I snapped a few pictures of some wooden planes and boats that are sitting on shelves and chests of drawers in my son’s bedroom. They are little objects my father made about twenty years ago, simply put together from scraps of wood and old nails from his toolbox. I painted them in bright colours and personalised them with initials and words with meaning, like ‘Riba’ which means ‘Fish’ in Croatian and was the name of my grandfather’s little boat that we pootled along the coast in.
I left one of the boats as it was to show the natural texture of the wood and the simplicity of how it was made. My father and son still make driftwood toys together every summer in Croatia, see a previous post here.
When my son was born we hunted out this little airplane and hung it in his bedroom, suspended by a splash of a neon ribbon. It was this plane that inspired the ‘Balsa Wood Planes’ project in my new book – The Homemade home for Children – which has full step-by-step instructions if you want to try making your own. The image below is by Emma Lee and is an out-take from the photo shoots for the book. It is my little boy as he is now, enjoying being part of the fun.
These homemade toys are so simple and cost nothing but a little time, and I treasure them because of that.
They are things that cannot be bought, but made – with love and family.
May 23, 2012 in things to wear
One rainy day a month or so ago I was buying ribbons at VV Rouleaux on Marylebone High Street and the heavens opened. My tiny handbag-size umbrella was just too small to keep much of the torrential rainfall at bay so I ran into Tracey Neuls‘ shoe shop a few doors down. I adore her shoes and have bought a few pairs over the years, they always remain firm favourites. They are stylish and quirky and impeccably made from gorgeous leather and materials. So whilst waiting for the rain to subside I tried on a few styles and the ‘Jane’ shoe came home with me. An extravagance (or an ‘investment’ as I tell myself) but I have had wonderful comments about them whenever I wear them,which has been a lot, and I do feel that my outfit is complete when they are on my feet.
Which ones would you choose?
May 20, 2012 in my london
April and May are usually rainy here in the UK but it’s been especially wet for the last few weeks, making up for the fact that there wasn’t much rain earlier in the year. On one particularly dark and wet Sunday last month we hopped in the car and drove across London to Tate Modern to check out the Damien Hirst exhibition. It’s a pleasant drive on a Sunday as the traffic is less, you can park on the back streets for free and we get to see the amazing architecture on the route, from the historic landmarks to the new architectural structures.
Shooting from the car whilst moving meant my shots were abstract and blurred, reducing London to a range of grey tones with splashes of red – post boxes, telephone boxes, buses and traffic lights glowing in the monochrome views.
Maybe it’s why I love the use of grey, it surrounds me in my every day London life. I painted my front door dark grey about six years ago and with a slate front path and basalt chippings, my house often matches the the stormy sky.
We have the annual family membership which give you access to the paid exhibitions like Picasso, Kusama and Hirst at all of the Tate museums. If you live close enough to visit regularly it is brilliant and will pay for itself many times over.
Even a run down the steps to the Turbine Hall in the rain became fun and my kids loved it. We all enjoyed the Damien Hirst exhibition and although it was very busy, it intrigued and amazed the children and my husband and I enjoyed it too. It is well worth a visit.
We’ll be back again soon for more artistic inspiration, especially on these rainy London days.
May 17, 2012 in news
It has been so busy lately with work that this almost slipped me by: it was one year ago yesterday that I posted my first blog post! It seems an eternity ago and like it was only yesterday all at the same time! It was my friends Holly and Leslie who talked me into starting a blog while we were working on the Decorate book launch and I really didn’t think I would get such an amazing response to my little ramblings nor that quite so many people would pop by to spend a few minutes at my corner of the inter web. Almost 100 posts later and it’s one year on already, it has flown by so fast. I took these quick snaps of the number one on one of my vintage surveyors’ staffs this evening before the light disappeared.
I will be able to share some of the styling projects I have been working on as and when they are published over the next few months but, with the book launch too, I haven’t had much free-time for a while. I have lots of blog posts planned and photos taken and stored up and will get back to posting more often as soon as I can.
It has been an amazing, crazy, fun, hectic and creatively rewarding twelve months. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who has visited my blog over the last year, especially to those who have commented on my posts (they really mean a lot!), said hi on my Facebook page and on Twitter and to those who have bought my new book. Thank you.
The book launch for The Homemade Home for Children at Liberty was a very special day for me and thank you to all who joined me to make it that way. I know there were friends who would have loved to have been there but just couldn’t make it on the day, so I thought I would show you the details that helped to make my corner of Liberty so cosy, so you too can join in and feel as if you were there.
I had two dusky green coloured trestle tables pushed together to create a making area on one side of the atrium on the 3rd floor, by the entrance to the Little Liberty children’s wear department. I brought some of the actual projects from the book along with some items I had made especially for the launch. The Floral Wall Hanging project from the front cover of the book was hung above an original fireplace – the perfect place for it – and on the mantlepiece I added the Bowl of Goldfish Mobile project, one of the dolls I made for the Vintage-style Doll project, a variation of the Graphic Boxes project and also the Butterfly Table Lamp project. I made the flower pots especially for the event too.
Above the trestle tables I hung an adaptation of the Enchanted Branch project. I made a much larger version especially to hang over the tables using more leaves cut from Liberty print fabric.
In the centre of the tables was a pile of vintage books – props from the Liberty prop cupboard. Plant pots were balanced on top , a bird cage and vintage patterned china acted as vessels for the fabric and materials I had prepared for guests to make with.
I wanted my guests to be able to join in and make something from the book so that they would have a little gift to take home with them.
The Flower Hair Band project seemed an obvious choice as it could also be made into a brooch too. I spent the week before the launch preparing, cutting out the circles (100 in total) that the base of the flower is made from, leaf shapes, flowers for the centres and fabric strips, to save time for my guests. All were a little mismatched but Liberty fabric is perfect for this, it works brilliantly with different patterns jumbled together. So my guests just had to decide which patterns they liked. The results were really lovely and I hope people were happy with their little fabric flowers. You can see some the broochs here. If you would like to have a go at making one you can follow the Liberty video that we made.
Another simple project was the Wishing Board project. Guests could make a wish by drawing on a card tag and hanging it on the wishing board. I cut up thin strips of Liberty fabric and had a pile of labels and Muji fibre tip pens with little bits of washi tape wrapped around them. One such tape was a much-loved Merci for Liberty tape. Once the wish had been drawn the tie was threaded through and the drawn wish could be taken home or added to the wish board.
I loved that everyone got creative with these and started stitching on them and really making them personal. The full illustrated instructions for each of the projects can be found in the book which is available through CICO Books and at Amazon.
The idea behind the wishing board is that it isn’t material things children should wish for, not Playstations or Barbie dolls, but things that can make you happy; a bunch of flowers, a holiday, a pony, even a rocket to the moon. As one of the gorgeous girls who modelled in the book, and came along with her mum, said on her tag “I wish I had a Hamster”. So sweet. I think I had the same wish when I was eight.
I hope all your wishes come true. x
What a fantastic day my book launch at Liberty was. In fact I would go so far as to say it was one of the highlights of my career so far! I had been preparing for the launch for the fortnight before, cutting fabric, getting materials together and planning it all in the evenings and weekends. It was an early start as everything had to be set up before Liberty opened its doors but thankfully I had the help of my lovely friend Caroline who was invaluable. And we also got to raid the Liberty prop cupboard to help style the table!
I wanted it to be informal so we had a big craft table that sat about a dozen people and it was filled all afternoon with people making, chatting and laughing and some children joined us after school, including my own, which was lovely, everyone making and drawing together. It was so much fun.
Everyone could have a go at making the flower hairband and hair clip project, and I also brought brooch pins so they could be worn on your clothing, showing how easily it could adapted for grown ups as well as children. Everybody seemed to love them and even guests who considered themselves non-sewers had a go and loved what they made. We also had the wish board project there, and guests could make a wish by drawing it on a tag and hanging it on the board with a Liberty fabric tie. There were lots of sweet and fun tags on the board by the end of the day.
On the Tuesday before the launch Liberty asked me along to be filmed making the flower hair band project for their blog too which was fun, though I am much happier behind the camera styling than in front of it, so if you couldn’t make it to the launch and want to have a go at making one it’s all in the video, I hope you like it. Liberty also interviewed me and you can read it on the Liberty blog here.
We have also uploaded all of the photos my husband took onto the Homemade Home Facebook page, so do have a look and please comment if you see yourself! Don’t forget to hit the ‘Like’ button too if you would like to get the updates there. Or if you came along and took pictures I would love to see them and feel free to post them on the page. I have been very busy since the launch but will be posting again with images of the displays and things we made.
Some special thank yous go to all of the Liberty team who were fantastic and helped it go so smoothly. Sonia, Cindy and the CICO Books team for all their support. Caroline, Polly and my husband Mark for all their help and to my mum and dad who brought my children along after school. And a big thank you to all of you who couldn’t make it along or were far away and sent sweet messages.
The biggest thank you goes to everyone who came along on the day. I really, really appreciated it and without you it wouldn’t have been the success it was. I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. 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.