Friday, 18 July 2014

Making a willow chicken for my Garden

On a recent visit to Arley Hall Gardens where they have a small garden centre, I spied a gorgeous pecking chicken in the greenhouse, made of willow. The chicken had been made by Juliette Hamilton, willow sculptress extraordinaire, who makes willow sculptures for all sorts of events, such as these cows that she was commissioned to make for this years Glastonbury Festival.
Juliette runs regular courses, which are often themed to the seasons and teaches us lesser creative mortals how to make all manner of creatures from chickens, to dancing hares and stags heads.
Yesterday myself and a friend went along to Nettle in Tattenhall Cheshire, to attend one of Juliette's chicken willow weaving courses. Nettle is a beautiful florist and gift shop, housed in a lovely converted barn and was the perfect setting for getting inspired to make something for the garden.

The day started with coffee and biscuits, gluten free very thoughtfully provided for me, and a meet and greet. The courses are kept small and intimate, so that Juliette can instruct as much or as little as each student requires and the chatter and laughter got louder as the day progressed and everybody got to know each other better. After a break for a delightful lunch of poached salmon, new potatoes and salad, followed by a gluten free chocolate roulade,beautifully made by Ros and her mum, we got back to the task in hand and before we knew it our chickens and cockerels were taking shape.

My very creative friend's chicken ended up plumb and resplendent, lets just say mine is work in progress and I came away with a bundle of willow reeds and instructions from Juliette on how to feed him up and make him a bit fatter but I love him, which is all that matters?
Here he is pecking happily away in my garden, looking a bit more crispy duck than chicken?

We had an amazing day, surprisingly we found it very relaxing and therapeutic and both agreed that we would be back for more classes. I think the stags head would look wonderful decking our hall at Christmas. Nettle also run Christmas wreath making courses and if you are interested, give them a ring early as they get booked up super quick.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Matisse Cut Outs Tate Modern London

Last Tuesday myself & Mr B went up to the big smoke on the train, 2 hours 10 mins from Manchester Piccadilly and we were there!
Our plan was to go to Borough Market for lunch before going on to Tate Modern for our 3 O'clock viewing of The Matisse Cut Outs. Just to let you know, if you're thinking of going, to the exhibition, on spec, don't. It was packed and the tickets have to be pre booked, with viewings every 15 minutes, so book before you get there. As with all the best laid plans, they sometimes go wrong and the que for the underground to Blackfriars was so long we ended up arriving with only time for a quick coffee and delicious banana loaf cake but hey ho?

The Tate Modern is a monster of a building, it's previous incarnation was as a power station, built in 1947, so it's vast, with very industrial sharp lines and angles, but impressive and in a great position, on Bankside, right on the edge of the Thames.
I have always loved the work of the artists living in France in the inter and post war years, the work, at that time, of Jean Cocteau, Picasso and Matisse has always been a style I have admired and sought out to view, with it's curlicues and magical figueres, simple line drawings, stars and mystical symbols. I've been to The Picasso Museum in Barcelona and Antibes, visited Le salle Des Mariages, which Jean Cocteau decorated in Menton and viewed Matisse's blue nude cut outs at Musee D'Orsay, but nothing prepared me for the extend and vast size of the collection curated by Tate Modern. It was spectacular and inspiring and very moving to think that Matisse, as an old man and in the last years of his life, was still so driven to produce art every day.

His love of colour and expertise at mixing just the right tone is obvious in every piece exhibited.

I remember 25 years ago when we bought our first home together, wanting to make a seaweed shaped stencil and decorate the whole of our lounge walls in stone and cream cut outs of our very own, so it was wonderful to see my original inspiration, in life size splendour. Sorry I have no photo of this, you're not really supposed to take photographs, but I snuck a few in.

A few years ago designer, Minn Hogg, the founding Editor of World of Interiors, designed a range of wallpapers and fabrics, reflecting references taken from seaweed. They are perfect for bringing a little bit of Matisse's style to your home.

Celia Birtwell, another favourite surface print designer of mine, also references mystical figures and symbols in her work and although she has now sadly shut up her shop in London, a selection of her designs are available on line.
Have any of you been to see The Matisse Cut outs? What did you think and were you inspired. I'd love to know?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Trend - Chunky Crochet Knits

I always love buying interior mags from the Airport on my way back from a trip overseas, you can get some great inspiration from the pages and quite often something you see that seems to be every where in the country you're in, hasn't transcended home yet.

I found that Holland has a major trend at the moment for knitting or crochet, on huge wooden needles, using cotton jersey yarn.

We've seen this trend already in the UK, with the large crochet knitted poufs that have been everywhere from Nordic designers such as Ferm Living to every High Street retailer, but in Amsterdam anything and everything that could possibly be knitted or crochet was. 
Poufs from Ferm Living

Here are a few of the designs I found, in magazines I brought back.

These are very sweet little crochet squares strung up like Eastern prayer flags

I love this chunky crochet throw in a warm earthy tone.

During our visit to The Sunday Artisan market, one of my crafty (in the nicest possible way) friends bought one of the wooden crochet hooks and a pattern for this cushion from Shades of Yesterday and made this. I love it so much, I've already put my order in!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Wooden Beads as Decoration

When I was in Amsterdam, I noticed there were lots of shops selling large strings of wooden beads, used as decoration around the home.

They seem really hard to find in the UK but you can string your own and Etsy have a large selection of plain wooden beads, which can also be painted.

Here are a few images from interior magazines that I bought in Holland. Sadly I can't read Dutch otherwise I would be able to tell you were they could be bought from.

These two images are from Style Files blog

Wooden beaded star available from Houzz

I have also had my eye on some beaded chandeliers for some time for Chez Barlow but sadly all the ones I have found are very expensive and way out of budget, so until they hit the High Street, they will have to wait. Here are some to lust over in the meantime.

Snapped on my visit to Merci Paris
I did have an idea to pimp the Bali wooden chandelier that Next were selling last summer but sadly they are no longer available. If anybody knows where I can still get them, please let me know!

summers perfect shoe - Espradilles

It all started last summer when I bought a pair of Toms, mainly because everybody told me how comfortable they were and also I was really impressed with their ethos of caring & sharing, giving a pair of shoes to a child from a developing country, every time a pair is purchased. I wanted to be part of that too.

I still love my Toms but when I recently went away to Amsterdam with some friends I came across a stall on an artisan market selling authentic leather sandals from Spain in beautiful soft ice cream colours. It got me thinking about the espadrilles that are worn by men, women and children all over Spain and then I found the perfect pair for me. Traditional in style but with a leopard print, which I am quite partial to. Worn sparingly it adds a touch of glamour and a hint of decadence. Not in a Pat Butcher way, more, I like to think, in a Kate Moss way?

My perfect choice. Koala animal print from Topshop.

A slightly larger leopard spot by Loeffler Randall

Since my purchase of my perfect summer espadrilles, that I'm convinced will go with practically everything in my wardrobe, another winning formula, I've become a bit obsessed with the rope soled shoes. Here's my pick of what I consider the best out there, but you might have found better? Let me know what your perfect summer shoes are.

I love the old rose gold colour of these espadrilles by John Lewis

Beautiful Rose pink suede, the colour of Turkish Delight by Michael Kors

Monochrome Batik print by Rag & Bone

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Rent A Modernist Coastal Holiday Home in Devon

A holiday on the South West coast of England is always a treat but this property, available to rent through The Landmark Trust is something really special.

Architecturally designed and built in the 1970's, Anderton House has been fully restored and is located near Barnstaple on the Devon coast.

Sleeping 5 people, it is the perfect family getaway, surrounded by rolling fields, with views as far as the eye can see. A perfect coastal retreat for any modernist architecture nut, complete with all 1970's fixtures and fittings.

To view the house in all it's splendour, read some of it's history & to make bookings you can go to The Landmark Trust site. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

And the winners are .......

Congratulations to the two lucky winners from my previous free prize giveaways.

The winner of the Newton eco design milk jug/sugar bowl from Darwin's Home is Robyn from Catching up with the Clarkes

The winner of the coloured glass tealights from Red Lilly is Tracy from I Heart My Family Home.

Enjoy your prizes ladies and thanks a million for participating and following my blog. It's always great to get new readers :) x