Creativity Corner Inspirational People

Hunted and Stuffed – Upcycled Vintage Cushions

January 23, 2014

Today I would like to introduce you to the lovely Ellie of Hunted and Stuffed. I first came across Ellie, well, take a look here when I saw an Oscar de la Renta one-off cushion on her site with this fabulous Kabuki performer. It just had to be mine!

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Forward a couple of years and I caught up with Ellie again in her studio. She’s been rather busy and doing all sorts of wonderful things, so thought it best to give my readers another little insight into yet another talented woman!

Meet Ellie.

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Tell us a little about your upbringing and studies.
My mum was always very creative and was a big influence on me. She was a home knitter in the 80’s making outrageous jumpers for a local designer and always had a personal project on the go, usually where she would be teaching herself a new skill using books from the library, such as re-upholstery or cross-stitching. My uncle Charlie was also a big creative influence when I was a child, he taught Advertising in Stockport and I would often meet ex students of his as clients on photo shoots in London – they’d ask if I was related because of our unusual surname!

I trained in Fine Art – Sculpture at Kingston and fell in love with process. I really got into arc and oxy-acetylene welding under the guidance of a bemused old-school technician and then really fell in love with photography on a trip across the USA mid degree. I think I realized then that it was the making that I loved, I naively couldn’t understand how artists like Anish Kapoor could get other people to make their sculptures for them and then sell them as theirs – it seemed inauthentic in an ‘artist’.

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

What made you start Hunted and Stuffed?
I’d worked as a pro photographer in London for the previous 12 years (much of that on interiors shoots with loads of lovely product samples) and had to stop when I had my son. I was in nesting mode, had my attention focused on the home, couldn’t leave my baby to go out to shoot as the hours were too long and had a massive creative itch that I had to scratch and it all started with a quirky idea about tea towels.

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

How did you start? Do you think that any creative can start their own business?
I’d been a freelancer for ages and I think that trained me to be determined, consistent and brave. There’s a great quote by Deborah Meaden (Dragon’s Den) “The difference is that successful people act on their ideas” and I think that is key. You could have the best idea in the world but if you never do anything with it….
In theory I think any creative CAN start their own business but there is a world of difference between business skills and creativity. It will pay to keep that in mind. Many creatives start off by working in their spare time to test their ideas and get things off the ground and I think that’s wise. Only jack in the day job if you know you’ve got something that works and can support you.

What have been the ups and downs?
The ups are when you get great feedback from a happy customer – that really makes me feel all warm inside! Other highlights have been winning the Brand Amplifier award for female entrepreneurs, that really gave me a confidence boost, and when Cico Books said yes to my book proposal – those were amazing moments when you get to feel that all your hard work is paying off.
The downs are when you find yet another person trying to copy what you’re doing or when sales are slow.

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How do you get your ideas? Do you ever run out of them?
I attended an amazing talk by the incredibly inspirational Paul Smith and I think he answered that question best by saying
“You Can Find Inspiration in Everything*: (*and if you can’t, look again)

Obviously with the upcycled vintage pieces it’s about taking something that someone else has designed in the past and reinventing it by upcycling, adding my own choices of fabrics and trims to create a finished work. I’m working on new pieces, named ‘Hunted and Stuffed Editions’, which will combine elements of vintage artwork and/or photography into completely new designs that I can print digitally – I’m very excited about this new departure!

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving
Kimono Luxe Vintage Cushions

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

I know that Provenance is important to you. Can you expand?
I think basically I’m a straight up kinda gal – honesty and authenticity are paramount to me. If something is ‘vintage’ I take that to mean that it is over 20 years old – not made last month and aged to look ‘vintage’. My customers appreciate that too and that’s why they come to me.
Also, I’m realizing I’m a research junkie. I love finding out about the history of the vintage textiles I use, trying to exactly date them, researching the print or design, the symbolism of the motifs etc. Then I pass on what I’ve discovered so that my customers can know as much as possible because it’s all part of the story of the fabric. It’s part of what makes the pieces different from what you’d find on the high street.

How was it writing your first book and how did that come about?
I had so many ideas of how to upcycle things, vintage items that you’d come across on boot fair raids or antique market rummages, and many I upcycled just to make things for myself. They weren’t necessarily right to create products out of for my business, some were just one offs, a lot weren’t even textile based, so it seemed like a good idea to collate these ideas into book form with detailed instructions on how to make them so that anyone with an interest (and of any skill level) could try making them for themselves. I pitched the idea to Cico Books because they have an excellent reputation for this kind of book and they very kindly accepted. It was a lot of intense work in a short period of time, sourcing, making, writing, but I like a challenge! It was so satisfying to see the finished book and I can’t thank Cico enough for all their support – they were amazing.

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Hunted and Stuffed - Colourliving

Can you share any future plans for H&S.
I’m releasing two new collections. The first is made with upcycled vintage Gannex wool, which is a British fabric created in the 60’s and made famous by Harrold Wilson (who always wore a Gannex coat). It was made in the Gannex Mill in Elland, Yorkshire which is now demolished. I sourced the last of this fabric to create two limited editions of 25 hand-stamped and individually numbered cushions, ‘The Harold’ which is navy blue and tartan/plaid and ‘The Duke’ (grey and tartan).

Named after The Duke of Edinburgh who ordered Gannex coats from Harrods for himself, the Queen and the royal corgis which resulted in the firm receiving the Royal Warrant.

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Gannex Plaid Limited Editions

This fabric has quite an amazing history which I’ve written about on my blog here:

The second is a collection of 3 digitally printed cushions with beautiful designs inspired by Victorian Calling Cards – These are fascinating pieces of social history often with elaborate decoration loaded with symbolism- hands offering ‘forget-me-not’ flowers being one of the easier ones to decipher. Common amongst the middle and upper classes, how they were used is fascinating too –there were many rules dictating when and how to visit a household to leave a card, what particular message is conveyed by turning up a particular corner of the card and how receiving a card in return placed inside an envelope basically means you’re being given the brush-off.

What are some of your dreams in life?
I’d love to travel to Japan but will wait until my son is a bit older!

Thank you Ellie and talking of Japan, I’m the lucky girl who got this wonderful cushion as a Christmas present.Thank you O. It fits beautifully in the Colourliving abode.

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Vintage Kimono Silk Cushion with Teal Velvet Upcycled Uchikake Gilt Thread

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Hunted and Stuffed is also participating in my #tinasjubilee EPIC giveaway with this vintage 1970s London upcycled cushion. Have you entered yet?

What kind of cushions do you buy? I’d love to know! I have got the Book and it’s totally fab. Happy weekend everyone.

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22 Comments

  • Reply Igor January 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Wow, these are fabulous ideas and I am happy for the introduction to Hunted & Stuffed – haven’t heard of them before. I think a touch of vintage should always be included in a home – it’s those pieces that add most interest to an interior!

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Thanks Igor… as a cushion lover I’m happy for you to meet Hunted and Stuffed. You’ll have a one-ff which is always nice and personal!

  • Reply Carole Poirot January 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Ah, saw your amazing cushion on IG earlier today and this post is just brilliant to find out more about it! I love the whole philosophy behind the items and the fact that Ellie describes herself as a “research junkie”, as it makes me think “here’s somebody I can trust to create something honest and authentic” . Great interview and really interesting. Obviously love the cushions as well! xo

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:27 am

      I know, I loved ‘Research Junkie” too… I think I’m one as well:-)

      Thanks Carole, love the authenticity and uniqueness to them … I know I will cherish both of my H&S loot for many years! x

  • Reply rosalie lacey January 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    That interview made fascinating and enlightening reading now ya got me looking for all stuff vintage lol . May you go on and up in your business – good luck xxx

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Thank you and glad you enjoyed the interview!

  • Reply Anya Jensen January 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Hey Tina, what a fantastic find. I love upcycling things and Ellie doing this with vintage fabrics is just perfect. Make thing live again and be loved – what’s not to like. Happy weekend – we’re brazing ourselves for snow – not what I ordered 🙂
    Axx

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:29 am

      There was once a shop called Maisonette in Kensal Rise that made the most wonderful upcycled cushions… they no longer exist so was very happy to have met Ellie.
      Hope it’s not too cold and too white in Denmark xx

  • Reply Alison Sye January 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Love the ‘You can find inspiration in everything…’ quote.
    Your work is absolutely wonderful Ellie, and I wish you loads of luck with your new ventures.

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:30 am

      Probably one of my favourite quotes EVER! x

  • Reply Chi@106 January 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Wonderful interview, Tina. 🙂

    I love Ellie’s ethos. Objects with a history and layers of meaning are so valuable especially in this mass produced age that we live in. It’s great to see the beginnings of a return to meaningful and mindful production led by people like Ellie.

    I’ll definitely check out her book.

    P.S. Your cushion is so pretty and so you – we’ll done, O! 😀 x

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:31 am

      Thanks Chi!

      Well, you have to be pone to know one:-) I agree 100%
      The book is really totally fab. You’ll love it.. x

      Aww, thanks.. it’s special and I’ve had my eye on it for a while xx

  • Reply Nicola January 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Great read Tina!

    I love these cushions and I didn’t know about the book. Quite fancy making that lampshade & putting it on my piano x

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Thanks Nicola.

      Ok, if you and Chi get the book we can spur each other on to make projects. I’ve seen the finished projects in Ellie’s studio and they were seriously fab!
      xx

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey January 27, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Hey Tina. Cool interview with Ellie. I especially like her comment: “In theory I think any creative CAN start their own business but there is a world of difference between business skills and creativity.” Oh I hear that.

    I can completely appreciate the craft, skill and authenticity that goes into making these products even if they’re not personally for me. Ellie’s dedication to her work shines through.

    What kind of cushions do I buy? Very few and mainly solid colours… but the most unusual one (for me) has to be my Mrs Liberty print cushion from Liberty. I love it.

    Gxx

    • Reply tina January 31, 2014 at 12:33 am

      Thanks G… such wise words, right?

      I knew you would appreciate the ethos.
      Solid colours? Now there’s a surprise!! xx

  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine February 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    drooling over the kimono cushions!

    • Reply tina February 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      ha. They are absolutely gorgeous IRL!

  • Reply Doris February 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Wow what a wonderfully talented lady. I’m now off to get that book on upcycling. A great interview and photo’s Tina. xD

    • Reply tina February 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Isn’t she just???
      That book is really different. I hope you’ll enjoy it but feel confident you will .
      Thanks lovely xx

  • Reply Holly February 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I know what a fan you are of Ellie and her Hunted & Stuffed shop. She makes beautiful items – the two pillows you have are just show-stopping! I really love her Vintage Kimono Dark Peacock cushions. Rich and dreamy and BLUE on one side!

    Thanks for sharing Ellie’s story, lots of good advice to retain here 🙂

    Xx.

    • Reply tina February 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Ha. Well, you know one of them:-)) so next time you visit you can see the new addition!

      Glad you enjoyed Holly xx

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