ginny branch stellinginterviewswhat's in your toolbox

what’s in your toolbox: liane tyrrel

by Ginny

I first fell in love with Liane Tyrrel’s work at the sight of her gorgeous handmade pillows and collection of vintage wares in her beloved Etsy shop, enhabiten. Her textile experiments and daily inspirations are documented in her personal blog, an Internet haunt of mine. My fangirldom was officially launched into orbit after seeing her home featured in a Design*Sponge sneak peek. Liane is a truly lovely soul, and I have been dying to feature her from the very beginning! Enjoy this tour of the creative world of Liane Tyrrel! — Ginny

1. Design*Sponge: What’s in your toolbox?

Liane Tyrrel: Old white sewing machine to be replaced this week with a used commercial machine. Finally! Also, iron and ironing board, dye pots, ginghers, thread, pins and pincushions, vintage fabric and new hemp materials. Ultra important: MY THIMBLE! I couldn’t live without it.

2. Design*Sponge:  Fill in the blank, “When I’m in my studio, I feel _________.”

Read the rest of the interview after the jump!

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Liane Tyrrel: I just bought a book called Eco Colour by India Flint, which I love. I also have The Craft of Natural Dyeing by Jenny Dean close at hand these days, as well as an old copy of Dyes from Nature put out by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

I also have to say that I am a really prolific and vivid dreamer these days. I can remember so much more of these nighttime stories than I used to be able to. Oftentimes, the things in my head that find their way into my dreams are the fiction books and historical documentaries I like to watch. I find myself thinking of these things as I work and feel like they make their way into the textiles in some intangible but definite way.

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Liane Tyrrel: I scribble a lot of lists, ideas, drawings. I try to keep it contained in my pile of Moleskines, but that doesn’t always happen. And then accessing the right notebook I wrote that thing in a couple weeks ago that I really need to see now can be a challenge! I will write on anything, and I also have a chalkboard wall I use. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as organized in a traditional sense, but it all seems to work out in the end!

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Liane Tyrrel: This is hard, but I’m going to sneakily combine two in one! To be able to fly to the different time periods in history that I dream about.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Liane Tyrrel:

Given: If you do what’s in your heart, the rest will come.

Give: Life has some really unexpected rough parts. But even through those rough parts, keep in mind that if you do what’s in your heart, the rest will come.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Liane Tyrrel: My life is sort of seamless meaning that I live and work in the same space and everything melds together. So if it’s a short-term block, I just move on to something else, like dishes or laundry or weeding, until I find better equilibrium. I can also just do more of the production work instead of design stuff if I’m feeling uninspired.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Liane Tyrrel: Color and texture are two of the most important things to me with my work, and I suppose I get my inspiration from nature. Also, the things I surround myself with are almost all old, as I do most of my shopping at flea markets and antique shops and auctions, and that environment informs what I make.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Liane Tyrrel: My background is in painting and what first comes to mind is that I’d like to poke around the studios of Agnes Martin (when she was alive) and Richard Tuttle. I am also an admirer of J Morgan Puett and would love to visit Mildred’s Lane someday.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Liane Tyrrel:

  • The Cave Singers
  • AA Bondy
  • T. Rex
  • Dark Dark Dark
  • Regina Spektor
  • Devendra Banhart
  • Joanna Newsom
  • Prince
  • Born Ruffians
  • The Bowerbirds
  • Josephine Foster
  • The Felice Brothers
  • Bonnie Prince Billy

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    • Ella

      What version of chrome? It should read fine on the most current 2 versions. If not- email me at designsponge at gmail dot com

      But an out of date browser is usually the culprit


  • Wow. This was very light-hearted and beautiful.
    “Follow your heart, and the rest will come.” I’ll definitely have to remember that one!

  • Wow. This is so light-hearted and beautiful.
    “Follow your heart, and the rest will come.” I’ll I have to remember that one!

  • I love the “I feel like the best version of myself” line. What a fantastic feeling to capture, and a beautiful, peaceful space.

  • I adore Liane & her work. Having been a fan of hers for a long time & meeting her a couple of Renegade’s ago, I can say she is as down to earth and beautiful as her work. I love her calm and centered home and her beautiful way of working nature, history and life into everything she does. Yay, Liane! :) And those quotes rock…

  • Liane is one of my favorite artists and people! What a lovely job capturing her thoughts and her process. I’m especially fond of her answer to question #2 — something I can completely relate to. Cheers!

  • Thanks for letting us peek into Liane’s creative process, she breathes and lives her craft.
    There is something quite homogeneous and honest about who she is, how she lives and what she makes, which I find very rare.

  • How fun to see Liane on D*S! Two of my favorite things in one place! I also love to find out what music artists like listening to, what music inspires them.

  • It seems my sentiments echo some of those already posted. I love these toolbox posts/interviews and this one is my favorite so far. There’s a stillness about Liane, her work and her environment that I am going to strive to emulate. And I agree about her “when I’m in my studio…” feeling. I feel the exact same way.

  • Liane is as lovely as she is gifted with a needle (and thimble!). Her work is rare and soulful. So glad to see her featured on D*S again!

  • Lovely, thoughtful, inspirational photos and contents. I have two of Liane’s pillows, and they are infused with soul and originality. I admire the way she blends new and old, lovely and rough.

  • this was lovely to read! i have been following liane and enhabiten for some time now, and i am always inspired. everything she does seems to be infused with a sense of balance and natural calm. xo

  • I’ve been echoing this mantra to my children for years…..”Follow your heart and the rest will come”.

  • i’ve been admiring Liane’s aesthetic ever since i joined the etsy community… i’m enamored with the concepts of wabi-sabi & love enhabiten’s effortless translation of this vision into the western culture (without culturally appropriating it!). keep up your beautiful work, Liane!

  • Love the article, but Design Sponge, are you ever going to fix that ‘What ARE on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?’ that you seem to be sending to all the artists you feature? It is, ‘What IS on the top shelves of your inspiration library’, even if you expect the answer to be plural.

    Sorry to be so pedantic, but this has been bugging me for a while.

  • I love, love, love the “What’s in Your Toolbox” features. I have little free time but I always make time to read these peeks into other artists’ studios. Thank you for making it a regular feature!

  • I love Liane, her work, and her thoughts on creativity and life…. What a beautiful soul you are, lady. But of course I knew that already. I love what you said about feeling like you are the best version of yourself in your studio. What a great way to put it. I feel that too, in my own way, even though I’m not crafting or creating in the way that you are.


  • I have always been a fan of enhabiten and love putting a face with a name. Even better- love to hear all about Liane’s creative process……What a great post! I have a feeling I might be a new fan of Liane’s blog.

  • I have never met Liane, but I adore this woman to pieces. I first saw her handmade goodies at the Portsmouth Open Market in New Hampshire, and happened to poke in while she was briefly away from her space. Then I ordered a cross pillow from her Etsy shop (which is right next to me as I type) that I adore, then found her blog, and now I follow it religiously. I find her an endearing, inspiring, calming and endearing spirit that I just can’t get enough of. Her writing makes you feel like you are one of her closest friends, and on my worst days, she picks me up out of a slump. I’m glad people like her are in the world.

  • Is that stand alone blueish pillow made using cyanotype photo printing chemistry? It looks like it… I have been doing some cyanotype printing on paper and fabric and love your look and feel of everything. Well done.

  • I have some of Liane’s fine work, and I’ve been a fan since finding and meeting her on etsy.com. She is an old, sweet soul. I would love to meet her and envy those of you who have. I want to ramble through her cozy, rustic home and touch all those lovely, weathered antiques she owns and fabrics she turns into treasures.