Recently I contributed to a little post for my lovely friend Elisa Rathje for her tried and true series. Elisa’s blog Appleturnover is full of “stories of the pleasures of the handmade, the perennially useful object, the things your grandmother taught you, the rediscovered solutions, the skills you might have had one hundred years ago.” It got me thinking… what single item would I consider tried and true? I have lots of things I rely on or have used for years, but after some thought one item stood out. An item that has been constantly with me for years and years – my stainless steel rule.
I have a love of rulers. New and old, metal and wood, from small ones like these to huge ones, like the vintage surveyors’ staffs I display in my living room (which you can see on the cover of Decorate), I seem to have amassed quite a collection over the years. I love their practicality and purpose as well as the graphic quality they possess.
It all began with my 12 inch/30cm stainless steel ruler. I bought it because it was on the list of must-haves sent through from the art college I was about to start at after I left school. I’ve managed to keep it and use it all the time. I also have a one metre long steel ruler, which I use frequently for larger scale work. It helped trim down paper designs at art college, was used at my final degree show in textiles at Edinburgh College of Art and all the way through my professional textile designing days. It’s been used to trim down mood boards for photo shoots and whilst making projects for my books. It works as well now as it did when I first bought it many years ago. Unlike cheap plastic ones or wooden ones, which dink at the edges after a scalpel blade has sheered off parts of the sides, my steel rule is still straight and true.
Vintage rulers always catch my eye. If I see one at a flea market or car boot sale I will snap it up and add it to my ever-expanding collection. Many are hinged and a little rusty, so not as practical, but still look beautiful lined up on my windowsill for me to admire in front of my desk. You can see more of my collection in a previous post here.
A steel rule is an investment that will last a lifetime and the patina gained over the years simply adds to its character. It is a tool that I would be lost without.
Do you have something tried and true?
If you love homemade stories do have a look at Elisa’s blog – Appleturnover. Thank you Elisa! x
It is the beginning of yet another busy week (I am shooting a magazine story this week) and I haven’t had much time to spend on my blog. I had a quick look through my archives and found these images that I took not long after I had finished my new book. The photos are not extracts, but part of a collection of objects I had near by, some of which did become props in the photos. My new book is on general release soon and if all goes to plan, a book launch will take place in late April. I have an exciting meeting later this week to discuss it and I will reveal more as soon as I can.
The very first copy of my new book arrived recently and it’s been great to finally see how everything has come together and I’m really happy with it. It’s exciting (and a bit nerve-wracking!) and I hope you all like it. It will be officially available from April 5th although it looks like Amazon may have already sent out some copies to those who pre-ordered early! In a similar style to my first book (which I recently found out is now a best seller for CICO Books!) The Homemade Home for Children contains 50 thrifty and chic projects for creative parents to make with and for children. It is not a book of projects for children to make on their own, but it contains ideas that can involve the whole family – children, parents, grandparents, friends or relatives – with illustrated step-by-step projects and quick ideas for all skill levels.
My little boy was very excited to see it as he appears inside the book along with his sister. Many of the projects were made with them in mind, using their drawings, for them to play with, dress up in and for their bedrooms. If you would like to get an idea of some of the projects in the book then you can see it in two fabulous magazines this month. I have contributed to the April issue of “the world’s best selling homes magazine” Elle Decoration, which has a four page feature, and also to the new issue of Junior – “the world’s finest parenting magazine”.
The book is available to pre-order on Amazon now:
US – order at Amazon.com
Spring has sprung here in London. The sun is shining, it feels joyful out and about and the bulbs are starting to flower in my little London garden. It is my favourite time of the year for flowers, all the bulbs I planted in the autumn are now bursting into life. This is a welcome change to the grey days we have seen recently and has lifted my spirits as I have had an extremely busy few weeks. It feels like I have been working non-stop, but all for wonderful projects that I love. My new book The Homemade Home for Children is due for release early next month, I have been working with an award-winning architecture practice on an exciting project and I have an editorial shoot next week that I have been working on over the last few weeks and am really looking forward to.
I haven’t had a spare moment to take any new pictures this week, but looking through my archives I found this series of photos I took early last Spring and didn’t get around to posting at the time. With the Spring flowers appearing I thought it perfect timing to share them now.
These Lily of the Valley were plucked from my parents-in-laws’ garden where swathes of them grow in the shade under the hedges. I adore their fresh, crisp coloration, their slim elegant leaves and their smell – just divine!
As I was playing with my camera, placing the stems on fabric it reminded me of some of my old textile designs where fresh flowers were always an inspiration – whether drawn, painted or embroidered. I placed a stem next to one of my old embroidered designs of the same flower above.
This is a simple freehand machine-stitched textile design of bottles that I made a few years ago. I placed a stem as if displayed in its vase. You can get wonderful effects by freehand machine-stitching on paper or fabric with practice. The embroidered portraits project from my first book uses this technique.
A single, simple stem in a simple vase looks delicate and sweet but with an understated elegance that I love.
Hello Spring, I’m happy you’re here.
With Mother’s Day around the corner I thought I would share a simple idea that makes a perfect gift for mum – the ever-popular lavender bag. These little bags are simple to make, smell gorgeous and will add a but of fun and colour to any drawer or wardrobe. Who wouldn’t like to receive a homemade bundle of these?
All you need to do is cut two same-sized square pieces of fabric (mine are about 12cm wide), place them back-to back inside out and sew them together almost all the way around. Then turn them the right way out and fill with dried lavender through the gap you have left open. Sew the gap up and there you have it! I especially like Liberty print fabrics for lavender bags but linens, stripes and spots work well too. You only see one side facing up when in your draw so use your favourite fabric on one side with a plain reverse. (And yes, that’s a little Liberty suitcase too!)
Use remnants of fabric you have at home and play around. Match the sides or contrast them, try patterned with plain, bright with muted. Whatever you fancy or think the lucky recipient may like. All of the lavender bags I photographed here were made with offcuts of fabric and donated ribbons and lavender. They were made by myself and other mum’s from my son’s school class, to sell as gifts at the school fair to help raise money. They are a variation of the project in my book – The Homemade Home – which has a full, step-by-step illustrated guide if you would like clear instructions on how to make them.
The bags below are my favourites and I ended up buying them back at the school fair as I couldn’t bear to part with them. I made them with a small piece cut from a length of gorgeous Liberty fabric that was given to me by my friend Holly Becker. It was the fabric we chose as the table runner at our table styling demonstration with Leslie Shewring, for Holly’s Decorate book launch at the Liberty store in London.
A bundle of three lavender bags, made by you for your mum, tied up with a pretty ribbon and placed in a simple gift box with a personalised tag. A sweet gift that costs little but means a lot.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone.
March 11, 2012 in flowers
I have a bit of thing for yellow with grey at the moment. I came across some images that I took a while ago, after a trip to Columbia Road flower market, that complemented the colours of my last blog post so thought I would share them now.
This orchid with its exotic feel, placed against the dark wall in my living room, created an eye catching scene where the flowers almost glowed against the charcoal grey. The folded yellow tape measure in the background is by Debbie Smyth and the flower pot is an old Habitat one.
Craspedia, or ‘bobble flowers’ as I usually call them, have a beautiful graphic quality. How could I resist snapping them as they zinged against the deep grey wall?
Whilst waiting for some guests to arrive last week I had a quick play around with a display in my kitchen and took a few photos. This little recess had been empty as my husband and I redecorated the room a couple of weeks ago and had painted it in the same dark grey as the kitchen table, which is similar to the riven slate floor. I wanted a change as it used to be white and filled with dozens of my children’s little drawings blue tacked to the wall which had made it grubby. It makes a perfect frame to display within.
My starting point was this old woodblock, a recent gift from a lovely family friend who I have known since I was a little girl. It is believed to be a vintage Liberty print block.
I then placed a pretty primula in an old pot from The Conran Shop, adding a bright, graphic splash of colour against the grey, followed by a selection of my collected treasures.
A gift, some flea market finds and new items in complementary tones and tactile textures, set with a natural floral pop of contrasting colour. A few little things displayed at home that make me happy.
My children’s drawings will undoubtedly start to build up again as they stick them to the wall, but that will just add to the charm.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a contributing stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for 16 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
To enquire about commissioning Sania for commercial or editorial projects, please use the contact form.