+44 (0)151 709 4014


Introducing our new blogger: May Haddon

Written by May Haddon | Posted on: November 29, 2014

Hi, I’m May, and I’m really excited to be blogging for Bluecoat Display Centre about crafts, applied arts and current exhibitions which I’m visiting.  I’m hoping to blog regularly, featuring exhibiting artists as well as up and coming artists whom I am interested in.

I’m currently studying for my GCSE’s at West Kirby Grammar School.  My Mum is a textile artist, so I have grown up visiting exhibitions and galleries from a young age.  I love visiting shows locally, as well as places further afield, from Alternator studios in Birkenhead to Collect in London.  I am taking a trip to London next week, where I will be visiting Cockpit studios and The Chocolate Factory in Stoke Newington, so I look forward to discovering some new makers to feature on this blog in the coming weeks.

During the summer I did a work placement with designer maker Jessie Chorley.  I first came across Jessie’s work when she had a stall with fellow maker Buddug, on Broadway Market.  When I lived in Hackney, my Mum and I would look forward to seeing Jessie’s stall where my Mum would often buy Jessie’s altered journals to use as sketchbooks.  I remember always lusting over Jessie’s intricately embroidered sewing kits and sweet little brooches.

It’s great to see how Jessie’s business has developed and become such a success.  So, as my first blog post, I’ve picked Jessie to be the featuring artist.  Read all about Jessie and her work in my interview with her below:

How do you make your work/What are the processes in relation to your work?

I use mainly traditional making techniques. Hand embroidery; applique and collage are main techniques that I use regularly.  Hand embroidery is my main passion, this is what I am passionate about developing.  I also combine simple screen or block printing.  I have recently developed a range of hand illustrated rubber stamps that I regularly use in my work. When used on found fabrics, I then stitch back over the prints to layer up the imagery. I also use the stamps a lot when creating hand made cards, and my Altered Journals and memory books.

I use very affordable materials to make my work, mainly found and recycled items. I love giving life back to pre-worn items, seeing them displayed in my shop and then bought by an appreciative individual. It is like a completion to the story. I use the needle and thread like a drawing tool to lay down imagery and text in stitch, and also to hold in place found items.

Who do you sell your work to?

It’s quite broad really, I do lots of commissions making my embroidered illustrations for people who want something personal for a memorable event. I also regularly create my Altered Journals for Weddings, Births and other events.

At my shop I sell a variety of small things such as my greeting cards, illustrated tapes, Journal making kits and one off items of clothing to Tourists. I have a lot of people who know and follow my work and shop from being on my workshops.

Describe your shop

The shop is, and always has been, a collaboration with fellow maker Buddug.  We met in Wales when completing our Foundation art course in 1999. We have developed the shop over the last 10 years after graduating in 2005.  We work very separately in our own disciplines but we also complement each other in style.

Our shop is a great Hub in a very interesting and inspiring street in the heart of Shoreditch, East London.  We moved to 158 Columbia Road in 2007 to a tiny studio and opened our current shop in 2010.  The shop is a real mix of both our works, both of which are always changing.  Both of us often do other shows, events and workshops, so it’s great to have a hub to bring people back to which is not only online. We also source and sell some vintage pieces, as well as some pieces of furniture, but about 90% of the items in the shop are handmade by us.

Describe your studio

My Studio is situated on Dace Road in Hackney Wick, here in East London.   It’s a big room in an old textile warehouse. I share my studio; there are 3 of us in total. My side is pretty full of boxes and baskets full of finds for making my work.  I have a lovely big metal window in the studio with my sewing table underneath it.  I love using this window to hang half made work against. Hackney Wick is an inspiring place to work. It’s slightly tucked away and quiet, but I love knowing that the canal and the coffee shops are just outside, as are fellow makers busily creating.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

My heart lies with my hand embroidery. I really enjoy this process and I am currently enjoying developing this side of my work.  I’m very busy most days but I have a lot of variety, which is important to me as a maker to keep things flowing.  If I’m not in the shop at a weekend then I’m away running private workshops.  I thrive both on the social aspect of meeting, greeting and selling in my shop, and teaching my skills to like minded others at workshops. I love the domestic running of the shop and the little team there, this gives me great satisfaction.  I love the freedom I have given myself to develop new ideas. When one of those new ideas or designs really works and is a success, it is incredibly rewarding to as an individual.

Who/what inspires you?

I am inspired a lot by “the materials” themselves. I work very much with discarded fabrics and papers that I source at various markets and charity shops.  I visit France quite often for inspiration and to pick up vintage and pre-used items from Flea Markets.  Often I find items such as an old book or pre-worn item of clothing. This can send me of onto a path of inspiration. Sometimes it’s just the look, and tactile quality of an item I’m drawn to.

At the moment I’m working on new embroidered and appliqued Hankies. These are inspired by the traditional souvenir Hankies which we still find today, and that have been made for generations. I’m particularly inspired by fine hand embroidered Hankies from the 1920s/1930s.

Artists who have always inspired me, (since researching them for my dissertation while in my final year at Goldsmiths College), are Louise Bourgeois, Mark Chagall and Doris Salcedo. I often dip in to have a look at their work for a moment of inspiration.

If you would like to find out more about Jessie Chorley and her work, you can find her at:

Jessie Chorley

J&B The Shop

158 a Columbia Rd


E2 7RG


Written by May Haddon, GCSE student at West Kirby Grammar School.

Your Comments

  1. jessie chorley / EastLondon

    Congratulations May on this.
    Thanks so much again for all your help last summer and thank you for featuring my work here…Very exciting keep in touch and please come back to the studio in the near future

    Jessie xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this post: