Mend and Patch

By Kerstin Neumuller

A Handbook to Repairing clothes and Textiles

Kerstin Neumuller is a tailor who loves sewing with tiny stitches. With her partner Douglas Luhanko she runs a shop in Stockholm called Second Sunrise. In it they sell jeans, run craft workshops and have a repair studio.

This, her second book, is a practical handbook, and is perfect for anyone who wants to sharpen their mending skills, and lead a more sustainable life style.

 Packed with advice on how to combat wears and tears, the book shows the basics for mending jeans and button holes, how to repair pockets and seams, how to darn a hole in your best knitted jumper, and how to work with different materials, including denim, cotton and wool.

Techniques for showing mends and making a design statement are given, as are the techniques for making hidden mends.


You are shown how to use a sewing machine to mend, how to add pockets and reinforcing using thick threads. The mends for knits, especially  Swiss Darning are amazing and there is even a section on mending leather.

This is a really useful and lovely book

Published by Pavilion at £12.99  All photographs by Hampus Andersson.

Natural Living Style by Selina Lake

Inspirational Ideas For a Beautiful & Sustainable Home

Anyone who has read any of Selina’s other nine books will know they are in for a visual treat with this one. Originally a Stylist, it was well into her career that Selina became an author and Columnist. She writes a regular column for Modern Gardens magazine and styles for many other homes magazines.

This book couldn’t have come at a more prescient moment, with any right thinking person looking for ways to live a more sustainable life.

Starting with Inspirations, Selina explains her own desire to live a greener life. She looks at the ingredients that go to make a Natural Living Style Look, including recyclables such as glass and metal, eco-friendly materials such as cork and rattan and natural fibres, including cotton and linen. She discusses repurposing and up-cycling and looks at environmentally friendly decorative details, such as flowers and plants.

         The second chapter, Natural Living Spaces, shows how sustainability and style can go hand in hand in different areas of the house, including living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms bedrooms home offices and utility rooms.

In Natural Gardens, Selina discusses green gardening and growing your own fruit, veg and flowers.

At the end of the book, a sources section helps readers to create a natural home of their own. Throughout, eco-friendly tips and hints will inspire anyone who wants to lighten their footprint on the planet.

Published by Rylands Peters and Small at £19.99 By Selina Lake

The Colourist Issue 02- A fantastic and inspirational read.

The art of colourful living by Annie Sloan

I have just spent 2 hours at the hairdressers and rather than reading all the gossip and fashion magazines I decided to take my own copy of  the latest edition of the The Colourist. I am so pleased I did.

When they first appeared a few years ago I had my reservations about Bookazines, that cross between a book and a magazine, I suppose it was as much to do with the price as anything.

I had a few questions about this form of publishing, the first being:

If you are going to pay the best part of £10 why not just buy a book?

A book takes much longer to produce and the information you get in a bookazine is bang up to date.

Why are so many bookazines cropping up, as the rest of print journalism is very much on the decline.

I think the answer to this is that there are many journalists and designers who are passionate about their subject whether it be design and interiors such as shown in 91 magazine, Rakes Progress the progressive guide to gardens, plants, flowers and The Colourist – which is a cornucopia of  design and colour.

 Bookazines have a particular look and feel about them. On the whole the paper is nicer than run of the mill magazines, they feel like something you want to keep and they are not full of adverts.

 I am aware that Annie is promoting her chalk paints and ‘The Colourist’ is a great showcase for them. However the bookazine is, like Annie herself, full of practical information, design inspiration and examples of how to use colour. 

This issue features two of my favourite designers Anni Albers whose work was shown at the Guggenheim Bilbao before transferring to the Tate Modern late last year. Albers is known mainly for her weaving that was created at the Bauhaus although she worked in many other disciplines too.

The other featured designer is more contemporary, the innovative Dame Zandra Rhodes who not only is a fabulous textile and dress designer but was the instigator of London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.

The magazine covers, what is trending, design classics, inspiration and also homes, including Annie’s own home in France. There are features from abroad plus How-to’s and also includes two stencils that you can use on a project of your choice.

As a bibliophile I am delighted that The Colourist also includes book reviews.

“It all boils down to sharing my passion for style and colour. I want to inspire everyone to get creative!” says  Annie

Meet The Maker Chantal Coady OBE. An award given for her services to chocolate making.

May 6th 2019 is the 300th Anniversary of King George I granting permission for the residents and landowners of Chelsea to use his private road, King’s Rd in Chelsea. One of the current residents is Rococo Chocolates owned by Chantal Coady

How long have you been a chocolatier?

I don’t really consider myself to be a chocolatier in the traditional sense. I would call myself more a chocolate designer or a curator of chocolate experiences. My love of chocolate goes back to my early childhood, so at least half a century since I made my first Easter Egg. It was an unbridled disaster, probably why I can still remember it.

You began your creative career studying Textile design at Camberwell School of Art, now part of University of the Arts London. After obtaining your degree did you ever work in textile design?

I have never designed any actual textiles since Graduating from Camberwell. In fact as a student at Camberwell, I split my time between the Printmaking, Photography and Printed Textiles departments, and my final show was my photographic images on silk squares. It was a bit radical at the time. I suppose you could say that my Rococo designs are a reflection of four years studying, so I have put the experience to good use.

What made you change direction entirely and start your own chocolate business ?

The moment of truth was when I went to meet my friend Nicky Cousins at Harrods (who was studying at Chelsea Art School), she was working in the Chocolate department on Saturdays. That job was like  a dream come true, especially when I was offered a place on the team, I jumped at it. I could hardly believe that I was being paid to sell chocolates. My very first customer was Michael Caine, though I failed to recognise him.

Today there are many independent chocolate companies but you were one of the first, when you started did you do your own making or did you buy in?

When I started Rococo, NO-ONE was making their own chocolates in store. Most chocolate businesses had factories outside London who made their chocolate and many companies bought chocolate in from Belgium, or France. A famous exception that I have been asked about is Floris Chocolates, in Soho’s Brewer St, founded by a Hungarian émigre, although they had been closed for many years before I opened.

Was it difficult to source delicious chocolates?

It’s helpful to remember that Britain in the 1980s was in the grip of a two hundred year old industrial food tradition: so chocolate meant either “Belgian” or Cadburys.

I discovered a great trade show in Cologne, it’s still running although its decades since I visited. Big & small chocolate companies exhibit there, so it was easy to find lots of very good suppliers under one roof.

Where did you go to learn about chocolate manufacturing?

Manufacturing is not the word I would use for it. I spent time in Yorkshire with Alan and Nicola Porter, together we had started the Chocolate Society, so I needed to get up to speed on all the basic techniques of chocolate making.  I learned about tempering chocolate and making the perfect ganache on a trip to  Varhona’s Chocolate School at  Tainl’Hermitage

. That was an eye opener. I learnt about using really top ingredients and understanding the skills needed to create simple and delicious fresh chocolates. After that it was practice, and more practice, and then training a good small team to help.

Had you ever had any experience in running a business and had you been taught anything about business whilst at art school?

At art school they really look down at anything remotely commercial, in fact I was more or less punished because I had a Saturday job, which I needed for the money, instead of attending Saturday sketching outings, so definitely no business classes. I did attend a mini business course that was run by the Manpower Services Commission: a Margaret Thatcher initiative to encourage entrepreneurs. We had three weeks in the classroom, and six weeks to create your own business plan. It was enough to get me my first bank loan, although the bank manager asked for it to be secured with the family house.

How did you find your first premises and why did you choose Chelsea, which even in the nineteen eighties was expensive?

I got a map of London, marked all the locations where there were existing chocolate shops, and looked for a gap in an area that I believed had the right type of demographics for my customers. In fact that bit of the King’s Road was populated by punks, and  was pretty rundown although it had a great vibe. I paid for the end of a lease, which with hindsight was probably a mistake, but at the time seemed to only way to get a shop.

I know you design your own packaging has that always been the case? What made you decide to expand and open other shops?

There have been three main design periods at Rococo – the first was cherubs and candy floss pink that matched the decor, the next was a more classical Rococo period design, in black and white with Ho Ho birds at the time of the “Creative Salvage” period, and the enduring one is based on the antique French chocolate mould catalogue, again using my art school training in how to create a random repeating design. That has formed the corner stone of the brand design and other insprirations have been Maroccan encaustic tile designs, as well as my hand paint designs like the Neroli orange blossom  Also my own handwriting is very much a part of the character, and features on almost all the labels.

What made you decide to expand and open other shops?

We have shops in Chelsea, Belgravia, Seven Dials, Marylebone and Notting Hill.

Apart from selling in your own shops and on line do you also supply other chains or outlets?

We are in Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, also in John Lewis, and we are planning more pop-ups with Jigsaw.

How many people do you employ?

The business is tiny in real terms, but it feels big. We have quite a complicated infrastructure, so between the shops and chocolate kitchen we employ around 60-70 people.

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?

I chose my path to be self-employed in business, and at the time I had my children I was not even eligible for maternity leave other than the statutory 6 weeks (at about £60 a week if I remember correctly). I did not have a choice, but to go straight back to work after about 2 weeks, and James was very supportive coming to help whenever he could. We shared the childcare in the early months and then got some help, in fact James pretty put his acupuncture career on hold while he came into the business. That was a huge sacrifice for him, and if he had not done that I dont suppose Rococo would have survived those early childhood years. Clearly this makes a huge impact on life in general, and finances were extremely tight. I have a clear memory of my son, aged two weeks, asleep in his car seat among the Easter boxes in the basement of the King’s Road shop and also of having my daughter strapped to me in a papouse aged about 1 week, as we stacked the shelves in a new shop in Bluewater in 1999, that did not last long!

You run events and workshops from some of your shops how long have you been doing this and do you enjoy it?

It takes a particular skill set to run events, and a very good support team. When that is in place it’s a real pleasure to do workshops. My favourites are ones off site in places like Castello di Potentino in Tuscany. It’s even more complicated when you have to take everything with you but lovely to be inspired by completely new surroundings and ingredients. I have also done a master class on a cruise ship in the Caribbean where the air-conditioning failed and room temperature was nearly 40C; that was majorly stressful, although I managed to get my chocolate tempered with some help from the sous chefs and the fridges. Its good to get out of your comfort zone, but probably not necessarily under such circumstances! I do have a great team who do the day to day events, so the responsibility does get shared.

Were you surprised when you were awarded an OBE?

I could not have more surprised to receive an official brown envelope, that looked like a parking ticket, which announced the nomination for the OBE – I actually thought it was a spoof, and refused to even look at it properly. Finally I was persuaded by my husband James to read it and return the paperwork. This bit all takes place months before the actual list is published, so you have to keep very quiet. I was really delighted when it was announced and especially to receive the very first in the category of “Services to Chocolate Making”. I am aware that without the help and support of my long suffering husband, family, and good chocolate people I have met along the way, the OBE would never have happened, so I am humbly grateful to all of them.

The trip to Buckingham Palace was a magical day, and following the advice of fellow honourees, I made sure that it was properly celebrated, with small parties at both lunch & dinner. Prince William was the Royal on duty at my investiture, and I managed to make him burst into laughter over my answer to his question “How did you get into chocolate?”. I can’t actually remember what I said.

It felt very grand driving into the Palace, and made my taxi driver’s day!

Many thanks Juliet Bawden

Want to learn a new craft? Why not try Knooking?

Knooking is a new trend in yarn craft it is in essence a combination of knitting and crotchet. Cico books https://rylandpeters.com/have just published a book by  designer, knit & crotchet author  Laura Strutt called Get Knooking .

Yes it is a strange term, but a clever way to create knitted fabrics with the use of a single, cord strung hook. The author says she came to knooking via both knitting and crotchet but claims that even a complete novice can pick up the technique easily.

Apart from the fact it is slightly easier to transport that knitting, having only one implement, that is a crotchet hook with the eye of a large needle at its end, I was not sure of the benefit of this new craft.

However what it allows the maker to do is to create cloth that looks like it has been knitted rather than crotched. In the book five different fabrics have been created including stocking stitch, garter stitch, double rib, single rib, moss stitch. As well as the knitted fabrics you can also create crotched fabrics.

There are small easy projects to tackle first. These include a zipped purse, a headband and arm warmers. The intermediate projects include a very nice block-colour cushion a nautical rope handled bag and knitted storage boxes. The larger projects are more challenging such as a slouch blanket cardigan and a beautiful infinity scarf.

The book comes with a free knooking hook.

So happy knooking.

Pallet Wood Projects for Outdoor Spaces

35 Contemporary Projects for Garden Furniture & Accessories

By Hester van Overbeek

Photography by James Gardiner

Stuck for something to make? Little or no money then this is the book for you. Follow the instructions within and you can make a huge variety of items for the garden. These include benches, tables, a covered store for wood, a planter and much more. There are clear instructions throughout and a useful guide to using pallet wood, which includes taking a pallet apart and cleaning it before you start.

There are guidelines on the tools you need and how to use them. As well as larger items such as a pallet sofa and planter bench, there are smaller accessories such as a garden trug, tea light and candle-holders and a very nice white washed lantern. I love the birdhouses too.

I have repurposed a couple of Pallets in my time, adding the odd shelf, wheels and coat of paint or upended to make a vertical flower wall. This book has an element of this too but goes far beyond it as it uses and recycles this free valuable resource and that is wood.

         Hester van Overbeek is a keen multi-crafter who works for many different craft magazines and has written four craft books already. She has a very successful web site that feature her books and video’s and how to projects.

A perfect book to buy now, for making all those outside projects, that will enhance your garden or yard and prove invaluable this summer.

Published by Cico books £12.99

Meet the Maker Jehane Boden Spiers, Textile designer, Art licenser and Consultant

Jehane in her studio surrounded by work

I know you as a textile designer and maker, Can you tell me if you went to art school and if so what did you study?

I was born & bred in Brighton. I studied Textile Design at Winchester School of Art (1994 – BA Hons).

How and when did you become an art consultant?

I have curated my fellow artists’ work since first opening my house for the Brighton Festival in 2002. I discovered that I am skilled at selling other artists work and enjoy talking about the creative process. The next one is every weekend in May starting on the 4th in less than two weeks time . For details of Venues, locations and times look at https://aoh.org.uk/house/may2019/

I became a licensing agent in 2004 when my children were born. Through my work as an agent, I have received many submissions from artists that I have not been able to represent for one reason or another. Being an art consultant means that my services can be offered more widely. I now offer one-to-one consultancy to emerging and established artists internationally.

You contributed a chapter to the very successful book ‘House of Cards’ did you enjoy the writing process and have you ever written a book of your own.

I loved it! I would love to do a book of my own. It’s on my bucket list.

Can you give us a brief history of how you started out.

I first licensed my own designs in 1992 as a student at Winchester School of Art. I worked as a textile designer in Vienna when I graduated. I set up as a freelance designer back in Brighton in 1996 under the name of Cloth of Gold.

I designed for industry (mainly paper products), made one-off embroidered pieces for private clients, and created hand-made items for small batch production sold to galleries and retail outlets nationally.

My designs have sold for textiles, gift-wrap, greeting cards & more. Licensees of my designs include Stewo, Jung Design, Gallery Five, Sanderson Fabrics, Baumann, Penny Black, Collage, Medici, Zoewie, Boots Plc, and The Paper House Group. 

My designs have featured on London Underground posters. My retail clients have included Liberty of London, English Heritage, the RSC, and Vienna & Sydney Opera Houses. My one-off embroideries have sold in galleries nationally. I have given many talks about her artwork including at the V & A.

I also had a variety of agents before I set up on my own as an Artists’ Agent. I was always very pro-active, exhibiting at trade fairs and contacting shops/ licensing clients directly.

What is a typical day for you?

Work by Ken Eardley

Everyday starts with catching up on my Instagram and planning the day’s social media. I will walk down to my workspace at Studio Eleven where I have been for 7 years. I have my own room in a shared studio space of creatives. It’s a great atmosphere and very focused. I currently spend all of my time at a computer although I have started planning a new range of products for my Open House in May. A typical day I would be designing and writing new marketing campaigns, liaising on existing licenses, contacting new clients, and giving creative direction to the artists that I work with.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being immersed in another artists’ work. I enjoy the wide variety of client responses to artwork and the fun of trying to predict who might like what. Most of all I love combining my love of the visual world with conversations

What do you dislike most about what you do?

Being solely defined and seen as an agent. Being a designer is at the source of everything I do.

Examples of Jehane’s work

What made you want to start your own creative business? I knew it would be the thing I would most regret not doing.

Your business seems to have really grown over the last few years how has this happened?

I have always worked hard. I have never taken time out. More recently, I have spent a lot of time asking myself difficult questions and challenging myself. What is really important to me? I realised that working in an inter-disciplinary manner is hugely important to me. It has guided me to expand my offer. I have been able to promote hard as a result because I am very sure of my vision. This has really helped me to grow my business.

Cressida Bell

Can you describe your creative process?

It always starts with a response to either pattern, colour, or words. I often need to make associations and connections between things.

What are your biggest challenges?

So much to do, so little time.

I also find it hard to send short emails!

Focusing on the bigger picture when there are so many details pulling me the other way.

Speaking in public – I have lots to say but I get incredibly nervous.

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

Work hard. Ask questions, Don’t be scared to put yourself in front of people. Think about your own intent, what is important to you, really important to you? This will be invaluable in guiding your decision-making. Present everything visually and beautifully. Attention to detail.

Nancy Nicholson

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. There are more resources and the creative industries are booming. Even though they are marginalized in schools, they are more recognized by the government (and people at large) as being crucial to the economy. 35% of the UK’s income is from the creative industries. Websites and social media make it much easier to be seen and to connect with clients.

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 if so how did it impact on your creative life or business?

I decided to license work by other artists was when I had my children. I was scared that if I took a seven year break from my designing, to have my two children, that I would lose confidence and be unable to get back into the industry. Having children can be isolating as can be working on your own. Working as an agent meant I still had lots of contact with people even though I was working at home. I worked virtually full time when my children were young in order to develop my business but I decided against having a nanny or an au pair. It is a constant juggle!

Have you exhibited? If so, where?

Yes – all over the country, mainly in group exhibitions but all over 15 years ago.

Liberty of London

Grace Barrand Design Centre

Ferrers Gallery

Manchester City Exchange

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art etc

How do you find clients?

Trade fairs, social media, trade magazines, look at the underneath of products

What are you currently working on?

Planning new products with my designs for my open house

New newsletters for Jehane Ltd

A bespoke licensed range with British Airways i360 and Cressida Bell

Talking to New artists for representation

Planning my open house; getting flyers ready to print

& more!

What is next?

An online shop on www.jehane.com

Has social media impacted on your business and if so in what way?  Yes, hugely. It has been the launching pad for my new business Jehane Ltd and has been the main reason that I have attracted the new artists I represent and the new clients I am talking to.

Many thanks Juliet