Friday, 19 February 2010

A Year of Creativity

I've always loved keeping journals. When I was little I'd write about all the things I got up to each day. Nowadays, I often start the year with good intentions of writing something every day, but this isn't always possible...sometimes nothing very noteworthy happens, or I find myself engrossed in life and don't quite find the time to put pen to paper.

I found this fabric covered journal in the Waterstone's sale and just couldn't leave it on the shelf! The pages aren't lined and it got me thinking about the possibilities of creating a visual (rather than written) journal.

"What a great way to use, amongst other things, some of the vintage ephemera I've collected from junk shops and at French brocantes", I thought to myself...

...and so I've started creating a little work of art each day. I think I'll become bolder and braver as the days go on (I'm still finding my creative feet at the moment).

I often link the images I use with what I've done that day. As you can probably tell, we're currently going through a bit of redecoration here at Treasure Towers.

It's so wonderful to give myself a bit of time each day to be creative. I find it really relaxing!

Monday, 15 February 2010

A Vintage Affair

Every so often a book comes along that I just can't put down. The latest read to fall into this category has been Isabel Wolff's 'A Vintage Affair'. I finished it in two days (which is a speed record for me)! In case you haven't read it, it's all about Phoebe Swift, a young woman who's just opened a vintage dress shop (and is also coping with the loss of her best friend). One day Phoebe buys a collection of clothes from an elderly French woman, which leads to all sorts of intrigue, soul searching and adventure. Vintage clothes, mystery, stories of people's lives and the feel good factor - it's definitely in my list of favourite reads!

Reading 'A Vintage Affair' brought back memories of an article I wrote last year all about the most fabulous vintage shop in New York...

Hooti Couture sits joyfully on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and is owned by the very glamorous Alison Houtte. Even though I haven't yet visited myself, I can tell from the photos that Alison sent me that this is a vintage fashion lover's paradise.

Alison worked as a fashion model for over ten years and was featured in Vogue, Elle and French Marie Claire.

There's all sorts to look at...

...from hats and jackets... handbags and jewellery.

Alison and her sister, Melissa, wrote one of my favourite books of all time, Alligators, Old Mink and New Money - One Woman's Adventures in Vintage Clothing. I found it a few years ago and have been a Hooti fan ever since! It's all about Alison and her Hooti Couture adventures. It's bursting with tales of vintage clothes, her modelling days, the shop itself and excursions to find treasures for it. If you love vintage fashion, you'll love this book!

On seeing all these photos of Hooti Couture (and having read Alligators, Old Mink and New Money), it's all I could do to stop myself from buying a ticket to New York on the spot! I very much hope to go to New York again soon and pay Hooti Couture a visit.

A huge thank you to Alison for letting me share her photos with you here. Hoorah for vintage!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Delving into the Past

If I had to choose a museum to get lost in, it would have to be the
V&A. I love wandering around the galleries and it doesn't matter how many times I visit, I always find a treasure I haven't seen before. Rather than doing everything in one day, I tend to pop into the museum whenever I'm in London and choose one or two galleries to explore. More often than not, I'm drawn to the textiles and jewellery galleries!

In the next few months there's not one, but two exhibitions that I can't wait to see at the V&A! Grace Kelly Style opens in April, but before then there's Quilts 1700-2010, which starts in March. Here's a sneaky peak at some of the quilts that will be on display...

At the End of the Day, 2007, Natasha Kerr © V&A Images

Natasha Kerr created this piece as a tribute to her grandfather who was interned during World War Two and was released to carry out essential hospital work. Incorporated into a flag identity, it's made from antique French bed linen.

To Meet My Past, 2002 Tracey Emin, The Saatchi Gallery, London

Tracey Emin used embroidery and appliqué in this installation to illustrate periods of pain and despair. I think it's interesting from the point of view that it shows how a quilt can be used to store personal and collective memories (although I think I'd be more drawn to record happy events).

Liberty Jack, 2008, Janey Forgan © V&A Images

I love this quilt. I've seen it so many times in pictures that I'm really looking forward to finally seeing it 'for real'.

Ann West (detail), 1820 © V&A Images

Ann West's quilt features scenes of biblical and everyday life and is exquisitely detailed. It's thought to have been intended as an educational piece for children.

Bishops Court quilt, 1690-1700, Unknown maker © V&A Images

Until the V&A's experts did a spot of date testing on this quilt, it was always thought that the future King Charles II slept under it as he fled from the Civil War. It's more likely that the quilt was made nearer 1700, so the Royal connection remains a bit of a myth.

Elizabeth Chapman (detail) 1829, © V&A Images

Thought to have been a marriage commemoration between John and Elizabeth Chapman, the V&A discovered that the poem on the front of this quilt is actually a macabre epitaph connected to the tale of a dentist who didn't do quite as he should have done when his wife passed away.

George III reviewing the troops (detail), 1803 - 1805, Unknown maker
© V&A Images

This coverlet documents significant military and naval events as well as everyday life and includes self-portraits of its maker in some of the well-known pictures.

Do let me know what your favourite museums are...I love discovering new places to visit!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Making Time for the Small Things

I've long been a huge fan of the fabulous Australian zine, Mixtape, so rather than keeping it as my little secret, I thought it was about time I shared it!

It's a fabulously inspiring read, packed with articles about crafting and all sorts of other lovely things. According to the talented people who create it, it's 'a collision of craft, eco-cool and pop culture kitsch'. Mixtape's strapline sums it up's all about 'making time for the small things'. As soon as my copy plops on to the doormat, I give myself a bit of time off with a mug of tea and read it from start to finish!

People from all over the world contribute to Mixtape, so there's always lots of interesting bits and bobs to read about (and it's interesting to know what other craft lovers are up to around the globe). It also makes me want to pack my bags, head for Australia and go and see for myself what their exciting craft scene's all about...there's certainly a lot of talent down under.

The next issue is due out on 22nd February and I'm very excited to report that a little piece I wrote all about the joy of buttons will be featured!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Fabric, Glorious Fabric

Can it really be the start of February already? Where did January go?! The snow has now been replaced by rain, but far from being down-hearted about our country's climate, I'm cosying up in my workroom with the heating on and mug of hot chocolate close by, working on all sorts of articles and projects.

For the March issue of Sew Hip, I wrote about Cynthia Mann and her company, Fabricworm. Cynthia creates the most gorgeous organic cotton's a sneaky peak at the first two pages...

The March issue's on sale now (and also features the next installment in my journey through the history of twentieth century fabric design).

Time to go and put the kettle on again I think!