at their drawings and sketches.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved drawing and sewing.

Where else do you look for inspiration?
I have a love of Mid-Century interiors and pattern design and I’m inspired by the shapes, colours and linear forms of that era. Fortunately people know this and I now have a selection of beautiful books. My favourite is a tiny book of the V&A’s 1950s pattern collection. I work part-time in a Tudor Jacobean mansion called Temple Newsam, which is home to renowned collections of textiles, ceramics, silver and furniture. I feel very privileged to have access to these collections and particularly like the embroidered pieces – I can’t imagine how many hours were involved and I respect the talent they showcase.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

I share my studio with the kids who use it as a play room, so the Lego and toys are taking over a bit, but there is still plenty of space for us all.

Can you tell us about your studio – where is it, what does it look like and what’s in it?
I’m very fortunate to have a studio space at home. It’s a bright south-facing room with an entire wall of storage. I share the space with the kids who use it as a play room, so the Lego and toys are taking over a bit, but there is still plenty of space for us all. I have to keep most of my tools and fabrics in cupboards to keep them safe, but I’m very organised and like things to be tidy anyway.

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

Daily life is hectic and being able to spend a little time each day crafting is very important to me.

What does craft mean to you?
As a maker I get real enjoyment from being able to create something that’s my own but that takes influence from people whose work I admire, whether they are artists, architects or fellow crafters. Daily life is hectic and being able to spend a little time each day crafting is very important to me.

How would you spend your perfect day?
A family trip to the coast on a crisp, sunny autumn day would be bliss. Fish and chips on the beach and maybe even a little paddle, rounded off with stitching in front of the stove watching an episode of Father Ted.

nook of the north, Christmas decorations

Hand-embroidered Christmas decorations by Nook of the North

I have a love of Mid-Century interiors and pattern design and I’m inspired by the shapes, colours and linear forms of that era.

Will you be having a handmade Christmas?
I’ve really enjoyed making Christmas decorations this year, and they’ve been really popular. I’m going to make one for each of the kids with their initial on. Apart from that, I need to make the Christmas cake and, as requested, lots of paper-chains with the kids. I taught them how to cut snowflakes and it’s started a bit of a family competition. There are fragments of snipped paper everywhere!!

Nook of the North, mid-century jewellery, embroidered jewellery

Shop Nook of the North jewellery and decorations on Folksy 

Use the code MAKER10 before midnight on Sunday 27 November 2016 for a 10% discount on all Nook of the North jewellery and decorations

 

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