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Blog, Press Show Picks

How To Hygge with Anthropologie

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.

All aglow

Beautiful bedding includes layers of plush and pin tucked texture for a guaranteed good night’s sleep.

Rest Assured

Lovely sitting room furniture and accessories including sumptuously deep cushions and a Kershaw chair.

And Breathe

The Monroe Accent Chair comes in two different shades of velvet teal as shown here and also silver grey

Monroe Accent chair

Jimena Occasional Chairs Appliqué Design

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Making Marbled Paper

Paint Techniques and Patterns for Classic and Modern Marbleising on Paper and Silk.

Heather Fletcher of HRJ Design Studios

Published by Fox Chapel publishing

When this book fell into my in box I was delighted as it is a technique that I have tried out myself and the results can be rather random. Heather Fletcher is a true professional and manages to get great results, and with her clear, photographed step by step instructions you dear readers will be able to do the same.

Heather is a surface designer who works in many different mediums including marbling, suminagashi, pochoir, linocut, and woodblock printing, Heather incorporates them into her current practice focused in the following areas: artist books, hand lettering, graphic design, surface pattern design, quilting, and illustration (hand and digital).

After a brief introduction to the author, the book opens with a short history of marbling. The first half of the book divides into three chapters starting with the studio and how to set up, the tools and materials needed and paints and colours.

One of the bonuses of choosing marbling as a craft is that it requires very little in the way of specialist tools, most of them you will find in your house. You are given instructions on how to make your own marbling combs.

Heather teaches classes on marbling and other surface design techniques at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Textile Center in Minneapolis, and around the world.

As she says

‘There are many “systems” for marbling paper, each using a different kind of paint (ink vs. watercolor vs. oil

vs. acrylics) and different substances to float color on the surface. In this book, we use fluid acrylic paint and carrageenan. Through teaching marbling, I found that these two materials are the easiest to work with for marblers of all levels—from beginners to seasoned professionals. Both carrageenan and acrylic paint are easily available through online retailers and at your local art store.

The recipe is given for making your own carrageenan ‘size’ and as it is a seaweed extract it is often used in the food industry as a thickener. It can be safely poured down the sink after use.’

The second part of the book is called patterns and describes and shows the foundation patterns and further patterns based on those.

The reader is then given techniques to marble on paper and then on fabric. Finally there is a troubleshooting section and a resources guide. 

Heather’s surface designs are represented by MHS Licensing and licensed to manufactures and put onto products for home décor, hydration, wall art, tabletop, wallpaper, and quilting fabrics.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Le Corbuffet: Edible Art and Design Classics.

By Esther Choi Published by Prestel on 1st October 2019

Home-cooking meets highbrow art in this one-of-a-kind cookbook that uses food to create edible interpretations of modern and contemporary sculptures, paintings, architecture, and design.

The nearest I have ever come to a book like the one i am about to review, is the 1987 Artists Cook Book by Jocelyn Stevens and Henry Moore. That one was a series of recipes illustrated by artists who contributed to the book. This one is much more inspired and original in its concept .

From the mind of Esther Choi comes Art-Inspired Recipes as Contemporary Sculptures. The writer, photographer, and artist has compiled a list of recipes inspired by artists, designers, and their creations, all staged in contemporary arrangements. Recipes seek to distill the practices of figures such as Frida Kahlo and Barbara Kruger into their best and most delicious aspects—like the crisp and bright Frida Kale-o Salad, or the crimson-coloured and acerbic Rhubarbara Kruger Compote.

The idea was first launched during a series of participatory dinner parties Choi hosted in 2015 after discovering a 1937 menu designed by artist László Moholy-Nagy for Bauhaus founder and architect Walter Gropius. After creating her own set of detailed dishes, she decided to compile them into a book that would be a playful spin on the artists she admired.

“I hosted the first in a series of ‘Le Corbuffets’ in my Brooklyn apartment, a project which carried on until 2017,” she explains on her web site. “Offering meals to an assortment of guests, these social gatherings revolved around the consumption of absurd, pun-inspired dishes that referred to canonical artists and designers. As a commentary on the status of art, food, and design as commodities to be ‘gobbled up’ by the market, the project deliberately twisted idioms to explore the notion of ‘aesthetic consumption’ though taste and perception.”

You can see her photographs, in Le Corbuffet will be published October 1. 2019 You can see her photographs, in additions to snippets of recipes from what she describes as “a conceptual artwork in the form of a cookbook”   Esther was one of the six recipients of the 2019 Richard

Andrea Branzini grilled fish

Rogers Fellowship, an award and residency program at the Wimbledon House in London, the landmarked residence designed by Lord Richard Rogers for his parents in the late 1960s. The six fellows named for the 2019 cycle were chosen from nearly 140 applicants from around the world. Since its inception, the Richard Rogers Fellowship has drawn serious scholars from a range of fields and backgrounds to London, where they have engaged with that city’s great research and design institutions.

Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the hooked rug designer maker, Debbie Siniska

As Charleston, the Bloomsbury home of art and crafts, holds the exhibition ‘Post impressionism living Omega Workshops’ 14 Sept 2019- 19th January 2020 . I interviewed one of the designers selling in their shop, Debbie Siniska.

Debbie at work in her studio

I know you as a Hooked rug maker, Can you tell me did you train in textiles?

No, I’m self taught

Did you go to art school and what did you study?  If not what did you do when you left school?

I used to practice drawing at life class, but never went to college. I did a City and Guilds in Feltmaking.  My very first job when I left school was for Barclays bank in a tying pool, it was deathly boring

Rug hooking is a very old rural craft born out of necessity.  What got you into hooked rugs and why?

I was interested in learning to weave, but that didn’t quite do it for me. One day whilst foraging for fabrics, I came across some old hand tools, and began to make hooky mats, its recycling in its purest form. 

Have you ever worked for anyone else, or done any collaborations? If so, with whom?

I have been part of Creative Partnerships, a government initiative, in schools.  I was also sponsored by Brighton and Hove City Council and Kent County Council, with the War on Waste team, to take my ‘Creativity in Schools’ textile eco-art project into primary schools in Brighton and Hove, and in Kent, which was televised  on local TV, and culminated in a public exhibition of children’s work in Brighton.

How do you get your commissions?

People see my work at shows and commission me.  I also get commissions via my website . http://www.debbiesiniska.co.uk

One of my most recent largest commissions was a 7’ x 4’; Treescape, which I made for a friend of mine who had just retired

What is a typical day for you?

No two days are the same for me – If I am teaching at a school that day, the morning will sometimes be prep – I often have work on the frame, so I may do a couple of hours in the workroom.  I have to attend to emails and also spend a lot of time searching for teaching opportunities, and contacting galleries. If there is hand stitching to do or assembling prints and cards, I can work listening to great music or watching a film.

What do you love most about what you do?

Making, and watching pieces come to life on the frame.  I love hand stitching and working with colour.

What do you dislike most about what you do?

I don’t really dislike any of it, It’s all your own work and it’s what you make of it!

What made you want to start your own creative business?

I couldn’t work for anyone else – if I wasn’t following my own creative passions, what was the point of anything.  Being true to my own instinctive creativity is what keeps me going. Sometimes its not all about the money!

Felted boots

Can you describe your creative process?

For my own work, I get an idea, an image in my mind, anything can inspire me, music, nature, colour, texture, stories, bonfires and people.  This idea stays with me, and I start to search for textiles in the colours I need – I wait and watch for an image to come to me, then I will set my frame up and chalk out my design.  If I am working on a green man, or animal, I always begin with the eyes. If they work, then the rest of the piece does!

I do love hares, the green man, birds, fishes, plantlife, sky, trees – lots of my inspiration comes from nature, of course.

Hare inspired chair cover

If I am commissioned, I have already spoken at length with the client, and if we agree, I can begin with confidence that I can create what they are asking for.  The best commission is from someone who likes my work and trusts my judgement!

What are your biggest challenges?

Working to commission is always a bit nerve racking  – talking about your work to 250 people, while you are being filmed, that’s quite challenging.  Making decisions about a certain colourway, when nothing is working, and putting the right price on a piece of work, when its taken a month to create! Working on your own, in your studio, making all the decisions is hard sometimes.  Lastly, trying to find time to experiment and go off on a tangent, a rare thing for me.

In what way has social media impacted on your work

I am on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/debbiesiniska/this helps me chart my pieces of work, and I get feedback from other artisans that I follow – and sometimes I get commissions/sales from Instagram.  I advertise workshops, and of course it’s a great way to see what other people are doing.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

Starting out, starts with learning your particular craft, and having a passion for it – go to textile shows and events, and talk to the makers.   Don’t be put off by mistakes, see a project through even if you don’t think it’s working – because it just might.  Sometimes great things happen when you least expect them.

Green Man rag rug being made on the loom

Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?

Everybody’s doing the ‘creative thing’ these days – I try to be true to my ideas when I work, and not be too influenced. Sometimes people cannot tell the difference between mass produced or hand-made, and won’t pay the price for pure artisan hand-made piece of work.   There is a certain saturation point and seeking of approval that comes with social media.  In the end it all becomes a blur.  Creating/designing something new is becoming harder and harder. 

Debbie’s mantle piece full of her work and inspiration

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

As a mum I had to care for both my parents, whilst running my shop and working as a maker, and teacher. At times, it was impossible to keep focused and find the momentum to continue creatively. 

Have you exhibited? If so, where?

I have been featured in the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, My work has been exhibited in the V&A, I appeared on channel 4 TV with Kirstie Alsopp, on her Homemade Home series 2. I created several Bloomsbury rag rugs for the Tate Gallery shop in London to accompany an exhibition of Bloomsbury art. 

I was commissioned by Charleston Farmhouse, home of the literary and art group of the 1920’s and open to the public, to create a facsimile of an old Bloomsbury style rag rug, that now lies in Maynard Keynes bedroom in the house. I take part in Brighton Open Houses, and am part of the Heritage Crafts Association.

Bloomsbury Acrobat rag rug inspired by door panel by Duncan Grant 1913/14

Have you written or contributed to any books if so which ones ?

I self published my books Rag Rugs Old into New. Most recently I contributed projects to ‘Craft’ by Dorling Kidersley, and have also had projects in several other project based ‘how to’ books in the past. I created projects for two craft magazines, and was sponsored by a couple of beadwork companies.

What are you currently working on?

My next two shows coming up this month, and in November. I also have three commissions that I am currently working on.

Wren

What is next?

I want to exhibit with my daughter, who is a painter, and do a ‘makers’ book for kids. 

Do you teach or run workshops? If so where and to whom?

I run my own textile workshops in East Sussex, and I occasionally teach for the National Trust and in adult residential colleges, including West Dean College near Chichester.  I also teach in schools, and sometimes visit a school for a day for arts week/green week/eco week. I currently run Eco Art Club, at two primary schools in East Sussex.   I have done, and will be doing many one day workshops for the WI, these are great fun, and I get asked to talk/teach for the Spinners, Weavers and Dyers and Embroidery Groups.  

Thank you very much

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want to create a Country Brocante look? Then this is the book for you.

Just a glimpse into this gorgeous book will affirm Lucy Haywood’s  love of all things vintage, a love that  was inherited from her parents. They spent all their free time at antiques fairs and so she grew up in a home filled with old furniture.

         Her first flat was adorned with antique finds and vintage clothing and she realized that she was drawn to a creative career.

When her daughters were tiny she created a business that would work alongside her role as a mum. She began by hiring out her vast collection of vintage china for weddings and other events. This led to opening first a little shop in Sussex and, then as the business grew, a large, draughty barn, inviting other collectors that she met to sell alongside her. She hosted sales in village halls and gardens, and The Country Brocante was born.

It has grown and evolved from its humble beginnings, and now hosts seasonal fairs at stately homes and estates in Sussex and the Cotswolds. The exhibitors specialize in various different eras and styles – some offer classic French brocanterie, others have a traditional English style, and some a blend of both.

The faded elegance of France and the English cottage charm of vintage china and chintz come together to create a uniquely beautiful look that is, the essence of the Country Brocante style which is captured in this book.

         The book opens with examples of the colour palette, which is oh so instagramable. Examples are given of Pale pinks, Washed whites, Seaside blues and Soft greens.

         As Lucy explains, there is a myth that White is cold hard and clinical. The secret is to search out muted, chalky whites that provide a perfect backdrop for the time worn patina of antique and vintage finds. White-painted furniture only grows more beautiful with age, and when it is teamed with old linen sheets, white sofas and all-white china, the effect is easy, relaxed and lived-in. If you have a collection of mismatching modern pine furniture, invest in a pot of one of Farrow & Ball’s just-slightly-off white shades and give pieces a lick of paint for instant shabby chic appeal.

To create a Country Brocante home using blues, seek out subtle shades from silvery pale blue to faded indigo.

‘Graceful, elegant and feminine, for me pink is the most romantic of colours and effortlessly exudes vintage charm. Even the smallest of details, such as a posy of pink flowers, will bring warmth to an interior’ says Lucy.

When using pinks, If pastel pink feels too sugary, try a rich raspberry shade instead, which looks fabulous against pearly grey or duck-egg blue walls and natural sisal flooring.

Dulux colour of 2020 being Tranquil Dawn a soft green hue inspired by the morning sky, and Lucy waxes lyrical about green. 

What colour could be more reminiscent of the rolling English countryside than green? It brings to mind the exterior of an old garden shed, lichen and moss growing over a weathered stone garden ornament, or a simple green bucket holding roses just picked from the garden. But green is for indoors as well as

out. There are so many shades that work in a country-style home, from faded sage to olive to sea foam. Just keep your shades subtle and sludgy and you can’t go far wrong. At the Country Brocantes, a keen eye will seek out the softest, most subtle green pieces, choosing battered enamel buckets and garden chairs to take home and treasure.

          As well as colours the book shows examples of architectural antiques, time worn textures , art, and shows examples of how to work them into your home.The houses included in this book, whether old Suffolk cottages, Georgian farmhouses or modern properties all have in common the inclusion of timeworn objects. There are salvaged shutters and doors, shelving fashioned from old scaffolding boards and pieces of painted furniture still clinging on to their original finish, flaking and peeling though it may be. Despite their age and their state of repair, these items manage to look current, exciting and utterly beautiful in their current surroundings.

What a book! What a look! I highly recommend it, as much for the gorgeous images by Ben Edwards as for the valuable information given by Lucy Haywood.

Blog, Makes

Chair makeover using Vintage Tapestries

Materials

Annie Sloan paint in Provence and Aubusson, Annie Sloan furniture wax, Old tapestries, Thread, Paper to make a pattern, Upholstery tacks, Decorative upholstery nails, chair to upholster

A chair in need of a makeover

Equipment A cotton rag, Sandpaper Paint brush, Needle-nosed pliers, Pins, Paper Cutting Scissors , Dressmaking scissors, Sewing machine, Iron and ironing board, Small pin hammer

Instructions

1. Using the needle-nosed pliers prize out any old upholstery nails and tacks. Carefully remove the fabric and pin the pieces, right side up, on the paper and draw round them and then cut out to make a pattern. Cut out the patterns.

2. Place the tapestries on the chair and arrange and re-arrange until you are happy with the composition. When you are happy, create sections of tapestry patchwork by machine stitching oblongs onto one another. Iron all the seams flat.

Arranging old tapestries on the chair

3. Pin the paper pattens onto the wrong side of the tapestry patchwork, allowing at least a 5cm (2inch) seam allowance all the way round each piece. Lay the sewn patchwork on the chair and check you are happy with it before cutting it out.

4. Paint the Provence paint onto the wooden parts of the chair and leave to dry. Paint the Aubusson over the Provence and leave to dry. Sand back parts of the second colour. To finish the paint work, rub in wax with a cotton cloth,

The finished paint result after painting with Provence and Aubusson on top then sanded back

5.  Pin each section of the tapestry onto the chair. Start attaching the pieces using the upholstery tacks. Start with the front of the chair. Begin in the middle and work outwards, stretching and pulling as you go. Apply a tack every 3cm(11/4in). Pull the fabric so it is as taut as possible before you put in the tacks. When you have reached one end, go back to the middle and start again, working in the opposite direction.

6. Repeat the process to attach the other patchwork tapestry pieces on the chair front and then the chair back. Always work from a centre point outwards, applying tacks in one direction and then the opposite direction, so that you don’t get twisting and distortion. Check that you are happy with your work and make adjustments as necessary.

Decorative upholstery nails on top of the tacks.

To finish hammer the decorative upholstery nails down the sides at the back of the chair, covering the tacks you previously hammered in.