Ellie Laycock, local craftswoman and upcycler, is participating in Lambeth Open for the second year and has just launched her first book of upcycling ideas, Creating the Vintage Look. Ruth Waters, Arts Editor, met her to find out more about her craft and what Lambeth Open means to her.
Ellie is a practiced upcycler in her own right, producing cushions and aprons for her brand Hunted and Stuffed. The materials for these are all sourced as locally as possible to support UK manufacturing, something which is important to Ellie. When I ask Ellie how she got into upcycling in the first place she tells me that “ it gave a name to something I’d been doing all along” so it was quite an organic process.
“I had been a photographer for 12 years and I found that, being a single mother with family a long way away, I just couldn’t free up a whole day for a shoot any more. I found it so frustrating not doing anything creative and the seed of the idea for ‘Hunted and Stuffed’ was born from making a cushion from a single scrap of Japanese kimono material.”
“I think it’s so important to be mindful of the possessions you have and the man hours that have gone into them,” Ellie tells me. Her ideas certainly exemplify the mantra ‘make do and mend’, with rusty and unwanted cheese graters becoming useful stationary containers. “I think it’s so satisfying to make something yourself that is so individual” and in a way Ellie sees the movement she’s behind as very “anti-Ikea” – “all the man hours of the vintage item” are able to be put to modern use.
“I think the book also encourages people to start on creative projects who don’t necessarily believe they are creative.” It was really important to Ellie that the ‘Quick Guides’ were included in the back of her book, which detail basic instructions on tasks such as how to drill in different materials and how to perform certain stitches. “ I also recommended various local suppliers in Brixton, including the timber merchants on Acre Lane and Simply Fabrics.” Brixton Village’s Brixi also comes with a fond recommendation,
It was just a year ago that her book, Creating the Vintage Look, was commissioned, and Ellie feels that she became a true creative start up with the usual multitude of hats to wear: creator, photographer, marketer, press and promotions. With a three-year old son to look after as well, Ellie was also enrolled in the School for Creative Start-Ups a year ago, led by Dragon’s Den star, Doug Richard, but was delighted to hear that her book of vintage up-cycling ideas would be published by CICO Books.
Looking to the future, Ellie hopes to continue to expand her business, bringing life back to the old and helping people add something unique and valuable to an item they may have considered throwing away. Most of her sales are online at present, but events in both South and West London are helping to expand her market and persuade more people that they can and should get creative.