Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Return to the everyday

We've just spent a very enjoyable week in Majorca where it was just lovely to enjoy the freedom of eating outside in warm sunshine, walking without waterproofs and generally lazing around, catching up on reading and eating and drinking far too much.

The backdrop of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains followed us everywhere, towering above the fertile plains where olives and oranges thrive.

We were musing on how artificial the turquoise swimming pool looks and yet that was the exact shade of the shallow waters at the the edge of the sea here.

I love walking along the cliff edge staring out to sea..this is near the beautiful Deia..where we visited Robert Graves' home. I could quite see why he fell in love with Majorca and never settled  back in England when forced to return during the war. His description of his first wife as "a feminist and difficult woman" in the film we watched made me laugh out loud...pity not to hear her side of the story.

And so back home last Saturday to a decidedly chilly and very grey Nottingham. At least it wasn't so difficult to sit down at the sewing machine and the reappearance of a customer who I hadn't seen for several years was cheering.

I made this pair of cushions in a pretty French floral to replace the pair she bought

I've combined textures in this simple contemporary cushion with a simple linen braid trim

This is a sweet 1950s French print which is great for covering notebooks but decided to make a small shade which I think would be lovely for a kitchen

I'm often asked for pairs of shades but not always possible if I can't get matching frames so I've kept this pair simple. Great for either side of a bed or a console table.

This portrait in pastels intrigues me; wish I knew who she was/is. I think its 50s but not at all sure but framed I think she is quite striking. Have several others to frame before the V&H fair in Chipping Sodbury this Saturday 26th
I'm very much looking forward to the fair and seeing other stallholders and customers who I only see when I'm in this part of the world. Do hope you'll come along and say hello.

But today the sun is Majorcan here in England so I'm going to spend the rest of the day in the garden where a host of jobs await.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A fair weather gardener

I had a lovely time in Berkswell on Sunday. The sun shone (a fact worth noting these days), the hall looked lovely decked out with bunting and Tracey and her team had worked hard to make setting up a breeze and to get the all important customers in.

I met some great people both stall holders and customers and enjoyed admiring the talent on the other stalls.
I took along my usual mixture of textiles, my own designs and vintage finds and sales generally reflected this mix with the lampshades being the bestseller.

I'm fond of this little French wooden horse so wasn't too sorry he didn't sell.

This hatbox is so useful; hadn't really worked out where else to pack the jugs. The enormous crash as we packed up was me; on the positive side 3 less plates to wrap but I was touched by how much concern and sympathy I received.

My friend, Carole, had told me about the fair and her stall was predictably lovely. She sells kitchenalia and textiles; her French enamelware is my weakness. She always styles her stall in colour blocks and on Sunday the green section was my favourite.

Love these handmade cosies..such a lot of work for a tenner. If you live in the Leicester area you might like to visit Carole's shop in Hinckley. Its called Vintage Treasures and is open Mon, Fri and Sat
I had hoped the weather would hold to allow a day in the garden yesterday but we were back to rain. I think if I was a keen gardener I'd be suicidal. Endless wet weather keeping one from the garden but encouraging the growth of triffid like weeds, strong winds stripping the blossom from the trees and 6 inches of water in every potted plant would lead me to stick my head in a water butt.
Fair weather gardener that I am I've stayed in with the sewing machine but finally a clear sunny day took me down the garden today.
When we first moved here I tried to grow all my favourites..delphiniums, lupins,clematis..all clay hating, slug prone disaster areas.  Now, however I take a Trinny and Susannah approach, remember them as they told us to wear what suited our figure not what we were drawn too, so now I grow whatever will survive.

A haze of forget me nots are always welcome and look lovely in a vintage jar
Predictably 2 of the expensive herbaceous perennials I planted last year have not even made annual status so it was good to see this faithful pairing going strong.

Love this acid green euphorbia which romps around our garden teamed with "widow" geranium named for its colour rather than any man eating properties.

This pic of our pond will give an idea of the level of neglect that prevails..its the green thing in the middle..but a couple of weekends without a fair may allow some maintenance..unless it rains of course.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Lucian and Lucienne

Just enjoyed an inspiring weekend in London despite the appalling weather. In fact my little grandson postively enjoyed the results of the torrential rain as he found a waterlogged corner of the car park to splash in.

We had gone down to London for a long awaited trip to the Lucian Freud portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

It was predictably busy but thanks to a simple guidebook and the fact that all were portraits and therefore easy to understand it was possible to enjoy the paintings without too much frustration. I had enjoyed the BBC 4 documentary about Freud and that helped understand his methods and the development of his painting from the stylised early portraits of his first wife to the huge pieces painted in his 60s.

I would have happily taken one or two home to hang in my living room but had to be content with the exhibition catalogue which is a lovely book.
Next day I persuaded the family to accompany me to a much smaller exhibition I'd heard about.
Designing Women at the Fashion and Textile Museum showcased the work of post war textile artists including Lucienne Day, Jaqueline Groag and Marian Mahler.

Much of this work sprang from the creative period leading up to the Festival of Britain in 1951

This tiny Bermondsey gallery is the brainchild of Zandra Rhodes and is a lovely easy going space which holds workshops alongside the exhibtions; I was sorry not to be taking part in the print making session we glimpsed.

The enviably huge pieces of fabric hung from the walls or were seen made into dresses next to small cases with the original drawings. I particularly liked this Day fabric where the geometric blocks are overprinted with naturalistic sketches

Becca and I wished this tea towel was still in production as the colours are so current.
The weather precluded any strolling around the area which was a shame; I love exploring the different parts of London but this time it had to be from inside a car. Nevertheless I returned home feeling inspired by both exhibitions and ready to create. I'd love to say I was able to paint but its had to be at the sewing machine.

I've had these pieces of French ticking for a while and decided to make up cushions from it.

This large cushion celebrates the history of this piece; darned, patched, stained and faded to a lovely deep denim colour it will make a great contemporary piece. Also looks good covering this unusual folding sleeveboard

Fingers crossed that the coming bank holiday has better weather in store. I'm off to a new venue on Sunday for the first ever Vintage and Homemade fair in Berkswell (near Solihull) and looking forward to meeting lots of new people. Details to the left