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Archive: Oct 2011

  1. Birdy pick of the week: Bird lady


    You can always rely on Paloma Faith to dial up the crazy in the fashion stakes. Here she is at London Fashion Week last month, wearing Sass & Bide‘s bird prints at the Sass & Bide show. I found this pic on Time Out London‘s brilliant new-ish Shopping blog (yes, I’m a bit biased towards my former employer, but you should still read it. It’s tops). They found Paloma Crazy Bird Lady on the Guardian‘s Fashion blog, which also makes excellent reading.

  2. Wee finds: Spooky stuff


    I may have taken a maternity hiatus from blogging earlier this year, but I’ve been keeping track of stuff I like on Pinterest. Are you on Pinterest yet? I’m a wee bit obsessed. It’s a super-easy way to file all the images you like for reference – and I like seeing the overall theme (colours, textures, objects) emerge on my pinboards.

    For Halloween this year, wee skulls and ghosties have emerged as a (no-brainer) theme, and I’m particularly taken by these crocheted finger puppet skulls by Dewey Decimal Crafts. There’s something extremely creepy about the fine thread, delicate stitches and teeny tiny grinning mouths. Eeeeeek. They also make skull ornaments and for a touch of Damien Hirst-like bling, there is the sparkling crocheted skull for US$18.

    Here are some more wee skulls from my Pinterest board. I found the best skulls on Candy Stripe Cloud‘s boards:

    Clockwise from top left: Day of the Dead rockabilly skull brooch, US$16, from The Dolly City Rocker’s Etsy shop; Skull quilt from Quiltsryche; Skull bedroom from Weekday Carnival; and skulls of unknown origin.

    Here are some wee ghosties, too.

    Tell me, are you on Pinterest? Do you have any plans for Halloween?

  3. Birdy pick of the week: Candy Stripe Cloud brooches


    I see a lot of copycats in laser-cut acrylic jewellery (the worst offenders are high-street fashion chains who shall go unnamed but should know better), so my birdy’s eye is always on the look-out for a fresh new take.

    I first stumbled upon Sydney designer Candy Stripe Cloud‘s collection of chalkboard garden stakes at Follow Store, and their stained-glass inspired bird brooches and necklaces, featuring graphic black-outlined shapes and bold colours are also super-adorable. These pieces are currently on sale at Candy Stripe Cloud’s online shop for $38, and the peacock (my favourite), hummingbird and swallow brooches are also available from UK-based Howkapow‘s excellent online shop for £25.

  4. Top pick: Gemma Jones solo exhibition


    If Gemma Jones wasn’t one of my closest buddies in real life, I’m pretty sure I’d still love her. At the very least, I’d still be drawn to the bright poptastic paintings that have become her trademark over the years. Her latest exhibition, Bright signs: Paintings by Gemma Jones, opens tomorrow night at Melbourne’s No-Vacancy Gallery, and it heralds the return of her familiar-yet-anonymous mid-century girls with bouffant ‘dos and fancy frocks – and this time they’ve got something to say.

    Jones has used celebratory flags, crafty bunting and pin-up pennants in her paintings to explore themes of femininity, feminism, pop art and our public/private selves. The nostalgic and candy-sweet overtones are balanced by an underlying exploration of the semiotics and possibility of protest.

    Her personal interest in design, mid-century aesthetic and craft (she is the founding member of Melbourne’s Kaotic Kraft Kuties) is reflected throughout these bold new works – and she has requested that visitors to her opening night dress in kind. Dress code? Colour block, of course.

    Bright Signs: New Paintings and Prints by Gemma Jones
    Opening night: Thursday 20 October 2011, 6-9pm
    No Vacancy Gallery
    34-40 Jane Bell Lane
    Melbourne VIC 3000
    Tel. 03 9663 3798

    The exhibition continues until 30 October 2011.

  5. Birdy pick of the week: Mini Moderns wallpaper


    I’ve only been back a week and I’m already blogging about Rob Ryan. But do you blame me? Take a look at his latest collaboration – this time with wallpaper makers, Mini Moderns.

    Featuring his trademark birds carrying ‘Our adventure is about to begin’ messages in their beaks, the wallpaper, which is printed in the UK using water-based inks on sustainably-sourced paper, will bring a touch of charm and whimsy to any room. It’s £50 per 52cm x 10m roll, from Mini Moderns.

    I also quite fancy the mid-century furniture they’ve used to style the shots.

    Here’s  another beaut design by Mini Moderns from their ‘Day Tripper’ collection, which is in collaboration with the truly fabulous London Transport Museum.

  6. Shopping in London: Ben Pentreath


    ‘Ben Pentreath’ could very well be a byword for all things splendid and in very good taste, because his eponymous shop, in London’s Bloomsbury, is a veritable treasure chest of the most covetable things for your home.

    The shop was a wee favourite of mine when I worked at Time Out London, and whenever I was on a present-buying mission I would make a beeline to Rugby Street. In fact, Ben Pentreath could quite possibly be one of my favourite shops – in the world. And as you well know, I’ve been to a few.

    Mr Pentreath, an architect and interior designer, along with shop manager, Bridie Hall, have filled the shelves of their store with an immaculate and eclectic collection of glassware, linen, candles, vases, lights and books, as well as a lovely selection of prints, furniture, children’s toys and other ‘curiosities’.

    By applying their designers’ eyes to wares from all over the world, they have carefully chosen what they consider to be the very best in terms of quality and design from each category. To that end, glassware is La Rochere, striped linen napkins are from French Catalan company Le Toiles du Soleil, and baskets (made to traditionally winnow grain) are from Zimbabwe. And you can’t miss the striking display of creamy Hunslet tableware from Leeds – the solid pared-down design was inspired by eighteenth century servants’ crockery.

    The shop’s fondness for Victorian-style curiosities, such as crocodile skulls, and unusual shells and botany prints, makes it the perfect showcase for Peter Hone’s architectural plaster casts. The overall effect is reminiscent of Sir John Soan’s house (an absolute London must-visit), but unlike the museum, you can buy everything on site.

    Many of the items are exceptionally good value, and you’d get quite a bit of change from 20 quid. Take, for instance the brightly coloured felt German coasters, £15 for a set of six, mercury glass candlestick, £9, and glass urchin plate, £8.50.

    Children are also beautifully catered for with imaginative and timeless treasures, such as bottles of invisible ink for £4 (great stocking stuffer), paper doll dress-ups, £4.50 and a classic tin trumpet, £5.50.

    One you’re done extricating yourself from such splendid-ness, make sure you stop by Suzannah Hunter further down Rugby Street for handmade leather bags, as well as Darkroom (incredible design-led fashion, homewares and accessories) and Persephone Books around the corner on Lamb’s Conduit Street.

    Best buys include John Derrian red letter glass plates, £38, Hunslet footed mugs, £13.50, large blue glass vases (rather like vintage Holmegaard, only much cheaper), £45 and the London Night and Day vintage book, £35.

    Ben Pentreath
    17 Rugby Street
    London WC1N 3QT
    Tel. 020 7430 2526
    Nearest tubes: Russell Square and Holborn
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-6pm

    Ben Pentreath is on Facebook and he also has a rather fine blog.

    Refuel at Cigala, pick up some mini fruit tarts at Sfizio (their mini fruit tarts are divine), and if you’re in the mood for fish & chips, head to The Fryer’s Delight (a classic chippy and a Wee Birdy favourite).

    {Photography by Wee Birdy}

  7. Shopping in Sydney: Follow Store


    Does this look familiar? While Follow Store is the relatively new addition to the Cleveland Street independent retailscape, the charming heritage-listed shopfront is actually the former home of Bird Textile, the first (and ahem, only) Sydney store I reviewed last year before The Pregnancy of Terror commenced.

    When Bird moved on to fresh (online) pastures earlier this year, the former 1890s chemist was snapped up by Brooke Johnston and Sarah Thornton, the clever ladies behind the hugely successful Finders Keepers Markets (read my review of the Sydney market here).

    A big part of Finders Keepers’ success is down to Brooke and Sarah’s artful skills as curators. So many craft and design markets are a bit ‘samey’ and become ho-hum with the usual suspects and copycat products. But Brooke and Sarah keep the line-up fresh, original and clever – and Follow Store is the exciting (and permanent!) new home to some of Australia’s best design and handmade goodness.

    Highlights include the rather special line-up of jewellery, including the genius pencil shaving necklace by Victoria Mason, vitreous enamel hexagon necklaces and brooches by Megan Perkins and animal rings and earrings by Momoko Hatano. There is also an excellent range of art prints by Naomi Murrell and Gretchen Mist starting at $33, and original watercolours by Emma Leonard.

    Other stand-outs include intricate papercut artwork by Hardwick and Cesco and beautifully made leather bags by Oktoberdee. Add to that an array of homewares, stationery and a small range of clothes, as well as an in-house collection of lamp shades and jewellery (with more on the way).

    It’s all a wee bit exciting – like the markets have come to town and set up permanent residence in Surry Hills. And with neighbours such as Garden Life, David Met Nicole and the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s best new restaurant, Porteño, this wee stretch of unlovely Cleveland Street is fast becoming Sydney’s hottest little spot.

    My top five picks:

    1. Candy Stripe Cloud garden chalkboard bird stakes, $24.95 for a set of four.
    2. Erin Lightfoot porcelain bangles, starting at $55.
    3. Minnen geometric timber brooch, $40.
    4. Gretchen Mist art print, $33.
    5. Bespoke Press vintage map envelopes, $14 for a pack of five.

    Click here to look at the full set of pics.

    Follow Store (The equally terrific online shop is now live)
    380 Cleveland Street
    Surry Hills, Sydney
    Tel. 02 8068 2813
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Wednesday to Friday: 11am-6pm
    Saturday and Sunday: 10am-4pm

    Follow Store are also on Facebook and Twitter.
    And they have a good blog, too!

    Refuel at Twig Café (inside Garden Life) for coffee, Mint for breakfast and lunch, and at the Norfolk for drinks (and their delicious tacos).

    {Photography by Lucas Boyd}

  8. London must-eat: Knickerbocker Glory at Fortnum & Mason


    Londoners, may I suggest a little ice-cream to relive that glorious Indian summer you were enjoying last week? The retro delight of Knickerbocker Glory at Fortnum & Mason’s Parlour Restaurant is beckoning, and it’s been doing so since 1955.

    The Parlour is located on the first floor of Piccadilly’s 300 year-old department store, and the Knickerbocker Glory arrives in a tall glass on a stainless steel tray, with a long spoon to scoop up every last skerrick of chunky-creamy goodness.

    The £12 ice treat, which boasts vanilla bean, strawberries and 12-year old balsamic vinegar, as well as frosted strawberry and shortbread ice-cream with raspberries, pineapple chunks and raspberry coulis, is an updated version of the original recipe, which F&M first served to curious Londoners in 1955.

    While today’s creation isn’t exactly traditional, it succeeds in transporting me to 1950s-formica-and-soda-fountain heaven at Morellis and the Kentish seaside (and if you just clicked on that link, you’d be transported to Wee Birdy circa 2009 – check out the smaller column and photo format! Awww, look at that: blog nostalgia.)

    The Beekeeper sundae is also a winner, featuring stem ginger with borage honey, vanilla bean and praline ice-cream topped with Fortnum’s honey (from the rooftop beehives) and honeycomb chunks. It’s not on the menu at the moment, but hopefully it will make a return in spring next year.

    Just as delightful was the cappuccino, which arrived with a bonus mini icecream cone attached to the saucer. My one small complaint? While the Parlour attempts to replicate a relaxed‘50s vibe, it somehow lacks some of the old-fashioned elegance of the Fountain Restaurant downstairs, or the loveliness of the classic mirrored walls and glass sweet jars on the ground floor.

    I guess the café table set-up just feels a tad ‘ordinary’ by comparison. Still, it’s a gorgeous light and bright space overlooking Piccadilly, so head to one of the tables by the window, or if you have kids, perch on the stools at the bar.

    The Parlour at Fortnum & Mason
    181 Piccadilly
    London W1
    Tel. 020 7734 8040
    Nearest tubes: Piccadilly and Green Park
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Monday to Saturday 10am-7.30pm
    Sunday 12Noon-5.30pm
    Bank Holidays 10am-5.30pm

    Dress code: The Parlour requests that “both sexes lean more towards elegance”. Quite.
    For reservations tel. 0845 602 5694 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday or book online.

    {Photography by Wee Birdy.}

  9. Birdy pick of the week: Spring Summer 2012 prints


    It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for a good old print, so I’ve been rejoicing in the print-and-pattern fest that dominated the Spring/Summer 2012 collections. A veritable menagerie emerged this season, with all manner of animals crawling, fluttering and leaping across hems at the likes of Peter Jensen, House of Holland and Mulberry.

    But birds were the creature of choice at Kenzo, Carolina Herrera and Marc by Marc Jacobs, and what a dynamic display of colour they made, too. Looks like our feathered friends are here to stay in our wardrobes – for a while, anyway.

    {From top to bottom, Carolina Herrera, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Kenzo, via Style.com}

  10. Birdy is back


    Hello. Remember me? I’m back. I’ve missed you so much. Truly, I have! But I’ve been a bit pre-occupied for the past seven months with this wee one…

    This is Harry. He says hello! (Really, the kid says ‘hello’!)

    I think I’ve finally started to sort out this mama bird/work thing. It helps that he’s just started to sleep through the night. I’m thanking my lucky stars on that one.

    But it’s been a rough couple of years for me with various health nonsense to sort out, and I was pretty much incapacitated for most of my pregnancy. Who knew pregnancy could be so debilitating?

    I think I was in shock for the first six months after Harry’s birth. I was just so damn poorly throughout the whole pregnancy, by the time Harry arrived I was already exhausted and emotionally drained. Not the best start to motherhood, but I think we’ve got our act together now.

    So I’m looking forward to throwing myself back into Wee Birdy. What have I missed?