Made By Mrs M


Orla Kiely - A Life in Pattern

Exhibition, Fashion, Inspiration, London, Pattern Design, Review, TextilesKate Marsden

Like many people I ADORE Orla Kiely... I'd been excited about the exhibition at London's Fashion & Textile Museum ever since I found out about it last year and I booked my ticket months ago!


And I'm pleased to say it didn't dissappoint - the only alarming thing being the realisaton that I've owned rather more Orla Kiely things over the past 20 years than I'd realised (my poor bank balance!).

The exhibition is something of a visual feast and anyone with an interest in fashion, or pattern will just love it - I even had a turning a corner and gasping moment, which was nice (I won't spoil that one for you!).


The designer's whole career is covered in the stylish, colourful and exuberant manner you would expect - I didn't know which way to look. If anything I came away having fallen for her work even more.


Upon leaving the exhibition the shop is almost impossible to resist, as I'm sure you can imagine!

Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern is at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London until 23 September 2018.

This is not a sponsored post.


Floor Goals

Inspiration, Interiors, Pattern Design, Products, ReviewKate Marsden

I received some flooring samples from Atra Floor a few months ago (you can read all about them here) and they were fab. However my eyes lit up when I saw their new Flower Power Fauvism collection. They kindly send me a sample of my favourite to share with you and I've been having lots of fun with it!

Image (c) Atra Floor

Image (c) Atra Floor

The collection is inspired by Fauvism and featured gorgeous hand painted flowers and leaves. My sample is now sitting in my studio in the manner of a rug (and even like that and surrounded by the chaos it looks wonderful!) - I see many a future flatlay (and dream of replacing the carpet with it)...

Image (c) Atra Floor

Image (c) Atra Floor

I went for the Mimi colourway but it comes in lots of other options.

Image (c) Atra Floor

Image (c) Atra Floor


*I was not paid to write this post, however the samples were sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own.

A Well Timed Pick-me-up

Books, Craft, Drawing, Inspiration, Painting, ReviewKate Marsden

I've always felt that Emma Mitchell is very good at judging what people need and when - like the day I turned up at her beautiful cottage in Cambridgeshire, feeling a bit nervous about joining a bunch of people I didn't know for an intimate workshop at the dining table (it was ace by the way, you can read about it here) - I was handed tea in a beautiful handcrafted mug and the most delicious cake I've ever eaten. And so the ice was well and truly broken!


I think Emma was one of the first people I "met" on Twitter, long before she had the Instagram fame she has now achieved! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear there was a book in the pipeline. Well it's here now and has already been really popular (my pre-order copy took ages to come as it would appear that Amazon ran out!) - it's clear to see why.


The aim of Making WInter is to inspire us through the darker months with makes and bakes and colour - it reminds me in part of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady - a book which my Mum had when I was little and which I used to flick through regularly (while attempting to copy the drawings) - but obviously less of a diary and more of a modern take, with beautiful photography and lots more besides.


Any book which inspires me to bake has to be a success (although I have been thinking about that cake Emma made for nearly two years so I probably just needed a nudge) - I'm also thinking of getting the old crochet hook and yarn out again (if I can remember how to do it). I've realised how rarely I now craft for the sake of it rather than for a product or so I can write about it here.


I'm very much inspired by the idea of keeping a winter nature diary and I think this is something I should try doing with the little man - maybe we could both keep one! I spent an evening sitting on the sofa just flicking through the book and it made me want to get up and do something and I think that has to be a good thing...

FullSizeRender 95.jpeg

Making Winter by Emma Mitchell is published by LOM Art and is available now.

This is not a sponsored post.

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

Books, Art, Inspiration, ReviewKate Marsden

I'll admit that I'm struggling a little bit at the moment. My motivation is lacking (yes I know, again). I'm finding it quite hard to keep ploughing on and putting everything into my work when business is so slow, and I'm wondering where it's all going. Add to that a seeminly endless list of personal stuff that's weighing me down, and well I'm sure you can imagine...


I received what felt like a rather timely surprise last week. It was a surprise as it was a book I'd preordered months ago, and then completely forgotten about. Regular readers and friends will know that I'm a massive fangirl of artist Lisa Congdon, and A Glorious Freedom is her latest book. We chatted about this one when I sat opposite her at dinner after Blogtacular last year and I'd been keenly awaiting it'a arrival ever since (I suppose I forgot about it once I'd pre-ordered as that meant I didn't need to think about it anymore!).


I say timely, as not only was I in need of some cheer and inspiration, but so far I'm finding being 39 pretty rubbish. I'm sure it's psychological - next year I'll be middle aged after all! And what have I achieved so far? Well, not a lot! Back in the summer I toyed with doing a 40 before 40 list, but my birthday was more than 2 months ago now and that hasn't happended. Anxiety, being generally busy, and the feeling that I'm certain I won't achieve it has stopped me. A Glorious Freedom is making me feel a bit better about this though (oh, and I'm not going to bother with the list).

The book profiles a wide range of women (all over 40, some well into their 80s) who were what we might call "late bloomers" or who had a complete change later in life. Perhaps a much needed reminder to keep going, but also stories and situations I see cropping up all the time with my friends, and realising that when many of us are the age I am now we can feel as though that's it - if the current situation isn't working for us for any reason that's the end. We're supposed to be grown-ups by now and have it all sorted (so apologies to my younger readers - I'm 39 and I don't feel like a grown-up yet).


This quote from Brene Brown has resonated with me the most. I think this is so true - I made the jump 4 years ago (4 years ago this month since I resigned from my job), but despite that I still spend a lot of time focussing on what I'm supposed to be doing, and what society expects me to be doing - although I am the Mum at the school gates in the slightly crazy brightly coloured clothes (I've stopped worrying about that)!

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm working through and plan to read the every page. I think the one thing I'm taking from it so far though, is that what you're doing is never set in stone, not at any point. If this doesn't work out for me (as I fear) there will be something else, and what's to say that thing won't be even better? I'm also realising that sometimes it's good to have a bad week - read non-productive, can't focus on work - as this can be a sign that you need to switch off, or focus on yourself for a while (even though you're not supposed to focus on yourself!).


So, I'll continue putting one foot in front of the other (I have the school run to do later so don't have any choice in that matter really!), keep working hard, keep hoping everything will turn out OK in the end, as it probably will. It's quite telling that all I look to read at the moment are books and blogs about motivation, but all I really want to do is curl up under a blanket in front of the fire...

A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives is written by Lisa Congdon and published by Chronicle Books.

Modern Lettering

Books, Inspiration, Paper, Review, WorkshopsKate Marsden

I first met Becky from Betty Etiquette when I attended one of her wonderful calligraphy workshops at Liberty a couple of years ago. Now I'm afraid I have to admit that I've barely picked up my pen and ink since (slaps wrist) but her style of lettering is so beautiful, and there are few things nicer than receiving one of her hand written envelopes in the post!

So when I saw she had a book coming out, I was pre-ordering it faster than you can say "pre-ordering" and just before I went on my holiday, it arrived!

Modern Lettering is a little like a Betty Etiquette workshop, but with so much more which will keep you going for ages. Having been to one and not done a lot since, it's got me itching to have another go. There are pages dedicated to each letter so you can get practing (although I won't be spoiling the book by writing in it - I'll stick to a sketchbook for that) and for me I think the most useful pages are the project ideas - full of colourful examples and ways to make use of your new found skills.

The book itself is a very pretty thing indeed, and features that winning blue and yellow colour combination! I keep staring at it and then absent mindedly thumbing through when I should be working... There are also pictures of cakes...

Modern Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots is published by Batsford and available now!

This is not a sponsored post.

I Am Acrylic Jewellery Workshop

Craft, Events, London, Review, WorkshopsKate Marsden

Now you probably know that I'm a bit of a fan of I Am Acrylic (see my Blogtacular necklace and lots more besides!) but until a couple of weeks ago I'd never managed to make it to one of their workshops.

My plans for the day had changed and I was unexpectedly free so headed up to Brixton for the Crafty Fox Market sample sale - shopped rather more than I should have, and then made myself a necklace with the help of Brendan. Cheesy photos of me by Martha Loves...

Despite making the decision to try and do the workshop while I was on the train, I turned up without any idea of what I wanted to make! They had a useful folder with examples of things people have created in the past, and I ended up imaginatively coming up with a yellow letter 'k' - hand drawn by yours truly though so it has character!

Brendan did a very good job of hiding his nerves after I revealed just how clumsy I am, and I'm pleased to say that I came away with all my fingers fully intact!

The sawing itself doesn't require much elbow grease, but I certainly felt it in my left hand (which was holding the piece of acrylic in place) - that didn't last though. I was actually surprised that I managed to get as good a finish on it as I did as I expected it to be a bit of a mess but no - it's nice and smooth and looks pretty good!

After carefully cutting and filing and smoothing I decided to let Brendan drill the hole for the chain as I thought I might break it! Here's the finished article...

I Am Acrylic often run drop in workshops at events like Crafty Fox Market - keep an eye on their website for dates.

The Evolution of my Magazine Habit...

Inspiration, Paper, ReviewKate Marsden

It all started with Smash Hits. As it did for lots of people I'm sure. Ripping out photos of Kylie and Jason and Debbie Gibson and sticking them up on my wall when I was 9 or 10. I'm pretty sure I read magazines before this but I'm struggling to remember any of them. So I stuck with Smash Hits and added Just Seventeen (when I was 10...) and then by 11 or 12 I'd graduated to Cosmopolitan. All the while, still getting Smash Hits. I was on a 3-5 magazine per month habit and it wouldn't stop there!

When I was 12 I discovered "my kind" of music (which is still "my kind" now so I obviously got something right) and started to get Melody Maker every week (and NME once in a while as well) - my magazine habit also became expensive as I graduated from Cosmo to Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. I'd decided I wanted to study fashion when I left school you see, so it was research.

Party because they were reference material (and they were - a briliant resource when I got to college and they helped fill many a sketchbook and moodboard) but also because they were pretty expensive, I ended up with a collection of Vogue magazines including every issue from October 1991 to July 1998. I needed a whole cabinet for them and they weighed a ton. Shortly before we moved down to London that summer my boyfriend (now husband) drove me to the recycling bins to get rid of the lot - it still brings me out in a cold sweat to think about it...

Anyway, we moved to London but I didn't stop buying Vogue, I needed my monthly glossy magazine fix. Some time I think in that first year a lovely magazine called Nova appeared (I believe it was a reincarnation of a magazine from the 70s) and it was a thing of beauty - it smelt great and was beautifully designed, I even subscribed but I'm pretty sure it didn't last the year - the start of the whole "print is dead" thing I suppose.

So I stuck with Vogue, occassionally bought interiors magazines, occassionally bought other fashion magazines but that was pretty much all that was out there. Then in 2010 the little man was born and my magazines just kept piling up unread so I stopped buying them. Probably for a good year. I was saving the planet and money - win win!

Then in the spring of 2011 Mollie Makes appeared - and at just the right time for me too. I was finally working on creative stuff again (in my spare time as in when I wasn't working in the city and looking after a baby...) and it inspired me and I even started blogging as a result. I subscribed to Mollie Makes for 2 or 3 years but had to drop it when I left my job to go self employed as I needed to save money. I still buy it, but not every month.

Nowadays my magazine habit is expensive again, but not so heavy on it's use of trees! I don't buy anywhere near as many but I like the nice ones. It's going back to Nova again - I want something that smells beautiful, is nicely designed and unique - something I want to have to build a shelf for and something I can go back to time and time again. Here are four of my current favourites:

91 Magazine

This issue is actually the first printed copy I've bought (I've dipped in and out of the digital magazine and editor Caroline Rowland's blog Patchwork Harmony for years). I love it mostly for the interiors, but also the photography generally which is so inspiring and absoultely up my street. This issue's cover says everything about my taste at the moment - bright and white with pops of colour! Oh and it smells divine...


Frankie is an Australian magazine which I only discovered a couple of years ago (this one is issue 77 so I was late to the party). This is another one I don't buy every time, partly because it's a bit pricey but also because I can't get hold of it anywhere near home (I bought this in the WH Smith in Victoria Station which is great for magazines). Frankie contains a good mix of everything and it's just so pretty. It also makes me wish I lived in Australia (even more than I already have wished this in the 10 years since I visited!).


Caboodle is awesome - the creation of the equally awesome Kayti Peschke (it has Kayti's personality all over it) - I'm slightly biased here as I have a tutotial in the current issue, but I do love this magazine because it's so unique. Again a mix of everything - it's fun, and colourful and guaranteed to cheer me up - oh and always substantial - there's never a skinny issue of Caboodle. One you want to keep forever rather than put in the recycling in 6 months...


Now this is the epitome of pricey - I think this set me back around about £14. I also often struggle to get a copy as there aren't that many stockists I can get to easily and I can't stretch to a subscription (from Canada - the postage is insane). Uppercase is a stunning magazine - it's practically a book - there's a market for second hand copies so not quite an investment but defintely never money down the drain. Again, slightly biased as I've been in one of their books but it's undistilled inspiration in magazine form, and something I go back to time and time again. Even if my full collection only amounts to 4 issues (plus the book!).

So these are my favourites at the moment - do let me know if there's anything wonderful I've missed out or might like to try - just not this month as I've spent all my money on magazines...

Playtime! Or thinking about a new floor for the kitchen...

Inspiration, Interiors, Pattern Design, Products, Review, ShoppingKate Marsden

Now you know I like bright colours, and I'm parital to pattern (a slight understatement!), but I'm generally a fan of neutral stuff on the floor. Having said that my patterned tiled flooring in the hallway is almost famous (and is complemented by pretty much everyone who sees it), and downstairs certainly wipe clean is my main priority.

I stumbled upon AtraFloor as a result of my search for wallpaper for the little man's bedroom (the company make murals too) and when they offered to send me some samples* of their vinyl flooring to share here I jumped at the chance! I chose three designs, partly because these were the ones that leapt out the most on the day, but also because I'm in "thinking about the kitchen mode" and I really can't stand the tiles in there.

I'll start with my favourite - I love this design so much! I think this needs to be used in a fairly large space (like my kitchen!) in order to show the pattern off properly. I can see myself using this sample as a backdrop so watch this space!

The daisies made me feel very retro... As this is a smaller scale print I'm thinking that this would look great in the downstairs loo or a shower room. Reminding you of summer all year round...

The final one is probably my least favourite but only because it's a little less in your face (so it's probably their best seller!) - nice and calming though and made me think of a yoga studio or somewhere to relax.

The samples are nice and thick and spongy so would work really well in playrooms, bedrooms and other areas too (just take your stilettos off before walking on them!) and their range is actually huge - made possible as they're all print to order.

Now to try and persuade Mr M that we need vinyl in the kitchen...

*I was not paid to write this post, however the samples were sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own.

Lost Futures - Post-War British Architecture

Architecture, Books, Exhibition, London, ReviewKate Marsden

I spent a very long time in a one room exhibition a few weeks ago... I visited the Royal Academy and saw America after the Fall (which was very good) and the Anthony Green exhibition (which was also rather lovely, and consisted of one room) but my favourite was Futures Found: The Real and Imagined Cityscapes of Post-War Britain - of course it was.

I'm pretty sure I've never spent so long in a small, free exhibition but I read and studied everything (and the other people came and went).

The exhibition took us through the vision of a better and brighter future which the planners of the post-war era had for Britain's cities. It included lots of familiar buildings along with plenty which were new to me.

Obviously one room wasn't nearly enough, and so I had to buy the little yellow gem of a book which accompanied the exhibition...

Now it's rare for me to read a book like this from cover to cover, but having started it on the train home, that's the plan. Packed with brilliant photographs and full page write ups for the different buildings, it's a real treat.

Lots of ideas for new/old buildings for me to draw as well. All of the 35 buildings featured have either been demolished or significanty altered (for example Park Hill), so in a way it's a little sad, but a wonderful record, in every case showing the buildings at their shiny new best.

A Taste of Japan

Architecture, Exhibition, Inspiration, Interiors, ReviewKate Marsden

When one of my favourite countries combines with one of my favourite buildings it's a match made in heaven! I visited the Barbican a couple of weeks ago to see the Japanese House exhibition, which is a feast for the eyes. A great combination of interesting exhibits and information, gorgeous architectural models and an actual Japanese house to wander around (and a tea house/tree house to die for) - almost too much to take in in one visit! Here are some of my favourite images...

The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 is at the Barbican Art Gallery until 25 June 2017.

Vanessa Bell

Art, Exhibition, Inspiration, London, Review, Shopping, TextilesKate Marsden

I hadn't been to Dulwich for a while - I used to have friends who lived nearby, and I did Dulwich Open House a couple of years ago, but hadn't had a chance for a stroll for an age. So I chose a beautiful sunny spring day to visit Dulwich Village, which is impossibly pretty at the worst of times, suffered from some major house envy, and then visited the Picture Gallery for the first time.

What really dragged me to Dulwich was Vanessa Bell. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll probably know that I'm a bit of a fan of her sister (Virginia Woolf) and I was massively into the Bloomsbury Group as a teenager. I've always admired the style of Vanessa's work, and almost feel as though I know some of the subjects, as I spent so long reading about them, so I really couldn't miss this one.

I first saw Vanessa's work at an exhibition at the Barbican when I was at art college (probably 1995 or 96) but haven't ever come accross anything on this scale before. The exhibition covers her paintings as well as her designs for textiles, ceramics and photographs - so it was quite a feast for the eyes.

Vanessa Bell – Studland Beach 1912 – © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett, acquired 1976 Tate Collection, on loan to Dulwich Picture Gallery

Vanessa Bell – Studland Beach 1912 – © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett, acquired 1976 Tate Collection, on loan to Dulwich Picture Gallery

Vanessa Bell – Mrs St John Hutchinson 1915 - © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett, acquired 1973 Tate Collection, on loan to Dulwich Picture Gallery

Vanessa Bell – Mrs St John Hutchinson 1915 - © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett, acquired 1973 Tate Collection, on loan to Dulwich Picture Gallery

The exhibition was larger than I'd expected (with around 100 paintings) but was still over too soon (I think I would've moved in given the opportunity). I'm not normally one to rave about exhibition shops, but this one's an absolute joy - I had to really restrain myself as I could've bought everything!

I settled for some postcards, this beautiful little fold out book by Alice Pattullo and a cushion cover (couldnt resist a bit of Vanessa Bell for my living room!).

Pamela Print Cushion Cover  - Image (c) Dulwich Picture Gallery

Pamela Print Cushion Cover - Image (c) Dulwich Picture Gallery

So, in conculsion the exhibition was wonderful and inspiring, if potentially expensive!!

Vanessa Bell: 1879-1961 is at the Dulwich Picture Gallery until 4 June 2017.

Modernist Estates

Architecture, Books, Inspiration, Interiors, ReviewKate Marsden

I did rather well for presents on Mother's Day (not expecting much for my birthday now!) - one of them was a book I'd asked for, and Mr M even managed to get me a signed copy...

Modernist Estates is undoubtedly a thing of beauty. The binding is gorgeous (and yellow!), it features my favourte type of architecture, inhabited by real people who have inspiring interiors (elements of which I can definitely apply to my Edwardian house) AND one of my cushions unexpectedly makes an appearance on pages 85 and 86 - that was a surprise I can tell you!

I don't do this design anymore but I think it looks great on this sofa!

I don't do this design anymore but I think it looks great on this sofa!

The featured flat isn't in Park Hill but the subject matter for my cushion does (of course!) make an appearance...

The book is written by Stefi Orazi (and stemmed from her popular blog) whose love affair with modernist architecture began when she was fortunate enough to rent a flat in the Barbican. People ended up inviting her into their homes for the blog and here we see a great selection - it's really interesting to see how people are living in these properties now.

Modernist Estates by Stefi Orazi is published by Frances Lincoln and available here.

The Radical Eye

Art, Exhibition, London, Photography, ReviewKate Marsden

Now I do like a surprise (sometimes - don't ever plan a surprise party for me please)... Not being a fan of Sir Elton John (although I have been catching myself singing a few of his earlier hits recently), I wasn't sure what I'd make of Tate Modern's exhibition sharing his photography collection.

Man Ray 1890-1976    Glass Tears (Les Larmes)    1932Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper229 x 298 mmCollection Elton John© Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Man Ray 1890-1976Glass Tears (Les Larmes) 1932Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper229 x 298 mmCollection Elton John© Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

I expected it to be ostentatious (the man's flower bill is famous after all) but I was pleasantly surprised. His photography collection does extend to 8000+ prints, so it's not modest, but I was impressed by the images on display, and really liked the way the exhibition had been put together. The use of mismatched, gilt and silver frames made it unlike most gallery photography exhibitions I've seen and my favorite part was a whole wall featuring many images (with a conveniently placed bench in front of it so I sat there for a while).

The content was pretty good too - taking me back to my teenage fascination with Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange - I was reminded of a much thumbed book I had about female documentary photographers (this one) and I plan to dig it out and have a read.

Flicking through  Diane Arbus Revelations  (and Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange 1936 in the exhibition guide)

Flicking through Diane Arbus Revelations (and Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange 1936 in the exhibition guide)

The images on display focus on the first half of the 20th century, taking in experiments in early photography and including many famous images and portraits.

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection is at Tate Modern until 21 May 2017.

David Hockney

Art, Exhibition, London, Painting, Photography, ReviewKate Marsden

I know, I know, better late than never!

I attempted to visit the current Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain on the day it opened - made it to I think the third or fourth room, then got a call telling me to go straight home, as my son was ill and had been sent home from school... Now one of the great things about being a Tate member is that, annoying as this was, I could go back again without having to pay, so I finally made it back a couple of weeks ago.

I've always been a fan of David Hockney (evidenced by the fact that I own two massive books of his work, one of which I bought as a teenager). The last exhibition at the Royal Academy a few years ago was brilliant, but the current show at Tate is a more complete retrospective, including all the crowd pleasers and lots more besides.

David Hockney      Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)    1971 Private Collection© David Hockney

David Hockney  Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1971 Private Collection© David Hockney

The only downside for me was just how incredibly busy it was - at 1pm on a Wednesday during term time... Hard to see many of the pieces and a bit tiring and frustrating by the end - it was busier on my second visit than on my first, but then word's got out! Here was the only quiet moment...

Despite my frustrations though I did still really enjoy it - it was good to see how his work and style have progressed during his career, and I came away not only wanting to get the paints out, but the camera and the iPad and everything else too (it's beyond me why I can't draw like that on an iPad.... *cough*).

It was clear walking through the galleries that Hockney really is a national treasure. On both occasions I visited, I overhead people saying they never go to galleries but couldn't miss this one, and one guy telling his friend that his Mum "hates art but loves David Hockney" - so whether you think that makes him too popular or just really good is up to you. Either way, I'm still a fan...

David Hockney is at Tate Britain until 29 May 2017.

More Josef Frank and Svenskt Tenn

Books, Interiors, Pattern Design, Products, Review, TextilesKate Marsden

If you read last Friday's post you'll know that I adored the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textile museum. It reintroduced me to Svenskt Tenn, who I'm pretty sure I discovered when visiting Stockholm, but as this was getting on for 20 years ago now my memory is a little hazy! (This reminds me - I need to go back to Stockholm).

Anyway, when the lovely folks at Thames & Hudson then dropped me a line to see if I'd be interested in seeing a Josef Frank/Svenskt Tenn colouring book*, I jumped at the chance...

I've mentioned before that I'm not a massive fan of colouring books, as I prefer to draw rather than colour other people's work, but for this one I may just be able to make an exception. The only downside being that it's such a beautiful book I'm not sure I want to mark it (and wouldn't let the little man anywhere near it, the poor thing!). The first thing to strike me was the size (see my hand for scale!)...

It's gargantuan. Oh and so much more than a colouring book. It's an introduction to Svenskt Tenn and includes images of Josef Frank's fabrics, examples of Svenskt Tenn interiors and more. It's just a lovely thing - whether you want to colour it in or not!

Swedish Modern: A Colouring Book of Magical Interiors by Janet Colletti is published by Thames & Hudson and available now.

*I received my copy free for the purposes of this review, however all opinions are my own.

An American Dream?

Art, Exhibition, London, ReviewKate Marsden

I had a very early start yesterday... I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a preview of a new exhibition which opens at The British Museum tomorrow (Thursday 9 March) - The American Dream: Pop to the Present.

I jumped at the chance to go to the preview, and then started wondering if it could possibly live up to the exhibition I always go back to... my first ever experience of a major London exhibition (American Art in the 20th Century at the Royal Academy in 1993 - yes, I really am that old). Well, 24 years have passed, and maybe it's a little cliched to like pop art nowadays, but I'm not ashamed to say I do. Never really been one to follow trends after all...! Oh, and there was one other thing on my mind - what was this exhibition doing in the British Museum of all places?

Well, it promises something a little different as it's approached from a printmaking angle - so none of the big canvasses - but some jolly large prints. The exhibition was conceived following a popular show of early 20th century prints at the museum nearly a decade ago - the team spent the next few years building a collection of American prints from the 1960s onwards - many of which were so large in scale they had to wait for new refurbished gallery space to be completed before holding an exhibition, but I think it was worth the wait.

So it's absolutely not just about pop art - although you do launch straight in with that in quite a big way. I love how the spaces have been put together, with bold colours on the walls and cut out windows giving a glimpse into the other parts of the gallery - it's definitely a must for fans of colour. Lots of printmaking techniques on display too, which is great to see - there's even a little screen printing demo video (projected onto a table so you're looking down on it, as you would be if you were doing it yourself).

The exhibition feels quite timely as we're all so focused on the US at the moment - for me in particular as it ties in with my new collection (and as I visited twice last autumn). For once I watched a whole video (I'm not a massive fan of video in exhibitions, not really sure why) and it was fantastic in both capturing the spirit of the exhibition itself and America generally - even if it did leave me a little sad, questioning where things will go next (although I'm sure as always that great art will come out of the current situation).

Allow plenty of time as you'll need it - I spent an hour and a half looking around and could easily (and quite happily) go back again. It's also caused me to view the British Museum a little differently, and I'm assuming that was one of their aims - I don't tend to associate it with modern art exhibitions, but a significant percentage of the works on display are from the museum's collection (albeit that many have been amassed relatively recently). I'm interested to see what future exhibitions they have planned for these rather nice galleries.

The American Dream: Pop to the Present is at The British Museum from 9 March - 18 June 2017. Find our more here.

House of Cards

Books, Craft, Inspiration, Paper, Review, TutorialsKate Marsden

If you read the Just A Card blog (which I also write) you'll be aware that the marvelous Sarah Hamilton has written a rather lovely book, and here it is!

I had to wait a little longer to get my hands on my copy as I was away over half term but it was worth the wait! It's a gorgeous hardback book full of beautiful images and inspiration, oh and features one of my cards too - can you spot it?!

Image (c) Kirsty Noble

Image (c) Kirsty Noble

Apart from a feast for the eyes, the book contains lots of useful stuff too - 10 tutorials by some of my favourite folks including Gabriela Szulman, Anna Jackson and Sarah herself, plus tips on finding inspiration, selling your handmade cards and licensing your designs and more.

I need to sit down and have a good read, although it's already inspiring me to get my lino cutting stuff out again...

House of Cards by Sarah Hamilton is published by Pavilion Books and it's out now!

If you already have a copy of the book, Sarah will love you forever if you leave an Amazon review - you can do so here!

This is not a sponsored post.

Concrete Fans Rejoice!

Books, Craft, Inspiration, Interiors, Review, TutorialsKate Marsden

The perfect mix of two of my favourite things, craft and concrete, arrived on my doorstep last week (literally, thanks Mr Postman - I was in...) in the form of my review copy* of uber craft and interiors blogger Hester van Overbeek's new book. Here it is, (it made me squeek a little when I opened the envelope!)...

You may be surprised to hear that for someone whose such a big fan of the grey stuff, I've never tried my hand at making something out of concrete (Mr M made concrete gnomes one freezing November in the 1990s for a Young Enterprise project - the memory of which has left his hands feeling rather cold - so one of us has experience!).

I just needed an excuse (and some ideas to start with in order to save me getting very very messy for nothing) and it's as if Hester read my mind. The book has lots of ideas (well 35 to be precise) some of which are small and simple, others a bit bigger and messier - so there's something for everyone. Three projects caught my eye immediately:

This bowl is just gorgeous and I know it'd look fantastic on my garden table (which is below my son's bedroom window so I'll get to have a birds eye view of the lovely pattern too - maybe in yellow?). There's a rather nice looking canopy with lights too, which is a rather more involved project but would also look fab on the patio...

Then I jump straight into furniture!

Just look at this table! I would pay good money for one of these and it actually looks pretty straightforward (heads out to buy copper pipes...).

And another bowl (but this time of the indoor variety) - I love the combination of the wood with the concrete (and I already have a wooden bowl like this - just not sure Mr M will let me pour concrete onto it but let's see!).

As I've said before, I'm not terribly good at following instructions in craft books and I like to go off and do my own thing, and I may well do that with some of the things in this book. But as a person who's never worked with concrete before this is a massively useful starting point. The wide variety of projects in the book enable you to see how the concrete behaves in different situations and will undoubtedly help when planning other projects.

Now I just need to pop off to B&Q and then wait for the sun to come out so I can avoid those freezing hands!

Making Concrete Pots, Bowls and Platters by Hester van Overbeek was published yesterday (7 February 2017) by CICO books, RRP £12.99. Buy your copy from Make etc and receive 20% off with discount code CONCRETE20. 

*I received this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own. The link above is NOT an affiliate link.



A New Toy and A New Design

Architecture, Pattern Design, Review, TravelKate Marsden

I have a new toy for Christmas (and yes, I have it early because I bought it myself) - a light box. Now I've been after one for a while but for some reason I expected them to be really expensive - this is the one I went for after several people recommended it. It arrived at the beginning of the month and I got to work with it as soon as I had an opportunity.

The Chrysler Building drawing - which I produced a couple of months ago and is available as a print here - was always intended as the first image for a new pattern and that's what I started work on. The light box is simple to use (so simple it came without instructions!) and does exactly what I'd hoped. It'd been an age since I'd last used one so I forgot about the blinding light induced headache (don't work on it for hours in one go Kate...) but other than the fact that it'd warmed up a little by the time I'd finished it was good and I'm glad I went for that one.

So you want to see the rest of the images, yes?

Well, I haven't been featuring enough street furniture in my designs recently... This one way sign just screamed at me as I walked past it (helped by the fact that it was in front of a yellow building and a blue sky....

I also added the Flatiron and the Lincoln Center...

Now this is a first draft, which needs colouring, but I thought I'd share as I've had so many people asking about it! Just a flavour of what you can expect in my Spring 2017 collection!

You can get updates (and find out when the collection is available) straight to your inbox if you join my mailing list.

Win a Copy of Designing Textiles in the Mid 20th Century

Books, Giveaways, Pattern Design, Review, TextilesKate Marsden

Giveaway time!

The folks at The Book Guild recently sent me a copy of this rather lovely little book by Rosemary Sassoon, who worked as a textile designer in the middle of the last century - at a time when you weren't credited for your work and it was even harder than it is today to make a name for yourself.

What makes the book particularly nice is that it's written by Rosemary herself, in her own voice (and actually reminds me a little of my grandmother). Rosemary only managed to retain a handful of examples of her work (for the most part they were sent away and that was the last she ever saw of them - it was even rarer for her to ever see her designs on the fabrics themselves).

There's a wide selection of work - both very traditional and that which is in the mid-century style we're more used to. It acts as a reminder that what we all think of as mid-century wasn't what most homes looked like by any means!

The book contains images of Rosemary's work alongside other designers of the time, including Lucienne Day

The book contains images of Rosemary's work alongside other designers of the time, including Lucienne Day

Designing Textiles in the Mid 20th Century by Rosemary Sassoon is published by The Book Guild and available here.

And the good news is that I have a copy of the book to give away! Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. UK entries only please and please make sure you have met the entry requirements as all entries will be checked and verified! The giveaway is open now and closes at midnight on 22 November. Good luck!