Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where Art Thou Deco?

Next month I will be going on a road trip to Florida with my family. We will be staying in Daytona Beach to watch the Space shuttle launch. I’m looking forward to going down there but I hope that if we get to visit that state again, we get to see Miami, because of its collection of Art Deco buildings.

One of my favourite design styles is Art Deco. I love its symmetrical use of straight lines and curves with beautiful combinations of materials such as stainless steel, aluminium, lacquer and woods such as walnut, rosewood, ebony and oak.

Art Deco’s bold look fused together modern and functional design with exotic materials with oozed glamour and elegance. Its streamlined style punctuated with rich materials is something I love personally in design. I love design that is simple, clean and functional but is also distinct in the colours and textures it uses. I once had the honour of owning an Art Deco wardrobe and a dresser which were a beautiful Walnut Veneer.

I have visited Paris many times over the years and I love the Montmartre area of the city which has some lovely Art Deco and also Art Nouveau (Another style I love) gems.

Here are some of my favourite Art Deco pictures. Enjoy!


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Left: Chrysler Building, NYC

Centre and Right: Various Buildings In Miami, Fl

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Left: Lyceum Theatre Glasgow, UK

Right: Interior of the Rex Cinema, Berkhampsted, UK

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images (7)Left: Ebonized French Art Deco vanity c1920

Right: Art deco Fashion


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Left: Art Deco Poster

Right: The entrance to the Abbesses Metro Station, Paris

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake!

The infamous line that wasn’t spoken by Marie Antoinette. But I will say it. Sometimes when I feel uninspired, fed up or just not in the mood for working in my studio, I bake. I find that it calms me down, relaxes me and gives me a feeling of satisfaction, especially since I can eat the yummy outcomes afterwards!

This is my Lemon Loaf cake, tweaked from a Delia Lemon Sandwich cake.

The IngredientsLemon

  • 1 lemon, zest only, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 175g/6oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 175g/6oz butter, at room temperature
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 3 eggs

Preheat the oven at Gas Mark 3/170 C/325 F

  • Just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together so you get a thick cake mixture.
  • Line a standard loaf tin with greaseproof paper/baking parchment, this makes it easier when trying to get the cake out afterwards.
  • Pour mixture in and put on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 45 mins. Keep checking the cake, and after 45 mins stick a knife/skewer in and pull out to see if there is any cake mixture still. If there is put back in for another 5 mins and check again. If it is clean then you’re done.

Let it cool down, then take out of loaf tin. I like to then cut it open and spread lemon curd on one side and sandwich it. Or you can keep it as a loaf cake, cut pieces off and spread lemon curd or jam on it with a nice cup of tea.

(Placemat in picture is the Ozborne Placemats, available from my Etsy Shop.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dexter Makes the Headlines

Well he got an appearance on a blog called Friday Puppy, he got picked out of the crowd whilst we were in Saratoga Springs for Chowder Feast. How proud am I, his good looks always turn heads.

Click here to see the full blog.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How To Shorten Curtains

As requested by a fan here are some instruction on how to take up curtains. It really is very simple and is a case of common sense. Really just take a look at how the curtains are constructed as you alter them and copy .

1. Shortening curtains all depends on a) how much is being taken up b) what type of header you have c) do you have a lining? Is that lining attached at the bottom or is it just attached down the sides and simply hemmed and shorter than the decorative face fabric.

2. If you are only taking them up a bit, then you could just create a big turn up and not have to actually cut off any excess. Very easy especially if you don’t have a lining. It maybe easier and simpler to adjust the top of the curtain rather than the bottom but this depends on the header i.e. Tab Top, Eyelet or Pencil Pleat Tape. You can move the Tape down by unpicking the tape, the top of the curtain and a little down the sides. Mark where the new tape will be positioned then fold the top of the curtain a ¼ inch above where the tape will sit and fold in the sides too. If there is a lot of excess then cut off. Pin the tape back on and sew into position. Gather as needed and reattach the drapery hooks.

3. If your header is an eyelet one or tab top then you will have to adjust the hemline. First hang the curtains up on the curtain pole they will occupy.

4. Decide on where you want the hemline to fall by sticking a couple of pins in to mark the length. Take the curtains down.


5. If you have a lining you will have to unpick this now from the decorative fabric. Use a seam ripper or some pointed embroidery scissors. Unpick along the bottom and up the sides to where your new hemline will be too allow the fabrics to be folded over.


6. Laying the curtains flat over a flat hard surface, you will need to mark a line across the width of the curtain where you have placed the pin for your new hemline. Measure down from the top of the curtains to the pin, mark with chalk or another fabric marker, do this measurement every 10 inches across. Then draw a line to connect all these marks.


7. Measure another 2-3 inches (the longer the curtain the bigger number you will use) from this line and mark, again do this across the width of the curtain and draw a line.

8. Cut off the excess now by cutting along this new line.

9. The lining is always shorter than the decorative fabric so you can cut off an inch more than the decorative fabric.


10. Now fold the raw edge of the fabric (decorative) over ½ inch and press. Then fold over again at the point where the new hemline will be and press again. Do the same for the Lining.


11. Now depending on how the lining was attached at the bottom you will either have the decorative fabric hemline folding over the lining and encompassing it fully, pin it in place and sew along the hem (topstitch). Or you will sew the hemline of the decorative fabric and separately sew the hemline of the lining. The lining then can be stitched to the side of the decorative fabric at the bottom with a few hand stitches.

12. You should be done now so re-hang your curtains.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where has all the Decoration gone?

500 odd years ago the top architects and craftsman’s built huge cathedrals, churches, grand houses and palaces for royalty, the clergy and the aristocracy. These buildings some of which still stand today are feats of engineering and works of art in a time when tools were basic. They didn’t have cranes and diggers to move vast and heavy sods of earth. They didn’t have power tools and lasers to carve and chisel mouldings, busts and ornate ceilings. All the work was done by hand and it usually took years to complete. Henry VIII was so impatient when the Great Hall at Hampton Court was being built that he forced the builders and masons to work through the night using candlelight to see what they were doing.

The decoration of these old buildings inside and out is so intricate and ornate, it amazes me how it was done. But what I find strange is that now in this modern era of technological building techniques we no longer have ornate sculptural buildings. Everything is plain, clean lines, and flat. Yes I know that a lot of city buildings are built to be greener and structurally advanced, but where are these buildings that are works of art as well.

Below are some of the pictures of Hampton Court Palace inside and out. Such an interesting building to look at, with its combination of Tudor and Baroque. The Tudor interior is a gorgeous world of colour and texture, as seen in the stained glass windows, tapestries and carvings in wood and masonry. The Baroque interior has wood panelling, amazing painted frescos on the ceilings, murals that span huge walls, gold and crystal chandeliers.



The entrance to the palace (Tudor) The Apartments of William & Mary (Baroque)


One of the tapestries adorning the Great Hall wall’s

Tudor corridor (Left) The Roof of the Great Hall (Right)




The Great Hall Coat of Arms on the ceiling Portrait of a young Elizabeth



The Cross over between Tudor and Baroque A mural going up the Kings Staircase A ceiling Fresco




The Gardens

I’m very lucky to live near these beautiful, historic buildings back home in England. Where thanks to the good work of Historical Royal Palaces, English Heritage and other private houses these beautiful buildings are looked after and restored to preserve and to teach future generations about their country’s history and culture.

Friday, March 11, 2011

March Recommended Reading

Cath Kidston: SEW

I bought this book last year when I was looking for inspiration in my down time. This British designer’s style is very recognisable and evokes images of chintzy housewife. This book has many projects, some which are suitable for beginners and some for those a bit more advanced. At the beginning of the book it actually has a section on the basics of sewing, such as how a sewing machine works, how to draft patterns and basic tools.

She also goes into detail about how to make different types of seams and different methods of decorating pieces such as appliqué. It is a very easy book to follow and great for a beginner especially since it come with the patterns and a ready to make bag, which are in a flap on the inside cover. For those who are already advance, you already know how to make many of these, but it is still great for getting ideas.

Projects include; shopper bags, baby mobile, tablecloths, wash bags, a beanbag, child’s apron, and a quilted purse.

My Rating: 7/10

Colette Wolff: The Art of Manipulating Fabric

I bought this book whilst doing my degree at university. I was looking for ideas for surface decoration to incorporate with my screen printing. It is a jam packed book full of what seems like hundreds of ways to stitch, fold and press fabric into pieces of sculpture.

The photos are all black and white and the fabric used to teach you the methods is just plain white so you don’t get distracted by colours and patterns. The instructions are easy to follow, but note this is really a book I think for the more advanced seamstresses, as this is something you tend to use once you know the basics and you then incorporate in your pieces.

You could spend days trying out the methods, I haven't even tried most of them and I've had the book for years. It's one of those books you just have for reference and inspiration and you will have it forever!

Surface decoration methods included; pleating, ruffles, tucks, shirring, Suffolk puffs, and quilting.

My Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beauty is in the Eye of the Button

I love interesting buttons! I will buy clothes just because they might have interesting buttons on them. Maybe it’s because my favourite program as a child was Button Moon (British audiences will remember this).

I go to markets and buy handfuls of buttons, with the intent of using them in my products. But I find it hard to part with them. So if you buy something from me with a button on it you should feel very honoured. I also keep all those spare buttons you get in little bags that are on the tags of clothing you buy. I have loads of them in my sewing kit box, all bagged up and sorted into sizes.

I am thinking of making some covered buttons, as I have seen some really beautiful ones. But I think I would get too obsessed with doing it and I would drown in a sea of buttons.

Here are some photos of my favourite buttons in my own collection and on things I’ve bought

I also love these buttons from Etsy seller Howbeadful: I Love Tea Collection

They have lots of gorgeous and unique buttons for sale, so take a look at Howbeadyful today.

What is your thing, that you collect?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lake George

Apologies for not writing recently. But this weekend was a chance for hubby and I to get away from our four-legged baby and enjoy some time alone in the Adirondacks. We stayed up near Lake Schroon in a hotel that was established in 1845 and which has been lovingly restored. On the way there we also stopped off at Lake George which was beautiful. Very quiet town, most likely because it is winter season, I can imagine it's heaving in the summer.

It was just a one night stay, but it just gave us a break from the norm, and allowed us to see some more of New York state. I can imagine that this is how parents of actual human children feel when they get a chance to palm them off onto others for a night off from their duties. You don't really go wild and party, you
just sleep and enjoy quiet and peace!

Here are some pictures anyway of Lake George