Sunday, November 26, 2023

Wall flowers!

As some of you may know, I attended a two-day workshop in London a couple of years ago that sparked a newfound love for arts and crafts projects. 

When I signed up, it did worry me a little bit that I hadn't held a paintbrush for decades; the last time would have probably been at art lessons in school. In fact, I wasn't too confident that I could produce anything worth hanging onto a wall but didn't want to miss out on the chance to meet the artists and host of the workshop and to spend an action-packed, and hopefully fun, weekend at the fabulous Ham Yard Hotel in London.    

On day one, appliqué artist Natasha Hulse would show how to create flowers with fabric, paint, and scissors, and the next day, renowned artist Melissa White would teach how to paint and decorate a wooden picture frame for the flowers that were made the day prior. The event was to be hosted by Kit Kemp and also include a guided tour of the Ham Yard Hotel's art collection and interior design highlights.  

We were a group of twelve; the atmosphere was fun and friendly and the surroundings were just beautiful and inspiring. Camaraderies formed and I'm still in touch with one of the lovely ladies.   However, on the first day I felt a good dose of panic due to my slow progress (as I said, I haven't hold a paint brush in decades), and despite having skipped lunch, I didn't manage to finish my flower by the evening. Consequently, there wasn't much time left to paint the frame on the second day. Out of desperation, I decided to go with bold and quick strokes, which really was the only option left under the circumstances. Melissa's optimism and confidence in my "work" were contagious and hugely encouraging, and so I managed to bring a finished artwork back to France after all. 

Back home, I began to practice the techniques and experiment with mixing colors and patterns. I also started to incorporate embroidery, which I got hooked on after watching tutorials by an Indian artisan that I accidentally came across on YouTube while on a train journey to Paris. I was amazed at the huge following she had and thought how wonderful it was that she could monetize her skills with just the help of a smartphone and internet access. I love the idea of how much affluence this must bring to her and her familiy, which a lifetime of embroidery for clothing or interior companies could probably never achieve. I've since discovered many more similar channels, all hugely popular and successful!

My workshop creation found a place in my kitchen, and after getting used to it, I thought, "hmm ... not so bad after all".  Since I needed some decoration for my showroom's entrance, I decided to make six more flower pictures to be hung left and right of it. As a homage to the workshop, I drew some of my color inspiration from my favourite Kit Kemp hotel, Number Sixteen, in London. The rest comes from nature, of course!

Reception area of Number Sixteen

Glorious pinks at one of my recent stays at Number Sixteen

There's hardly any inspiration needed for blue and green; it is one of my all-time favourite colour combinations. 

The cutout technique lets you put fabric samples to good use; here "Drayton Print" by LeeJofa.

As many of you already know, the upholstery fabric was designed by Melissa White for Kit Kemp, and since I had some leftover fabric, the grape detail became part of a pink flower.

The Honesty Bar/Library in the Number Sixteen Hotel is such a wonderful place to have a drink after a busy day in London, and its vibrant green, white and yellow color scheme inspired the next flower.

Blue and green, again!

Onto the frames ...  easier in some ways as it involves less techniques and it is quicker, but also more terrifying as it is much harder to undo mistakes, and I was worried about ruining the beautiful oak frames. I bought the same paint we used in the workshop (Colourman); it is a wonderful chalk paint with a rich, soft, matte, and flawless finish and colors made from natural earth pigments. 

I decided on the same pattern as my workshop frame, which looked really good when holding it as a test against the wall in my showroom and also worked in combination with the pine forest wallpaper.

The frames are quite big (52cm x42cm/20.5"x16.5"), so it took some time to finish painting them.

The finishing touch

Melissa taught us how to achieve a warm, natural patina with a soft sheen that also brings out the brushstrokes and deepens the color pigments. First, you need to lightly sand down the frame with very fine sandpaper. Then, evenly apply a thin layer of wax. Let it briefly soak in, and remove with a soft cloth. Polish with another soft cloth and let dry.

All done!

And finally ...

I've since become a little bit obsessed with arts and crafts projects, and I particularly love embroidery. Making things is a great way to pause in busy lives and unwind, as your mind focuses on the task without rushing elsewhere. It is also wonderfully relaxing to listen to podcasts or books while painting or stitching. Have any of you developed new hobbies over time or enjoyed arts/crafts projects for a while?

Have a sparkling and happy December ahead!



(None of my content is sponsored; the links below are not affiliated or paid for) 

Melissa White here
Natasha Hulse here
Kit Kemp here
Ham Yard Hotel here

Number Sixteen Hotel London here

Linen fabric for painting: Beagle Voyage by Andrew Martin here
Fabric paint: Pebeo opaque and light here and here
Embroidery thread: DMC Mouliné here

Blue and bright pink flowers - Drayton Print by LeeJofa here
Pale pink flower - Hedgerow Cerise fabric by Andrew Martin here
Green/yellow/white flower - Travelling Light in Green by Christoper Farr Cloth here 
Yellow flower - Bagatelle in Prairie by Manuel Canovas here  and Travelling Light in Green by Christoper Farr Cloth here 

Oak frames: Charles Kean Hammerson, Gallery 128 Ltd here
Handmade linen backing board: Jackson's here

Paint for frames: Colourman Chalk Paint here
Wax: Colourman Clear Wax here

Sunday, August 13, 2023


 Summer has been blissful this year; it's been less hot than in previous years, and we even had a couple of weeks of cooler temperatures at the beginning of the month ... something I've never experienced in August before!

I found this pretty wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg in London in June, and I just love how fresh and summery it looks. 

Accessorising with my MTC pendant necklace in ivory (very few still available here)

I often combine florist-bought flowers with berries and foliage I find on my walks with the dogs, and I love the texture and homemade look it adds to a flower arrangement.

What a joy to discover how perfectly the new dress goes with my emerald green Superga sneakers and Kelly Double Tour bracelet in Bamboo

I came across this spectacular sunflower field last weekend, and it was magical to see how the wind made them dance and sway in the breeze (you can see a video of this on my Instagram here)

When family comes over in the summer, we have dinner on a big table, and fun, long evenings. In previous years I've been throwing away mountains of paper napkins at the end of each meal, which seemed so wasteful. A couple of months ago, I found vintage French Damast napkins dyed in pink at a local textile market and embroidered each with a different colored star. Everyone loved having their own napkin, and I perfected my satin and chain stitches in the process! 

The new vegetable patch has been my absolute joy; it has grown abundantly and is a source of constant wonder: Within two weeks, the young courgette plant has grown in leaps and bounds and produced its first flower:

In less than six weeks, it has grown into this ...

... and produced its first courgette a couple of days later!

It sounds like a cliché when people say there is no comparison between homegrown and shop-bought fruit and vegetables, but it is true. You can't get fresher, tastier and more beautiful vegetables than those from your garden: I pick them just before making dinner when they are still warm from the sun they've been soaking in all day. 

with some pasta and parmesan, fried with onions and garlic. Bon appetit!

In addition to the courgettes, we also have lettuces, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers ...

... which makes for a lovely lunch:

and aubergines, too!

I came across this fabulous recipe of baked sweet potatoes, roasted chickpeas and tzatziki by @powerplantblog on Instagram (here). It's packed with nutrition and flavors and is quick and easy to make. What a lovely and colorful dish to inaugurate my new Tall Trees dinner plates with! The plates feature Melissa White's Tall Trees design for Kit Kemp (here)

You might remember the Tall Trees wallpaper in my bedroom that I blogged about last year (here). It makes me happy every time I enter the room ... it is such a serenely beautiful design. I'm so thrilled that it has now become available as dinnerware.

A picture of my workspace that I posted on Instagram a couple of weeks ago ...

... is featured on Andrew Martin's "In Real Homes" gallery on their website. I was so happy to find it there and could not be more thrilled.

I hope you are enjoying a happy and beautiful summer, and have a wonderful remaining August!

As always, there is no sponsored content, and I don't have any affiliation with any of the brands mentioned.  Here all relevant links in case you are interested in more details:

Diane von Furstenberg Abigail Dress here
Kelly Double Tour bracelet in Bamboo here
MaiTai Collection pendant necklace here
Tall Trees porcelain here
Tall Trees wallpaper here
Andrew Martin "Real Homes" gallery here