Inside our workshop

Inside our workshop

Embroiderer Kate Clark describes her workshop, her inspiration and the detail that goes into each piece we create…. I always wanted to be an embroiderer; it is part of who I am. My  great grandmother was a court dressmaker, great grandfather a tailor and my grandmother was great at sewing as well. My mother is a quilter, maker and I’ve inherited her fine eye for detail. I am so lucky to have a job that fulfils a dream. I am also fortunate to have a job I can work around my family. The level of detail and hours required can be all consuming – I quickly bonded with the Mexican craftswomen over our ‘embroiderer’s’ sore shoulders! My workshop is in the old kitchen of our home in Tisbury, Wiltshire. My husband was born in this house – it is his family home. That makes it sound very grand but it is actually just a 1930s bungalow that until recently desperately needed a new roof. It is charming though and the workshop has big windows with lots of light. There are beautiful views across fields and down to the river. Like most embroiderers I am a bit of a magpie. I tend to fill any space with pretty and interesting things I have collected. Over time as the business has grown I have needed to move most things elsewhere to make more space. There isn’t even really room for pictures on the walls – every surface is covered in shelving, fabric and cushions! The materials we use are so colourful and beautiful though it really doesn’t matter. I love working...
Tradition, tinsel and tequila

Tradition, tinsel and tequila

Stretching back thousands of years, there is an innate need to warm our houses and lift our spirits when winter has truly arrived and days are shortest. Pagans used branches of evergreens to decorate their homes during the winter solstice to remind them of spring. Many cultures and religions include a winter celebration of light. However jaded by the Christmas rush I feel, there is something truly magical about coming in from the cold to a house full of warm Christmas lights. Or catching a glimpse through a window of another family’s Christmas tree and imagining the festivities inside. In our British-Mexican household, probably like most families, we have established our own Christmas traditions based on a mixture of our individual upbringings. Our Christmas tree is a happy jumble of gold baubles and Mexican decorations of techni-coloured pom-poms and tin figures. Hand-cut paper bunting (brilliant as it can be brought out again for all celebrations throughout the year) sits happily alongside the tinsel and fairy lights. The Christmas Table One of the traditions we have readily adopted from the Christmases we have spent with family in Mexico is the Christmas Eve punch. A gorgeous (but fairly lethal!) combination of tequila, spices and fresh fruit. Mangos, limes and guavas; the smell of fruit and cinnamon filling the house is just amazing. Christmas day itself is less of a focus for the celebrations in Mexico but for me, Christmas dinner is still the heart of Christmas. I therefore take extra care over the Christmas table settings. Welcoming our extended family with table decorations of colourful woven placemats intermingled with ivy and...
A Christmas present from Montes & Clark

A Christmas present from Montes & Clark

As a special Christmas thank you from Montes & Clark, we are including a free large cactus bag (worth £30) with every order over £70 placed before Christmas (whist stocks last!). In Mexico, these beautiful bags are used by both men and women every day for market trips, storing vegetables and carrying well, pretty much everything. Woven by hand from brightly dyed cactus fibres, they are light but extremely strong. Despite their prickly origins, they are surprisingly soft and get more and more supple with each use.   Beautiful and sustainable We love the colours, practicality and sustainability of these bags. I find they are perfect for storing away toys. So much more cheering than a standard ‘bag for life’, we hope they will lift your mood with a bit of Mexican sunshine as you embark on a Christmas shopping trip or hit the January sales. Montes & Clark gift ideas If you need some inspiration to help you on your way to your free cactus bag, these are some of our best sellers at Christmas time. Otomi hand embroidered cushions (starting from £45) Each cushion is unique and feature original detail of animals, birds and flowers with an enchanting, almost mythical quality. Our hand towels (£14) and pom poms (from £10) make lovely stocking fillers and this year our framed artwork collection has also been extremely popular at the Christmas fairs we have attended. Please remember The latest recommended posting date for guaranteed UK delivery is 20th December 2016 so we will be able to fill orders received on or before this date to arrive in time for...
The new Elvia collection of cushions made with Mexican artistry and British herringbone cloth.

The new Elvia collection of cushions made with Mexican artistry and British herringbone cloth.

The Elvia collection A first edition for a British winter        Each cushion in the new Elvia collection is embroidered by hand in Mexico and finished by hand in Wiltshire. Suitable for the sofa, chairs, beds and window seats, each cushion is backed with a dark grey British herringbone by Tinsmiths.   “In an artisan shop in rural Mexico we spotted a beautiful purse that had been left on a chair. We had already been through piles of cloth looking for colours and designs that would bring comfort in a cold British winter but without finding what we wanted. And then there was this purse that had been hand-embroidered without a pattern or direction, and the design was exactly what we needed.” Kate Clark, co-founder of Montes&Clark     Retreat to the sofa The Elvia collection is our response to the British winter. When the cold sets in and we retreat to our sofas and firesides, we wanted to create a deeply, restorative space when we can hibernate and recuperate. With Mexican artistry and British herringbone cloth, the new collection offers warmth and charm as an antidote to the long, cold months of winter. An artistic relationship  We source much of our embroidery from a co-operative in Chiapas, Mexico. Set up by indigenous women, it enables the embroiderers and weavers to earn a sustainable living, and over the last few years we have become one of the co-op’s main customers. It is an artistic relationship that we value. Both the embroidery designs and skills are passed down generation to generation. The women work from memory, without patterns, and although...
OPEN STUDIO SAT 20 AUGUST 2-5PM

OPEN STUDIO SAT 20 AUGUST 2-5PM

Every month Kate opens the doors of her home where our studio is, so you can come and have a browse of our full range of Mexican beauties. It is really quite exciting seeing the embroidery and the quality of design in so many different pieces. It is a feast for the eyes. The address is Staddles, Hindon Lane, Tisbury, Wiltshire, SP36PU...
Easter basket bags

Easter basket bags

These adorable bags woven from cactus fibre have just arrived from Mexico. There are three different sizes, a shopping bag size, handbag size and these tiny little bags perfect for a child. Just in time for Easter, they would make an excellent Easter egg basket! What are your Easter traditions? For me its an enjoyable way to celebrate Spring – the life bursting out of every corner, the longer daylight, spring vegetables and being able to shed a few layers of clothes. My sister always made a beautiful bird’s nest made from moss and twigs to put painted eggs into. This Easter is particularly egg-citing (sorry) for Kate and I as we are off to Mexico to visit our cooperatives and plan our next collections. It is Kate’s first trip to Mexico and my father in law’s first visit from his new grandson. We look forwards to sharing our photos and stories of our trip here and on...