Friday, 16 December 2011

Sydney Harry Design

I have a lovely friend. Another colour loving mother. We've been friends for 17 years. And I've always thought that she had a pretty amazing style all of her own. She's just one of those ladies.

When we were a bit older, just out of university I think, I remember being in her flat. This was the time when we still didn't have much money for lovely belongings, so when something lovely came into our lives, it was noted. I noted a brilliant piece of art framed on her wall. She said it was by her Grandfather, that her Mum had a bunch of his stuff in the loft, and that they'd decided they should get a few out to enjoy.

Roll on a few years, and her sister decides that it's time to get those paintings out and do something with them. And thus it was that Sydney Harry's art came back out into the world, and I learnt the real legacy of his work.

Sydney Harry (1912-1991) was one of the UK's leading colour theorists in the 1960s and ‘70s who lectured across the UK and Europe as an expert in his field. Yorkshire born, his background in textiles and photography lead to a life-long fascination in colour.

His artworks are an exploration of colour and are an unusual academic and practical blend of science and art. Bridget Riley attended his lectures, and a study of her subsequent paintings may suggest that Harry's 'colour magic' influenced Riley to reassess her use of colour.

Sydney Harry prints are available from Sydney Harry Design.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

I Made That - Echino Quilt

When thinking about new babies (others, not mine), I wanted to give them something homemade, as I'd been inspired by my Lotta Jansdotter book. Or I'm guilty because M is 14 months and I still haven't made anything for him. Whatever.

Anyway, one of the gifts we appreciated most for M when he came along were two beautiful quilts made by his Grandma. Many months of lolling around were made far more comfortable, and now he moves we use them as cotton blankets on the carpet to stop him getting covered in fluff when I'm trying to apply creams after his bath (trying being the operative word, he's slippy, and moves fast).

So I collected a bunch of offcuts from Echino Furuya's designs, and made this quilt. Which I'm quite pleased with.

I'm a bit of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, so I followed my Jansdotter pattern so far, and made up the rest to suit me. It's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy. Frankly the brilliant fabric covers a multitude of sins. It is made from Echino Furuya's Grassy Plain in pink, and Bird Song in pink and green. I forgot to take a picture of the back which was made from Echino Glasses in pink:

I think a little girl might just like this quilt enough to keep it until she's a big girl.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Brainfood For Your Inner Goddess

When mooching around Bloomsbury recently, I came across Persephone Books. I had heard of them in the far reaches of my mind, knew that they reprint neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers. However I did not know about their aesthetic choices. I was so excited to find such a goldmine of understated patterned beauty. In their own words:

"With their distinctive plain grey jackets and cream 'labels' for the title wording, all our books look the same from the outside.

Inside, each is different, with the endpapers chosen especially to match the date and mood of the book.
Fabrics are as much a part of our daily lives as furnishing and dress materials, yet we rarely see them used in any other context. However, fabric design should be celebrated for its own sake; and because it is a field in which women designers have been particularly prominent we would like to use their work whenever possible."

Love love love,  and intrigued by the content too (I'm not that shallow!).  For now, some of my favourite endpapers. 
All descriptions are from the Persephone website.

The fabric, by Otti Berger (d. Auschwitz 1944), a Bauhaus designer living in Holland, could have been Etty's bedspread; the stripes running across the muted, if cheerful, pattern have the effect of barbed-wire.

The endpaper is a 1968 Liberty's fabric called 'Bangles'. The three-dimensional kinetic pattern is characteristic of the period, the pinks and purples reflecting the influence of op art and psychedelic design; it might have hung in the Viorst family apartment.

A 1970s furnishing fabric which the author bought as curtains for her flat in North London The

1920 printed dress silk fabric designed by George Sheringham for Seftons

The endpaper, a 1932 Duncan Grant fabric which Leonard and Virginia Woolf had as curtains and on a sofa, is called 'Grapes'.

Much of the book is spiky and sharp: appropriately, the fabric for the endpaper is 'Thistle', a Silver Studio block-printed cotton sold at Liberty's in 1896, the year Alex would have been nineteen; by which time she is ensnared - scratched - by thickets of convention and etiquette.

A 1938 fabric by Marion Dorn was chosen for Saplings. It is called 'Aircraft' and shows pairs of stylised pigeons in flight on a background of natural linen. It contains the imagery of aircraft being readied for war yet of birds freely in flight.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Elixir of Life - Tea Revives Me

Tea is very important. And Tea is very beautiful. Tea deserves a capital T.

Tea Caddies from Imperial Teas

Tea at my house.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Based in Brooklyn, NY, design studio Eskayel is the branchild of designer Shanan Campanaro. A graduate of Central St. Martins in London, Campanaro was redecorating her apartment in the spring of 2008, and decided to experiment with the idea of making wallpaper by digitally manipulating sections of her watercolour paintings. After fabulous results she began using the designs in her exhibitions, which quickly led to her first interior wallpaper commissions.

The ethereal quality of her designs is exquisite, I'd love a room with any of her wallpapers, I can't help but think I'd feel beautiful just being in it (this is also a room where babies are dressed in white cashmere and don't have snotty noses ever). Plus, she's just launched a range of rugs with Doris Leslie Blau, which appeal to me as a wonderfully delicate alternative to persian patterns. No shoes allowed!

Eskayel wallhangings at the very least - cuttings of any choice of wallpaper - on the wishlist.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Print Your Own: Spoonflower Fabric

While searching for fabric online to make gifts for new babies (so much fun! a girl and a boy - not from the same family - so I get to indulge myself both ways!) I found the brilliant American site, Spoonflower, who ship internationally, luckily.

In their own words, Spoonflower make it possible for individuals to design, print and sell their own fabric designs. Founded in May 2008 by two Internet geeks who had crafty wives but who knew nothing about textiles. The company came about because Stephen’s wife, Kim, persuaded him that being able to print her own fabric for curtains was a really cool idea. She wasn’t alone. The Spoonflower community now numbers around 150,000 individuals.

Oh the possibilities! There are hundreds and hundreds of prints to choose from (or design your own), including cut and sew patterns. I could get - and have been -  seriously lost in these patterns, but here are some of my favourites. This week.

Some William-Morris-alikes:

Some gorgeous nursery choices:

Some pretty, but grown up:

Too good for the kids?:

Boy Heaven (that's not just for boys!):

And finally, for my husband:

All images copyright