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.


Meet the Maker - Maria Tilyard


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!


Rabbit Squirrel from Maria Tilyard at Flock


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.


Birds from Maria Tilyard at Flock

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?

Greyhounds from Maria Tilyard at Flock


Which is your favourite cushion creature?
I have three: naked mole rat, elephant shrew & snow monkey


Meet the Maker - Maria Tilyard

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.


Meet the Maker - Maria Tilyard

Where do you work?
I have a studio in the Phoenix Arts building in Brighton

Meet the Maker - Maria Tilyard


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.

Meet the Maker - Maria Tilyard monkeys


Where can people find you online?

Etsy & Britain’s Makers


Let us know which is your favourite creature by leaving a comment below or via our social channels @FlockBrighton

1 Comment

  • Janine


    Hi, Maria,
    Delighted new companion of the delightful cockatoo here! Just seen you have had a crest – up one too – I’ll definitely have to adopt one of those in future too.
    But also just seen you’re a Canvey girl … We are Leigh on Sea!
    Will be in touch about the budgies after our travels
    Lovely meeting you and seeing your wonderful menagerie

    Happy days xxxJanine

    15th August 2016 at 9:03 pm

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