Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Design Heroes - Inger Waage

I bought a lovely, quirky plate many years ago and have only just decided to find out more about it. My plate features a strange little bird (I have a 'thing' for strange birds!) which turns out to have been hand painted by the talented Inger Waage.

Inger Waage was born in Stavanger on the West coast of Norway in 1923. She was accepted at The Norwegian College of Applied Arts in Oslo (now the Oslo National Academy of the arts) in 1943, graduating in 1946. She then moved back to Stavanger to set up her own ceramics workshop.

Inger Waage became the first leader of a new established department for handicraft products at Stavangerflint AS in 1953. Her idiosyncratic style became so popular that by 1955 the company established an I.W department and employed up to ten assistant artist to cope with the workload.

What I love about her work is the free, confident brush strokes that give each piece such energy. I was lucky enough to discover my plate (see last image) at a car boot sale and paid very little for it. I will be keeping my eyes peeled in the future to find it a friend!

And here is my own little plate by Inger Waage.

Below are some links related to this post that you might find interesting.

Potshots Blog
Youtube Video showing a selection of Inger Waage's work

Monday, 31 October 2011

Robins & Snowflakes - Christmas Doormats

It has finally dawned on me that Christmas is coming, so I have designed this doormat to help you give all your Christmas guests a special welcome. It's called 'Robin and Snowflakes' (unsurprisingly!) and comes in a choice of three background colours.

As with all our floor mats, they are made from high quality, low profile, non slip nitrile rubber with super absorbent tufts to trap moisture and dirt. They can be machine washed at 40 degrees, although you may have to hand wash the larger sizes. The sizes are 60cm x 40cm, 75cm x 50cm and 85cm x 60cm.

The great thing about these mats is that they are low profile so that you can roll them up and store them with the rest of you Christmas decorations. I'm hoping you'll agree that they will make lovely, original Christmas gifts for friends and family.

We also have a range of not so festive doormats available here.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tent London

We took a pleasant stroll along the South Bank on Sunday to catch the final day of Tent London which was at the Old Truman Brewery in East London and formed part of the London Design Festival and I'm really glad we made it.

The exhibitors were many and varied, from well known and loved brands such as Ercol and the London Transport Museum to some really exciting and innovative designers. Here's a some lovely things that caught my eye in particular, If I had to name a favourite, it would have to be Melanie Porter's knitted home accessories including lamps and clocks, all beautifully handmade, each one being a 'one off' and a potential family heirloom!

1&2 Ercol Furniture
3 Michel Froment
4 Anthony Hartley - Furniture Designer and Maker
5 The Chair
6 Melanie Porter
7 Naomi Paul - Textiles
8 Curiousa & Curiousa

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

An Autumn day in Sussex - Charleston House and Cuckmere Haven

It was my Birthday on Sunday and when my OH asked what I wanted to do for the day, I was suddenly struck with a flash of inspiration and almost yelped Charleston House in Sussex. Why I haven't visited before is a complete mystery, the whole day was a delight.

Charleston House is the former residence of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant of Bloomsbury Group fame. I was so excited by it all that I just wanted to run from room to room hugging things that took my fancy. However, I had to behave as it was quite busy and well ordered. The stewards in each room were extremely knowledgeable and approachable which was great because there is so much to talk about. Each room is filled with paintings, painted furniture, ceramics and tapestries. 

Understandably photography is forbidden in the house and you really need to visit as the house has an atmosphere that can't be captured in a photo. I was particularly impressed by the liveliness and I would say almost urgency of the decoration around the house. I found it inspiring and uplifting and can thoroughly recommend it as a lovely day out. There is also a cafe with an enchanting garden, a shop full of beautiful things and a gallery.

Here are some memories of the visit to whet your appetite. 

Opussyquinusque, The Cat c. 1932 - Duncan Grant (1885-1978)

Log Box - Duncan Grant

Detail from Duncan Grant's bedroom

Green Bathroom

Into the Garden

Colours that remind me of my visit to Charleston House

A walk down to the sea at Cuckmere Haven

Related Links:-

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Down on the Allotment - August

Hoorah I have managed to harvest some actual fare that can be consumed this month! (we didn't eat the flowers). All the hard work has paid off with a glut of round yellow courgettes also, crab apples, salad leaves, runner beans, bobby beans, globe artichokes, blueberries and blackberries. I prepared the runner beans, blanched and froze them. The blackberries are also in the freezer, destined to become crumbles and smoothies. The french (or bobby) beans were used in one of my favourite salad recipes namely Jamie Oliver's 'Good Old French Bean Salad' See below for what became off the blueberries and crab apples. The casualties (there are always casualties!) were the sweetcorn and onions, I think they suffered from not enough water, believe it or not (remember that hot dry weather in the spring?!).

I used Nigella's 'Best Blueberry Muffin' recipe and they were delicious.


  • 2 cups (approx 280 grams) Self Raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt 1/3 cup (approx. 67 grams) sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) milk
  • 2 cups (approx. 300 grams?!?) blueberries, well-dried
  • Optional: 1 tsp grated orange or lemon rind muffin pan lined with muffin papers (I use one 12 cup and one 6 cup pan)


Serves: Makes 18 muffins
  1. Wash the blueberries and drain. Sprinkle a tea towel with flour and roll the blueberries in it. Wrap the now lightly floured berries and leave for a good 30 minutes or so to dry completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F/210C/Gas Mark 7.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the melted butter and then the milk.
  5. Quickly stir the liquid ingredients into the dry, confining yourself to only 10-15 strokes. Leave the lumps as too much handling will result in tough muffins.
  6. Add the floured blueberries and the optional rind if you are using. Briefly fold in the berries. Spoon into the prepared muffin pans, allowing the mixture to fill about 2/3 of the cup. Bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes. Muffins will be a light golden colour when fully cooked. R
  7. Remove at once from their tins. Serve with plenty of butter. To really make this a meal, scramble some eggs to eat with the muffins!

I made tons of crab apple jelly this year (below is a picture of batch number two!) as my little tree bore 121lbs of fruit. This means that I can make a contribution to the harvest gathering at the allotments. Here is a recipe from Waitrose I added some chopped mint to this batch just before I poured it into the jars.


  • 4 kg crab apples
  • 1 kg caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced


  1. Wash the apples, remove the blossom heads and cut out any bruised bits. Put in a saucepan, fill with water to cover the apples and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25 minutes until the fruit is soft. Pour the pulp into a jelly bag or several layers of muslin and let drip overnight into a pan beneath. Don’t squeeze the bag, it will cloud the jelly.
  2. The next day, measure the juice, and combine with sugar at the ratio of 10 parts juice to 7 sugar. Add the lemon, then bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep at a rolling boil for 35–40 minutes, skimming off the froth regularly. To test, chill a dessertspoon in the fridge. When the jelly is set, it will solidify on the back of the spoon. Pour into warm, sterilised preserving jars and tightly seal while still slightly warm. Store in a cool dark place.

And finally, happiness is a huge bunch of beautiful cornflowers.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Down on the Allotment - July

It's unwise to neglect your allotment for a fortnight at this time of year. All the vegetables may be thriving (especially the round yellow courgettes that are the size of melons) but the weeds are really doing well and are suddenly waist high! Therefore this month's post is composed of a few close-ups of the more photogenic subjects. Next month I will have done battle with the ever present fat hen (the weed) and all will be neat and tidy (yeah right!).

Runner Beans
Globe Artichokes

First Blackberries

Butterfly in the Marjoram

Pale Yellow Sunflower
Mixed Cornflowers

Friday, 8 July 2011

Studio Envy - Porthmeor Studios, St Ives

I first visited St Ives in the mid nineties and immediately fell in love with the town along with every other remotely arty person on the planet. There's a lot to love, where else would you find sandy beaches, quirky shops, great restaurants and above all, an abundance of galleries including, of course The Tate and many other, much visited favourites of mine, such as The Penwith Gallery,  Millennium Gallery, and The Wills Lane Gallery,

Porthmeor Studios from the beach - Photograph by Graham Gaunt

Porthmeor studios are situated overlooking the beautiful sandy Porthmeor beach. They have a fragile beauty and stand in stark contrast to the modern white structure of the Tate just a little further up the beach. The Studios have been beaten and battered by the salty winds from the Atlantic Ocean for more than 150 years although they were used as lofts for the Pilchard fishing industry that dominated St Ives in their early years.

The St Ives School of Painting opened in 1938 by two Officers, Borlase Smart and Leornard Fuller who had made a wartime pledge that one day, if they survived , that they would live and paint in St Ives.

Since then Porthmeor Studios have seen many illustrious painters and sculptors take up residence. Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, Wilhelmina Barns Graham and Patrick Heron have all worked there over the years.

A course at The St Ives School of Painting

Wilhelmina Barns Graham 1947

Millennium Series Red II, 2000, screenprint, edition of 75, 24 x 30 cm. (Picture from www.galleries.co.uk)

John Emanuel

John Emanuel - Head (www.johnemanuel.co.uk)

The crumbling studios have recently become so dilapidated that they were in serious danger of becoming unfit for purpose. Fortunately they have been rescued and are now undergoing a four million pound renovation project with funding from Arts Council England, Sea Change/CABE, Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Cornwall Council, ERDF Convergence, and European Fisheries Fund
Let us hope that Porthmeor Studios continue to be a workplace for artists and fishermen for many years to come.

Photograph by Graham Gaunt

As a family, we have spent many happy holidays renting an apartment overlooking Porthmeor Beach. I have also ventured into the studios to do some life drawing, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever occupy one of the coveted Porthmeor Studios, but I will continue to take my sketchbook to the beach and hope to soak up some of the painterly vibes from the artists of the past.

Yours truly, sketching on Porthmeor Beach

Here are some Youtube videos that give a little bit more of an insight into the environment and the artists that work in the studios.

Naomi Frears at Porthmeor 
St Ives Porthmeor studios Open Day 
Lucy Bray St Ives Artist Painting in Porthmeor Studios
Sandra Blow's Studio
John Emanuel at Porthmeor


Monday, 27 June 2011

Down on the Allotment - June

We have neglected the allotment for a fortnight, which is not a wise thing to do at this time of year as the weeds have been thriving with all the recent rain. Luckily, however, other crops have also been doing very well, here are a few photos of plot 51 in June.

Clockwise from top left Portugal Quince, Round Yellow Courgettes, Crab Apples and Runner Beans



The first Sunflower

A small harvest

At last we're beginning to take home more than muddy boots and aching limbs! The first potatoes were dug, a couple of globe artichokes picked along with some bobby beans, a handfull of gooseberries, jostaberries and blackcurrants and a lovely big bunch of sweetpeas.

We had jostaberry, blackcurrant, apple and gooseberry crumble for tea using the ever faithful crumble recipe from The River Cottage Family Cookbook Delicious!