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Pop-up Xmas shopping #3

And the pop-up Christmas shops keep coming – this one is from the wonderful Shelf store, which I have featured before. Thanks to interiors stylist, Emily Blunden, who also writes a lovely blog, Atticus and Finch, for alerting me to it yesterday. 

This is another London one, I'm afraid, but am hoping to rustle up some goodies nationwide too (and there's still plenty of time to buy all this loot online). The event features special guests, including illustrators/printmakers Paul Bommer and Beyond Thrilled (see bottom image), selling their wares. Full details of location and dates are below or here – in short, it's east London and they'll be there on eight days dotted through December, from 11am-7pm.

The little asprin tins, above, cost just £4. My presents are all going to be weeny this year, so I like the added-value idea of wrapping them in brown or matt black paper, and tying one of these to the top of each gift with parcel string, and popping a little wrapped chocolate inside (a very flat one, naturally). You could also use them in the style of wedding favours, putting one on everyone's plate at Christmas, with a treat (a lottery ticket, perhaps?) inside. A very nicely styled restaurant near me, Honest Burger in Brixton Market, uses bigger old tobacco tins to bring bills to the table. A nice touch.

Love these quirky figurines, too. 'Romeo and Juliet' are magnetic, and so can't resist a kiss. They're £13. Still on the festive decor tip, I'd buy a few pairs of these and pop them underneath upturned jam-jars for a quirky table display.

I like the sweet retro stylings and message in this Beyond Thrilled print, £48, which measures 297mm x 420mm.

The Temporium Xmas
pop-up shop in London

I wouldn't generally advocate hitting central London in December, but as 'tis the season for special shopping events that make present-choosing conundrums less overwhelming (and often with mulled wine on tap, which definitely helps) I'll make an exception.

The Temporium, in Covent Garden from 1-24 December, is hosted by the aristocracy of style blogs, Dezeen (and you get Japanese street-food as well as spicy vin rouge). And highlights include Theo, which is creating a shop-within-a-shop, selling design-led furniture, lighting and accessories selected by Thorsten van Elten, such as this sexy Sausalito cushion, above, from £51.

Shan Valla's ceramics will be another goodie; I particularly love her porcelaine miniature vases, £14 each, pictured below.

A good tea-towel is the perfect present for pretty much anyone who likes their kitchen and enjoys nice-looking things – cooking in-laws of all varieties are prime candidates. I love To Dry For, a shop dedicated to the things, see below (prices start from £8), who will also be selling their wares at the event. (I have long loved the Mini Moderns Whitby range, left, which also includes some lovely ceramics.)
It all happens at: 65 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9DG, Mondays-Saturdays. Find out full details and timings at the Dezeen blog. Or, if you aren't anywhere near London, or don't have the stamina/elbows to muster a visit, do as I aim to do... and get clicking.

Beautiful brights for a sick-day

It's a beautiful bright day out there. The dog and I had a nice stroll in the sunshiney park this morning, but now I'm feeling all flu-like, so thought I'd bring some of that brightness and cheer inside with today's selection of vibrant buys. Hope you like them...

1. Ooh, that dazzling sky sure lifts the soul. This quirky A4 digital mountain collage is £10 from Hello Dodo.

2. If you like the idea of wiling away a wintry afternoon crafting, a vintage tissue paper rose kit, £8 from Winter's Moon, will brighten up a dull corner.

3. This 70s-esque Geo Daisy Chain Cool Kokka fabric (in background) is from Japan and for sale priced, £18.99 per metre, from the always exciting online fabric store, Fancy Moon.

4. I fantasize about having a cosy, romantic candlelit hallway with this pineapple sconce, £99, exclusive to Caravan Style – the quirky shop owned by Emily Chalmers, author of Modern Vintage Style, a beautiful and inspiring book that would make a marvellous Christmas present for any homemakers who love flea market shopping.

5. This chirpy little Santa is a section of a rather wonderful idea by an inspring Australian illustrator who goes by the name of Draw! Pilgrim. See below for the full picture.

Isn't this set of 25 vintage matchboxes a sweet idea for an advent calendar? It costs under £3 ($3.50 Australian dollars) and you order it as a PDF from Pilgrim's online store, then print it in colour and get busy. Full instructions are provided for assembling it once it pops out of your printer.

Pilgrim's work thanks to wonderful vintage store, H is for Home. Check them both out!

Dupenny's new 'knitwear' wallpaper (and more)

This wondrous wallpaper design, new from Dupenny, just dropped into my in-box and I had to share. Isn't it brilliantly unusual?

The design is inspired by retro knitwear – and not, apparently, the  Danish detective series, The Killing, whose protagonist is famed for her chunky jumper.

It also comes in black and white, and costs £75 for a 3-metre  panel, £196 for a 10-metre roll – and just £6 for an A3 sampler, which has already got my decorating brain ticking. Behind a piece of strong glass, it could make an unusual bathroom splashback.

Even more appropriate for that sort of thing, might be Dupenny's  Mixed Tiles paper, which also comes as individual 'pick n mix' monochrome, ceramic tiles, £10 each.

The prices and dimensions for the paper are as above.

You may be familiar with Dupenny already; the company does a sexy range of homewares with a burlesque theme. There are cushions, lampshades, wallpapers and aprons and tea-towels. But I like the plates, £29 each, left, which would look good on a wall.

Plates-on-walls are typically a kitchen decor style, but in Grace Bonney's scrumptious Design Sponge at Home book, she features a bedroom with a scattering of pretty blue and white plates, hung above a bed. It looks good. Check out her how-to video.

Quirky Christmas wreath

What do you think of this Brussels sprout festive wreath?

I rather like it. It is by The Contemporary Home and costs £29, available from Not on the High Street. As it's not real sprouts, it can be used year after year – though sadly it's too delicate for front door hanging and needs to live inside.

I'm a big fan of fake foliage generally, as the real thing tends to be so expensive to have in constant supply; though I'm thinking flowers rather than maligned Christmas vegetables... (I have some very realistic looking plastic artichoke stems in my bathroom that I got in Habitat a few years ago. I might put together a round-up of other good fake blooms – and, if that's a general area of interest, I recently wrote about how to have interesting house plants in the Independent.)

Meanwhile, what unusual festive wreaths – good or bad – have you spotted?

Cool Christmas decorations
& wrapping ideas

Christmas this year is down-sizing for most of us. But if the presents on your shopping list are getting smaller, all the more reason to spruce them extra special packaging. 

Everything I've found, below, is on the right side of a tenner (often a fiver), and all are ripe for re-use next year, once the festivities are over (even the cards – snip those carefully under each number and you have sleek gift tags, Christmas tree ties or even quirky bunting.)

Paper Nativity Decorations, £9.50, V&A Shop
Make your very own nativity scene with the V&A Paper Nativity Set which includes 10 individual pop-out figures. Treat them lovingly and they'll be ready to get out again for Christmas 2012.

Red Pompoms Ribbon, £4.50, Cox & CoxLove this multi-purpose pom pom roll – tie it around presents or plant pots, hang it from the mantlepiece... and then you can re-use it by sewing it around a suitably-coloured cushion. Eminently good value.

Teal glitter reindeer with pink glitter antlers, £4.50, Paperchase
This sparkly chap measures 19cm high, and I love that he's not trad silver, gold or red. He'd look good adorning dark-painted wooden stairs, or shelves.

French Geometric Ribbon, £4.75, Present & Correct
Made in France in the 70s this black ribbon is laced with a smart geometric pattern and comes in two-metre lengths, colourway of your choice. Fabric is the sort of ribbon to keep and re-gift year after year (or turn into stylish hair decor for a little girl's pigtails).

12 Days' 10-Christmas card pack, £5, Present & CorrectDesigner, Dave Burdon, was one of the winners of a competition organised by the V&A and London Design Festival. These cards are so striking and would be wasted with just one use.

Cuban graphic poster art

This weekend, while I was avoiding doing things I ought to have been doing, I stumbled across a brilliant eBay shop selling re-prints of vintage Cuban graphic posters. What do you think?

I'm generally a stickler for an original, rather than a re-print or a reproduction version, but originals can be very expensive. Though the real thing is authentic and more beautiful, things are tight for most of us at the moment and for under twenty quid one of these gets you something that could perk up your home-life daily – and I think that makes for a good return. They'd make excellent budget-but-statement Christmas presents too.

The images start at around £5 for a 20x25cm print, plus around £7-8 for postage from the US (so it pays to order more than one, not that I'd ever encourage over-shopping, ever).

Apparently the quality is very good: "We bring new life to old Cuban images," is the shop's strapline, and they've even got a before and after section (perversely, I rather like the befores more, but of course they wouldn't work re-printed that way). Anyway, I've just ordered the legs coming out of a box, in Ikea frame-friendly dimensions, so when it arrives I can let you know.

Man sitting on floor reading, above

I remember a good friend returning from a holiday in Cuba a few years back, with armfuls of fantastic graphic artwork from the communist state – and coveting her finds, about which she knew the associated cultural tales.

And the only drawback with the site, is that it offers no context or history to any of the images – nor even illuminating titles (I have used their rather flat descriptions here) which is a shame; I wish I knew more about the history of these political and non-political images. But if you're interested in the genre, there's a book, Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art (£11.99 on Amazon), worth a look. Or get a little overview here.

Meanwhile, if anyone out there has any insight into any of these images – or at least their real titles – I'd love to hear – it's not clear whether or not they're all even Cuban...

Ella Robinson's beautiful recycled art

I came across the colourful work of Ella Robinson at Origin, part of the London Design Festival earlier this year, and featured her in passing in a round-up post of the week-full of events. Striking, huh?

Earlier today I was just flicking through photos, vaguely thinking I ought to do some kind of computer filing, when Ella's bright, cheery art jumped out at me all over again, and I thought I'd re-visit and add a few more pictures and information about this young artist.

Ella's USP is that she aims to recycle found objects and turn them into something beautiful. This stunning piece, above, is a perfect example of what she does: it is made entirely of found plastic from her local beach. What a clever – and aesthetically effective – idea. I wish I'd bought this one. Similar pieces (as this one's gone) cost around £600, bought direct through Ella's site.

Love these simple driftwood wall plaques. They'd be great in a young child's room – being both tactile and cheery. Prices for her driftwood objects go from £32-£650. All are available through her website.

The pieces above – plastic lacing wound around wooden poles – were created as part of Art in the Garden at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, a wonderful-sounding summer-long event (it runs annually from May to the end of October). I'd love some of these in my own very urban, paved garden to give it some much-needed colour. This sort of thing is much pricier, costing around £2,295 a-piece. But Ella's range of simple, driftwood embroidered with hearts starts at just £32; these are also available through Flow, a gallery in Notting Hill.

To blow up or not to blow up, that is the question...

After looking again at Claire Scully's beautiful take on urban nature (see post below), I was inspired to dig out some photos that I took last spring with the thought of blowing one up big and framing it. Now I need your help...

I really love London, where I was born, and really love the frequent clash of the wild and the brutalist that you get in this city. But photography of this sort is not, as you'll see, my forte. However, not having the funds to commission a photographer to capture the juxtaposition of lush pink blossom and bleak-but-beautiful concrete that I am craving to hang on my wall, my own efforts will have to do. Here are some more...

Where do you come in? Well, I can't decide a) which of the snaps (from 1-5 above, or the main image, top) might be worth enlarging for the purpose, b) if they're actually so rubbish that I shouldn't bother or, c) if there is anything I can do via the magic of Photoshop to slightly improve what I have captured. What do you think?

And if any of you have examples of photos you've taken and blown up to frame that you'd like to share, I'd love to see them. Drop me a line at: kate [at]

Cool craft to buy online – or at the We Make London fair

Craft fairs were once the domain of flouncy loo roll doilies and lavender bags trimmed with lace. Which, actually, could both be OK with a 2011 slant on them. But I digress: the point is that the modern craft fair is an exciting place to be, and upcoming We Make London event on 10 December at south London's Battersea Arts Centre is a fine example.

Can't make it? Fear not, you can get the best from it in a mere click of the mouse...

I have long loved Claire Scully's work, above, which I discovered at a show put on my the brilliant Outline Editions. I bought a print from her, in fact, of a giant squirrel scaling a tower block. And now she has lots of new works of art posted on her website, The Quiet Revolution. And I'm tempted all over again.

This donkey print, by Phoebe Eason, reminds me of the sort of straw tourist souvenir I imagine you might have got in Spain in the late 1960s. I love it. "Donkey O'Tay" (do you see what she did there?) costs £18, printed on 21cmx29cm paper and there are only 15 of him – so get in quick.

Mr Marlow, according to his maker, Forgotten Stiches, ran away from the circus and found his way into her Etsy shop. Now, for just £38, the handsome dog is looking for a loving new home without scary lions and clowns hanging around. He measures 30cm from nose to tail and is 40cm high. Far too good for a children's toy, he'd chirp up the mantlepiece marvellously.

Anna Wiscombe's wooden wall birds cost £15 each. A good update on the trio of flying ducks. I'd put one to perk me up in the morning, visible from bed, or in my home office to do the same job. Birds are good for that.

Clockwise from bottom left: Evolution of a Magic Trick, by Enclosed Spaces, is £45 and A2 size. It also comes in black; this sheep cushion, by Mary Kilvert, is borderline country cottage twee – but there's something ridiculously endearing about all those sheepy faces in such bright colours, don't you think? £20 (small) or £40 (less small); this cute Cakes of Britain tea-towel, £10.41, by Jilty Drawings would make a great present (and, nice touch, it comes tied in gingham ribbon); Tina Vlassopulous's elegant ceramics come in many delicately undulating forms. This elegant Spring Series Twig dressing table pot for jewellery costs £50.

Made in Britain plate

I totally love this plate, designed by Repeat Repeat. There's also a hearty matching mug to fill with builders' tea and a teapot, too. 

The idea behind the collection, say designers Gillian Naylor and Mark Faulkner, was to get across the message that bone china is still made in England. 

Britannia plate, (175ml across),£14.95, from Not on the High Street. The matching mug costs £13.75.

Pretty packaging

I'm mildly obsessed with well-packaged products. Regardless of what's on the inside, I often find myself buying things that look good on the outside for no other reason than that they are aesthetically joyful. 

It's what's on the outside that matters (above) some well packaged products, clockwise from bottom left:

The inspiration to post about packaging came after my friend Abi returned from Lisbon with the gift of a little book, all about the joys of some of Portugal's most iconically packaged products (below; the title translates as Genuine and touching products of original Portuguese creation). It's nice isn't it? 

And here are some gratuitous shots of packaging I've magpied away over the years.

Vintage Christmas plates

These beautiful, reasonably priced, vintage-inspired festive plates are on the crossroads between kitsch and elegant, but I like precisely that clash: they'd be a great Christmas dinner table talking point.

They (and lots of other lovely designs) are made by Evie Lotts who describes herself as "a graphic designer who loves nature". The designs shown here are: deer, Santa's little helper, and pine tree, they're made individually each cost £9.65, plus a couple of quid for postage (from Spain).

I'm currently rustling up some more festive-themed posts – is there anything in particular any of you would like to find, be inspired about or just look at? Send me your themes and I'll aim to please!

The perfect print for
a procrastinator?

This spectacular print of Kenneth Williams and one of his most genius catchphrases is going straight up on my office wall.

Working from home a lot, it can be hard to avoid the lure of a quick tidy-up; regular fridge missions or a spot of DIY. None of these are helpful when there are deadlines to be done with. So Kenneth and his wise words, I think, will be my saviours...

You can get your own Kenneth from a top new online print shop called Ministry of Words, which I discovered last week (or rather, it discovered me via the marvellous medium of Twitter – hurrah for Twitter). The shop is "dedicated to the richness, beauty, humour and diversity of the English language and British culture". It's good.

Kenneth, because the shop is spankingly new, is on sale at a special introductory offer price of £29.99 – down from £35. He measures 50cm x 70cm, and so fits in a standard frame (I always quite like an Ikea Ribba, £16.99 for this size); extra brilliant as he is hand screen printed and one of a limited edition of just 50. I love him.

SCP's sexy wooden alarm clock

Is this not the sexiest alarm clock you've seen in ages? That probably depends on whether you're into Seventies design or not... As regular readers may have, ahem, clocked, I'm rather partial.

This beautiful beast costs £36 and is available from hot London design store, SCP (not online, unfortunately). Look closely and you'll see that the clever design, by Jonas Damon, incorporates an iPhone or iPod Touch to display the time (using a flip clock app). Slick. And annoying, as it's yet another reason that I'm cursing myself for getting an idiotically large Samsung Galaxy SII instead of an iPhone. Pff.

So for now, I'll have to make do with my actual old-school Binatone (below)... it gets Radio 4 and Vibes FM, what more do I need?

Two vintage sales:
London & Chichester

Vintage loving Londoners and Chichester dwellers, prick up your ears: there are some events coming up that you need to know about. One happens this weekend (London) and the other is in two weeks (Chichester) and, between them, are hosted by two of my favourite junk-not-junk online shops. Want to know more?

The OK Corral and Random Retail (run respectively by photographer with excellent taste in vintage things, Holly Jolliffe and her mum, the textile designer/maker Joy Jolliffe, who does a nice line in screen-printed textiles) are doing an open house Christmas sale this weekend at 14 Chaucer Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0NU. Dates: 5 & 6 Nov, 10am-6pm and 11am-4pm.

Lucky me, as this is on my dog-walk route to my lovely local Brockwell Park – but it's also worth travelling for, there are several great pubs nearby serving good food (The Prince Regent and the Half Moon, which does excellent pizzas, are my favourites), and there's also the Brockwell Lido Cafe, which overlooks the pool in a rather civilised fashion. They do great coffees (though not often very quickly, though they are worth the wait). I'll be there, or chasing a lively Jack Russell in the park, so do give me a wave if you're there.

Meanwhile... down south, Winter's Moon are holding the first of their Christmas fairs.

They will be opening the doors of their studio to sell everything you see online, as well as some exclusive extras that you'll only get if you go in person. The event happens on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 November, from 10am-4pm both days. Check out their blog for more details.

They're also at three further Christmas events in the same part of the world over the next few weeks: GoodwoodPetworth House and Farnham Maltings. It really is a stunning bit of England (I posted about it a while back) and well worth a day-trip if you're not a zillion miles away. Pallant House alone is worth the excursion; it's a pretty special gallery with a vast collection of beautiful and impressive art.

The Other Art Fair

The Other Art Fair is all about introducing the public to young, emerging artists by providing a platform for them to sell their work direct (and before they get signed and famous and out of our price range). 

It happens between 24-27 November at the Bargehouse on London's Southbank.Tickets are £6 and there will be over 1000 pieces of art to buy, with prices starting at £100 (or even lower – as you'll see if you scroll right to the bottom).

Porphyrias Lover, by Tarragon Smith

100 of the country's exciting new artistic talent is taking part, including Tarragon Smith, above, (see more of the work she'll be selling at the show here), and Hester Finch, below, (see more of the work she'll be exhibiting here). 

Afghanistan, by Hester Finch

Also involved are Jasper Joffe and his mate, Harry Pye, who will be punting their wares for under a pound at Joffe and Pye’s 99p Shop, which will be selling, among other things, these exclusive plates, below.

In the artists' own words: "Conran who? All the rage is ‘Jofware’ when it comes to homewares this 2011/2012," they explain. "Get yours at Joffe and Pye’s 99p shop sponsored by Cass Art and put your friends dinnerware to shame." Love it. They will also be creating hundreds of other extraordinarily affordable pieces exclusively for the event ranging from small paintings to hand made objects...

Are wall stickers dead?

"I've just bought some wall stickers," said a good, and stylish, friend the other day. "Do you think I can get away with them?" She has a point: have wall stickers jumped the shark

We both agreed they kind of had – but that hers, which I have yet to see, but which I have had described to me ("birds, discreet, disappear into the wall" was the gist), might just count as an exception. Which is what I thought when I spotted the unusual, photographic stickers, below, currently on sale (which perhaps backs up the shark theory) with a tenner off at Bouf.

Yes, a mere £14.99 will get you your mitts on this rather striking British Squirrel and Fox wall sticker by Binary. You get Mr Fox, above (he measures 54cm x 60cm), and also, his buddy/prey, Mr Squirrel (27cm x 20cm), as seen in the full image below. I quite like them – though I think I'd perhaps go for just the fox. What do you think?

I'm partial to a horse image, too. And though this black stallion, left, is totally OTT (and much more expensive, at £54.95), there's something about it I'm quite drawn to...

However, the gleaming beast from Surface View's National Gallery collection, which I posted about last year, is probably more classy.