15 Jul 2014


Some of my favourite pottery pieces come from the Norwegian pottery factories Figgjo Flint and Stavangerflint. They were both founded in the forties, their prime being the fifties and sixties. The two rival firms were merged in 1968 and renamed as Figgjo AS. The company is still running today, though, their style is now more simplified and serious, and very different from the style of the earlier days which heavily emphasized colourful, playful decorations.

Most of the pottery pieces I have managed to collect from Stavangerflint and Figgjo Flint are filled with whimsical, quirky characters and plants which catch the eye of my little daughter as well as mine. The two companies also had some tableware especially designed for children. Over the years I have managed to collect a few for my daughter. These pieces are all finds from charity shops and flea markets. Most of them by my dear mother in Finland.

The design on the cup pictured on the top is by Gro Pedersen Claussen for Stavangerflint. She worked for the factory from 1963 to 1967, after which she continued as a freelancer until 1975. She designed two ranges of children's tableware: To barn med sau (Two children with sheep) and Venner (Friends), from which the pictured cup is from. The set also includes a plate and a bowl. They are pretty hard to find these days and very few come to auction on eBay. I really love the style of the illustration as it reminds me of the illustrator Ingrid Vang-Nyman's work on Astrid Lindgren's children's books, which were my all time favourites as a child.

The other cup is from Figgjo Flint and shows a little child fishing. I haven't managed to find any information about the cup's designer or age, but I would assume it dates to mid fifties.

The bowl on the top picture was designed by Inger Waage who was the most prominent designer for Stavangerflint. She designed three different children's tableware sets about road safety (Trygg trafikk) and this particular plate belongs to the last one dating back to the late sixties when Figgjo Flint and Stavangerflint were merged and the bowl has both companies backstamps.

The other bowl, with a little boy and a girl with a blue car, is by Turi Gramstad Oliver who became the most celebrated designer at Figgjo Flint where she started working circa 1960. Previously she had worked for Stavangerflint while still studying. The bowl has a Stavangerflint backstamp and her signature text, "turi design". The design dates most likely back to the fifties while she was still a student.

These plates, pictured above, are from Figgjo Flint but I have been unable to trace the designer. From the style of the backstamp I can tell they are from the early fifties and therefore I can assume that they are not designed by Turi Gramstad Oliver, as she wasn't working at the factory until 1960. Anyhow, the plates are absolutely gorgeous and still in perfect condition despite being 60 years old.

10 Apr 2014


I came across a tutorial on Pinterest that shows with photos an easy way of doing cute felt shoes for a baby.
After an intensive search through my archives of fabrics, I found some lovely shades of felts and decided to surprise one of our friends, who has just given birth, with little felt slippers for her baby. I wanted a different look to the shoes than the slippers shown on Pinterest, so I made a pattern and a tutorial of my own (see below).

The measurements are naturally different depending on the size of the baby's feet. You will need to add half a centimeter to the length of the foot for extra space and the same for seam allowance (so +1.5 cm). If you don't have the baby's foot handy, below an average guide to baby foot sizes:
0 to 3 months - 9 to 10 centimetres
3 to 6 months - 10 to 12 centimetres
6 months to 1 year - 12 to 13 centimetres
1 year to 2 years - 13 to 14 centimetres

They are so simple and fun to make, I ended up making several pairs, all in different colour combinations. I have few pairs for sale in Etsy.

24 Mar 2014


One of my favourite pastimes on the weekends is reading The Guardian and The Times supplements with a nice cup of coffee. A subject that is especially hot at the moment is how to live your life healthier and longer. These articles instruct you on how to organise all aspects of your life from eating, drinking, sleeping, work, leisure, dressing, living status to pets. If you take them too seriously, I think they can cause you stress. And since stress is about the worst thing you can do to your health - well, that is even more stressful. To avoid this I try instead to pick up the things I am already doing and feel smug about them.

One of the latest articles is about Dr David Agus, who is a cancer specialist and famous for being Steve Jobs’s doctor. He has written a book, A short guide to a long life, which gives you 65 rules to follow for a better health and longevity. The two points I picked up were rule number one: drink coffee and rule number 11: wear flat shoes. It is a shame, that for the whole list, you would really need to buy the book. Maybe I could find a few more points to be smug about ...

Anyway, myself and my partner just returned home from a lovely, stress free break in Barcelona. A city where you can get a perfect cup of coffee in any cafe you set your foot in. And, what comes to the flat shoes, we also found a really nice Spanish shoe shop Vialis, that sells handmade leather shoes, and carries a trainer brand called Aro. It is not that I don't like high heels. They look lovely, but to walk with, they are just utterly impractical and painful. Therefore, I shall stick to my favourites,
ballet pumps and old school trainers. Below, a picture of my two new pair of Aro sneakers that have a really nice seventies feel to them. They come in several colours and prices are really affordable too.

We rented a lovely flat in the old town of Barcelona on Passeig del Born through Airbnb. I find living in a flat abroad a much more authentic experience when compared to booking into a hotel. You get a real feel of the life of the destination. This particular flat was the oldest building on the street with two sets of French doors opening to the lively pedestrian square.

The food, of course, is very good with a tasty tapas bar seemingly on every corner bar. Surprisingly, we also had the best burgers ever at a nearby place called Kiosko, a Spanish take on burger bars. Prepare to queue though as we are not the only ones to think so. While in the queue, you tick on a form the menu items that you desire. Then you pay and sit to wait for your burger and chips. I had a tofu burger with mushrooms, beetroot, aioli and sweet chili sauce between a brioche bun.
A bit unusual choice but, ah, so delicious. And my partner had Catalan burger with 200g charry, rare beef burger with potato cake, bacon, cabbage, aioli and sweet chili sauce with a light wholemeal bun. The chips were almost like roast potatoes, but double-cooked with two dips. Delicious, and the Kiosko is also a rather hip looking place.

Of course, we also wanted to visit the famous Gaudi buildings. It was interesting to see how the controversial construction work of La Sagrada Familia is progressing, as the church was left unfinished when Gaudi died in 1926 and is now being finished with more or less according to his style. You can see so clearly the difference, Gaudi's almost otherworldly structures in contrast with the new naive, disney-like extensions.

We also visited Barcelona's biggest flea market Els Encants on Placa de les Glories. It really was so big that even a flea market nut like me couldn't find the energy to go through all of it. I found a lovely old mid-century style tile with religious motif, and some really cheap enamel dishes. After the flea market we cycled with our rented bikes to The Parc de la Ciutadella, a gorgeous park with a huge fountain, green areas and a lake. On the other end there's also a zoo, a place to go when our daughter comes with us. My brave partner also had a long dip in the sea. I decided instead to have an ice cream. Enough cold for me.

14 Feb 2014


It is Valentine's Day today, and here in England every shop window is full of hearts and "retail" guidance on how to display our affection towards our sweethearts. Strangely, in Finland, 14th of February is not so much a lover's day but a day to remember our friends. We don't even call it Valentine's Day but A Friendship Day (Ystävänpäivä). Maybe it is the reserved, introverted nature of Finns, (also mentioned in the Guardian article by Michael Booth, who seems to make his living by writing not so nice articles about us Scandinavians) that has made it easier and less exposing for us to celebrate friends as well as lovers.

Anyway, I have been crafting hand-made cards for some time now, and I sell them in few shops around England. The cards feature an illustration of a boy or a girl. They have hand-printed cheeks and eye shadows, hand-drawn hair and face, and clothes cut from patterned paper. Each of the cards is unique with different colours and styles of hair and clothes. One of the shops, that sells my cards, Appendage in Brighton, asked me to make a special edition version of the cards for Valentine's Day, see above. The original cards, see below.

11 Dec 2013


When I first encountered pieces of Hornsea Pottery 6 years ago, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. I thought it had potential, but that it was also ever-so-slightly "stuffy" and "naff". I don't really know what exactly ignited the love and admiration I feel towards it these days, but certainly part of the blame goes to Hornsea Love mugs.

Hornsea Pottery was founded in 1949 and its most influential designer was John Clappison (1937-2013),
who designed various contemporary motifs. The Love Mugs (pictured below), however, are designed by Kenneth Townsend (1931-1999). They are a set of 12 mugs, each representing one month of the year. The illustration is different on each. My three favourites are the February mug with a couple eating heart-shaped crepes, the July mug with a sun-bathing couple (the lady seems to have a fishtail, The Little Mermaid perhaps) and the January mug with a couple ice-skating with a snowman.

The mugs were produced from the mid-seventies to the start of the eighties. If you are considering collecting these mugs, then it is also useful to know that they come with two different shape of handles, a round and a rectangular one. Mine have round handles. A nice detail is that the inside of the mugs have a white glazing which lightens up the brown. My dear spouse doesn't quite share my enthusiasm for Hornsea pottery but at least he leaves me to it. For him the "murky" brown is still too dreary. But quite a few years now I have really come to appreciate the beauty of pottery and glass design of the seventies with all its heavy shapes and dark colours. I am not alone in this: Orla Kiely has been influenced by Hornsea's motifs and shapes in her pottery range, and I can also notice some likeness with Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka's work. Just look at the Christmas trees on the December mug (see the picture on the top).

Another example from Finnish pottery are the wall plaques illustrating Kalevala, a Finnish national epic (pictured above). These wall plaques were manufactured by Arabia from 1976 to 1999. When I was a child, I thought them to be the most hideous things and couldn't possibly understand why someone would want to display them on the wall. But a few years ago I suddenly started seeing some beauty in them. The colours are so deep, and the illustration, designed by Raija Uosikkinen, is so lovely. I really have had to keep myself not to start collecting them (there are about 25 of them and only so much space on my walls). On my last visit to Finland, however, I did purchase this particular one from a flea market. The price was reasonable, the condition like new and the seller a nice lady who by chance used to live in the UK.

Pictured above are the Miranda bowls from Finnish Nuutajärvi. They were designed by Heikki Orvola in the seventies. These days the prices of these bowls are quite high and I wish I would have found them a bit earlier like my friend Annika from Vihreä talo who introduced them to me. I just absolutely adore the pattern on them and they come in several colours: clear, emerald green, turquoise, and the brown of course.