A long time ago I used to customise jeans in Harrods. This involved lots of ripping, occasional bleaching and always lots of crystal, gold and silver nail heads and an incredible amount of patience. Over a two year period I attached over 4,000,000 beads, crystals, studs, rivets, nail heads to all types of garments. Yesterday Mrs K the owner of Electric Tees called for a little favour…”I’ve a shoot on Monday and need a cap, beanie and headphones blinged up! is there anything you can do? Pleeeeeassee?”
Two hours later the peices were on a bike heading to central London and I was on the sofa with a wet towel covering my head suffering flashbacks to some of the more outlandish Harrods customers requests I completed.
Never again I keep saying. Its a pity my friends have long memories!
Working through the development of the London Denim buttons have selected the core design of the three River Thames. With colour variations and the loose symbolic triangular relationship it forms its the most interesting option of the few hundred I’ve generated. As each button will be hand painted I also like the fact that the design will force quite a tight handed execution. As too thicker line and it looks like a Keith Haring hommage (See the red, yellow and black execution in the picture) and too thinner line and it becomes weaker than my Wife has her tea!
Am now working on varnish and finishing options. All exciting but boring at the same time – how long have I been working on this one detail!!. By this time tomorrow it will be cracked!
I’m a mug snob. I judge EVERYONE by the mug they give me to drink out of. Thus I judge myself by the mugs I give my family and friends to drink from.
The mug rules are quite simple:
1. It must have straight sides
2. It must be the same width at the bottom and top. NO Tapering mugs!
3. Graphics must be plain, stylish and simple and NOT funny (Unless vintage!)
When we picked up Boy from his week with Nanna he greeted us with hugs and a big shout of “I got you presents“. Inwardly I groan never being one to shield my dislike of a gift I don’t like. (Even from a seven year old with a great big smile on his face. I know – BOO HISS ME…. )
So….A bar of chocolate for me – great, inoffensive it was instantly opened and shared then Wife was given the most revolting mug I’ve ever seen. Two colours purple with a graphic which I still see when I close my eyes. It features her name and the following crass little poem:
Wife’s the one whose special A well cool babe its true Because she’s such a groovy gal and funky through and through.
The thought of this abomination on my open kitchen mug shelf turns my tummy. It sits there amongst mugs I’ve taken a lifetime choosing, gloating and being all purple. I can’t bring myself to ‘accidentally‘ break it so have resolved to only give this mug to people I’m upset or cross with. Boys getting it for the next year such will be my revenge for his causing this Abomination to enter my home.
I sat down last night to finally get to grips with the creative direction on the London Denim main jean buttons. Previously I had embossed my London pigeon graphic into the button metal but that execution just feels too heritage. After all while I appreciate that a jean is a heritage product and I honour that heritage with my choice of stitch, the way I cut my pattern, my five pocket western core look and the care and attention I give to denim choice I feel the best way of breathing life into the products personality is through the attention to those visual details which don’t detract from the jeans overall function as…….. a great pair of jeans.
The back pockets, stitch weight, colour, bar tacs have already been decided and this is the last choice. Which ever route I decide to go each of the Waldes buttons i’ve imported from Japan for the purpose will be painted right here in my London Denim studio.
Going away for the weekend and we still have Mango the hamster we are looking after for neighbours. Our first few hours with him were a tiny bit fraught to say the least! (See here) . What to do?
Cracking Idea – Tufty Club over the road will look after him. They are qualified:
1. They used to have a pet Rat.
2. They have two brilliant young boys
3. Mummy Tufty is a whizz with animals
I sent a text – Will you look after Mango? She sent one back Yes? Don’t think I explained what Mango was but thats Tuftys lookout. I got the important YES!
This morning I popped Mango over and sat down for a coffee. Oldest Tufty boy came down for a look and Mango was placed in his walking ball. Our backs were turned two mins and he was off then the ball lid spilled open and Mango made his dash for freedom. He was eventually found behind a box of lego and recovered by Oldest but it did scare the hell out of me again. I left feeling less confident in their abilities.
Then Mummy Tufty sent this picture……with the ominous tag line – THINGS CAN ONLY GET WORSE.
Last year I designed a Kitchen. Found a carpenter and made it. Designing furniture is in our family my Uncle being one of the most clever men in reproduction antique furniture you could hope to meet. I remember helping out at his workshop when I was a kid (Sweeping the floor and goggling at all the naked lady pictures his cabinet makers dressed the walls above their work benches with. My picture of Madonna – Like a Virgin was still hanging there long after I left! – This one here). So armed with an Arts and Crafts ethos of no detail is too small, some advice from Uncle on wood choices I sat down with pen and paper and started to draw. (This after an intense period of web based research).
I live in a flat and I’d lived with how traditional kitchens just don’t work in smaller spaces. They cramp and overpower their surroundings with their high cupboards and block colours. The kitchens themselves become the personality of the room rather than having more symbiotic relationship with the home environment. I don’t like the feel of a kitchen as a sterile white environment I wanted it to feel more like a part of our family, an extension of our bonded personality. In essence the kitchen had to look good when empty but had to come alive and look fantastic when it was in use. A hell of a lot of WANTS and a lot to ask of a kitchen perhaps…..
Practically because of the nature of the space I also needed to create a kitchen that would serve us well for our everyday life. We entertain a hell of a lot I it needed to be versatile enough to transit from family life to dinners with friends to larger parties.
After many scrunched up papers I decided I needed to create four pieces of furniture:
1. A Main Run consisting of dry food storage, everyday use kitchen paraphernalia, hob and sink.
2. Utilities Cupboard for the Oven, Steamer, Toaster and Washers and oven paraphernalia storage
3. Dry food larder
4. Island with Dinner service storage, veg drawer and little what-not drawers
The Island is key to the kitchens flexibility. For parties it moves to the side where the table is and becomes a bar. The table moves to the garden and the hanging lights are hooked up so we can boogie on the the stripped floor. It hosts the main food prep area with a dedicated organic waste bin and also acts as the chat around unit when we have dinner guests.
The utilities cupboard holds the oven and has pull out trays with steamer and toaster. Underneath is the space for the dishwasher and a washing machine.
The main run is half Barraza custom stainless steel sink and hob and half secondary food prep area. Large drawers hold dishes, pots and pans as well as everyday dry foods. Pastas, rices, beans and breakfast cereals. The custom stainless steel run has three integrated hobs and a sink with a sliding cover to provide more workspace when needed. (Or to cover up dirty pots when unexpected guests arrive!)
Because of the furniture nature of the kitchen installation was only a day.
I learn’t a few lessons along the way namely:
1. Tell your carpenter to buy in the drawers backs rather than making them from solid wood. (They are far too heavy) Making the fronts is enough!
2. Research clever door hinges. The right hinge can create more internal space
3. Stainless steel may look warped but when glued down to wood will be fine
4. Make sure you use heat proof glue when creating splashbacks out of laminated
5. Painting matt finish kitchen doors with matt finish clear FLOOR varnish makes them wipe clean and virtually unmark-able!
We’re just about to start a new load of decoration work in the flat and after the fun of designing and building a kitchen from scratch last year I decided to breath life into a little idea I had for the bathroom floor before the team arrives to do the main job.
My 10p floor is made up of 3300 ten pence coins glued with Queen facing right to a floor I levelled, grouted and sealed myself. Four long days of back breaking work but as with all creative works the appropriate amount of effort always yields the right reward. As our small bathroom floor will if a burglar ever calls with a pickaxe! Looking forward to seeing Boys face when he returns from his week away. Thats your inheritance i’ll tell him!