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.

Further 1940s Interiors

My lastest finds!

I had a few quiet moments a month or so ago and decided to go looking for some books. Ok, I'll be honest, I was procrastinating. But now I get to reap the rewards, so procrastinating can be worthwhile after all!

Here are my lastest purchases. Apologies for the bad photos. In fact there would have been more but my battery went flat (the camera's, not mine).

I love Taschen - they're great. Where else can you see an entire decade of magazines assembled in one spot? Domus, the worthy Italian publication, from the 1940s - a strong emphasis on the modern, following on from the International style.  I like it, but I'm more in the mood for this:

I love this book. I know I love it, because I already have it! Ugh, I get impulsive when I see something like this and lunge at it. A simple google search would have shown this is the French version. Anyway, pretty cover!  But then THIS arrived. I haven't got this one, and there is so much in it (including a lot of very formal French, which is stretching my memory, a lot), so it is my current favourite. As I said, my battery died, so not so many pics!

So, yes, I am happy with the fruits of my procrastination. Now I just want everything in these books!

1950s Colour Bonanza

A New Find

I came across this book recently and had to snap it up! I love a good '50s style kitchen, though so often you find photos in old magazines and books and they're in black and white.  But not so in Interiors in Colour by Roger Smithells (1960)!

I love the lino, the vivid, clashing colours, the mix of simple lines with over-the-top ornament.  I still have a tendency, other than the kitchen, for a late 1930s-1940s feel. The theatrical appeals:

Yes, I like a bit of Dorothy Draper too!  I'll stop babbling and show you the rest of the pics from this wonderful addition to my book collection!

This book is a good antidote to the raw, minimal interiors that still seem to be popular. I like natural wood, marble and glass, but sometimes I find stripes, florals and quilted satin (especially if faux!) far more compelling! But each to their own, yes?!

Groupies

Adrian Feint - 1894 - 1971

We were in Sydney for Christmas and we decided to pop into the wonderful Art Gallery of New South Wales. We like, among other things, to seek out the AGNSW's collection of one of our favourite Australian artists, Adrian Feint.

I won't regurgitate his biography here, but the Australian Dictionary of Biography has a nice summary and there's a short (and not particularly helpful) mention on Wikipedia. He was known for his woodblock prints (he studied under Thea Proctor and Margaret Preston) and his commercial work (some wonderful covers and content in Home and Art in Australia magazines). But it is his post war paintings (oil and watercolour) from the 1940s and 1950s which we find especially appealing.

We were happy to see that the AGNSW has acquired a new work:

Adrian Feint - The Striped Petunia (1939)

Adrian Feint - The Striped Petunia (1939)

We didn't find many of his other works on display, as it happened, but we know that the collection includes this painting:

(courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Flowers in Sunlight (1940)

(courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Flowers in Sunlight (1940)

While in Sydney, we were staying in Elizabeth Bay, a picturesque part of Sydney near Potts Point and heavily populated with beautiful art deco apartments. We found that Adrian Feint lived in Elizabeth Bay for some time and so we put on our deer stalker hats and tweed capes and went to find out where.

The AGNSW also has in its collection the following painting, which provided us with a clue because we could see this building from our apartment:

(courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Del Rio, Elizabeth Bay (1944)

(courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Del Rio, Elizabeth Bay (1944)

The Del Rio apartments are glamorous, in an old Hollywood way, and sit nestled on the hill looking down to the bay. It turns out that Adrian Feint lived near the building and we think we pinpointed the address, but we weren't able to confirm this. There is a beautiful park opposite Del Rio, which we understand was vacant at the time the painting was completed. Here are the apartments now:

Glamour lives here.

Glamour lives here.

We understand that Mr Feint moved at some stage to another apartment in Elizabeth Bay, on Elizabeth Bay Road, so we tracked this down too:

Ashdown

Ashdown

We suspect Mr Feint lived in one of the rear apartments as these would have had the view of the bay, which is often featured in his paintings.

So, there you have it, some pleasant and diverting detective work from our holiday.  We hope your break was relaxing too, and we both wish you all the best of the new year!

A Magazine Rack for Cool Cats

This is what I do on days off

We had a few chores to run on the weekend but we made sure we popped into a couple of junk shops along the way.  As you do. We're not going to buy anything, we said.  We have enough stuff, we said. Let's wait, we said. But look at this:

How could we resist? It's only small and has some great 50s graphics on it.  So, here it is, our new magazine rack:

But it's back to work for us.  We will be at the Wattle Street Market next Saturday, and the following Saturday, we will have our final market for the year, at the Makers and Shakers Market. Our store will be closed from 15 December 2016 until after Christmas.  Any orders placed during that time will be processed on 27 December 2016, so if you are buying for Christmas, my advice is to not leave it until the last minute!

A Visit to Baroona

Open Garden Scheme

Last Sunday, it was a miserable day and we needed a bit of cheering up so we checked to see what was happening and came across a property in St Peters open to the public as part of the Open Gardens South Australia scheme.

The day before, at the Wattle Street Market, a lady was standing near our stall and appeared to be in deep thought.  We had a chat and she told me that her daughter had brought her to the market "under false pretences". Apparently, her daughter had convinced her to come out and visit a garden as part of the Open Garden scheme. I suggested that she was in a garden and that it was open, but she remained sceptical. I am happy to report, her daughter was enjoying the market. The garden they were intending to visit was Baroona, in St Peters.

So, Baroona it was. With respect, the garden was lovely, though the cool weather this season held back the prize irises and roses, but it was the house which impressed us. A rambling pile with a tower and windows all over the shop.  There was something untouched about it, free from the painful alterations of the 70s, 80s and 90s (and etc!).  Our information sheet indicated it was built in 1901 in "Federation Art Nouveau style" for a successful wool merchant. Such a lot of atmosphere! Here are some of my snaps - excuse grim sky:

According to our information sheet, the house went into gradual decline until the 1940s when it was purchased (I assume) by the Jehovah's Witnesses for members of their congregation. Gossipy types assumed the new pacifist residents were spies and there was some sort of case which ended up in the High Court where the Jehovah's Witnesses won the right for religious freedom. 

We will keep an eye out for another 'open day' at Baroona, it's worth a visit!

A New Obsession

Barkcloth

That's all I need to say. Barkcloth. I've been poring over barkcloth samples for the last couple of weeks with a shameless enthusiasm and I can't see my excitement in seeing these beautiful fabrics diminishing in any way. 

Recently, a friend of ours made an amazing skirt out of barkcloth with a scene of deer in a forest. It was gorgeous and she looked swell in this dazzling fabric.  So, it got us thinking...

We have a couple of 1950s TV chairs we would like to have reupholstered and so this started my barkcloth journey/pilgrimage/crusade as we wanted something which melded the 1950s design of the chairs with something a bit older, perhaps a 40s style fabric. Barkcloth was used through the 30s to the 50s for a range of uses but particularly upholstery and curtains.

What particularly appealed to us was the exuberant designs, lavish swirls and feathers, make believe flowers, vivid colours in unexpected combinations.  We also loved the gorgeous modern take on toile, bright scenes of waterfalls, ruins, mansions, forests and yachts. How could anyone resist?

So, here is my first purchase - not even for the chairs! No, this will be for cushions, but look at it!

Apologies for the photo, I whipped it out of its envelope and snapped it as soon as possible!

This fabric is the sort used for curtains along the art deco style hotels of South Beach, Miami in the 1930s, so it doesn't come more highly recommended!

Love Cherish Adore

Arcadia

We are proud to be a small part of an exciting new publication which was released this week - Love Cherish Adore. The new publication is aimed at those lucky folk planning their wedding and has been put together by an enthusiastic team led by the lovely Susie, and, importantly, has a focus on South Australian makers, service providers and venues.

Our Arcadia eau de cologne features on a very attractive layout with a range of gift ideas for grooms and the guys in a wedding party.  Thank you Love Cherish Adore for having us onboard for your first magazine and we wish you all the best for the second edition, to be released in autumn.

What on Earth have you been doing?

Drinking tea and eating crumpets!

It might look like it, but it has not been a quiet time here at Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez! I am not the most organized person, so all of my ideas and plans always take a lot longer to come to fruition than those of...EVERYONE else!

So what have I been doing? I've been re-formulating our lipbalms, organising new signage, (by the talented Magic Jelly, of course!) tweaking some of our recipes and making a ton of soap. We have some big markets coming up in August, which I'm really looking forward to. I miss the face to face contact with customers and those chances to show people our products up close. There will be more on the above over the next month or two.

We have introduced a couple of new retailers too. Welcome to the lovely folk at The V-Spot (an online vegan beauty and fashion retailer) and Style House Designs in Aldgate. 

But of course, I have ensured that I have time to relax and think. While doing all this relaxing and thinking, I've been drinking Prince of Wales tea from Leaf Tea, a small (and cute) supplier in Geelong. I haven't had Prince of Wales for ages - I used to drink it a lot in the 80s, before everyone was born. Also purchased in Geelong, a copy of Chandler Burr's 'The Emperor of Scent'. I haven't had a chance to start that yet, but I'm looking forward to getting into it. 

We are also in the midst of some major renovations at chez Shanghai and you'll be shocked to hear that this is stressful! But boohoo me, once it's over, I'll have plenty of space for my supplies and products! Also, more room for tea paraphernalia, books and things.

So, big things are coming for us at Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez, and we're getting ready for it, fueled by tea!

 

For Gardeners

New Plans

Autumn is a great time for gardening. Sweeping the leaves, tidying the shrubs and planting out bulbs. Not good on your hands, though.

from Handbook of Bulbs and Perennials - R.E.Harrison

from Handbook of Bulbs and Perennials - R.E.Harrison

So, I'm working on a hand balm, for gardeners!  Something warming, soothing and moisturising. I have made a couple of sample pots and I'm trying them out. The one thing I'm not sure about is what scent to use.  I have an idea for something, but wondered if anyone out there has a suggested preference? Feel free to comment or message me!

Fontaine de Violette

Introducing our new scent

It has been some time in the making, but I am very happy with the results! Fontaine de Violette is our new fragrance, just released in time for autumn. 

The violet is one of my favourite plants. I say 'plant' and not 'flower' because it is the whole kit and caboodle with the violet! Anyone familiar with the way a violet grows will know how it scents the space around it, even when not in flower. The leaves and roots have a deep, earthy green scent, mixed with a hint of its flower's scent and it is this beautiful combination that I have tried to capture with Fontaine de Violette.

The opening notes are tangy, green citrus, on the dry rather than sweet side. The scent of cut grass and crushed leaves is blended with cucumber notes, which provides a velvety pillow for the floral highlights - iris and violet. Violet is sweet by nature, but I don't find this cloying, it's as fresh as a walk in the woods!

Fontaine de Violette will be available to try and buy at Gathered on Saturday, 30 April and Sunday, 1 May, between 10 and 4. Gathered is in the old Queen's Theatre, Playhouse Lane, off Light Square, Adelaide.  Tester cards will be available in the near future.

The lovely label is by Magic Jelly.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Autumn Revelry

A Weekend of Making and Dreaming

There has been a lot going on at chez Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez in the last month, so it has been a pleasure having a long leisurely weekend, catching up with friends, doing a bit of reading, a bit of gardening and a bit of making.

Autumn is probably my favourite time of year, though by the end of winter, I'm probably saying the same thing about spring. Now the sting of the heat has gone, but there is still warmth in the air and soil, everything seems to rush forth in a last burst of growth before settling down for the winter.

I have been replenishing my stock of perfume this weekend. I'm very happy to say that my perfumes have been quite popular recently and so there is a lot to catch up on. I now have a new batch of Sleepy Lagoon, Nightshade and Arcadia brewing and these will be ready for our next market, Gathered, at the end of April.

Also, I will finally be able to release our new scent - Fontaine de Violette. I have written about this new scent previously, and I am so happy with it! I can't wait to share it. To give you a bit of a mood for Fontaine de Violette, here's something which I used to love to read in my younger days, which reminds me of this time of year, is dreamy and best of all, is a pleasure to read out as it trips along your tongue so smoothly - the whole poem is perfect:

'From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
That whenever a March-wind sighs
He sets the jewel print of your feet
In violets as blue as your eyes,
To the woody hollows in which we meet
And the valleys of Paradise.'

From Come into the Garden, Maud - Alfred Lord Tennyson

I'm also reading Daniel Chamovitz's "What A Plant Knows - a field guide to the senses".  Naturally, it's a fascinating read and I love the chapter on "What a Plant Smells"! If you've ever wondered why an avocado ripens when next to a banana, here is the answer - and it might surprise you! It's an easy read, but one which makes you think.

Well, I hope you're enjoying a lazy long weekend like I am!