Ardingly Antiques Fair Approaches


This restored chandelier is made from original vintage drops that have been reworked to create a beautiful, unique light that is a real centrepiece in our living room.  The mix of different warm tones are picked up by other decorative elements in the room.  We bought the fully, refurbished chandelier at Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair, the largest fair in the south of England, which is held twice a month.  If you fancy a rummage for vintage treasures, the next fair is next week, Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th September, 2013.  For more information, future dates and list of other similar fairs visit the IACF (International Antiques and Collectors Fairs) website.

Similar vintage chandeliers are available to buy, or even splash out and commission your own from The Vintage Chandelier Company.

More woollen blankets woven in Wales

mtchair mtcushion

Prompted by a comment on an earlier post, I thought I would share a couple of shots of some woollen products from Melin Tregwynt, a third-generation family mill business in West Wales.  Melin Tregwynt is reviving and reinterpreting authentic Welsh tradition with modern and innovative design.  The double-cloth structure produces practical and hard-wearing bedcovers, as well as the bold reversible patterns that work so well with contemporary interiors.  The product range has been expanded to include accessories and upholstery products.  The blankets retail from around £140, and cushions from around £40, including the pad.  A wide range of colours is available, from these muted neutral tones, to ember, a mix of hot pinks, browns and oranges.  You can purchase directly from Melin Tregwynt by phone or email, or from stockists including John Lewis. 

Vintage French bed


I spent sometime searching for the right bed.  Like Goldilocks, one was too hard, another too big, another too chintzy, only my list of rejects was much longer than hers!  Eventually, I found a rare Super King-size vintage French bed from a supplier near Brighton.  The French Depot is a family-run company that specialises in vintage French beds and antique furniture.  They have a warehouse in St Leonards, on the south coast, and delivery nationwide.  A similar, reproduction bed in from a popular online site was more expensive, so I was delighted to save some money, and gain some character buying vintage!

Here is the bed modelling a Melin Tregwynt blanket and cushion.

P.S. the Mankin mitts arrived


Just a quick postscript to an earlier blog about a special offer on Ian Mankin products.  My new oven mitts and oil cloth table cloth have arrived, and already facing up to the rigours of life in our busy kitchen!  I am particularly happy with the matt-finish of the oil cloth.  It is a more subtle than the previous oilcloth that covered our kitchen table, “grown-up” was the phrase my other half used. It doesn’t scream, “Wipe-clean” in quite the same way.  And when I find a minute, I will be (attempting) making a shopper bag from the off-cut…..

Kate Greenaway tiles from Retrouvius


I have been waiting for a bit of inspiration for the kitchen in our Victorian terrace house, and a quick scan of the new stock at Retrouvius, a reclamation and design warehouse in North-west London, provided it.  They had a complete set of the four seasons, designed by Kate Greenaway in 1881.  Although in reasonable condition, summer has been cracked and repaired, so my eyes will be peeled for a replacement.  However, I love the blue surround and sepia tones of the seasonal figures, a reminder of the ever-changing natural cycle.

The Future is Here: a new industrial revolution


‘The Future is Here’ exhibition at the Design Museum (24.07.2013-29.10.2013) explores the relationship between designer, manufacturer and consumer.  The traditional boundaries defining the relationship are changing with the advent of 3D-printing, crowd sourcing, distributed manufacturing.  The exhibition looks at how this new industrial revolution is transforming the way we make, design and use objects.  And how we unmake objects in a world of finite natural resources.  New technologies and approaches have the potential to improve efficiencies in consumption and make more of our scarce resources.  One example close to home illustrated in the exhibition is furniture design and manufacturing company, Unto This Last, whose “purpose is to offer the convenience of the local craftsman’s workshop at mass-production prices”.  Based in a workshop in London, the company makes furniture to order, using digital tools.  All the products are made from the same birch ply composite with software optimising the use of each sheet to reduce waste and avoid industrial fittings.  To find out more about how the things around you are made, and the how that might change see the exhibition before it goes…..

Improving reading

ImageIt does what it says on the cover – a guide to sustainable materials, processes and production techniques.  Manufacturing and production methods are changing (more of that later), and in a bid to better understand how design can be produced efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way, I set myself some homework.  The book, by Rob Thompson, describes the environmental impact of materials, manufacturing processes and product life cycles.  From injection molding bioplastic to water-based printing, 15 materials, 14 processes and six production lifecycles are illustrated with case studies.

After my course on the circular economy with the Ellen McArthur Foundation, I want to see where the theory can meet with best practice!

The book is published by Thames and Hudson and retails for £16.95.

Welsh blankets


We recently made a trip to the Brynkir Woollen Mill in Golan, Gwynedd, North Wales.  The weather was drizzly and we could hear the sound of the mill stream before the mill appeared out of the mist.

The mill is one of a handful of woollen mills still in operation in Wales, and produces traditional double cloth bedcovers known as tapestries, as well as other woollen products.  The tapestries are made of 100% new Welsh wool, so hard wearing and breathable.  They are also fully reversible, with a different colour dominating on the reverse, and finished with short fringes on two sides and the mill’s own label.  We bought two tapestry bedcovers, one in a sea salt blue and coral for my daughter’s bed, and another in more muted, natural tones for the guest room.  These blankets are adding some warm, soft colours into our bedrooms, and celebrating Welsh heritage.

Similar Welsh blankets from the Great English Outdoors featured in the August issue of Living Etc magazine.  For a truly comprehensive catalogue of Welsh blankets, nursing shawls and carthenni (woollen bedcovers) visit Jane Beck’s virtual ( and real) Welsh blanket emporium.


Colourful kitchen cloths


Kitchen cloths are rarely something that prompts positive comment, so I was delighted to find Jangneus.  Their range of dishcloths and tea towels really do combine function and form as they are available in a range of fresh Swedish designs .  The highly absorbent dish cloths are made from natural materials (cellulose and cotton), so are 100% biodegradable.  They can be freshened up with a wash at 60c, and when they are worn out they can be thrown in the composting bin.  The equally colourful tea towels, made from a mix of linen and cotton, are also washable at 40c.

The designs may be Scandinavian, but the dishcloths and tea towels are all made in England, and printed at a family-run printers in the Cotswolds.  They are available in monochrome or a range of colours from zesty lime to riotous red.

The dish cloths retail at £2.95, the tea towels are £12 each or you can buy a bundle.  There is even a subscription package!

Celebration of Craftsmanship in Cheltenham

Running from 17th-26th August is the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design, the annual exhibition of contemporary bespoke furniture.  The event is taking place in Cheltenham where you can view work from around 70 craftsmen, including the winners of the 2013 Alan Peters Award.  Tickets are £6 for adults, and catalogues a further £5.  The exhibition is open every day from 10am -4pm.