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?