For those who love stationery as much as us you might like our little shortlist.
There are so many fantastic brands producing beautiful products designed to brighten your working day! Let's get to it!
We’ve featured Ola before on the blog being a tiny bit obsessed with their stunning patterns and quality stationery however this time we’re sharing something from their Christmas shop; the origami decoration kit. Whilst fantastic for Christmas they are quite frankly decorations we’ll probably display all year – especially as their homemade!
Using their signature patterned papers designed and Made In England you can make eight contemporary decorations.
Learning a new skill takes time and concentration. With this in mind they are great for this time of year with long dark evenings when you just need to stop and quieten your mind and become absorbed in something that will take you away from day to day life. We would recommend these for yourself or actually as a Christmas present as people may have the time to dedicate this time to a project over the holidays. We tackled it as a team of two and this definitely added to the enjoyment and sense of teamwork as we worked our way through the instructions.
The kit comprises of 48 x small patterned squares, 12 x large patterned squares and satin ribbon and is presented in a hand-finished box with the instructions of how to make them all.
Being novices at Origami it was exciting to undertake a new project but we have to be honest and say there were a few steps where we were completely foxed. Frustrating and funny at the same time those first ‘prototypes’ were definitely a challenge. However, the cheat sheet bit is that you get access to their exclusive step-by-step videos which show you how to do them and this always saved us when we had reached a dead end. A clever idea and great to have as a back up if you need it.
We could see how we improved in our accuracy as the gaps got tighter and the decorations got more crisp. It was rewarding, fun and a great way of being creative with some guidance. We’d definitely recommend these as a beautiful present for someone with a love of paper to create their own bespoke decorations made by hand with paper made in England. What’s not to love?
For transparency we were sent the origami decorations as a challenge to make them as part of this feature!
If you’re on Instagram then we’re pretty sure you will have heard of ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’. We love this brand for their quirky take on bringing postable greenery into our homes in the forms of seasonal flowers, wreaths and even, well, Christmas trees! Each of the above arrives in a narrow slim box which easily fits through a standard letterbox.
First up this year is ‘The Drew’ which arrives with a collapsable pot, moss and ribbon. You can choose what decorations you’d like it to come with for a little extra sparkle – be that baubles, fairy lights, deluxe beauty treats (yes really!), robins or jingle bells.
We couldn’t resist the stunning reflective hues of the mini baubles and fairy lights so this was our combo to get started with for a design-led looking mini tree in our kitchen.
Kitchens can be tricky spaces for bringing festive cheer to as there’s the safety issue of adding flammable materials to a kitchen as well as the practicality issue of lots of ornaments and banners precariously taped or balanced. The idea of a mini tree which could sit on the worktop, be easily moved and watered once a week seemed perfect. The fairy lights are battery operated making it a really easy portable tree.
For our kids room we wanted something fun which they could embellish to really make it their own. We opted for ‘The Jack’ with its colourful string of festive jingle bells and fairy lights which when initially decorated by our three year old looked like this:
And was later embellished with lego to look like this..
The great thing about these mini trees is you can move them around their room to set up different festive scenes (sometimes it is also ceremoniously walked to the playroom with new embellishments added). It becomes a living breathing part of Christmas the kids can enjoy looking after.
You might have clocked our first review of a mini-tree last year (if not you can read it here) and we just wanted to update you that we potted it up last year and it’s been very happy. We’ve added a few of the baubles from last year as a welcome by our front door! Once Christmas is over pot yours up and help the little fella grow so you’ve got a Christmas tree for years to come!
If you fancy your own tiny tree or want to surprise a loved one to get them in the festive mood (especially if they’ve only got a small space) then enjoy 10% off your first order by signing up to the Bloom & Wild newsletter (scroll to the bottom of their ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’ homepage to sign up).
For transparency we were sent these trees by Bloom & Wild for the purposes of photography and to share on the blog as part of our Christmas series. We’re huge fans of the minimal packaging, clever seasonal designs and practicality they bring to the flower delivery market!
Roxwell Press is well known for their beautiful illustrative work and each year release their Christmas Shop but this year they’ve developed some beautiful glass hand-painted baubles which we wanted to share…
With a mix of gold and a pastel palette of white, green and pink – they’re unexpectedly festive without the regimental red, green and white which Christmas seems to have become. The fluid edges of the paint work with the reflective shimmer of the colours and these baubles really have a great design edge for an informal but bright look.
You can buy the baubles as a set of 4 for £20 and they’re a good idea as a gift or frankly just for yourself! The forth bauble is clear and gold (not featured here) but it looks stunning and you can take a peek here.
These particular baubles are hand-painted which makes them all slightly different and are about 6cm in diameter which makes them really practical to either hang on the tree or make part of a separate decoration.
We hope these photographs have got you in the festive mood and we’d love to see photographs of the ornaments you treasure at Christmas. There’s something magical about bringing the Christmas box down from the loft and rediscovering all these beautiful handmade treasures year after year!
You can currently get FREE DELIVERY on all orders at Roxwell Press so take a look at the Christmas shop here.
Please note we were kindly sent these baubles to photograph and share in this feature.
The busiest time of year? Get a diary which is going to work as hard as you in 2017!
With just 4 Sundays left before Christmas we’re starting our Christmas recommendations here at ecomodernstudios starting with Hello Marilu.
Hello Marilu is a creative lifestyle brand with a strong focus on handmade. Created by Mary-Ann Aveline in 2015, Hello Marilu offers an eclectic range of textiles and paper goods that have all been designed, handmade or hand finished in her South London studio, using a variety of techniques such as screen printing, marbling and painting.
We put in a 12-bauble strong order as her hand-painted ceramics are just the sort of one-of-a-kind heirlooms that are treasured on the tree year after year (as well as perfect for thoughtful gifts for those who have ‘everything’). Intrigued about what drove Hello Marilu in its first year of business we sat down with a cuppa to find out more about what makes this British brand tick.
In a time when we’re so technologically advanced why do you think there’s been such a strong comeback of handmade with brands such as notonthehighstreet, Folksy and etsy championing the individual?
There is no doubt that technology is great; I can’t imagine living without my iPhone now, or the internet, but its is also kind of sad how much it dominates our lives. You might be working all day on a computer only to go home and spend half your evening checking social media or watching TV. Its addictive, and almost a bit overwhelming at times.
I think its this technology overload which is actually encouraging people to want to take up new hobbies, such as hand made crafts, or learning a new skill at a creative workshop. Being able to physically make something can feel so satisfying. There is a sense of achievement, something real that you can feel and touch, and it focuses your mind in a totally different way, almost like a meditation. The result is a finished product which you can feel proud of and that’s a good feeling.
The great thing about technology however is how it can help support and grow your handmade business. Years ago it would have been very difficult to know how to sell your handmade products or get any recognition, but with websites like notonthehighstreet, Etsy and Folksy, almost anyone can get their work out there.
It makes handmade products accessible to everyone and it also shows that it is possible to sell your own work – something which would otherwise feel very daunting. People that buy handmade are looking for something a bit different – something personal, unique, and original. It can be hard to know where to buy those things on the highstreet so websites that showcase products from independent designers are a wonderful source for both the buyer and the seller.
Creative workshops also really seem to be on the rise which is fantastic. Its lovely to learn a new skill and try something you never would have thought of before, whilst meeting other fellow creatives. There are some really unusual ones out there too. Earlier this year I went to a spoon carving workshop by Grain and Knot, which is something I probably never would have had the opportunity to try had there not been a workshop available!
Your work is bright, bold and playful with pops of neon and gold! What inspirations have you had in 2016 which has helped shape your brand and what are you looking towards in 2017?
I have always loved bright colours, neon red in particular and of course gold. I find colours like that can transform a simple design into something really eye catching. I tend to be inspired by so many different things – almost everyday a new idea pops into my head, or I see a new technique which I want to try. I am very curious with wanting to try different techniques and I have a long list which I need to work through!
It was Screen Printing however which really led me to start Hello Marilu and it is something that I always love to go back to in between other crafts. I recently discovered through trial and error how to screen print with gold foil. I was so pleased that I could finally get it to work, and I now have quite a few gold foil print ideas in the pipeline.
I also love how working on one idea can organically lead you on to something else. I am really enjoying hand painting my ceramic Christmas baubles at the moment and I now to want to decorate other ceramic items such as plant pots and coasters.
I would love to try the Japanese technique Kintsugi. If you are not familiar with it, its basically an ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken or cracked objects using gold. Rather than trying to hide the damage you make it a feature by highlighting it with gold. It is really quite beautiful, looks amazing on ceramics, and of course its using gold, one of my favourite colours, so I’ve just got to try it!
What is the product you’re most proud of from your collection and why?
My hand painted Christmas baubles are getting a lot of attention at the moment, which is great in the run up to Christmas. It feels very special to personalise a bauble for someone, knowing that gift will hopefully be cherished by the recipient for years to come.
I love the build up to Christmas and decorating the tree is my all time favourite thing, so it makes me feel very happy to know that my baubles will be decorating other peoples trees too. The hand painted design which I use was inspired by traditional Russian folk illustrations. My mum is Russian so I grew up surrounded by beautifully painted Russian figurines and matryoshka’s. I have always wanted to use this inspiration for a project of my own so working on my hand painted baubles holds a special place in my heart as they are inspired by things which are very dear to me.
There is a really strong creative community online in the UK. What social media accounts do you really love following and why?
The online creative community is amazing. Websites like Pinterest really help for inspiration and finding new craft techniques that I would love to try, and Instagram is just incredible for building your business and seeing what other like minded creative people are doing. I love how supportive the Instagram community is.
Its so encouraging when you post a picture and receive such lovely comments and likes from people that you have never even met before. Its amazing how it can bring people together from all over the world! Instagram is definitely my favourite social media outlet and I think i would be a bit lost without it. It was a huge inspiration to starting my own business because it made me realise so many people were following their passions, and that I could do that too.
Some of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow are @ohjoy for lovely bright colours and DIY posts. Her account is always so cheery – its a great happiness fix and it just puts you in a good mood! Jewellery maker @benumade is another favourite. She makes the most amazing, quirky leather jewellery. Her designs are so unique, I find them really inspiring. They make me want to work with leather. I also love @elizabethpawle. Her woven and hand stitched art pieces have so much depth and texture to them, you just want to reach out and touch them, and they incorporate some of my favourite neon colours which is always a winner!
If you’d like to meet Mary-Anne and have a go at your own designs at a Bauble Decorating Workshop then you’re too late to catch her at Anthropologie (sold out) but if you’re quick you can get a place at her workshops at West Elm on 24th November (only 2 places left!) or 8th December (only 4 places left!). Price £20.
When we moved into our 1970s bungalow in Dorset from our terraced Bath Stone 1930s home packed full of character the initial impression wasn’t one of immediate attraction… However we knew that there were plenty of pluses with bungalows. The first being space, the second being all-on-one-level (handy with two tiny children) and the third being detatched. The bungalow was also a 5 minute walk to the beach which was a definite selling point and 3 years on we’re in love with the home we’re working so hard to create. It feels like home.
Here’s a little before & now photo which illustrates our work to date to keep a midcentury vibe but reference its coastal setting with the addition of new window sizes, shutters, cedar wood slatting, a white and grey paint update and tropical landscaping to include banana plants and numerous spiky plants.
Our focus has remained very much on getting the back extension and internal renovation finished but next up is to remove the green tile-hung frontage and replace with cedar wood, update the guttering and to relocate the ugly yellow alarm box! Even though there is a never-ending to-do list we can appreciate how far we’ve come and it was lovely when Michelle from Roxwell Press offered to capture our home renovation project with her customised illustration portrait service.
When the result arrived via post it was incredible to see how she’d really captured the spirit of the place (also kindly future-proofing the portrait with the cedar cladding rather than the current green tiles!). Michelle created the portrait by working from photographs we provided and asked about planting, colours and textures and it was this attention to detail that has ensured such a pleasing portrait which feels like home.
The bungalow always really sings on a bright blue day and it’s amazing to have this captured in the illustration. All that remains is to get it framed and hung. We’re thinking in the kitchen and know it’ll be a talking point!
The good news is that YOU can actually win a customised house portrait worth £100 by entering this competition which is running until 6th October. All you need to do is sign up with your email address to receive her occasional e-newsletters which feature sample sales, competitions and free hand-designed wallpapers for your screen. There is also currently free delivery on all orders (including a single card) at the moment so do take a look at her website or perhaps get an early order in for Christmas cards (if we’re allowed to mention the ‘C’ word yet).
If you’re not lucky enough to win Roxwell Press will offer a discount code to everyone whose signed up to the e-newsletter for the launch of this new house portrait service or you can skip the queue and pre-order with Michelle@roxwellpress.co.uk.
We were lucky enough to be sent a copy of ‘A life in Pattern: The Life & Work of Sheila Bownas’ exhibition catalogue this month and it’s exactly as the foreword states: We now have access to a little piece of design history transferred into a very modern context.
You could be forgiven for not having heard of Sheila Bownas (1925 – 2007) but for the last few years ecomodernstudios have been following this incredible brand born from a body of works from a designer of the same name. The story is one that many of us might dream about; a treasure trove discovery of the life works of an unknown yet prolific designer. However not many of us would have the drive and determination to piece together the history in such an methodical and authentic way. This is exactly what happened to Chelsea Cefai back in 2008 who on a spur of the moment decision at an auction became the guardian of over 200 hand-painted patterns from the 1950s onwards.
The post-war period was a time of great vision, colour and pattern as British people embraced new styles. Sheila’s designs were bought by various textile and wallpaper manufacturers to include Liberty London, Marks & Spencers and Crown Wallpaper but these were never released under her name so she remained under the radar. This was of course in stark contrast to the star designer of that time Lucienne Day but was nonetheless common for the era and indeed to some extent today. These colourful designs seem as applicable today as they did then and our obsession with the colour and pattern of the 1950s onwards shows no sign of diminishing with popular brands such as Orla Kiely and MissPrint to name a few… and Marimekko, who’ve well, kept on going!
Included in the 65-paged colour catalogue is a fascinating essay by Design Historian Lesley Jackson who gives a detailed account of the designs within the context to which they were conceived. She states ‘to encounter all these facets within the oeuvre of one individual is rare, but it is this diversity that makes the Sheila Bownas archive such a rich resource. What is especially rewarding about dipping into this archive is that wonderful designs that did not receive exposure originally are being given a second chance to shine’.
The catalogue is such a detailed and beautiful account of Sheila’s work and here’s a few of the beautiful patterns we couldn’t help but share starting with this 1950s design below:
These 1960s prints
And this hypnotising 1970s print:
With permission from the family of Sheila Bownas selected British artisans have used these original designs to create furniture, textiles, lighting and ceramics. What a legacy for an artist who never once had a retrospective in her lifetime. As Lesley Jackson so aptly put its in her essay ‘as well as appealing to be current vogue for eclecticism, the designs lend themselves to multiple applications in terms of style, colour and scale’ and you can see this yourself by visiting their online store. We couldn’t agree more.
Visit the exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum until 3rd September 2016 and if you can’t make the exhibition but would like a copy of the catalogue then call the gallery on 01788 533217. Priced at £15 the catalogue also includes a beautiful A5 Sheila Bownas print.
Please note there are limited free tours of the exhibition by Chelsea Cefai which are detailed here – we’re very much hoping to make one of these!