Artist Inspiration: BYLOOM and HYDE: Alexandra Ritchie

July 04, 2011

Mine is a curious soul.
When someone else's artistry
moves me, I can't help it...
I have to know more about
the creative hands behind the creation.

Which is how I was led to textile designer
Alexandra Ritchie

I teased you the other day
leather bags made in rural France.

Today we chat with the designer
about her home, business and the
magic behind those lovely creations.

Alexandra's home in a village near Angouleme

Your 400 year old home in
South West rural France
came with a barn you renovated?
“The house was attached to the barn to form a courtyard so it made sense to make it one property...during WW2, the house was occupied by the Germans, and several antique cast iron beds still remain from that period.”

Tell us about the surrounding farmland and forest.
“Sweeping fields of sunflowers can be seen everywhere in the month of July – it’s so beautiful. I love to listen to the frogs and crickets as they sing their song at sunset. There is an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquillity here.”

Isn't the well magnificent?

Find more lovelies here.

Can you tell us about this magnificent loom?
“My weaving loom had been lying in storage gathering dust waiting for its big moment. I have such a love for the texture and construction of cloth - I studied constructed textiles – mainly embroidery and weave at Glasgow School of Art in Scotland (Jonathan Saunder’s class actually!) and realised it truly was a passion of which I would never grow tired.”

The restored barn!

How would you describe your style?
"Bohemian with classic restraint...
the artist in me has to be expressed
but all with subtle understatement.
Does that make sense?

My home mixes old and new everywhere –
I love my old crumbly gilt frames,
stone walls and shabby French vintage finds. 
I am most comfortable with muted shades
of grey, french blue and stone.
Our home would not be complete without
Rocco our adoring Rhodesian ridgeback
curled up by the kitchen door.”

During the barn's renovation

How did Byloom and Hyde come to be?

"Byloom and Hyde
(by weaving loom and leather hide literally)
has come about since I settled here in France.
I find my weaving method marries so well
with rare leather finds I come across
and creates a unique combination.
I’m hooked!”


The process of making a single bag...
can you walk us through it?

"Spontaneity is vital! It keeps my ideas fresh –
sometimes my hands move before I have
the idea in my head which creates unexpected
results even for me – it keeps me on the edge.

Being too fixed in my mind stifles the creative process.
OOAK or rather ‘one of a kind’ pieces or
at best ‘limited edition’ work well for me
– it keeps repetition to a minimum. Passion is key."

find it here

It must feel like a dream come true
doing what you love in a place you love…

“It is a dream fulfilled living here!
There is a natural, slower way of life here –
we aren’t caught up in the race
everyone else seems to be in.

I breathe a sigh of contentment when I
realise once again that it is possible to live differently.

The French are most definitely in no haste
to change to the next best thing all the time.
They still ‘wait’ in queues, postpone things
until they are ready, have two hour
lunch breaks and don’t work on days off.
Admittedly, being from the UK I do suffer
from frustration sometimes when I want
things done yesterday!!

But I do admit I no longer use my cellphone."

  No cell phones—now that IS romantic!
“As for romantic – having a young family,
being a full-time Mum, running my studio
and renovating a barn…
the romantic side of things gets
a little hazy!!”

What inspires you?
"Quiet tranquility all around me...

"The Aladdin’s cave of my leather supplier.
One day I’m going to get lost in there never to return!
And it is so disorganised I never know what I’m going to come across next."

"Rodarte – what an inspiration!
I love the fact these two sisters are just
doing their own thing away from the city,
not compromising their choices for anyone
– and what creativity they have!"

Her shop
is brimming with
gorgeous handmade lovely
for you to browse and magical
gifts for you and your loved ones await!
So do visit
Byloom and Hyde
and say hello for me!

Many thanks to the creatively driven Alexandra
who so graciously welcomed us into her home,
studio and thoughts.

Picked a favorite bag yet?

Peace to you right where you are.

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  1. Oh my goodness, I am hooked! Thank you so much for sharing this, Michele. I couldn't possibly choose just one bag--they are all so beautiful.

  2. I've got my eye on the Midnight Blue one! This is a lovely interview, well done for featuring this very lovely talented lady and her beautiful home. I too am aspiring to a quieter way of life, where I can let my creativity flow and create lovely things. Hopefully achievable in the not-too-distant future.

    Love to you, pretty lady!

    Meera xx

  3. Her home and barn are just beyond... Love!!!
    All the bags are so gorgeous...can I have them all please???

  4. Oh Michele, I love visiting your blog. It just makes me feel... calm.

    What a gorgeous interview and such gorgeous talent. Those bags are just lush. Every single one. And that barn conversion - oh my god.

    She had me at "Bohemian with classic restraint". Stunning.

  5. As if the lovely bags were not enchanting enough on their own--where they are born is just as lovely! i just love what the Ritchies have done to their barn and with their dreams.


  6. her home is amazing. the bags a great too. dropped by fro, life made lovely

  7. Reading about Alexandra sounded so much like my life. I'm sewing each day from our renovated carriage barn in the country and no cellphone here either. It was wonderful to read about another textile person who loves her craft so much. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    Be sure to enter my one-year blogaversary "giveaway"

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post....thanks for sharing her with us:-)


  9. Wow that is true artistry and in such a beautiful setting!

  10. This was just
    a fantastic
    interview. I
    felt like I
    was whisked away
    for a few moments
    to another world.
    {How did you find
    her?} I am going
    to do a little
    browsing, now....!
    xx Suzanne

  11. Your pics are certainly romantic and inspiring.

    I hope you will link up this week at Bacon Time. The link party will be up Friday afternoon through Monday night.

    Have a wonderful week!

  12. I am hosting a blog party every Wednesday for people to promote their business, etsy shop, etc...I'd love for you to join! Also if you have a giveaway or know of all means, link it up!


  13. Wow...what a wonderful interview on such an inspiring person. Adore her handbags, and her house...fabulous - indeed a dream come true!!

  14. What a lovely interview & such lovely photos. Beautiful.

  15. her bags are delicious...and that ancient house? even better...thanks for sharing the love on fridays unfolded!


  16. Really awesome post! Thanks for linking it up at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop :)

  17. Absolutely gorgeous bags and what a beautiful place to call home!! I picked a few favs!! :) Thanks for linking this up! :)

  18. Well done Michele. Your interview was wonderful and leaves me longing for a place to create such as this barn. What lovely stone walls and beams and in France too. 400 years old and to live in such a place. . .ahh my heart. Love the bags and i am off to see more. Thanks Sweet One.

  19. What a dream to have a stone house in France! What an interesting story. I'd settle for at pied de terre in Paris...someday!!! Following you.

  20. love this! another great interview and I love finding out about new sites like byloom and hyde.

  21. What an idyllic setting. Thanks for a glimpse into this artist's life.

  22. What a lovely post, so inspiring. Beautiful barn and love her work. Thanks so much for adding your link to Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays and sharing.

  23. Wow- That is some machine.. as I make a lot of items for my shoppe- I know the amount of time-love-sweat that goes into each piece- But nver knew how those beautiful bags were made.Thanks for Sharing..
    (love your blog-happy new follower)

  24. I'm drooling over her place! Fantastic.

  25. This is a beautiful interview! Alexandra's handbags are unique and lovely. Her house and barn...absolutely inspiring!

  26. what beautiful bags and photos. Thank you so much for sharing and linking up to our party Show and Share. Make sure to come back this week and link up your latest projects. We would love to see them.

    A mommy's life...with a touch of YELLOW


Your comments add to the beauty...thanks in advance for your kindness.


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