Friday, 13 April 2018

Birds in Design & Interiors: Trends & Predictions

As a designer myself, I can't help but notice trends as they swell and die. Some design ideas hang about for ages, others are a one season wonder and some cycle decade in and decade out. But one thing I notice, season after season is our eternal fascination with birds. The species change with tastes and time but the admiration for our beautiful feathered friends is timeless.

Honestly I couldn't give a flying flock about trends in fashion and design... I like what I like, but I'm still fascinated how these things come and go, how they flux into relevancy and are then banished to the uncool outer reaches of the 'has beens'. I like to watch it, as if it were a giant avant garde dance performance but I've no wish to jump onstage and try to take part.

I guess it's a manifestation of our herd mentality and our biological makeup, as social creatures. It's a natural expression of the desire to belong, to identify with the group, to feel part  of 'it' so it's no wonder.

Designers seem to conspire to favour a certain bird species this year and then there are...let's say Flamingoes...everywhere. Does anyone remember, years ago now, you couldn't move for them. They were everywhere, on everything. 

This went on for years....

We all got a bit sick of seeing them and that tide of birdyness went out...(only for a while)

Then all heil the rise of the mighty Parrot! I did a whole blog about Parrots and Botanicals in 2016 (oh and also boobs) so I'll skip going into detail, suffice to say that the parrot has been quite a tenacious little bugger and still seems to be everywhere, but I can feel it's on the outs now.

Pic from Graham and Green

Wallpaper by Matthew Williamson at Osborne & Little
Then there was the crane rising through the ranks over the last couple of years and is very much 'in' right now (whatever that means) Just look at all the clothes in H&M right now...it's crane city. Ok, maybe that was a few months ago, I don't know, I don't go in there much...
I think that part of the reason that designs featuring cranes are so popular right now is that there is a huge rich oriental design history that a lot of westerners are unfamiliar with and seeing these incredibly sophisticated textile designs and art for the first time is very fresh and compelling.


Another bird on it's way up is the Swan but it hasn't reached it's fullest possibilities yet... definitely more to see here...

This is 'Firebird' by Lisa Bengtsson but it looks more like a swan to me...

Birds are found in all the obvious design places, wallpapers, textiles etc - but even on naked metallic lady lamps...yes, that's a thing...and it's got parrots on too! Because a naked silver lady with a lamp on her head is just not enough! Clearly it is crying out to be covered in parrots too!   Well done Jimmie Martin for all your bonkerness, don't ever change!                                                                                                                                    I don't buy stuff because it is trendy right now but I really like to see the patterns of life,  I'm fascinated by beautiful things and generally like to know what's going on...                                      I've just looked around my livingroom and wouldn't you know it! I've got a picture of parrots on one wall, a cushion with parrots on the sofa and a giant gold fan with cranes on it, on another wall! Well, I'm accidentally bang on trend then! 

If you want to see more feathered fabulousness then check out my Pinterest board...














Friday, 23 March 2018

Love, Sacred Hearts, Tattoo Style

I just had delivery of my brand new organic cotton cushion covers and shopper bags last week and I'm super happy to finally see them in the flesh, so-to-speak... Especially the Sacred Eye ones because these designs have been a long time in the making...


In fact it has taken almost a year to get these done and that is because the process to make the heart was so long. I know what I wanted to do but it took a fair bit of organising ...



...it all started about 10 months ago...

I needed to gather all the elements together so I started with a visit to the Kings Castle in Stockholm. I took a photo of a eye in one of the old paintings. Next step, I got some concrete wings from my friend Concrete By Noni and I painted them a rather horrible reddish dark brown and then very gently, with a stiff brush, painted metallic gold paint over, to give depth and an aged effect.

Next step was to make the heart. I found a wooden heart about the right size in a junk shop out in the countryside so I used that as my base and built up a heart in 3D with papier maché




Once I had the basic form, I used self drying hobby clay to give a nice smooth finish, leaving a hole in the middle so I could rest these ceramic hands that I've had laying around for ever.

I wanted to get a nice shimmer on the heart so I painted it with a dark red colour then went over it with a red metallic spray, to get the depth and the shimmer.

Once it was all dry I very carefully glued Swarovski crystals on and I have a great tip if you ever need to glue tiny jewels...use a paint brush, non brush end and put a tiny bit of blu-tack on. Use that slightly sticky end to pick up the gems. The Blu-tack is less sticky than glue so the gems transfer over nicely.



One all the elements were built and painted it was time to assemble it. I used some weird green florists sponge under the heart, so it would sit above the wings and I could put the antique butter knives in like a crown, and flowers and stuff...



And this is the end result of it all put together...

I photographed it, cut it out in photoshop, added some flames and made these lovelies...
And I even made on in a black and white vibe...
I kept the eye bit separate, not glued down so I could do different things with it and that was used in this Eye see You design..



It feels so great to have gotten this particular design out of my system and into reality...but is is not the last you will be seeing of sacred hearts in my work. I've used lots of hearts before and I will use them again because I'm just obsessed with them!
You can see my Hearts Pinterest board for more inspo...







Friday, 16 March 2018

How Environmentally Friendly is Your Cotton Tote Bag Really?

Since the launch in 2007 of the famous 'I'm not a plastic bag' tote bag by designer Anya Hindmarch, the abundance of fabric shopper bags has rocketed.
The idea that a cotton shopping bag should be better for the environment than a plastic one seems pretty straight forward, but it is just not that simple.

In terms of the resources used to make various different types of bag the humble plastic bag actually needs less energy and resources than paper or fabric bags per use. The numbers are wildly different depending on what studies you look at, but you need to use a paper bag about 11 times to equal the plastic bag and you would need to use a fabric bag between 100 – 400 times depending on the fabric and what statistics you read.


But the flip side is that cotton bags break down harmlessly and don't end up for hundreds of years floating around the giant ocean garbage gyres, strangling turtles and other wildlife. It's estimated that 1 million birds and thousands of turtles and other sea animals die each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags, and more than 10% of the debris that washes up on US coasts lines is plastic bags*. 


So there are additional negative environmental aspects to plastic bags, above and beyond the energy needed to create them.

But what about fabric bags? Well not all fabric bags are created equal...
If it's fabric then it better be organic. Non organic cotton uses lots of pesticides which are both toxic to the environment and specifically linked with the decline in the bee population. That might not sound very serious, but as our main pollinators, their decline is potentially catastrophic for agriculture, food production and biodiversity.

I design cotton bags amongst other things, because I want people to stop using single use plastic bags entirely.
People often say to me, 'but what will I use as bin liners?' Use recycled plastic bags for the bin or bags not made from petrochemicals (compostable green plastic). At the very least use your plastic bags many times for shopping before turning them into bin liners.

And don't say yes to every free tote that comes your way, there is no point having 20 crappy fabric bags laying around the house, have few, have good quality that won't break after a few uses, and use them often. Take all the ones you don't use and recycle them at a clothing bank. If you use them to carry your food shopping in then machine wash them to make sure they stay clean, especially after transporting meat, chicken etc, to reduce the possibility of contamination from Salmonella or E. Coli.


























                                You can check out my new range of organic cotton shopper bags here...     


The other very positive thing about fabric or reusable bags is that they send out a clear message that we are starting to think more seriously about the environment and our impact on it as consumers. As social creatures, we notice what goes on around us, a lot of it on a subconcious level. So the reusable bags we carry are subtly influencing all the people out there that haven't started thinking about the environment yet. Gently giving the message that we can't continue the throw away culture anymore and we all need to reduce our waste and get the most out of the things we have. So we better make sure we really love the things we use because we are going to use them a lot.

Transitioning from an old way of doing things to a new way can often be a fraught experience, as we have to reassess ourselves and our choices. I feel like we are slowly waking up to the fact that there is some serious room for improvement in the world, and most people want to be part of the solution, but there is so much conflicting info, it's hard to know what to do sometimes... I know this personally, I had no idea about environmental things a few years ago, just no clue. Doesn't make me a bad person, I just didn't know that I didn't know. Then I started to hear things, read things, I looked into stuff and I started to see that there were big problems. I decided I wanted to be part of the solution and I am full of optimism that innovation, necessity and the desire that everyone has, to make things better will get us there.





Friday, 9 March 2018

The Power of Crystals - Jewellery, Peeing in the Snow & More...

You may have noticed that didn't post a blog last Friday as I usually do, well that was because I was here...

Yes, that is me disguised as a snow boarder from the 90's astride a slightly scary snow mobile.
The whole family was away on holiday in the middle of nowhere with snow up to our bums. It was all very well when riding around on the snow scooter but just imagine for a moment what happens when you want to get off... you sink up to your thighs...got that stuck in your mind? Ok, what do you think happens when you need to go for a pee? Ok, stop imagining things now ;-) I'll tell you, one time I had to walk very carefully along the slightly compacted track of the bike far enough away for modesty. Ignoring the very curious reindeer (you can see one in the background of the pic but there were 100's). Another time I had to actually dig a hole. Very uncivilised!

Anyway, the less said about all that the better!
On our last night we all went to a restaurant in Umeå called Pinchos.



I had never heard of this place before, apparently it is a chain and they have a new concept where everything is done on your mobile phone. The app on your phone has the menu and you order via your phone and get alerts when it is time to go and pick your food up. The food itself is like ordinary food done in tapas style.



 So hamburgers and pizzas and stuff, in miniature. Very cute actually and plenty of options for vegetarians such as myself. The food was delicious and it was all a great deal of fun. Helped by the circus themed decor.

Now I'm back at work and looking forward to my delivery of organic cushion covers and shopper bags which are due later today. I'll post up about that next week.

Last night I had a few spare hours and I did some jewellery making, something that I really enjoy doing. I'll put them up on the web store later... (jewellery link)

I used to work in a crystal shop, it was the only kind of 'normal' job that I've ever had.
 I spent the day preparing astrological charts and reading Runes and channeling crystal powers and other such cosmic fun, so I've always had a love for natural stones and like to use them in jewellery as much as I can...
What do you think?









Well that is it for me, I've got to prepare some space for 100's of cushion covers and bags that are about to be delivered....
Have a sparkly weekend :-)

Friday, 23 February 2018

What Are Your Creative Ideas? Sewing, Fabrics & Reducing Waste

A couple weeks ago I did a post about getting crafty with fabric and I want to develop that a bit because I've been thinking a lot about all the different things you can do with left over scraps of fabric...

I've always hated waste, not from an environmental perspective, that connection came much later, but all my life I have loved efficiency...makes me sound like a robot and I'm really not, but I've always gotten excited about the idea of making just the right amount of food so that none is left over and none goes to waste. Or taking the most efficient and direct route in the car... I can't explain why it thrills me so much, just weird connections in the ole brain box I guess...

Anyway, because I design fabrics and lots of my customers buy my fabric to make things out of, there is definitely going to be little bits left over...so what to do with them?

I've been compiling a list of all sorts of easy things to make with left over bits of fabric... Like this for example...It's a wheat pillow. My whole family uses these every single night to warm our toes in bed and it doesn't need much fabric to make, particularly as they can be any shape you like...


I've used the motif from my Beautiful Bugs fabric because I thought it would be cute, but the shape can be long and slim or heart shaped, whatever... just make sure that  when you sew the 2 faces together, you leave a hole about 5 cm wide, to put the wheat in. Turn it in the right way and use a funnel to get the wheat into the hole. Don't put too much in, it should feel kind of sloppy. Then either by hand or top stitch by machine, sew up the gap. You're good to go and no chilly toes!

Tip: keep the main stitch short and zig zag the edges so that the little bits of wheat won't make their way out of gaps between stitches.

So what cool things should I make next from my scraps of fabric? I'm thinking about doing a sleeping eye mask and a lavender bag for my pants drawer...what else? If you've got any cool ideas of what to do with scraps of fabric then comment below or email me on rachel@vanasch.se

I'm also very happy to say that I just got delivery of my first lot of organic fabrics and I'm so pleased with how they are looking! It was important for me to start  producing my fabrics organically, once I found out that overuse of pesticides was killing the bees and bees are super important for the environment, I didn't want to contribute towards bee death.

 You can buy our Victorian Gothic fabric here

You can buy our Leopard Fabric here

So have a think about cool things to make with scraps of fabric, and it doesn't have to be sewing... can be gluing too or embedding in resin... I don't know... what is even possible????

Well you crafty lot, I'm off to walk the dog in this beautiful day so I hope you have wonderful weekend and I look forward to hearing your ideas... nothing is too silly or too boring... bring it on!!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Yoga & Gym Clothing Rock & Roll Style ...Hell yeah!!

So as you know, I did a photoshoot last week with model Elegy Ellem and photographer Kristiina Andersson, for my new range of workout gear. I posted up some behind the scenes nonsense last week, right after the shoot, but they were just crappy snaps, so I thought you might like to see the final pictures...



Elegy is a very bendy bunny...



Also a very strong bunny too... quite impressed by that actually :-)


If you want to get your hands on some of my fab new gear then get yourself along to my web shop.. and don't forget that we donate 5% of everything we sell through the web shop to an NGO in India that helps get women into business. Giving them the chance to lift themselves and their families out of poverty...

So make a statement and make a difference.



Friday, 9 February 2018

Tattoos, Yoga & a Very Sweaty Photo Session!

This morning I've been doing a photo session for my brand new workout gear, with the lovely model Elegy (Linda-Marie) and photographer Kristiina Andersson in my local gym.
Man did we make Elegy work! Good thing she actually knows what she is doing in the yoga department, some of those positions! You'll see...
anyway, here is a quick behind the scenes video and some rubbish snaps from my camera phone in the gloom... I'll post up the finished shots when they are ready.

If you want some fab new gym gear, then check out my web store and don't forget that 5% of everything sold goes towards empowering women in Tamil Nadu India, getting them into business and lifting them out of poverty. You can read more about that over on my website.



Remember that this life is not a rehearsal... get your butt down the gym :-)
..........and I say that with love ........