Upgrade your dining chairs

I was lucky enough to find a couple of mid century modern dining chairs on ebay, but the covers were dull as ditchwater and needed replacing. I found a great upholstery fabric at https://www.craftysewer.com/ that gives more than a nod to mid century. I loved the colours on the underside of the fabric so I have used it reverse side up.

You will need

Screw driver

Fabric

Stapler

Scissors

Tape measure

Step 1

Unscrew the seat from the frame.

Step 2

Place seat on fabric, and cut out the fabric including a 4in overlap.

Step 3

Staple on the fabric at each of the 4 corners, as shown in the picture.

Step 4

Fold and turn the edge fabric over each side of the chair and staple into position. Screw the newly covered seat back onto the chair.

Top Drawer SS 2019

Top Drawer Spring Summer 2019

Top Drawer is the place where retailers view, inwardly digest, and then order for next season from the wholesalers and small independent companies. Due to its scale—11 curated sectors spreading across the entirety of Olympia London—and mix of brands across the lifestyle spectrum, Top Drawer attracts a range of retailers; from concept stores, museums shops, boutiques and independents to multiple retailers, garden centres and supermarkets.

The show lasts three days and can be exhausting, and just how many scented candles does a woman want?

This season they have called the show ‘Out of the Ordinary’, a great strap line and there is much to be seen that is out of the ordinary.

Talks and trails are included in the show and its diversity is such that I bumped into two friends of mine, the first a retailer on the look out for her shop, and the other a museum shop curator with a different clientele.

Gifts, hospitality, jewellery, accessories, well being, craft, cards food and home accessories are all on show and within these groups are sub sections:

 Mr: is a showcase of accessories, jewellery, design- led life style brands for the modern man.

Robin James founder of Men’s Lifestyle blog ‘ Man for himself’ said

“MR is such a great addition to Top Drawer London. I was really impressed by the brands and think that it can only get bigger and next season.”

Spotted: Is curated by Charlotte Abrahams a freelance writer author and curator specializing in design and applied arts. Think new; think market ready, original, hot talent, across all lifestyle sectors.

One of my favourites spied in ‘Spotted’ is a collection of fun textile products designed by Lorraine Ireland. Her company is called Oh Sew Home. Based around her love of mischievous and cheeky seagulls. www.ohsohome.com

Many companies are homing in on the need to be more sustainable and ethical, whether it is finding replacements for, or the reuse of plastic. The aptly named

Bees Wax Wrap Company have a reusable alternative to cling film. www.beeswaxwraps.co.uk

Another bees wax wrap company, who take their mission so seriously they don’t even produce business cards but put all their details on a chalk board so that you could photo them. www.GoodToBee.co.uk

As the owner Madeleine says

‘With GoodToBee I had the chance to create something from start to finish. Not just the wraps but a commitment to myself, and everyone else. Everything I now do and in every way I can, I will be as sustainable, ethical and low impact as I can be. Our fabric is  Global Organic Textile Standard. The beeswax is sourced from sustainable local hives just a few miles away, and we use only organic jojoba oil. Our packaging is 100% recycled post-consumer waste and my beautiful stamp is made from sustainably managed oak with a sapling being planted for each one the company makes. And we never use plastic in anything we do.

Eliminating plastic can be a daunting prospect but my hope is that family, friends and customers will feel able to make the swap to GoodToBee beeswax wraps and feel empowered that their efforts ‘ are a third Bees Wax wrap company they also sell cushion covers made from luxurious silky feel recycled polyester and organic cotton, all their thread is made from recycled bottles, all cotton is organic, their mailing bags are recyclable, they have a range of reusable products designed to divert waste from landfill or the oceans, their waste is donated to charity and non recyclables put into eco bricks. Their packaging is recyclable and they always try to support local suppliers.

https://www.harrisandhall.com

Bamboo is being used to make many products including fabrics, socks, bowls and cutlery, one of these products is Bamboo Cup designed to reduce the 2.5 billion plastic lined single use cups that go to landfill each year. Made mainly from sustainable, fast growing bamboo fiber and tested to the highest standards by TUV Rheinland, these cups feel lovely to hold. There are over 50 contemporary designs in the collection

www.blueeyedsun.co.uk

Lola and Mawa is décor and lifestyle brand based in the UK selling beautiful products sourced in Africa. The baskets and the indigo fabrics are particularly fine. They also produce a range of baskets made from recycled waste.

They say ‘We value traditional skills and will do everything we can to help artisanal communities to thrive. Every purchase at Lola & Mawu generates meaningful income for the makers and their families. We believe that diversity, the blending of traditions and the partnership between peoples of different cultures is the way to a better world.

Our name is a symbol of that partnership between Lola, the Founder, and Mawu, the African goddess of creation, embodied by the incredibly talented artisans we work with.

Another socially conscious and environmentally aware company is https://paguroupcycle.com/

 Their products are made from recycled materials including leather, inner tubes, wood. As they reclaim, reimagine and reinvent they produce jewelry.

My choices are not all up cycled. There are lots of people with new twists on old techniques or ideas. For example Michelle Harvey from Melbourne creates under the name www.crayonchick.com.au

Crayon Chick has designed and made a range of covetable original products including wall hangings, weave bowls and knot necklaces.

It was nice to see the much loved company Thornback and Peel designers of tea towels, coaster, trays, cosmetic bags and cushion covers. They tend to use one or at most 2 colours and produce very desirable sophisticated designs. www.thornbackandpeel.co.uk

If what you are looking for is a simple natural skincare, bath and beauty range then look no further than the new company Divine and Handmade.

On the food front it was a real treat to find Isle of Wight based company called pinks. Their logo looks like a flying snitch. They make butters, jellies and curds all of which are suitable for vegetarians and are delicious.

www.pinksfoods.co.ukh

With so much interesting design I have only touched on a tiny portion of what is available, but you will see it in the shops and on line in the coming months. Juliet Bawden www.creativecolour.org

Valentine Wreath

by Juliet Bawden photo by Antonia Attwood Styling assistant Elsa Collier

I have devised a simple heart shaped wreath for Valentines day. This is a one off for the day. If you want the wreath to last longer use fake flowers and leaves, or use a heart shaped florists oasis for the foundation and use fresh leaves and flowers as we have here. 

1.You will need

15cm Polystyrene heart from £2.20 from Hobby Craft

http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/polystyrene-heart-ring-15-cm/591593-1000

Roses pink

Eucalyptus leaves

Scissors

Glue dots

Dress makers pins

2. Using, inexpensive scissors, cut the heads off the roses. You do not want to ruin good dressmaking shears.

3 Pin the roses down their middles to the top inner edge of the heart shaped wreath.

4. Cut the eucalyptus leaves and glue dot them, so that they slightly overlap, around the heart. They should cover all the white polystyrene.

SCRAPS an Exhibition of recycled textiles

Sorry you’ve just missed it, as it closed the 14th January. Palm Springs art museum held a fabulous exhibition SCRAPS: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse. I am posting this now as I feel it is so important that we understand the world has finite resources, and those that recognise this and try to do something about it should be applauded and publicised. The exhibition featured the work of three women, from three continents, who put recycling at the heart of their design process. Luisa Cevese from Italy, Christina Kim from Los Angeles USA and Reiko Sudo from Japan all share a profound respect for scraps as repositories of raw materials, energy. labour, and creativity. Inspired by the long tradition of using handcraft to give new life to scraps and cast-offs, each takes an entirely different approach to contending with textile waste.

Christina Kim the founder of the Los Angeles-based fashion brand Dosa, has always drawn inspiration from traditional textile cultures around the world. Working with local artisans, she provides sustainable livelihoods by engaging in long-term collaborative relationships and paying fair wages. Her longstanding reverence for hand woven cloth led her fifteen years ago to jamdani

-the gossamer cotton saris worn in Bengal, India and Bangladesh became the fabric for her 2003 collection. Recognising the cultural history and human creativity embedded in the cloth, Kim collected the cutting-room scraps and had them pieced and appliqued into a wholecloth by skilled embroiderers in Gujarat, India. A second generation of clothing was cut from the re-engineered fabric in 2008, and the scraps gathered from this collection were made into tikdi, or small dots, appliqued on silk scarves until all the scraps were used. Equally important to Kim’s zero-waste approach is her intent ‘to help keep different traditions alive… investing the human hand with more or as much value as the material itself.”

         Reiko Sudo is Japanese she was born in 1953

She has been transforming how we think about textiles for the last three decades. She is the principal designer and managing director of Nuno, founded in 1984 and known for combining Japanese handicraft tradition with textile technologies to create extraordinary futhe silk cnctional textiles. Always conscious of the impact textile production has on the environment, Sudo has recently explored the creative potential of silk waste. Since 2007, her primary focus has been kibso – the outermost layer of  the silk cocoon that protects the delicate silk underneath.

Retrieved before the silk reeling process, kibiso is too coarse for industrial weaving, but working in collaboration with the city of Tsuruoka, Sudo has converted kibiso  into finer yarn that can be machine woven. During her kibiso experimentation, Sudo discovered another silk waste, ogarami choshi, a residue that sticks to the spinning shaft and has to be cut away. When the layers of the tightly curled material are peeled apart, they can be pressed together to create a translucent patchwork paper.

Sudo takes kibiso  fabric scraps and machine embroiders them onto a water soluble mesh that is then dissolved to give an open lace-like effect.

Luisa Cevese was born in Italy in 1955

In India there is very little wasted, used saris are cleaned, repaired, and sold on the second hand market. Luisa uses the waste  from the sari refurbishment – damaged borders that are cut when the saris are re-hemmed. One of her ongoing fabrics since 2009 is Muticoloured Taj textile  scraps of sari embedded in polyurethane.

Orange Cake

Orange Cake by Juliet Bawden from  www.creativecolour.org

With a plethora of oranges in the shops at the moment, now is the time for this cake. It is made from whole oranges, ground almonds, eggs and sugar and is totally gluten free, no flour or butter in this recipe.

Everyone has a signature dish and this is mine. There are many variations of this recipe, some with fewer and some with more oranges and I even found one with the addition of olive oil. This is my recipe and I have been making it for over thirty years and believed it to be Armenian in origin, but sadly that is not the case.  You will find a version of this cake anywhere that  oranges are grown, including  southern Europe and the middle and near east. It is quite moist and pudding like in texture.

HINTS and TIPS

Because oranges vary so much in size it can be hard to judge the quantities. If the mixture seems too wet before you put it in the oven, stir in more ground almonds.

If the oranges are not organic, change the water after half an hour and bring to the boil again.

I often cook this cake in the evening and if it is not cooked through, after an hour and a half, I turn off the heat and leave it overnight to finish cooking  in the  oven.

YOU WILL NEED

4 (preferably organic) oranges

6 eggs

250g ground almonds

250g castor sugar

1 teaspoon of backing powder

Flaked almonds

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

Spring form loose bottom cake tin 23cm wide

Food processor

Baking parchment

Mixing bowl

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Put the oranges in a saucepan, boil until soft, up to a couple of hours. Throw away the water and leave the oranges to cool. Turn on the oven to 160 degrees. Line the cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Cut the oranges into quarters and remove any pips and the pith from the middle. Put the quarters, including the peel, into the food processor, and blitz into a pulp. Pour the pulp into a bowl and put to one side. (you only need to do this if your food processor is a small one).

3. Break the eggs into the food processor, add the sugar, baking powder and ground almonds and blitz. Once finished, mix with the orange pulp.

4 Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and put in the oven for one hour. After an hour sprinkle the flaked almonds on top of the cake and put it back in the oven. If after another half an hour the cake is not cooked through, cover the top of the cake with baking parchment and check it regularly.

Fringe Lampshade

 Fringed Lamp Shade

Hessian, Fringing and all things textural are still going strong as an interior trend. So I thought I’d buy some fringing and upcycle an old lampshade. I am very pleased with the result.

You will need

Lamp Shade

Glue gun and glue sticks

Scissors

Roll of Hessian Fringing

1.Wrap the fringed hessian round the base of the shade and add an extra centimeter and then cut.

2. Stick the first band of fringing to the bottom of the lamp so the edge of the fringe is parallel to the edge of the lamp.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 sticking the fringing so it just touches the row below.  Do this until the lamp is covered in fringing.

4. Pull away the cord that holds the fringing together on all the rows and then put it on the lamp base.

The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell

In the introduction to her book, author Emma Mitchell comes clean about the depression from which she has suffered for the last twenty-five years. The Wild Remedy How Nature Mends Us is a diary that shows how through nature Emma manages her ‘depression’ and her life. https://silverpebble.net/blog

         Emma’s description of how depression manifests itself is so poignant.

‘ Some days my brain feels as though it is mired in a dark quicksand of negativity; on other, layers of thick greyish cloud seem to descend, weighing down my thoughts and burgling my motivation. However the depression manifests itself, I find it difficult to move, and the urge to stay indoors beneath a quilt and near to Netflix is strong. I know if I do force myself to get up from the sofa, then the gloom can lift a little, and if I step outside and walk in the wood behind our cottage, the dreich thoughts may not leave entirely but they certainly retreat into the wings.’

She writes beautifully and descriptively with no sense of self-pity. Emma acknowledges that literature is peppered with references to using nature as a way of easing melancholy and is the first to admit that it may not help all, but it does help her.

The book is a joy to read it is both interesting and informative and full of discoveries both for the reader and for Emma herself. Set out as a diary, that starts in October when the weather in England turns and the first frosts appear. Emma’s adventures, in both the landscape where she lives and beyond are not big ones. She observes nature and draws us in with her observations. The creatures and plants are often small, birds, insects, rodents but for Emma they are important and noticed. She is both a keen observer and illustrator. All the drawings and photographs in the book are hers.

         Emma grew up in Liverpool but spent many summers as a child on the Pembrokeshire coast where she explored rock pools.

         As she says’ When I was small I didn’t know much about marine wildlife, but I knew that I could find VERY interesting things in rock pools: things that darted, scuttled and snailed about; that I could catch in my net if I was careful and they’d continue to dart: scuttle and snail about in my bucket.’

I grew up near Birmingham and holidayed in a caravan in Sandersfoot near where Emma stayed. Reading her description took me back to my own childhood, with memories of being curious about rock pools and what excitement and mysteries they held.

Emma has a degree in Zoology from the University of Cambridge. The book has a good bibliography that references papers such as ‘The role of the seratoninergic system on mood and mood disorders’

‘The benefits to humans of interactions with natural landscapes’

I highly recommend this book, if you are a nature lover or not, if you suffer from depression or not it will draw you in and inform you.

Lady’s -Tresses

As Emma has come clean, so will I, I have a son and a brother who both suffer from severe depression, and the son of a good friend killed himself two years ago. Anything that can offer help or a possible way through this misery has to be good.

I highly recommend this book, if you are a nature lover or not, if you suffer from depression or not it will draw you in and inform you.

Published by Michael O’Mara at £14.99 http:// www.mombooks.com