Monday, 9 November 2009

Columbia Road Flower Market

I often like to take myself off for a little stroll along the wonderful Columbia Road on a Sunday, to breathe in the delights of its weekly flower market. A favourite haunt of bargain bloom-lovers throughout London, its pretty Victorian shopfronts hold equally lovely treasures within, from the oh-so-right combo of vintage homewares and cakes in the appropriately named Vintage Heaven & Cakehole, to mid-century baking paraphernalia (plus more cakes) in Treacle. To fully review the whole street and do it justice would take far too long, but for a few crafty tid-bits, keep reading

Ryantoon - the temporarily re-named store owned by paper-cutter extraordinaire Rob Ryan - has been rebranded in tribute to Ryan's beloved Newcastle FC (apparently there's something football-ey happening at the moment in man-sport-land). In fact, it's quite the most literal take on temporary I've ever seen: the entire store frontage has been wrapped in decorative Rob Ryan parcel tape (also sold instore for £10 a pop, natch). The result, combined with the fantastic window display, really is stunning, and also looks surprisingly resilient. Luckily for Ryan, his team have avoided some of the less aesthetically pleasing colour combo's of other strips and opted for classic black and white (I'm sure this was the number one topic of discussion in the boardroom back in 1905 or whenever these things were decided upon.) NB: I'd like to apologise now to any football fans reading for both my lack of knowledge and level of interest being so low I can't even be bothered to google for correct info.

Anyway, back to topics I know somewhat more about - this sweet little shelving unit caught my eye in retro candy shop Suck and Chew. Whilst it throws up my eternal dilemma regarding destroying already-sound items for the purposes of hacking, it's a great re-use, particularly if you have a somewhat redundant old pre-cm rule.

Couldn't resist including a little hack by Mother Nature herself: love, love, love these ornamental cabbage roses. Neither really one thing or t'other, they sure are mighty pretty.

Finally, the end of the street - with flower vendors dropping their prices by the second in an attempt to pack up before an imminent rainfall, the stampede stopped me actually checking out the shop this sign was advertising - but I was struck by the lovely collage newspaper frame (despite the fact it came out less romantic and more bacterial-looking in these shots).

Monday, 2 November 2009

Crazy Fools

It's not every day that you walk past a Victorian boozer and see giant inflatable tentacles bursting through the windows (although depending on how much liquer was involved before you left, maybe you do). Then again, it's not any old boozer that chooses to forego the local darts teams and drunken old men propping up the bar to let 'graf' lovin' Bristolians transform the place into a modern art gallery for a day. Being on the tres sophisticated Upper Street in Islington, though, presumably goes some way to ensuring your regulars won't be up in arms though (or tentacles... boom boom).

And so it was that the weekend of 24th/25th October saw
The Library play host to Bristol-based urban art collective Crazy Fools. As well as boyf-pleasing original prints, paintings and sculptures from the likes of Banksy and the fabulously textured 'untitled' artwork by David Walker (above), the work of Sarah Warren also caught my eye. Using collage and layering in her work, I simply lurve the way her images literally leap out of the page, achieved in part by using the mount as part canvas also, adorning it with cut out flowers- a great idea for any have-a-go artists out there.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Craft Hacker, meet Anthropologie. Anthropologie, meet, errr, a quivering, overexcited wreck clutching onto an embroidered pillowcase for dear life...

As this has already been covered by every man and his blog, I wasn't actually planning to write about it. I was intrigued, certainly, but feared that anything receiving such high praise would doubtless fail to live up to the hype, much in the same way that new years eve is, whilst often 'nice', rarely like, sooo the most amazing night of your entire life. But that was until I went inside and my heart was duly stolen by the extreme, unbelievable wonderment that is London's new Anthropologie store.

The whole experience is so beguiling, you kind of want to suck it all in so hard that you actually somehow become part of it all. Maybe experience some kind of rebirth as a crafty embroidered teatowel, or edgy vintage-style teacup-with-a-twist. Anyway, suffice to say the hour I spent in there gawping, cooing and generally acting as excitedly at a prepubescent at a JoBro concert was pretty darned special. The thing I frikkin love most about it is that it's just so crafty, folksy and handmade-ey with such original merchandise from lesser-known Brit designers as well as bigger names, and the VM of the store is uber-hot too. Like one huge, giant craft fair spliced with the kind of car boot you see in your dreams. It makes me kinda sad that it took an American brand to bring this level of designer/maker-ness to the high street, but nevertheless I'm still glad it's there. Along with the coupla pics above, these are a few of my favourite things *sung Julie Andrews style, natch*

A peek at just one of the fab instore displays - loving the misc drawers and also the way frames have been displayed with random fabric scraps inside - cute idea

Vibrant Indian fabric patchwork on this outdoor chair - a great way to use scraps plus a darned site more attractive than those dodgy plastic numbers

Having long admired the aesthetic of vintage bottle drying racks, this display shows an excellent hacker-esque way to repurpose one for cup displaying purposes - nice!

These are not just teatowels. These are hand embroidered, appliqued, illustrative visions of joy, who deserve to be hung on a wall and worshipped. Your damp, inferior crockery is simply not worthy of them
More display delights - as well as having groovy contents, even the cardboard boxes holding these fab vintage playing cards has been given a pretty fabric coat

Love, love love the hand-upholstered furniture throughout by Clerke and Reilly - as well as being in scrummy earthy, autumnal shades, there is a subtle patchwork to each item and pieces are hemmed externally giving a lovely homemade, unique finish.

And finally these wibbly-wobbly plates, complete with vintage-style pen and ink drawings

Even the changing rooms were beautiful - my cubicle chair even matched the top I tried on. I didn't purchase it in the end - gotta save myself an excuse to go back there ASAP...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Prop House Pillaging

Another day, another prop house. Whilst browsing the morning away in the wonderland that is Background Prop Hire in Islington, I happened upon these crafty fellows. Seemingly constructed by wrapping beautiful ethnic and retro style tissue paper around wooden placemats and coasters, this would be an easy hack to disguise any fugly old ones knocking around at home given to you by Auntie Mabel for Christmas in 1996.

Simply cut your paper an inch or two larger than your mat, then stick in place, going over the edges and onto the underside – spraymount should work, though some diluted PVA glue should also do the job, decoupage style. If your surface is patterned, try painting it white or sanding it down beforehand if possible to avoid the original pattern showing through, otherwise a couple of layers of white tissue paper underneath should suitable disguise the offending imagery.Then simply cut a piece of brown paper slightly smaller than your mat and stick it on the underside to neaten. A couple of coats of diluted PVA should seal your masterpiece sufficiently to protect from spills and splatters.

But the fun doesn't end there - my prop house rummage also dug out these hack-friendly little guys. By simply sewing a piece of fabric to fit an empty glass votive nice and snug and trimming with any ricrac or other offcuts you might have lurking, you've got yourself a non-permanent, fabric-scrap-utilising little decorative number right there. Happy snipping!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Mechanical Alchemist

After a day spent trying to work out why Serge the Corsa had spewed oil all over the place resulting in the AA man producing the offending faulty 'bit', I was reminded of the work of the rather clever chap over at Mechanical Alchemist and thought I'd share:

Using pieces like my broken oil-switch-bolt-thingy and other superfluous engine parts, scrap metal and other 'Dad garage' paraphenalia, Pigskin (as he is apparently known) repurposes them into the ultimate in desirable man-craft pieces, mainly around the theme of robots (what else?) Look again though and said robots also multi-task as lamps, a moneybox and even a barbecue, so something practical to keep the ladies happy too. As a chick crafter keen to find any way to get the boyf to show even the slightest glimmer of interest in this arena, such work is to be applauded (and accompanied by a little victory retort of "see! I do talk about things other than decoupage and doilys!!")

Ahhhh, doilys...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Green and Fay

Another day, another swanky interiors store opening in Islington. As I made my way back from The Best Second Hand Shop Ever In The World, also known to the public as Past Caring on the Essex Road (if you're ever remotely near the vicinity check it out, and bring some readies) I took myself in to new kid on the block, Green and Fay, for a little peek...

And was pleasantly surprised! Green and Fay manages to combine the usual design classics with showcase pieces from new, up-and-coming design talent (they were partners this year's London Design Festival - image above of FKY shelving by For Use). They even stock eco shoes. Best of all is their collection of mid-century furniture, much of which is upholstered with fabric from the amazing St Jude's, who collaborate with a range of extremely talented British artists and print designers and screen-print their fine results from their base in Norfolk (such as this Ernest race chair, below).

So all in all, a cottage-industry-supporting, designey-vintage-fest, hurrah! If you love the look but are looking for more of a price-of-a-sandwich type investment, the good news is you can also buy notepads featuring key prints (including that of my print crush Angie Lewin - see her seedheads design below) - or if your hacking's up to it, go to the website direct and order some fabric to create your own mid-century upholstering at home. Do send in the results!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sneak Peek at Taiwan

Errrr, apologies for my minor absence after the lofty claims from my last post... I've been on a two week holiday to the fascinating and extremely beautiful Taiwan, and crammed about a month's work of freelance work into the two weeks before I left in order to pay for it all! But I'm back now, culturally enriched and with ears still popping from the flight. I have about 1million photos to go through plus many other exciting things I'd like to blog about, but for now, here's three little hacks from the far east...

1. Love the contrast of this rustic driftwood fencing painted in delicious fuchsia pink

2. Pretty much every shop, restaurant and business we passed was festooned with Chinese lanterns - this enterprising display, consisting of a string of upcycled Chinese straw hats, made me chuckle. Note the use of eco bulb too for bonus greenie points

3. No idea what any of it means, but these old wooden boards do look rather beautiful with a lick of blackboard paint and vibrant chalk characters and illustrations, wouldn't you agree?

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Adding Colour With...

Welcome, dear readers, to Craft Hacker Plus - OK, it may all look exactly the same to you, but I'm now "comin' at ya" from my brand-new swanky mac and hopefully (once O2 bother to actually connect my line), my new iPhone too! Meaning I should be able to post much more now that I'm not having to rely on archaicly slow equipment. Bear with me for the next couple of weeks whilst I figure out how to actually use the thing, though - the old one was sooo old it was little more than a glorified typewriter, so I now feel like I'm at the helm of the Starship Enterprise or something. So, let's get back to some craft, shall we?

I thought the timing quite apt to post a few more pics from my recent shoot with photographer Max Attenborough, after receiving a tip-off from Mise at Pretty Far West about a post on the fabulous Desire to Inspire blog featuring some of his work, including some styling from little ol' me! Hugely exciting to be out there in inter-web-land so thought I'd surf off the coattails of his success and post some more of our work for any straying DTI readers (welcome, if this is you!)

Well here goes - this is shoot one - think I'll feature shoot two in a coupla days time to tease it out a bit, a la the reality tv show presenter's dramatic pause before finally revealing the winner/loser/victim's name. This shoot is entitled Adding Colour With... , the premise being the colour in each shot only comes from one source. Here goes!

1. Adding Colour With... Wallpaper

A great way to use up old wallpaper scraps and a good (and somewhat less labour-intensive!) alternative to an entire patchwork wall. Hunt down an old room divider or get crafty and concertina fasten three sheets of wood together with some piano hinges. The vase is also covered in wallpaper, simply taped round an old vase and cut flush at the bottom whilst tucked in round the top - surprisingly resilient, though watch out for water splashes!

2. Adding Colour With... Fabric

As featured on Queens of Vintage and referenced further down this blog. Think outside the throw when it comes to fabric - decoupage is a fantastic way to completely transform any old furniture and is also a great way to use up small offcuts of fabric, plus you don't need any specialist skills to do it - a pot of PVA glue and a bit of patience are your weapons of choice here. 

3. Adding Colour With... Paint

Turn a dowdy old darkwood table into a neon popping colour riot - more on this little project to appear in a how-to feature soon so stay tuned...

4. Adding Colour With... Flowers

Shun formal flower arrangements and huge bouquets in favour of lots of little blooms in an array of vessels. This shot was inspired by an earlier test shoot I did featuring different ways to display flowers in non-vases - think vintage bottles, shot glasses, milk jugs, teacups...

Hope you like. Keep posted for shoot two - a riot of retro inspired by Abigail's Party - see you there!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

RIP Ailing Technology...

Just a little note dear readers to say I'm still here but after a series of technical malfunctions, both my desktop mac and the boyf's iBook have independently died all in the same week. We also had a powercut one night which didn't help. Plus builders are currently tearing the house to shreds (that's not actually anything to do with lack of bloggage, just trying to add to the portrait of woe I'm currently painting). Anyhoo, am currently in exile at the folks place, using t'internet on their doddery old PC to rinse my credit card and get some new kit ordered ASAP. Which is actually hugely exciting as I'll be able to make the blog bigger and better once I've got myself a super-fast 'pooter, fancy new cam and iPhone. Except I'll probably have to take on so much extra work to pay for it all that I probably won't have time to use any of it. Errrr.....

See y'all once I'm back in the 21st century!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

From Orange Pine to Simply Divine

Forgive the cheesy post title (I just couldn't resist...) but just to draw your attention to my latest article over at Queens of Vintage, where I teach you how to turn this...

...into this!

Unless you're a fan of glossy WAG-toned furniture I hope you'll agree that the update is somewhat easier on the eye. This decoupage-fest took about three hours to make in total, plus about three hours painting further PVA coats to make the whole thing durable, done intermittently over several episodes of Hollyoaks. The great thing about decoupage is you don't necessarily need a lot of fabric, and can easily cover a piece using leftover bits of silk scarf, shirt sleeves and old pillowcases as well as more conventional 'off the roll' stuff.

Shout out to Max Attenborough for his beautiful photography on the 'after' shots (and not for my fuzzy 'before') - pics taken from a recent test shoot which I'll be sure to post here uber soon for your viewing pleasure. In the meantime, for the full how-to, please take a look here!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Lordship Park Location House

And into July we spring! I've been uber busy of late working on an all-consuming shoot but thought I'd squeeze in a quick post before round two kicks off tomorrow. As most of my shoots tend to happen in location houses rather than studios, it gives me the perfect opportunity to snoop at some seriously drool-worthy properties (before then coming home to the reality of my rented share house with soiled carpets and chipped 80's white formica worktop, prompting a whining sesh with the boyf on when exactly we'll be buying that million-pound London townhouse...)

I was lucky enough to be at one of my favourite houses over the last few days, over at Lordship Park in North London. Whilst the house is undeniably gigantic and amazing, its clever owners have employed a few craft-hack-friendly design tricks to keep the space unique, that could be applied to more modest abodes. I shall share:

How much would you have lurved this swing seat when you were little?! OK, I'm fooling no one - if this was in my house even now you'd have to prize me off the thing. I'd be curled up on there with my interiors books grinning like a loon for 23 hours a day. Though if you avert your eye skywards, you'll notice the extremely pretty ornate banister - or, to be technical - an old bedhead-cunningly-turned-banister, customised to fit the space by lopping a bit off one side and using it to fill the other. Quite simply genius.

These doors are the sort of thing you glimpse at the back of a dusty old antiques warehouse and marvel at what a grand space they'd fill. Whilst there's no denying these are some pretty big beasts, however, they've been cleverly utilised to replace some standard sized doors in a standard sized frame (note how the doors are considerably higher than the doorway is). By mounting them outside the doorway, as opposed to inside the doorframe as standard, the fact they are outsized simply does not matter.

Alright, so that last one is pretty 'out there'. But hands up who's got boring, flatwood, featureless doors? Well then this one's for you. By covering both the door and surrounding walls with this glorious thick embossed wallpaper and topping it off with a pretty handle, these doors manage to become both invisible and a grand feature all at the same time. There's an almost magical quality to them, like you've discovered the gateway into Narnia or some other such silliness. 

Finally on this whistlestop tour, is this retro-tastic wall covered in beaten copper panels, as featured in a bedroom so fabulously cool even a 70's James Bond would feel somewhat inferior to its awe-inspiring aesthetic. I believe this panelling is a leftover set-up from a previous shoot, though if you're handy with a hammer and happen to have some spare panelling lurking about, it's actually a pretty simple set-up, jigsaw style. Another take on this look could be to cover a wall with a mixture of different sized canvases, either painting them or covering them with mismatched wallpaper, allowing enough breathing space for chinks of wall to peek through.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Flower Power - Get Crafty with your Blooms

One of the best perks of my dayjob is I often get to take home flowers after a shoot - sometimes just a couple of wilting lily's, other times enough to make Elton John feel a twinge of excessive embarrassment (OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift). When such occasions arise it often forces me to think creatively in the vase department, to ensure I have enough vessels for all my blooms. I took the following mini-shoot after a particularly prolific day of leftovers and thought I'd share a few crafty ideas on floral display. Personally, I like breaking up bouquets and having lots of little casual arrangements throughout the house to spread the floral joy around, which is also a good way of making a little go a long way. Hope you enjoy!

Like a pristine white, fluffy cloud in a perfect sky, little beats the hydrangea for me in terms of floral perfection. These two white mopheads sit resplendent in a miniature galvanised bucket I painted with a lick of gloss white.

If you've only got one or two statement stems, make a feature of them by juxtaposing them in a short vase for maximum impact. Think about your backgrounds when working out what should go where - pairing your petal colour with wall shade can look rather sophisticated, or go for a colour clash for a vibrant statement.

Go retro by teaming 1970's favourite, the yellow chrysanthemum, in a bottle green chalice from the same decade. This wide and stumpy vessel doesn't require many short-stemmed flowers to create a cup that runneth over. (sorry.)
In-keeping with the retro theme, this pretty dessert goblet makes an attractive holder for this spray of mini chrysanthemum green heads, and would make a great table decoration when teamed with a few more, or in singluar form, is a great way to add a cheery splash of colour to a windowsill.
The only actual vase to feature in this post, this mini vintage number looks super-cute with some oversized blooms tumbling out of the top. Couldn't resist styling in my new Favourite Thing Ever - this little vintage storage pot owl, who sits beside my computer and actually stores my USB pens, along with providing me with great joy every time I look at him.

These hurricane lanterns, designed to hold church candles, also make great flower receptacles due to their bulbous base yet narrower necks, allowing the flowers to sit tight and fully fill the hole.
A bit of country vintage chic - nothing beats a pretty enamel jug to create that just-picked-from-the-fields-outside-after-milking-daisie vibe. OK, so I live in central London, but you get my drift.

Do you have any clever ways of displaying flowers you'd like to share with the Craft Hacking community?