Monday 26 November 2018

The Lion And The Bitch of a Wardrobe

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, our house is currently in a state of chaos whilst we redecorate - hence the lack of blog posts - but I'm delighted to tell you that the spare bedroom has finally been completed, although you probably can't see much of a difference. If it ain't broke and all that....

We painted (or rather, Jon did) three of the four walls in virtually the same shade of stormy grey paint as we'd used twelve years ago and managed to find a couple of rolls of this discontinued Laura Ashley Kimono wallpaper in black on eBay for £5 to redo the area of wall beneath the window that had become damp. My me-made patchwork curtains and lampshades remain unchanged,

As do our French joie de toille curtains found for a fiver at a car boot sale over a decade ago.

I'm still more than happy with the necklace storage Jon made from a car-booted picture frame, a piece of plywood papered with a posh wallpaper sample and some cup hooks.

Here's the rest of my jewellery....

This handsome maharahaja keeps my trinkets safe.

All together on my Edwardian dressing table -  bought from a charity shop 10 years ago.

Jon found me this 5x magnifying mirror in a charity shop last week for £1. When he spotted the on/off switch he realised that, at some point, it would have lit up so he took it apart, replaced the bulb and rewired it. It's terrifying to see myself at such close quarters but it's brilliant for eyebrow plucking!

These antique drawers stood on my Mum's dressing table throughout her married life. Old and tatty, I recovered them with photocopies of vintage Bollywood posters and store my bangles in the larger set and my makeup, bindis and bits and pieces in the smaller set.

The Colonial-style bed was an eBay find years ago as was the Edwardian rug, still bearing its import labels from what was then British India - at £9 it's possibly one of my all-time best Ebay bargains. The 1950s gold vinyl rose-embossed ottoman contains my fabric stash, it's one of those things that was so ugly I felt compelled to buy it. 

Apparently the average UK female owns 34 pairs of shoes (HERE). I'm delighted that I'm not average and own just 29 pairs (including my summer boots and sandals which are currently packed away for  winter). Out of those 29, nine pairs were bought new and the rest were secondhand.

 The 1920s silk kimono was 50p from the mid-week car boot sale. I decided Queen Liz looked better here than on the landing.

As a cash-strapped student back in the 1980s I used to admire these flying ceramic puffins in a hip interiors shop in Birmingham city centre but couldn't afford them. Imagine my excitement when I spotted them in Banardos for £1.99 a couple of weeks ago. Like I always say, if you wait long enough the thing you want will always turn up in a charity shop. 

We're decorating the lounge at the moment and have had a swap around of pictures hence Tina is now above the dressing table and the one below is hanging above the bed. I bought it for a couple of quid from a charity stall on Walsall market when I was shopping with my Mum years ago and had to carry it into Yates' when we stopped off for our obligatory Friday lunchtime pint. I've never been able to work out the artist but she doesn't half remind me of Bjork.

I use two wardrobes to store my clothes. I bought this one from a charity shop on the same day as the dressing table - they were donated by the same person.

The other wardrobe I use (a modern one) wasn't long enough to accommodate my maxi dresses and the hems are perpetually creased so I suggested to Jon that we move it to our bedroom, swap it for the clothes rail he currently uses and we'd scour the chazzas for a replacement wardrobe for me.

I wasn't particularly bothered by what the wardrobe would look like, it just had to have enough hanging space so, armed with measurements, we hit the charity shops of Walsall last Monday and within a few minutes I spotted this handsome Arts & Crafts era beauty. Priced at just £35, the young volunteer in the British Heart Foundation laughed at it and said it would be more at home in the Black Country Museum than anyone's house. I know dark furniture isn't fashionable but there was something really appealing about it and the fact it had a shelf for my hats and a full length interior mirror sold it to me. We handed over our cash and arranged for it to be delivered the next day, hoping against hope that we'd get it up the stairs.

Jon asked his best mate to come round and give us a hand. Tony's worked in the furniture trade for over thirty years and if there's a way of getting a massive piece of furniture into a tight space then he's your man. He told us that the wardrobe was more than likely handmade in the 1920s by English furniture maker, Old Charm and they command daft money on eBay. He said that the only way to get the beast up our stupidly narrow staircase was to take the entire thing to pieces and rebuild it from scratch. He pointed out that the wardrobe was made from solid oak and even if the three of us could have manoeuvred it up the stairs what with Jon's knees, his back and my hip one of us would probably end up in hospital. Back in the early 20th Century wardrobes this size would have been taken upstairs through a sash window via a pulley system, nowadays with so few sash windows and 21st century health and safety regulations, companies just don't manufacture anything this size any more.

There's not a lot that fazes Jon (he's a Leo, the lion in my blog title) and he reckoned that if it all went t*ts up at least we'd be okay for firewood so he took the wardrobe apart, numbered each piece and rebuilt the wardrobe in the spare bedroom.

Ta-dah! Hanging space for my maxis and a special contraption for my belts. The boy's a genius! (I found that 1980s leather belt with the brass snake buckle this morning.)

The hats are longer squashed into a tiny space.

And there's room for my bags, too! 

Hopefully it won't be too long before I can share another completed room -  but don't hold your breath! 

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Friday 16 November 2018

Block Party - For The Love of Block Prints

Ever since we visited an Ajrakh block-printing factory in Gujarat back in January (HERE) I've become more obsessed with block printed fabric than ever. You're probably aware of the huge prices vintage block printed garments command and, in the past, I've always sold the pieces I've found to fund our travels but I've come to the conclusion that I feel so damned good in my block prints that I'm going to start holding on to them, they could be our pension in years to come!

Sadly this little lot isn't mine!

Here's my small - but perfectly formed - collection of block prints.

After finding a bolt of vintage block printed cotton in a dusty old tailor's shop in Goa I handed over a dress I'd been travelling in and asked them to copy it. The dress I'm wearing to Mumbai's Prince of Wales Museumttook 24 hours to make and cost less than £20 (including the fabric). 

We're hoping to visit the Anokhi museum in Jaipur on our next trip to India so I was excited to find this vintage '80s Anokhi dress on eBay for a fiver. The yellow dress was from the same seller - I can't wait to wear it.

 Words cannot express my love for this Adini maxi dress I found in the charity clearance shop last Autumn. 

The demand for the block printed wraparound skirts we'd brought back from India for the festival season was so high that I ended up having to part with my own collection - I've only got three left now! 

The ones that got away (vintage Chelsea Girl, no less - what was I thinking?)

A Cotton Cottage purchase since sold to a festival goer!

I was going to save the Third Eye wraparound skirt to wear in India but I couldn't wait (always a sign of a successful purchase).

This wraparound is from mine and Jon's favourite ready-mades shop, Cotton Cottage. They sell exquisite hand-printed, organic cotton clothes and, luckily for us, their sale always coincides with our annual trip to India so Jon stocks up on their granddad shirts and I usually pick up a couple of maxi skirts.

Ayesha Davar's 1970s clothes often sell for ££££s so I was very excited to score this midi skirt on eBay for a bit of a bargain (I think the fact it had a 24" waist - like me- worked to my advantage!)

I bought the '70s pink cheesecloth tunic from a fellow Moseley Vintage Fair trader a couple of years ago and it's already visited Mumbai, Mangalore, Cochin and seen most of South Goa. Here it is on a visit to the splendid Fernandes House.

I've worn this Phool quilted waistcoat loads since I bought it at Vintage Village in the spring. Here's the last time it was captured on camera.

I love the ingenious construction of this Jake in India top.

I can wear it either way to show off the opposing patterns and can tie it at the front or the back.

I spotted these Anokhi pyjamas on the underwear rail in a charity shop a while ago - they're miles too big but the quality of the cotton is out of this world. They sell for daft money on eBay so maybe I should just list them and buy a pair in my size when I'm in India?

I bought the large scarf from Dr Khatri's factory and the smaller one came from a trendy shop called Happily Unmarried (that's us!) in Goa about 15 years ago.

Here's my kantha jacket - it's reversible which makes it a brilliant travel piece, two jackets in one!

Label love!!

Have a fab weekend - I'm off to cook a home grown (by me!) rainbow chard, chickpea and mushroom curry and there might well be a few drinks to accompany it. Tomorrow it's back to the decorating.

Updated to add photographic proof of my curry - you'll find the recipe HERE

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.