Category Archives: D.I.Y

Wednesday…with Grimm Wreaths!

December 2, 2015

Filed Under : Arrangements - D.I.Y - Winter - workshops

 

Photo 02-12-2015, 10 20 35

I’m really getting into the seasonal spirit this weekend as I’m running 2 workshops at home making festive wreathes and ikebana style arrangements.

The weekend after on the 12th, I’ll also be running a short wreath making workshop at The Queen of Hoxton in London in their rooftop wigwam, where the wreathes will be inspired by Grimms Fairy Tales ( you can follow my Grimm Inspiration Pinterest board here ). It’s pretty booked up already but I think there are 5 places left if you wanted to book. ( you can do that here )

If you can’t make it or live miles away, I’ve put together a visual DIY below of how to make a mini woodland type wreath…

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Thursday…with a different sort of floral crown!

October 1, 2015

Filed Under : Autumn - D.I.Y - My Garden

image During the Summer I went to a wedding and although I had a new dress I didn’t have a hat or headpiece which went with it, so I decided to make my own.

I’m a bit obsessed with propagating succulents at the moment as they root SO easily, and it sort of becomes addictive.

I knew if I made a fascinator with succulents, they wouldn’t be wasted as I could come home and re pot them…

This week I bought a tray of mini succulents, loads of which I haven’t got, and which I wanted to wear!image image image I started to grow these in August…imageand this one is still looking healthy ( think the snails got the others…)
image I planted this sprouting leaf in August too…image which currently looks like this!image imagemore babies from the mother…

imageimage air rooting…image air rooting and air sprouting…imagesprouting…imageand what eventually happens to the life-giving leaf…imageSedums are similar too and basically do the same thing…imageimage even if you think they’ve had it, check the stems carefully…and then plant them in the groundimage ( ready to root in water after I’ve worn them on my head! )image image So, for a fascinator you’re going to wear all day and/or evening , it’s best to choose plants which will last for ages without drooping, which means succulents, sedums, lavendar, pinks and wax flowers work perfectly.

I took pictures of the fascinators I made for the July wedding ( I wore the one below in the end ) and I re-dressed them with new plants…IMG_1508 (1) IMG_1498 ( the corylus is the trickiest thing to secure but will form the basis of the composition )image I wound dried quaking grass round a circle of wire too…IMG_1512 I didn’t wear this one…IMG_1499 but I re-potted it and it currently looks like this…image …and with babies from the other oneimage So… ‘ingredients’image positioning…image cleaning…image image image binding ( with the roots attached )…image image tidying and snipping..image and moving on to the second one…image image image …the wearingimage image image …and, of course, the re-potting!image

( you can read my Steller Story version here )

Tuesday…with garden and ikebana

May 26, 2015

Filed Under : D.I.Y - My Garden - Spring

imageThe garden is transforming at the moment and so many flowers are coming back like old friends…

This week the purple daisies came out in force…
image …the chives burst into purple and the heuchera flowers became tinged with pink…imagethe hosta is defying the snails and slugs…image and the oxalis have popped their pinkimage there’s also a sweet purple aquilegia shyly flowering in the shadows of the giant echium…image and the red hot pokers are nearly there…imageThe Japanese anemones have basically become the thug of the garden though…image…but I am still proudly loving the succulents which I air rooted last year.
image This is a foxglove which I moved as a seedling so it would flower against the wall and next to the hollyhock, although it’s way ahead of it this year…image …and this London Pride I adore…it was one of my favourite flowers as a child and I remember exactly where I was in the garden when I discovered that it had amazing pink and yellow spots inside, and then as a teenager I designed some business cards ( I used to embroider and sell espadrilles to local shops! ) and they had a drawing of the flower on them in black ink ( so it was easy to photocopy them ) as I that’s what I imagined my business would be called!image Quaking grass was always a childhood favourite too…image …and this is the echium which got bitten by the frost but which refuses to be beaten…and I’m in full support even though it looks a bit strange!image …these nigella ( or love-in-a-mist ) are the first of my flower seeds to emerge, and I’m hoping that the other wont be too far behind although they’re only seedlings at the moment…I don’t know why these have started out early…image the clematis in the front has survived strong wind and caterpillars…image and the peonies are becoming amazing…imagebut it was the first of the crazy fox and cubs, which always want to take over the whole garden, which inspired today’s ikebana…I loved it’s straightness amongst the lovely flow of larger plants…image …although before I went in I was distracted by Frances Doherty’s beautiful sculpture which I really don’t want to leave my garden after the Open House…imageI picked very little as I wanted to make something with plenty of space as I think that’s what my head needed after such a full on month…
image I wanted to use a trough rather than a vase as I wanted to highlight upright forms…image I picked 3 daisies, 1 pilosella, one chive with a tiny bud, 1 heuchera flowering stem and a piece of perennial pea; I thought it’s curve would create a nice asymmetry…image image there was a moment when I liked this just as it was…image but I really craved the height, so also added a piece of twisted willow which I had in another vase arrangement inside…image …and then the pea stem just looked too bulky so it went!image …and then it all started becoming something completely differentimage and I wanted to utilise some coloured calla lilies which I’d bought for the open house…( and became a bit fascinated by what it’s stem had done in the vase! )imageI had some snap dragons from over 4 weeks ago who’s top ends had curved into a lovely shape, which I added for rhythm and a pop of colour…and there I felt I should leave it!

 

Sunday…with The Shed Transformation ( and West Elm )

May 3, 2015

Filed Under : Art - D.I.Y - My Home - short poem films - Spring - The Shed

Photo 30-04-2015 15 12 09At the beginning of 2015 I had to have some sort of plan as to what I would put together for my Open House exhibition.

Every year, as well as my own artwork on show, I invite guest artists to show their work in my house during the Brighton Festival.
I aslo create an installation in my shed which has a different theme each year which has been a real attraction for people; seeing what transformation has taken place. Past themes have been American Pioneers ( or the ‘Cowboy Shed’ ) and The Sea ( or ‘The Shipwreck Shed’ )

1. IMG_0908This year I chose the theme of nesting and worked on my theme in collaboration with West Elm.

To me nesting isn’t just about birds; it’s about creating your own very personal, cozy and safe place…a nest is the hub of creativity in all walks of life and is so much more than a lifestyle…it’s an integeral part of your life.

So I decided to combine the literal building of nests with more human nest building.

I always like to leave the installations open ended…I like to have a sort of idea and then let it organically develop with no controlled plan.

All I knew at the beginning of this project was that I would build nests and have butterflies in the rafters and create a comforatble yet workable space with some West Elm help.

When I knew that the West Elm pieces were on their way, I knew I needed some extra space so I started to clear the shed and move things to a tempory storage space…( where my son always enjoys walking down identical corridors in a Stanley Kubrick ‘Shining’ sort of way!

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The larger pieces started to form the basis of things, and I was constantly drawn to the beautiful yellow lamp…the colour itself was captivating and I think it was this lamp which started me on the road to colour…

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After these larger pieces were in the shed, one weekend I visited the ‘Magnificent Obsessions’ exhibition at the Barbican in London and was not only inspired but very reassured that my natural inclanation to collect seemed to have a place in a lot of artists studios. I’ve always been aware that I work in what other people would define as ‘mess’, but here were artists showing how they felt it necessary to be surrounded by their very personal collections…they seemed almost like nests.

A week after this exhibition visit, I met a severly autistic 10 year old boy who was constantly producing fantastic sets of abstract drawings; all seemed identical, but they were all in different colours. He arranged his felt tips in colours, his crayons, his drawings…there was something pure in what he was creating with colours and objects and something which really resonated with me; it was something I wanted to do and join in with!
I was really inspired by the instinctive way he was producing work and creating a coloured environment, and I quickly realised that that was what I wanted to create in the shed…my very personal nest which would be a place where I could arrange collections in the way that felt natural to me and also be a creative space where I would be surrounded by things that felt pleasent and safe to be surrounded by.

5. IMG_2620 6. IMG_2638 3. Photo 10-03-2015 12 12 25So I cleared even more things out of the shed as I wanted an almost blank canvas, which was actually quite a cathartic process and one which I really enjoyed discovering bits and pieces I’d forgotten about like old bits of wood, acorns and my grandparents old dual passport!

nature from 20 years ago Beryl and Jim with her clock and his tools bits and pieces( and even some traces of woodworm in an old plank!!! )

woodworm!!!
One of my favorite pictures of my childhood I kept up…it is of my mum reading one of her children’s cookery books ( which she wrote in 1973 ) to me as a baby and my brother with his Teddy…it always makes me feel very loved and happy.

old favourite photo
I also kept up my favorite picture of my son and I from when he was about 3; it was a hot day at the Tate Modern, long before mobile photography, and I sat down on the cold concrete floor in the Turbine Hall to cool down, and then suddenly Jules ran towards me from miles away, clutching his bear under his arm, and at the moment I put my arms out for him to leap at me, a photographer from above captured us…he took my e-mail address and sent me the image; I’ve only ever had it on flimsy printer paper!

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Over the next few weeks I collected and arranged in the shed as much colour as I could find in the house…at long last I was able to freely organise not only books but my objects into colours…these became the collections, although the jam jars and paint brushes are a very integeral collection too.

There was a point when every time I thought I was getting somewhere, I found that what I had created just led me further into colour ‘clarification’!

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I spent ages for example sorting out my ‘red and green area’, which then had to be seperated, and afterwards the shelf had to be changed…placing the position of red was tricky ( and important ), and then once that was in place it was more apparent where the other colours should be. It was the yellow area which was unmoving though…it started where it finished and simply grew and grew over the weeks.

As I had been working on the colours in the shed, I accidentally found that a brown corner was appearing. I kept thinking that I’d get round to sorting it out, but then I realised I should maybe just enocurage it! Brown is not a colour I feel naturally drawn to, which is strange as The Table itself is brown, although oddly I don’t think I ever think of The Table in terms of its colour.
I particularly struggle with brown and orange. Having synaethesia, which is a sort of merging of the senses, I have strong connections to colours and numbers…my current age is unfortunately brown and orange ( next year it will be brown and blue thankfully ). So I thought I should create a space of brown to sort of be able to look at it work out why it doesn’t do for my brain what duck egg blue does for example!
Photo 12-04-2015 18 13 17The white area is only small and not massively noticeable, although when you open the white cupboard there is a collection of clocks inside…ticking clocks always remind me of life itself and inside the cupboard they almost feel like a secret engine.

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There is also a small grey area, which I thought had to be included as it’s just always there in life…that little grey area of overlapping…

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However there is no pink…well there are about 3 or 4 pink books in context of a rainbow, but no pink area…this wasn’t intentional and I find it quite interesting why I didn’t feel pink was important here…there are 2 blue areas though, which reflects how important blue is to me.

And then of course there are quite a few rainbows…
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THE CAR BOOT
Brighton has a fantastic car boot sale ( or flea market ) every Sunday, and I’m often down there rummaging for things that just appeal to me, but over the last few weeks I went shopping simply for colour…it didn’t matter what the object was; it was the colour which was important.
I do have a big thing for pencils and rulers though, so there’s always a lot of opening rusty tins, which one weekend found me some amazing old, ‘yellow’ wooden geometry compasses.

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My big thing is mixing the old with the new and being able to arrange seemingly unimportant little nothings around me, loads of which come from my family and which I’ve never been able to throw away…I have to be surrounded by texture and colour with some softness and often the function of the object is less important than it’s shape or colour. However the benches and sofa in particular became such important parts of this shed which meant I could sit quietly on the sofa and just look; contemplating on the arrangements and looking at shapes.
Unwittingly my ‘nest’ had started to become a thinking, sitting space; a space where I was able to work things out using colour.

Photo 14-04-2015 15 14 21 Photo 14-04-2015 15 15 03 Photo 29-04-2015 16 21 24 Photo 14-04-2015 15 16 00 IMG_2679 Photo 29-04-2015 16 25 34 Photo 29-04-2015 16 24 05The colour arrangements are composed in quite a detailed way, but they are also there to be arranged and re-arranged in different combinations…I have created a living palette of colour for myself.

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THE NESTS
But the shed couldn’t be only colour, I wnated to find an outdoor quality which blended with an indoor. I love an ‘inside/outside’ space and could never work in a studio which didn’t have a door opening into the outside; a garden or fields. My first studio was in Brixton over 15 years ago and was in an amazing, tiny and secluded courtyard…it was a small oaisis in the middle of London which had stable doors which were constantly open. My second studio was a shepherd’s hut in the middle of the countryside with literally only fields surrounding me, and now my studio, my shed, opens onto my garden which is basically my living and breathing collage!

So, I wanted twigs and branches and I would make some nests…

Photo 24-03-2015 09 17 54 (1) Photo 24-03-2015 09 24 17 qPhoto 26-03-2015 11 41 32 IMG_2678…my first idea was to have them suspended upright from the rafters, but quickly realised that I wouldn’t have been able to get into the shed, let alone sit on the sofa if I had done this, so I started to make a rough lattice of twigs where I usually store my canvases. They started to give the space some sort of movement and life, which I then punctuated with nests that I made and butterflies suspended on wires.
I tried to add a soft breeze, but I found that the noise of the fan was just a bit too intrusive.
I did manage to suspend a branch with a nest in it in the brown corner though, but there is no lighting in the brown corner…it is almost a secret place!
THE SOUND
Once I was happy with the general feel of everything I chose my soundtrack which is very simple but it also encourages looking and reflecting.
Sitting on the sofa you’ll hear spring birdsong dissolving into Judy Garland’s ‘Over the Rainbow’ ( the original from 1938 which also features birdsong )
THE SPACE
I have so enjoyed creting this space; feeling free to be able to work with new items as well as old was a real joy and something that is very important to me.


I didn’t really know what was going to ‘happen’ in the shed, but I have created an installation which basically represents the inside of my head and is also a place where I could sit for hours in silence, and also paint.

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This shed transformation has left me very happy and inspired…

You can also read  the shed story here othe West Elm Blog and you can follow the transformation here on Instagram at Westelm and Westelmlondon

Sunday…with Butterflies

April 19, 2015

Filed Under : Art - D.I.Y - Spring - The Shed

Photo 18-04-2015 12 19 19 As part of the Brighton Open Houses in May which take place during the time of Brighton Festival I always create a shed installation with a different theme each year.

This year’s theme is ‘Nesting’ and I have collaborated with West Elm to form part of the piece.

It reflects on creating a cozy, safe space to be, held together with found, functional and precious things ( like birds creating nests… ) as well as collections, and colour which have both played a large part in the installation … as have nests and butterflies…

 

Partly because of this theme I asked one of my guest artists to be Shyama Ruffell  who hand paints and makes beautiful displays of butterflies, beetles and moths in vintage boxes…Photo 18-04-2015 12 25 48 For part of my own project in the shed, I colour photocopied my vintage cigarette cards and an old poster about local Brighton butterflies which I’d saved from when my son was little… and then cut them out…Photo 18-04-2015 16 27 57 Photo 18-04-2015 14 07 08 Photo 18-04-2015 14 42 28 Photo 18-04-2015 14 41 09 Photo 18-04-2015 16 39 28 I then spiked them through with wire and secured them underneath with a twist of the wire…Photo 18-04-2015 15 12 20 I then secured them to some twigs which are becoming part of the installation…Photo 18-04-2015 16 40 50 Photo 18-04-2015 16 41 13

…and I also played around with them of course!

Photo 18-04-2015 20 11 12If you’d like to come and visit the Shed and Open House during May, have a look here  and/or here for more details and there’s also a Steller Story here

 

Friday…with yesterday’s still life class

April 10, 2015

Filed Under : D.I.Y - Spring - workshops

image I’d been asked if I would run an afternoon class with participants at the Tallulah Rose Floral Musings course in London yesterday, so I was spending a bit of time preparing and got a bit distracted by one of my Granny’s old books…inevitably a sketch and notes of one of her arrangements fell out which was a bit of a treat…image …although the dated photography was a bit of a shock!image Anyway…I’d sorted out a load of props and also a whole range of herbs and spices for everyone to play around with

image…and was met with a beautiful room full of textures and flowers once I arrived in Londonimage image image I was surprised that I was so drawn to orange once I was there as there were loads of very lovely softer colours too…image …I set about creating my palette of colour along with a palette of propsimage and started to work with the rhythm of the plants and a personal feeling and connection to the bright, sunny day…image image image image image imageThe participants then found places on the floor around the room where they started to create their own beautiful visual poetry…

…in pinks ( by Georgia )image …peaches ( by Hannah )image …combinations of bothimage …and all taking such care to notice colours, textures, shapes and really work alongside the plants themselves whilst adding a human touch…image I found this amazing old picture frame in one of the prop buckets which belonged the flower school, and it just took me off into a completely different world…viewfinders are a very underrated route into your imagination!

image Whilst the class were working on their compositions I had a go at another arrangement as I was determined to make some bits of vintage Meccano work…although I think they defeated me in the end, even though the mung beans pulled all the greens together in an unexpected way!image After everyone had finished their compositions we were treated to not only home made scones but fiddle playing from florist Stuart Fenwick.

Before I left I took a few more shots into my vintage viewfinder-led world…image imageIt was a lovely way to spend an afternoon with some very creative people, and seeing them feeling free and inspired was just fantastic!

You can see my Steller Story of the day here: Still Life Class

Monday…with a bird’s nest

March 30, 2015

Filed Under : D.I.Y - Spring

image I’m currently working on a project which involves making lots of bird’s nests, so I thought I’d share the process…image Basically you make quite a rough wire frame out of a few circles of wire which are each smaller than the next…image You loosly connect them together with more wire to make a sort of bowl shaped frame…image …then you work bits and pieces which you’ve collected into and around the frame…old grass and straw is goodimage Once you’ve got quite a bit around the sides you can add from the inside too, to create a soft lining…image image I also gave it a bit of a haircut in places…image image Once you’ve got a good shape and it’s quite robust, you can add a few other bits and pieces like twigs and dried seed heads…image image…and then finding a nice branch kind of sets it off and makes it look a bit more real!

There’s also a Steller Story version here: Nesting diy

Tuesday…with Spring Ikebana

February 24, 2015

Filed Under : D.I.Y - My Home - Spring - Winter

imageI always like to be inspired by what the garden has to offer, even if it doesn’t seem like there’s much around, but at the moment I love how the snowdrops are poking through the dead montbretia leaves…image …even though there’s a lot of dead stuff around which needs to be cleared, I find the natural flow of the plants movement quite captivating…image …as was this rust I found yesterdayimage image It made me want to create an ikebana arrangement to reflect what’s happening in the garden, so I collected some unlikely and minimal candidates…imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage( I was quite tempted to leave all the jam jars on the mantlepiece… )
imageimageI chose this ikebana vessel as I thought it had a flow to it which was reflected in the plants…imageimageMy first idea had been to work in the snowdrops, like they had been in the garden, but I couldn’t make it work…image…and the daffodils suddenly gave it that Spring punctuation I was after!imageYou can also see the Steller version here

Tuesday…after the West Elm workshop

February 17, 2015

Filed Under : D.I.Y - Winter - workshops

imageI spent most of last week getting ready for the workshop I was running at West Elm in London on Saturday…imageI was never one for  party bags when my son was younger, but I was obviously making up for it…everyone would receive their own goodie box, with a box of Pastiglie Leone, individual ceramic hearts made specially for the event by ceramicist  Holly Bell as were the gingham aprons beautifully made by Emma from Sew RecycledimageimageI spent quite a bit of time experimenting…image and collecting inspiration…image image…I arrived early at West Elm on Saturday morning to set up ( with fantastic helping hands from Griffin, Rad, Dom and Arresta ) in the Market area of the store which was perfect…imageI brought a few of my own props including an old family copper kettle and old cigar tins my Dad used to keep electrical bits and pieces in…image…once the boxes were opened
image…lots of wire, mess and creativity got under wayimageI was particularly chuffed that Xanthe Berekely came along too, to document the whole workshop photographically, and so at this point I hand the images over to her… ( ie: all the beautiful pictures below are Xanthe’s… )
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I encouraged people to work with a thought for ikebana, particularly with their fascinators ( even though ikebana actually means ‘cut flowers in water’ which these weren’t ) and the creations were absolutely wonderful and a real highlight of the morning… every time someone produced one I wanted to wear it; they were so simple and so beautiful!

Japanese ikebana is a big thing to me and has been hugely influential and inspiring to my work over the last few years; the art of ikebana speaks volumes, and I have come to to it via the amazing collection of 1960’s Japanese ceramics, books and certificates ( one of them is in the picture below ) which belonged to my Granny as she was a qualified practitioner and which I saved after her death…

( there’s another blog post about that here )

image

‘The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s colour combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the usually implied meaning of the arrangement’.

Every piece I create has some sort of meaning, either subtle, subconscious or abstract and is always open to the viewers own interpretation…

…and then today when I was out on a half term walk, I couldn’t help thinking that I’d sort of like to wear this…

imageYou can see some of my experiments and fascinators from the workshop on my Steller Stories account here too

Wednesday…with pebbles

January 21, 2015

Filed Under : D.I.Y - Winter

image

I have a pretty small house which always benefits from doors being open; it kind of gives me more of a sense of space…

I like keeping the open with unusual objects rather than a normal old door stop…

I also am someone who develops piles of paper; receipts, bills, cards etc, so it’s useful to have something practical to keep them all together in their tatty piles!

Hence these paperweights and doorstops…

I always have loads of vintage map scraps, as I make lampshades ( some will be coming soon to my etsy shop again )  and I find it difficult to simply throw them away…

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I also find it hard not to bring pebbles back from the beach, but they often dry out and become less exciting than when I’d first spotted them…

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I also rather feel for those pebbles that don’t get chosen…and it’s these pebbles I use, and even choose for a make-over!

image image image image image image It’s basically like wrapping an odd shaped present, but instead of using tape, you use lots of pva glue, and keep snipping away at bits you don’t need ( the less paper the better ); smoothing the glue and paper all the time with your your hands ( you have to be prepared to get messy! )image image This one is a new door stop…image image image image imageand this is a pebble I used to live on…imageand this is a paperweight to help me with my tax!

( You can see my Steller version here )