Our newest holiday cottage, East Millfield, now boasts the most stylish interior of all our self catering cottages. Taking inspiration from the Deeside area and the natural beauty of the Glen outside, there is a rather special item hanging just above the staircase. Handmade by Exclusively Liz, we asked Liz where her inspiration comes from.
By Liz Phillips, Exclusively Liz.
‘I am obsessed with making beautiful things’! I know this to be true because at three in the morning, when I’ve woken up, and can’t get back to sleep, for thinking about the Pheasant Feather mirror, or the pair of Feather Shoes I’m making, or a new idea I’ve been toying with, I’m compelled to tip toe downstairs, to my ‘feather room’(I firmly squashed my husband’s proposal that I could have a purpose built space outside – too chilly at 3am!) and work for a couple of hours – seeing the colours and patterns of a design emerge, is, to me, utterly addictive!
Coming from an artistic family, and having formal training in ‘prop making and design’, I have always been making something. My first memorable creation, at the age of ten, was a necklace, made using coins – drilled with my fathers hand drill, and linked on to a chain. Its monetary value might only have been thirty-two pence, (and it resulted in numerous holes in my bedroom floor!) but last year I spotted a very similar creation in ‘Vogue’ – with a retail price significantly higher than thirty-two pence!
‘Why feathers’? Like many people living in the country, I’d stick the odd pheasant feather in a vase, but no more than that. My particular eureka moment came when I’d designed a new concept for a ‘mirror kit’. Whilst I’d worked out the actual mechanics of the design, I hadn’t decided how I would decorate my first sample mirror frame. As fate would have it, I was driving back from the mart, with the empty livestock trailer behind me, and as I rounded the bend, there, lying in the middle of the road, with the sun glinting off his magnificent feathers, was a recently hit, stunning cock pheasant. What made me stop, and put him in the trailer, I don’t quite know, but by the time I arrived home, I knew what I’d be using to decorate my mirror!
From that point on, having realised that I’d made something which was beautiful, and totally original, my ‘mirror kit’ idea, was put on the backburner, and I focused entirely on feathers. After several months of making larger items, such as the mirrors and lampshades, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t utilising the smaller, highly iridescent head and neck feathers – which seemed a terrible waste. I felt that the perfect application for these exquisite feathers would be in jewellery, and so once again, started the experiments! A new addition to the ‘Exclusively Liz’ range is the ‘real feather phone case’ – a new concept, of which I’m quite proud, and is proving to be popular!
When I sit at the desk in my ‘feather room’, I have two key objectives – I want my work to always be original, I see very little point in doing what everybody else is doing, and, everything I make must be perfect. The method of attaching the feathers should be invisible, and the feathers must be secure – every mirror and lampshade should be able to withstand a robust vacuuming – how else would you clean them?!
As is natural in design, there’s quite a long journey of experimentation, trial, error, and development - the difference between the original ‘road kill’ mirror, and my most recent ‘Glen Tanar’ mirror is laughable – but that’s progress!