an old favourite : the steel rule

March 31, 2012  in homemade, vintage finds

craft items by Sania Pell

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.

craft rulers by Sania Pell

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.

craft rulers by Sania Pell

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 by Sania Pell

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.

vintage rulers by Sania Pell

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


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  1. Toni says:

    I always really enjoy your mood boards, and I find your display of vintage rulers very inspiring.

  2. Jo says:

    It’s lovely to hear how your fascination with rulers started and you always manage to make things look so interesting in your photos, even something as normal as a ruler!! love it. Jo x

  3. allesistgut says:

    It’s great to work with old tools. Mostly they look even better than the new ones and they have more soul. Beautiful pictures as always.
    Have a lovely week!

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Sania Pell freelance interior stylist London.

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.

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