Category Archives: Crafts

Design Inspiration: Craftsman Glass

Our bathroom is beautiful. Mediterreanean-style cabinetry and two different colours of chocolate-coloured marble. Sadly, the view through the window over the tub is less beautiful – the black hosepipe atop our pergola for the solar shower and the telegraph pole that carries our phone and power supply. I do my best with interesting accessories but…:(

Then sometimes life surprises you. A friend came for dinner in our newly finished kitchen (and I promise an update eventually) with a beautiful stained glass star she had made. Not only that, but it turns out she also runs a stained-glass class nearby, and can design and make pretty much anything you want in stained glass. Which got me thinking – why not create the view I wish I had?

I love the Greene and Greene / Torrey Pines style Craftsman glass that graces turn-of-the-century homes in this part of the world. And it seems like Margit and I are on the same wavelength. So here are our inspirations. Craftsman glass montage


After a fun morning picking out glass I am eagerly anticipating a sample or two (which – yay! – I get to keep) ad then I will get my view! More to follow as the project progresses.





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Design Inspiration: Ainu Attush

The Ainu are an indigenous people of theislands of Hokkaido and Honshu in Japan, and Sakhalin and Kuril in Russia. Originally hunter-gatherers, they made clothing from many materials including animal hide, bird and fish skin. But the fabric perhaps most associated with the Ainu is attush, made from the bark of the elm and other trees which is soaked, made into yarn and woven. Garments could take many months to make, and are amongst the most spectacular designs of ethnic clothing in the world. As contact developed with Edo Japan, cotton and silk were incorporated into the garments, but the intricate designs are unique, and authentic vintage Ainu garments are now highly sought after and very expensive

Ainu robe montage


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Design Project: Bedspread

I want to make a new cover for our bed. Our current cover Newcomb under the bedspread - bellesideesis what the French call a boutis, a double-sided padded quilt (a variation of trapunto work) in a single colour with a scalloped edge. It has done sterling work for the last four years but it’s time for a change. But what to replace it with? The bedroom has a slightly French-Asian vibe and a traditional pieced patchwork would look out of place, so I started looking at alternatives.

First I found Hawaiian quilting. Although I’m not a fan of the traditional strong color contrasts I love the geometric qualities of the pieces (the patterns are made by folding and cutting paper, usually into four) and the fact that the motifs can be quite large-scale. Look at this beauty!

Hawaiian quilt with lolekani pattern from


Done in a more monochrome colour scheme this could look stunning.

And then I discovered sashiko. I love the idea of hand-stitching, even though it would be a laborious process.

Sashiko stitching{source}

And it echoes back to the machine stitching in the French boutis, which is about to be reincarnated as a bed skirt like this.

French bedskirt{source}

I think my new bedspread might take a while…

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Happiness Project: Bundles of Joy

On holiday earlier this year my Lovely Man bought me this IMG_7992

and it has since had a lot of wear – and many compliments. And I haven’t been able to find another like it…so I decided to make my own version!
Several hours on Etsy and a couple of weeks later, these


have arrived…can’t wait to get started!

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Design Inspiration: Ikat

Ikat is a dyeing method in which the threads themselves are dyed and then woven, rather than dyeing the finished fabric.IMG_0535 The word is Indonesian, and the ikats of that region can be incredibly precise and elaborate, resembling printed rather than woven fabric. IMG_0543I first came across the fabric in my dress-designing days, when one of my fabric wholesalers offered an Indian ikat. There are some beautiful sarees made in India which are double ikat – both the warp and weft being ikat-dyed.IMG_0523 I was also privileged some time ago to watch ikat being made at Artisans d’Angkor, in Cambodia. The skill almost died out under the Khmer Rouge and it is wonderful to see it being resurrected.IMG_0533 It can also be found in Thailand,20140713-162059-58859269.jpg South and Central America, 20140713-162118-58878307.jpg
Spain 20140713-162209-58929506.jpgand Japan.20140713-162228-58948243.jpg

But the style of ikat that most appeals to me comes from the Silk Route in what is now Uzbekistan, Kyrghystan, and Xinjiang. 20140713-162439-59079584.jpgSuppressed in the Soviet era, ikat is now making a come-back in Uzbekistan in particular, and this is the style which will probably be most familiar to anyone who follows decorating trends.




What is your preferred ikat style?


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Design Influence: Japanese Prints

Ever since I discovered ukiyo-e as an undergraduate at Durham’s Oriental Museum I have been fascinated by prints, especially woodblocks or woodcuts. Woodcuts have been produced in Europe since about 1400, but ukiyo-e prints are nothing like these typically monochrome


works. Ukiyo-e is perhaps best known for its images of the “floating world” characters  – actors, sumo wrestlers and beauties -but I fell in love with the landscape artists Hokusai


and Hiroshige.


In Europe and America, ukiyo-e became a source of inspiration for the Impressionists, the Aesthetic Movement, and the Post-Impressionists






but by the turn of the century the tradition was virtually dead in Japan.
In 1906 San Francisco was hit by a devastating earthquake, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. Reconstruction plans were made almost immediately, and in 1915 the Panama Pacific International Exposition showcased the city’s recovery. Joseph Pennell – perhaps the best-know American printmaker of the time (and friend and biographer of Whistler) – was scheduled to be a juror for the event, and he encouraged a handful of local artists to launch the California Society of Etchers (CSE) in preparation. One of the founder members was Pedro J. de Lemos, who also helped to organise the California print exhibit at the Exposition. The influence of Japanese woodcuts is clearly seen in his work.


The same Exposition featured Japanese prints which so inspired William S. Rice that he resolved to become a woodblock artist.  He went on to win Best Print at the 1933 CSE show.


At roughly the same time, Frank Morley Fletcher wrote Wood-Block Printing: A Description of the Craft of Woodcutting and Colour Printing Based on the Japanese Practice”, credited with introducing the technique of Japanese coloured woodblock printing to the West. In 1924 he became director of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts, where he is believed to have (briefly) taught Frances Gearhart.


Also in 1915, in Japan, publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō coined the term shin-hanga for his attempt to revitalise traditional ukiyo-e art. Ironically, shin-hanga was influenced by Impressionism and directed at a United States market. And we come full circle…



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Friday I’m in Love: Photomanipulation Applications

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I love to take photographs. I haven’t really got into photo editing yet but I do like to play around with the images on my iPad. here are some of the apps I’ve recently discovered.

Plastic Bullet. Adds a vintage feel (in a variety of shades) to photos.20140619-083723-31043036.jpg
Waterlogue. Turns a photo into a watercolour.20140619-083739-31059951.jpg

{Original on the left in both cases}

PicFrame. Make photo collages. You’ll recognise these from the blog!IMG_0409
What are your favourite photo apps?

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