A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
I have a new favourite programme which my lovely, canny friend Catherine put me on to; Collectors on ABC TV. A lighthearted look at what and why people collect – from old typewriters to Smurfs, and vintage irons to fishing flys – Collectors reveals quite a lot about the personalities who amass such amazing (and sometimes bizarre) collections.
My favourite episode aired on 14 August. The hosts interviewed artist Tony Albert, and I loved seeing what he’s done with his massive collection of kitsch Aboriginalia. This picture might be a bit small to see any detail, but the letters are made up by ashtrays, coasters, cups and all sorts of items bearing Aboriginal images – from the faintly racist to the shocking. Some aren’t even that old… there’s some creative recycling for you.
Seriously fascinating stuff.
I’m on a self-imposed ban from buying new fabric until the crafts cabinet starts to look a little less jam-packed (at the moment, every time I open a door something falls out and whacks me on the head) but I simply could not resist this amazing, 100% cotton, gold-leaf-painted Japanese fabric panel. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with it – I might just stare at it each day and sigh, too scared to wield scissors. Isn’t it lovely? It would make a lush origami-style tote.
I’m working on a silk faux-eiderdown for book two today and really just needed to pop into Quiltsmith for some cotton wadding, on my clever crafts editor Georgina’s recommendation. That was until I realised they had a sale on: 20% off all fabric. My resolution went out the window… I do love a sale.
In for a penny, in for a pound I thought, and bought myself half a metre of this gorgeous floral pattern also. I will quote Olive’s first word: Yay!
Months ago the lovely Rebecca & I booked in for this full day course with Cath & Kirsten, the talented creative team behind local fabric store Prints Charming. The classes book out quicksmart because they’re so small (there were only four of us to the two of them) so sign up to the newsletter to get in first – we had an absolute ball.
First, we started by drawing images on ordinary A4 copy paper, then used stanley knives to cut our stencils. We then stuck them to silk screens with masking tape, and got on with the business of making our own prints. Really, it was that simple, and so much fun.
Unfortunately my camera malfunctioned so I can’t show you every one, but here are some images I did capture:
Very excited – just got my hot little hands on a pre-ordered copy of Scott Schuman’s new book, based on his wonderful blog.
I can’t say enough how inspiring The Sartorialist website is – if you haven’t discovered it yet, I dare you not to become instantly addicted. I read it every day, along with sassy French lady Garance Doré, which is more personal but similar in concept.
What I love most about both these sites is the celebration of style, fashion and beauty within an everyday context. Not just street style, and not just fashionable people; but edgy students, natty elderly gentlemen and kooky-looking kids as well as a colourful line-up of models and fashionistas from around the globe. Both show a much broader spectrum of humanity than you’ll find in most fashion magazines, and the vast majority of these people are their own stylists. So impressive.
Here’s a selection of some of my favourite recent pics. As Kanye West succinctly put it: ‘Scott doesn’t just take pictures, he captures emotion. He is not just a photographer. He’s a historian marking the feelings of this generation one photo at a time.’
The world can always do with more beauty. Thanks for sharing, Scott & Garance – très, très fabu.
I can’t believe I’m thinking about this already, but I’ve just finished making some Christmas craft for a magazine so it’s got me pondering what we’ll do with our own home this festive season.
Last year we decked out the living room in multicoloured decorations from Ruby Star Traders. They have the most delicate glass and capiz shell baubles, and hand-carved and painted wooden animals. Plus sequin-covered fruit shapes – all imported from Rajasthan. It’s worth buying in the January sales if you can wait… they mark them down by something like 70%. I added them to my own attempts at handmade decorations and they looked magic!
We laid the hall table with beige and red-edged French linen from Ici et La and a large wooden platter, then stacked it high with pine cones collected from Centennial Park after the Open Air Cinema; all topped with bows of red grosgrain ribbon. Traditional but lovely.
The very talented ladies at Polli do some gorgeous shades for tea light candles which cast pretty shadows on the walls, and decorations in addition to their excellent jewellery range as well – I particularly love the kimono design tea light shade and the doves above. Last year they made gorgeous white and red acrylic wreaths as well for front doors.
My friend Rebecca had the most beautiful living wreath, pre-ordered from Seed, and my favourite Sydney florist Jodi McGregor (Jodi did the flowers for my book) does some gorgeous things with a wreath also.
More Christmas tips to follow in the coming months…
I do love a fun slogan t-shirt. I haven’t bought one in years but I’ve started making my own, which is so easy to do nowadays with cheap & easy digital printing. My favourite was a Kookai top from years ago with Je T’aime written across it – I wore it until it had so many holes, they all started joining up with each other but oh my, I loved that tee.
Our home is covered in little slogans; mantras, if you will. My current favourite? Stop, Look, Listen, from a vintage sign available at Quintessential Duck Egg Blue. Good advice indeed.
My friend Lisa first put me on to Apartment Therapy, and I frequently browse it to sigh over the interiors and ideas some crafty people come up with. Check out this beautiful home: so fun, so bright, so playful. It must be a joy to live in.
Coming home to find lovely letters and postcards from friends in the mailbox.
Life is sweet.
My friend Edwina is moving house and asked me where to find furniture, similar to what we have in our home. I thought I’d share with you what I told her – this is a very local guide to my favourite places:
The Lewisham Auction House on Old Canterbury Rd is quite fab and open most days for viewings. Auctions are held on Sunday mornings. The best thing I ever saw there was a Victorian four poster bed… Another good spot is Lawson’s in Annandale, particularly for the auctions held on the last Friday of every month. The art is also great – have missed out on not one, but two amazing Mirka Mora paintings there (yes, still upset) but have brought home lots of other treasured pieces such as the Mark Ward lino print hanging on our living room wall.
Our 1920s club lounge is from Mitchell Rd in Alexandria, but even though we bought it for a song, it actually cost a small fortune to re-upholster and have it French-polished, so beware buying something that needs new upholstery.
Have a look back at this post. Both wardrobes were quite cheap – $600 for the antique cedar one and $90 for the one I painted grey (plus about $100 extra for each on paint & beeswax from Porter’s Paints). The white one is from Mitchell Rd and the grey from Rozelle markets (also the place we found our outdoor cane sofas). Much of the furniture we own is also from Brady’s Used Furniture on Marrickville Road in Dulwich Hill. Definitely worth a look and I always seem to find something to cart home.
Ellen’s Interiors in Summer Hill is a favourite spot. It is a boutique so costs more than the auction houses, but does very reasonably-priced antique chairs, upholstered beautifully. Same for Monica Trapaga’s gorgeous Reclaim boutique. And if you’re down south, check out The Shed at 120 Main St Mittagong. Another favourite, more upmarket place is Le Forge – divine pieces imported from France you won’t see everywhere. Particularly the bedheads.
And to be honest, all the modern stuff in our home is from IKEA – I’m a philistine when it comes to modern furniture, but it doesn’t look much different to me than the stuff you find in SPACE, much as I always love stopping in for a visit (you can start chucking things at my head now). IKEA really is the best for canny storage items. I love those funny little room set-ups – “we live in 20 square feet!” – which make me feel like I’m in Tokyo.
I’m sure you already know Melbourne is a cultural hive and hub of all things crafty, but just in case you’re making a visit south of the border this season, here’s a guide to some of my favourite places. Some come highly recommended from friend and fellow Crafty Minx Andrea McNamara, but I’ve also consulted Annabel Davies – another crafty lady and old friend from London now living there.
Andrea introduced me to the joys of Gertrude St Fitzroy a while back. There’s so many shops to explore here, the best idea is to start at the top and work your way down, stopping at scrummy cafe and wine bar Enoteca mid-way to replenish the batteries. You’ll find local fashion, unique homewares, excellent vintage clothing and furniture aplenty. My top picks are Amor y Locura (Argentinian imports), Circa Vintage Clothing and Industria, specialising in second-hand industrial fittings which I always wish I could fit in my suitcase for the journey home.
In the city, Thread Den hosts some fantastic short sewing courses which Annabel loves. And after a wander through all the arcades, I adore stopping in at Craft Victoria to check out hip crafts from local designers. A great spot to soak up inspiration and generate new ideas.
Annabel’s top pick? Bison on Little Collins Street. Says she: “Ah I love this place! Beautiful handcrafted stoneware ceramics made from Australian clay that come in a rainbow of earthy colours. No two pieces are the same.”
And if you ask me, no trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the Spring Street Wine Bar for delish wine and scrummy cheese, or dinner at The European next door – the perfect antidote to a tiring day spent traipsing about town.
The best spots to lay your weary head? The Lindrum, a gorgeous boutique hotel on Flinders Street where I’ve stayed countless times (book a lovely bright room at the front overlooking the train tracks, not one near the car park!) or the Sofitel on Collins Street for the best big hotel experience around.