Posts from October 2020

British made

October 30, 2020

When I think of English decor, I picture beautiful, heavy drapery from Colefax and Fowler, Liberty wallpaper that reflects the whimsy of an English garden, a Queen Anne wingback upholstered in freshly churned butter, country crockery, creaky staircases, and exquisite crown moldings. This North London home, built during the Arts and Crafts Movement, is quintessentially British. For starters, the greeny-brown grasscloth in the master is the colour of “freshly laid cowpat.” Or, so says the interior designer, Ben Pentreath. Pentreath is the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge’s interior designer. La ti da. I love the Farrow & Ball Hague Blue in the kitchen, and the Robert Kime ikat print that lines the cupboards in the master walk-in. A fireplace in the guest room is covered in charming Douglas Watson tiles and this wallpaper is William Morris.

on process

October 29, 2020

There are about 12 steps to making a ceramic plate, from rolling out the initial slab, to folding up the rims on each circular shape, to smoothing out lumps and bumps, to painting, to carving, to firing, to glazing, to firing again. From start to finish, with two firings in between, a plate usually takes me about two weeks to make. And that’s just a plate. Imagine a teapot! Each step has its own challenges, each step is satisfying in its own way. Timing is everything. Nothing can be rushed. I find the process of smoothing down a slab quite meditative. Painting and carving require intense concentration. Glazing can be such a chore. I’m such a sloppy glazer. It’s a shame when I’ve worked so hard on making something, only to botch it in the glazing phase. Or when I’ve worked so hard on a plate that cracks beyond repair or warps in the firing. It truly is a labour of love, (how much can one charge for a four inch ceramic dish?) so one has to enjoy the process, learn from it. “When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul … a small piece of someone else’s life.”

cucina verde

October 28, 2020

What a fabulous kitchen this is. Everything from the ceramics, to the tiles, to the wooden spoons and woven baskets exudes charm. I love the pea green cabinetry. This is a kitchen where calamari get fried and eggs get served en cocotte. Invite me over, please. I’ll do the dishes.

spirit of the house

October 27, 2020

I stumbled upon images of the Spitalfields home of actor and teacher, Rodney Archer today and I was a little captivated. Textile patterns line the walls, and every room is chock full of bric-a-brac and antique furnishings. A lovely fireplace, painted gold and Prussian blue, sits in the living room. The mantle once belonged to Oscar Wilde, and Archer brought it for ten pounds from the workmen renovating Wilde’s former Tite Street home. Archer died in 2015, and I’d imagine the home and its contents have been sold on. In a short film, made in 2010, Archer speaks lovingly about the house and the neighbourhood. Of Spitalfields Archer said, “there are still people making a lot of noise, it’s still a bit rowdy and rough, which is what attracted me to the area in the first place. There are still prostitutes in alleyways and there are still alcoholics and glue sniffers. So despite all the fashion and the new British art that has moved in here it still has a bit of grittiness from the 19th century.” Of the condition of his early 18th Century home when he bought it, Archer says, “everything was painted turquoise blue and it was an Indian cab rank and there were pictures of Indian film stars all over the panelling.” For Archer, the home was an ever-evolving thing, a bit like a marriage. “The house has its own character, and I have my character. The house is saying, ‘I want to remain like this, but you can change it a little bit. But I still want my personality and you can still have yours.'” Have a gander around. There’s so much atmosphere in the photos, I can only imagine what it was to visit.

plaster of Viola

October 26, 2020

I’ve always enjoyed sculptures made of plaster. There’s something about the material that’s both humble and irreverent. It doesn’t have the grandeur of marble or bronze. I came cross the wonderful plaster lamps of artist, Viola Lanari today and I was immediately drawn to the tactility, playfulness and sense of humour in her work. Nature is a central theme, with all its oddities and imperfections. Have a look; there is great imagination at play.

row me

October 23, 2020

This is my kind of rowing machine, and my kind of rowing experience. Forget the regatta, I want to dress like Audrey Hepburn and row among books, art and antique furniture. I want posture like hers. Yes, this is my kind of rowing experience. The one where you barely break a sweat. The one where Bach plays in the background. The one where your butler brings you Perrier and a profiterole at half time.

african canvas

October 22, 2020

I came across these beautiful images, taken by renowned photographer, Margaret Courtney-Clarke of Ndebele women painting their homes. “These images portray a unique tradition of Africa, a celebration of an indigenous rural culture in which the women are the artists and the home her canvas.” It’s a tradition that dates back to the 18th century –– their once mud walled houses are now made of plaster –– where women in the community paint their houses to mark a major event like a birth, a death or a wedding. I find the concept as beautiful as the geometric patterns and vibrant colours these women create. The togetherness, tradition, self-expression.


October 21, 2020

I did a little spin around some L.A. real estate listings today, because pourquoi non, and I came across this lovely 1929 Spanish revival located in silver lake. Whitewashed and airy, it has such a lovely feel. I love all the stone tiles on the floor, and that charming stone fireplace. The garden looks gorgeous, positively Mediterranean. When are we moving in?

there is a time for everything

October 20, 2020

I’ve been making plates at my kitchen table these past few weeks, and it’s been an exercise in patience, to say the least. There is a prime time, when the clay’s consistency morphs from mushy to malleable that every potter seizes. The clay feels leathery and beautifully workable. Too early, and the clay just flops, too late, and it becomes rigid and set in its ways. It’s always a thrill to find the clay at that perfect point; there comes a confidence in the hands, and a command of the material. It’s tempting to rush, but that almost always backfires. Clay has a memory, and it will remember that you rushed it. Warp. Some rush. Some learn to wait. Some wait too long. Chances are, most of us we’ll do all the above.

news of the day

October 19, 2020

I’m not sure how it’s never occurred to me to wrap flowers in newsprint. What a delightful way to bring blooms to a friend. Just be sure to choose the arts section, books or sports. No one wants their dahlias wrapped in Coronavirus numbers and political disarray.

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