Archive for the ‘vintage finds’ Category
September 23, 2013 in handmade goodness, vintage finds
Having worked as a textile designer, one of my great loves is embroidery, either by hand or on the machine. It was when my mother was renovating her little house by the sea on the Dalmatian coast that we discovered these beautiful embroideries. We were looking for interesting decorative elements to add character to the holiday house and at the local antique bazaar in Zadar we found two of these hand-stitched embroideries and a bright rug amongst a pile of folded old fabrics.
They have so much Slavic character and charm in a simple, understated way. I am not sure what they were used for, (we use them as hangings between doors) but we bought one each. I rarely see them for sale in the markets or in piles of vintage fabrics and embroideries, so I count myself very lucky to have one. My mother’s hanging has embroidered writing on both sides and mine is plain at the top. The script translates as “Look, my darling, at these red roses, they’ll be yours when you come to fetch me.”
The colours are bright and bold, the traditional Croatian deep red and white combined with interesting combinations like peach and turquoise. The burgundy colour acts as a neutral to the other brighter colours.
The other side translates as “Long live the joyful Anica Speht” (a lady’s name). Perhaps it was made as a gift for a loved one or she is simply congratulating herself on her accomplishment at finishing the embroidery.
I photographed them alongside the simple furniture I had available, flowers from the garden and fruit bought from the village market to give a cacophony of pattern and colour.
April 11, 2012 in food, vintage finds
I wanted to share a little post to celebrate Easter and Spring time. With a few days off from work and the school run I managed to take lots of new photos. I took these pictures on Easter Sunday when the dinner was in the oven and the children were playing quietly in the other room, I hope you like them. As a child I always decorated plain, hard-boiled eggs with my mum and brother at home on the day before Easter and since then have always associated eggs with Easter (and no, not just the chocolate variety!). These patterned eggs reminded me of those times.
As I prepared dinner I watched two tiny robins in my garden. They were busily flitting back and forth to feed their chicks in a nest in my hedge. This got me thinking in a different way and reminded me I had these beautiful quail eggs in my fridge. I had come across them in my local Waitrose and couldn’t resist buying them with their unique, natural patterns. They were so small I wondered if a thimble could be used as an egg cup. As an avid collector, I have several vintage thimble varieties and one fitted perfectly. And so my little photo story began. I grabbed my camera, a few props and spent half an hour trying different arrangements and taking photos.
I cooked one as a soft boiled egg, rested it in an up-turned, flat-bottomed thimble and sprinkled some salt on top. It just needs some mini toast soldiers to dunk in and a tiny spoon! The silver spoon in the photos was my British grandmother’s and is a treasured possession and favourite prop. The vintage thimbles I picked up over the years from my Croatian grandmother and flea markets. They almost look like mini salt shakers to go with the mini eggs.
The white bowl is by Brickett Davda whose gorgeous ceramics I love. Another collection I have slowly been feathering my nest with.
After taking the photos I cleared away and got back to feeding my own two little chicks.
I hope you had a lovely Easter. x
PS A couple of thank yous…
Thank you to Rona Wheeldon who interviewed me recently for Flowerona, a blog for all things floral. Read the interview here.
And thank you also to Ursula of children’s interior design blog Room To Bloom who posted the first review of my new book yesterday. Read the review here.
April 3, 2012 in interior styling, vintage finds
I took these photos in my bathroom a while ago and thought I would share them as it shows how a little display can bring daily pleasure. Mixing my new perfume bottles alongside vintage ones and other coloured glassware makes a pretty display by the window. I love the way as the light comes in it refracts through the faceted, prism-like bottles, reflecting off the metal and shining coloured light onto the sink and tiles. This was the inspiration for one of the shots in my story in Heart Home magazine.
My Stella McCartney fragrance and an old scent, that I bought in Japan ten years ago and kept as I love the bottle design (I think it is Shu Uemura), sit alongside vintage perfume bottles and a red glass shaker bought at Kempton Antiques Fair and car boot sales. The vintage Venetian Murano glass vase was my grandmother’s.
Glassware and polished metal make wonderful displays when positioned so that the natural sunlight enhances their qualities. And mixed with items you may use or look at on a daily basis, it can bring a little visual pleasure every day.
Simple but beautiful.
March 31, 2012 in homemade, vintage finds
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
March 6, 2012 in interior styling, vintage finds
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.
February 29, 2012 in diy craft projects, vintage finds
Over the last year I seem to have collected a rather large selection of old watch and clock faces from car boot sales and fairs. I love their graphic quality and can’t resist them, using them in projects, displays and as ornaments. Following on from my wristwatch post and the purchase of a new graphic tea cup while in Whitstable, it occurred to me that the larger ones could become a perfect coaster for my new cup and protect the surface of my freshly painted kitchen table.
I now have a large selection including some much larger clock faces too which would look fun in the base of a circular tray.
This time of year is my favourite for flowers, with beautiful new blossom available in my local florist. I couldn’t help but include it in the photos.
My pretty, striped new cup is a ‘tea bowl’ by ceramacist Vicky Hageman and was recently purchased from Frank in Whitstable, Kent – a little memento of our visit. In the top photo the sugar bowl is from Arne Jacobsen‘s Cylinda Line series by Stelton and the small spoon was from Muji. My well-used Ikea kitchen table that they are sitting on has been refreshed in Farrow & Ball No.46 Downpipe grey. The little milk jug in the image below is from Priscilla Carluccio’s Few and Far, a lovely store which is sadly closing.
A quick and simple idea for a little bit of fun at tea time. Now where’s the biscuit tin?
February 17, 2012 in new finds, vintage finds
I didn’t wear a watch the whole way through writing, making, styling and shooting my new book and it bugged me. I like to glance at my wrist and see how I’m doing for time and the strap had broken on my old one a while ago. I know I have a clock on my phone but when your hands are covered in wet paint or filled with needles/buttons/pen or camera then it’s just not the same. I love the simplicity of a watch strapped to your wrist that you can simply turn and glance at, with no buttons to push or codes to enter. So after I’d finished my book and handed everything over to my publisher I looked for a new one. I found this one whilst browsing in SCP, a favourite furniture and lifestyle shop of mine in East London. I bought a it as a gift to myself for finishing my book.
It is large and a definite statement piece on my wrist, like a practical piece of jewellery, and I have had lots of lovely comments whilst wearing it. I love its classic yet contemporary feel, the graphic quality, the grey of its face, the natural warm brown of the leather strap, the practicality of not having to wind it up and the date there in a little square.
It is a British-designed 200 Series watch by Uniform Wares, an exciting, young and stylish company, and their varied range come in many different faces, colour and strap combinations. You can get them at SCP and also from Uniform themselves.
I photographed it alongside some of my other favourite graphic implements of measurement– a selection of vintage rulers. I bought them over time at car boot sales, flea markets and one we even discovered under the floorboards of our home whilst renovating.
Now every time I check the time I think fondly and it reminds me of my book, the reward at the end of five months hard work.
January 27, 2012 in vintage finds
There are certain unlikely and unexpected gifts that you just love. This beautiful old portable typewriter is one of those. My parents-in-law gave it to me as a Christmas gift and I was touched at how perfect a choice it was. I love its graphic quality as an object, and the thoughts of its history; the unknown letters, manuscripts and even books it may have been used to write. It seemed natural to place it on the bookshelf in my living room, nestled amongst the typed words.
I placed an old sheet of paper from a vintage ledger in the roller and a postcard that I bought from Lutyens & Rubinstein bookshop in Notting Hill as a surprise detail for closer inspection.
The fabric ribbon sculpture is by textile artist/designer Jessica Preston. I used it in an editorial photo shoot back in 2006, loved it and bought it from her afterwards. It still sits amongst my pile of books, like the turret on top of a tower.
The typewriter doesn’t work at the moment and requires a little tinkering from my husband, but I am just imagining the little notes I will be able to write when it does.
October 18, 2011 in vintage finds
It began with a boy and a girl holding paintbrushes (a perfect pair) and a single leg! I first began collecting these vintage ex-votos whilst on holiday in Greece about 15 years ago and they are some of my favourite things.
These metal votive offerings are still found in Catholic churches around Europe and Mexico. They are given to a divinity or a saint as a personal thank you note. Sometimes they were given with prayer as plees for help too. I love the eclectic mix of the subjects and when I come across them for sale I can’t resist them.
My collection is on display in a row on a shelf above my bed. They are so light that jut a small tab of blue-tack keeps them in place. I mixed in some little mirrors that I bought on a trip to India and also blue-tacked some vintage buttons in random places on the wall to form a spotty 3D wallpaper.
In my hallway I placed a more ornate votive inside an old flea market frame that I had painted, both stuck directly to the wall with Pritt pads. The metal is slightly tarnished, but I don’t mind as this adds to the character.
I only come across them on rare occasions but there is probably just enough room for another two or three when I do find some more. I love the way they catch the light, their delicacy, their nieve, folk-art style and that each one has a very personal story behind. A little collection of little things that makes me happy.
Do you collect something that brings you joy?
October 6, 2011 in vintage finds
I religiously go to my local monthly car boot sale and for the last few months I have been using my flea market finds as props in my next book. But now it has all been photographed, I can show you my latest finds from this Sunday and a few other recent vintage treasures I’ve picked up.
There is a great shop in Notting Hill, Couverture, which has a similar umbrella stand in its entrance and I have had umbrella stand envy every time I’ve been there over the years. So when I spotted this one at my carboot I snapped it up! It is a little bit “Marmite” – you either love it or hate it. I love that it’s quirky and am thinking of using it as a vase for a little bit of wrongness!
I couldn’t resist these trinkets. The flower-shaped pin is a vintage ‘bachelor button’, the charms so sweet, old letters (I can never have enough), the little dog pin, cute on a lapel and a hand-carved skull bead for a little edge. I know that with small bits and pieces like this if the right project pops up into my head I’m ready to go.
This is a brooch made from cast metal that I bought as a gift for my mum. Its colour and patina make it look like a real autumn leaf. I like the way it sits in the flower shape of this vintage French tart tin, one of a batch of different tins that I picked up for a few pounds.
This bevelled-edge rose glass mirror will look lovely with candles and perfume, the little ring was a previous buy bought for £1. I have had the framed sepia photograph in the background for a while, picked up like the other pieces at the boot sale, and I love it. I have no idea who the couple are or why they were photographed surrounded by so many huge flower arrangements. Is it their wedding day, engagement or are they florists?
I’m always on the look out for fun things that my children can enjoy too. The colours in this game board are wonderfully saturated and the graphic quality is lovely. And finally a well-loved Dukes of Hazzard car from 1980 for my son – yeee-haaa!
If you like this you may also like my other flea market finds posts.
June 22, 2011 in diy craft projects, vintage finds
I feel the need for some colour at the moment so my vintage cutlery received the fluro treatment! There is a bit of a trend for painted and coloured cutlery I’ve been noticing and I have taken it in my own way by simply spray painting some of the handles.
I picked up this old silver-plated cutlery at my local car boot sale for 50 pence each which is such a bargain. I love the fact it is all mismatched designs and styles, it gives it character and makes things more interesting. I gave them all a good clean and then took them into the garden, put down some newspaper and blasted the handles with the bright pink and orange spray paint I had in my paint collection.
This spray paint will scratch off but I don’t mind, the patina will add character. To reduce scratching I would use enamel paint or even just dip the handles into pots of different coloured paint.
Or I can scrub it off and repaint them another colour, perhaps to match the theme of a table setting in a shoot. Just a frivolous bit of fluro fun!
Update: It seems this picture has popped up around the web without me knowing, much to my surprise, especially on Pinterest. So just to elaborate on my comments below, I didn’t do this to my everyday cutlery that we eat with, this is old cutlery that I use as props for photos. Plasti-kote say that their Fast Dry Enamel , which comes in lots of colours, is completely non-toxic when dry and contains no ingredients that would be harmful to children or pets – but solvent-based spray paint can be harmful if ingested and you should always check the smallprint on any paint you use, follow the maker’s instructions and use common sense. If in doubt ask an expert at your local paint store.
June 17, 2011 in homemade, vintage finds
I think I may get my love of collecting and keeping little things from my Grandmother. She has always been a magpie. She is elderly now so her wings have been clipped, but she always kept everything. And I mean everything. As children, whenever we were at her house and asked for something then she had it. Somewhere, from a draw or a cupboard or a box on a shelf, she would pull out what we needed.
Last year, when my mother and I were at her apartment helping organise things, we discovered a whole wealth of treasures squirrelled away; beautiful vintage tins, my mother’s baby clothes, embroidered table linen, amidst other saved items like old egg boxes and tinfoil sweet wrappers all flattened in a pile.
Amongst the items was this lovely little pinny. It was my mother’s when she was about three or four, a similar age to my daughter now. I love the detail in the simple dots and pleats and my Grandmother’s darning just adds to it. Little patches of history of that give it so much character.
Like my grandmother, I love to collect and keep little things that I don’t have a purpose for. But I know that at some point I’ll have an idea for… or an occasion to use… those beautiful felted balls, that vintage ribbon or that old tape measure. It means that when I have an idea and want to get straight on with making, then I can usually rummage around and find something suitable to make it special, rather than write a shopping list and lose the momentum of the idea.
The clothes hanger in the photo is one that I made using scraps of fabric that I already had. It is a project from The Homemade Home with step-by-step instructions if you want to try it at home. It now hangs in my daughter’s bedroom to be enjoyed by a fourth generation of little girl. Something to make me remember my family history and smile.
To me, this kind of family treasure is priceless.