Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A shared past in fabric

Last week I had a pleasant surprise when the husband of a friend who died prematurely in 2009 rang to say he was coming to Nottingham and would like to call in with a box of fabric. He had been having a clear out and wondered whether I would like some of Maggie's collected treasures.

We had been close friends from the time when our sons were at nursery together..almost 30 years ago now...although as we both moved soon after meeting this was always a long distance friendship conducted by letter and regular meetings. These meetings often took place in London where we enjoyed a wander round antique markets, Libertys and other textile haunts.
In those days we sewed clothes as well as curtains and it was Maggie who made fabric lampshades long before I started to sell them.
I enjoyed chatting with her husband about our memories and perceptions of her, easier now that the shock of her short illness and tragic death has receded. After he left I rifled through the box looking for remembered purchases.

I have made a pair of cushions from the first piece of french fabric I found; the cherry red background is typical of Maggie's taste.

This piece of Cabbage and Roses floral, never used, is also in her favourite red. I thought on first sight that it was an old Laura Ashley print as it reminded me of a design I had used in the late 70s. Not sure yet how I will make use of it.
I came across a piece of Donegal tweed with maker's label which I recall her describing buying on holiday in Ireland; the receipt is from the year before her death so she obviously never got round to making the skirt she planned. I tried without success to find a pattern this morning to turn it into a tunic; wish I was a better pattern cutter.

I was nearly at the bottom of the box however before I found the fabric I had hoped so much to find.
We had shopped at Alfie's Market in London probably about 10 years ago and found a piece of faded floral linen which we both loved. Neither of us could afford it whole so we resolved to share the cost and the fabric. I made mine into cushions for my garden room (greenhouse without the pots!) and they looked gorgeous for a short while; I hadn't bargained on the strength of the sun and found them after the winter faded and in holes.
So here was Maggie's half still in a piece; this time I'm giving myself time to decide what to make but whatever it will be in our north facing guest room.

I've been busy finishing cushions and shades for the textile society fair in Manchester this Sunday. I had a pile of mongrams to make up and these are now all cushions. They make great presents for weddings, christenings and perhaps Mother's Day in a couple of weeks. As ever I don't have the complete alphabet but get in touch if you're interested in a particular initial.

Do come along to the fair if you're anywhere near; each stall is a treasure trove of textiles, buttons, vintage clothing and bags. In addition there are talks and demonstrations about matters textile, certainly many people seem to spend the whole day there.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Cul Noir pottery and shabby chic fabric

A couple of weeks ago I bought two attractive side plates from one of my favourite dealers.

We must be on the same wavelength as I always find lots to buy from her and much of it stays with me. I loved both the colour of the glaze and the naively drawn flowers but it was only when I was washing off the price label that I read "cul noir" plate.

Too late to ask Tess, I googled and found a helpful blog reference and images; my French fluent friend had already translated "black bottom" but I learnt that this refers to the dark glaze underneath the piece. The pictures I found all featured blue and white designs, almost a French willow pattern, rather than the simple flowers I have. Underneath both plates I can read Tours but sadly the rest of the writing is indistinct so I can only assume they were made near or in Tours in the Loire valley.

I'll be thrilled to be further enlightened if any of you reading can help.

I've owned this plate for a while and although it is glazed in the same colour all over in other ways it resembles my floral plates. I love the perfect piecrust edge.

They all work very well alongside newer pieces such as this great Wonkiware jug; this time last year I was in South Africa and visiting the Wonkiware factory shop was the ceramic equivalent of being let loose in a sweet shop.
Since I don't intend to part with these plates I'd better get selling some of my textile items!

This is a very pretty print, too fine for cushions but perfect for a small shade.

I love this simple pictorial print, both for the depiction of the scene and for the pairing of the red tones with a soft turquoise. I've also a piece of barkcloth in similar shades and I hope to make cushions in that which will work together as a group. One of my customers says she likes to find fabrics that together tell a story.

This faded "shabby chic" floral with tiny birds is perfect for lampshades so I've used it to cover a  pair of frames. They would look lovely in a cottage bedroom or adding light to a console table. I decided to add a pair of cushions to the "story" and what better design to pick for the 14th Feb than this heart on linen.
Hope you're having a romantic day!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Stocking up for the first fair of the year

It seems decadent to confess to 2 months off work but it is indeed that length of time since I set up a stall to sell my wares. I have however been busy in other ways; sewing lots of new cushions, shades etc, restocking the cards and, most necessary, buying more stock to sell. I think I have found some lovely new goodies to sit alongside the textiles which are either for sale or for making up.

I've confessed already in these posts to my addiction to glass bottles so no surprise I've bought more.
These simple milk bottles will look great with an arrangement of spring flowers but I like them lined up simply on my mantel. They are however for sale this weekend at Market Harborough but thought they would look good snapped next to the French jars.

Several of these for sale; still useful as storage or use as a vase.
I've bought more Ball jars as they were good sellers filled with fabric scraps.

 Think this turquoise colour would look lovely filled with painted eggs as a spring decoration.

These were a new find; American spring water flagons which would have had a cork stopper. Hope you can make out the native American Indian on the front.

Again they would be good with blue flowers such as love in the mist which grows like a weed in my flower bed since I sowed seeds many years ago now or possibly iris at this time of year.

This is a departure for me as I'm not really a doll person but this sweet little highchair (modelled by Old Tom Ted who was rescued from a school jumble many years ago) proved irrestible. I think it was the level of detail right down to the stencilled tray as well as the lovely soft paint colour, just like drying plaster; not sure the colour reproduction on the camera has measured up to the challenge but its a poor workwoman who blames her tools! Hope a collector will give it a home but afraid Tom has to stay with us.

I love this trio, all french earthernware, all functional and all very decorative. On the left a classic dairy pot; these semi matt glazed pots are lovely just as they are or with flowers or plants.
I've never seen a jug like this before, great fat bellied shape and with a "harlequin" style glaze. My lovely friend Moira has just left having visited for lunch, she brought a bunch of spring flowers so I can show you how gorgeous it looks filled with tulips and narcissi.

Finally a cheese mould in deep aubergine which I think would look perfect filled with yellow primula; I have also got a metal mould which looks great when lit by a candle. Both would have been used to drain the whey off a French farmhouse cheese.

Again a new departure but I couldn't resist this leather bag. Large enough to use for paperwork it has 2 compartments so practical for keeping all the essentials to hand. Pictured with my fine knit fingerless gloves which are so useful; confess to wearing them to read in bed on Saturday night as the snow fell outside.

Whenever I find this particular red striped linen ticking I snap it up. It is especially nice made into lampshades as it gives a soft warm glow to lamplight. Fortunately I found a piece large enough for this shade and a bigger one with more to spare...currently lighting up a corner of the workroom

This rustic bench is for sale although will be very useful in front of or to add height to a stall before it goes. Its a neat length and would look good at the foot of a bed or in front of a bench or sofa as here. More of the large handblown glass jars (on bench behind) for sale.
I'm planning on putting some of these and more in the car for Market Harborough but if there's anything you'd like to see there please email as there won't be room for it all
I'm also updating my blogshop to include new February stock, take a look, and scroll down for lamps and bases from last month (those that have sold are marked)
Hope to see some of you on Saturday and don't forget to come and say hello