Archives for category: design

Private road1My brother says it is just a private road. But actually it is The Private Road. There is a sense of mystery and ominous foreboding as the long linear line of trees overpower with their shadows and their height. But we still dare to use it, openly by foot or bike and if in an emergency skulking along in a car. It feels like such a bygone route running parallel to another ancient route – The Ridgeway.

And I wonder where the path ahead leads as we wait on the eve of a new year. May you travel courageously and safely remembering to enjoy the journey and slow down to appreciate the views. Don’t always let the signs stop you either!

Much love to all, Tessa

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About this post: I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month during 2015.

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It was heartening that so many people missed the mini desk calendars that I produce. They are back… so enjoy the 2016 calendar featuring many of the monthly photos I have taken over the year. They make good stocking fillers, thank you gifts for hostesses or to enjoy on your desk depicting the beautiful (mostly) local countryside. They’re also perfect for posting as overseas gifts. The calendars are 95mm square and are within a small perspex box (a bit like a CD box) and you can buy them directly from me for £4.00 (plus p+p). Contact me by email tessa@casebase.co.uk.

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My youngest daughter loved her owl top and was despondent when she outgrew it. I squirreled it away and then on her birthday it reappeared as a cushion much to her delight. To ‘upcycle’ the top, I stabilised the appliqué with Bondaweb which is an adhesive that fuses to fabric when heat is applied so that it doesn’t fray. I then carefully cut out the owl design and sewed it onto a square of pre-washed denim fabric. (Always pre-wash fabric to reduce further shrinkage). I sewed the front and back of the cushion together and popped it over a pillow pad. All done!

This birthday had a bit of a theme as I also made my daughter a Union Jack pillow. It looks complicated but it made from strips of fabric sewn onto a large 60cm square of fabric including recycling old pairs of jeans. The possibilities are endless… my other two children have their own Union Jack pillows. Thanks Ali for all your inspiration – what a great friend. Titanium the cat is not a pillow, he is just so lazy he wouldn’t move while I bustled around taking photos!

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As part of Mike’s farewell gift, I gave him a personalised art piece which I created using names of places that he has visited. I ordered a frame from eFrame who create customised frames at reasonable prices. Once the frame arrived and I could check the internal measurements, I cut a mount for the artwork.

1. To cut a mount you need mount board, a metal ruler, a cutting mat, pencil, scalpel and most importantly, a mount cutter. A mount cutter cuts the board at 45° angle so you get a professional finish.

Items required for cutting a mount

Equipment required

2. Measure and draw a line on the back of the mount board where you will be cutting. Remember to keep margins generous.

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Draw lines in pencil

3. Using the mount cutter cut along the line with a metal ruler. Don’t try to cut the entire depth of board in one go, rather do lots of gentle cuts slowly increasing the pressure. Ensure you are using a cutting mat unless you wish to gouge your table!

Cutting with a mount cutter

Cutting with a mount cutter

4. Once the mount board is cut you will see the 45° degree angle.

The 45 degree cut exposes the white core to give a professional finish.

The 45 degree cut exposes the white core to give a professional finish.

5. Position your artwork carefully to the back of the mount board with a strip of masking tape, turn it the correct way and check it is straight. Once you are satisfied use masking tape to attach the artwork to the back of the mount board. Masking tape is gentler to artworks than sellotape.

The artwork attached to the mount board with masking tape.

The artwork attached to the mount board with masking tape.

6. Place the mounted artwork in the frame and your work is done.

I have created a number of personalised artworks for clients, and if you would like to discuss a commission, please contact me.

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I was recently involved in arranging a farewell party for our pastor who was retiring. With approximately 100 guests, a school hall to decorate and a shoe string budget, I had to be very creative and innovative. But challenges like this are fun and it is amazing what can be achieved.

It is always easier to create an atmosphere if you hang it on a theme so I decided to choose red as it is a warm cheerful colour on a cold day. Mike likes France and speaks excellent  French so it was to be a Red French Café. The fact that I could borrow loads of red checked table cloths sealed it!

We decorated the hall with bunting and red balloons. The décor on the table was glass bottles from my collection with sticks, red tulips, fairy lights and hundreds of tea lights. Message tags were hung from the sticks so friends could write a message or a memory for Mike and Liz. We had red napkins and the cutlery was placed in silver tins. French café music played in the background and everyone was asked to wear a touch of red in their clothing whether it was a tie, a rose, shoes, handbag, hat or even a waistcoat.

As Mike has travelled far and wide during his time in ministry, we decided to give him a hamper of ‘Food from Around the World’. Everyone chose one of the 20 countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe and brought an item for the hamper.

Laughter, memories and a few tears were shed as we celebrated Mike’s retirement and sent him and Liz on their way. What an inspiring couple they are and it is a privilege to have them as part of our lives.

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The final word

It was with great excitement that a parcel arrived at my door containing the printed Landmark Trust handbook and I could page through it. They are now for sale through Landmark if you wish to buy one whether it is to plan a holiday or to learn a little more about historical and quirky buildings, go to www.landmarktrust.org.uk to place your order which also includes a free calendar.

The cherry on the top was the email from Dr Anna Keay, Director of The Landmark Trust: “The new handbook looks absolutely wonderful, huge congratulations to Helen, Tessa and all who worked with you on such a terrific achievement. I defy anyone not to love it. Bravo! Anna.

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Which would YOU choose?
Poring over images and descriptions of so many properties set me daydreaming about perfect holiday locations. There are stately homes which would be ideal for a family event, there is Fox Hall with bright orange walls and gilt galore and there is Astley Castle, an award-winning building for combining an ancient castle with modern architecture. There is even a train station, a grammar school, a hospital, a banqueting hall and a lock cottage on a canal.

One that captures my imagination is ‘The Bath House’. Built in the 1700s, it has an upper room dripping with shells which holds the bedroom and a tiny kitchen whilst downstairs is a beautiful icy pool with rough stone walls almost like a cave. If I holidayed there, I would dive in each morning to enjoy the benefits of a deeply refreshing cold bath which are limitless according to the medical opinions of the 18th century. The Handbook calls it, “The poshest bedsit in Warwickshire” and I couldn’t agree more.

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Maps, snags and then off to print we go
I take my hat off to Paul, another member of the team who created maps for the Landmark Trust Handbook. There is a highly detailed map of the UK at the front of the book as well as maps of each section of the country and individual maps for each property with much attention to detail.

Once maps, text, images and plans were finalised, we needed to ensure there were no inconsistencies such as checking that quotation marks, hyphens and dashes were used appropriately. (Hyphens are longer than dashes and I’m sure a poet could make up a poem about the dash that wishes to grow at speed…)

Finally, each page and each section was approved and signed off and I created high-resolution PDFs. The handbook was off to the printers and Helen and I reunited in Wales to see it on press and to ensure we were happy. We were satisfied with it, kissed the handbook goodnight and I caught the train home, crawled into bed to sleep.

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Photography and Images:
Landmark commissioned 30 of their UK properties to be photographed so we had new and up-to-date images in the handbook. With properties stretching from Cornwall to the outer regions of Scotland, that is no easy task. Fortunately Paul Grundy and Jill Tate both architectural photographers were up to the task and took about 15 – 30 photos of each property. Some of the images showed a building in all its grandeur and others depicted intimate and beautiful details. My difficulty was that there was only space for two images of each property! It was a pleasure sifting through the images but so hard to choose only two photos. Fortunately some pages were double page spreads and Helen and I had ways and means to sneak in extra photos such as on the insides of the covers or in the introduction section. You can see examples of the photography above or have a peek at Paul’s website: www.paulgrundy.com and Jill’s website: www.jilltate.com.

Another aspect of dealing with images was to improve on some of the existing photography and in some cases, ‘paint’ the odd door or two which was now a different colour. I used Photoshop but also worked with another colleague, Meghan, who waved her magic wand – have a look at the examples of her work below – ‘now you see it, now you don’t’!

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The Project:
For just over 4 months of last year I was working flat-out on a fascinating and all-consuming design job. I had the opportunity to update the 300-page Landmark Trust Handbook and it’s been one of my biggest freelance jobs to date.

Landmark Trust is a building-conservation charity and for the last 50 years they have bought buildings that are of historic interest whether grand or humble and restored them before they fall into irreparable decay. Once restored, the buildings are let for holidays to generate income and to earn their keep. They vary from follies to castles to towers and even a classically inspired pigsty (for humans to inhabit now)!

In April 2014 I was approached by a friend and colleague, Helen, who worked in marketing for Landmark and asked if I would quote to update their special 50th edition of the handbook. I was delighted to be awarded the job and then the hard work began.

I was updating images, text, plans and maps and correcting 101 changes from the previous edition. The handbook was paginated into areas of the country rather than being produced alphabetically and the first 40 pages which formed the introduction were totally redesigned. Some properties were ‘out’, then ‘in’ then ‘out’ again and there were ‘new kids on the block’ such as Belmont in Lyme Regis. It hadn’t even be photographed properly yet as it was still being restored which is always a challenge for a designer. The handbook had to be perfect as Landmark Friends like detail and are excellent at spotting errors in historical information or on maps! Even the floor plans of the 196 properties were changed if sofas were moved to other parts of the house and fireplaces were enlarged. I worked very closely with Helen and her team checking amends and between us deciding on images and how to approach the trickier pages.

What impressed me was that as a team we were all working remotely and yet were so connected by commitment and technology (including many PDFs). The whole team kept their sense of humour and even in stressful situations remained calm. Landmark Trust is an excellent client to work for with a product that is interesting and taught me much. I felt quite bereft in September when the handbook went off to production and my part in the process was complete.

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My mother and sister have recently completed a superb collaborative project. Megan Kerr wrote Rope of Words over a period of five years, most of which it spent in the drawer, in various stages of disrepair. She finished it in 2012, when it won the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition. Lin Kerr used the story to create an illustrated book with 14 watercolours of models drawn from life and then stylised. She also designed a font called Elva which you can see on the book cover.

The story is about a woman and her lover who collected words. The Woman lost both her words and her lover and spends the rest of the story looking for them (vowing never to cut her hair until a reunion). She had to find her words to get back to her lover. If you love words, illustrations and beautifully printed books, then put Rope of Words on your Christmas list, or even better treat yourself now.

It is being sold as a limited first edition of 600 copies, numbered and signed by the author and the artist and has full-colour artwork printed on fine paper and is hand bound. The price is £15 and can be bought from Rope of Words Website.

“With some customers she bartered for hours, word for word; others would pop in for a quick word in the lunchtime rush and never consider the cost. She even sold misspellings in a bargain bucket – wikkid, lite, fink, alrite – which the teenagers bought until someone from advertising came in and snapped up the lot.

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August holidays: and we went backpacking with the children to Italy, taking only what we could carry in our rucksacks we headed off for Rome, the Bay of Naples and Florence.

I’ve a kaleidoscope of impressions of age, grandness and decay. The English romantics went to see Rome’s glorious decay in the eighteenth century and 300 years later, it has progressed further. It was a shock to wander out of our apartment and look down our street to see mammoth pillars that are 2000 years old at The Forum and to marvel at how enormous they actually are. We rushed off to see the Sistine Chapel suitably attired as men, women and children have to cover their knees and shoulders. It was very sweet to see Isabel, aged 8, in one of my skirts. As we stood in the queue being harassed by touts, the realisation hit us that it really was a four-hour wait in the baking sun. It was a bitter pill to accept but I had to admit defeat and that I wouldn’t be able to see Michelangelo’s paintings. Water fountains are situated through the city and run with fresh water, courtesy of the Romans, so we cooled down and found a street cafe to eat delicious pizza which brought back the sense of contentment. I gloried in the colours and drama, graffiti and mess of this crazy city although Isabel took one look at the Colosseum and dismissed it, “It’s broken.”

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Paul3I have recently completed a catalogue for Paul Kessling, a well-known abstract artist who exhibits world-wide. He also happens to be my neighbour and got fed up with trying to make the layout program InDesign work for him! Two of his paintings were being exhibited overseas by the Cube Gallery in London and they required a catalogue to depict his other work as well as describing the concept behind his work. I produced a 48 page catalogue plus cover to showcase his art. The brief was to keep the design as clean as possible and use lots of white space. The artist and gallery were delighted with the results. Have a look at Paul’s work on his website www.paulkessling.com.

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Asthall12lr Asthall14lr Asthall15jlr Asthall13lrAsthall17lrThere were so many details at the On Form but I limit the images on each post so didn’t include these, but I thought you may enjoy seeing more of the On Form Exhibition. There are still two more weekends when you can visit for a marvellous day out.

On Form is at Asthall Manor from June 8th to July 6th, 2014.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 6pm
www.onformsculpture.co.uk

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Asthall lr Asthall2 lr Asthall3 lr Asthall4 lrAsthall9 lrAsthall6 lrWe rushed in at 12:00 on the dot for my daughter to attend the children’s carving workshop and I was overwhelmed by the sculptures, the flowers and the manor house. Once Isabel was sorted out, I could slow down and celebrate the On Form exhibition. On Form is a top priority to visit in June and is a fabulous biennial exhibition of sculpture purely in stone. The glorious setting of the seventeenth century Asthall Manor and beautiful gardens surrounded by the Cotswolds set off the sculptures to perfection.

My favourite sculptor this year was Tom Stogdon who uses roughly cut stone pieces to create organic shapes. They remind me of stone walls where there is much thought and skill in using individual pieces to create a satisfying whole. I love the way his sculptures interact with their surroundings and especially Stone Overlap which frames the countryside, is reflected in the pool and draws people towards it. Tom Stogdon has also created abstracted cityscapes inspired by London and Oxford where we were able to identify landmarks from the simplest shapes. The repetition of forms and texture in his work create a sense of calmness. Another sculptor I appreciated was Aly Brown and her piece Parvati, a slender torso, whose sinuous curves continue as they reflect into a natural pool dotted with lily pads. Aly said that a recent comment she had overheard was, “How does she make stone bend?” When you look at her work it is hard to believe it is stone as it flows like liquid. Then there is Adrian Gray, a stone balancer, and David Worthington’s Experiment in Colour VII who dared to add colour to marble – perfect against the red poppies.

Not only is there sculpture, but ponds, wild flowers, a dramatic swing, a tree house to die for and the connection the manor holds with the Mitford Sisters who lived there between 1919 and 1926. There are many events to enjoy too: Aly Brown gave free carving workshops to children which Isabel loved and on the 18th June you can watch Adrian Gray balance rocks.

I can’t recommend On Form highly enough as a day out whether you are passionate about sculpture or see it as a backdrop for a social occasion – our friend Jon’s words not mine!Asthall7 lrAsthall5 lrAsthall10 lr

Asthall12 lrOn form is at Asthall Manor from June 8th to July 6th, 2014.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 6pm
www.onformsculpture.co.cuk

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

April – The Jam Factory
May – Art in Ardington