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.
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 Hungarianémigre, 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
. 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
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
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?
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.
felt very grand driving into the Palace, and made my taxi driver’s day!
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.
Designer, Jehane is having her first open house in five years but in a new location as part of the fiveways Artist group . Each weekend in May, artists open up their homes and studios to the public, to show and sell their own and other people’s work.
Jehane’s 2018 Open House delivers her signature style, of contemporary artists in her friendly recently refurbished home. At the bottom of her small garden stands a shed with an installation by Phillipa Stanton. As well as running open house Jehane also licences the work of a number of different artists and designers. See the piece I wrote on her on Meet the Maker Below are a few examples of the work on show.
Artists open houses run weekends from 5th -28th May in Brighton Hove Coast and Ditchling. To find out more about Brighton open houses go to aoh.org.uk
If you are a designer, or just love creative people and enjoy seeing how and where they work, then this is must have book.
It is full of inspiration. The author, Sally Coulthard, lives on a farm where she rents out barns to artists. As she says ‘it’s a scruffy space, but the people who work there have transformed the building into something truly special. Not only have the artists organized their studios into useful spaces, they’ve also created rooms that express who they are and inform the work they produce. Each space reflects the personality of the person who works there –studios are like fingerprints, totally unique.’
The first part of the book has inspirational pictures and descriptions of different kinds of studio’s. Included are brights, mono, natural, industrial and collected.
The second part of the book is divided into different kinds of artists and designers and includes crafters, fashion and textile designers. Fine art, graphics and illustrators studios are featured as are the work shops of bloggers writers and photographers and last but not least are workshops and up-cyclers.
Different kinds of buildings are as unique as the artists and designers themselves. One artist works in a shepherds hut another in a barn others in industrial warehouses and lofts. Some work together others by themselves.
The final section of the book deals with practicalities of how to plan your studio, getting organized, desks, lighting and storage are all explored. As are work tops and drying spaces. If you want to set up your own studio you need look no further than here. The book is truly international showcasing designers and artists from many different countries.
Craft Author and illustrator, are the two skills for which Clare is best known.
She writes craft books for the publishers Cico, and whatever the subject, they are always of the highest standard, beautifully styled and informative. I was curious how Clare had got into the business of being a craft author. She works from home in a studio at the bottom of her garden.
J.B. Tell me about your design background.
C.Y. I did an art foundation course in London and then I went to Canterbury to do a degree in graphics and packaging design. It was a great course, very creative, we covered lots of skills as well as graphic design, including styling and art direction.
After art school I worked mainly for small design groups designing packaging.
J.B. How did you get into writing books?
C.Y. My husband, Ian bought me a book on vintage style and I was flicking through it when I had a light bulb moment. I have always made things, including curtains cushions and blinds. I had an idea for a book on making things for the house out of paper. I went to Hamlyn and my first book was published by them. Then Cindy Richards the M.D. of Cico books got hold of me and asked if I would like to write a book for them. The first book I did was on making bags out of recycled materials.
J.B. Do the ideas for your books originate from you or from the publisher?
C.Y. It is half and half, sometimes I come up with proposals and sometimes they do.
J.B. How long does it take to produce a book.
C.Y From start to finish probably 4-5 months, but that is working full time on it. From the concept to publication is usually a year.
J.B. Who does the photography and styling?
C.Y. I do the styling and Jo Henderson does the photography and my husband Ian does the illustrations.
J.B. What are your favorite and your least favorite parts of creating a book.
C.Y. I love making things, so the designing and making is what I enjoy doing best.
When I started, I found writing step -by -step instructions challenging. The secret is to write them as you go along.
J.B. What and who inspires you?
C.Y. Vintage Children’s books, particularly those published in the 60’s and 70’s. I like the work of Brian Wildsmith and Roger Duvoisin, Alice and Martin Provensen an American couple who illustrated more than 40 children’s books together. Mostly between the late 1940’s and the 1960’s.
C.Y. I love vintage textiles especially the work of Lucienne Day. I like the textile designs of Marimekko. Scandanavian design and Japanese crafts both interest me. I like the work of the following painters and designers. Howard Hodgkin, Ben Nicholson, Robert Tavener, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravillious and William Scott.
J.B. Are you a collector ?
C.Y. Yes I am a collector I have 23,000 czechoslovakian matchbox lables, mostly from Czechoslovakia and Poland, that I bought on line. I will probably sell some as many are duplicates.
J.B. What are the benefits and drawbacks of working from home?
C.Y. It is great to have a purpose built space that is just at the bottom of my garden. My husband who is also a designer sometimes works from home so we can meet up for coffee or lunch. However the down side of working from home is it is sometimes isolating as you don’t have feed back from other designers. As a result of this, last year I took an on line course called ‘Make Art that Sells’ . I wanted to study illustration as my craft projects have become more illustrative, for example I produce designs to embroider or collage. The boot camps that the web site runs are excellent and give you prompts rather than teaching as such. They have a face book group so that you can get feed back from like minded designers.
J.B. Apart from the boot camp do you use other social media?
C.Y. I do instagram and find that is a very useful way of making contacts in the design world. Last year I participated in the 100 day project.
J.B Do you teach workshops ?
C.Y. When we first moved out of London, our kids were young and we thought it would be nice to move to the Kent coast. At this time I ran a few family craft workshops at the Turner Gallery.
J.B. If you hadn’t been a graphic designer what would you have studied or done as a career?
C.Y. I think I would have done a craft, been a print maker or a potter.