ceramics and artisan

i am always looking for  beautiful ceramics – have a look at the delicate beakers and jugs by James and tilla waters. I love the bold designs of Silvia K. i also like the simplicity of the creamer jug from another country.  love the colourful blue jugs by reiko kaneko  – jugs are something i can’t resist and i have jugs in all sizes and colours, some old, some new!

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another of my favourite ceramicists is Jacqui Roche,  who makes lovely cream porcelain ware, including this lovely porcelain rose.  Jacqui also runs workshops for adults and children, learning to use the wheel and glazing pots – she’s inspirational.  Fliff Carr is also a brilliant ceramics and teacher – her fine delicate pieces make lovely gifts. 

there seem to be very few artisan shops left in london, i find that its essential to touch and feel the things that i want to buy and especially the scale – you lose all the beauty in a photograph online.  fortunately there are a few shops remaining that still show interesting hand made ceramics – my favourites are listed.

My new discovery is Kobo in a little alley in Norwich, beautifully presented, and more rustic and earthy coloured pots, you can’t leave without purchasing something. mint is an inspiring shop selling beautiful ceramics and artisan products.    egg is another source of inspiration,  no website, but worth the journey.  igigi in brighton is another favourite place of mine – and definitely makes going to brighton worth it. merci in paris is another shop worth all the travelling to – its got to be a must on your list of paris shopping – merci also gives its profits to charity.Eclectic is typically japanese , very white, minimal, very delicate in style but like a breath of fresh air, it stands out amongst the usual chain shops around town.  of course there is frank in whitstable,  abigail aherne in islington has an unusual choice of ceramics.  native and co have lovely selection of Japanese gifts and homewares and momosan near London Fields also is a lovely shop to visit for gifts. 

art shops are so inspiring

one of my all time favourite shops in london, l. cornelissen stocks art materials, but not just like your regular art shop,  its a specialist in all types of mediums, from inks, to watercolours, to gouache etc….  there are bottles, jars, tins, tubes of everything that you would ever need.  the problem is that i dont even know what you use most of the things for!  its definitely a place for inspiring your creativity – i bought some lovely pastels, in their gorgeous boxes, you feel that they are themselves an art piece and  will try them out in the large choice of sketch books that they have in stock.  what a brilliant present to buy somebody interested in art, a starter kit in drawing or painting  with a lovely notebook – perfect for any young teenager or for someone to inspire them to start drawing!

I recently discovered another lovely shop – art shops seem to be curiousity shops that you can spend hours in – Stuart  Stevenson on Clerkenwell Road. 

I have only ever bought online from them, but Jackson’s art shop has a good choice too. 

Great Art has a wide range of ready made linen oil canvasses as well as all the usual art materials, plus its opposite my favourite Vietnamese restaurant. 

i recently joined a Chinese painting class and started painting these flowers – you just need a roll of rice paper, a couple of good brushes and a bottle of ink;  watercolours are easy to do too, you dont need much space, you just need a brush and a few colours and water ……  I find a need a class to get me started – I always have good intentions, but actually joining a class really makes you get up and have a go!

on the make

so living in a new area is both exciting and daunting – it’s strange how you get into habits and trust things that you know or are familiar;  even shopping in another branch of M & S is different and takes a while to adjust to.  Islington is definitely more upmarket to Camden, or maybe it’s customer demographic is different – feeling more like Marylebone with higher end brands, it’s hard not to pop into Toast or Ottolenghi whilst out buying your everyday shopping.   my favourite shop so far is Ray Stitch – I remember them on Broadway Market many years ago. 

ray stitch is great for haberdashery, ribbons, fabrics , patterns – a whole room of interesting designs to keep you inspired –  plus sewing classes – which look so interesting; there are a wide range of classes available from absolute beginners up – its a great gift idea to give to that person who has never sewn in their life!!  in fact there are lots of gift ideas in there. 

another way to learn new techniques are by zoom with classes run by Toast – during the pandemic, I did so many different ones that were on offer, from sashiko repair, embroidery stitches, darning and repair – we curse the computer, but at times it can offer so much.  

 tea and crafting also looks like a very interesting place – you can do one off workshops, learn to knit, make a lampshade or a ring, or just about anything.   you can also join classes at your local adult education centre, such as city lit, working mens college.

so with your ever growing list of things to do in the new year, you can add sewing classes – it may never happen, but at least the intention was there!  I recently had a go at embroidery – sewing in front of the TV using the only stitch I can remember from school  –  I did do needlework and domestic science at school, it was definitely a fun part of the curriculum, though now deemed as  lightweight subjects.  



L. cornelissen

it must be one of my favourite shops in london, l. cornelissen stocks art materials, but not just like your regular art shop,  its a specialist in all types of mediums, from inks, to watercolours, to gouache etc….  there are bottles, jars, tins, tubes of everything that you would ever need.  the problem is that i didnt even know what you used most of the things for!  its definitely a place for inspiring your creativity – i have decided to buy some calligraphy pens with the beautiful shades of sepia ink (in gorgeous bottles of course) and try them out in the beautiful sketch books that they stock.  what a brilliant present to buy somebody interested in art, a starter kit in drawing or painting  with a lovely notebook – perfect for any young teenager or budding artist! its also such a beautiful shop to be in and the staff so helpful and knowledgeable. I hope it never changes, modernises – just stay as inspiring as it also has been to me.

I have been trying out Chinese brush painting with ink and watercolour – the right brush definitely helps as its about using your brush , turning and splaying out the hairs to produce the marks – watching a professional is fascinating and of course they make it look so easy. I started online with the Chinese Community Centre in Chinatown with zoom classes and not only do you learn a lot, but you are helping keep the community centre thriving. my teacher during those classes William Cai does the most beautiful paintings – one day – practice makes perfect. these were my attempts.

magic hand

a few years ago we had a  bad accident when stoking up  the wood burner stove – which resulted in a wood ember falling onto our lovely rug – exactly in the part where there was a small section of white wool.  fortunately we were recommended magic hand, a specialist company who will  not only clean, restore and repair your rugs, but will pick it up and re deliver it and find the wool to match.  it came back within a week and you cannot even notice where the burn was.  it was not cheap, but considering the cost of good quality rugs, it was well worth it and a fraction of the price to buy another replacement.   we have now learned to roll back the rug when using the wood burner!

stencilled wall

I spent a day this week touching up all the scuffed areas in the house – its a mad thing that I occasionally do.  I am not very professional about it, I literally get the paint pots, which I now mark with a label stating the room and area, so that I don’t mix up the many pots sitting in my cellar.  you have to sometimes question whether the slight difference in shade due to age of wall and paint mixture is better than seeing the dirty marks.  I learned my lesson a long time ago that wiping with a cloth is not a good idea, you start and then spread all the dirt all of the walls, making it look worse, especially if you have had candles burning.  anyhow, I am sure that lots of you are sitting in staring at the walls wondering how you can change or liven up your spaces.

I have never tried this myself, but  I  have always loved this stencilled wall, it has been sponged to give it an old worn look.   looks very impressive in a hallway, or on just one wall of a room.  stencilled wallpaper was very popular in the 18 century, you can recreate the look by buying ready made stencils from henry donavan motifs– i thought the blossom stencils very pretty.

am loving the stencil ideas from casa polopa hotel.  searching for that famous blue colour paint is not easy, but try hacienda style or roscoe ultramarine blue.  


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these were more subtle, but very beautiful.  I think that these were from an old Palacio in seville.



back to being eco and inventive – another gift that yuki bought me last xmas  all beautifully wrapped with a silk scarf ;   furoshiki  is what they call it, and I didnt know much about it, though i did photograph something similar for jane brockets stitching book. 

once I watched the you tube, i was fascinated – how delightful to be able to pay for something in a shop, take out your scarf and make a bag to take your purchase home in!  its eco, green and makes you look super talented – better get practising.  in the meantime, you can give any square piece of fabric, but I did notice in brixton village there was a great african shop – african queen selling batique materials.

also makes a lovely alternative way for wrapping a present!  and if you are really green you could take it shopping with you and then wrap up your purchases with your scarf.



are you always losing buttons? do you find them in the rim of the washing machine door?  or do you find that buttons are just not secured so well these days and fall of so quickly.    i now put all my lost and found buttons in a simple glass jam jar and hang it in the bathroom.  you can buy a little pack of beautiful white assorted buttons from one of the stalls in Portobello Green Market under the westway.  On a Friday morning, there are 2 haberdasher type stalls selling vintage cotton reels and ribbons, one is in the covered part of the market and the other is on the street just in front of the Cloth Shop.

a haberdashers/ fabric/ art shop has just opened on camden high street – selling everything from wool, needles, fabric dye and simple art products – its just opposite Boots in what was the kitchen shop, which is sorely missed.   you can also  find a nice selection  at  whitstable fabric and haberdashery,  who has everything you need to repair and update any dress, trimmings, fabrics, buttons, its what every high street should have!

for a  big choice of buttons  the button queen  has an amazing choice of antique and modern buttons – sadly no longer on Marylebone lane, but they do online.  they will even cover buttons to match your garment, taking the fabric from a hem or seam.  taylors also cover buttons and sells a range of vintage buttons and is a very quirky atmospheric shop.   old button shop on kings road also sells a good range of buttons, and they will post to anywhere in the world.  Moya Smith sells lots of brass buttons and old cutlery at Portobello Antiques market. 

and VV Rouleaux have a good selection alongside their fabulous ribbons and trimmings.  DM buttons and buttonholes are right in the heart of soho and has a vast array of buttons and button services – you can even get buttons with your initials on them.

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i increasingly seem to be visiting Liverpool en route to seeing my mother;  its a 2 hour train journey from london and then a 45 min drive to manchester.  my friend Elise is very taken with the city and takes me to new things each time we visit.  I visited  the Bluecoat gardens, with their lovely exhibition space and ceramics shop – it’s a pleasant courtyard garden right in the heart of the shopping centre, and there are so many lovely ceramics to buy there.  I am really taken with the work of Michelle Holmes. 

I always make time to pop into the tate – Vivian Suter and Theaster Gates are on at the moment  – london isn’t the only place to have important art!   I loved the colourful hanging canvasses of Suter!  Go and eat at ‘the quarter’ in the beautiful Georgian area around Hope street, or the florist for a bite to eat or just for  coffee and cake; and then a must see stop are the 2 opposing cathedrals – both architecturally amazing in their own right.  if you have more time, take the 15 min drive to Crosby beach to see ‘another place’ by Antony Gormley – a series of life size cast iron figures set along the beach seemingly entering the sea.  there is definitely a revival for Liverpool – I really enjoyed the programme about the history of a Georgian house in Liverpool , fascinating social history.


incidentally this opening shot of my book ‘stolen glimpses’ is from the window of Tate Liverpool.

pop up sales

its a month of pop up sales and this year I am all over the place – I love that there are so many community markets and fairs that promote the creativity of small businesses and individuals like myself.   it is always inspiring to see such talent and beautiful things.
my next pop up sale is at Queens Park, next Sunday 24th November 2019 from 10am – 2pm. Curated by Christa Davis who has a fab collection of upcycled cashmere, there will also be a diverse selection of interesting things to buy.
Adjoining Queens Park Farmers Market, Salusbury Rooms, Salusbury Primary School, London NW6 6RG. Will be selling my cards, ceramics, some curated bits and bobs plus vintage and pre loved clothes. hope you can make it.
It will be an eclectic local indoor market celebrating independent makers & designers alongside eccentric vintage clobber and one-off stalls spring cleaning their homes.
the one after that is in Hampstead on Saturday 30th November at Rosslyn Hill Chapel, which is run by Badgers Velvet and it is an amazing array of fine designers, craftspersons and gifts all curated by the lovely Ros Badger;  and then on Sunday 1st December I will be at Curtain Up Christmas market  at St Mary’s Abbot centre, Kensington Church Street, where the lovely Jo Good will be drawing the raffle, which proceeds this year will go to Maggies Centre.
I will also be taking part in a one day ‘clear your junk’ fair on Saturday 14th December at Cecil Sharp House in Primrose Hill;  its basically a posh boot fair by a whole lot of interior designers and makers.