I was recently given some enormous, if somewhat bruised, windfall quinces. So as a great lover of cheese I decided to make some quince jelly, sometimes known as quince cheese. Suffice to say as soon as I wanted to make the jelly I couldn’t find a recipe. Then I found buried amongst all my other cookery books a slim volume called WI Book of Jams and other preserves written by Pat Hesketh and published in 1984. It has over 100 recipes tried and tested by the women’s institute.
So I turn to the page for Quince Cheese, on the same and facing page were recipes for cumberland rum butter, apple butter, marrow orange cream and bramble cheese. Fruit butters are a softer consistency than cheeses and are usually spiced and should be hermetically sealed. They are usually served as a spread. Cheeses are cooked to a stiff consistency and set in small moulds so that they can be turned out for serving and cut into wedges.
500g quinces chopped into roughly 1cm pieces
Wash the quinces and cut up into pieces
Place in a pan and barely cover with water.
Cover and cook until reduced to a pulp.
Pour through a sieve and weigh the liquid. (discard what is left in the sieve).To each 500g of liquid add 500g of sugar.
Cook over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
Continue cooking until a thick consistency is obtained.
When a spoon is drawn across the base of the pan, it should leave a clean line.
Pour into prepared moulds. I used small glass pots used for ‘Gu’.
Make some fabric tops by cutting out circles with pinking shears.
Second Hand September aims to raise awareness of fashion’s environmental impact
Create a twenty first century version of a nineteenth century, Smoking Cap from an up-cycled 1980’s jacket. I made this for my brother who loved wearing smoking caps. Here it is modelled by the beautiful Elsa.
The embroidery on the Jacket was beautiful but the style was somehow lacking. So I chose to turn it into, what used to be called, a Smoking Cap. This is in essence a pill box shaped hat often with a central tassel.
You will need
Old lined jacket
Pen and paper
Optional a tassel
Instructions .We made a pattern with the crown, top of the hat having a 18cm diameter. The brim of the hat is 8cm deep x 59.5 cm long including the seam allowances. Cut a paper pattern and then cut a calico pattern and sew the calico brim onto the calico top. Try it on for size and adjust as needed. It should be a little bigger than the finished hat, as the finished hat as a layer of wadding in it.
Cut the jacket into pieces and then lay the pattern pieces on them so they use up the best parts of the pattern. Pin and cut out the pattern pieces. Remember to add more seam allowance if you need to make a join.
Cut the interfacing so that it is slightly smaller than the pattern pieces. Pin it onto the wrong side of the hat’s crown and brimSew the wadding onto the brim. Pin the crown onto the brim, and sew them together, including the wadding around the crown
Using the jacket lining, make a lining for the hat as you did the one from calico. With wrong sides together, and the bottom edges turned under to neaten, sew the lining into the
outside cap. Sew a tassel into the centre of the cap.
Currently on Show at the Gallery Downstairs at The Department Store 248 Ferndale Rd London SW9 8FR
2nd -14th November 2019 Opening hours 10.00-17.00 Nearest Underground: Brixton
I happened to be walking in Brixton last Sunday when I came across a sign advertising an exhibition of portraits. What a piece of serendipity, these are colourful joyful and an outstanding collection of portraits.
Sarah Jane Moon is an award winning professional painter based in London, who exhibits and teaches regularly in the UK and abroad. Her portraiture frequently explores identity, sexuality and gender presentation.
Moon’s portraits represent a cross section of contemporary queer LGBTQ+ life and love. Her subjects are often people close to her or whom she admires greatly for their commitment to live authentically and forge ahead in their chosen industry.
Those depicted include writers, landscape designers, doctors, lawyers, artists and more, and together they create a powerful statement on contemporary life lived with pride.
Moon has been gaining increasing attention this year and this solo exhibition follows swiftly on from her inclusion in the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition(9th -24th May 2019, Mall Galleries, London and the internationally renowned and highly competitive BP Portrait Award Exhibition (National Portrait Gallery London- Currently touring to Edinburgh and Belfast.)
The subjects in Moon’s earlier portraits are presented in their backgrounds, offices, sitting rooms etc. You get a glimpse of that person’s life, their choice of furnishings, books and their style. The backgrounds in her later portraits are abstract with bold colourful marks, your eyes are drawn to the subject who has been painted, rather than the peripherals of their life.
This is one in a series of fat quarter books. Fat quarters are handy pre-cut pieces of fabric 18 x 22ins (46 x 56cm) They are often used for quilted projects. Susie has previously written many different craft books including Fat Quarter Toys, and Bags and Purses. I wrote two in the same series along with, my then business partner, the famous Flower Stylist Amanda Russell.
I was green with envy when I saw this book as I have a considerable stash of vintage fabrics, particularly from 1950’s and 1960’s, and would love to create a book with them.
book is cleverly divided into projects from different decades of the twentieth
century, the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. There are twenty five
projects in all and include both home items and fashion accessories.
There are projects such as a baby changing
mat, bow tie, owl mobile, child’s dress, appliqué cushion etc. The book opens
with a materials and equipment chapter followed by a techniques chapter.
Each project comes with easy to understand step by step photographs and instructions. The author has even chosen old fashioned looking children to model the bow ties, dress and baby blanket. This is a sweet and charming book that would make a wonderful Christmas present.
Want to learn a new craft this autumn then this is the book
for you. I have long been an admirer of Emma’s work and have followed her on
instagram for a while. She is a craftswoman of great renown who has many skills
under her belt and appears to turn her hand to new projects almost
effortlessly. In her forward to this book she describes how she came to needle
felting by accident when she was asked to run a workshop on it.
Unlike many crafts, needle felting is very forgiving to beginners, so there is no excuse not to have a go. As if by magic, pieces of natural wool can be sculpted simply by stabbing them with special felting needles.
The tiny barbs on the needles make the wool denser and denser, so that it can be moulded into whatever shape you desire. The book is divided into three sections geared towards beginner, intermediate and advanced, there’s a felting project for everyone, no matter what level of experience.
The basic techniques are covered and each project is accompanied, with step-by-step instructions and, photographs. There are hints and tips throughout, and twenty projects in all. Once you have made many of the projects in the book you will be in a position to create your own. There are projects to make for occasions such as Christmas, Halloween, Easter and other celebrations. There are lovely animals including, rabbits, piglets, bears and a bee.
My only criticism of the book is the name ‘Cute’ which gives it the feel of something, well cute! I feel the work has much more substance to it than that. If you want to try a new craft that takes up little room and is perfect for winter evenings then this my friends, is it.
Retrouvious was founded twenty years ago by partners Adam Hills and Maria Speake when they were studying architecture in Glasgow, it began as a way to help conserve the Victorian tenement buildings in the city’s reinvigorated West End. “My first eureka moment was when I realized that, because the West End of Glasgow is very homogenous architecturally, you could remove the doors and shutters and fireplaces from a building that Glasgow University was demolishing and use them in a building two or three streets away and they would fit, physically and historically,” explains Adam.
At the heart of the company is the belief that good materials and well-made things are precious; whether quarried stone or a piece of expert joinery, these objects were hard won and have an intrinsic value that argues for them to be reconditioned and intelligently reused. This book, so relevant to our time, illustrates the principals on which the company was founded. That is to see the potential in things that might otherwise be discarded.
Adam explains how important it is to
choose the right builders to work on a job using salvaged materials. “Sometimes
clients will come in wanting to use old wood, for example, then phone up sheepishly
a week later saying that they can’t buy it
their builder refuses to touch it. You definitely have to find someone who’s
sympathetic to using it. Salvage is much harder work than just bunging in new
stuff, and it’s not necessarily cheaper.”
now takes on just about any good material that could be used in making a
building, as well as all manner of apparently random oddments that he thinks
might appeal to his clientele. “Once you’ve got your mind tuned to saving
stuff, and to
and materials and quality, you are always thinking laterally – it’s just a case
of seeing what’s there and putting it in a new context,” he explains.
“You always approach a building with first principles, by asking what it’s made out of. A lot of people would look at something like HeathrowAirport’s Terminal 2 and think that, because it’s a hideous building, there can’t be anything valuable inside it. Whereas in fact you can go inside a bit of Brutalist architecture and look up the stairs and realize that the handrail is made out of a solid piece of hardwood, or that there’s an incredible floor or interesting light fittings. You have to ignore the hideous surroundings and think of these things in a different environment. The whole principle of antiques dealing is to take something from where it’s not appreciated to somewhere that it is.”
book is divided into particular projects and styles put together for clients of
Retrouvious. Starting with Barbican Modern
within a landmark development in central London, the corridor-style format of
this 1970s apartment made for a tricky living space. The redesign focused on generating
warmth and atmosphere while creating a stylish interior that nodded both to the
clients’ Italian roots and the cultural significance of the building itself.’
are chapters on lighting, stone, wood and fabric and a stockists and suppliers
section. The book features the following styles of architecture, Canal side
house, Garden cabin, Lakeside house, City terrace, Medieval priory, Family
townhouse, Victorian villa, High rise Home, Refurbished barn and a Georgian
farmhouse. An excellent and informative book.
As Christmas will be with us all too soon, I thought it would be nice for you to read about some independent makers and designers from who you can buy original cards and presents directly . The first is Joy Fitzsimmons from London Pooch.
JB I know you as a card designer and maker. Can you tell the readers did you train as a graphic artist?
Yes I went to Liverpool Art School 1971 -74 and studied Graphics and
Illustration. It was in the days when we all learned to set hot metal type and
the Tate Liverpool was an atmospheric derelict Dock.
What is a typical day for you?
My typical day starts at 8.15am with a bracing walk round one of our local
parks with our 2 dachshunds. I walk with a friend who has 2 dachshunds and
during that 45 mins the we compare thoughts and experiences and leave the park
I work from home there is always the invitation to be distracted by domestic
matters. I dispatch these as quickly as I can. Then spend a large part of my
day in the workroom at the computer as I produce all my work in
do fit in a certain amount of admin work for my husbands business then of
course have to address my own admin work. I like a change of air midday when
possible. When you are working alone it is good to meet a friend even just for
a coffee. Give the eyes a rest.
working day usually finishes as I address the evening meal preparations after
6. I enjoy this as it involves more active movements over a stove! And a change
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the fact that I have developed a routine of sitting and drawing to
develop the theme of the artworks. My ongoing theme is placing a dachshund in a
well-known painting or sculpture which totally changes the meaning. It has been
so rewarding to copy from the great masters then give it a humorous slant.
love to engage with the buying public in person although setting up a stall at
a market can be demanding! I have to admit the pleasure I get from anyone
wanting to buy even a card. It endorses your work.
What do you dislike most about what you do?
I dislike the fact that there is so much admin and trouble shooting which gets
in the way of design time too often. Time management is a fine art.
Have you ever worked for anyone else, or done any collaborations? If so, with
My early career was as a book designer and I worked freelance for 25years in
the world of book publishing. Working for Weidenfeld and Nicholson and Studio
Editions and eventually Partworks. During this time I also produced 2
illustrated children books. I think my timing was unfortunate as the recession
of the 90’s hit too many old publishing houses. Including my own! But my time
at Dorling and Kindersley was spent visualising. I was the only person employed
to use a pencil. This was good and bad as the mode of book design went totally
to computer. I had only worked with paper galley paste ups, unheard of now. At
the end of this time I found I was not trained to design books in the now
required fashion. So I slowly taught my self to use Illustrator in order to
What made you want to start your own creative business?
London Pooch came about when I unfortunately had to have prolonged treatment
for breast cancer. I suddenly had time on my hands recuperating. So we acquired
2 dachshunds. I had bought a small die cutting machine and collaged doggy cards
seemed to be emerging. At that time I was printing all at home. From here I
practised in Illustrator and London Pooch slowly started to develop. When my
mother developed Vascular Dementia she came to live with us and producing
greetings cards was an easier way to work round my additional job as carer.
(Her attempts to help with the packaging were hilariously disastrous and short
Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?
I have had no further training although my Computer/Illustrator skills are all
self taught. But I have been delighted to join a local Life Drawing class.
Working from life straight onto paper again with pen and charcoal is immensely
rewarding. And to work along side others who produce a totally different vision
of the same object is a constant delight.
Can you describe your creative process?
Most of my designs at present are based on parodying Art and popular
Architectural sites in London. All with the addition of a dachshund printed or
collaged onto the card.
cards and prints are all printed in Kent by a well established printer. The Tea
Towels printed in Lincolnshire. I have help to finish and pack the cards. We
send out orders from here.
What are your biggest challenges ?
Deciding what quantities to invest in when it come to production. Finding a
good agent. Leaving enough time for new designs by delegating more to others. I
handle the website largely myself since it was setup for me which is not
perhaps the best use of my time. Fascinating though web design is I fell I
need more purely creative time and must address this.
advice would you give to someone
starting out in your field today ?
Talk to people already in the field at Trade Fairs and Local markets. All maker
seller crafts people are generally keen to share stories as we all work in
isolation and find that many working lives are running parallel.
Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set
up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?
I think it is easier to get an public awareness of who you are these days
through social media.
the trend towards small businesses and the spread of fairly high end Craft
Fairs are all in the interests of young new makers. In these days of highly
sophisticated marketing the public are definitely move towards
small producers. See the spread of farmers markets at a time when sales in
the High Street are suffering. Heartening.
Have you exhibited? If so, where?
Only at Trade Fairs. But my print collection is expanding now so I am looking
to Exhibit at some point.
have done Artists Open House in Dulwich
do you find Clients?
I have an agent for the London area and home counties. I have until now, sold
myself into Galleries and Museums around the country but I am now looking to
hand all of it to agents. Social Media has been good, but taxing on time. This
takes me back to back to time management!
What are you currently working on?
I am always working on new designs. I usually have 2 or 3 in various stages. It
is easier to be more objective about how they are shaping up unless I have a
What is next?
I am gathering together enough work to produce a book. I loved word play. My
first book was written in rhyme. I would like to produce more in this field.
Would like to start all over again really. I have just produced my first Pooch
This post is a quickie and more visual than word inspired. For Autumn /Winter 2019 Anthropologie are getting cosy, the Scandinavian way, with natural woods and welcoming – home warmth. A contrast of textures, weaves and fleeces and velvet are used in abundance.
There are some beautiful metallic small home accessories including flickering lights, organic scents and subtle glimmer.
Beautiful bedding includes layers of plush and pin tucked texture for a guaranteed good night’s sleep.
Lovely sitting room furniture and accessories including sumptuously deep cushions and a Kershaw chair.
The Monroe Accent Chair comes in two different shades of velvet teal as shown here and also silver grey