Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Guest Post: A Rosy Note

That's decided, then: it's a date. Next week is Modern Country Style's Wreath Week. I'll share with you how to put a wreath together from scratch, and then all sorts of beautiful ideas for decorating them.

Thank you to those of you who've emailed me questions and suggestions, I'll be adding those in for sure. Keep 'em coming!

Today, I am so pleased to welcome Tricia here from A Rosy Note. She is so awesomely talented: gorgeous crafts, amazing rooms and brilliant ideas. Is there nothing this girl can't do?


Hi everyone!  I am so happy to be here today at Sarah's beautiful blog.  Sarah has always been such a supportive and sweet blog friend, so when she asked me to guest post I was thrilled.  To give you a hint of what my blog, A Rosy Note, is all about, Sarah asked me these questions.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hmm...this question kind of makes me feel like I am on a job interview.  What to say?  What to say?  Okay...how about I just give you a top ten list about me? Here goes, in no particular order, of course.  I...
  1. love drawing, design, decorating and photography.
  2. am the mother of two wonderful children and love, love, love my family.
  3. go to Target far too often.
  4. have owned my own business, a home furnishings and gift boutique.
  5. am a vegetarian.
  6. love to decorate model homes...my husband is a builder/remodeler.
  7. live in Minnesota, but would prefer to be somewhere warmer and more exotic.  Italy sounds good.
  8. like to organize...sad, but true.
  9. love to travel.
  10. have a degree in Psychology.
Whew...it's hard to define yourself by ten items, but for right now this is my list.  I'm sure I'll want to change it the minute it gets posted though :)



What gave you the idea to start your blog, A Rosy Note?
Well, I lurked around some sewing, crafting and design blogs for about a year and absolutely loved them.  I have a severe magazine addiction and looking through blogs seemed similar to looking at magazines...all the stories, crafts and style...I was in love.  I had been wanting to do something creative and really felt like I was meant to start a blog, I don't know why...hopefully it leads me somewhere, like to the place I am meant to be.


{Yes, me again! Isn't this room gorgeous? I love the books on the beautiful shelf above the bed.}

What is your favorite style of decorating and why?
Nothing I can really define for you.  I like a variety of things...European country, modern contemporary, Scandinavian design and even colorful, artistic decor.  I think my bedroom is a good indicator of my overall style, it has a mix of old and new, as well as a simple palette with a little splash of color.  To my eye, it does need a few more modern elements though.  Everyone else seems to like it too, since it was one of my most popular posts.


Can you tell us about your best crafty project so far?
Hmmm...probably the felt flowers.  They were simple, turned out so cute and didn't cost much either.  The nice thing about them is they can be used in a variety of ways...on a pillow, a gift or maybe as a pretty accent to a purse or coat.

Well, that's it folks.  I so enjoyed visiting with everyone here at Modern Country Style today.  Thanks for having me, Sarah!  I would love it if you all popped over to visit me too.  Tricia♥

Aren't Tricia's photos beautifully put together? They're so dreamy. I could just stare and stare! 


Do you remember this cinnamon and heart garland from a few posts ago? It's the first of our decorations to be put up and it looks so lovely in it's new home! Very Christmassy and, kind of Country, but in a Modern way. Does that sound like my cup of tea?!!

{Modern.....Country....see what I did there?!}

;-)

I can't wait to show you, gorgeous chickadees!




 

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Monday, 29 November 2010

China Jack Mosaics: Interview

 

Guess what? I've managed to wangle an interview with the very lovely Emily Lawlor who makes the gorgeous China Jack Mosaics I showed you here. I couldn't be more excited to have the chance to quiz a real, live artist at Modern Country Style.

So, here goes...


Emily, your pieces obviously have a common theme, highlighted by your company name, China Jack Mosaics. Where did the inspiration come from for the concept as a whole?

I did a design degree at Chelsea Art College which involved training in mosaic and ceramic. A fascination with the written word and a love of surface patterns form the basis of my concept for China Jack.

From my childhood, I remember beautiful Irish hand painted china from my great grandmother – it always came out for special occasions – and is tied up with many family memories of eating and drinking together. Much of the china got accidentally smashed one Christmas – and I kept all the fragments – thinking that one day I would make a special mosaic.

Last year, I decided to make something from the broken china – I started thinking about what it represented - memories of cups of tea consumed around the kitchen table with family and friends. Laughter and language (my parents ran a language school). I came across a wonderful quote by Bernard Paul Heroux ‘There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot by much diminished by a nice cup of tea’.

I wanted to combine my love of tea, words and language with colour and pattern. As I laid out the shards of china, I thought it would be interesting to combine wood and ceramic together in a mosaic. I have been collecting wooden printing blocks for many years – they are beautiful objects in themselves.

The union jack is an iconic design – I wanted to interpret it in different ways through use of colours and patterns – and explore the symbolism of ‘having a cuppa’. I then fused all these ideas together into China Jack mosaics.


What inspires you when you design an individual piece?

China Jack mosaics evolve in different ways – I am always looking for new ways to combine pattern and word . Inspiration can come either from a beautiful piece of china that I have sourced - large plates are best - and this will then become the main colour theme for a piece and will often inspire a word or phrase. Or – the mosaic might start with a word – at the moment I am working on ‘BLIMEY’ – which is a word I love. The word BLIMEY is picked out in metal lettering – and the piece is monochrome – I was looking for an opportunity to use some beautiful brown and white ironstone plates which I had. I love Cockney Rhyming Slang and use some of this language as starting points for new designs.


What or who have been your major influences?

I have long been inspired by the Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi and his fantastical mosaics in Barcelona. He uses mosaics in an exciting way – riots of colour and texture following organic shapes. I also remember being influenced by the artist Jasper Johns when I was at art college – his textured and collaged paintings explored the iconic theme of flags again and again.


What brought you to the place where you wanted to launch your own business?

Nearly two years ago I had a log cabin studio built in the garden – which meant I had a dedicated working space after 5 years of not having a studio – finally all my materials and books together in one place – a big workspace where I could make larger scale pieces and leave them in progress – not have to tidy them away. This led to a huge amount of creativity – I was making large hand-felted flowers for a National Trust touring exhibition – and began to turn my mind to developing artworks for selling. This coincided with my developing and teaching a course in Cheltenham called ‘Artisans’ – a low level business start up course for arts and crafts practitioners – and as I was teaching students to write business plans and marketing plans – I starting to develop my own business ideas at the same time. I had made a TEA mosaic for our new kitchen and had a lot of positive feedback from visitors – so I started to think that maybe I could develop this idea to sell.


Do you prefer designing your own pieces or working to commissions?

I enjoy both. I was trained to work to commission – over the past fifteen years since I graduated from Chelsea I have worked on site specific commissions – where I worked to a specific brief related to a place – and I enjoy the rigours of this. But I am now also enjoying exploring my own ideas and developing these in a sketchbook.


Where do you source all your beautiful materials?

I scour car boot sales, flea markets and local antique auction rooms for china. I won a lot of boxes of random china recently at our local auction room and, before I took the hammer to it, my husband checked the contents through and found a pristine Minton tea pot – which was worth much more than all the lots put together – saved from the hammer!

The wooden letter blocks I have been collecting for years from antique shops and markets – they are increasingly hard to source as they have become fashionable – they are valuable objects in themselves. I am currently exploring hand-carved wooden letter blocks made by carpenters in Rajasthan. I also source metal letters from a company in Birmingham – these mosaics have a more modern and crisp feel and the letters give much more flexibility in which words I can use as they are all the right way around!


What are your plans for the future of China Jack Mosaics?

I am currently looking at exhibition spaces and galleries and making a body of work for an exhibition in 2011.

Thank you so much, Emily, for taking the time to chat with me. I'm SO in love with your work. It's been such a privilege to see 'behind-the-scenes' of what you do day-to-day.


Now, onto other news....I had such a fantastic time at my wreath-making course. Thank you so much for all your gorgeous comments. I think I shall declare next week 'Wreath Week' at Modern Country Style so I can show you all that I've learned. Does that sound a good idea?


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Friday, 26 November 2010

Wreath-Making Course


Isn't this house's front door absolutely beautiful? Don't you just love the mix of formal and informal? And the colours and the topiary and the wreath.....

Speaking of wreaths, I'm off on a wreath-making course.

{Did you like that seamless link?}

This will be my fourth year of going.

{I should be able to make them with my hands tied behind my back by the end.}

I can't wait to show you what I've learnt....

I hope those of you celebrating have a marvellous Thanksgiving.

{I'm missing you...}

 

Image via Homes & Gardens

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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cinnamon and Heart Garland tutorial


Welcome to Christmas: Modern Country Style!


I've been wanting and wanting and wanting to share this with you and now I feel it's respectfully close enough to Christmas that I can!! This is one of my favourite ever Christmas crafts:

Cinnamon and Heart Garland.

I've prepared a step-by-step tutorial so you can have a go too.

So...apart from a sewing kit. this is what you need:


jute twine, cinnamon sticks, fabric, ribbon, wooden spools, stuffing.


The fabric I chose was a fat quarter of tea-dyed red checks and ticking, and I had some Jane Means ribbon that matched rather nicely, don't you think?


Step 1: Draw and cut out a heart template on a piece of card. Take the material for your first heart and fold it in half, right sides facing. Pin it to your material and cut out, leaving a 1cm seam allowance all around.


Step 2: Sew around the heart apart from an inch or so to leave a space for stuffing.

{Shown as the beautifully and artistically drawn purple bits in the picture.}

 

Step 3: Turn the heart the right way around and stuff. Hand sew the rest of the opening closed.

{Yes, this is open heart surgery....boom boom}


Step 4: Repeat this six more times (leaving you with seven hearts).

{I'm not ashamed to admit that I roped in some of my children to help with the production line at this point....}



Step 5: Take a wooden spool and glue one end of the ribbon onto it. Cut the ribbon to the right length, leaving room for a slight overlap. Fold over the other end of the ribbon for a neat finish and glue in place. Repeat eleven times to leave you with twelve reels.


It doesn't take long, honest!


{The first time I did this, I foolishly left them where my twins could get them....yup, every last one had the ribbon removed....}


Step 6: Cut the cinnamon sticks into six 3-inch pieces.


Step 7: Using a sharp point, make a hole in the middle of each piece of cinnamon.

{Um, yes, that is a knitting needle...if you have something sharper, please may I have it to save me gouging my hands next time?}


Step 8: Using a needle with a BIG eye, thread the jute twine and start the assembly.


Heart, reel, stick, reel, heart, reel, stick, reel, heart....


 

Just to warn you, you have to pull harder than you think to get the twine through the heart....



  
 
 I can't wait to share where I've put them....my first Christmas decoration!! Here's a sneak peek, just for you....





I'm linking up to my favourite parties in the sidebar. Come and join me!

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Modern Country Crafts: China Jack Mosaics


Have you heard of China Jack Mosaics? They make hand-crafted gorgeous Union Jack mosaics from vintage china and printing blocks.

{I realise the clue is in the name. See, I'm clever like that...} 


Did someone say Union Jacks AND printing blocks in the same sentence? I want one...I want one.....

Look at all the scrumptious details in the china....Seriously, they are completely lush.
 
And, for the more eagle-eyes among you, don't think I didn't spot Nigella's new Kitchen book on the table in the photo below.

{Any friend of Nigella is a friend of mine.}


 
{Okay, I should tell you, if you don't know already, I have a thing about Nigella...did you not see my Nigella shrine?!}
 

And I'm completely liking the way the mosaics have been styled. I want that red radio too.

{I can always hear my teacher's voice at this point saying, "I want doesn't get....."}

Now, let me think for a second....do I love Union Jacks? Errr, yes!


Do I love gorgeous crafts....Errr, yes!


Do I love repurposed vintage loveliness? Errrr....yes!

It's a no-brainer....these are right up my street.


 It's official: I love China Jack! The only question is...which mosaic to pick?! What do you think? 

Voting starts......now!

 


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