Friday, 27 November 2009


I have been spending far too much time on eBay recently, looking at woollen cardigans, vintage toys and floral blouses. Today I came across a pair of old bowling pins from France and followed the seller's link to this online shop that has just opened this month in France - Un-Siecle-de-Plus. Irritating music aside, it is a trove of beautiful French antiques, selling metal shop lettering, wire baskets, clothes hangers and shoe lasts amongst other things. Of course it's all in French so if you can't read it that's a shame, but the images are still beautiful.

The shop owner also keeps a blog with some lovely pictures of French junk, updates on new products and links to other shops.

I just realised how long it's been since I've posted up a random sketchbook drawing or any work - maybe I'll make amends next week. It's all been about houses and shopping here for too long!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

in love...

I have fallen head over heels for this house, located not too far from where I grew up in Bewdley, Worcestershire. This amazing Georgian house, in Bitterley near Ludlow, hasn't been on the market since 1899 and is in need of total renovation. It has the most incredible, higgledy-piggledy layout, comes with all the kind of things I want, like wide floorboards, a boot room, a proper larder, store rooms and outbuildings, and has a lawned, large garden big enough to keep chickens and grow a substantial amount of vegetables. It is in a stunning patch in Shropshire where you are just getting towards the Welsh foothills, and with Ludlow, foodie capital of England, just a few miles down the road, it's perfect.

And you can get this little piece of heaven for £300k! I want to move there NOW!

Now, dare I label this post with the 'shopping' tag?! ahaha.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


I'm at a loose end this week, fraying at the edges... I have no structure to my days and nothing much to do (at least nothing I want to do). I'm waiting for a job to come in and crossing my fingers, I'm finishing things like those sewing projects I gave you a peek of the other week...

What was remarkable about the auction we went to on Saturday was the range of prices paid for things. There were whole crates of old bottles going for £12, but other things, like those boots I loved (£70!) sold for a lot of money. I adored this children's penny farthing from the 1950s, really wanted it for no reason (mostly because of the colour, I think), but it went for £100. Those beautiful baker's trolleys went for a whopping £220 each (their estimate was £60-90), the Colman's box for £230, and this Sunlight finger plate (you know, something you'd fix onto your door where you push it) went for an incredible £2000. The auction room went quiet as a mouse during the bidding for that - I don't think anyone could quite believe what they were hearing. I don't even think it's that attractive, but serious collectors are odd beasts, I guess.

There were two sales: one taken walking past the lots in the meadow outside, which I attended in the freezing cold, whilst the husband installed himself on the chairs indoors for the other sale. It was marvellous fun - and there were some great-looking Norfolk characters hanging around to stare at too.

Oh yeah, and today's your last chance to enter the giveaway at Pikaland!

Monday, 23 November 2009

geek love

I got an early birthday present from my husband at the auction on Saturday (yes, I was well enough to go!) - this incredible old Roneotype printing machine. We didn't have a clue what it was or whether it worked, but with two huge and beautiful boxes of metal type, a little printer's stand and a 1930s style chest of drawers full of random printing goodies in it, it was too good to miss. Turns out there is scant information anywhere about such machines, so I will just have to muddle along with it using my prior knowledge of other printing presses as well as a whole pile of assumptions.

It's now in the greenhouse (of all places!) where yesterday I spent a good couple of hours behaving like the geek tomboy that I am and taking the thing apart. Filthy business it was - there was a disintegrating sponge somewhere in there and about fifty years of brown oily gunge to clear. I'm still working out the mechanism for inking up and printing, but I think I understand all the bits now. It was joyful pottering, gratifying geekery to be out there with the wind battering the panels of the greenhouse and getting covered in oil. Only problem is, one of the cogs has worn right away and needs replacing or it won't work at all! Luckily the husband has lots of friendly technicians at work who might be able to help me out.

Here she is, in pieces:

It came with three barrel-shaped drums on which you set your type, and a handful of composition forks upon which you create each line of text before sliding it onto the barrel. Some of the type and blocks that came with the machine were for an old shoemaking company in Norwich, so I have inherited the little shoes, boots and logos which would probably have been on their letterheads and correspondence.

What else did we get? a few beautifully etched soda syphons not unlike these in clear glass (only we're struggling to open them!), some random old tins, some even more random bottles of horse medicine (!), a flour sack full of weird rabbit traps and a crate full of lovely vintage terracotta pots for me.

And to top it all off, my football club won 9-1 yesterday. Whoop!

Friday, 20 November 2009

That cardigan...

Just for Kat, here is the woollen Norwegian cardigan and Barbour look (with black skinny jeans and brogues) that I've been pratting about in at auctions and antique markets. Sorry about the rubbish photographs - bad weather and odd green stained glass in our door... I am too shy to photograph myself in it. It will get its next outing tomorrow at the auction in Diss.

Today I am sick as a dog - my ailment is of the intestinal variety so I shan't go into detail. I am fasting today so I can go to this auction tomorrow without needing to disappear to the ladies every half hour. Not funny. I am STARVING, delirious with hunger. I haven't even been anywhere apart from the post office but I guess all it takes is some dirty greb there who didn't wash their hands properly... grrrr!!!!!!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

yay yay yay!

We will be going to the auction on Saturday where I'm going to buy me a Victorian haywain for £250-350:

Nah, just kidding, but these three wirework baskets are pretty good for £12-18:

I'm obscenely excited.

Giveaway with Pikaland this week!

On Pikaland today and until the 26th November you have the chance to win a free giveaway prize worth about $40. Just go here and comment to be entered into the draw! Do it! The winner gets a pack of my 2009 limited edition cards and an original pencil drawing similar to the one pictured with the cards. These drawings are done completely spontaneously - I just get my pencil and start drawing on a bit of paper so what comes out at the end is pretty unpredictable but usually fun. I will post the prize anywhere in the world for free, so get over there now and write something thrilling in the comments. Thank you SO much to Amy for doing this with me - you're great.

I am also listing some of these original drawings for sale in my Etsy shop today. Here is a peek at one of them:

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Diss auction rooms

Just been looking through the current catalogue for the Rural and Bygones sale coming up at Diss Auction Rooms, Norfolk this Saturday. There is a lot to see! Plenty of beautiful old enamel signs, farm and domestic equipment, wooden crates, random stuff like top hats, a 'shepherd's turnip cutter', a cheese paddle... the mind boggles. I would love to go and drool over old junk, only it's an hour and a half drive and we are likely to be entertaining my parents this weekend.

Isn't this trade bicycle the cutest thing? All you would need next would be a cute little dog tucked up in a plaid blanket in the basket. And those boots?! I wish I were a size 10... well, maybe not. And how about this baker's trolley below for some gorgeous shop display? Now all I need is a shop.


Oh my lord, this is for sale on eBay...

There is a junk shop at the upper end of Brick Lane in London that had a couple of these beauties in when we were there a couple of weeks ago. I need a bigger house!

Monday, 16 November 2009

new stuff in the shop this week

I've just listed this little lamb in the shop. I am so in love with the damned thing that I don't want to let him go, but I promised the husband that I'd not keep any more of my toys. The lamb is what I was photographing half-finished the week before last - I finished it ages ago but the light has been so poor that it has taken me until today to take pictures of it. The weather has been truly appalling recently. And we lost our internet here for a few days too, which didn't help things.

I shall also be listing two much larger lambs later on this week, and soon, this birdhouse clock that I started yesterday:

Sorry for my absence last week - with no internet and quite a bit of work to do, I kind of let things slip...

Thursday, 12 November 2009


The Skoda campaign that I've been working on recently has appeared in both Campaign and Marketing Magazine this week. Nice to see they are promoting it - even if they've spelled my name wrong! I do enjoy a bit of shameless self-promo every now and then...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

this and that...

Hello. The weekend was, uh, expensive. Well, not too much, but let's say we got the chair, and the little wooden policeman and some other junky stuff from the auction. I couldn't resist the policeman after all - he was beautiful. Funnily enough, I just came across another very similar walking toy (above) at the splendid Three Potato Four. Cute, no? Expensive, yah?

And today the husband and I went on a rummage at Sunbury Antiques Market in West London. Got up way before the crack of dawn at 4.45am and drove there in the foggy darkness. Froze our asses off in the cold and bought nothing even though everything there was beautiful and I wanted it all, especially the stuff from the French dealers.

Hey, at least at both the auction and the market I got to work my new Norwegian-cardigan-and-wax-jacket look. Received a suitable and gratifying number of odd looks from people. Miraculously for someone as lizard-cold as I am, this combo kept me warm even outside. Shame about my frozen feet, but hey, you can't have everything. I think I'll wear my sheepskin boots to Newark in December.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Things afoot

I have a few things in the pipeline here for the shop. A few new friends will be appearing there next week, I hope. The weather here has been dreary, and in a house that already lacks light, finding an opportunity to photograph products in natural light is difficult to say the least.

Instead of working today, I got distracted with this project (above). Can you guess what it is? I have since finished it, but you'll have to wait until next week before I show you how it turned out. Photographed in very unnatural light on top of my Wacom tablet. deary me. I worked on and off on my sewing today until my agent called and asked me to trace some of Alison Carmichael's beautiful hand-rendered type into Flash (at least I believe it was hers!). Check out her amazing work if you haven't ever heard of her - but for sure you will have seen her work before in the UK for such big names as Cadbury's, Sainsbury's, Aero, Hellman's and today, Douwe Egberts... I felt like I was riding roughshod all over her careful work with my tracing. The image below is one of my favourites (from the Creative Review website).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

auction action

Silhouette and portrait, £30-50.

As well as the painting by Arthur Rackham that I wrote about last Friday, there are a few juicy things to see at Willingham Auctions this coming Saturday. I kind of wished I owned my own vintage/antiques shop so I could buy up some of the stuff to sell, especially the pharmaceutical ware. I always have an eye out for interesting storage and that enormous bank of drawers, whilst pretty much useless, is magnificent - I wonder if it will sell for more than its estimate? I've certainly seen things a bit like this selling for a couple of grand in some antiques shops. We'll see.

The husband has been on the hunt for an antique wooden swivel chair for some time now without success, and as happenstance would have it, one turns up at the auction so we might just buy it if it looks any good. The last attractive one we saw was in a flea market in Paris where it was selling for about €750! Decent-looking ones are pretty hard to come by unless you want some upholstered leather monster with padded arms, and they are always, always too expensive. There was one in an apartment that we rented in Annecy in France a couple of years ago. We should have stolen it - it was perfect.

And what about that sweet little policeman below? I want! But probably not for that money :-)

Wooden swivel chair, £60-90.

Large bank of index drawers, £400-600.

Wooden policeman with articulating legs, £30-50.

Vintage chemists bottles and glassware, £100-150.

Vintage glass shop bottles, £50-100.

A Victorian mahogany chemist's stand with vintage bottles, test tubes and vials of compounds, £80-140.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

SHOP OPEN! whoohoo!

Good afternoon! I'm officially announcing to my lovely handful of readers that my shiny new Etsy shop is now open! Come along and buy some rubbish Christmas cards or some pretty hand-decorated ceramics with lots of trees and birds on them. Please see the items displayed in the right-hand column here and you can click through to the shop that way too.

Please check back on the shop from time to time as I add new items - there are some plush toys in the pipeline!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

new work

Some of my most recent work for Skoda has just come online here(EDIT: sorry, the ad isn't up in this space any more!). It's meant to be a bit like a children's pop-up book, so when you activate the pull tab on the right hand side, it all pops out. Sorry about my awful screen grabs.

What happens is the banner appears at the top of the screen like this:

It animates a bit if you just mouseover it, but on the right hand side there is a pull tab, which you drag down and it all pops out to look like this:

There's more to come later, but this is the first. Click on the link to have a play - it's quite fun. I'm glad I didn't have to do any of the coding for it, though! eek!

EDIT: Boohoo! the banner isn't appearing on the site all the time - I'm getting a vauxhall banner right now, so if it's not working, don't blame me! I'll see if I can get them up somewhere more permanent on my website or something when all three pieces are finished!

Monday, 2 November 2009

head over heels

Remember this post about our trip to New York? I wondered upon my return whether I'd ever adored London so much - I had fallen out of love with it somewhat and couldn't find that magic any more :-(

Well, it took an amazing salt-beef bagel, an Ethiopian pancake and a kangaroo to mend our broken affair. Yeah, I know, it can be tough sometimes. I'm just being facetious really - we had a great day out in London yesterday and did stuff that reminded me what a wonderful place it is.

First we visited Caravan on Redchurch Street where the stuff was all amazing and pretty and a bit too girly for the husband. We moved on quite quickly, even though I could have bought up most of the pressed glass and maybe a bunny lamp. Because it was lunchtime, we stopped off at Beigel Bake at the top of Brick Lane, then proceeded to raid the shops on Cheshire Street. First stop, Labour and Wait for an enamel pie dish, then Shelf for a retro print and some jewel-bright insect pins; and then in a shop whose name I can't remember, I found this new friend, a tin wind-up kangaroo to keep old Froggu at home company. The frog is vintage 1950s, this one is new, but her tail spins round as she goes and it's the most delightful thing. How quickly I am regressing into childhood as I age!

I could have stuck around looking at vintage clothes all day, but we went on down Brick Lane, stopping to stare at two vintage kitchen larder units that I wish I had room for, and then we got side-tracked entirely by the food stalls at the Sunday UpMarket. Oh my lord! We had to have a second lunch. Read here for more of what we ate.

Then we had a quick whip around Spitalfields Market before heading into town to buy clothes. I came home with a shirt-dress that looks like an artist's smock and makes me look very arty indeed :-).