Hazel began her career in London 1975, as a decorative painter/antique textile collector. Creating cushions, blouses, dresses and bags, incorporating antique lace flounces and embroidered panels. I worked with Designers Guild creating cushions, meanwhile selling cushions and garments, first through the Camden Lock market, moving to Covent Garden when it was converted into a craft/antique promenade. Always collecting and increasing my knowledge of textiles, including lace collars bonnets, table linens, linen sheets, bedcovers, knitted quilted embroidered fabric lengths.
Out of interest this was no new hobby. As a young girl, I would often help at Red Cross Jumble Sales with my mother. The deal was take a bag and 2/6d to spend, bring home a bag. I would look for 40s beaded dresses, 40s shoes, old jewelry,. Nothing much has changed, except these are not to be found at jumble sales anymore. The Victoria & Albert Museum was always an inspiration and source of information.
My actor husband, Nick Tate works all over the world, so we have moved many time, not just homes, but countries. First in 1980 from London to Australia, it took a while to pick up the pace, having to make new contacts, reestablish myself – Melbourne, then Sydney, Sydney – Los Angeles, Los Angeles Sydney.
Of course there have been trips backwards and forwards in between including sojourns to Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, The Philippines, France, Italy and all over North America. It has taken a while, with children, homes and dogs, but somehow the business builds. All those places yielded searching grounds for many of the fabrics used today for Faded Grace, collected over 30 years.
Sydney, in the 80s, we were stenciling and paint finishing the total look. We opened a small mail order company supplying individually handcut stencils and handcut painted parchment lampshades. Jenny Bennell asked me to teach a class at the Painted Finish, Woollahra, in “Creating and painting your individual stencil”. Of course. I said not a problem. So again we were off.
This time it is 1989 and we hit California, (Nick landed a TV Series in Los Angeles). Again I go through the “reestablish my world” thing. Eventually “Greencarded”, (so I can work too) we set up Local Color, an Artists Cooperative. 10 women with different artistic expressions. It goes very well, 3 years later, the lampshade business flourishing, it is time to change from this small gallery shop front in Pacific Palisades, to a larger studio space in Santa Monica, on Colorado Blv. an ex Harley Davidson garage. We never quite could get rid of the stains on the concrete floor, so we polished them in for artistic effect. Bar the stray bullet holes in our front window it was a great few years. Gallery openings in this funky space. All the trendies came. Night tines were a little sus… I remember working late one night and hearing shots ring out somewhere in the distance,(never far off in LA) planning a speedy exit from the roller garage door to my car. All the while collecting crystal and glass 1930s, 40s boudoir lamps, as yet not too discovered. Now like hens teeth to find in the U.S.
From Artist Trading Studio on Colorado in Santa Monica, I created a home studio in our house in the Palisades. We had been renting for the first 4 years, but life was good, so we bought. God yet another move, plus a total teardown and rebuild. My husband is a frustrated wannabee builder, he always redesigns and rebuilds our homes, five todate. So we rebuilt the place in Pacific Palisades. Actually we combine really well in this area, because I do all the decorating, colours, furnishings, fabrics, fittings. It is great fun and people get a sense of who we are from our homes. Trouble is, it is hard to leave them. However we were in the USA for 11 years and all the wall and floor stenciling I did in our Sydney beach house survived. Our Tenants loved them and cared for them too. Which is nice because we are now back in it and it feels like a comfortable old slipper.
The thing I feel best about our time in USA was a project we completed in the last 2 years. The Los Angeles School District Volunteer Project, taking 2 acres of disused garden area, complete with graffiti ridden broken glass 50 year old greenhouse. We set about raising $130,000 to put back a horticultural program into the middle school. These kids coming from 100 different zip codes throughout Los Angeles would never have got to connect with soil. It was an all consuming project, but with the greatest rewards and only reached with the full support of my husband Nick and children Jessie and Tom Tate. I think it was the best thing we all did in LA.
However, everybody was having all sorts of successes. Nick with his acting career and also reaching the top echelon in the area of Movie Trailer Voice Overs.. like, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Double Jeopardy, Star Wars Phantom Menace and on. Jessies enjoying growing up a truly LA kid, lots of soccer, friends, art and a truly diverse school experience. Tom full on LA kid, soccer, American Football, University of Michigan and now New York University. Following in family tradition on the road of theater and writer.
The decision was made to return to Australia in 2000 and yet another opportunity to continue creating one of a kind lamp shades, vintage pillows, incorporating vintage textiles.