This month’s ReFound Makes gives a glimpse into the work of Nuala Maguire, a Belfast-based artist who specialises in upcycling and sustainable products.
She trained in footwear and accessory design and now works as a costume designer, as well as making stitched, crocheted and knitted cushions, bags, cards and accessories under her Bluebird Belfast brand. She can regularly be found selling her beautiful wares at markets and vintage fairs across NI.
Nuala told The Patchwork Quill:
“Although my training was in footwear and accessory design, I still find I apply a lot of this to the work that I do for ReFound, applying design to a small area or three-dimensional objects for example.
“I have been working with ReFound for a couple of years and this has included producing pieces for several shows from painted or upholstered furniture, and several lampshades as well as commissioned pieces. I have found it very interesting to be producing furniture rather than clothing.
“Working with upcycled materials is fairly addictive, you start seeing everything as having potential rather than being rubbish. I use a lot of traditional skills including embroidery and crochet in my work.”
“Birds feature quite heavily throughout my work, both for ReFound and for Bluebird, with lampshades in particular – it just seems the right place for them to be in a room, although they do pop up on cushion covers and other items from time to time.
“It’s often the murmuration of starlings that appear every day over the Albert Bridge that I am referring to, but these pieces show hummingbirds and are based on a piece of street art that used to be near to my house.
“Most recently I have been looking at industrial lighting and thinking about how I could approach that look. The answer has been to use wool and a traditional technique called tatting to ‘wrap’ the frame so it looks initially industrial but then has a warm, soft feel.
“Current projects include working towards the next Refound show Geometry; the birds are here again, this time in a geometric and fairly abstract pattern.
I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for Nuala among the stalls of any craft or vintage fairs I find myself at in the coming months! I especially love the pics on the Bluebird Facebook page of the little buttons and accessories she sold at the Marine Fair. Gorgeous little nautical-themed treasures!
Let me know what you think of Nuala’s work and whether you own any of her handmade or upcycled products.