11 Dec 2013

HORNSEA POTTERY







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.


9 Sep 2013

ARTSTAR INDUSTRIES



It has been a while since my last post. The reason: summer holidays, moving house and all the usual stuff that keeps us all busy. But here we are again.

I always think I can't bear the thought of summer coming to an end, but every year, the first time I breath that crisp autumn air, the changing of the season feels welcome again. Moreover, sitting inside in front of the computer, blogging, sketching, pinning, feels less of a madness when the sun isn't shining with its full volume anymore. So, it is a good time to start focusing on my blog and all the other things I've been neglecting when the sun has been too tempting.




 
During the summer holidays I was interviewed by the lovely Lucy Bannister for Artstar blog. I did a small collection of illustrations for Artstar, which focuses on contemporary homewares. My work started a few years back and the first of the three illustrations was an image of a bear. I wanted to do something quintessentially Finnish, which to me personally is something to do with nature. The king of the forests, a bear, roamed on the sketchpad. A foliage of blueberries grew around it, not only because bears love to eat them, but because they so dearly remind me of all those hours as a little girl spent in the forests picking blueberries with my lovely grandfather. Later the bear was accompanied by a deer and an owl. The deer is very British with roses framing its noble head; the owl peeking through the cow parsleys again is something you could find in the forests of my childhood as well as the British forest trails I stroll around these days.



The illustrations have now been printed on cushions, cups, trays, cards and tea towels. I am really happy with the quality of the products and hope to work again with Artstar in the future. My good friend Rebecca Blair took all these lovely photos with her more professional camera (and professional skills for that matter) than the one I have. Also if you want to read the interview, you'll find it here.










1 Jul 2013

ETSY SHOP IS OPEN



I love going to charity shops and flea markets. They are full of forgotten treasures waiting to be found. For a long time while walking around these shops and markets, I admired many abandoned cross stitch works and felt a bit of sadness about all the effort that had gone in them and how they were no longer wanted. Then one day I decided to do something about it and give them a new lease of life. This cushion above is made from a cross stitch picture rescued from a charity shop. I removed it from its frame, gave it a good wash and made it into a cushion cover. Quite lovely, in my opinion. This cushion cover and a few other things are now available from my Etsy shop.


24 Jun 2013

HERTHA BENGTSON'S ROSMARIN




The question, which is my favourite colour, is always difficult one for me to answer. I just simply love all colours, or so many that to list them would loose the whole point of definition. I admire people who can stick with only black and white and the greys in between, but it just isn't something I have ever been able sign up to for a long period of time. It would require too much restraint.

Sometimes when faced with the question, I have tried to define my opinion by rather stating which colours I don't like and listing pink on top of that list. But then I remember these lovely pink pots, above, from Rörstrand and I am indecisive again. Or the ever so lovely pink Tantsu fabric from Marimekko. Or my sweet little espresso cups from Arabia Koko, also pictured on top.



The pots are part of a range called Rosmarin that was designed by Hertha Bengtson for Rörstrand. It was manufactured from 1957 to 1966 and came in several different shades - brown, grey, white - and also under the name of Capri in yellow. The dishes have a relief decoration which gives them an impression of having two shades of colour; the glazing is thicker and deeper in colour where it overlaps the relief. It is a lovely way to decorate pottery, in all its simplicity, and has the same beauty as carefully folded paper or a draped skirt. The pots have lids with a little handle that sits on the top like a squeezed piece of pink marshmallow.




In the morning I had picked up some flowers from our garden. One thing I really love about England is the lusciousness of its flora. I have never seen foxgloves as large in size and vibrant in colour in Finland. They fit perfectly to our tablecloth du jour, which is Englantilainen puutarha (English garden) by Teresa Moorhouse for Marimekko.


17 Jun 2013

FIGGJO FLINT CORSICA




When I was still living in my home country Finland, I was utterly unaware of the beautiful pottery manufactured in one of our neighbouring countries, Norway. Of course I knew Sweden's Rörstrand and Gustavsberg, but never did it cross my mind to find out about the pottery treasures of Norway. But they manufactured just as fascinating and gorgeous pottery in the mid 20th century as their Scandinavian partners.

Being a Finn abroad, I have started to appreciate more not just the Nordic way of living but also the Scandinavian design. My admiration has reached slightly worrying levels as, these days, when I am visiting home, I can just go to a supermarket and admire all things I used to find so mundane, such as a box of semolina porridge or a carton of blueberry soup. I can even admire the functionality of a simple dish brush, the ones to which you can replace the brush to its handle, so ecological and well functioning.



Better get back to the Norwegian pottery now. The plates shown here are from a Norwegian company called Figgjo Flint and they were designed by Turi Gramstad Oliver (born in 1938). She made several lovely pottery ranges between 1960 to 1980 to both Figgjo Flint and Stavangerflint. The name of this range is Corsica, and as far as I am aware, it consists of a large serving plate, below, and six smaller plates, above. All decorated with those lovely naivistic characters and fruits and berries.


17 May 2013

VINTAGE CURTAINS


Some days ago, I was rummaging through some drawers and came across my old curtains, pictured above, from my childhood room in the early eighties. A good reminder about the fact that I wasn't exactly born yesterday, as they had a very vintage feel to them. How about you Dear Readers; can you still remember your childhood curtains?






Anyway, as we are planning to go camping this summer, I decided to turn some of the fabric into a little sleeping bag for my daughter, pictured here above. Originally, on my wish list was a rabbit print sleeping bag from a British brand called Anorak, but this is a more affordable option. And as it has rabbits on it, which my daughter loves, all the better.




Talking about vintage curtains, I recently found this lovely pair above from a vintage shop in Hebden Bridge, a charming little market town here in West Yorkshire. They were manufactured in the sixties by a company called Duro. I am usually devoted to Marimekko curtains, as I use to work for the company quite a few years, but as these vintage curtains are so pretty, they ended up in the window of my daughter's bedroom. I wonder if she will remember them 30 years from now ...













































7 May 2013

BABY RATTLES


I just realised that I might have been admiring the subject to my previous post, the Daisy and Ulla plates, a bit too much. Take a look at these baby rattles I have made, flowers with smiley faces, just like the plates. Only now do I notice that I must have been influenced by the plates subconsciously when I started sewing these rattles.

Good friends of ours are having a baby and that made me start thinking about all the nice things you can make yourself as a gift. I made one of these rattles and just couldn't stop. Now I have quite a few of them. I love doing cross stitch. To me it feels like drawing, just a needle as your pen and a thread as your ink. These rattles have a face made with cross stitch and petals that need just a little piece of fabric with a nice pattern, something I have plenty in my cupboards. A good way, moreover, to use those little scratches of fabric that one ends up having from other sewing works and can't really bear to throw away. The handle is a wooden ring covered with solid coloured fabric and finished with an edge string. Inside it has a padding with a little pouch of gently playing jingles.

In a short while I shall be opening my own little shop at Etsy. Since I have more than enough of rattles now, I will have some on sale there as well.


17 Apr 2013

DAISY AND ULLA




Last month I had a lovely visit back in Finland. On my return trip back home to England, I ran into a familiar face at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The encounter happened in front of a shop called Stockmann, her name was Ulla and she was actually a plate.

Finnish Arabia has had impressive 140 years in pottery business and they are celebrating this with 12 new, blue and white plate designs, each one of them different from another and named after women who have worked in Arabia factory. The illustrations on these plates are designed by Johanna Kunelius and the inspiration for her work came from the decorations on old Arabia plates.

This is the reason why it felt like a reunion, that day at the airport. I had a plate very much like Ulla back home. Naturally, I couldn't just leave her behind but she came home with me. The picture furthest on top shows Daisy, illustrated by Esteri Tomula in the mid sixties. I bought it few years ago with a very reasonable price tag from Ebay. And underneath Daisy is a picture of Ulla. Like two peas in a pod I'd say.

15 Apr 2013

A COAT FOR MY DAUGHTER




















Handicrafts have always been a huge attraction for me. Already as a little girl I was making clothes for my teddy bears, for example a quilted jacket with cotton wool stuffed inside and finished with rather large and uneven stitching. My maternal grandparents had a big influence on me, my grandmother made beautiful embroideries and my grandfather knitted striped woollen socks faster than anyone I know.

This knitted hat in the picture, above, I bought for my daughter from Cos, a Swedish clothing brand that sells quite charming and timeless children's wear, among other things. It reminded me of a bobble hat my grandfather made me when I was little. I couldn't find a matching coat for it so decided that I needed to make one myself. Perfectly matching blue woollen material I found from Fabworks in Dewsbury. The plaid lining is flannel and the detailing, zippers, buttons and piping on the back are red to match the bobble. I also added a Mickey Mouse patch to make the coat more attractive in my daughter's eyes, but I did sew it inside the coat to keep the style as I wanted. It won't be forever that I am able to unanimously decide her fashion statements, so I may as well enjoy as long as it lasts.


7 Apr 2013

TWELVE MONTHS OF BJØRN WIINBLAD




As a collector I have learnt to master the skill of good excuses. Obviously there comes a point when you no longer need that extra plate or two, but you learn to find other plausible reasons why you need to get them. Another valuable asset that I have is a patient and understanding spouse, as getting something out of our ever so crowded cupboards can get frustrating.

These wall plaques above are from Danish company Nymølle and they were designed by Bjørn Wiinblad in the mid 20th century. The complete set has 12 plaques, one for each month. They tell a love story from the couple's first shy looks to them starting a family. Amongst the first two that I found from The Great Wetherby Racecourse Antiques Fair, was the December plaque which features the couple's first baby being born. And as it happens our daughter was born in December which naturally gave me an excellent excuse to start collecting them. They are now decorating the wall above her bed.






Another valid reason for this purchase was that these plaques would not take any space from the cupboards since they can be hang on the wall. It was a rather enlightening moment when I realised how much more space the walls offer for storing things.

Wiinblad's designs have the similar allure to me as Pastoraali by Esteri Tomula and Emilia by Raija Uosikkinen, both designed for Finnish Arabia. These very stylized, whimsical characters come to life with a simple use of black line (or red, as is the case above). And I can see the referencing of this style in the modern pottery decorations in Siirtolapuutarha by Maija Louekari for Finnish Marimekko and Piilopaikka by Piia Keto for Arabia.