We have known the very talented textile artist Natasha Hulse for many years. In fact, as she went to school with my daughter Minnie, more years than we can probably remember!
The early days of Natasha’s career found her in the fashion industry, creating computer based designs. Knowing how talented she was, it was in 2017 that we suggested to Natasha that her beautiful appliqué flowers would work well on a headboard, and she could use the expansive space as a canvas. Fast forward nearly five years and our Tree of Life headboard in The Whitby Suite at The Whitby Hotel is as spectacular as ever, and Natasha has built an amazing design studio of her own, specialising in hand crafted fabrics for interiors and bespoke furniture for commercial and residential design.
Now, Natasha can be found at her workshop in London, combining the traditional technique of art and appliqué into unique three-dimensional designs. Each piece of furniture and fabric showcases a design that is hand-painted and appliqued into a botanical scene and upholstered into a unique item of furniture.
We love collaborating with young and upcoming artists and have now worked with Natasha on a number of headboard designs. We have even created our own fabric design called ‘Tasha’s Trip’, which was inspired by her work.
For this month’s Meet the Maker, we catch up with this talented young lady…
1. How and when did you get into appliqué design?
Before I was even able to paint on paper, I painted on fabrics and was layering shapes and patterns together. For me, it has always been the most natural way of creating pictures and assembling ideas.
I almost work backwards, taking shapes apart and then building them back together. I start with an individual component like a petal or centre of a flower and then re-group those components together to make it whole again. I love to communicate through touch and texture, so to create something three-dimensional feels like a natural language.
2. We love how detailed and layered your work is – how do you start your pieces? Tell us a bit about your process.
Everything starts with colour and texture. I then think about the product and how that piece of furniture will hold a composition.
I work with the client and we usually choose flowers from their garden, bringing the outside into their home. We choose flowers that symbolise something to them and identify what personal keepsakes we can add into the artwork, things like dragonflies that might represent a family member or fabrics that have been given to them by their relatives, allowing me to preserve it in a new and interesting way.
Once I have all that information I start painting, adding textures into and around the leaf shapes. I build up the petal with lines, dots and edging, marking any detail I am drawn to. Finally all the petals are assembled to make a whole form that represents something in nature. I then group all the individual flowers to make a botanical arrangement.
4. You appliqué so many types of furniture – what is your favourite to work on?
My favourite type of furniture to make is bespoke headboards. I spend months working on small elements and petals, so it is so rewarding when they are eventually transported onto a large space and come together as a collective.
The headboards are bold, striking and normally act as the focal point, which I like. It is nice to think of the headboards in place above people’s heads, guarding them in their sleep. It almost feels symbolic and sacred to have a garden of flowers watching over you, possibly sneaking into your dreams.
5. What does your everyday look like?
I normally work on two commissions at one time. So whilst one element for one project is drying I can be productive and start the next. I start painting as soon as I have checked my emails and continue that throughout the day, making thousands of petals. Once they are dry, I iron, wash and dry them again before cutting them out. I work on a whole combination of flowers throughout the day, painting petals, stigmas and stalks until one day, two or three months from then, they will all come together and be a garden of flowers.
6. What is your favourite piece you have ever made or worked on?
My first headboard for Kit. I’ll never forget rushing back from my job at the time, wanting to do the thing I really loved, working on the headboard. As you can imagine it took months to make whilst working a full time job in the day and then coming back to work on it in the evening. It became a beautiful ritual and labour of love. I think when something like that happens, it is a good indication that you know that’s what you should be doing. It was a moment of sudden, triumphant discovery of ‘why have I not been doing this everyday’ and knowing it combined all my interests – appliqué, product making and flowers all in one. It was a winning combination for me.
If you want to learn more about Natasha’s painting and appliqué technique and even give it a go, we are holding a two day workshop with Natasha Hulse and Melissa White on the 30th and 31st of October at Ham Yard Hotel.
Melissa and Natasha will guide you through an intimate masterclass over the course of two days to create your own artwork in a hand painted frame to take home. Stay tuned for more information!