Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas decorations

It seems an age since I last visited blogland but its been a productive interval. It was lovely to end the hellish design year with really good sales both at home and at the V&H fair in Chipping Sodbury; many thanks to Jayne and Michele who worked very hard to make this event such a success. Having persuaded my customers to buy jars of fabric, glass jars, angels and jugs to fill with holly I felt I should devote some time to using these items to trim my own home.

The hydrangeas were the big find this year; they've never turned such a glorious deep red before and make a practical choice as they are already dried. I've used them to trim the dining room as red seems a good colour for the setting for Christmas dinner

Love this elegant slender French oak table which I bought at the Newark fair earlier this is a great space for displays

I sold several of these glass jars and they are so the colours of these baubles

This little embroidery dates from the time when sewing was a hobby and not a living!

Many years ago I attempted to put the tree in its pot on my own; when it collapsed on top of me and I called out for assistance my 3 teenagers watching Neighbours together famously said to one another "is that Mum shouting help?" but decided not to investigate. We did have a discussion about what word would have solicited aid but these days its left to my husband and I to struggle to secure an enormous piece of greenery in our living room. A bit slanted but no injuries at least.

My christmas stockings made from a lovely piece of french quilting sold very quickly and only then did I think they would have made a lovely decoration for my own mantel but thats business isn't it? I did however find this single example from a previous year in rather nice rustic linen

I like trimming the stairs and often find that many guests congregate in the hall at our christmas party so think they should have a display to look at.

The robin, dated 1998, was another of my projects, makes me slightly guilty that I don't seem to have time for needlepoint any more

This fairy was one of my first when I made them for myself and friends. She's embarassingly tatty but I'm still fond of these earlier less refined examples

Ten years ago we saved a branch from a tree which had been pruned..our own yule log. My husband comments on how much lighter it is now that the sap has dried up: it felt anything but light when I dislodged it as I lifted it down from its storage spot and it fell on my head!

Another favourite display area is the pig table, so called because it was thought to have been used for butchering the family pig in a country home. Like these small trees left undecorated and in a lovely French confit pot.

I bought this lovely little box on Saturday from the Station Mill Antiques centre in Chipping Norton; a really nice destination which lots of temptation.

Even a mannequin needs a christmas outfit
And now there's just the food to organise...endless lists litter the kitchen but realistically it will all happen in the haphazard way it usually does with the help of family and friends

I'd like to wish all of you kind enough to read this a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and hopeful New Year..look forward to more blogging in 2012

Friday, 2 December 2011

Twelve days of a hellish designed Christmas

Just a few ideas for those of you wrestling with Christmas lists

Buy a fairy to fly to the top of your tree

A pair of blue enamel jugs to display your Christmas holly

Three sets of mini antlers to hang on the wall..the Christmas answer to 3 flying ducks

Four practical linen tea towels (in gorgeous French pot) for Christmas washing up

Five vintage parfait jars filled with Christmas coloured fabric

Six or so clementines in fluted ceramic mould

Seven linen sacks for the table or to leave for Santa

Eight (might be stretching a point here) fabric covered 2012 diaries

Nine (and there is only one of these) framed textile collages

Ten linen aprons for all your helpers

Eleven cosy cushions for curling up on the sofa

Twelve (and that is a lie) vintage sledges to pile on your presents
or to visit your neighbours in the event of snow
All of these and more on my stall at the Vintage and Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury tomorrow
For more information and prices just e mail, next day UK delivery available for most items

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

"It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas"

Not really and I'm the average ostrich when it comes to buying presents, planning Christmas cooking etc but the house is being trimmed early in honour of my weekend open house. In the 90s I embraced Christmas decorating in all its excesses....Christmas cushions, lighting features, huge swags and garlands and the handmade fairies which did a lot to launch my business.
Now, however, I prefer more incidental decorating; jugs of holly and ivy, jars filled with Christmas coloured fabrics, linen sacks with a red stripe used as a table runner for instance, stone jars with hyacinths ready to bloom at Christmas and eucalyptus leaves with their great scent.

The fairies of course still feature and pop up on mantelpieces as well as the tree.

This year I've made the most of my hydrangea blooms; the colder weather has made the pink blooms turn a gorgeous deep red and they look great against spruce whether artificial or real. The pink/beige colour and great shape of this jug is a perfect foil for the flowers.

I have a great selection of enamel jugs and they are perfect for tall arrangements of holly branches. The narrow necks support the stems so you don't need a lot of foliage.

 I love both the simple white and Christmas green jugs but these blue jugs look fabulous with red berries.

I've made some Christmas stockings from a piece of patchwork quilt and trimmed them with Christmas labels.
I love the softly faded mauves and rusts, not the obvious Christmas choice but great with scarlet.

My little french cart looks perfect next to a similar coloured jug and under the red Amish star.
I couldn't resist this beautifully made toy truck..fill with small gifts for a small child

I've framed a 50s school poster which I think would work well as a centrepiece on a Christmas mantel

These small trees look good on mantels or side tables..try a pair on your frontstep. This one looks perfect in classic French confit pot

A group of Christmas coloured textiles, add a punch of bright red to your Christmas sofa or green check for the kitchen table. This beautiful French lentil sack makes an oversized cushion but is lovely as a kitchen wall hanging. Very rustic cushions from a grain sack work well on a wooden bench with jug of holly.

Do hope some of you will make it to my sale this Friday and Saturday; try your first mince pie (off to make them now) and a glass of mulled wine. Just e mail for more details of the sale and about items seen on this page

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

return to blogland

What a relief to return to the virtual world of blogland; I've missed composing and reading.
However ,an almost back to back succession of fairs, (including 2 running concurrently..thanks to my lovely husband who manned the stall in my absence ) has simply eaten up every waking minute.
I think I can now load, unload, pack and bring home the stock in my sleep not to mention extol the virtues of vintage fabrics but ,most tiring of all, those hours spent not selling because the customers aren't buying.
Its been a hard couple of weeks with the prevailing economic gloom palpable and I've found myself less willing to buy from other stalls because I'm unsure of my own takings.
How I wish there could be a moratorium on economic stories until Christmas is over just to see if this would kickstart the recovery.

Sorry to be so gloomy and I can't imagine not doing what I do now so its a case of getting on with it!
My current obsession is with glass jars. I've collected lovely green French confit jars for some years now but recently bought their clear equivalent.

I filled the jars with scraps of vintage fabrics, particularly in reds, greens and blues hoping they could sell as Christmas decorations..and they did.
Sadly forgot to take any photos but I've spent this afternoon filling more.

These are the beautiful turquoise Ball jars from America so I've chosen strong colours to show through the glass. The jars were used as our Kilner jars to preserve fruit,chutneys etc in rural America. They can be dated by the lettering but even the newest have survived since 1937 when production ceased.

The unusual colour was a product of the sand from Lake Michigan which was used in the glass manufacture.
Hopefully these will tempt the vintage Christmas shopper.

I've also had a relaxing few hours making lavender parcels whilst catching up with the i player; the perfect old meets new combo. These were also good sellers last weekend.
And finally that challenge to the car packer..the standard lamp. I will be taking one to Holmepierrepont Hall on Thursday; no room for passengers I'm afraid, but lovely to see anyone whos in the Nottingham area. details to the left of this piece.

Thanks for letting me have a moan!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

a weekend off

Its been a very busy few weeks; a succession of sales and fairs as well as family responsibilties had precluded weekend leisure time since the beginning of September. So I was ready to slump into an unorganised weekend at home when...our younger son rang to suggest he come home for the weekend.
Obviously a lad from the capital could not be confined to base so I quickly racked my brain for interesting places to visit.

Brainwave..the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield.. which when found! proved incredibly worthwhile.
Filled both with her finished works and with models for them it brings the art of sculpture to life.

I particularly appreciated the explanation with original moulds of the preocess by which a model is cast in bronze.
It was a charming mixture of the woman and her art with domestic details such as her workbench and tools.

Most of these personal items were donated by Hepworth's daughters and they also provided a roomful of models.

These, although for the most part made from plaster, were painted and carved so as to resemble the finished piece. Apparently she occasionally gave these as presents but never sold them; I would certainly have been more than happy to house one!
The gallery itself is worthy of a mention as being the perfect foil to its contents. Its angular concrete shape perfectly reflects the sculpture and inside granite walls complement the exhibits.
On a sunny day interesting shadows cast by the windows add to the shapes within. The building set into the water appears to float when viewed from inside.

These huge rooms with their simple windows were the perfect setting for the temporary collection..An Unquiet Head by Clare Woods..huge fabulously painted representaions of the landscape and the forms to be found within.

And happily style was not at the expense of substance; a trip to the ladies revealed  beautiful taps which turned on when the hands were waved underneath but turned off when the action was repeated so as not to waste water. Standing at the hand dryer whilst water pours away down the drain is a pet hate of mine.
And last but not least a great cafe.
Hope you'll visit this fabulous free gallery, just don't rely on the postcode, sat nav or google maps.