Thursday, 29 March 2012

in Islington: H Crabb, 158 Liverpool Road and The Make Lounge, Barnsbury Street

On my way to a meeting at Islington Council, I spotted these two shops:
H Crabb Concertina Maker, 158 Liverpool Road,
now home to knitted cushions and some mice

The Make Lounge on Barnsbury Street - contemporary craft workshops.
Click here to see what they have planned for the next few months - I like the idea of patchwork quilting and making a dress

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Betty Boyns

These fabrics by Betty Boyns caught my eye at the Country Living Spring 2012 Fair, most specifically the Star Burst fabric which is new for 2012: it has a 1950s look about it, with those spindly lines and dots, and its a nice alternative to polkadots (although I also quite fancy the green polkadot in the pic below).

Betty Boyns is a vintage and country inspired fabric and stationnery design company based in Cornwall - and I was lucky to meet the designer herself, Paula Nicholls, when I visited the Fair.  Paula has combined her arts training with her family heritage (her father and other family members were fabric dyers and block printers) and her love of the countryside to create a range of fabrics that would look good in a country or city home. And they are a very good price at £15 / metre (150cm wide), and the pinnies cost just £13.

New York: Erica Weiner at Elizabeth Street, Nolita, NYC

I discovered Erica Weiner's jewellery at The Shop Floor Project, saw the Be Prepared For Bears, and knew that a visit to their store was my destiny - because Osborn, an ancient Norse name, means Bear God.  It is derived from Asbiorn, 'As' meaning God, and 'Bjorn' meaning bear (which means that my childhood tennis hero, Bjorn Borg, is really called Bear Borg).

I like the motto 'be prepared' on the necklace, because I like to think of myself as prepared, organised and ready for anything. I found this to be not strictly true on my visit to NY when I totally forgot the clock-change to Summer Time - I blame the jet-lag.

Erica Weiner jewellery is an eclectic mix of vintage inspired pieces like the Be Prepared Bear  or unique one-off vintage pieces and the shop, on Elizabeth Street, is a once of those places where you could browse for hours finding new bits of treasure. It's well worth a visit if you are in NY - especially if, like me, you want to seek out local designer-makers,

These 1970s vintage Sweetheart Necklaces can be customised with your own message (allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery).  It is truly shocking to realise that the decade of your birth, the 70s, is now classed as 'vintage'.
A vintage heart shaped locket.
Erica Weiner on Elizabeth Street, Nolita

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

on a spree to New York - souvenirs

Before my New York visit becomes old news, here's what I brought back home as souvenirs. I went for primaries: blue, yellow and a dash of red.

Manhattan is awash with global highstreet fashion brands, like Gap, Mango, Zara, Topshop, H&M, All Saints... There are no Madewell stores in the UK (yet), which is why I chose a scarf from there: a brilliant blue edged with pale pink, white and bold black lines, and printed with botanical images which I like to think are American, since one of them is corn maize and I am sure a British designed scarf would not have an image of this very American food-stuff (think corn chips, maize oil, and the lethal corn syrup).

There are plenty of American Apparel stores here in the UK, but it is all made in downtown LA which appealed to me as I was buying Made In The USA while I stayed in the USA. Also, it is cheaper to buy American Apparel gear in the States than over here. I am just a little bit obsessed with yellow and this bright yellow with blue zip jumped out at me - bought at the Bleeker Street store, near to where I was staying.

These large clutches are very handy for keeping notebooks and papers all together when I am at work, as a bag within a bag. The little pale lemon purse will be used for make-up: the red souvenir I bought was an 'Angel Red' Clinique lipstick. Or it can be used as a small clutch on a night out, a I did on Saturday, with the yellow key ring attached to make a wrist-strap - room enough for purse, mobile, keys and lipstick too.

coming up: Selvedge Fair Spring 2012

I'm looking forward to the Selvedge Spring Fair which is coming up soon - this Saturday, 31st March from 10am to 5pm at St Augustine's Church Hall in London N6 (just off the Archway Road - for how to get there info click here). I've been a couple of times before, and it never fails to please partly because you have the opportunity to meet and talk with designer-makers and see the things they have crafted, but also because of its setting in a church hall, decorated by Selvedge for the Fair, which always seems to be flooded with beautiful light.

A list of their exhibitors is here. I'm looking forward to taking a look at new creations by Gabrielle Vary and Tamara Fogle, and seeing wallpaper and textiles by Ivo Prints. There are also designer-makers from outside Britain such as Claudine & Compagnie from Belgium who make collars and accessories, and Parna a company that sources vintage textiles from Central and Eastern Europe.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Rodgers & Rodgers

I have to tell you about Rodgers & Rodgers, who I made a beeline for when I visited the Country Living Spring Fair this weekend - and I was not the only one, their stall was humming like a hive (to continue the bee analogy). And for good reason: their jewellery made of semi-precious stones set in silver, oxidised silver and gold vermeil combines pretty and classic with that special quality that makes your friends go: ooo, where did you get that from?

I first discovered Rodgers & Rodgers at the Spirit of Spring Fair last Spring, and subsequently emailed them to find out if I could buy a semi-precious pendant to add to a necklace I have. I got a prompt reply - they were sure to have something I liked; and they were right.  Despite being very busy, they found me a selection of pendants to choose from, and were happy to advise on which colour and shape looked best.

Contact them via their website or Facebook page if you want to see more of their jewellery.

This photo does not do justice to their jewellery - but you get the idea, their stall is full of silver, gold vermeil and semi-precious stones you'll want to get your hands on, especially their rings that stack brilliantly.
My silver star from Hellkats (an LA based jeweller) and the Rodgers & Rodgers lemon topaz pendant

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Stockwell Ceramics

I spotted Stockwell Ceramics at Dulwich Picture Gallery last summer, so I was very happy to bump into them at the Country Living Fair.  They make ceramic buttons, as thin as corn chips and as smooth and flat as pennies, in a variety of shapes: star, oblongs, hearts, flowers and the more traditional round button shape. While buttons are their main business, they also make brooches and pendants. If you want to buy their wares, contact them directly via their website, or visit Ceramic Buttons which sells a range.
These are buttons from their original 'bright' collection - decorated with dots, dashes, spots and stripes
Good to know that their buttons are machine washable
Pendants and brooches - look at the lovely bluebirds, bottom right, decorated with designs inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement - they also make buttons with these decorations which were originally designed for the V & A.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Emma Hardicker

I met a lot of British designer-makers at the Country Living Spring 2012 Fair - one of whom was the very sweet Emma Hardicker, a silkscreen artist, designer and printer. Not only do I like her designs, I was also impressed that her enthusiasm and friendliness was not waning on Saturday, which must have been the busiest day of the Fair - and she was happy for me to take take some snaps of her prints and artworks.

These fabrics designed by Emma  are new for Spring 2012 - my photo does not do this pattern justice; it is packed with tulips and lovely fritillaries, those flower that have that unusual chequer-board pattern on the petals.  Emma explained to me the printing technique that will be used to produce this fabric will give it that silk-screen printed look (Emma - you'd better correct me if I'm wrong!)
fantastic! a print of a London view and cushions in her Spring 2012 print

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Caurnie soap

It's always great to meet the designer-makers in person, which you can do at Country Living Fair - James Little, skilled soapmaker of Caurnie soaps, is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the soap-making company established by his grandfather. Caurnie have been making soap by hand since 1922 in  Kirkintilloch  - they use pure vegan, chemical-free ingredients which are sourced locally. You can buy their products from their website, and also at BigBarn, the on-line farmer's market, as well as on Ebay. If you're in the area and you want to have a guided tour, contact them via their website - they are located just to the north east of Glasgow on the M80.
Look at the big knife for chopping soap! (middle top of photo). Their nettle soap (top right) does wonders for psoriasis and eczema - and its success in healing has a loyal fanbase.
Bog Myrtle soap!! (as you can tell I was excited to find this) it's got slightly antiseptic properties and is often used for insect repellant - which is music to my ears as I am attacked each summer by midges and mozzies. It smells very fresh, lighter than tea tree oil which has similar properties. The plant is native to nothern and western Europe, and parts of North America, and it times past was used for beer brewing before hops were used. 
Caurnie sell packs of 3 x 50g soaps: Herbal Calming contains chamomile, marigold and heather; Gardener's Hands contains contains marigold, mint and tea tree; and their pack of soaps perfect for a Kindness Appreciated contains orange, lime and lemongrass soaps. All so delicious you could eat them!

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Rose Cottage Boxes

I think Rose Cottage Boxes from Somerset is fabulous - not only do they make very pretty boxes, they are also an example of cottage industry at its best: a great design idea paired with an eco-friendly approach to business, where family members and local neighbours are all part of the team. The boxes which are made out of sustainably sourced wood and bio-degradable paper coverings, come in a range of sizes, and are decorated in a glorious range of patterns, from florals to bright buttons. You can buy the boxes from their website, or get yourself down to the Country Living Spring 2012 Fair, last day today - you'll find it very hard to choose just one to take home with you.
Boxes in every size, I liked the look of the larger ones which could be used for crafting stuff, or priceless treasures (if you are under 10 years old)
basket o' boxes - little tiny boxes for storing jewellery, or priceless treasures
Some of the larger boxes have compartments or a tray as a top layer
I have a thing about yellow, and I love this box particularly - yellow with grey birds and foliage

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top Picks - Anna Victoria

Anna Victoria is a designer-maker based in Cornwall, who started out with greetings cards, and now makes a range of tea towels and bone china cups which feature designs that are inspired by her life by the Cornish sea - mackerel, beach huts and little birdies - in a range of sweet pastels and brights.
tea towels with with big fish or flocks of fish
bird mugs - made in collaboration with McLaggan Smith
fish mugs - John Dory!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top picks - kids clothes from Bread & Jam and Isabee

When you go on a spree, you must not forget the children - it (sort of) makes up for all the treats you are buying for yourself. My top picks for kids at the Country Living Fair were Bread and Jam, and Isabee.

Bread and Jam make dresses for girls aged 2 to 10 years, using delightfully retro fabrics. I *love* that their company name is taken from one of my all time favourite kids books: Bread and Jam for Frances (a very single minded little badger who prefers to eat bread and jam, rather than all the other meals her mother cooks). I like the simple tunic style of the B&J dresses that they are making this season, which can be worn with tights, leggings or jeans.  As they say on their website, runs are small so you're unlikely to bump into lots of other little girls wearing the same dress - which can be an issue from certain popular high street chains, or mail order companies (mentioning no names).
Dresses with pockets are a little girl's dream - 
somewhere to store Moshi monster cards, GoGos, silly bands etc etc.
I love this pink and red Runaway dress - very on-curve for S/S12 - the fabric is called 'red crush'

I also love the sky blue dress, bottom left
Isabee based in London sell applique organic cotton t-shirts and bibs, and dressing up clothes all sewn by the lovely Isabee herself.  Isabee also sells fleecy blankets and hats for babies.

dressing up clothes for pirates and fairy princesses

Country Living Fair Spring 2012 - Top picks - Whinberry & Antler

The Country Living Spring 2012 Fair in Islington is bursting with British talent - Whinberry & Antler, a company established by Jacinta Ingham, is a fine example of this talent. Jacinta was one of the first designer-makers that I met - well, I saw the badger cushions first and I could barely take eyes off them - and she very sweetly took the time to tell me more about her company, even though she must have told her story several hundred times already. Established in Autumn 2011 in Shropshire, Whinberry & Antler makes fabric and homewares decorated with beautiful images of British wildlife. The images are first drawn and etched by hand, and then screen printed onto cotton fabrics sourced from a Yorkshire mill. Jacinta stressed the importance of supporting other British trades and small businesses - which is another reason why her company is one of my top picks of the Fair. Read more about how products are made at Whinberry & Antler on their blog.
This badger lavender bag is filled with Welsh lavender.
 These are draft excluders (the wrong way up) with little hedgehogs marching along
 that handsome badger again

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