Friday February 18th 2011, 5:51 pm

The Selvedge Spring Fair 2011

Just to let you know that I will be exhibiting at The Selvedge Spring Fair on Saturday the 2nd April 2011 at St Augustine’s Church Hall, Langdon Park Road, London N6 5QG. 10am – 5pm Entrance £2.50 I will be selling textiles from The Laundry, vintage French jam jars as well as some of my homemade preserves. My talented and creative friend Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell will also be bringing along some of her amazing papercut designs and we are working on some really special labels for labelling preserves which wont be like any others you have come across before. I will tell you more nearer the time, but in the meantime, do make a note of the date in your diary. See the Selvedge website following the link to see who else will be there.

Thursday March 11th 2010, 9:04 am

a gaggle of geese down Laundry Lane

I am always on the look out for the perfect washing line to photograph and have a list of locations lined up. A bit like a bus tour of celebrities homes in Hollywood, I could take you on a tour of the Forest of Dean to show you my favourite washing lines. There’s the one that is tied directly onto the front of a Georgian house, that in spring is completely covered with wisteria. There is another strung across a well tended small holding; as the year progresses the laundry blows in the breeze above a carpet of cabbages and kale. Another favourite, is in the dip of a valley, so I’m sure that I will one day be able to aim and focus my camera and capture the washing line surrounded by the rising valley beyond. For that location I am looking for a Walton’s style (as in John Boy Walton) pick up truck to be parked in a particular spot and the yellow climbing rose that grows against a little greenhouse at one end of the washing line needs to be in flower.
You see the essence of this is that you really do have to be ready to capture the moment. Great landscape photographs are sometimes taken at a lucky moment, the photographer just happened to be there, see the picture and shoot. But more often than not, the image was the result of a well planned operation. The photographer saw the location and over time planned how to get the perfect shot, studied the way the light moves across the terrain, worked out the exact place to set up the tripod, what time in the morning they would need to set off to get there before the sun comes up etc. Sometimes the opportunity will be a one and only.
I’ve had a few that have got away through my own inability to get up and go. Like the wisteria clad house that year after year gave us locals a spectacular display. It was always in my mind to knock on their door and get myself ready to take the definitive washing line shot, but other events were more pressing so it would be left for another year. Then they flippin-well repointed and renovated the house which meant the wisteria was torn down. I feel sick just thinking about it, even now.
I often point out these locations to friends as we drive around. For some reason they are never as excited as me and sometimes completely ignore me, so perhaps the bus trip for tourists idea wont have many takers. The jist of this story, told in a laundry themed way, is carpe diem; sieze the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future. If you don’t get of your fat arse now they’ll rip down the wisteria and you’ll be left with regrets.

washing line and summer house

Tuesday July 01st 2008, 1:08 am

5400 Bird-shaped clothes pegs from The Laundry

NIPpaysage are four landscape architects in Montréal whose striking projects currently include a garden, commissioned by Hydro-Quebec electricity company, which is part of the International Garden Festival at les Jardins de Métis, Reford Gardens in Quebec. The garden is bounded by fences made of parallel strung electricity wires on which perch thousands of birds to illustrate the many uses of hydro wires in the landscape. The Laundry supplied the 5400 bird pegs required for the installation. Thank you to Mathieu Casavant at NIPpaysage for sending me this photograph.
Find out more about the festival here.
The International Garden Festival is on until October 5th.

Tuesday April 15th 2008, 11:32 pm

zinnia textile print from The Laundry

I’ve just found a box full of zinnia seed packets that I bought several years ago to give away to promote The Laundry’s zinnia bedlinen. I have kept the box in the bottom of the fridge for most of that time. I love these flowers as they grow in such great colour combinations from brassy yellow to burnt orange to mucky pink.

I haven’t had a great success growing zinnias myself though each year I get that bit better at it and am hoping to crack it this year. The trouble is that slugs absolutely love the seedlings so you need to either be very lucky, or more likely use a combination of vigilance and cunning to outwit them. Last years attempt did result in a handful of lovely blooms but the leaves below them weren’t anything to be proud of and to reach that stage I had started the seeds off in pots, planted them out, each one in a plastic tube made from a recycled water bottle edged with copper tape, positioned them close to slug traps that needed to be replenished with beer at regular intervals and sprinkled organic slug-away, slug-off or whatever the acceptable eco friendly slug pellets are called, on the soil surrounding them. Granted it was a very wet summer, so that didn’t help, but surely it’s not meant to be quite that difficult.

Now seven months on, the agony seems to be but a distant memory and this year I am again visualising vases of zinnias filling my house by late summer ’08 and a zinnia supply so plentiful I’ll be giving bunches away to my neighbours as well.

First things first though. Are these seeds even worth bothering with? Not knowing whether the seeds would still be viable after 5 or more years I thought it best to do a viability test to decide whether chucking them on the compost heap would be a better option. Luckily zinnia seed, if kept under suitable conditions, can stay viable for 7 or more years.

To test them I took a piece of paper kitchen roll and sprayed it with water so it was somewhere between damp and wet, then placed 20 seeds, evenly spaced out, on the towel. Multiples of 10 make it easy to work out the viability percentage but obviously if you don’t have many seeds to begin with use fewer.

The kitchen roll was then carefully rolled up, the roll placed in a sealed polythene bag, the bag placed in a warm airing cupboard, in the dark. That was on Saturday. Today, 3 days later, I thought I’d have a look see how they were doing, and lo and behold when I unrolled the towel, all 20 seeds had germinated. This is a really impressive result considering that seeds are supposed to lose significant viability as each year passes. So the seeds are raring to go.