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.
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
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.
Watson-Smyth is a journalist with over 15 years experience writing about
interiors for publications including the Financial Times, The Independent, and
the Daily Mail.
it is her interiors blog ‘Mad about the House’ that has turned her into a very
well known interiors expert. She was awarded the Vuelio number-one UK interiors
blog award in 2015/16 and 2016/17.
Have you always been a journalist? Or did you have
a different career previously?
been a journalist since I started working – but it took me a long time to start
working. I dropped out of university – I was doing French at Nottingham – and
had to spend the third year in a French-speaking country. I went to Senegal and
never went back for my finals. I moved instead to Paris where I stayed for
three years. On returning my mother said I needed some training and insisted I
go to secretarial college. While I was there someone came from the regional
Oxfam office looking for volunteers to stuff envelopes and help out during its
50th anniversary year. I ended up running the press office and
styling fashion shows and it was then I decided I wanted to be a journalist.
Did you study journalism or design originally and
if so where and what did you study?
to Darlington to train on the NCTJ course for a year – it was one of the best
years of my life and we recently all met up again for our 25th
reunion. Then I returned to Birmingham, where I had done my newspaper work
experience and they offered me a traineeship if I went to journalism college.
Again. They sent me to the Westminster press training course in St Leonards on
Sea, near Hastings.
never studied design.
Do you work as a journalist both on-line as
well as for newsprint?
started in print – because online didn’t exist – and have always been
commissioned for print which is now shared online as well. Since I became so
busy with the blog I tend to write only for myself online rather than newsprint
any more although I often give quotes and contribute to articles.
Have you always been passionate about interiors
or do you also write on other topics?
as a general news reporter but I always wanted to write features. I have always
loved the writing part of the information gathering. When I had my first son I
went freelance and it so happened they needed someone in the property section
at The Independent – in the days when it was a 24 page weekly pull out… As soon
as I started writing about houses and property I knew I had found my thing.
always loved decorating and styling. It began with my bedroom as a child and I
graduated to other people’s houses – not always when they asked me to. I have
been known to move and restyle a coffee table while someone nips to the loo!
Did you embrace social media from the start? If
so which platforms were you using to start with and why?
to Twitter fairly fast as words are my thing. I loved it for ages and I think
it’s brilliant for people who work from home as it gives you that chatting
round the water cooler thing that you miss in office life. But it has changed
over the years and can be a nasty place as well as a wonderful one. I’m on
there less now as I have found Instagram. I was late to that particular party
but I love it. I have found the interiors community to be very supportive and
who doesn’t love looking at gorgeous pictures? I have also really enjoyed
improving my photography skills, which I wasn’t expecting. Last year I bought
my first camera although I still tend to use my phone more.
How and why did you start the web site ‘Mad
About The House’?
desperation! Newspapers were struggling and my freelance career was dwindling. At
the time it seemed like everyone had, or was starting, a blog and I thought I
would have a go to see if it would generate any work as a journalist. I thought
it would work as a kind of online CV and portfolio. I had no idea it would go
Did winning the Vuelio awards have a major impact on your work?
Winning recognition for your work is always lovely. I think perhaps it makes brands take you more seriously and widens your audience. Certainly the Vuelio awards, which selects a shortlist based on reach and engagement and content – tracking stats – and then calls in a panel of judges who are all experts in their fields. That definitely gives weight to the results as there is no campaigning for votes which can skew the results.
When did you set up your design consultancy?
started the blog in 2012 I began a new notebook so I could keep a record of
what I was writing and doing. I wrote on the first page: Blog, Book, Business.
I have done all three now – the books twice! The business came in about 2014
when people kept asking me for help with their houses.
Did you go on any courses when you set up your
figured as a trained journalist who had been writing for the national press for
over 20 years I knew as much about writing as a course would teach me. I still
don’t know about the tech side but I pay someone to do that for me. My brain is
too full for that side of things and I can’t read an SEO document without
falling asleep. My growth has been completely organic. I could probably grow
more if I knew how to work the backroom details but I don’t.
I love the look of your blog/web site. Did you
have it professionally designed?
was done by Odysseas Constantine of Art & Hue. I saw his work on the
beautiful Copperline site and then met him at the Amara Blog Awards in 2015. I
asked him to do my site then.
Have you found Pinterest of use to your
business? If so in what way?
I was a
featured user on Pinterest when they first came to the UK. As a result I have
190K followers and it does bring traffic to the site but I have to say that I
don’t go there very often. It’s partly a time thing and partly that I don’t
need to use it for my own schemes so I have been ignoring it for a while. I
wrote a chapter in my book about Pinterest being your frenemy. It’s so vast
that I think it can be unwieldy and also unhelpful if you don’t use it in a
very disciplined way. You fall down a rabbit hole of pretty pictures and completely
forget what you went in for. I also think there’s a real tendency to pin
pictures you like rather than ideas for things that will actually work in your
to do only do one platform at a time and at the moment that’s Instagram.
Have you found Instagram a useful platform?
It’s inspirational. I love looking at great images, the community is lovely and
I have enjoyed developing my own photography skills.
What do you think that the courses being
offered to bloggers?
know about them so it wouldn’t be fair to offer an opinion. I’m sure, as with
everything, that there are good ones and bad ones.
As a journalist how do you feel about
of those terms that everyone seems to hate but then again, I’m not that keen on
the word blogger either! It is what it is – there are people who influence
others rightly or wrongly. I wouldn’t use it of myself but then I have other
words to choose from journalist/author/writer/whatever…. Makes a change from
model/actress/whatever although I’d take it!
I love your ‘365 Objects of Design’. Has this
been a popular section on your blog?
it when I launched the blog as a way of making sure I blogged every single day.
I had read pieces about about how many people give up between three and six
months in and I was determined that wouldn’t happen to me. I came up with that
idea and numbered them to make sure I didn’t miss a day. For three years I
blogged seven days a week, now it’s five and while I don’t number them anymore
it’s still a popular post. I think of it like a postcard among the letters. I
write about design events and trends and advice and every now and then I drop
in a short piece about a cool thing I have found.
Here comes my how long is a piece of string
question. What is a typical working day like for you?
as string…. It’s enormously varied and I’m very lucky as I love it all. No two
days are ever the same. Yesterday I spent the morning with a client helping her
choose colours and furniture for her flat and talking about the layout, then I
went to a book signing at Clerkenwell Design week. Today I am writing, doing a
photoshoot with you and taking my son to his piano lesson. Tomorrow another
book signing and a talk to prepare for in the evening as well as gathering
ideas for my next book. Between that I try to find time to go to the gym,
wrangle my teenage children and see my husband over dinner.
How much time do you spend on your blog and how
much writing features for papers and magazines?
really write for papers and magazines any more as I don’t have time. As I post
five times a week I either spend a couple of hours a day on the blog or blitz
it for two days straight. The rest of the time is meetings, clients, book
writing or dealing with email and working on styling and brand jobs.
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 or illness or had
to follow a spouse abroad for work reasons. Have you ever had to deal with any of
these issues and did it impact on your working life?
had children I always assumed I would go back to work full time after one and
stop after two. In the event I went freelance after the first and never stopped
working. It was hard at the start. One year I spent nearly everything I earned
on childcare and couldn’t really afford the tax bill. As they spent more time
at school I could work more and I regarded it as an investment in my future. I
basically worked solidly from 9-3 every day and only left the house to go on
the school run – no meetings, lunches or events – or very rarely. I was glued
to the phone and the computer during the school day. As they got older it got
easier and now they are nearly 15 and 17 I have much more time. I’m still
around to cook their tea most days and it’s fine when I’m not. I can go on
press trips and they can get their own breakfast.
also had those episodes of life that get in the way of best laid plans. My
younger son, now 15, was born at 25 weeks (three months premature). He was in
hospital for three months and fragile for the first couple of years after that.
He is completely fine now – we were very lucky. In 2014 I was diagnosed with
cancer of the saliva gland. My type was chemo-resistant and I had surgery
followed by 35 sessions of daily radiotherapy – about six-and-a-half weeks of
five sessions a week. I carried on blogging for the first few weeks and then
uploaded archive posts so that the blog never missed a beat while I was in
treatment. I finished on 23 December 2014 and went back to work on 4 January
when the boys went back to school after the Christmas holiday. I was approached
about writing my first book the following day when I had just stopping taking
Morphine and was still a bit high I think.
carry on for any macho reasons but rather that it gave me something to focus on
while I was well enough to do so. By the end of the treatment I was lying on
the sofa under a blanket watching episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Do you run any workshops or give talks other
than when promoting your books?
I have a
plan for workshops but haven’t had time to work out how to do it yet. I think
online will be the answer as I already tend to work on Sunday afternoons – the
week invariably ends before I’ve had time to write Monday’s post so I’m not
keen to add Saturdays into the working week as well. I’m currently developing
an online course which will be a mix of written advice and video. I have taken
part in panel discussions which aren’t book-related but recently that has
tended to be the focus.
What is the best part of your work and what is
the worst part?
get an email from someone who says the blog or the book has really helped them
make their home how they truly wanted it that is wonderful and makes it all
admin and the invoicing – always have to spend time chasing those – it’s
Who or what inspires you?
tough one. What? Restaurant loos and hotel rooms – often. Good design in a
small space with clever ideas and bold colours. Who? The person who finds their
passion, and follows their dream to make it work without compromising their
ideals. My Instagram account is full of women like that and I admire them all.
The woman with the disabled kids who decorates her home so beautifully, the
dentist who started her own interiors events business, the mothers who get on
with it all every day without complaining. They inspire me.
What advice would you give to any journalist starting
your passion and write about it. Spellcheck. Oh and think laterally. You need
to be a problem solver when you’re a journalist. On my first day at The
Independent at Canary Wharf I was told to go to Kew Gardens to monitor a plant
that only flowers every ten years. There was a tube strike and I was told I
couldn’t take a taxi that far as the company wouldn’t pay. And there was a
deadline to meet. I got there (bus, overland train, walking). You have to be
able to think around problems.
What is next for your work?
I have just launched A directory that lists companies who reduce their impact on the planet called DO LESS HARM
Punch needle is the very modern take on rag rugging, it uses a tool to punch yarn or strips of fabric into a stretched base fabric to create a series of stitches. In the same way that you embroider or cross stitch over a printed or drawn design, so you can create your own needle punched pieces of work.
just been to the Autumn Winter 2019 home
ware collections, this craft is so on trend and this book will enable you to make some of those
fabulous textural, soft products yourself.
The author, Arounna Khounnoraj is a great pair of hands to help us master the art of needle punching. She has a masters degree in fine art and in 2002 set up, with her husband John Booth, her multi-disciplinary studio Bookhou in Toronto.
Together they explore a variety of printing and embroidery techniques through making utilitarian objects such as bags, home goods and textiles.
by the seemingly never-ending ways you can combine different stitches to create
contemporary homeware, Arounna has been instrumental in the current modern
punch needle renaissance.
The book opens with an overview of the fundamentals as Arounna teaches in her studio workshops. As a result the ‘how to’ sections are as simple and clear as possible. Most projects only have two components – the punching and the making. Each project has a design drawing, and step by step instructions, for both the punching or hooking element of the work, as well as the means to turn the punched pieces into a wide variety of different items. There are charts featured throughout to help recreate the designs given in the book.
There is also a web site at bookhou.com/pages/patterns so that you can download patterns if you are nervous about drawing them freehand. The tools and materials sections are small, as so little is required of this craft. You are shown how to stretch a frame and how to transfer and image. You are guided on how to create the stitches and how to fid inspiration and design your own patterns. The finished projects are lovely and once you pick up this book, you will want to be making.
It includes samplers, quilts, tribal and
nomadic cloth. Anne Kelly explores traditional motifs used throughout the world
in textile folk art and shows how contemporary textile artists use them in
their work today. She demonstrates how to incorporate treasured personal
objects- such as garments, stitched samples, vintage lettering and motifs-into
textile to create unique works of folk art.
We are shown examples of collections from around the world – Scandinavia, USA, Australia, China and Mongolia. There are some step –by- step projects including collages, screen prints, folding books. We are shown creative collages on garments and even a stitched shed that was shown at the knitting and stitching show. The reader is given resource to some of the best textile artists, such as Nancy Nicholson, Mandy Pottulloh and Sue Stone and you can see their work on their web sites.
My verdict this is a lovely book that more
than earns its place on a bookshelf, I will delve into time and again.
This humorous and witty picture book uses the cat as a guide to enlighten us about the different and fascinating art movements throughout history. This is Art history as you’ve never experienced it before- with a large helping of cattitude. From the old masters to the modernists, the moggy as muse.
Feline friends have stalked the studios of
many artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keefe, so, it
only seems entirely fitting to enlist 21 cultured cats to navigate a journey
through art history.
From ancient Egyptian and Byzantine art to
the wacky and wildly successful world of the Young British Artists, explore the
styles that characterized important art movements and the artists who led them.
Each cat is depicted in the style of the art movement that is being shown. For
example the Egyptian cat has an ornate eye and the colour palette of the
Egyptians is explained.
To show renaissance art, the Mona Lisa has been represented in cat form.
We have Rococo cats, impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Symbolism, Fauvism and Cubism. Dada, Destijl, Magic Realism, Art Deco and all the major art movements of the twentieth century are represented. The book ends with a feline timeline. This will make a great gift for any cat lover.
By Debora Robertson published by Kyle Books at £12.99
You need this book if you are doing any of the following:
You regularly buy things to
replace items you already own because you can’t lay your hands on them right
You regularly lose your
glasses, keys, phone and tv remote. Or if like me recently, when the night
before I was to fly to Armenia I couldn’t locate my passport. It was 2 hours of
anxiety and turning everything in the house upside down before I found it.
You have said any of the
following in the last month:
‘ I have to go through those‘ ‘Someone might need that’ ‘It’s still got wear in it’ ‘It might come in usefulone day’
Unlike other books on this subject, Debora
does not expect you to totally readjust your world to minimalist living. She
offers practical advise including allowing a certain amount of time to clear
up. She suggests buying a kitchen timer and using it. Decide how much time you
can spend on a task on any given day and just spend that amount of time and no
more. She suggests keeping a diary of what you wish to achieve and offers tips
on what you need to do daily, weekly and monthly and even how to clear up if
you only have a spare ten minutes.
She gives information on how and where to get
rid of useful unwanted items. I have made so many visits to charity shops
during the last month!
I am a craft author and run workshops so I
am a great one for collecting all kinds of tools, materials and ephemera. ‘Oh
that will come in handy sometime”. Reading that Debra writes on cookery and
gardening I realized that her pile of stuff probably bears a resemblance to my
own. So I am even more impressed.
What this book does, is encourage you to
create new habits that will enhance your life.
I knew this book was good because as I was
reading it, my friends kept asking if they could borrow it after me. Well it is
a great book based in reality and full of practical advise and No you can’t
borrow it. I’m keeping my copy and authors like Debora deserve people to buy
their words of wisdom. So go out and buy your own copy, you won’t regret it.