Meet the Makers: Upcycling Experts Jay and Jade Blades
Jay and Jade Blades are upcycling experts who run Out of the dark – a charitable social enterprise that takes unloved items of furniture and gives them a little love and attention to transform them into a functioning pieces of furniture again, whilst training and employing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds all the tricks of the trade at the same time.
Out of the Dark will be teaching how to upcycle furniture and use the macrame technique in our Upcycling Skill Workshop Tent several times a day, every day.
What inspired you to set up Out of the Dark?
In 2008 we had been running youth projects for 8 years; these projects were based on life skills coaching and fun activities, which was great but not educating young people about the life of work. We watched Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant on TV and were very inspired by the social enterprise model; from then on we started to think about the best way to set up something that would excite young people and teach them loads of valuable skills.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
We arrive at the workshop at 8am and start planning the day. We brief the young staff and then spend all morning training young apprentices. We have lunch together with whoever is at work or whoever is on training, it is important for us to have an extended family set up, and then in the afternoon we work on finished clients’ pieces. In the evening we will run an afterschool activity club for young people who can’t come to us during the day, so all in all it’s a pretty full day!
Are there any crafts you don’t like, or can’t do?
We actually love all crafts, and want to learn them all; we don’t know how to do jappaning yet – we would love to learn this.
What do you love most about working in the craft industry?
We love the fact that all crafts people and companies we have approached for help, big and small, have been extremely welcoming, supportive and helpful.
What new projects are you currently working on?
We are working on some furniture with designer Zoe Bbrewer, some stools with Seb Cox, and some furniture for Westelm and Oasis.
What are you looking forward to most about being at The Handmade Fair?
We are really excited about sharing our skills with a huge audience, it is a little daunting but will be fun we think. We also are eager to see what we can learn from others!
Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing at the Fair.
We will be running workshops on upcycling wooden furniture and using macrame in a modern way to make quirky lampshades.
Is there anyone you would like to work with, or meet, from the craft industry?
We would love to work with someone who makes their own fabrics, and use them as upholstery fabrics in an interesting way.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
In 2010 the idea of Out of the Dark started to form. We brought together our interest in retro furniture, our previous skills in building, interior design and textile design, together with our experience of working with hard to handle youth and the fact that we are based in High Wycombe, the historic epicentre of British furniture manufacturing. As a result OUT OF THE DARK was born.
It is really rewarding to bring both the young people and the furniture, both of whom are left to one side most of the time, in to the light as it were. We really love the process of seeing how a piece and a young person transforms with some TLC.