Saturday, September 26, 2009


The Peru Fair is something of an institution in Vermont, voted one of the Top 10 Events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. It was recently resurrected after a couple of barren years, and is going from strength to strength (last year over 3500 people attended). The Peru Fair celebrates it's 30th year today, although it is the 28th annual Fair!

This year's Peru Fair Committee.

My roving reporter at 10engines can tell you more about last year's event, and more here.

I love how they take the same sign, and paint over the date each year even if the paint doesn't match (image from 10engines at the 25th Annual Peru Fair). Make do and Mend!

Probably due to the nature of a tiny town and a more rural approach, there isn't a website for you to wet your appetite for all the crafts people, artisan foodies and entertainers that will be appearing today. Anyway, it just couldn't do it justice. Suffice it to say, this is as New England rural as you will get, and every member of the 400 strong population of Peru has helped in some way, to make it a success.

Peru is my Stateside home town, and I will be moving back their soon. Will have to cover next year's event personally!

This is our Main Street where the Fair takes place, and me making the place look busy, thanks Jamesy!

As my brother mentions in his coverage of the Fair, Peru was the location for the 80s movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. Stereotypical country bumpkin characters abound, but the movie is kind of a favourite of ours as so many of our friends and family (Apple Blossom our cow for instance) feature in it. My absolute favourite part is a scene where City Folks go shopping in the local General Store (shown above with the red roof, in real life it is the 140 year old J.J. Hapgood Store).

This is such a perfect parody of the way tourists in Vermont behave when surrounded by Country cuteness! It isn't all Maple Syrup, Turtle Necks and Plaid.

DESIGN THERAPY: Bungalow 360

For the cutest totes, messenger bags, wallets and accessories, Bungalow 360 has it covered. A California based company that works with an ethical and eco-conscious approach to business, Bungalow 360 makes bags that are affordable, colourful and gorgeous. Using natural canvas materials and water based inks, each sale of their products from their website generates donations to animal rescue organisations. This is the ultimate feel good factor in shopping for the perfect bag. I love the preppy styling to the Deep Blue Sea range featuring lobsters, whales and alligators.

Their line of cushions are fabulous too! Visit their website for the full range, here.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The world famous Scottish handwoven cloth, Harris Tweed, is being used in all manner of new and exciting forms. Handbags and accessories in every conceivable colour and pattern can be found on Etsy and beyond.

If you are not familiar with Harris Tweed, let me give you a little round up. This is unique stuff, and produced in a cottage industry way, even today. The cloth is woven by residents of the Scottish islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra, in their homes. They use pure wool that is dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. The Harris Tweed Act of Parliament 1993, has ensured that all cloth certified with the famous Harris Tweed Orb trademark symbol must comply to this, in order to secure it's authenticity and quality, and to protect the brand. It is the world's only commercially produced handwoven tweed, with approximately 350 weavers currently creating this beautiful cloth. Read the full history and more here, via the Harris Tweed Authority (established 1909, although this Tweed began it's life in the 1840s).
Traditionally Harris Tweed was used for men's suits, ladies coats, and skirts and more traditional clothing. Today, talented artists are making contemporary accessories with this material. Remember, if it doesn't have the label (above), it isn't Harris Tweed. There can be only one...

Wee Hottie, Fieldy Tweed

Blue Harris Tweed Coat, Under 13 Threads

The Ultimate Bag, Katherine Emtage

Queenie Day Bag in Hunting Macleod, Catherine Aitken

Bags by Breagha

It is getting chilly out there...time to get your Tweed on!

DESIGN THERAPY: Clare Nicolson

Clare Nicolson is a Scottish textile designer using vintage images for inspiration to create the most beautiful cushions, tea towels, little birds and more. Her work is nostalgic, cute and colourful. By digitally printing her designs onto silk and cottons she creates delicate florals, patterns and images of birds. Her website is the CUTEST, with twittering birdsong and cockerel crows to accompany your browsing.

"Designs for clare nicolson textiles are taken from paper collages which she creates using decorative papers and packaging. Inspiration for collages can come from almost anything; an old teapot, a walk in the country, even the birds in her garden. Pattern is an integral part of the textiles. Layering pattern on pattern, designs develop as each new paper is uncovered. "- via Clare Nicolson

A small sellection of my favourites, cushions, wall hangings, tea towels, silk scarves and little birdies....visit her online store for a full round up here.

Monday, September 21, 2009


This week, I am loving...

1. On the Wall Turquoise, French Curiosity 2.Vintage Scalloped Fabric Garland, Sweet Jessie 3. Watering the Roses Teapot, Nina Invorm

4. Floral 1950s Cocktail Dress, Audrey and Grace 5. French Bulldog Appliqued Wall Hanging, Bella Blu Designs 6. Pink Lady Cushion, Fong's Studio

7. Matryoshka Art Dolls, Ravenhill 8. Small Cottage Vase, Pretty Random Objects 9. Eco-Friendly Mobile/Baja CA, Yummy Ink


I have always loved Dolls, and paper dolls were so much fun to play with. The huge range of outfits and accessories for each doll made the possibilities endless. I have to admit that often I would not even cut them out, they just looked too perfect in their books.

Vintage paper dolls come in all kinds, but I particularly like the 1950s families, with their iconic fashions and accessories, with every age and gender covered. Queen Holden (prolific from 1930s-1960s) was a force in this genre, perfectly depicting the rosey cheeked baby, boisterous little boy, sweet little girl, House Wife Mother and Weekend Dad (Think Mad Men to get the perfect picture of the fashion and lifestyle!). I never knew, until researching this piece, just how huge the following for these dolls is. Read their history here.
Nursery School Paper Doll Set

Family of Paper Dolls
For a selection of Ms Holden's adorable dolls, try here.

There are many creative uses of the paper doll form, not least from Etsy. Here are my picks.

Vintage Autumn Paper Doll Garland, Vintage Scraps

Emma Paper Doll Cushion, Chocolate Creative

Vintage Blue Paper Doll Dress Card, Crab Apple Design

Delicate Heart, Wool and Water

I also love the vibrant, glossy and colourful modern paper dolls of today. I have already mentioned Bellle and Boo's Cut Out Belle here. My guilty pleasure is a love for Mary Engelbreit's images of wholesome vintage inspired girls, all with strong identities and characters.

Ann Estelle

She has a range of magnetic paper dolls here.

And not forgetting the boys!
Vintage 1940s Boy Paper Doll, Callooh Callay

Don't they just bring out the child in you?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

HOUSE CALLS: Hayley and Lucas from The Keep Calm Gallery

My love of Typography is pretty clear from the choices I make on Apothecary Fox. The very first piece I bought from this genre was the now famous Keep Calm and Carry On screen print (in pink of course!), from the online Gallery of the same name.

Lucas Lepola and Hayley Thwaites started their business in January 2007 and now have an incredible array of striking screen prints of their own design, as well as from International Artists. These two lovely people have a passion for Typography in poster design and in the medium of screen printing. In my humble opinion, their version of this iconic image is the best around. The most beautifully made, hand pulled screen print in fabulous clean colours, that can be ordered in the perfect frame. I should also add that their customer service really is second to none, which is another reason why I will just keep coming back!

"'Keep Calm and Carry On', a high quality screen printed reproduction of a poster produced upon the outbreak of World War 2. The original poster was issued as a means of allaying public fear. The poster was held in reserve for use only in times of extreme crisis. Although thousands were produced, only a handful ever saw the light of day. Even today 'Keep Calm and Carry On' is a phrase which perfectly encapsulates the traditional British 'stiff upper lip!" - via Keep Calm Gallery

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Lucas and Hayley, it's over to you.

Describe the work that you do.
"We design prints, tea towels and postcards with a heavy typographical influence, which we present and sell through our online shop, Keep Calm Gallery. We also work closely with a number of artists, designers and print makers from around the world, whose work can be found at Keep Calm Gallery. Towards the end of 2008 we also launched our sister site, Alphabet Bags, where we sell our range of screen printed cotton tote bags."
You can never have too many bags, can you?

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point?
"It's probably not the most conventional route, neither of us studied design! Hayley graduated with a degree in the History of Art, and I took a degree in Business and Management. We had the odd job and work experience position before and during University, but actually set up Keep Calm Gallery whilst still studying. We've learnt a lot whilst running the site, most lessons are self taught!"

Where do you get your inspiration?
"Everywhere and nowhere in particular. It surprises us sometimes where we get inspiration from, it could be a song or a scene in a film, a word, a colour, just about anything."

Describe the creative process in designing and constructing a particular piece.
"We'll usually start off talking about the idea with each other for days on end before putting pen to paper, as most of our time is taken up with the day to day running of the site. When we have some free time (usually in an evening) we'll start sketching out ideas on endless scraps of paper. Once we have a good enough rough idea of how we want the piece to look we'll make a start with creating it on the computer. Anything can happen from there, we'll either get the design looking just how we like it first time, or we'll spend weeks making changes before we get there or abandon the idea altogether!

We work closely with a few screen printers who the finished file will be sent to. Usually at the sketching stage we've thought about inks, colours and papers, so from this point it's just the anxious wait before delivery of the prints. Unwrapping new deliveries and seeing prints for the first time is always fun."

Where do you create your work?
"We work from our home office here in East Dulwich, South East London. We've been in East Dulwich for almost two years now and love it. Our home and office are small, so we really have to juggle the space with so many prints, frames, tea towels and bags to store. Not to mention postage tubes and packaging! Most of the time we'll work on our print designs in the office at our two old Post Office desks on our Apple Macs."

Share 3 of your favourite artisans whose work you admire.
"Tricky to choose three! Today it would have to be, Jen Garrido, a Californian Painter , Tauba Auerbach, mixed media Artist and Sophie Cook, a ceramicist creating delicate porcelain pieces"
Three Blue Apples, Jen Garrido

Truth Is - It Hurts, Tauba Auerbach

Walk on the Heath, People Pod by Sophie Cook

Where do you sell your work?
"We supply our work to a handful of shops around the world, but our full range of prints, cards and tea towels can be found at our store online at"
Just some of the selection of Cards, Tea Towels and Mugs available here.

What/who are the things you love most in your life?
"We really love what we do and feel very lucky to be running the business together. Other than working we enjoy spending time making the most of being in London, going to shows, catching films and strolling along the South Bank. We love to eat out and try new restaurants but we're trying to cut down! I don't think we've really scratched the surface in terms of things to do in London, so we're hoping to see and do a lot more in the city just as soon as we can. When we're not out and about we're likely to be at home doting on our two kittens, Alfie and Maisy. They're such great fun and extremely affectionate (when hungry)!"
Hayley and Lucas's own creation, Love Rules, coated in sparkly glitter! I HAVE to have this!

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”, if there were no restrictions (like money, or responsibilities!)?
"In short, we'll take houses in London, Paris and New York please, and fill them with beautiful art... why not! While we're hopping from one to the other we'll travel the world, in a classic Mercedes where possible! We would also have to be able to take the kittens with us wherever we went, we wouldn't want them to miss out!"

What is your greatest professional achievement?
"For both of us it's just to still be in business today, almost three years after launching Keep Calm Gallery. We're also particularly proud to have exhibited prints at the Urban Retreat Cafe in Harrods and Paul Smith's Space Gallery in Japan."

What is new with you and your work.
"We're working on several new pieces at the moment, some typographic and some quite simple graphic prints. We're experimenting with new papers and inks where possible and will be launching a particularly green collection of prints on behalf of an organic gardening charity in the very near future. We're particularly looking forward to this! Lots of new bags in the pipeline too which will be available on the new Alphabet Bags site when we relaunch next month."

Do you have a motto for life?
"Simply, 'make the most of it'."

There are way too many artists to choose from in their collection, but I have to say my favourites are Douglas Wilson and Seb Lester. Their prints are so simple, with wonderfully powerful timeless messages that resonate for me. The choices of paper, colour and ink make them so unique. Here are my favourites.
Douglas Wilson, Do What You Love

Douglas Wilson, Kill Them With Kindness

Seb Lester, Keep It Simple

Seb Lester, Home Sweet Home
(the colours change depending on the angle you view this at, amazing!)

For a full list of all the artists featured, go here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

HOUSE CALLS: The girls from Belle and Boo

Early on in my Etsy youth, I stumbled upon the exquisite images from Belle and Boo. Soon after that, Mutt gave me one of their prints and I quickly fell in love.
Little Belle Hugs Boo

Mandy Sutcliffe, with her good friend Kate are the girls behind the most delightful Belle and Boo. They produce prints, cards, buttons, mirrors, dresses and more...all featuring Belle and her sweet friend Boo (a rabbit), and many more characters.
Belle, the Tree Hugger

Belle and Boo images make me think of a sweet, innocent childhood full of animals, deep friendships and lots of adventures! They are clean, delicate drawings full of gorgeous detail and beautiful colour. And most of all fun! Mandy conjures up images that are wholesome and cuddly, but not too cutesy. Belle has a character all her own.
Belle and Boo, Halloween

Anyway, Mandy from Belle and Boo has taken time out of her hectic schedule (most recently showing at the design show Top Drawer Autumn 09, in London) to share with you the inspirations and secrets behind her work. Enjoy!

Describe the work that you do.
"I illustrate moments of childhood, a child hugging a tree, kite flying or simply staring out on the landscape from their favourite tree."
Lost Cut Out, Paper Doll

What was the career/education path that got you to this point?
"My eyes were opened to the vast possibilities of art during my foundation course at the age of 18. After a lot of deliberation between choosing a fine art course and a graphic arts course I opted for illustration at Leeds University. There were easels and paint everywhere, the carpeted floors and technical rulers had put me off a lot of other graphics courses."

Where do you get your inspirations?
"From life, I see children doing sweet stuff all the time, from stories my friends tell me about their kids, from my favourite books, the internet and day dreaming."

Describe the creative process in designing/creating a particular piece.
"I sketch roughly first the initial idea, them I refine that sketch, then I draw the final line work on tracing paper. It is usually a collection of different bits of the finished drawing. I scan them in and in photoshop I put the image together. I print out allot along the way, and re-sketch parts many many times, to get the line and flow just right."

Where do you create your work?
"In my studio in the back garden."
The Bristol Work Station

Share 3 artists whose work you admire.
Joyce Lankester Brisley (of Milly Molly Mandy fame), Beatrix Potter and Bonnard

Where do you sell your work?,

What/who are the things you love most in your life?
"My partner Russ, we met at art college. He is one of the most talented creatives I know. I love travelling, eating and sport."

What would you do in "your wildest dreams", if there were no restrictions?
"That's difficult, if I want to do something I usually try and make it happen. Russ and I fancied spending this winter in the sun, so have organised a house swap to Sydney.
BUT I would love to cycle around the world or something like that."

What is your greatest professional achievement?
"That keeps changing daily, the latest one was having a 4 page spread about Belle & Boo in Junior magazine & having a beautiful stand at Top Drawer Olympia"
Belle and Boo stand, Top Drawer Olympia 09

What is new with you and your work?
"Fabric stuff! soon we will be selling cushions, dolls and we are developing a new range of children's clothes."
Lost Dress

Let's Hug Pinafore Dress

Belle Hugs Boo Soap

Cushions...coming soon!
What is your motto in life?
"Keep going, work hard, believe in yourself & things will start to happen."

Follow the girl's exploits on their blog, and you can download new outfits for this adorable Belle Doll, for free. It doesn't get sweeter than that!

Monday, September 14, 2009

HOUSE CALLS: Lori Marie from Pretty Little Things

I am bursting with excitement to be able to introduce my new post I am calling House Calls. Here you will find interviews with my favourite artists and designers, and discover exciting insights into these magnificent people's work. Join me in delving into the inspirations and passions behind their art.

So to kick of this new series, my friend Lori Marie from Pretty Little Things gets the top spot. Anyone who has visited Apothecary Fox will know just how much I love her work. So it is fitting that the person whose work inspires me the most gets to begin House Calls. Lori, over to you...

Describe the work that you do.
"The simplest way to describe the work that I do is to say that I make pretty little things"

Agreed! These are THE prettiest...Daydreamers.

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point?
"I was a Math and Science nerd in high school and went to college at UC San Diego for a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I always knew I want to be a designer, I just didn't know what I wanted to design. I love to know how things work, but I didn't like all the math and computer I started taking some art classes to balance the load. The college experience taught me that I really need to LOVE what I do if I am gonna have to get up and do it everyday. I never dreamed I could get up and make art's a dream come Ani Difranco says..."art is why i get up in the morning, but my definition ends there ......."

My first job in the design world was working as a designer and pattern maker for a leather handbag company in Berkeley. It was a very special hands on experience. I was the only designer and all the patterns were drafted by hand. The handbags were made 'in house' which means they were not sent out for production. My office was a small room with a couple of windows at the front of a small factory. I cut all my leather by hand and worked with a couple of sewers to create the samples....I worked here for a couple of years and gained a world of experience about the process of how bags are made...and the importance of a good pattern and quality construction.
Since all the leather and lining was black....I started craving some more interaction with color after a couple of years. I had been doing hand embroidery since college as a hobby...making little hippy tank tops for the grateful dead shows and such.

So I put together a small collection of embroideries to use in my portfolio. I stumbled across a job listing for a freelance position for Pottery Barn Kids and I jumped at the opportunity. I went through a series of interviews with a couple different departments over the course of a few days...I was 'hired' on valentines day of 2002 and my first project was a heart quilt mock up. PBK was an unbelievable opportunity to be able to do what I love and also be surrounded by people who had similar passions. I never dreamed I could make a living embroidering hearts and flowers. I have worked off and on with this company ever since....."

Where do you get your inspirations?
"I get my inspiration from all the loot I have gathered over the years. I like to collect all sorts of prints and textures and ribbons and trims. I just buy what I like, often times without any rhyme or reason. I am always amazed at how everything seems to go together so perfectly in the end."
Perfect colour combinations

Describe your creative process for designing and constructing a particular piece.
"I usually do a couple of chicken scratch sketches on a nearby napkin or something and then I sit on the floor in the middle of the tiny house pull together different combinations that I like...I don't use any patterns...I don't have the patience for patterns... I just lay everything out on the floor and start cutting."

Delicious bundles of candy coloured fabric and felt,
just waiting to be turned into something pretty.

Where do you create your work? The Tiny House

Look, a tiny house inside the Tiny House!

Share any of your favourite artisans, whose work you admire.
"I can't say that there is anyone in particular that I is always changing. For the most part, I admire artists with outstanding creativity who have the passion and drive to move forward in a ridiculously competitive marketplace season after season."

Where do you sell your work?

A selection from Pretty Little Things' current collection.

What/who are the things you love most in your life?

"I am a total fact, there are times I won't leave for a week or more. I am lucky enough to have an amazing guy in my life who tolerates both my messes (well, most of the time) and my crazy creative ramblings. Matilda, my French Bulldog is my constant companion. I call her my little 'company keeper' and she is very good company indeed."

The singularly adorable Matilda.

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”, if there were no restrictions (like money, or responsibilities!)?
"I think I would do exactly what I am doing would just be easier to pay my bills...oh, and I could do all the repairs and interior design I dream about doing to the house."

What is new with you and your work?
" Like I said before, I love to know how things work....and since I am a sucker for simple, I am always trying to come up with the easiest/quickest way to do things. I also love to share my passion for creativity with others, so I have been putting together a collection of kits to help inspire people to bring their own ideas to life."

A selection of Lori's new Kits

Thank you Lori!! I have loved learning about your journey, and getting a deeper insight into your creative life.
I too believe that you have to LOVE what you do if you are going to do it everyday. I believe in the saying "Live the Life you Love", and Lori certainly does that.
Visit Lori's blog if you would like to lose yourself in even more pretty things, and don't forget to check out the project she did for Martha Stewart!
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