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Helen Leaf Designs

About myself

I make beautiful things, usually using antler, bone, fibres and wood. I'm inspired by being outdoors in nature, and all of my work expresses some sense of wholeness, balance, and connection. In some ways, the things I make are tools for transformation, objects which remind of a certain path, a sense, a journey, or an expression of one part of our connected family of beings who share this life. Or the whole of it all. The sense that we are all related holds true for me and I live by a sense of integrity in all that I do.
Saying that, I do think that each object can be enjoyed as simply a thing of beauty, something both earthly and graceful, without any requirement of a deeper sense.

My background is varied - I'm known for my work with bone flutes, but I am or have also been: a gardener, beekeeper, wood turner, musical instrument maker, musician, teacher of prehistoric crafts, doctor of archaeology and writer.

Antler carving - I learnt much about antler by handling it for many years in the other side of my work. Ideas and inspirations followed, and I understood what tools to use and what was possible. I've spent time with reindeer and have started making contacts in Lapland and other countries. Spending time with carvers of other cultures is something I aim to do in the future.

Ply-split braiding and weaving - I learnt ply-split braiding some time ago, and it has now become a part of what I do. Actually, my braid weaving ties in with my travels to northern Sweden in conjunction with antler carving, and the Sami style of braid weaving there. 

I teach courses in braiding, and make my own weaving tools. My courses and tools are on my other website, which is something I've had for over 10 years

Although carving antler and ply-split braiding are my main areas of work, I also sometimes work with wood, leather, gilding, silver and bronze. Yes, they are different, but it means that I call on a range of skills and techniques, driven by what the finished piece needs to be. I often have a clear idea of what needs to be made. 

Cast silver and bronze acorns and leavesCast silver and bronze acorns and leaves

 Prehistoric horse head and Siberian bear pendantsPrehistoric horse head and Siberian bear pendants

Helen Leaf, Ancient TreeHelen Leaf, Ancient Tree
I spend a lot of time with ancient trees, as an Ancient Tree Verifier for the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Inventory. You can read about some of this on and also visit the ATI to see trees near where you live on Rather than being a distraction from my creative work, I find that spending long days alone with ancient trees deepens my sense of connection and calm. I draw on all of my life experiences in what I make.
I'm based in the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire area of the UK, and travel locally and nationally to be at shows. I don't put my phone number online and I'm not over-keen on social media. But, if you'd like to speak with me directly that's absolutely fine - just let me know and we'll make that happen. 
You can contact me through the form here.

Events, 2021/2022:

Marlborough College Summer School, July 2022
Next year's event is set to go ahead, after two years of postponed Summer Schools. I will have courses running in the second week and third weeks - not strictly tied in to this website, but still very good and worth mentioning:
Understanding Ancient Trees 
All About Trees
other courses t.b.c.

Fibre basketry workshop, date t.b.c., Nottinghamshire, August 2022

All other event updates and news for 2021/2022 will be posted here. Thank you...


Where you may have seen me or my work before:

Wirksworth Festival Art and Architecture Trail, Derbyshire
Sheffield Millennium Gallery Handmade for Christmas Exhibition, South Yorkshire
Crafts in the Pen, Skipton, Yorkshire
Spring Contemporary Craft and Design Fair, RHS Wisley, Surrey
Craft in Focus, Hyde Hall, Essex
Lady Bay Arts Festival, Nottinghamshire
Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery (On the Block exhibition, 2018), Leeds, Yorkshire 
Emporium Gallery, Litchfield, Staffordshire
Nature in Art, Gloucestershire

You may have seen me at many shows through my other website: