Thursday, October 14, 2010

Barbara opening liner

OK, better late than never!

Here is the opening line to one of Barbara Pym's novels, No Fond Return of Love, which I read a few years ago. It's in keeping with my current Paris 'fin de ciecle' and American 1920s infatuation ...

I actually looked Barbara Pym up a few years ago when Alexander McCall Smith mentioned in an interview that she was one of his inspirations. I can see why, because they both enjoy making light of everyday and sometimes seriously awkward situations; and they both are the type of authors best enjoyed with a cuppa at the ready, and a smile on your face:

Chapter One:

"THERE are various ways of mending a broken heart, but perhaps going to a learned conference is one of the most unusual."

As a bonus, I will include the next line too, because it gives a great taste of the whole book!:

"When Dulcie Mainwaring realized that her fiance did not want to marry her after all - or that he was not worthy of her love, as he put it - she endured several months of quiet misery before she felt able to rouse herself from this state."

She makes a great and likeable heroine and I highly recommend the read! Only 254 pages, with a satisfying ending to boot!

Night night,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

1920s, Flappers, John Held Jr & Dorothy Parker

Good morning, loyal 6 (he, he!),

I was very busy imagining and dreaming last night (no doubt heavily influenced by two hours of addictive googling) about my still mild infatuation with 1890s' Paris, Toulouse Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge - all of which I have loved since my teens - as well as the 1920s' Flappers and, as it turns out, John Held Jr (Jan 1889 - March 1958) illustrations!

John Held Jr - more on him later, just teasing at this stage - was a fantastic illustrator with a wicked, clever sense of humour. At the age of 15, he sold his first one to Life Magazine, which proved to be the beginning of a long front cover partnership. What I wanted to share was: his drawings are whimsical and insightful, and the colours he used were, simply, FANTASTIC! Not to mention the clever headlines, like the "She Left Home Under a Cloud" below. His Life Magazine covers, Broadway posters and Flapper illustrations actually made me think a little bit of Alexander McCall Smith, E.F. Benson and Barbara Pym - a lot to take in, I know! They all have one thing in common: taking a really close look at society, the impressions people make, and how they interact. Again, more on these great authors, later!

Anyway - wanted to satisfy part of my urge to blog about these inspirational people this morning - it even got me out of bed quick smart!

Here are just a few John Held Jr illustrations, a Dorothy Parker poem (and trust me, I don't particularly like poems, but this one really appealed to me) and, to top it all off, an opening line from a Barbara Pym novel ... 

My ramblings probably don't make (much) sense to most, but am putting finger to keyboard, all the same!

Take a look at these beauties - don't worry, I will post them all soon, there are lots more where these come from, thanks to the clever WWW! These particular images were copied from Magazine Art's website and a few different blogs, thank you! 

Mobile Sheiks and Shebas, or, The Jazz Age (1925)

'Hold Em', Football number
November 10, 1925
Source: Rich Doty, collector of John Held, Jr. art

Source: Mark Forer

Originally updated by Gatochy

And last but not least (I must get the kids ready for school!), here is Dorothy Parker's Flapper poem ... Barbara Pym will have to wait until a bit later, sorry!

"The Flapper", Dorothy Parker:

The playful flapper here we see,
The fairest of the fair.

She’s not what Grandma used to be,
You might say, au contraire.

Her girlish ways make quite a stir,
Her manners cause a scene,

But there is no harm in her
Than in a submarine.

She nightly knocks for many a goal
The usual dancing men.

Her speed is great, but her control
Is something else again.

All spotlights focus on her pranks.
All tongues her prowess herald.

For which she may well render thanks
To God and Scott Fitzgerald.

Her golden rule is plain enough –
Just get them young and treat them rough.

Some web sources imply that she criticised the flapper fad, but you can still see her sense of poking fun at these remarkable women! And I'll let you in on the F. Scott Fitzgerald reference later, too.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prints Charming

Just a quickie. An all important embroidery update! For the blokes out there, I am sure you will find this really riveting. For the girlies - especially Lisa B - enjoy!

Firstly, must APOLOGISE for the picture quality - I am still using my blackberry and not editing anything.  Promise to improve, once I find a user-friendly camera/downloading system! I know that this comes with blogging territory!

Secondly, these Christmas decorations are incomplete; I still need to stitch the backing on (someone want to lend me a sewing machine?!), cut around them and "stuff 'em proper"!

So, here is the first little cab off the rank, on unbleached linen imported from Russia with love:

You can see that I have tried to use all the stitches I learned at the Prints Charming workshop - chain, running, whipped running, long, back, that filling-in one, and the list goes on! The hardest, for me, is achieving the perfect French Knot! Those bobbles above the heart. Little buggers! I like them quite chunky, but they get loose, won't spin beautifully ... To keep them secure on this one, I actually added some little white beads, forcing the twirls to stay together. Realised that I quite liked the look and idea of the little beads, so added some at the top too - the red diamond shaped ones - as well as teeny, tiny turquoise beads at the very, very top (almost impersonating perfect French Knots!). I had lots of fun with this design - the whole process is so, so addictive!

Second cabbie:

This is the dove I started in the actual workshop at Prints Charming, and I finished her off (not literally, or she would not be happily pictured above) this weekend. Again, embellished the design with a little add-on. A wee, red button for an eye, this time. She still needs to be backed, turned inside-out and stuffed, too. I can feel an afternoon of sewing and stuffing coming on!

What I really love about all this is that you can play with colour themes as you go, add things, practice different stitches and techniques. I may even make some stuff up! And I love the look of blanket stitches, so will figure out a way to learn and use those, too.

I'll find the time to make some more and complete them for some lovely Christmas decorations!

Thanks again to Cath Derksema and Kirsten Junor, for the lovely embroidery lesson a fortnight ago! You certainly made what I fondly refer to as 'my granny activities' fun and memorable!

Night all, am off to bed with Anna K., again! Have a feeling I will be sleeping with her for a while yet! She has just returned to St Petersburg from Moscow, and being spoken about behind her back ... Vronsky, her Moscow admirer, is causing a noticeable stir amongst her circle of friends - he has followed her and keeps on popping up in her social circles. Her "friends' are all gossiping about Anna's new shadow (said Vronsky). She has not even deceived her husband yet, but the thought seems to have entered her head! Delicious!

Night all,


Monday, October 4, 2010

Melbourne Mums

Well, our visit to Melbourne was lovely. Mum and I walked, shopped, enjoyed the exhibition and ended our day with a wonderful meal at Cafe E Cucina on Chapel Street. Allesandro, our waiter, flirted with Mum and she was in heaven!

Ealier, at the European Masters exhibition at the NGV - the main purpose of our flying visit - I saw a Monet I had never seen before! The highlight of my day! It was a painting of lop-sided traditional Dutch homes nestled on the river in Zaandam. The painting was acquired by the Städel Museum in 1904 and the pic below does not do the colours justice. I loved the roof lines, the clever reflection in the water and the green colours. Very Impressionistic, and oh, so Monet!

After the exhibition we wondered over to Gertrude Street – thanks Kate B, for that recommendation! - where we came across some lovely shops and boutiques. The street itself was filled with a few dodgy looking characters, but the range of shops and their originality made the trip very worthwhile. The most memorable were, in no particular order:

Vixen: Not only was the sales assistance absolutely lovely, the colours and lay out of the shop were so, so nice. So lush! Lots of pinks, reds, fuchsias and little things to look at every time you took a step deeper into the shop. I bought this Chinese bowl, which I think is beautiful. It sits on a bit of a stand, like a mini cake stand. It appears to be hand-painted (I am no expert!), with its design slightly off-centre (a bit like Monet's houses ...) and has wonderful colours. I particularly love the yellow flower in the middle ... I served tomatoes on it tonight, so I could enjoy the colour contrasts.

Needless to say, I bought some beautiful Vixen-made lavender filled silk coin purses - I think I bought about 15, I was becoming a tad obsessed - for our wardrobes and a lovely silk brooch. See pic below, taken on the bedroom carpet! I must get a proper camera and stop relying on my blackberry ... but you get the idea!
Couldn't stop there, when I saw the purses, all neatly lined up in the wooden wall cupboard. I bought one by Australian designer Belinda Pieris. It's dark licorice in colour, with a lovely turquoise green patterns stitched over the top ...

Cottage Industry: This was a great find, and one of the fist shops on Gertrude we entered. The owner, Penelope, is a prolific crafter and has created just about everything in the shop. She turns old vintage tea towels and turns them into cushions, knits lots of great hot water bottle covers ... I bought a really cute match box, filled with vintage buttons and ribbons. They only sell them sealed, so it was a great a surprise to unpack on the tram, on the way back. Can't find it right now (shame on me!) as I hid it from the boys … Will post a pic soon, I promise!! [added 13/10: seriously frustrated so have ordered two more and apparently they will be put in the post today. Hopefully I will end up with three little treasures instead of none!!]

Sankofa: - this is another great shop, filled with fair trade and African goodies. I loved (and resisted to buy, because I was going a bit nuts) the dragonfly ornaments in the window but bought some small recycled glass decorations, for Christmas,. or maybe to wear as a necklace ...

Anyway, on returning to the heart of Melbourne we went to a few shops in the Royal and Block Arcades. Again, did some damage and bought some gorgeous jewelry in one and a Babuskha doll in Babushkas (they also have a shop in Darling Harbour, Sydney!). The shop was filled with dolls in every shape and size and mine's a little beauty. She is holding three red strawberries and has six smaller dolls inside her . . . Look at those rose apple cheeks!

Above:  Mine holds three strawberries

Above:  I didn't buy these, just drooled!

With that, I must stop. Heidi is hosting one of my favourite shows - Project Runway!

Sweet dreams,


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Love on a platter

Love on a platter …

I ventured over to Vintage by the Sea, Shabby Chic Market last month (every third Sunday on 43 The Kingsway, Cronulla) and found a treasure trove of doilies (heaven!) at several stalls, some buttons, two lovely flower pots, a hand embroidered little girl’s singlet with French knots and using the blanket stitch, and, as I reluctantly walked out, saw this tea-stained oval plate.

It’s so romantic! It shows a young man on bended knee (with a terrible hair do, those curls, honestly!), wooing a lass (with a slightly better ‘do) wearing a pink dress. She's seated under a tree, whose canopy frames the upper half of the whole plate. In the far distance on the other side of the lake, you can see a little temple structure surrounded by grey (ie, very far, far away!) trees and lots of bushes.

Anyway, he’s playing the lute and is singing to her. I'm guessing it’s a love song, or words to inspire a loving response from her. She’s just sitting there, prettily, looking down, admiring him and is supposedly enchanted. Clearly, a fairy tale romance. I hope that they lived happily ever after!

The fact that the plate has tea stains all over it didn't put me off. It was obviously well loved by a previous tea-loving owner.

Anyway – I turned the plate over, while thinking how lucky it was that the tea stains don’t really disrupt the romantic scene, and à la Antiques Roadshow, gave a thought to its heritage. I found the outline of a star with six points, with the following words below:


There was also an outline of what looks like a row of green numbers, hastily stamped above these words.

Google search response to Paragon (heavily edited by me):  Paragon China was introduced by the Star China Co. in 1903, became part of Royal Doulton in 1972, and continued to produce china until 1991. By 1989, the name and patterns had been absorbed into Royal Albert and by 1992, the Paragon name was discontinued (at 89 years old, not bad!). 

Clearly, all very irresistible for only $4!

Thank you Robyn, I loved your stall!