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Three Blogs That……..Part 1!

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Three blogs that…..I have been stalking.

Despite having been missing from here for a while doesn’t mean I haven’t been haunting other people’s wonderful blogs.  Something  lovely happened yesterday to prompt me to take keys to screen again.

The first blog I have spent lots of time around is the wonderfully illustrated ziggyshortcrust as she describes herself “elf whisperer, skinnydog wrangler, campervan tootler” how could I not spend time there!   I have long been an admirer of her line drawn elves of many types so when she announced a project to revive the ‘lost art of letter writing’  I practically begged to be included!  After thinking I would have to wait with my nose pressed up against the letterbox for weeks….yesterday I came home to the most perfect rendition of both my Raven and Mage!!

Hope she doesn’t mind but I love them soo much I want to share them here, go and look around her site and maybe claim one of her illustrated letters with elves for yourself.

Mageand Raven


A Monster Calls

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For the first time in the awards history one book has won both the Carnegie Medal and its sister prize for illustration.

More accolades for Patrick Ness’s wonderful book – I have gushed about this book twice before so  just go read this article by Tim Masters, and I will use this opportunity to feature yet another of  Jim Kays haunting illustrations.

More Stitchery

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Continuing with my current mini obsession with stitch work.  See previous post!

At first glace this could be a detail from a vintage embroidered dress or purse, turn of the century maybe ? But this is actually from a piece by Karen Nicol who produces beautiful modern art based on traditional techniques.

Karen Nicol is an embroidery and mixed media textile artist who specialises in Irish, Cornelly, Multihead, beading and hand embroidery. She is a Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art and exhibits with the Rebecca Hossack Gallery. Take a trip to her Website  for more beautiful images including lacework and items designed for an impressive list of clients including Anthropologie, Lulu Guinness and Bruce Oldfield.

When you draw back you see that the detail is from this delicately worked Swan.






I am particularly fond of the less traditional very tactile Bear pictured below along with a detail from one of her lace pieces.







All pictures © karen nicol 2010

What is particularly exiting { well to me } is that she has produced a book !

Titled ” Embellished – New Vintage” and published by A & C Black Publishers Ltd. The publicity describes it as  “A beautiful, elegant, and visually intelligent look-book, Embellished contrasts vintage objects, collected over the years, with cutting-edge contemporary decoration for fashion and textiles.”   It is due to be publised at the begining of July and I cant wait. See more details here –Embellished: New Vintage [Hardcover] [link takes you to Amazon]

I found Karens work via a very informative blog post with beautiful images and a Q&A with Karen herself here at  Lovely Textiles , thankyou to its owner who has produced a blog “about fabric, makers and artists” which I knew I would love when they described themselves as  “Actually, a totally and utterly insane in the mummy membrane textile bore of horrifically tedious proportions”.  Go and look around!!

Embroidery – Historical Storyteller, High Fashion and Art

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 Louboutin /Jean-Francois Lesage shoes inspired by Marie Antoinette

Francois Lesage master of French couture embroidery died aged 82 in December 2011 and it was a memoir in the journal  ‘Selvedge’ by Alastair Macleod which awakened an interest in embroidery that once I opened my eyes I realised I had been admiring for a while.  From a recent re-emergence among the fashion houses to the many ‘textile’ artists creating beautiful artwork incorporating stitchery both traditional and innovative.

What I really got immersed in though was the history. There are many beautiful books on the history of embroidery, but the actual pieces themselves can be historical and social documents.

The following  books are the ones that have really held my interest over the past couple of weeks

Silken Threads: A History of Embroidery in China,Korea,Japan,and Vietnam

Silken Threads: A History of Embroidery in China,Korea,Japan,and Vietnam  by Young Yang Chung. Published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (1 Mar 2005)

Lavishly illustrated with vintage photography and artwork of magnificent dragon and bridal robes, rank badges, kimonos, and other embroidered textiles produced during the last two thousand years, this book is a fascinating study of East Asian embroidery through the ages. The author Young Yang Chung, is a world-renowned master embroiderer who founded The International Embroidery School and established Korea’s first vocational embroidery centre. In this book she presents a wealth of information about the symbolism and meaning of the designs, as well as explaining the uses and functions of embroidered textiles.

Quaker School Girl Samplers from Ackworth [Hardcover] by Carol Humphrey. Published by needleprint (Dec 2006) 
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the samplers and their schoolgirl makers, how they can be seen as important social documents telling us about 18th and 19th century schoolgirl education, about Quaker life values and genealogy.  It is a fascinating and strange story of how these pieces of needlework came to be and how at auction avid collectors can and will pay thousands of pounds for an Ackworth Sampler.
 Sarah Evans’ Sampler 1801 (Scholar 1799-1801 from Birmingham)
© Ackworth School Estates Limited.
There are a couple of really interesting posts about these samplers at the Needleprint blog here among many more beautiful illustrations and stories about samplers.
I see more reading in my future!

Maurice Sendak 1928 – 2012

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Not just the creator of  “Where the Wild things Are”, not just a  ‘Childrens’ illustrator or author but so much more.

As he said “You cannot write for children. They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of  interest to them.”

So sad there will be no new work to pore over but he has left a wealth of illustration behind which I will never tire of revisiting.

So here are three of  many of his wonderful illustrations


Illustration from Dear Mili {Wilhelm GrimmMaurice Sendak Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988

1967 sketch byMaurice Sendak, part of a proposal for a new illustrated edition of  The Hobbit. (Credit: Maurice Sendak/Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University)










And one of my favorite quotes

On E-books  “I hate them. It’s like making believe there’s another kind of sex. There isn’t another kind of sex. There isn’t another kind of book! A book is a book is a book.”

From a Guardian interview in  October 2011


 According to The New York Times, a posthumous picture book, “My Brother’s Book,” is scheduled to be published in February 2013.

Duvet Days

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Its been more like a duvet month, but now I have peeked my bleary eyes back out into the world I realise how much I’ve missed.

There have been giants in Liverpool

 From Royal De Lux Promotional Video

No matter how you feel about the ‘celebrations’ surrounding the Titanic anniversary – the image of these three ‘puppets’ walking around Liverpool is something that will be playing in my mind for some time.  The handwritten letter from 10-year-old May McMurray which she wrote to her father, who was a steward on the Titanic, never reached him and it was this that  French street theatre company Royal De Luxe based the Sea Odyssey street theatre on.  Her father did not survive the sinking and a century on May’s letter is on display in Liverpool’s Maritime Museum.

  Image via Daily Pictures

Since last years Savage Beauty there has been a  plethora of  fashion exhibitions at some of  Britain’s  cultural institutions, curators are hoping the  glamorous designer creations will draw  in the crowds.  I think they merit a separate post but I will mention one as it started whilst I was hiding from the blog sphere…

1st May to 9th July

The Design Museum is hosting an exhibition celebrating the career of Christian Louboutin. This 20 year retrospective has an exploration of the design process, through every stage of the journey, from the first drawings to the finished product, it covers his creative influences and showcases his innovative designs.  The most fascinating thing though has to be the  life-size hologram of  the Burlesque dancer  Dita Von Teese wearing a pair of the designer’s glittering creations as she dances.


In the UK we have been plagued by both drought and the same time..something to do with the wrong kind of rain apparently.  This tenuously links me to Earth Day which I also totally missed but more than one billion people in 192 countries took part in the 42nd Anniversary. This makes it the largest civic observance in the world, I’m hoping to remember next year if only to promote  Reading for the Earth, Reading for the Earth™ is a national effort that promotes  reading environmentally themed books during the month of April, in honor of Earth Day.

Plus they use one of my favorite quotes ever on their website –

 In summation – I shouldnt hide from the world – there’s much fabulousness out there!! [ and possibly duvets are evil!]

Three Things …..that make me go yum!

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Benrus Watch Co., Sky Chief, 1940

Benrus Watch Co., Sky Chief, 1940

Gentleman Hare from Rococo Chocolates he’s pretty yummy but it  isn’t  him it’s the beautiful packaging which really stands out.

                                                                 The British Librarydigitization of ‘Alice’. 

So Traditional, Classic and Timeless I guess sums this up!!