Cloth Books: Ex Libris Handmade

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I love these handmade cloth books by Victoria van der Laan. Victoria has been making things since 1976 and has an etsy shop selling her charming custom-made books for babies, kids and adults. I'm very impressed with her range of topics - there are books on science, dinosaurs, woodland creatures, musical instruments, fruit, mammals and transport to name just a few! Each book features interesting and non-traditional applique images as well as having a stylish typographic front cover. If you want a personalised book, Victoria can also embroider a child's (or adult's) name on the front, making a wonderful and very unique gift.

Block Shop

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While living in India studying Mughal miniature painting, Lily Stockman encountered The Chhipa's, a family of master printers based in Bagru. Enlisting the help of her sister Hopie, a Harvard business graduate, together they founded Block Shop. The company make beautiful hand printed scarves inspired by the minimalist aesthetic of the North American desert. Their textiles are printed one at a time with carved wooden blocks and natural vegetable dyes using the same techniques that the Chhipa family have used for 350 years.

The New Craftsmen

The New Craftsmen is an agency dedicated to promoting the work of British artisans who create high-end products which tell an interesting story. This includes furniture by Gareth Neal, textiles by Ptolemy Mann and rare sheepskins from the Isle of Auskerry. The sheepskins are from a tiny, remote island in Scotland's Orkney archipelago, where the makers and their flock of North Ronaldsay sheep are the only residents. There are only three flocks of this rare breed left in Orkney and they are most notable for their unusual and unique caramel, silver, chocolate and slate colourings, as well as their diet of seaweed. The skins are softened with rainwater and washed in huge sinks which were originally used for lighthouse keepers's laundry before being dried in a mangle and hung on driftwood frames. Only a limited number are produced each year and they are now available via The New Craftsmen. For this week only, the agency has a pop up shop in Mayfair, London, and plans for the future include a possible permanent physical space as well as an online shop.

Hooked Wool Drawings

I love a bit of textile art so these hooked wool drawings by Altoon Sultan are right up my street. These three pieces are part of a twenty-four part series in which linen is painted with egg tempera then stitched with hand-dyed wool. I find the contrast of the geometric forms on slubby linen combined with paint and embroidery intriguing. I particularly like the different layers of texture and the three-dimensional nature of the embroidery.

Jess Brown Dolls

I am slightly obsessed with dolls at the moment as I want to buy Wren a doll for Christmas. It will be her first doll so I want it to be special. I've been looking into all the different options available - rag doll, vinyl doll, Waldorf doll, soft-bodied doll - the list is pretty long and confusing! One thing has become apparent though and that is that most dolls are weird, ugly creatures that I don't want in my home! This is certainly not the case with Jess Brown's beautiful rag dolls though. I love their wide starry-eyed gaze and heart-shaped mouth, their tea-stained bodies and their cashmere hair cropped close to their heads. Jess's dolls are handmade from scraps of high quality vintage fabric and if I was buying a doll for myself (not a one and a half year old) these are definitely what I would choose.

Woven Branches

The new issue of 3191 Quarterly is out next week and features a branch weaving project. I haven't seen anything quite like this before, but I love it! I'd definitely like to have a go and think a small collection of different branch weaves pinned to a wall would look amazing. The journal, created by MAV + SCB who share a love of "art and craft, simple things and a well-lived domestic life" also features cooking with seeds, collecting leaves and a day trip in the Columbia River Gorge - sounds like my kind of magazine. It comes in a beautifully photographed, printed and bound limited edition of 1000. You can pre-order your copy now...