Friday, July 30, 2010


PROJECT 7: Flower arranging

Friends of ours are getting married tomorrow, and the bride asked us girls if we would contribute the flowers for the big day. I am no gardener, so my offer was to arrange the flowers if others would grow them. I have to say that everyone came through in big style for today's session of arranging and the results are spectacular. Claudia (the bride) stressed that she wanted each person to be able to express their own style and flair in their arrangements, so it took the pressure off a little and resulted in a wonderful variety of baskets, vases, sap buckets (obligatory flower vessels here in Vermont) and urns.

The raw materials...

Some of the gang, working their magic...

The fruits of our labours...

In our own little way we all get to be a part of the celebration and give something of ourselves in support of the happy couple, over and above just attending and I was honored to be asked. It promises to be a fabulous day....Congratulations Claudia and John!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

HOUSE CALLS with Pea and Lesley from Aardvark

Well, here it is folks! The latest round of House Calls is being kicked off by the talented duo behind Aardvark. Lesley Crabtree (Pea) and Lesley Greening Lassoff live in St. Leonards on Sea, "a veritable Bohemia on the south coast of England." Their work first caught my eye at the Keep Calm Gallery, and since then I have seen their fabulous Manifesto posters all over the place. You know I am a sucker for letterpress, and these girls create posters with a strong sense of folk tradition that I adore. So naturally I wanted to know more...

Over to you ladies!

Describe the work that you do. "Our practice is diverse, but we are mostly in love with letterpress, typography and printmaking. As well as our own stuff we do commission work for a variety of clients. Our newest design is O Happy Day…"

Recent commissions include…

Frome, Somerset Manifesto

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point? "Pea has a BA in 3D Design and trained as a blacksmith. Lesley has a BA Fine Art. Previous jobs have included art technician, driving instructor, teacher, community artist and charity shop manager. Our art and design practice evolved from running a tearoom and gallery which was a creative hub in our neighbourhood. We sold legendary home made soups and cakes, and art and craft. Our own work sold so well that we passed the food business on in order to concentrate on printmaking."

Where do you get your inspirations? "Lesley is a voracious reader and remembers a lot of weird stuff. Pea loves industrial and machine-age aesthetics. We’re both enthusiastic about skills and crafts such as typesetting and sign writing which seem to be on the edge of extinction. We like to visit small obscure museums, village halls, country churches, seaside towns and anywhere we might find folk art, ancient and modern."

Describe the creative process in designing and constructing a particular piece. "The concept usually comes from Lesley, who gets excited/enraged/infatuated quite easily. We talk about words and phrases, write them in lots of notebooks and then forget where we put them. Lesley is strictly analogue and prefers paper, but Pea is digitally oriented with great design ability, and hones the wilder ideas into achievable and pleasing forms on an ancient computer. From there we decide on the most appropriate medium for the work – could be linocut, could be woodtype, maybe a bit of both. Lesley draws the design for lino and Pea carves it, then we print it together on our tabletop press. The letterpress designs are made by Pea with Derek and Ian, the highly skilled compositor and printer at Adams of Rye: the best old-school printshop in the world."

Where do you create your work?

"Our studio is behind our house, but quite a lot of the creative work is done while we’re out and about in East Sussex tramping through fields and across beaches, and sitting in pubs and tearooms."

Would you share with us just a few of your favourite artisans, whose work you most admire? "This is a tough question, because we’re crazy about lots of people. We love Margaret Kilgallen, who sadly died so young, for her integrity in using vernacular lettering and commercial paints.

Margaret Kilgallen installation, "To Friend and Foe" 1999, Deitch Projects

"Printmaker Jonny Hannah, is one of our favourites because of his super-handmade look and his use of folk art imagery."

Johnny Hannah prints from Cake and Ale Press

The Gang's All Here

Mystery Action

"Rachael Matthews is always an inspiration, championing crafts in a modern, humorous and unsentimental way at her shop/gallery Prick Your Finger"

Where can we see and buy your work? "Our online shop, plus Etsy and Folksy. We are carried by Keep Calm Gallery, Pedlars, Castor & Pollux, JunkFunk, Nelly Duff, Amongst Other Things and the Victoria and Albert Museum."

What/who are the things you love most in your life? "We love each other, our families and children, our two lurchers, Stockholm, East Sussex, Lancashire, walking, country pubs with local ale, playing 6 string banjo, tweed, Lighthouse Bakery bagels, knitting, Lukas Moodysson films, Margaret Rutherford, Beryl Reid, jam, pyjamas, Larry David, Cagney and Lacey, singing in a choir, Eccles cakes, Hastings fish, English apples, oysters, smoked eel and pie."

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”, if there were no restrictions (like money, or responsibilities!)? "We dream of buying a piece of land near our favourite pub, and building a house with views of the sea from one side and the countryside from the other. We’d have a whole pack of assorted rescued lurchers, a donkey, and enough space for all our friends to come and build their own houses nearby. Also we’d take over Adams of Rye to continue the letterpress legacy."

What is your greatest professional achievement to date? "Being invited to design an exclusive print for the Victoria and Albert Museum."

What is new with you and your work? "At the moment we’re experimenting with more pictorial work about modern rural landscapes."

Do you have a motto for life? "Switch off and join in."

I just love the simplicity and directness of this motto. We can all use our time, energy and skills more effectively for the positive benefit of ourselves and others, don't you think?

Follow the girls and their latest news on FACEBOOK and see previews of their latest work. I am confident that this is only the beginning of Aardvark's stellar successes! Thanks to Pea and Lesley for letting us into their fabulously creative life! I am off to create my very own manifesto for my life!

All for charity

I want to take a moment to spread the word about a charitable project that Dear Colleen has just launched. Spurred into action by the horrific events of the Gulf oil spill, Colleen has designed a limited edition canvas tote bag for sale now (125 bags available), and is giving 100% of her profits from its sale to Oxfam's Gulf Coast Oil Spill Response Fund.

Purchase this bag from Etsy. In Dear Colleen style, this design is strong, clean and simple in a "less is more" kind of way. Nice job!

In addition to this tote bag project, Colleen is offering up this Spoil logo for anyone to use for free, on the condition that any proceeds made from items created using it, are also given to Oxfam. Now that is what I call a generous soul. Download the logo from Flickr, and get creating in the name of charity!
Read about this exciting project in Colleen's own words, from her blog. What a fantastic example to set and for such a dramatically tragic cause. Bravo Colleen!

Love Birds

I may be jumping the gun on this one, but we have just had to replace our female budgie (they call them parakeets here in the US), and our remaining male bird Clyde has taken quite the fancy to her. No name as yet (the deceased was called Bonnie...get it?).

Clyde is the blue one on the right...note the casual attempt to ignore each other, just like a couple of teenagers who are trying to act cool about their feelings for each other! I am confident they haven't made it to first base yet, but it is only a matter of time.

To celebrate this new union, I put together a little group of love bird themed items from Etsy. I hope I don't jinx their relationship!

Loving Budgies Giclee Print, Chloe Croft London

Love Birds Print, Tea and Ceremony
Love Birds V013, Once Upon A Paper

Love with Turquoise Birds Pillow, Freshline


I recently discovered the work of Namhee Lee, a Brooklyn based designer who takes vintage and new furniture pieces and enhances them through the application of beautiful fabrics to give them a new lease of life. She shows her passion for fashion, form, colour and fabric in her work.

For the wee ones...

Metal Chairs


Wooden Chairs

For the home...

Antler Hooks

Piglet Statuettes

Long Wooden Hooks

Dining Chairs

Vintage, one of a kind items...

Wooden Stool

Kidney Chair

Milk Bottle Holder

Rocking Chair

I adore her use of mixing colour and pattern in an almost patchwork approach, but equally love the vibrant colours and florals she chooses for the rest of her work. Isn't the piglet just too cute?

Some of Namhee's pieces are available through her Etsy shop, but if you are interested in her full range check out her stockists through her website Namhee NYC or blog.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

O Happy Day

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not your average chalkboard

I love chalkboards. After having worked with them for years in the restaurant biz I have perfected the art of writing up the daily specials, standing on the very top of a 6 foot ladder, arm outstretched with nothing to hold onto whilst writing in a perfect straight line. And that was just the low hanging ones! We probably had around 6-8 boards to write a day, twice a day, every day. The secret to perfectly clear bright white chalk writing, is to keep the chalk in a glass of water. When you write with it initially it is almost invisible and when it dries it comes out crisp and bright. Like magic!

Chalkboards these days come in all manner of styles and forms. No longer are they just framed, you can find them on bags, tags, cushions, decals and clothing. here are a few interesting uses of the chalkboard form...

FoldnGo Art Folio, Dine n Doodle

Chalkboard Wedding Invitation, Ello There

Re-purposed Cabinet Door Chalkboard, Half Pint Salvage

Chalkboard Quote Pillow, Nicole Steward

And my absolute favourite...

Chalkboard Tote, My Girl Thursday

Hudson Paint produces Coloured Chalkboard paint in rainbow hues, to offer a unique alternative to the standard black. I can think of so many things to do with this stuff. But what colour to choose?


The Boxsal comes to you from the design company Three Blind Ants. A totally recyclable and bio-degradable picnic box that includes all the accessories you need to have a picnic wherever you go, in a design that suits the occasion and your style. Included in each box is a fully compostable set of cups, utensils, napkins, eating trays, bowls and an eco-friendly trash bag to put all your waste in when you are done dining. The box is also recyclable, made out of durable cardboard so that it can be used again and again. Room enough for your food and a cheeky bottle of something nice, the Boxsal is your answer to the modern day alfresco meal.

There are three different styles...

Urban Picnic

Office Escape

Today's Date

And if you need more utensils... can buy extra accessories here.

Buy one for yourself here. Don't forget to bring a blanket.
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