A Ponder and a Cup of Tea

Where to next?

If there is one thing you can be certain of, it’s that nothing really stays the same. This can be good (learning, adventure!) or not so good (ugh, getting old). At the moment, I feel like I’m at a bit of a cross roads with Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez. Where to take it next?

This would be a great metaphor for what is next but for that annoying gate…

This would be a great metaphor for what is next but for that annoying gate…

We have had so much fun with the business, the wonderful people we have met, especially at markets, preparing exciting new products and sharing the love for natural, cruelty free products. This isn’t a farewell and goodbye, by the way, I’m merely pondering how I can improve the business, make it easier for people to have access to our (I say) wonderful products.

I do have plans to bring the perfumes back. It’s a lot of work and it’s very exciting. I have also been very fortunate to have developed relationships with retailers which has extended our reach beyond what I had hoped for. I hope to rejig the website (well, thanks to the talented illustrator/designer Karena Colquhoun) and offer more for our customers. I hope you will join me on that step up to better things!

Meanwhile, I have to have a cup of tea. I have recently come across some tea which, for fans of scent, tea, beauty and sophistication (is that you?), is of great importance. I want to keep this to myself, the more for me etc, but I can’t help but sing like a canary! You probably have come across the wonderful teas of The Tea Catcher. He appears at various markets, is stocked by quality cafes and is at Plant 4 most Saturdays. Well, here are a couple of teas he has in stock, which are so subtle and beautiful, it’s a pleasure to experience.

Golden Snail tea on the finest china the 1980s ever produced.

Golden Snail tea on the finest china the 1980s ever produced.

Each of the following teas seem to fall into a similar category (I’m not an expert, of course). I love oolong teas, smokey, malty and sweet. So here are a few I have acquired recently:

Golden Snail - organic Dian Hong: quite a strong tea, which can be re-steeped to extend your tea-procrastination time. A lovely colour, and classically malty and rich.

Fragrant Gardenia - Huang Zhi Ziang Dancong: a lightly roasted oolong. More on the delicate side, but as its nickname suggests, it has this amazing yet almost elusive scent of white florals. Ever so slightly indolic, which some people would not like (think heady jasmine, oriental lily), it is distinctly floral, but this is not a flavoured tea. Don’t rush this tea, just experience it like you would looking at the sky while lying on the cool grass. A true beauty!

Beautiful Golden Brows - Jin Jun Mei: now this has that almost creamy maltiness, a tiny touch of smoke that I love so much but it also has an exquisitely delicate rose like perfume. Again, not flavoured or scented, this tea is a marvel!

Thanks The Tea Catcher for sharing so many wonderful teas!



Junk Shop Finds

Hurrah!

I often lament the loss of antique shops, the pleasure of the hunt, the unexpected find. But today was a treat!

july-2019-2.jpg

Today, we found this! It was a described as a woodblock print, but we suspect it’s a lithograph. It’s quite a good size, at least 60cm square but not in great condition. She has water staining on the edge, but don’t we all? She’s still wonderful.

The print is signed Sikker Hansen ‘40. A quick search finds a Danish illustrator by the name Aage Sikker Hansen (1897-1955) whose other work seems consistent with this print.

We are happy to have found her, it’s like the old days after all! She now lives in our hallway, looking glamorous and bored. I know how she feels.

july-2019.jpg



Australian Outdoor Furniture, 1949

Yes, please.

Singapore Sling on a swing.

Singapore Sling on a swing.

I love vintage metal garden furniture. It isn’t the most practical, usually being made from iron, which rusts and requires repainting quite often. But iron allows for some fancy shapes, curves and twists which all add interest to garden furniture. In the 30s and 40s, they also used a lightweight aluminium alloy (added copper) called Duralumin (don’t ask me to say it, it’s just one of those words which I find hard to grasp). I’m not sure how durable Duralumin is, I know aluminium can deteriorate, so maybe it wasn’t used for garden furniture for very long. Who knows.

Anyway, I recently rediscovered an old magazine in a draw - the Australian House and Garden, from December 1949. A humble magazine, printed on news print, featured a lot of advertisements, articles and reviews of household goods. This addition has a whole pile of metal garden furniture in it. As we say farewell to summer, here’s a final look at the joys of outdoor living. Enjoy!

Sit up straight.

Sit up straight.

I’ll take it with the stripes, thanks.

I’ll take it with the stripes, thanks.

The whimsical dining room from a two storey Melbourne house. Sigh.

The whimsical dining room from a two storey Melbourne house. Sigh.

We had the good fortune to buy a curly metal standard lamp recently!

We had the good fortune to buy a curly metal standard lamp recently!

All furniture should have wheels.

All furniture should have wheels.

Writing letters in the garden.

Writing letters in the garden.

Yes, I really covet this.

Yes, I really covet this.

Quiet

A short tribute

The Quangle Wangle’s Hat

I

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody ever could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

II

The Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, -
”Jam; and jelly; and bread;
”Are the best of food for me!
”But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree,
The plainer than ever it seems to me
”That very few people come this way,
”And that life on the whole is far from gay!”
Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.

III

But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,
Mr. and Mrs. Canary;
And they said, - “Did ever you see
”Any spot so charmingly airy?
”May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?
”Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that !
”O please let us come and build a nest
”Of whatever material suits you best,
”Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”

IV

And besides, to the Crumpetty Tree
Came the Stork, the Duck and the Owl;
The Snail and the Bumble-Bee,
The Frog, and the Fimble Fowl;
(The Fimble Fowl, with a Corkscrew leg);
And all of them said, - “We humbly beg,
”We may build our homes on your lovely Hat, -
”Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
”Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”

V

And the Golden Grouse came there,
And the Pobble who has not toes -
And the small Olympian bear, -
And the Dong with a luminous nose.
And the Blue Baboon, who played the flute, -
And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute, -
And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat, -
All came and built on the lovely Hat
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

VI

And the Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, -
”When all these creatures move
”What a wonderful noise there’ll be!”
And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon
They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,
On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,
And all were as happy as happy could be,
With the Quangle Wangle Quee.

Edward Lear

I can only read this poem with the sound of my father’s voice in my head. He read it me, to all of us, when we were young, and it says so much about his love of poetry, the whimsical, word-play and sharing.

We found a box of his poems hidden away in a cupboard. He would write mainly for events, farewells and celebrations; always generous and funny tributes to their subjects.

My father drew, painted, whistled, sang, sculpted copper bas-reliefs, made furniture and toys. He turned wood, welded steel and he built his family a home - all of it.

His creative and adventurous spirit has influenced all in his family, and like the Quangle Wangle Quee, he made room for us all to create in our own ways.

When he died last week, after a slow decline, the loss of this strong, handsome and talented man struck hard. But though I am heavy with grief, I felt like making this short tribute to him, on the platform of my own creative outlet. I keep it short, I don’t want to be mawkish or sentimental, but I wanted to quietly say how proud I am of my father, how much I loved him and how much I will miss him.

My lovely folks

My lovely folks

Summer Holidays

Happy New Year, readers!

So, what have I been doing? Well, not a lot really, just rolling around and blissfully losing track of time! Which is just what I wanted. We were away over Christmas in sunny Queensland (in some lovely rainforest, see below), but more recently, I went for a little trip locally to the beaches down south.

I’ve always been fond of Kingston Park, a north-facing beach (unusual for Adelaide), though it is sadly losing its appeal with some pretty ugly oversized lumps being constructed. Fortunately, they’re unlikely to touch one of my favourite places to visit there, a terraced group of apartments, probably from the late 1950s or 1960s. Just looking at them makes me hum “I Found My Love In Portofino”! So breezy, look at them:

I think Sophia Loren lived here once. No.

I think Sophia Loren lived here once. No.

Apart from that, I have been relaxing at home, watching the sun rise and sun set with our feline master, Chickpea:

The future is MINE

The future is MINE

But, the holidays are nearly over and I have started to prepare for the year. I have nearly run out of all soap in our store, so I’ve started in earnest, today making a batch of Pink Moon Face Soap. This won’t be available for four weeks. I have a lot of plans for this year, I have some new products to come out and I can’t wait to tell you about them!

I hope 2019 is a good one for you, all the best for you and yours!

Mark

I’m at home with palms.

I’m at home with palms.


Victoriana

But no lace!

It’s sad to see the decline of antique shops. I used to spend a lot of time on Sunday afternoons, going through what seemed to be endless rooms of antiques, vintage and junk. I guess eBay changed that somewhat, plus changing tastes and so on.

Still, there are places you can go to browse and recently we acquired a new thing for our house - a Victorian pressed glass bonbon dish! This might seem odd, as I’m always banging on about 1930s this or 1940s that, but there is a link. In the late ‘30s, some designers turned away from the somewhat hostile modernist aesthetic (think Bauhaus, Le Corbusier etc) and picked through the wealth of beauty found in the baroque, the rococco, and the Victorian.

It became fashionable to have the odd bit of Victoriana, usually something slightly grotesque, like ceramic vases in the form of a lady’s hand holding a horn, or large twirling shells on piles of coral. There’s something a bit whimsical about such things, though I admit perhaps a bit arch. But there you are.

So here is our new bonbon dish, and following it, is a Royal Worcester vase, which I purchased online a while back (what was I saying about declining antique shops?).

WH Heppel & Co, 1875

WH Heppel & Co, 1875

Royal Worcester, late 19th century

Royal Worcester, late 19th century


Home, Sweet Home

Getting back on track

The only spot not covered in boxes

The only spot not covered in boxes

We have finally moved back into our house after an extended renovation and I couldn't be happier. Unpacking was a mix of fun and drudgery - fun because there were things I hadn't seen for ages and it was like buying or receiving them all afresh!  Drudgery because, you know, we carry too much stuff. I tried to apply the 'handling each item and seeing what it gives me' thing, but I was more keen to stuff everything away asap and get on with our lives.  Still, I did discard a couple of things, which I'm proud of, and I will continue to cull once we're settled.

And today, I started making again!  It feels like ages and it was such a breeze to get everything ready, made and cleaned up. Just as well, I have a lot to catch up on!  We are booked in to do the Gathered market in August and The Vegan Affair in September.  I will start booking into other markets as they pop up.

In other news, I understand there is an auction to be held next Sunday offering some wonderful items designed by the likes of Jacques Adnet, Andre Arbus and Gilbert Poillerat. Sigh.  Aside from the fact that there is no way I would be able to get my hands on any of the goods on offer because a. the auction is in Rouen, France and b. I don't have a million euros; the auction makes me feel sad. The auction comprises light fittings and furniture from the Palais des Consuls in Rouen, which was built in the mid 50s following the wartime destruction of the previous building.

The Palais des Consuls  was designed by four architects (P Chirol, R Flavigny, F Herr and R Pruvost) and was sumptuously decorated internally by some of France's finest.  The light fittings are incredible, beautiful ironwork, vast bas-relief plaques.  And they're all being taken out and either sold off or rehoused who knows where.  Of course it's Rouen's business, but really, could the local government not live with the spectacular fittings in the more public areas and just renovate the offices?  Such a loss for Rouen, I say.   Here's a pic of the Palais, and an example of some tiny little torcheres you can snap up at the auction:

Source: France 3 Normandie Gorgeous!

Source: France 3 Normandie
Gorgeous!

Source: auctioneers guery-encheres.com Swoon! But you can see why they would want to rip all this rubbish out.

Source: auctioneers guery-encheres.com
Swoon! But you can see why they would want to rip all this rubbish out.

Also, speaking of loss, the Glasgow School of Art!  Ugh, what were the chances? Two devastating fires in 4 years? We had the good fortune of visiting the school some years ago before the fires and, well, I can't really add anything, but Glasgow, the world in fact, has lost a monumental work of art.

Study Day at Carrick Hill

Adrian Feint - the man inside the cover

Carrick Hill currently has an exhibition on the Australian artist, Adrian Feint. The exhibition has a few examples of the artist's work, including book plates and oil paintings. It also explores the links with a number of other artists in Sydney during the years between the wars and features a couple of portraits of the gentleman artist, including this one by Thea Proctor:

The original does not feature the reflections from the glass!

The original does not feature the reflections from the glass!

We were fortunate enough to also attend a study day at Carrick Hill where a number of speakers discussed different aspects of the artist's work, life and associations.  We had a ball, of course! The folk from Carrick Hill put on a splendid show.

The highlights for me were the talk given by the Head Archivist at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Dr Steven Miller, on 'Adrian Feint among his peers', and later in the day, Dr Georgina Downey (University of Adelaide) speaking about 'Stylish Homes'. All of the speakers were very interesting, of course!

Dr Miller has previously published a book called "Degenerates and Perverts", and as fun as that sounds, it is actually about Australian culture between the wars with a focus on the 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art. I have put in an order for this book of course and I hope it's as full of interesting detail as Dr Miller's talk!

Dr Downey's talk was largely based on fresh research, specifically for this event, and focused on Adrian Feint's involvement with that wonderful Australian magazine 'Home' and also rare insight into the artist's own residences. I hope Dr Downey takes this further and publishes the research!

There was no chance of eyes glazing over at this event and we ensured we had an extra swell time with a drop of sparkling white! I highly recommend a trip up the hill to Carrick Hill to see the exhibition, it's a charming and inspiring place, just look at this:

'Hibiscus' - Adrian Feint 1945

'Hibiscus' - Adrian Feint 1945

Another lovely thing that happened this day was we bumped into a lovely customer who told us of her own plans to start up selling her own creations! Great to hear!

And finally, here's me at the first time we visited the exhibition a few weeks ago. Maybe I am enjoying a glass of sparkling white or maybe not, it's not important...

Ha!

Ha!

French Bronze 1930s - 1950s

A Small Collection

We have recently purchased some fittings for our home and we wanted to use vintage fittings to soften the newness of everything else. Adding vintage details seems to make a room more lived in, avoiding a showroom effect.

It was fun hunting down various bits and pieces, though of course everything we found which was, in our minds, perfect, cost more than the house itself. But we found that we didn't have to compromise too much in finding some lovely things which suited our budget and our taste in French 1940s interiors.

Choosing a warmer palette than usual, we chose a couple of bronze light fittings, which are warmly golden with the patina of age.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Maison Petitot started in the Paris in the 1870s, but it is probably best known for its art deco light fittings from the 20s and 30s. Specialising in bronze and other metal fittings, it teamed up with a number of fancy glass manufacturers like Sabino and Mullers Freres for the shades.   I love this fixture because of the heavy stylised drapery.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

We also needed a couple of sconces and we found these bronze and glass (I wonder if the glass is actually lucite because they never feel cold like glass, and also, lucite was a modern and chic material to use at the time) sconces from Maison Leleu (I should say attributed to as they aren't signed).  I wondered whether to clean these up a bit by polishing them but it turns out that they have been lacquered (whether at the time of manufacture or since, I don't know) and to clean them risked damaging them. It's fine, of course, I'll take the patina.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

My final purchase was a small key plate by the Russian/French sculptor, Vadim Androusov. Androusov was known for his terracotta, stone or wood figures from the 1920s but later created bronze fixtures for grand cabinet makers like Andre Arbus and Jean Pascaud. While I am waiting for the people from xlotto to send me a giant cheque, I am not in a position to purchase any such furniture, so when I saw this little key plate, I was more than happy to buy it! It's a small thing, I know, but it's a lovely piece of sculpture in its own right and resonates 1940s-1950s French interior design.

Who Wants to Live in a 1949 Farming Pavilion? Me.

Optimistic Architecture

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

Some things are designed to give such joy. I came across this small photo of a pavilion in an old advertising industry journal. A quick check reveals it was designed by Sir Misha Black (1910-1977) on behalf of the Hulton Press 'Farmers' Weekly' magazine for the Bath & West Agricultural Show in Bristol, 1949.

It has all the elements I love - stripes, white metal fretwork, stairs, angled roofs, glamour! So yes, I could live in this, even with the flags (which in my house would each be a primary colour and green for the fourth, with a central motif, like a crown, a pine cone, a palm leaf and a trident. Or something).  And the stripes? Maybe cadmium yellow and white! It's a happy looking building.

 

A Sirk Moment

Daydreaming after Christmas

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a restful break. I decided to do absolutely nothing during the few days after Christmas, which is just what I needed!

One of the 'nothings' I've been doing is watching movies! It's odd, but I usually feel like I don't have the time, and I'm restless, flitting around doing one thing or another, but this time, I just allowed myself the time to watch movies, and do nothing else.  We re-watched one of my favourites, All That Heaven Allows, with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman, directed by Douglas Sirk and released in 1955. I love melodrama, I love the saturated colours of this film, the unpleasant children, the gossips and scandal, I love it all.  The sets are fabulous, of course. All very WASPish and New England-y, but it has its charm.  Anyway, I'll leave you to look it up and find out more about it.

So, I have also been going on some nice walks (mainly to walk off all that food...), and I have come across a couple of houses which remind me of All That Heaven Allows in that cosy, comfortable way. Here are a couple of my snaps:

Make mine Pimm's.

Make mine Pimm's.

OMG they've only got  one  porte-corchere!

OMG they've only got one porte-corchere!

Wishing you all the best for the new year, and I look forward to bringing you more Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez joy in 2018!

1950s Dream Venue

Wouldn't it be nice...

I don't know why but some places just really grab my imagination. I might see some building and my heart skips a beat, making my pupils as big as my eyes. I go away but the ghost of this building will haunt the dusty vaults of my mind. That's how I came to live in our current house - I saw it one day and bought it the next. It was the atmosphere; it was easy to see what it could be (under the sad neglect) because its atmosphere just sings! 

And so it was, when I passed this building in Plympton. I have seen it before, and I read something about it a while back, so when I saw it again, it easily occupied my imagination.

It's hard to get the whole feel of it in a photo. Huge curved picture windows, balconies, terrazzo steps.  And the circular window you see above is a sort of addition to the side of the building and comprises about 4 shops, which extend down a side road (angled windows, terrazzo, but sadly in need of love).  Inexplicably, someone has painted this a filthy grey colour.  I can't even imagine what possessed them to do this, it looks truly awful.  The condition of the whole building is tired.

But, tantalizingly, I remember the bits of information I read about it ages ago (and I have since been unable to locate that source). I remember a photo of the place in the 1950s, the main building appeared to be a cafe or icecream parlour, there were striped umbrellas in the garden in front, under the palms.  Of course, I could be wrong, but I'm sure it was this place!

You can see the remains of what appears to be a shallow pool.  In the photo above, near the bins, stands a black broken statue: a seal!  There's curly ironwork and crazy paving (heart beating, pupils dilating...).

Here's a view from the front. Gorgeous double front doors. It's such a glamorous building. It appears to currently be divided up into flats. If only someone had the imagination and, well, probably most importantly, the money, to restore this place. Can you imagine it as a restaurant, with a beer garden out the front, terraced in crazy paving and shaded by yellow and white striped umbrellas?  Sigh. Still, at least it still stands, so there is always the possibility of it being fully re-loved.