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!
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.
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.
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 over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international 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.
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