A chance encounter with a dead pheasant started Stonehaven’s Liz Phillips on a whole new career.
‘I guess I could be described as unusual! One moment I can be driving a tractor, or feeding the sheep on the family farm and the next, I’m in my studio, making something unique and beautiful. I’ve always been obsessed with making things,’ Liz enthused.
‘I trained in Retail Display at Aberdeen College, which allowed me to exercise my imagination in designing memorable, eye-catching window displays and then have the excitement and challenge of bringing them to life. Sparkling castles, icy lakes and giant apples are amongst many of the props which I made over fifteen years ago. Some are still in use in Aberdeen high street shops today.
‘I use the same principles in my designs for ‘Exclusively Liz’. It’s very important to me that everything I make is original and unique. It must look beautiful, invite the viewer to touch it and marvel at the beautiful colours. It also has to stand the test of time.
‘In an age of mass production, there are many customers who appreciate the individuality of a hand crafted piece. When viewing one of the signature pieces, a huge pheasant feather mirror, I can’t help but feel incredibly proud when I consistently get the same reaction from people, ‘That’s stunning, I’ve never seen anything like it before’. And it’s true, there is nothing else like them!
‘It started when I found a dead pheasant one day and I made a mirror with its feathers. I could see the concept had potential! Over a period of two years, whilst working on the farm and looking after my two children, I collected materials – all natural and local – driftwood from Stonehaven beach, feathers from local shoots, and sheep and stag ‘found skulls’, from the nearby hills. I experimented, and perfected my designs and techniques, until I felt I’d achieved something fairly special – a breath-taking
range of incredible feather mirrors, driftwood mirrors, feather lampshades, decorated skulls, necklaces and fascinators. I’m still finding new and unusual applications for feathers – most recently handbags and shoes which look stunning and are highly individual.
‘Once I’ve created a new design, I test it for functionality. As well as looking beautiful, the shoes must be able to be worn and walked in, a fascinator has to be secure and comfortable for a whole day, and the glass in the feather mirrors has to be easy to clean without damaging the feathers (a clever design feature allows the mirror to be easily removed for cleaning, also enabling the feathered part to become a wreath).
Whilst I’ll claim to be inventive and creative, I have to acknowledge that my IT skills are appalling! Having only had a Facebook page for people to see my designs, ‘Exclusively Liz’ has been a well kept secret. However, www.exclusivelyliz.com is now under development by BrandHouzz, to create a new website, allowing the possibility to view and purchase items online.
In addition to the range I also do commissions. I love making special bespoke pieces for clients, whether it’s customising a pair of shoes with feathers, an ‘over the top’ theatrical fascinator, a stag skull embellished with Swarovski crystals, a feather lampshade, or the absolute show stopper – a large feather mirror. After initial communications with the client to ascertain what’s required, I send photos as the project develops, thus keeping the client fully involved in the creative process. Seeing those uniquely personal items give clients pleasure is enormously rewarding.
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