Blog Every Day in May: Book Love

“Tell us about your favourite book. Or maybe give us a top 5 of the books that changed your life.”

I love to read. Most of the time. I tend to go through phases where I’m addicted to a book and read text after text….but at other times (like now!) I just lose interest! And whilst I could still tell you all about some of my favourite books I have read (Orlando by Virgina Woolf….all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books….the Dexter books by Jeff LIndsey…..and most of PD James) because I’m having a bit of an ‘off’ period at the moment, I thought I’d be better placed to rave about a different kind of book…..

The book shelves in my little studio are crammed with colourful and creative books, and the biggest collection of all is that of my fashion books. I am just crazy about them. The glossy covers, the amazing photography, and of course the wonderful subjects! I’m definitely a style over substance girl, so browsing through these to give me inspiration is a favourite thing to do for me.

Here are some of my favourites….

Radical Fashion by Claire Wilcox

I used to use this a lot when I was at college (studying for my Degree in Theatre Design, a big part of which was Costume Design) so I just had to buy it when I no longer had access to the library! It’s really inspiring though, and full of, well, *radical* fashion.

Dior: 60 Years of Style by Farid Chenoune and Laziz Hamani

This was a very generous gift one Christmas and I really cherish this book. It’s absolutely HUGE and won’t fit on even the massive Victorian bookshelves we have in the house….it’s a true coffee table book (heck, you could even use it *as* a coffee table!) and it offers an enthralling history of one of my favourite design houses.

Put on Your Pearls Girls by Lulu Guinness

How pretty is that cover? SO damn pretty! And what’s more, this is actually a POP-UP BOOK!!! It doesn’t get much more charming than this….named after one of Lulu’s favourite expressions, the book is made up of all the darling little phrases she uses in her accessories. I love it!

Manolo Blahnik Drawings by Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley

I want a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes more than most things….they are just so wonderfully fun and exciting and glamourous. But as that’s not on the cards, I do make do rather well with this book. Blahnik’s designs are very much like theatrical costume drawings, and his style, colours and drama put me in mind of the wonderful Inigo Jones. I love this book so much I have two copies…one coffee table size and one mini version for the studio!

Merry by Koji Mizutani and Paul Smith

On the cover wrap of my copy of this book is a quote from Paul Smith: “The energy of the street makes me happy”….and this book certainly does make me happy! A super-bright collection of hundreds of incredibly smiley and fashion forward Japanese girls, this book is an inspiration, a mood lifter and just plain brill.

Ems x

New on my Etsy shop….. Mother’s Day Cards

It was cutting it a bit fine, but I’ve just finished my designs for my Mother’s Day cards, and they’re now available to buy on my Etsy shop!

I have drawn and painted in watercolour a cute tattoo-inspired ‘Mum’ design, as well as a sweet bird and banner ‘Marvelous Mother’ design. I’ll be painting one saying ‘Mom’ instead of ‘Mum’ ready for US Mother’s Day in May too.

Each card is printed in high resolution on high quality, thick 350gsm art card from FSC credited paper stock. There is a light satin coating on the outside, whilst the inside is left un-coated, making it easier for you to write your own message. Each card measures 4.13″ x 5.82″ / 105mm x 148mm (A6) and includes a good quality matte white envelope.

I’m also selling A4 sized prints which will make lovely gifts for your marvelous Mums too!

Ems x

Mum or Mom, Mother’s Day Card, print from original water colour, £3

Marvelous Mother, Mother’s Day Card, print from original water colour, £3

More Valentines Cards now in my Etsy shop!

I know I’ve already posted about Valentine’s cards, and that it is still a little way off, but I thought you may like to see the new Valentine’s cards I’m now selling on my Etsy Shop. My ‘Love Is….’ vintage Panini sticker cards have sold pretty well already, but I wanted to paint some romantic designs more in keeping with the cards I made for Christmas last year. The result is these rather kitch, lovey-dovey designs……

Flamingos In Love, Valentine's Card, print from original watercolour

Swans In Love, Valentine's Card, print from original watercolour

I have drawn and painted in watercolour these elegant swans and pretty flamingos, whose slender necks make the shape of a heart! I think they are wonderfully whimsical and rather cute!

I have made the designs into Valentine’s cards, but am also selling A4 size prints of the drawings, as well as the original paintings…. I think they’d make just as good a gift for someone’s home as a Valentine’s card…. and of course they work just as well for anniversaries and special occasions too!

Each card is printed in high resolution on high quality, thick 350gsm art card from FSC credited paper stock. There is a light satin coating on the outside, whilst the inside is left un-coated, making it easier for you to write your own message. Each card measures 4.13″ x 5.82″ / 105mm x 148mm and includes a good quality matte white envelope. They are available now in my Etsy Shop for $5.00 / £3.23 each.

Hope you like them!

Ems x

The best bits from 2012

There’s no way I could put as much time and love into this site without thoroughly enjoying it….but there are some elements I enjoy even more than others! 2012 has been a year of finding my blogging feet, developing the look and feel of my site, and deciding what I like to write about most….not to mention what you like to read about!

Now I can see which are the most popular posts with you guys by simply reading my stats page, but I thought I’d share with you *my* favourite posts from this year….

Grayson Perry, Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Not only was this probably the best exhibition I saw in 2012, but it has to be the most inspirational one I’ve *ever* seen. I came away vowing to spend more time being creative, and with a head swimming with ideas!

Tosca at the ENO

Despite being the second time I’ve seen this production, I couldn’t help but get swept up in the ENO’s stunning Tosca.

Soup Week

My obsession for home-made soups naturally led to a week of soup recipe posts!

Made in Britain Fashion Installation at BIS with UKFT

I thoroughly enjoyed this freelance commission, and was so proud to work with UKFT on such a prestigious project!

There’s no place like London

Whilst I’ve not looked back since moving out of London, it is with great fondness that I remember my 12 years living there, and that incredible last summer.

So, as the year comes to a close, I want to thank you all so much for reading my blog, commenting, egging me on, and helping out in the many and varied ways you do…I hope you continue to enjoy visiting my little site and as always, I’m eagerly awaiting your ideas, feedback and requests, so do stay in touch!

A very happy new year to you all!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants….. Christmas Tree Ornaments

I’m afraid I’m not one of those people who carefully styles their themed Christmas tree in matching colours and with perfectly chosen decorations. My tree always has been, and always will be, a mish-mash of home made bits and bobs of all shapes, sizes and colours. If I ever have a second tree for Christmas, I will no doubt dress it immaculately in coordinated adornments, but until then it’s home-made charm all the way! And so, with that in mind, I’ve been spying a few Christmas tree ornaments that would fit nicely with my no-theme theme……

I think these are just brilliant. Cute and funny, and sort of traditional in a quirky way, these sets of Victorian style chenille dog and cat ornaments are handmade and designed by Old World Primitives and sold on Etsy. Each little face is a Victorian era image, mounted onto little chenile bodies. They are just so wonderfully different and charming…..and they’d fit in with my other ornaments beautifully! The cats are £6.37 for a set of two (plus £4.43 shipping to the UK) and the dogs come as a set of three for £7.64 (plus the same shipping). I love them!

There’s something so wonderfully decadent about this beaded bauble by Creative Treasures on Folksy. Hand woven using tiny seed beads in a Russian Leaf design, it’s brilliantly Deco and rather reminds me of a 30s chandelier or head dress! Its utter glitzyness would definitely make it at home with my other decorations! It’s £8.50 with £2.70 shipping to the UK.

This last one is just so much fun! I love the idea of Father Christmas delivering presents on his own space rocket! The design rather reminds me of the little ornaments I made from model clay a few years ago….I made jolly, fat Father Christmases, snow men and reindeer….unfortunately they are all a little damaged now after moving house a few times so they need some TLC! In the mean time though, this personalised one by Chantal Davenport on Not on the High Street would fill the gap brilliantly! It’s £11.50 with UK shipping at £2.75.

How do you like to decorate your tree? Do you have lots of hand-made ornaments, or do you have a proper colour scheme and theme?!
Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact…..so if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x

Living for the weekend…. introducing my new ‘hood

As this is my first ‘Living for the weekend’ post since my move, I thought I’d dedicate it to my new home county of Hertfordshire. I figure it’ll help me get to know the area better, get an idea of what’s going on, and maybe even give me a chance to find some other local adventurers!

I’ll admit it though, when I started to look for events in my new local area, I honestly thought I’d only find a handful of things to do this weekend, and may have to stretch my search to neighboring Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. No such problem though! As soon as I started snooping about, I came across fun thing after fun thing to do! And in fact, I’m swamped with ideas! There’s such a wonderful range of things going on, and so many of them are right up my alley….how to choose???…..

Saturday

Hitchin Fashion Show

Hitchin Market Square

Saturday 13th October

Free Entry

Many fashion stores from Hitchin will be taking part in the second Hitchin Fashion Show, which takes place in the town square. There’ll be fashions from local high street stores, high end designers and vintage treasures, as well as a chance to see Hitchin’s very own Town Cryer!

 

Chorleywood Community Arts Centre Annual Exhibition and Sale

Saturday 13th October, 10am to 4pm

Free Entry

This annual event is a great opportunity to see examples of members’ work of all kinds, with many exhibits for sale. The day will also include demonstrations of pottery, painting and silk painting throughout the day!

Autumn Trail at Ashridge Estate

Ashridge Estate, near Berkhamsted

Saturday 13th October, 10am to 4pm

Entry from £2
Have halloween-themed spooky fun outdoors with a seasonal Family Trail around the beautiful Ashridge Estate, and answer questions along the way to earn a reward!

A Paper Garden City: Vanessa Stone

Foyer Gallery, Letchworth Arts Centre
Until 31st October, Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 3pm
Free entry

A portrait of Letchworth in wonderful designs created in paper cuts  by talented  local artist Vanessa Stone.

Kitty Quiz Night, in aid of Cats Protection Hemel Hempstead & Berkhamsted

Social Centre, Bell Lane, Northchurch HP4 3RD

Saturday 13th October, 7pm for 7.30pm start

£10 per person, including supper!

The Kitty Quiz Night is a remarkably popular event which regularly sells out! Teams are a maximum of 8, and the price includes a fish ‘n’ chips supper or veggie option. Please contact Colin 07507 914625 (daytime) or Vanessa 01442 879974 (evenings) for information and tickets or email vanessachenery@hotmail.com. This is a charity event and all proceeds will go to support the work of Cats Protection in the Dacorum area.

 

Autumn Charity Concert

All Saints Church, Hertford

Saturday 13th October, 7:30pm

Tickets £7

This concert in aid of Isabel Hospice brings together two popular choirs from Hertfordshire, with a varied programme to suit all tastes.

An Autumn Adventure

Brookmans Park

Saturday 13 October, 10.30am to 12.30pm

Free entry

Join the team at Gobions Wood Nature Reserve for a morning of autumnal activities and crafts. Click here to book online or call Susannah on 07876 508034.

Hertford Food and Drink Festival

From October 8th to October 14th

All around the Town Centre

Local businesses, the Town Council and other local organisations are hosting the first Hertford Food and Drink Festival. Expect farmers markets, a special apple day and demonstrations of all kinds!

Jumble Sale Cats Protection Hemel Hempstead & Berkhamsted

Potten End Village Hall

Saturday 13th October, from 11:30 am

Oh boy do I love a good jumble sale….and one to help fund a local cat charity is even better! Expect stacks of books, toys, games, clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac, and household items at bargain prices.

Sunday

Hitchin Sunday Market & Car Boot Sale

Hitchin Market

Every Sunday, 7:30am to 1pm

Free Entry

In addition to the regular weekly markets, Hitchin Markets have recently launched a new venture offering a general market and a car boot sale every Sunday.  Pitches start at just £5.00, but its free to go and browse!

Family Deer Walk

Sunday October 14th, 8am to 10am

Starting at the B4506, end of Monument Drive, Ashridge

Adults £8, Children £6.

It’s an amazing time of year to see deer, as bucks compete for does and this family-based wildlife walk will give you a chance to experience the sights and sounds of the deer rut.  To book call 01442851227.

 

Phew! So much to do!

Ems x

Guest Post: Living for the Weekend with Siobhan Claude Van-Damme

Hello, Siobhan here from Siobhan Claude Van-Damme filling in for Emily as she moves away from London and settles into her new home.

As Emily leaves London, I’m going to look at all the wonderful things happening here this weekend with Open House London…… London will miss Emily and I think it is trying to lure her back with these great events is on. Here is my pick…..

Saturday
Daylight Music at the Union Chapel

Daylight Music is a great series of free music events held at lunchtime at the Union Chapel in Islington.  It is a great way to hear new music and a lovely way to spend Saturday lunchtime.  For Open House they are opening early at 10.30 on both Saturday and Sunday with the show starting at the usual time of noon on the Saturday.  It is a particularly good line-up on Saturday too with electro-folk from Golden Fable.  Though the events are free they do recommend a donation of £3 towards running costs which I think is a snip for such a well put together event in such a beautiful setting.

Daylight Music is from 12pm-4pm on Saturday and the Open House will be from 10.30am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday and it free to attend with no booking required.

Angel Building

The Angel Building is also in Islington and open on Saturday (from 10am – 5pm) and it looks just stunning.  This RIBA and BCO award winning building is a glossy reinvention of an 80s office block showcasing some stunning technology and design.  I want to go and marvel at the views through the central space and at the energy efficient glazed skin it has been wrapped in.

Angel House will be open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday with last entry at 4.15pm.  No booking is required but you may have to queue.

The Jewel Box

While in Islington who could resist visiting somewhere called The Jewel Box? The name alone makes me think of Emily and her beautiful jewelley designs.  The architects describe the building on their website as follows

“Conceived as a series of jewelled boxes carefully inserted into the existing fabric, the proposals open up and revitalise what was a series of dark disjointed spaces. Timber and concrete have been combined in a simple palette of materials that wrap around the existing fabric, inviting the user through the space and into the garden. The remaining period architectural features are retained and celebrated whilst the rear addition utilises a double canted wildflower roof to bounce light deep into the floor plate.”

I can’t wait to see this.

The Jewel Box is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday with tours every half hour until 5pm on a first come, first served basis.

Sunday

Lewisham Art House

I pass Lewisham Art House every day on my way to work and have had colleagues exhibit there but have never visited.  I think London Open House weekend could be when I finally get it together to go and visit.  Lewisham Art House is a beautiful Grade II listed old library that has been turned into artist studios in the heart of New Cross.  There are various exhibitions through the years and London Open House is a great chance to check out the architecture and spaces in this beautiful building.

It will be open on Sunday from 1-5pm with tours every 15 minutes and no booking is required.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens

Ems has written before about the Horniman and I would recommend this chance (and any) to have a look around at this beautiful setting.  I even considered getting married there at one point as I do love the place so very much.  As an example of the arts and crafts style of architecture it is interesting just as a building but this time you can get tours of the recently refurbished gardens and bandstand.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am-5.30pm but garden tours will only be on Saturday at 2 and 3pm – you can book these by emailing marketing@horniman.ac.uk

 

The Capitol (Formerly Forest Hill Cinema)

I often head to Forest Hill and when I walk past the Capitol I am always slightly sad that this clearly once beautiful art deco cinema is now a Wetherspoons pub, even if I am glad it means the building is still alive.  As such, a chance to look around and see more of the building and explore the history of it is really appealing.

The Capitol is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday but you must book for the architect tours by calling 020 8291 8920

 

Enjoy!

Wednesday Wants…… Some friends from the market

I had my first stall at Old Spitalfields on Saturday, as part of the Designers Makers Market. It was lovely to see some stalls I recognised from past markets and to meet some new people too. There were lots of things I wanted, as usual, so here’s a little round up of my favourites!…..

Being a Potteries lass, I couldn’t pass by a stall filled with china without stopping for a look! And Material Pleasures‘ collections are actually made in my home town….and not much china is these days! Designed by Julie Spurgeon and skillfully made in English fine bone china in the heart of The Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, Material Pleasures represents a lot of what I love about British hand-made homeware. Julie’s designs are both elegantly classical and whimsically modern….so very different from anything I’ve seen. Her sugar sweet pastel tones really caught my eye, along with her darling little china sugar mice (I was lucky enough to get one as a gift from Adam!). I’d love a full set (or three), and knowing that everything is so well made, thoughtfully designed and ethically sourced, I’d say there’s a pretty good excuse to indulge!

The Mister Peebles stall actually caught Adam’s eye first….. Full of charming and original illustrations bearing witty puns, we both fell for the little animals dressed up in sweaters and pajamas. There were lots of delightful prints for sale, as well as stacks of gorgeous greeting cards (which we couldn’t leave without!)…and it’s all terribly reasonably priced too!

And continuing the animal theme (it wasn’t intentional I promise!) Yas-Ming Ceramics is a collaboration between Yasmin Dilekkaya and Ming Wai Sun. Together they design these wonderful ceramics, all so clever and funny….. each mould is made by them and the heads and bums are carefully attached by hand so each piece is slightly different. I adore the small plates with the ruffed animals standing over them…how cute are their over-sized heads on their little human bodies?!

I’m back at the Designers Makers Market at Old Spitalfields on Saturday 15th September, along with lots of the lovely designers I met there too!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…. all about London on Etsy

So….I’m leaving London! In a little over a month me and the boyf will be moving from our Zone 1 flat, and out to lovely Hitchin in Hertfordshire. I’m super excited about it, but I have started to think about the things I’ll miss about London when we move. I’ve also started to hanker after a few of the souveniry type things around at the moment (thanks in part to the Olympics and the Jubilee), which I’d like to take along with me to our new rather-more-rural home!…..

I think this skirt is super cute! And useful too….it’s pattered with the London Underground map, so you can’t get lost in London whilst you’re wearing it! It’s made by Roobys and is available on Etsy for just £18 along with a whole load more ‘novelty skirt for grown ups’!

I already have the gorgeous Ward Lock & Co’s London Illustrated Guide, but this vintage London journal would be a great notebook for anything at all. It’s made from an old map of London, and recovered back, front and inside, with blank note pages inside. It’s only £4.59 from Etsy which is a bargain I think for a unique journal.

And for just £4 you can get this bumper load of London printed ribbons, by Bigfish on Etsy. I love the little guards print, and I could certainly see me using the Made in Britain print.

I’ve been collecting up a few old postcards for some projects, both in Paris and in London. I’ve not quite decided what I want to do with them yet, but this bumper load might inspire me! They’re just £12.12 for all 50, from Bursts of Creativity on Etsy.

I adore this Cath Kidston London print with all its iconic landmarks. I’d love to make curtains in my new studio with it, or else make some pretty cushions. You can buy a fat quarter of it from Boqinana on Etsy for just £3.93.

I’m sure I’ll be able to find some treasures as a token from my 12 years here in London, and hopefully I’ll make up some new products inspired by the City too!

Ems x