Thursday, 23 April 2015

MAGAZINE EDITION: Mid century Scandinavian pottery,19th century textiles, hand blocked William Morris wallpaper, vintage embroidery & an old style kitchen for modern life. Lots of nice stuff inside!

Sorry for lack of input - I have been in a bit of dark hole but scrambling out again for now...

Spring Edition: 

Message from the Editor:

Thank you for calling in  the new, revamped magazine edition of "The Custards".

The team behind "The Custards " (Pat.Pending)  have been very busy writing a range of articles to please your diverse palettes.  Here at "The Custards" we like diverse palettes and hope that we have something for everyone to dip in and out of.  Thank you to our reader, Jenny, who has sent in photographs of her s-l-o-w-l-y evolving kitchen : more of this on page 9.  Another reader, spookily also named Jenny,  has shared some of her recent 'finds' (see page 5 for more details : how she makes us laugh).  A regular contributor, Jenny, has shared her vintage Spring display.

Our resident photographer, Jenny,(oh my that name is clearly a bit of trend this season) has apologised for not reading her camera instructions and has only just found what aperture really means....this might explain some of the lack of perspective in images.  We end with our favourite 'PS' final column, here the extraordinarily witty, clever, talented, amazing all round good egg, Jenny has once again offered her wit, wisdom from her daily life.  In the office we never cease to be amazed by her hapless adventures.

Letters Page

Dear "The Custards"
Thank you for your not-so-recent article on Christmas.  I was going to send in some photographs of Christmas 2014 but realise that it is now too late so will save them for 2015!
Best wishes
The Custards
PS: Hoping for more timely postings in 2015 please.

Ed: You and me both. PS: Caustic comments are not particularly welcome and we will be censoring such letters in future editions.

"The Custards"
Martha has been wondering if you will reconsider the articles which we sent in for the editor's perusal early in 2014?  We had rather hoped that 'The Adventures of Martha and Arthur' was going to be a regular feature.
Not a happy reader

Ed: Arthur - I have replied in full via our solicitor. I had only vaguely suggested payment so take your thinly veiled threat of legal action with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt (currently on offer via our Special Offers page for our Special Customers : if this does not apply to you then please ignore)

Dear "The Custards"
I have recently been having various problems with  party wall damp ingress.   Any thoughts or tips?

Ed: Thinly veiled smut is also  not tolerated here

The Shopping PlaceWhat's in and what's out this season:

Here at "The Custards" HQ we have been sourcing the finest things currently available for purchase (or rather things which we have purchased which if  you keep your eyes peeled you might find something similar):

We are given to believe this is a copy of an sampler dating from 1835.  Our team of investigative reporters discovered that you can buy the kit from here (we are not sponsored) but our copy was a little cheaper.

We thought that this embroidery was particularly well executed....

...though a little grubby round the nethers

....there is someone in our office who is also grubby round the nethers....

We are seeking advice regarding the washing of said item as 'our team'  are no longer to be trusted with washing.  We recently purchased a piece of cloth with a multitude of souvenir felt badges (dating from the 40s /50s/60s) sewn on to it (we had in mind to create a satchel type bag and sew them on) only to find that they, she I, they  we had accidentally put it in the washing machine.. and many of the badges disintegrated as a result.  

Lesson learnt

At "The Custards" we are aware that when it comes to presents some people prefer gifts of perfume, books, shoes. clothes, fine dining, dear departed Woolies Gift Vouchers.  We tittered in the office when one key member of staff announced that what she would like for her birthday was a rusty old fire surround -complete with cobwebs - which she had seen in the local salvage yard.  Said member of staff had only ever asked for three things for birthdays/Christmas over the past 30 years.  Said member of staff actually had quite a bit of stuff and was not over keen on any/much money been spent on any presents and welcomed a bargain muchly.

It would be faintly ridiculous to decorate this fire place as though it were indoors.....wouldn't it.  We were going to artfully arrange our collection of hand printed, hand blocked William Morris wallpaper around it (as seen in wallpaper advertisements from circa 1979) but decided against. That would, of course, be faintly ridiculous.........

 By way of demonstration of purchasing items on the cheap said member of staff went a foraging in one of the local 'open air' shopping centres.... which only opens one day a week....when its not might be aware of the sort.

For £3 she was able to purchase a much needed 30s fabric parasol

It had some netting attached as it had been used as a prop in theatre productions (you can see where we removed it...the threads have yet to be extracted)

 As she was in dire need the large piece of fabric also seen in the photograph was also bought for one of our Fair Isle's pound coins.

There were some other fabric purchases - some wonderful linen curtains (possibly from the 30s and a   bargain at £3) and pieces of Sanderson and other florals:

These are the pieces pegged on the line to dry after washing

Much longed-for sunshine coming through

 A further One Pound purchased an old hand mirror which for some odd reason had been painted

Sorry that this is being displayed on Dom's old pants (washed!) which are always used for buffing purposes.

It took a fair bit of buffing to restore to original state (Please see feature in back issue Volume 9, Number 27 for buffing tips and guidance)

One more pound also bought a little china posy bowl.  Poor photography here and the bowl itself has been obliterated by the flowers.

Please see the Wallpaper Feature on page 5 for further details of background paper.

You know how some mornings you wake up and think to yourself:

'What I really need today is: a vintage papier-mâché crinoline lady wearing a green dress in the form of  powder puff holder'

You too!

Well what do you know!

To be honest I am not really in need of a crinoline lady powder puff holder (made of papier-mâché and wearing a green dress).....but the car booter said those fateful words: "It's just a pound love" here it is back at the homestead:

 "Come into the garden Maud.  I am here at the gate alone.............."

 I might have paid 99p too much given the amount of chippage but never mind

 There are worse things that I could be wasting a pound on I think! (in case you think I am entirely selfish I recently donated a tenth of my income to Comic Relief and felt much better for doing so).

'Fashion' on a budget: something for depleted pockets and creative minds (as opposed to depleted minds and creative pockets.......).  Guarded use of 'fashion' in this section!

With all those bits and bobs which you have carefully sourced at the car boot you then attempt to make something nice out of them.

Gather ye rose buds

This is the carefully crafted pattern!

 Work in progress - might get done in time for the summer

Food & drink special supplement

Last summer we were inspired by a blog post by Heather of My little red suitcase  to make our own herbal tea

We popped the kettle on and then stepped outside to our fancifully named 'herb garden'

We selected sprigs of mint, lemon verbena and a bit of thyme

 We diced a bit of fresh ginger, put the kettle on and all done!

(70s cups)

This was last summer - which explains the roses being in bloom!

We were able to indulge ourselves with then newly installed folding doors in the kitchen

Bringing the outside in............

~~A more up to date make has been 'creating' a recipe from 'The Berry' and her Easter Pavlova.

   More of a palaver than a Pavlova to be honest....but home made lemon curd is always a crowd pleaser.

The recipe calls for half a dozen eggs and that took a bit of beating with my old whisk

Sorry that my meringue is a bit cracked....happens to the best of us (sorry also that I didn't have the right nozzle for piping purposes).

 Mind you who cares what it looks all tastes lovely

Wash down with a cup of cha

Gardening extra:

This time of year is full of hope and promise isn't it. We are off visiting local gardens to see what is up and coming:

 This is our old dolly tub which this year is full of hollyhocks, foxgloves grown from seed (last Autumn) and sweet peas tumbling over the edges.

We have made a note to return later in the year to see how this display is faring

 Cowslips and fritillaries signal that Spring is well and truly here

 You might recall that our reader bought two of these old rhubarb forces at a car boot a few years ago and struggled to get them home on her each side for balance!

Sadly the rhubarb had been the local slug population...

....but under one forcer we found that some epimedyium had decided to make a bid for freedom...together with the snails

About 10 years ago we planted this  peach tree and never really expected much more than yellow golf balls.  However over the years we have been proved wrong and this tree always produces delicious, juicy peaches (I fertilise the flowers with a little paint brush taped onto the broom handle)

All sorts of things are planted - including this chipped old jug

 Spring time car boots are the prime time to buy old gardening tools - these cost between two and four pounds.  Such stalls can be spotted because they are usually surrounded by men - gathered round admiring tools of yesteryear.

 We are rather fond of old watering cans........

 We had rather hoped for a cheery robin landing on the fork handles (I know, I know the old jokes are the best) but had to settle for this instead

Our favourite bird bath

Seasonal displays: 

Are you looking for a bit of vim and vigour?
Are you searching for that extra something?

Let us put a 'Spring' into your step with this colourful mix of florals and embroidery : we think this exemplifies that burst of energy associated with this time of year.  Here our resident stylist (from verb ' to style' - to arrange artfully and then peddle) rummaged through a few, pile, mound, load, heap, teetering mountain   store of  sourced (from verb 'to source' - otherwise known as getting together stuff which other people have found for you) vintage hand embroidered tablecloths. We discovered with some horror that we had a few duplicates (note to the caretaker: reduce surplus stock in 2015) - after a bit of searching we decided on this particular fine example (as seen in 2014 Spring Edition but hope no-one notices)

Here at "The Custards" we feel that you can't go wrong with a nice bit of embroidery and seasonal Spring bulbs.

Our old embroidered bunny always puts in an appearance this time of the year

We are honour-bound to tell you that the bird's nest below is one left by Mr and Mrs Blackbird last season

Funny how last year the blackbird laid old buttons instead of eggs................we are rather afraid that it has something to do with global warming.

Goodness knows how many hours these would have taken to make

Reader's Kitchen: Modern living & Scandinavian pottery of the past

Here our reader has been able to draw upon a range of influences (charity shop, car boot mainly) and incorporated them into the home.

Our reader tittered with laughter as she told us how she changes the items on the shelves around on a regular basis

'No it is is not in the least bit tiresome for people in the house.  We call it 'fun and games' when people find that the plates have been moved for the fifth time that week'.

We laughed at that one too - what fun it must be never quite knowing.

Our reader highlighted how robust pottery was needed in a hard working kitchen and old Scandinavian bits and bobs served that purpose very well indeed.  

We tried to track down the old Scandinavian to find out how he felt about his bits and bobs being used in this way but were sadly unsuccessful.

Once more our reader tinkling laughter echoed throughout the house when she relayed how she had to search in the back of her wardrobe to locate some pieces which had been bought several years ago.  She had been waiting for the day of shelf assembly.

Story of shelf brackets relayed in the PS. section

Trying hard to keep it simple................

There were further shelves to be assembled but the reader informs us that she is trying not to overload the wall..................

 Here is a photo of shelf assembly (note the old cupboards are still in place).

Everything has been changed round many times since these photographs.

Reader is rather partial to a nice old enamel tea pot.............

See previous edition for details of lamp.

Other kitchen perspectives from our reader:

A larder cupboard has been installed

The shelves were quite neat and tidy for about a week

All made by our local carpenter who has been very patient whilst minds were changed...once or twice.....

I love tea

 These yellow storage jars were bought over 30 years ago...waiting for their moment!

I love prunes.

A local builder was removing the entire contents of a Victorian terrace house (including the stairs!) so this lovely door become ours.  We were going to have orange walls but the colour of the glass determined otherwise.

This chair isn't usually here.

We are pleased to announce that it really does like a toilet block!

 The colour took a little while to get used to but we love it : the room is flooded with light and the yellow adds an extra layer of cheeriness.

  Plus we are able to co-ordinate flowers/jugs/glass/wall:

Old sweet jars were bought from the CS a year or two ago for £1 each.

Counter is work not in progress.............

Car boot china biscuit barrel - missing its lid!

 The other door (seen through this door) was a free one when someone was taking all their old doors out a few years ago.

Years ago the original doorway to the kitchen was made into a cupboard (it is tricky to explain) - this has now been blocked off but we wanted to keep the old architrave.  The 'master of the house' shrunk the doorway and it now houses book shelves and somewhere for the old trays.

Moving in before the paint was dry....

Still  a great deal to do - eventually

19th Century Textiles

We are not 100% convinced of the provenance of the following pieces so we are asking for the pooling of knowledge from The Collective please.  Calling anyone out there who has some  knowledge of such textiles we would be very grateful.

These are 'bag fronts' (not a technical term!) and this is a summary of what we have found so far:

 We have found a few similar items across the internet - here for example is one  at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Mmmm - similar but that one is described as being French from the late 18th century.  Mmmmm again - we were not convinced ...they just don't seem French!  So we did a bit more rummaging around the ether.

 We thought that these bags looked more like our three

 Yes - these seem more in keeping as the weave and feel of these are unusual.  We read more here and there is another similar one here too

 and this proved to be a bit of a clincher - the bit about 'slit weaving' struck a chord.  This is a particularly type of weaving found in Syria around late 1700s to the 1800s.  Slit weaving is where the wefts are 'dovetailed' so that a slit will appear.........

 ...and if the piece held up to light these slits are usually clearly visible as the light shines through them....

These look similar too 

These pieces also  'glisten' slightly and we think that some of the threads might be metallic

We tried to contact the museum in Aleppo to return these to the country of origin but sadly too difficult in such times.  Of course these might all be modern copies so any information is most welcome.

Hand printed William Morris wallpaper

Sometimes thing turn up in the least expected places.  We are fortunate enough to have a long-standing 'buyer' at "The Custards" - she is able to 'source' all sort in all sorts of places.  A few weeks ago a shop of a certain genre had some rolls of wallpaper (the paper was rolled so that the print could not be seen but our buyer is very deft with her x-ray vision).

The shop owner said that the wallpaper was special and it certainly was.

It took a bit of research to find date of these wallpapers but....

Lines of Pinner were particularly helpful, thank you,  and also the present day Morris & Co wallpaper company, thank you again.

The design below is called ~Borage Ceiling  and the colours are delicious.

These wallpapers dates from the 1965 Sanderson 'revamp' of the original William Morris designs. the one below makes your eyes go a bit 'funny' when you look at it.  This pattern is  'Sunflower' by William Morris.

The wallpapers were hand blocked, hand printed using the original pear wood blocks dating from the late 1800s early 1900s  used by the William Morris company at that time.  We loved that this was  a direct connection back to a designer whom we have admired all our lives. They are quite different to roller printed wallpaper - they have a 'chalky' feel and texture in that they don't look 'flat'.  They are also distinguished from mass produced wallpaper by the use of a selvedge (which would need to be trimmed prior to hanging) - with Morris & Co printed along the edge (as you might see with fabric).

As some of the regular readers will know one of our staff lives in an Edwardian house and has collected 'bits' from the Arts & Crafts movement all of her life.  When called upon to choose some items to marry up with the wallpaper she could then not decide so we apologise for the lack of thought here - in retrospect she would have selected very different items more in keeping with the time frame.

The cup above I think was designed by George Foley - around 1900 - and a contemporary of Rennie Mackintosh - other examples of his designs can be found in this old post. 

We feel that the selection of some Talwin Morris books dating from the late 1800s to early 1900s was a good choice with the wallpaper.  Talwin is of course no relation to William but is another key designer which the member of staff has been fortunate to have been collecting for around 30 years.

'Honeysuckle' by May Morris.  Book covers designed by Talwin Morris

A lovely little pocket book with a Glasgow rose 'Talwin design' together with some sumptuous Morris & Co wallpaper

This  jug is another George Foley design from the early 1900s

This wallpaper below is a design by Voysey

This is a book design by Ethel Larcombe - another favourite in the office and a certain member of staff has one or two other books designed by her....Please visit this previous post for further examples of both Talwin and Ethel designs.

Here the office umbrella stand has been called into action - a favourite piece of Arts & Crafts copper which sits by the front door and is full of nice old umbrellas.

The wallpaper below is more unusual and certainly looks more '70s' in appearance.  This is Indian Tree  designed by Gilbert Scott - the book cover is a Talwin Morris design still being pressed into  use long  after his demise in 1911.

This old lantern is the second thing that we have suggested for Christmas in thirty years - bought from a local shop and will be wired up in the hallway.....eventually........

Wallpaper in situ (pretending_

PS From Ed:

PS: I have always loved 'buffing things up' - I love buffing.  ("Oh cricky - it's all coming out now...she is not quite the person we thought she was...SHE'S A CLOSEST NUDIST ").  You are funny.  As a child one of my favourite jobs was when my mum would ask me to help her 'do the Brasso' (I had an insular childhood 'tis fair to say).  This is not a metaphor for snorting cocaine (or whatever you do with it : the closest I have ever come to taking drugs was flaunting myself eating those sweet cigarettes - merrily available during the 60s and 70s .....times change). 'Doing the Brasso' was my mum's shorthand method of conveying that all all brass and copper objects in the household needed to be assembled for the fortnightly buffing with the Brasso.  I have maintained that love for 'doing the Brasso' ever since and have tried to instil this in my children too - believing it to be one of life's essentials.  To my horror when I recently went to do my own Brassos (plural form and not a euphemism) and discover that despite best shakes no more Brasso was to be had.  I ventured to the shop to find only 'own brand' was available.  WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON - NO BRASSO!  WE MIGHT ALL AS WELL PACK UP AND GO HOME AT THIS RATE.  I calmed down after a little seething and was forced to buy own brand. On my return to Custard Towers I manfully (it being a job on the 'masculine spectrum of labour' in a gender biased world)  only to discover it was not Brasso as I know it but a weakened, attenuated form of my beloved Brasso: a Brasso interloper if you will, a liquid merely masquerading as Brasso with no Brasso connection whatsoever.  All of this to convey to you why my Brasso bits are looking a bit browned off round the edges in the previous photographs.  Sorry everyone - I feel that I have let the side down and I know that you all will have duly noted and registered your disappointment.

PPPS: A few months ago I  bought new knickers.  Now for some of you this might not be something which merits public announcement but some like...mmmm..let me see ..........Elaine of Kitsch and Curious for example would understand the enormity of such a statement (not enormity of my knickers !! RUDE!). To fill in some detail (not detail of my knickers) : dear Elaine and I have never met but some years ago she kindly commented on my old Flickr photos and then my blog and a friendship via the ether developed.  ('What the heck does this have to do with knickers?'  'She said that she wasn't a nudist but.......').  Elaine and her husband moved home and I  wanted to send a moving in gift.   I really, really dislike shopping but thought that for such purposes something 'generic' such as a Marks and Sparks gift voucher might be useful.  I do not shop at Marks and Sparks and do not have a Marks and Sparks 'account'.  Undeterred I set up an online account and marvelled at the speed at which it was all operational : I entered Elaine's new address and... tra la la.... gift voucher arrived and that was that..........or so I thought.  Some time later (maybe a year - perhaps you can confirm Elaine?) I realised that my knickers were beyond the parlous stage - they were in fact akin to a horizontal strip of cloth - no elastic left and little fabric either to be honest. I could leave it no longer (in part this was due to the fact that my one pair of jeans were also heading west.......certain body parts were in grave danger of an exposé  not seen since Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction' during the Super Bowl XXXV11 (I have never actually seen a/the Super Bowl (unless you count the lovely dish I bought at the car boot recently) or indeed never seen any aspect of Janet Jackson's undergarments).  Anyway ('I wish she'd get on with it') - I measured certain body parts and decided to throw caution to the wind and - to hell with it -  let's go for a bra or two as well.  It was nearly Christmas after all and those bras had served me well for a good few years....enough said.  I DO NOT BUY OLD BRAS FROM THE CAR BOOT!   What a sauce for thinking it!  The aforementioned unmentionables took quite a while to arrive - this then called for 'tracking' of the purchase.  This is why I hate shopping.  At the car boot I just pick up bits - a sum of money is mentioned - I pay for it and off we go.  No tracking there.  Anyway tracking the purchase commenced.............hang on a cotton-picking minute......what the blazes is going on.  BRAS AND KNICKERS SENT (BY DEFAULT) TO ELAINE.  Elaine  - whom I have never met- was now in receipt of a parcel of undergarments for the nether regions and for all I know her husband might have taken in the order!  What on earth would he be thinking!!!!  I emailed Elaine....and Elaine emailed me.  How we laughed.  It was a little more tricky to explain to customer services at M&S HQ - I might have rambled on a bit and that call might be used for training purposes.....'Well, I accidentally sent someone I have only known via the internet my bras and knickers, no I don't know her telephone number, I just said I only know her via the was a mistake...the underwear was for me but I'm worried that her husband will find out......I only set up the account so that I could send the gift voucher....I hate shopping but my knickers are reduced to a cake frill....'  Just so you know Elaine the bras were the wrong size and I had to send them back............How we laughed.

PPPPS: Next time I will fill you in about how security were very nearly called when, for the first time in many years, I had to buy a new pair of jeans....

Thank you for calling in and for all of your lovely comments - I have been reading them but not such a frequent blogger sadly. I hope to be back to my old self soon - in the interim here is an old favourite for old times sake: