A few weeks ago, with a spare sunny weekend at home, I had fun dip-dying fabric to create an ombré throw. It had been on my to-do list for a while and I had some plain white linen ready, a sachet of hand wash Dylon dye and a packet of salt to fix it. I used Black to give a deeper intensity of colour and in the fade has a blueish tint to it. To begin I hand washed the fabric. Then I mixed the dye as per the instructions on the packet and dipped about half the fabric into the bucket of diluted dye, swishing it around carefully, so it did not splash the white linen above.
After about half an hour I rinsed the dyed section. There were a few splatters on the white section of the fabric, so straight after hanging the fabric onto the washing line outside, I used a wide paint brush to paint more dye on gradually and this gave the gradient, ombré effect I wanted. After a while I rinsed the fabric again and left it to dry naturally. The shadows from the foliage in the garden added a fleeting pattern whilst the fabric was drying.
I also painted stripes directly onto other pieces of fabric for an alternative look. Wet the fabric first and the dye spreads when you paint it on and repeat several times to get a more intense colour.
To make the most of the mixed dye, afterwards I dyed a pair of my favourite black jeans that had faded over time from washing and are now refreshed! You can see the colours available on the Dylon website.
My finished length of ombré fabric is now folded over an arm of the sofa, giving the corner of the living room another visual layer and a reminder of an afternoon creating in the sun.
The photos of vegetables in Singapore in my last post reminded me of these photos that I took last year and have been meaning to post. It must be my printed textile background coming back to me, because one day I had the urge to experiment with natural colour and play with food and fabric. I popped to the supermarket and worked on the theory that if it stains clothes (mine occasionally but mainly my children’s!) then it may have a longer-lasting dye quality. So I bought beetroot, red onions, blackberries, red cabbage and pomegranate and I had lots of other possibilities in the cupboards at home to test out too.
I did some research and found it wasn’t really as simple or as easy as I had hoped to fix the natural colours permanently, chemical dyes are much easier for this, but I continued anyway. My method was to boil water, add the foodstuff, mix it around to colour the water in a concentrated enough way, sieve it and then add swatches of plain white linen to my homemade ‘dye’. I wet the fabric in clean water before adding the swatch to the dye and left them in soak for varying lengths of time until I liked the colour or it seemed to no longer be darkening. To fix them I added a mixture, in an experimental sense, of vinegar for vegetables and/or salt for berries. I then washed them in cold water first and then hot. The results are below:
1- Blackberry, 2- Blackberry and red onion peel, 3- Blackberry and red cabbage, 4- Blackberry and red cabbage, 5- Beetroot (pickled), 6- Beetroot and tea, 7- Spinach, 8- Red onion peel, 9- Pomegranate, 10- Red cabbage, 11- Red cabbage and a pinch of turmeric, 12- Red cabbage and turmeric, 13- Red cabbage, turmeric and vinegar, 14- Red cabbage, tiny amount of turmeric and vinegar, 15- Red cabbage with vinegar, 16- Tea, 17- Coffee, 18- Paprika, 19- Red wine, 20- Red wine and tea, 21- Turmeric, 22- Turmeric with wine, 23- Turmeric with wine and tea, 24- Turmeric small amount
I don’t think there would be much possibility in colouring large enough quantities of fabric in a colourfast way to make cushions or throws, but I love the colours I made with this experiment and mixed a few together to give new combinations.
It was fun experimenting with food and fabric, especially knowing that it was all completely natural, and I was pleased with the gentle colour results I achieved.
This is the final installment of my family’s travels to Australia and Singapore. I took these images in Little India, the area where we stayed. Of out two days in Singapore we spent half a day wandering around temples, markets and soaking up the atmosphere. It was a little taster of India for the family and a reminder to me of a country I visited a long time ago.
As in India, the colours were so vibrant and interesting, the buildings charming in their detail and the temples enthralling in their story-telling through paintings and sculptures on walls and ceilings. Small shrines on street corners and, as in every area of Singapore, people enjoying street food. The street market was my favourite area with vegetables piled high and flowers strung in garlands.
After an adventure like this I still feel refueled and recharged. The joy of visiting friends on the other side of the world and experiencing a taste of Australia and Singapore will stay with us all for years to come.
We spent a day exploring the temples and markets of Chinatown, a large area in Singapore, where we felt totally immersed in a different culture. We were all enthralled by the tranquility of the temples, the smells of incense, local people worshipping and the bright colours and patterns all around us. I was drawn to photograph the details, colours, illustrations and shapes and hopefully they give a little glimpse into this amazing place.
The markets were full of interesting objects, fans, instruments, beads and strung overhead with lanterns. We embraced the Chinese food halls and queued with locals for delicious savoury main courses and fruit smoothies blended in front of us. Wonderful combinations of dragon fruit with kiwi, mango and passion fruit, watermelon, strawberry and rose and sugarcane with lime. We became quite adventurous in our choices which the children loved and the colours of these juices were spectacular.
The tropical colours of Singapore were amazing as we passed through gardens and areas like Chinatown and Little India: Hot pinks, citrus oranges and acid greens, sky blues and metallic golds. Flowers were everywhere, popping out against the urban landscape along roadsides, in parks, temples and for sale on market stalls.
I’ve loved using a close-up macro lens and playing with depth of field since I bought my first 35mm SLR film camera whilst at art college, and flowers are my perfect muse for this kind of abstraction. I can’t help myself and find wherever I travel I am drawn to photographing flowers, so in Singapore I was in heaven.
Singapore was the most wonderful place to stop over on our way home from Australia. We broke up our return journey with a two day visit to this amazing city. We had heard some reports of it feeling a little sterile, but we found it fascinating and absolutely loved it. They have embraced modern architecture (we felt as if we were part of a science fiction film set at times) and, in contrast, other parts of the city felt like you were immersed in the old mysterious Orient.
Our first stop was the newly opened Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Forest dome was fantastic with a 90 foot waterfall cascading from the man-made mountain inside, mossy trees nearby and walls filled vertically with an enormous range of tropical plants and flowers. There must have been every type of Orchid in all shapes, sizes and colours. The mists were ‘switched on’ at various times and the whole dome enclosed you in its artificial cloud which my children absolutely loved. The Flower Dome next door was also wonderful.
There were also towering, tree-like sculptural metal structures with plants growing upwards around their trunks. The walkway linking these metal trees allowed great views across the gardens but even these towers, which felt high from the top, were dwarfed by the huge hotel next door – The Marina Bay Sands.
We walked through the Heritage Gardens, over the foot bridge and took the lift to the 58th floor observation deck where the view was out of this world, across the city and out over the bay; tankers in the shipping lanes below us looked like ants and the sheer volume of them was unexpected.
I love the juxtaposition of tropical flowers with modern buildings and Singapore did this so well.
After Chelsea flower show last week and all the floral fringe events that have been happening in London, I wanted to show you the six page story I shot with photographer Uli Schade for the June issue Elle Decoration magazine which is out now. We shot my flower-themed interior story early this year at Julia Bostock‘s beautiful new skyrooms location in Sussex. The room sets were simple, with what I call a Japanavian or Scandanese feel – I know, I made the words up! But I love how these two wonderful design aesthetics can be visually combined.
This issue preview video gives a peak into the magazine:
Japanese and Scandinavian are two of my favourite design styles. I think I am naturally drawn to this style of furniture, beautifully made in natural and tactile materials, light, classic and simple furniture accessorised with graphic, hand-crafted ceramics.
There are so many people involved in a shoot like this and to mention just a few; textile artist Debbie Smyth made a beautiful, threaded floral picture especially for the shoot, Libby from local Ipswich florist Myrtle & Mint came along and helped me with the flowers, Polly Ord who assisted me and of course all the shops and designers that lent me their products. They are all listed in the magazine but if you would like to know about any specific items do leave a comment on this post and I’ll add their details.
I wanted to add some unique and handmade touches that readers can make themselves at home. These included silk flowers dipped into plaster of Paris, Cole & Son wallpaper cut out and reconfigured on the walls, floral canvases and spraying hydrangeas with yellow fluorescent paint plus a favourite of mine: wrapping vases with fabric and leather.
I will be adding these photos to my folio gallery soon but you can pick up a copy in newsagents now before the July issue comes out.
From Sydney we flew up to Cairns in Queensland, hired a car and drove an hour North to the sweet, relaxed seaside town of Port Douglas. It was the perfect location to visit the Great Barrier Reef and explore the Daintree Rainforest. The vibe was quite different to Sydney, but I loved its relaxed charm.
The wonderful use of corrugated tin and wooden planking as textural building materials, either painted and smart or untreated and raw, rusting patina next to weathered wood. In a local bar, where we watched cane toad racing, the rusting tin was juxtaposed against twinkling chandeliers and more utilitarian ceiling fans and pendant lights. An unexpected and successful combination.
It was the wet season when we visited and with this comes rain, short heavy bursts of it. Looking through the car window there were rain specks dotted all over, rather like here in London but the views were however quite different. I couldn’t help snapping away as we drove the coastal highway, continuing my ‘through the window‘ series on another continent.
Wonderful palm trees swaying in the wind, fields of sugar cane and the most beautiful sea views and skys. Heavenly.
I can’t quite believe my blog is two years old today. Like a child, its personality is developing and growing and I still feel like a toddler amongst the blogging community.
Thank you to all of you who stop by and read my posts and for the wonderful support I have been given. I have met some really lovely people through blogging in the last couple of years, online and then in person, and for that I am truly grateful.
Another shop that I was really looking forward to visiting in Sydney was Mud. Their store at 134 Edgecliff Road in Woollahra was close to where we were staying, so I popped in to have a browse and take some snaps. I often use their handmade porcelain plates, bowls and cups when styling commercial photo shoots, drawn to it at the prop houses by the beautiful soft colours and mix of matt and gloss finishes.
I bought a little ceramic beaker as a memento of my visit to the shop and would have bought much more if I hadn’t been worried about the pieces getting damaged during the flights on the remainder of our trip.
The Mud website lists only three UK stockists; The Conran Shop, Designers Guild and Zecca, who amazingly is only a 10 minute walk from my house! I will be popping along there soon to see what they have in stock.
For now though I am happy with my little piece of Mud on display.
Sydney is full of interesting and exciting independent shops without the mass of high street chain shops thet we have here in the UK. One Thursday morning I visited a shop I have wanted to visit for a long time: The Society Inc, stylist and author Sibella Court’s shop at 18 Stewart Street, Paddington. With time restrictions on us, my husband and son went off with the camera to Deus Ex Machina, a shop he has been lusting at from afar for a long time too, and I headed to Sibella’s store with our daughter, armed only with my iPhone to take snaps (so please excuse the quality).
Having viewed the shop online from London it was a treat to visit, a treasure trove of curiosities and useful every day handy items. It was a small shop packed to the rafters with interesting bits and bobs, a combination of vintage, utility and sparkly. Everywhere your eye turned a new goodie was spotted. There was also a beautiful selection of paint designed by The Society Inc for Murobond, colours changing each quarter to transport you to different ‘societies’. I chatted with lovely Hannah in the store who kindly let me take these photos.
Sibella is a stylist and author whose work I admire and her books, Etcetera, Nomad and Bowerbird, are a joy to look through and a pleasure to have on my shelves, now even more so after visiting her gorgeous shop. If you are ever in Sydney do drop by.
Of course I came home wih a few treats, including a sparkly item that now sits on my mantlepiece glinting in the sun. I think I must be part magpie, part bowerbird.
We are back home after having had the most fantastic time in Australia. We spent the first week in Sydney visiting friends and it was truly wonderful to catch up with them all. We saw many of the sights: the Rocks, the Bridge, the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, Anish Kapoor at the Museum of Contemporary Art (which we all loved) and many more. I managed to fit in a browse around some of the shops, but there were so many more I would have loved to visit. The weather was beautiful and we spent as much time on the beach as we did exploring the city. My son started surfing and if we weren’t on the beach, he was asking when we would be. Bondi became our local and we also walked to Bronte, had sushi at Watson’s Bay and took the ferry to Manly.
I took these photos as I wandered around Paddington and Woollahra with my camera, close to the lovely house where we stayed. These late 19th Century buildings were beautiful, the iron work like lace and the patterned shadows they created so delicate. Now gentrified and fashionable, the area has a creative and stylish feel. The architectural planting and satin silver house numbers made the Victorian homes contemporary rather than twee, and the newer colour choices were all dark, moody and sublime and the few coloured facades had faded to dusky tones. I could have walked around the area for hours more.
I found myself photographing the details, tones and patterns created by these homes but I hope this gives you a little feel for this beautiful part of Sydney.
This is a little place to share my work and the things that I love: interior styling and flea market finds; homemade and handmade; celebrating the old and embracing the new; creativity, family and fun.
These are the things I believe make your house a home.
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This blog is only my personal opinion. I try to be as accurate as I can but if you do try any projects, tips or ideas from this blog at home I can't be held responsible for the outcome I'm afraid!