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Helen Leaf Designs

About me

I make beautiful things using antler, bone, yarn and wood and I'm particularly inspired by being outdoors in nature.

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. A lot of my current work is connected to ancient trees, which you can read about on www.theoaksofsherwood.com. Rather than being a distraction from my creative work, I've found 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 also weave, teach courses in braiding, and work with ply-split braiding, making my own tools for this in my workshop. My courses and tools are on my other website,  which is something I've worked as and attended a range of shows as for over 10 years  https://leaftradingpost.com/

Antler carving - this evolved from having dealt with antler for many years in a more functional sense. The combination of realising that I understood the material really well, with having ideas and inspirations for objects I wanted to make, led me to work out what tools to use and what the possibilities were. I've spent time with the Cairngorm reindeer herd and have started making contacts with carvers in Lapland and other countries. Travelling to spend time with carvers of other cultures is something I'd very much like to do in the future.

Ply-split braiding and weaving - I've been a member of various guilds of weavers spinners and dyers over the years, and first learnt ply-split braiding in 2006. It's in recent years that I've developed braid weaving and ply-split braiding as a more serious concern. Actually my braid weaving ties in with my travels to northern Sweden in conjunction with antler carving, and the Sami style of braid weaving that's practised there.

Although carving antler and ply-split braiding are my main areas of work, it's important to note my recent work with silver and bronze. Though these disciplines are different, I may make pieces that cross over between disciplines and call on a range of skills and techniques. First and foremost, I'm driven by what the finished piece needs to be, and I often have a clear idea of what needs to be made. If it needs something cast, carved, gilded, or to be combined with wood or leather, then I'll use these skills and materials to make the finished piece.

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   
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.
 
HelenLeaf with Cairngorm ReindeerHelenLeaf with Cairngorm Reindeer
 

Events, 2020:

All planned events have been postponed, but updates and news 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:
www.leaftradingpost.com