Sunday, 22 December 2013

Time Travel, Steampunk, Future Anxiety

I often think about going back in time, yeah..I really do!

I think about what would happen if I was magically transported to the Mediaeval times for example. Assuming I wasn't burnt as a witch, presumably I could make my fortune with all my modern knowledge right?. ..Nope… I don't know how anything works, and anyway, there was no electricity back then. When I let my mind wander, I realize there unutterable depths of my ignorance of how does a calculator work? or a telephone or a washing machine or anything at all? Strip it all away and I think I know how a windmill works, that's the best I would have to offer and um, they had them then.

All this day dreaming is just one aspect of my 'living in modern times' anxiety. I think about how attitudes and things change according to changes in technology…just look at what the industrial revolution did for Britain.

One of my daughters is 6 and she knows more about iPads than I do, they all have them in school… youngins' sit next to each other engrossed in their own phones but not really engaging with each others company… the pressure to know the latest trends goes in cycles of days rather than the months or years of our own youth.
Of course I worry that this young generation will grow up to be over weight, diabetic, socially awkward tech obsessed freaks that spend their pocket money on the latest fashions for their avatars and more significantly, that interfacing socially through devices will stunt their abilities for empathy, compassion and general socialization.

Oh how we parents worry!

I mean, I've seen WallE, I know how it all could go, but on the other hand, didn't our grandparents have worries about how everything was changing too fast and kids were all going to to be drug addicted drop outs or some other nonsense involving Elvis (interchange Elvis with Dylan or whatever 'Demon' pop star of the day)

I also realize that if I don't intersperse this long rambling text with eye catching images then out gut reaction is going to be 'oh, that's too much! I can't commit to all that right now!' I mean we of the MTV generation have the attention span of a gnat! So here is a funny picture of a dog to see if you're paying attention…

I think that's one of the reasons I find Steampunk so appealing. The combination of mechanical technology, rather than digital, and endless cups of civility.
So the mechanistic thing answers the questions about how things work. You know pulling that lever moves that cog which turns that thing and that's how that works….simple.
And the cups of tea and polite civil interactions are a welcome alternative to bricks through windows, the indiscriminate rage of a disenfranchised youth, street violence, shabby clothes and shabby attitudes.
I do understand the rage of youth, I had plenty of it myself, cute little punky goth that I was. But now I'm all growd up, I'll leave the nihilistic anger and civil disobedience to them youngins', they seem to do it so well.

I'll have a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake and worry a bit more about what it is to be a person in such a quickly changing and overly stimulating reality.

Perhaps watch this lovely short steampunk film about love…it is beautiful.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pretty Gothic Houses

I work from home and have boxes up to my ears! My living room had to double as a photographic studio today and every time I need to pack an order I must put the ironing board away. What does all this mean? It means I need space! I'm looking for a suitable workshop nearby but imagine a whole new home!!! Thing is, they don't build the kind of houses I really like in Sweden so I must content myself with gazing longingly at these beauties….

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Neo Victorian in London

I've always had a thing for the Neo Victorian look and remember, rather indulgently, how I used to go about my business in a top hat, black velvet opera coat and silver topped cane back in the early 90's. Thank goodness I can't find any photos! Anyway, I was recently in England on an inspiration gathering mission and noticed how the passions I have had for decades are in evident abundance in the decoration of shops and businesses all over London. How Dalston Highstreet has changed since I moved away from London 7 years ago. It used to be a right hovel, apologies to the locals, but now it is a bohemian paradise... with a dash of hovel.  First stop on Dalston High street is Pelicans & Parrots which is a veritable cornucopia of curiosa. Basically a lot of old weird cool shit. Excellent!

Next stop on the Dalston High Street is a hair dressers called Blue Tit which do amazing colour apparently. I didn't have time to get my hair done, only to take these quick snaps, but if their taste in interior decoration is anything to go by, I'd put my hair in their hands...

Please excuse the rubbish picture but do take note of the delicious vegan chocolate cake from Harvest across the road. A huge fully organic and vegan supermarket /cafe.... super yummy...

Then I had to leave the delights of Dalston and go to the Victoria & Albert Museum where I saw this and was quite impressed by it... from the history of theatre exhibition.

I finally ended up in Norfolk at a crazy party... still doing my Neo Victorian thing....pictured here with the beautiful Ms Rabbitt from Rasp Thorne & the Briars. Photo by Nick Mann Photography

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Steampunk in Alingsås & Copenhagen

Well, my family and I went away on holiday for a week. We started in Alingsås Sweden where there were 2 great festivals going on simultaneously. There was the Steampunk convention and also the festival of lights and both were fab!
Before we went away I cobbled together costumes for my girls to wear from bits out of their wardrobes plus a few bespoke pieces including augmenting a mini top hat with some spray painted swimming googles..
Here are the girls outfits and please excuse the quite frankly disturbing blurry faces, but necessary for their anonymity I'm afraid...

So once we were all dressed, off we went to the Steampunk Convention, here I am in the cemetery (on the way there) which will feature greatly further along in my blog...

The convention was held in a school and no matter what efforts went into making some kind of 'vibe' it was still quite obviously a school and a rather dreary one at that. The drabness of the environment was in stark contrast to the fabulously inventive costumes and gizmos on display there

Here are the two lovelies from  Imperial Fiddlesticks and they had one of the nicest stands selling bespoke hats and little bits of lovely nonsense

I bought this necklace from Skuggsidas Smycken

I so wanted to buy that object in front of the nice lady  from Grand Decay but we were going on to Copenhagen and as I had defied space-time laws and packed a family of 4's belongings into 2 small suitcases, there was not 1 nanometer of space left for strange Victorian scientific objects. This one was particularly desirable as no-one knew what it was or did. How mysterious!

The festival also had a big exhibition going on in a much more salubrious old building and we also watched some late night Charlie Chaplin movies with real pianist there!

Well, you know I mentioned the cemetery earlier? Well it played a significant part in our little trip because it was part of the Lights festival in Alingsås and although it was beautiful by day, it was breath taking by night. The photo does no justice to it really so I will try to explain... As we walked through pitch black night, the cemetery was illuminated along ground level with just enough light to make it look like a gothic fairyland and then 2 huge trees had been fitted with lights which slowly pulsed brighter and faded like a pair of huge light breathing lungs. There was also some beautiful ethereal singing coming from speakers and the whole process of walking though there was one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had.

The Lights festival involved many light installations around the rather picturesque town of Alingsås and  there was a whole garden bathed in brightly coloured lights. I loved this shot as it looks like a being of light is reaching for my daughter...well, ok, a being a shadow actually but lets not get to technical!

After Alingsås we took the train to Copenhagen and spent 4 days there. We went to the zoo of course and also to the Tivoli which is an absolute must! It was a special halloween week and was heaving. I have never seen so many pumpkins! They were used as decorations all over and here was the biggest!

I also saw this in an antique shop. I liked and wanted it, but there's no room in my suitcase for a huge stone anatomical bust so I had to content myself with this quick snap.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

My Home in Dagens Nyheter Newspaper

Last Friday, I was delighted to see a full page article about me and my home in one of Sweden's biggest national newspapers so I thought I would take this opportunity to explore some of the weird and wonderful old things around my house, the little props used to give life to the interiors shots.
When the newspaper asked if they could come and photograph my house I thought I better sort things out a bit so I spent the best part of a week pimping up the house, doing little things like adding these silver spoons to the lampshade, just to make it a little more interesting. I found them in my local recycling station and thought..'I'll have that!' Proper old antique silver spoons someone was throwing away! Unbelievable!

In my home the focus is always on upcycled, reused, secondhand, home made... you get the idea. I want to get across the idea that you don't need to have tons of money to get an interesting look, you just need to look at old stuff with a fresh eye.

I had some help from my friend, stylist and photographer Janice Issitt who took these quick snaps before the newspaper arrived...

The artwork on the wall is by my little daughter and the tea set is inherited from my Grandma. It was piled high with pasties for the actual shot. I also made the table cloth from old crocheted doilies and linen which you can also see in the final shot.

Here is a closeup in the living room. I found the table on the Holloway Road in London and took it home and painted it black. There is still a horrible white plastic marble strip down the middle so I covered it with an oriental satin runner I made. The footstool in front was also hideous when I found it but a lick of red paint and new fabric has given it a new lease of life.

This is in my bedroom. I've owned that little pink cup all my life, I think I've had it longer than any other object ... I still love it too!

This is also from the bedroom, that plant doesn't normally live there, it likes it outside but it looked so nice in that spot (normally there is an ugly CD player there). I painted the boring terra-cotta pot with Annie Sloane chalk paint the day before the shoot...

This is a little arrangement of journals and Wash bag from my label Van Asch that Janice arranged on the window sill, normally there is nothing on the windowsill at all... See, you can't believe what you see in the papers... It's all staged!! ;-)

To see the final shots and read the whole article check out Dagens Nyheter.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Vintage finds, Props & More

As a designer, I often have to photograph my wares and contextualize them with interesting gubbins. The best kind of gubbins is old, weird, and cheap! And, if it can be made from scratch...then that's the very best kind of prop!
So here are some interesting props that I've found and made. I start with a pair of deer horns. I made them from wire and papier maché. The little details were stringy bits of glue. I was very happy with the shape and originally I painted them to look natural, but they looked too dark so I repainted them with some Annie Sloane Chalk paint I had knocking around. I used a £1 scarf I got from a boot fair to cover up the wires at the bottom. I use that scarf for so many pictures... you'll see...

Here are the horns and we also used some paper pom poms I borrowed from my friend who made them for her wedding party.

As I said, I'm a designer, not a photographer so this pic is by Janice Issitt who I work with a lot.

I bought these 2 little china birds for next to nothing and here is my trusty £1 scarf as backdrop once again...

Normally I use objects as the props for my cushions etc but here, in a reversal of rolls, I'm actually using one of my cushions as the prop for my new tea set. I wanted to show this cute little tea set I bought for £15 on my blog and facebook page and needed something to liven up the background...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Steampunk Fashion

So I'm getting very excited about the Steampunk festival coming up in Alingsås Sweden this October. Obviously I need to make myself and my little girls some outfits to wear so here is my moodboard steampunk fashion taster...

This is one of my have outfits as I love black and cream together plus it really gets across the punky aspect of Steampunk.

I think I'm going to make this cropped jacket in tweed, teamed up with a lacy neck ruffly thing, going to be awesome!

One thing you don't see here are any of the guns that are so common in the steampunk look and I was thinking about this a lot over the last few days
...'to have guns or not to have guns, that was the question'...
And the answer was 'No'. I wouldn't have guns now, so why would I have guns in a parallel world? I just wouldn't! I don't like 'em! Besides which I take my steampunkery very seriously and there is no place for toys in my look. I apologise to fans of the nerf gun and steampunk pistol ray gun thingamabob  but they ain't for me. Might spray up one of the girls water pistols for them though... I also found some crap swimming googles I'll turn into some cool gold steampunk googles for one them too. I'll blog how to do it in the next couple of weeks...I don't know how to do it myself yet, but I'm dead crafty so it'll be fun trying to figure it out.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Sacred Hearts

 I get soo excited about beautiful things and then I just have to share them with you! My indulgence today is Sacred Hearts. This is a theme that has run strong through all my adult life. Basically, I've always loved them and not being bought up catholic means I don't have any weird associations with them. I just think they are beautiful! So here are my top Sacred Heart tips...

This piece of art is by Scott Cambell and I would so like to have it on my wall.

This beautiful pendant is by asunder at

And here is a little more traditional vintage sacred heart by Lilyofthevalley.

Okay, so I'm going a bit off beam here but still staying on the heart theme. These chairs were part of an exhibition from 2010 in Gloucester Cathedral  called ‘Crucible’ The piece was called ‘Till Death do us Part’ by Steven Gregory and they are just proper bonkers!

Here's some nice vintage assemblage...

I love the simplicity of this. What a nice thing to see on the table when you wake up in the morning, that some little pixie of love has left for you.... Next valentines, try this instead of a lame card.

Here is a bit of assemblage by artist JoeMilosevich

Some of the best sacred heart jewellery is to be found on genuine religious web shops like these little beauties from Rosary Workshop

And here is an antique French lamp dating from around the 1880's from Ruby Lane. It is too wonderful for mortal words to describe! And if you follow only 1 link from here today then let it be this, because there is a veritable cornucopia of vintage delights to be found down Ruby's lane!

Sacred hearts in Mosaic

And in stained glass

And finally on fabric. These are 2 of my cushions...