Meet the Maker: Maria Tilyard Cushions
Welcome to the fourth in our Meet the Maker interview series as part of our Handmade Season – this fortnight it’s time to introduce Maria Tilyard who creates the wonderful and characterful creature cushions that keep the team company at Flock:
Where are you from?
I’m a Essex girl ! From Canvey Island.
How long have you been designing and creating your cushion creatures and how did it all begin?
Around 5 years with the creature cushions.
I began from my kids’ drawings and making them into toys, and my love of vintage fabrics. I take inspiration from children’s books from the 1950s 60s and 70s, wildlife programs and travels which usually incorporate some kind of animal watching. I still need to make a beaver after going on a Beaver safari in Sweden a few years ago!
I have a background in Fashion after studying fashion and design in Southend I started making clothes from vintage finds and selling my remade clothes in Camden market and Sign of the Times in Kensington market and Covent Garden.Way back the 90s!
What is your making process?
Drawings come first alongside choosing the fabric. (I recently went to a parrot wildlife drawing class with several real birds! Check them out on Instagram at @wildlifedrawing)
Then I cut the pattern. I usually have to make a few of the first design to get the animal right but sometimes the first make is more fun if its going wrong.
What kind of materials do you use?
Good quality vintage fabrics which can be cotton velvet, Japanese obi belts, satins, lace and also I use new cotton velvet made in the UK.
Which has been your most popular creature with Flock customers so far?
Whippets, sausage dogs and Unicorns I think! Maybe I should make corny dog? Uni-dog?
Which is your favourite cushion creature?
I have three: naked mole rat, elephant shrew & snow monkey
Do you offer customised pieces?
Yes and have made several dog commissions from photos, and a one-off unicorn elephant shrew from a customer’s dream. My fave. Dreams are very welcome.
Where do you work?
I have a studio in the Phoenix Arts building in Brighton
What’s inspiring you right now?
Monkeys and giant rainforest leaves. Also animal skull art: I’m currently working on a collection of embroidered skulls using vintage lace sewn onto vintage black satin.
Where can people find you online?
Let us know which is your favourite creature by leaving a comment below or via our social channels @FlockBrighton