Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Lucky Lucky Lucky Me!

This dress was waiting for me when I went charity shopping last week. It wasn't hard to spot, a beacon of colour and grooviness in a sea of manky stretch jersey and feeble High Street prints that generally dominate the rails of chazzas up and down the land.

The previous owner had made some odd adjustments, opening up the side seams and adding a two inch strip of black polyester on each side and taking the hem up so much that it was midi length (fortunately she'd just sewn the hem and not chopped it off). It took the best part of a day to restore the maxi to her previous glory. The poor thing was so dusty that the colour looked completely different after a spin in the washing machine. 

Polly Peck was a small British fashion house which gained prominence in the Swinging Sixties with Sybil Zelker's bold designs on ground-breaking modern fabrics. The label was bought out by disgraced businessman, Asil Nadir in the 1980s and collapsed in 1991 with debts totalling £1.3bn. 

WEARING: Vintage 1960s Miss Polly for Polly Peck maxi (British Heart Foundation), Orange fedora (new, retail), Lamani coin belt worn as a necklace (India, 2000), Clarks' Orinoco Club boots and 1970s tooled leather bag (both eBay) 

 After finding a polo neck that perfectly matched my hat the previous week, what were the chances of finding a dress in the same shop seven days later!  I wonder what'll be waiting for me this week? People often tell me that I have great charity shop luck but the secret is to go regularly and with a clear head. Don't go with a wish list in mind, you'll see past the potential of everything else in the shop in your mission to accomplish wardrobe nirvana and more often than not miss some chazza shop gold. Do I need another vintage maxi dress? Of course not. I've probably got enough dresses to wear a different one every day for months but that's the rail I always peruse first. 

Talking of lucky, I thought I'd share my birthday presents. I have been spoilt.

This spoon and bangle were made from the bombs that devastated Laos between 1964 and 1973.  Something beautiful from something so ugly. 

Do you love Inspector Montalbano as much as I do? Here's the entire back catalogue of Luca Zingaretti's other work. I'll be fluent in Italian by the time I leave for India!

William de Morgan porn!

Did I ever mention my teenage love for Blondie? I have every piece of vinyl they ever issued. Looking forward to reading this.

I've been meaning to try some beeswax wraps for ages. I've got no excuse now.


I'm a coffee table book! Thanks to lovely Lynn & Philip for creating this masterpiece!

Artisan made beachy necklaces from my favourite fair trade company.

 Jon managed to track down a vintage silk sari. I'll be taking this to a tailor in India, I have a plan!

A pewter ring stand ('Scuse the cat hair, it's an unavoidable evil in our house).

Ethnic textile heaven.

This bottle of Rosé will be coming to the curry house with me on Xmas Day (I know, aren't I restrained?) It did come accompanied by a box of baklava but that didn't last long enough for a photo!

I've heard great things about Snag tights, a British independent company who make tights in a variety of sizes and leg lengths. I'll let you know how I get on with them.

This ceramic jug should be full of blooming crocus by the Spring.

My birthday card from Curtise is a piece of original artwork from an arts project she supports. I've already framed it and hung it in the bathroom.

She also sent me the blue maxi skirt and the pansy print dress I'm wearing below.

Aren't I a lucky girl? All I need now is for Jon to finish the bathroom and I can use the shower for the first time in three years! Maybe there'll be news about the bathroom by my next post (or maybe we'll be running for the hills if the general election doesn't go our way tomorrow....arghhhh!)

See you soon.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Out on the Tiles - Visiting The Jackfield Tile Museum

This year's birthday adventure took us to Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Our mission? To experience tile heaven at the Jackfield Tile Museum. 

Jackfield is housed within the premises of Craven Dunnill, a working tile factory which still produces decorative tiles on-site. The museum showcases the British decorative tile industry between 1840 to 1960, the era when Craven Dunnill and neighbours Maw & Co were the biggest names in the business. Some of the tiles in my collection (and indeed now gracing our bathroom sink) were made by Craven Dunnill and Maw & Co.

Jackfield is one of the oldest known ceramic production centres in Shropshire, believed to date back to the sixteenth century.

Craven Dunnill gave up their premises at Jackfield in 1950 moving to the nearby town of Bridgnorth (where we visited with Ann & Jos in the summer HERE) and the buildings were used by a company making iron and bronze castings. In 1983 with the aid of an Architectural Heritage Fund grant the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust purchased the site. In 1989 tile manufacture restarted at Jackfield and in 2001 Craven Dunnill took over the business. 

In 2014 eighty-year old Londoner John Scott donated his collection to Jackfield. He'd been collecting antique tiles since the 1960s and had amassed over 1,500 including those by prestigious makers such as Christopher Dresser, Pugin and William de Morgan . At his home John had displayed his collection on walls and shelves and the museum decided to showcase the donations in a similar way. The museum is unable to display the Scott Collection in its entirety and the collection is regularly rotated.

Jackfield's galleries are an antique tile lover's paradise. The museum has rescued tiles from disused or modernised buildings throughout the UK and faithfully recreated the premises they once adorned. These Covent Garden tiles greeted Victorian commuters on the London Underground.

A Victorian butcher's shop.

A 19th Century church interior.

A 1930s sitting room.

A Victorian pub (there used to be loads of bars like this in Walsall when I first started frequenting drinking establishments in the 1980s!)

And a public lavatory to die for!

These friezes once graced the walls of a London children's hospital in the 1930s.

The museum's collection are clearly labelled by both period and style and are displayed in the beautifully light room in which the tiles were originally produced.

I love those duck egg blues from the Art Deco era.

  But my heart belonged to the stunning Arts & Crafts ceramics produced by William de Morgan and distributed by William Morris.

This series of tiles were designed by Salvador Dali.

The John Scott collection is breathtaking. 

Pride of place is Antelope by William de Morgan (c.1880), a panel of forty two six inch tiles, rescued from a once grand house in London that had fallen into disrepair. Scott commissioned an expert to recreate the broken tiles and the result is spectacular. The museum displayed it as John Scott had done, above the fireplace in his living room.

These tiles are John Scott's top ten favourites from his collection. I'm not surprised, just look at these colours!

After drooling over the exhibits we left Jackfield for a stroll around Ironbridge. Thankfully we'd had our colour fix in the tile museum as the landscape was distinctly grey yesterday. Below is the famous Iron Bridge, from which the town gets its name. It was opened on New Year's Day in 1781.

 After a through drenching we made the half-hour journey home to dry off. Last night was spent in the traditional birthday fashion with friends, beer and a curry. I didn't take my camera out with me but luckily a local photographer spotted us and asked if he could take a photo of the Lizs and I for the Walsall Facebook page.

Fifty-three is looking good so far!

Jackfield Tile Museum
 Salthouse Road, Telford TF8 7LJ

Open daily 11am till 5pm (closed Mondays)