Meet the Maker: Ruth Helen Scarves
Meet Godiva's latest featured designer - Helen Ruth. A Scottish designer based in Aberdeen, Helen Ruth hand-illustrates bold, bright, eye-catching and intricate scarves which are produced locally and ethically.
Helen Ruth is brand new to the Godiva team, and we're so excited to be working with yet another sustainable, independent designer and can't wait for you to see her designs.
We caught up with Helen to find out more about the brand and her designs.
Can you introduce yourself and your label?
Hello, I’m Helen, designer and creator of Helen Ruth Scarves, a luxury scarf and accessories brand from Aberdeen. My designs are highly illustrated and recognisable for their vibrant colours. Inspiration comes from the landscape around me in rural Aberdeenshire - each scarf tells a story of the wild hills and forests, the creatures that inhabit them, or traditional folk tales that have been told of the land. Often I’ll include some unexpected, sometimes sinister, detail to add an element of surprise so there is always more than first meets the eye.
Where did the idea behind the brand come from?
It has grown quite organically from when I studied textiles at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen and in my final year I won a national competition to design a scarf. At that point I discovered this was a really great format for me - using my illustrations to design a wearable art work, and being able to create a product that I could design and produce myself. I love drawing and working with textiles equally, scarves have an innate appeal to me in that they can be beautiful but also highly functional - I enjoy that mix of form and function.
How is each scarf created?
Everything starts with a sketchbook, I hand draw all my illustrations on pen and paper, carefully inking out each motif that will go on the scarf. Sometimes I’ll have a clear vision in my mind of the finished design and will sketch that out as a guide, but other scarves have formed as the drawings are composed together. I use digital processes to create the designs, taking my drawings and creating collages by mirroring, repeating and manipulating them to form pattern and composition. Once I’m happy with a finished design, they are sent to be digitally printed in Glasgow, before being returned to me for finishing in my studio in Aberdeen.
Are ethics important to your brand?
Yes, they always have been right from the start. When I set out looking for how I would get my designs printed it was important for me to work within the UK, to support the UK textile industry and really know my supply chain. There would have been cheaper and more profitable options sourcing from elsewhere but this didn’t interest me, I want to feel connection to how the pieces are made. Using my printers in Glasgow I know who has printed the scarves and we have a good relationship. It’s something I still want to be better at and I’m looking at ways to utilise my off cut fabrics and remnants - recently I used off cuts to produce sleep masks and notebooks to reduce waste.
Can you pick a favourite scarf?
Tough choice! I think I would go for the Daughter of the Picts scarf as it features powerful Pictish warrior women and their carved standing stones. The Picts were an ancient Celtic people and there are traces of their lives all over Aberdeenshire where I grew up - settlements and stone circles . The Maiden Stone on this scarf is a well known Pictish stone in Aberdeenshire and stands at the foot of Bennachie - it has a lot of mysterious stories surrounding it, one of which involves a girl making a bargain with the devil, which she obviously looses and he casts her into stone, the Maiden Stone. My hope is this scarf will make you feel powerful and protected, with the deer skulls as shields and the Pictish maidens as your warriors. Think of it as your beautiful piece of armour to keep the evil spirits away!
Without further ado here are the beautiful scarves we're stocking: