I am a museum lover! So much so that when my children were little, they threatened never to come on holiday with me again if we had to go to Museums and Art Galleries….of course, they are older now and thank me for their cultural education… and love to visit both!! I can’t wait until the day when they start taking their children to museums!!
Earlier this year we received a telephone call from Robin Savill, the Visitor Services Manager, at the Somerset Rural Life Museum telling us all about the fabulous redevelopment that the museum was currently undergoing. Due to open its door on June 3rd 2017, he needed ‘uniform’ for his newly appointed staff and asked if we would make linen aprons for them all.
The Museum tells the story of Somerset’s rich rural and social history and provides a family-friendly destination which has learning, access and discovery at its heart. Based in Glastonbury, visitors will be able to explore rural life from the 1800s onwards and discover more about the county’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming, working life and rural crafts. Well worth a visit…. and my children are keen to go with me!!
Museum staff wearing their linen aprons!
Printing the pockets for the linen aprons using traditional silk screen printing techniques
Having the opportunity to make a bespoke product is always an exciting challenge. Collaboration with other businesses is something which we all really enjoy here in the studio and it’s great to see the print coming off the screen for the first time, to experiment with the print placement and then make up the aprons. Even better to see the museum staff wearing them!!
The museum is now open to visitors and if you manage to visit, do let us know what you think!
Living in Cornwall definitely has its benefits! Yes, we are miles away from big cities and major airports but being able to step outside your front door and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the world (ok..I’m biased), is just one of the things I love about living here.
All of my drawings, my collections, are inspired by the landscape that surrounds the studio. My first ever collection, The Rame Head Collection came from countless walks in and around Whitsand Bay, a little bit of Cornwall often forgotten, its steep cliffs dotted with chalets, which were once retreats for Plymouth people during wartime, and are now permanent homes to locals with some available as holiday rentals!
The amazing golden beach stretches out before you, with Tregantle at one end and Polhawn at the other…..to the left of Polhawn sits Rame Head. This whole coastline is part of the Cornish footpath and is well trodden by locals and visitors alike. Climbing down the cliff, arduous in places, is well worth the effort for a day on the beach…where sometimes, in the quieter months, there is only a seagull or two for company!
My children have been climbing the cliff since they were babies….urged on by the sight of the sea, sandcastle making and a swim. The journey home, back up the cliff required more encouragement, tired at the end of a long day, their little legs were spurred on by the idea of jelly beans doled out at every bend in the path!
Another steep climb, but, oh, so worth it, is the ascent to the little chapel on Rame Head. Dedicated to St Michael the chapel was first licensed in 1397 and is on the site of a much earlier and ancient, Celtic hermitage. Views from the top are breathtaking and on a clear, calm day you can see for miles….a prominent landmark to sailors and fisherman alike and often the last piece of land they see leaving England and the first they see when returning home….a truly magical place and loved by so many.
From Rame Head, you can walk east to Penlee and on to the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand or west, tracing the path along the cliffs of Whitsand Bay. Next to the car park at Rame Head, is home to a volunteer National Coastguard lookout station. If you visit, do pop in and say hello to the people who work there…got to be one of the best working views in the country!!
There are so many beautiful walks around this little bit of Cornwall, ‘the forgotten corner’ and if you haven’t already managed a visit, I would really recommend you add it to your ‘to do’ list.
We would love to hear about your favourite Cornish walk…..so please do comment below…..
Being an avid gardener I was delighted when, late last year, I received a telephone call from garden designer and florist, Carolyn Dunster. She had seen my work at the Great Cornish Food Store whilst holidaying in Truro, Cornwall and wondered if we would create an exclusive collection of products to accompany the launch of her new book, Urban Flowers.
Keen to create a collection just perfect for both urban and rural gardeners alike, Carolyn asked us to make three beautiful and very functional products; a cache pot, a gardeners apron and a lovely bag. In Slate Grey linen and hand printed with our Hedgerow design, these products are now available on her website where you can also find details of her new book.
Printing the fabric for the linen bag
Placing the pocket on the Gardener’s Apron
Although not an urban gardener (sometimes I feel more like a ‘guerrilla gardener’!), I have really enjoyed reading Carolyn’s book, with its beautiful photography and a wealth of practical gardening tips for gardeners of all levels. I know it will be one of those books that I constantly refer to. I especially love the way in which the plants are arranged in colour palettes and the book has enabled me to identify plants that I have in the garden, whose names I was never sure of.
Cache pot..ready for their plant pots
Whether your style is ‘rurban’ (for city dwellers who dream of gardening in a rural location), classic or contemporary, this book is full of little gems. I have always been a seed harvester, but now know how to make ‘seed bombs’, a great way of mixing varieties to create a group of flowers that look as if they have self sown naturally! I’ve also created a fantastic herb wall which now hangs on the balcony right outside my kitchen – all very easy to do projects – but sometimes in our busy lives, someone needs to just show us how.
A selection of further projects described in Urban Flowers
Thank you Carolyn for this wonderful book; I’ve bought my glycerin to make a preserved wreath in the Autumn!……but let’s not wish away the magical summer months……I’m off to tackle the weeds, prepare a new planting ground for a purple and blue Autumn palette….I’m loving the idea of Monk’s Hood, Fountain Grass and Salvia.
With REAL BREAD WEEK fast approaching (14-22 May), I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some thoughts and recipes about bread and bread bags with you! We recently visited our lovely local bakery in Kingsand to film one of their wonderful Sourdough classes and have included Chris’s recipe and a link to our exciting new video below.
The idea of bread bags is a fairly new concept for us here in the UK…the French have been using them for years, but with the rise in popularity of home baking and bread making, comes the need for something in which to store bread. I’m sure we have all once owned a bread bin and witnessed the mould which seems to miraculously grow overnight….! Bread likes to breathe and in a sealed container it gets hot and sweaty – a perfect breeding ground for mould spores. Put your bread in a linen bread bag and it’s a different story. Linen, being a natural fibre, allows the bread to breathe. It is a fabric with a high water content and this in turn helps to keep a good crust (quite unlike a plastic bag that will soften the crust and cause the bread to sweat…not a nice thought!).
We are obviously big fans of linen bread bags here in the studio; they’re not just very practical, they are beautiful too. They take up much less space on your work top and for those with limited kitchen worktop space, there is even a hook for handy hanging. Add this to the fact that you can also use your bread bag, with the top rolled down, to serve bread at the table, as a basket…they have to be a winner. We have two in our kitchen, one for the sourdough and one for other bread products. Long gone are the plastic carrier bags and the bulky bread bin!!
It’s not just us that are fans either….River Cottage in Axminster recently commissioned us to make bread bags to help celebrate their 10th year at Park Farm….you can find them in their lovely shop along with our linen tea towels, both especially printed with their birthday logo.
Have a look at our new video ‘Making Bread Bags & Bread’….do let us know what you think. Special thanks go to Matilda Butler for making another great film.
Making A Starter Before you can begin to make sourdough bread you will need to make a Starter.
Day 1 Weigh 50g strong bread flour. Add 50g water, ideally at 24o centigrade. Mix and leave for 24 hours in a warm place Day 2 After 24 hours, take 50g of the mixture, add 50g flour and 50g water, ideally at 24o centigrade. Mix and leave for 24 hours in a warm place. Day 3 Repeat day 2. You should be seeing some bubbles on the surface of the mixture. If not don’t worry. Day 4 Repeat day 2. You should be seeing some bubbles on the surface of the mixture. If you don’t have any bubbles, something is wrong and you should start again. Day 5 You should see bubbles and it is now ready to be used to raise bread or can be stored in the fridge in a lidded pot ready for your to use to bake bread.
Preparing your Starter Twenty-four hours before you want to start to make bread you need to prepare your Starter. This is called making a Levain.
Method The day before you want to bake
-In the morning, take your Starter out of the fridge and mix 25g of Starter with 25g of flour and 25g of water.
– Leave this mixture in a warm place – approximately 22o centigrade
-In the evening use 25g of the Starter and mix with 75g of flour and 75g of water
-The following day your Starter will be ready to use. It will be bubbly and should have increased in size by 20%
-Keep 50g of Starter in a lidded pot in the fridge. This is now your Starter for the next loaf. It can be stored for up to 3 months
450g Strong White Bread Flour
50g Wholemeal Bread Flour
7.5g Finely Ground Sea Salt
300g/325ml Tap Water
Weigh 450g strong white bread flour and 50g wholemeal bread flour into a large mixing bowl.
Measure 325ml tap water into a small bowl/jug, tare scales, weigh 125g Starter into the tap water
Pour the water and Starter into the flour
Roll-up sleeves and mix ingredients together for 2-3 minutes until all the ingredients are completely combined
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 15 minutes
After 30 minutes sprinkle salt over the dough and mix thoroughly for one minute
After 20 minutes, pull and stretch the dough, repeating several times
Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave for 20 minutes
Repeat this process of folding the dough four times, leave in a warm room (22o) for 15 minutes between each fold
Leave the dough to prove for 3 to 4 hours.
Score your loaf. Bake for 40 minutes at 240o or 220o fan oven until the bread is a deep golden colour. To test whether your bread is baked tap the bottom – it should sound hollow.
It’s that time of year again, and when I asked my Mum what she would you like for Mother’s Day, this was her reply!
“Oh yes, one of your make up bags please…..mine’s worn out”.
“Does it have to be one of my things?”, I replied “….pick something else!”
So, after a few evenings browsing on her ipad, here are my Mum’s top picks for Mother’s Day gifts. As a lover of craft and locally made items, all of these beautiful products are made in the UK by skilled designer makers.
I’ve included links to their websites so that you can browse around and see what other lovely things they have – take a look and let me know which is your favourite!
Fabulous cards from Studio Scrase. Perfect for all occasions and great for writing ‘thank you’ notes. Based in Bath’s Artisan Quarter, Studio Scrase create unique and stylish greetings cards and stationery.
Naked Urchin Lamp from Amy Cooper Ceramics Based in Cornwall, Amy designs and makes unique porcelain lighting inspired by the world under the sea, the world under the microscope and the magic of landscapes at twilight.
Opaque turquoise glass earrings, set on a hammered eco-silver wire from Sarah Drew who makes jewellery and vintage headdresses from found objects such as driftwood, sea glass and slate pebbles, combined with silver.
These fun etched bottles from Vinegar And Brown Paper…..perfect for gin!! Andy Poplar, designs and etches in his studios, based in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
This delightful little nut hatch from Sarah Perry would be a real treat! Working in a three dimensional way, using fine embroidery threads, Sarah creates birds and animals in their habitat.
And finally, our hand printed make up and toiletry bag from The Garden Collection, with a design inspired by flowers surrounding our studios.
Would you like to find out more about these designer makers? Keep an eye on our blog as we shall have some interesting Q&A’s with them over the coming months.
Ever wondered what it’s like to be surrounded by linen?
Do you love linen as much as we do? In a new video from Helen Round, catch a glimpse of all that goes on in our Cornish studios. This is where we print the beautiful linen that goes to make up our fabulous collection of lampshades and cushions, toiletry and make up bags, bread bags, tea towels, aprons and more. You’ll often find us gathered around the cutting table to brainstorm new ideas…..choose new colours for our linen cloth, discuss new products for our collections and flick through the glossies to see what’s trending. It’s a hive of activity and we thought you’d like to be part of it!
All of our hand printed linen collections are made with upmost care and we take pride in creating pieces which are beautifully made and will last. Having a business based in Cornwall, we try, wherever possible to employ local people and use local materials in our production. Customer service is very important to us and we always love to get your feedback.
Visitors are welcome to the studio by appointment…but do ring first (01752 822817) as we might be printing and that can get a bit messy! Alternatively, keep an eye on the events page of our website and pop in and see us when we have our Open Studios event, usually at the end of August and the start of December each year.
A big thank you to Matilda Butler for the making of this video and to Phoenix Elleschild for the wonderful music.
People often ask where I get my energy from – building a business certainly requires masses of enthusiasm, hard work, support from family and friends and all this, requires energy.
So where does all this energy come from? Well, it’s in the genes!
My Mum and Dad have always been great ‘doers’ and it seems even more so now in retirement.
With Father’s Day fast approaching, I’d like to share my Dad’s energy with you.
You’ve heard about the ‘man who bought a zoo’, well here’s a man who bought a wood! Dad spends all his time here, he’s cleared land to make a beautiful meadow, established a colony of bees with over 10 hives, bought my Mum a shepherd’s hut, which they can often be found in drinking a bottle of wine, or in this case a cup of tea! He’s planted new trees, encouraged wild life havens for birds, bats and owls by introducing nesting boxes, cleared streams and ponds and planted an orchard full of lovely old variety apple trees!
(Photos – Above Left: My Dad enjoying a cup of tea in the Shepherds Hut. Above Right: My Dad with a swarm of bees)
I think that we can all agree that’s Dad’s are special people, so I asked my Dad for his special recommendations…. ”Which is your favourite product from my range of hand printed textiles and accessories”, I asked. “I love the bone china mugs”, he said…..”being a Cornish man these mugs are just the job – big enough to dip a biscuit in! I like the bread bags too, although it’s Mum that does the baking. It’s lovely to have it on the table with a fresh loaf and a hunk of cheese – proper job”!
So in line with my Dad’s recommendations, why not take a look for yourself, you can find our mugs here, and if your Dad is one of the many who love to bake, then check out the bread bags…..better than a pair of socks anyday!
The History of the Tea Towel – As I was drying up, yet again, the other day, I wondered where the term ‘tea towel’ came from. A little foray on Google soon told me that way back in the 1800’s the Great British tea towel was an elegant linen drying cloth that the lady in the home would use to dry her best china tea set. Linen was considered the material of choice for tea towels as it was of good quality, practical and didn’t scratch the items it cleaned. Over the years, linen tea towels have been replaced with cotton or cotton and linen mix often because this is a cheaper fabric for manufacturers, but for me, linen is the queen of cloths and definitely the fabric I favour!
The Benefits of Linen – Some of the reasons I love to work with linen and make linen tea towels are because linen is eco-friendly, it’s extra absorbent, long lasting, high quality, is non-scratch and just perfect for getting a shine on glasses. Added to this, linen also has multiple uses, not only do linen tea towels do a great job at drying dishes but they also act as an effective tool to keep bread and patisseries warm and you can even wrap it around your teapot if you don’t have a tea-cosy!
There’s nothing better than a bit of music when you’re drying dishes, so check out this link to legendary textile artist Pat Albeck who appeared on BBC Radio 4 Dessert Island Discs recently. We listened to this in the studio last week and loved it!
Looking forward to catching up with you again in a few weeks time.
Following a successful trade show at Top Drawer London last week, we are very
excited to share with you, our beautiful new Spring and Summer Collection,
featuring our new Garden design and our new linen colour, ‘Cowslip’.
As a keen gardener and lover of flowers, it was very easy to find inspiration for
this new collection illustrating some of my garden favourites, including Lupins,
Hollyhocks, Agapanthus and Alliums. This beautiful new hand printed design
features on our linen cushions and lampshades, hemp shoppers, toiletry and
make-up bags, aprons, tea towels and bread bags. Do take a look here and let
us know what you think.
We will be giving away prizes from the collection in our Facebook Competition
in February. To be in with a chance, be sure to like our page here.
I shall be running a number of workshops at Mount Edgecumbe over the next few
months. For more details and to make a booking here.
Events We will be exhibiting at this local event…come and say hello!
The Stylish Home & Garden Show – Sat 28th & Sun 29th March
Mount Edgecumbe, Cremyl, Cornwall