Friday, 30 March 2012


I have always been fascinated by the intriguing art of placing ships in bottles. I treasure my ship inside a Haig bottle because it feels part of my childhood. It sat on a shelf in my grandparent's house, a present from my father returning home from one of his merchant navy voyages. I often wondered how that ship with all its masts and rigging could have possibly got into the tiny neck of the bottle. Stephanie Cole's bold prints capture the spirit of the ship in a bottle perfectly. She clearly also has a interest in this unusual craft. People have been putting things inside bottles since the mid eighteenth century. From human and heavenly figures to wooden puzzles. Some of the earliest examples come from monasteries where the quiet hours of contemplation were also spent carving tiny miniatures. Ships started to be put into bottles in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sailors were encouraged by the improvement in glass bottle production giving thinner glass and less bubbles making the ship more visible inside. The most common method of putting a ship in a bottle was probably the flatpack approach so that all the masts could lie flat ready for insertion into the neck. Once it inside the ship would be placed gently on a putty sea. The masts were then raised by pulling the rigging. It all sounds so simple but it is a very meticulous process and difficult to achieve. I could sail away in my ship in a bottle right now....


These exquisite paintings are the work of Rachel Ross who has been shortlisted in the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2012. The purpose of the Prize is to encourage creative representational painting and promote the skill of draughtsmanship. This annual exhibition is open to all UK artists with prizes totallying £25,000. I spotted Rachel's work at the recent Affordable Art Fair in Battersea. The spoons shone so brightly reflecting shapes just like a mirror. I really felt that I could reach out and touch them!

Sunday, 25 March 2012


This weekend I spent a delightful weekend with my dear friend Amanda in Lambourn and there were many surprises in store! The little town is full of charm from lace in old windows, The Universal Stores - the shop selling everything, to the home of talented sculptor Sioban Coppinger. A man sits on the wall outside her studio. I was intrigued to see him proudly staring out and I was keen to find who he was and why he was there. I knocked on the door to the big house and was greeted by the friendly Sioban who kindly invited me inside to tell me more. She has been prolific producing art in a number of mediums over thirty years but she has made a huge impact in the field of public sculpture. She showed me an exquisite piece which was bird. The wings were formed using the casts of people's hands. These hands were to find flight and rest on the wall of a hospice. The hands were of those finding comfort and peace in the hospice. What a beautiful way to create a sculpture. But what of the man on the building outside? Sioban explained that this was The Birmingham Man, a sculpture created as a memorial to Thomas Attwood, Birmingham's first M.P and reformer. His great grand-daughter commissioned the sculpture in his memory. Now he looks out over Oxford Street in Lambourn. I can't wait to visit again.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012



These exquisite chalky white ceramics are the work of Katherine Morling a graduate of The Royal College of Art. You might think they are made from paper or card but they are definitely sculpted in clay. They are have a surreal quality and impressively are life size! Katherine is a rising star. Her graduation show was a sell out and she is now represented by the gallery Long and Ryle. Imagine how amazing a whole room of objects and furniture created by her would be.

Monday, 12 March 2012


A few weeks ago now I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Mo's Cafe just off Regent's Street in London town. I was joined at this hidden gem by my dear friend Andy and my Son Stanley. It is an Alladin's cave filled with antique lamps, carpets and low metal tables. The mezze was delicious accompanied by the most divine Moroccan mint tea laced with rose water. All the lamps are for sale and I have my eye on the gorgeous sliver one pin pricked all over to let little stars of light shine through.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


It has been a creative day with a little bit of mosaic making. These pieces of pottery are now covering the top of an old table. Stanley and I spent a happy hour sticking and grouting. At long last some of the pieces of china we found whilst beach combing at Lyme Regis now have a permanent resting place on this little table. The lovely lady with the ruff in the top photo is my favourite shard found in amongst the grains of sand. Normally people fossil hunt on the beach at Lyme Regis but a Victorian rubbish dump at the top of the cliffs means than the beach also yields more recent treasure of a ceramic kind.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


These little felt biscuits come from British Cream Tea at All Things Original. They are well known biscuits recreated very cleverly in felt. They look good enough to eat and they transport me back to my own childhood of Iced Gem eating despite my mother’s desire to ban all sugar and live on wholefoods in the 1970’s. This little biscuit was born in 1850 in the town of Reading, Berkshire. Huntley and Palmer were experimenting with some new biscuit technology but disaster struck and the new biscuits emerged from the oven having actually shrunk. Thomas Huntley liked these mini biscuits and found his ‘Gems’ sold well. Sixty years later in 1910 icing was added and they continued to be a best seller becoming ‘Iced Gems’. Today they are made in Liverpool and seem just as popular as ever. Next on the plate is the Jammie Dodger which is made by Burton's biscuits, who produce a wide range of biscuits but are best known for Waggon Wheels and Viscount which both take me back to my sugar filled childhood. Finally my favourite the custard cream. The baroque markings on the surface are in-fact Victorian fern fronds which were in vogue in the latter half of the 19th century. I haven’t been able to discover who invented the custard cream or when it was produced but I can confirm that Peak Frean’s first cream biscuit was the bourbon on sale in 1910. My great grandfather ran a grocer's shop in Newcastle Under Lyme at this time. I wonder if he was selling these biscuits with such a long history?

Friday, 9 March 2012


I think spring is coming. I can feel it in the air. This weekend will mean plenty of digging on the plot and preparing the soil for seeds which are all sitting patiently waiting to be released from their packets. A love of the earth and nature was also shared by the brilliant Clare Veronica Hope Leighton. Clare was a student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1922 but it was at the Central School where she discovered the joys of wood engraving on Noel Rooke's course. It is as a wood-engraver that Clare is best known. Her work features in many of the books she wrote like ‘Four Hedges’ which is a celebration of her garden written in 1935. Her home was shared with the love of her life the left wing journalist Henry Noel Brailsford who was twenty-five years her senior. Four Hedges which describes her garden over 12 months has just been re-published and really is the most beautiful book. It opens with “Ours is an ordinary garden. It is perched on a slope of the Chiltern Hills, exposed to every wind that blows. Dig into it just one spit, and you reach, as it were, a solid cement foundation. One might be hacking at the white cliffs of Dover.”

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Sunbury Antiques Market is the largest and longest running bi-monthly market in the country. Arriving at 7am the only space was right at the back of the car park, by the railway tracks. As usual I was overwhelmed by the a fantastic array of things for sale, from large French cafe chairs, dining tables, wardrobes to the small 60s and 70s ceramics, glassware, jewellery to the plain weird; a basket full of plastic hands. I just had to have some! There are often a plaster Virgin Mary or Jesus just waiting to be snapped up by dealers for their trendy London shops. Lost souls once at home in catholic churches around Europe now sitting out in the cold on wooden trestle tables. In fact many stallholders have arrived from across the channel with a van load of furniture, and will be heading back the same night. It gives the market a fantastic continental flavour. Sue Cruttenden started Sunbury antiques market 30 years ago in September 1979 with 12 stalls selling mostly small accessories. A few years later, it spread outside and now there are more than 700 stalls both inside the racecourse building and outside on the terraces. If you fancy a trip there don’t worry about breakfast the toasted sandwiches from the tea van are to die for.


My job now takes me on trips to the north of England on a regular basis and I feel it is going to be a regular source of material for Teacup and Teasel. It strange going back there after having left this place over twenty five years ago. Manchester has changed hugely since I used to visit on shopping trips with my dear mother taking in the wonderful institution of Kendals. This fabulous emporium was also a shopping haunt of my grandmother who had rather expensive tastes. Today the city is full of new shiny buildings, shopping centres and loft apartments but you don't have to look too far to see the old Manchester still in decay but quite beautiful for it. The wonderful exterior to the Lower Turk's Head is covered in fabulous tiles probably made just a few miles away in the potteries. It is now closed and up for sale. Sadly no more pints to be pulled here.

Monday, 5 March 2012


These amazing carved heads stopped me in my tracks when I went for a wander with Sarah in Exeter. There are some truly ancient buildings in the close near the Cathedral. This was the area where the cathedral workers would have lived. Most of the buildings here have been destroyed but a few remain and this door could even date from 1400 which is incredible. How many hands have pushed against this door over the years. What stories they would tell!


These beautiful porcelain creatures posing on teapots and little plates are the work of Kate McBride. She creates quirky tea services, cake stands and figures which all have a story to tell.
Kate's work looks slightly shattered and has a broken quality to it. The figures are often inspired by ancient myths and legends but Kate adds a modern day twist. I would love to serve tea from one of her delicate works of art. I think a pile of petit fours on one her cake stands would be very fitting too.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Red is the colour this weekend. I went to Kempton Antique Market with my lovely friend Flora this week and bought an old standard lamp minus its shade. So it was off to another favourite antique haunt yesterday Portobello Road in West London. In a good old fashioned junk shop I found just what I was looking for a beautiful old red silk lampshade and then in a bin some red twine. The red symphony was finished off with a bunch of anemones from the wonderful creative florist Jo Butler in Teddington.


I recently took a trip to Exeter to visit my very good friend Sarah who has just moved to a delightful little flat in a big Georgian house. We popped into various shops but one shop revealed a beauty far greater than the items which were on sale. In an upstairs room which had clearly once been a grand Victorian home there were the most amazing stained glass windows. I know nothing of the history of the windows or who created them but I just want to share the beautiful designs with you my readers!

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Last weekend I took a trip to one of my favourite parts of London the streets near Old Street and Brick Lane. The street walls here are the chosen canvas of some amazing artists. Roa a Belgian artist has been busy around the streets of Brick Lane. This beautiful crane is in Hanbury Street famed as being the location of one of Jack the Ripper's murders! Apparently Roa's intention was that the bird was a heron but after being asked if the bird was a crane by the Bengali locals, who hold the crane as sacred, Roa transformed his heron into a a crane. Roa always asks the owners of the walls he paints for permission and many owners are very enthusiastic about the idea. Roa's draftsmanship is impressive and his designs are painted freehand and not drawn beforehand! He places his creatures in the cityscape which is a natural home for scavengers and vermin. Another artist at work in the city is Phlem who hails from Sheffield. His work is incredibly detailed and he works on paper when he is not painting on walls. The name phlegm came from one of four bodily humours in ancient Greek medicine. Phelgm was believed to be responsible for an apathetic and unemotional temperament. I can't imagine this artist is either of these things.