Homefelt charms

Lindsey Tyson's home in Scarborough is filled with felted treasures, art and up-cycled bargains. Sharon Dale reports.

Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 8:00 am
PIC: Richard Ponter

Visitors often admire the pretty pebbles that decorate shelves and top the mantelpieces in Lyndsey Tyson’s seaside home.

They assume she has collected them from the beach until they pick them up to get a closer look.

“They’re always surprised at how light they are because they assume they are stone when they are made of felt,” says Lindsey, a felt artist who has developed her own innovative techniques.

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PIC: Richard Ponter

The pebbles, printed with flora, fauna and fossils, are among her best-sellers and proof that quitting her job to work full-time as an artist/maker was worthwhile.

After a career in catering that took her all over the world, her husband, John, encouraged her to follow her heart and she did an art foundation course followed by a textiles degree specialising in weaving. That led to a job as a designer in the automotive industry in Belgium.

“John was ‘Mr Mum’ to our son, Luke, while I worked away in the week but eventually it got too much for me,” says Lindsey, who returned home full time to run felting workshops and earn a living as an artist.

“I started felt-making after doing a workshop in it and, although I always thought of myself as a weaver, I was hooked.”

PIC: Richard Ponter

An Arts Council grant in 2010 allowed her to find a mentor, Sheila Smith, and to buy materials and printing equipment to develop new techniques.

The result is a soft felt that looks more like porcelain that she embellishes with printed designs. Examples are all over the house in the form of her pebbles, vases, bowls, pictures and lightshades.

The property in Scarborough, which she and John have lived in for 26 years, is also full of work by other artists and makers. Among her favourites are mixed media artist Shirley Vauvelle, textile artist Gill Dearman and ceramicist Fiona Mazza. The tin sculptures are by Sue Mundy, the felted crows in the sitting room by Ruth Packham and the ethereal pictures in the bathroom are by Angela Chalmers, who uses cyanotype, a photographic printing process that produces a cyan blue print.

“I like to support other artists and makers and we’ll quite often do swaps, which makes collecting more affordable,” says Lindsey, who has a studio at Woodend.

The grade two star listed property was the birthplace of the avant garde poet and critic Dame Edith Sitwell and her siblings, Sir Osbert and Sir Sacheverall. After a second life as a council-run natural history museum it has now been converted into creative workspaces.

It’s such a compelling place overlooking Valley Gardens and Scarborough’s beautiful South Bay and she is so busy making for galleries and for fairs that she spends hours there, arriving home late and often exhausted.

Her house is the perfect place to relax thanks to a restful palette in what she calls “warm greeny greys” on most of the walls, which are filed with collages, pictures by her brother Stuart, a photographer, and paintings that include psychic auragraphs.

“I used to paint them quite a lot. It’s where you tune in to a person’s name and their energy and then paint a picture. It sounds a bit mad but it was interesting and enjoyable,” says Lindsey, who also frames postcards by her favourite artists, including Yorkshire’s Bren Head because “it’s the cheapest way if you can’t afford to buy an original”.

The furniture and furnishings are an affordable mix of sale room bargains, charity shop finds, TK Maxx and Ikea, along with some sentimental pieces like her dad’s grandfather clock. There are also a couple of quirky sculptures from one of her favourite shops, Simply Dutch at Leeming Bar.

“I have bought a lot of the furniture at auction and I have painted most of it to give it new life,” she says.

The soft furnishings include bathroom curtains that Lindsey made from white ticking and muslin, which allow the natural light to shine through.

There are bedspreads by Dorset-based Forever England that she found at a Country Living Fair and handmade cushions.

Over the years, the property has been altered, extended and modernised. John, a gifted DIY’er, has done a lot of the work himself.

The separate dining room and second sitting room were knocked together to create an open plan space and this leads into a kitchen and utility room housed in a new extension.

Although Lindsey is a cordon bleu-trained chef, her workaholic tendencies mean she rarely cooks.

Instead, she leaves that to John who also tends the field where they grow their own vegetables.

“If Luke is around I’ll try and get home at 7pm but otherwise I’m usually in the studio until 9pm,” says Lindsey.

“I do that five days a week and clock up about 60 hours and then I am often out selling my work at fairs at the weekend. It’s not a chore at all and sometimes I’ll go into the studio to work just because I’m bored. That’s how much I love what I do.”

Lindsey’s work ranges from £2 to £500. Visit www.lindseytyson.co.uk