In Miniature

Oh dear, I've turned into one of those ghastly mothers that do their kids' school projects for them.  Well sort of.   Our primary school run an annual 'sculpture by the school' competition and in previous years my kids have not got their act together in time to make one.   Not this year.  This year their mother said bugger it, I want to make a sculpture and you shalt be my beard, daughter.    It is our school centenary this year so there is a strong vintage groove happening around the place.  Our little cottage is nearly as old as the school, so we (ahem, I) had the idea to make a model of our house, using only materials salvaged from around and under the house.  We have heaps.   A few bits of dolls house furniture made it in too.

Daughter did grudgingly stick on a few bits of china and arrange a bit of furniture, to give that authentic  child touch.   We started with the old rotting wooden letter box and worked from there...

Coke can (water tank) that needs a can opener to open, who would have believed that.

A surfboard shaped piece of broken china, which I confess was her idea.

The family that lived in our house from the time it was built in 1917 until we moved in a few years ago were Catholic, so there was no shortage of religious ephemera.

I was foolishly concerned that our entry was so good it might win, which would be highly embarrassing, but I need not have worried.  When we took it in and checked out the competition, the standard was amazing.  There are some damned creative parents, I mean kids, out there.


Shinternet Shoes

Have you had any luck buying shoes online?  I used to indulge in quite a lot of internet shopping in the UK, but for some reason it has not really taken grip in Australia, in my experience, to quite the same degree.  This makes no sense whatsoever given the tyranny of our distances, but hey.

I was coveting a pair of gorgeous clog sandals last week sported by a friend and hopped straight on line when I got home to arrange procurement for self.   Funkis are a Swedish/Australian outfit with a few retail outlets in Sydney (I don't live in Sydney, goddam) and an online store.  They purvey a range of gorgeous things, including their clog/sandal range.  It was love at first websight.  I am a bit of a cripple with very flat feet so spend most of my time in Birkinstocks.  Funkis have a moulded base with good support so hurrah, I may actually be able to wear them.

 (Aside: Kylie posted a picture last week which was not actually about shoes, but did include a pair of shoes that I suspect may also be from Funkis.  Coincidental.)

So I ordered a pair of these which arrived two days later.  I adored them immediately.

But woe!  Although they are the right size, the 'fit' is all wrong.  They are very wide over the toe, so my foot rattles around in them.  I suspect they would be thus rather uncomfortable.  Upon reading the fine print, apparently other higher heeled styles have a narrower fit.  So with great reluctance I package them up and send them back, at a cost of $13.50, with also another postpack for $13.50.  The new ones I've chosen are $10 more, so all up the exercise to try on another style is now costing me $37.  Ouch, that pinches.  

These are the new ones I've chosen.  

Sadly this higher narrower style does not come in the lovely red.  I wait with baited breath, and will let you know how they go.

But regardless, it does pose the question, is it really worth buying anything online when you have to pay to return them and pay again for a replacement to be sent?  I can't help thinking that if a vendor is selling to customers without retail overheads, they should be able to absorb this cost.   In the UK you can often buy without paying postage costs, which is maybe why this channel is so much more popular there.

In this case, cause I really want them, I'm sucking it up!


Show Off

I braved the storeroom today to make space for more stuff and had a quick rummage through my bags of vintage textiles.   They are such precious relics of design that infiltrated everyday domestic life and provided the images and colours that fill so many memories.    I've been sourcing mid-century fabric, bed linen, table linen, curtains etc for probably about ten years, and have an insanely large pile of it all.  Sometimes I use pieces, but mostly I can't bear to cut it.  I often I just have to go and give it a stroke.   Anyway, I thought I'd photograph some of the fabric and share it with anyone out there that might like this sort of stuff (you know who you are).

Here is a small taste.   And this is just the fabric bag.  Most of the pieces below are barkcloth, so with that lovely grainy texture.  I did not get near the tablecloths, tea towels and bed sheets.  Enjoy!

Unfortunately this piece is not very big, but divine nonetheless.

So fresh, so flowery.

This is a corker, the grey shadow behind solid colour was a popular motif in the fifties.

There were lots of designs that incorporated food in the sixties, I remember wallpaper a bit like this.

 Still life?

How can I ever cut this, I mean really.

 Another wonderful fifties abstract piece, currently curtains.

I'm a bit over this as I have had it up as a pair of curtains, but is now back in the bag.

 Illustrative designs were popular for kids' curtains in days gone by, seemed to be lots for boys!

This is one of my all-time faves, printed on linen.  I did use some for covering my recipe book.

I suspect I'll never stop collecting vintage fabric.  If the house ever burnt down I'd certainly be running for it:  kids, dogs, photos, fabric, in that order.


Husband has recently returned from a trip to India (what an understanding wife he has) motorcycling around Rajistan.   As an ex-salesman he loves being sold to, so was never going to be coming home empty handed.  I was told to expect a parcel, which arrived the day after his return.   I just had to photograph this package before we opened it.  Here is why:

I just love the hessian (hey, two blog posts in one week that incorporate the word hessian) wrapping and hand stitching.  It reminds me of a haggis.   The use of natural materials and a little bit of handicraft to prepare something to travel the miles just seems so other world.    Oh, if you're wondering what was inside, it was a lovely rug, but I was so taken with the parcel presentation I forgot to photograph that.

Of course there were some other gifts, a beautiful cotton bed cover, and Maharaja puppet.  Turn him upside down and you will find his wife. 

He also decided to buy me some clothes, sweet, but risky, and yes a bit on the ethnic side for my taste.  Not that I'm complaining, all presents gratefully received.  

So next time you're buying a jiffy bag, think about wrapping up your present in some old fabric and throwing in a few stitches, I know it put a smile on my face.



Without a doubt one of my favourite, no darn it, my absolute favourite activity to include in any weekend is a home open.  In particular I love going to look at mid century houses that have been in the same family since they were built and are completely untouched by renovators.   A 1950-70's house that has been lived in by one family since construction often has such a wonderful sense of comfort and unpretentious joy, confident in its original design to just stay the same, unlike so much more recent house design.

Today I had a whizz through this house built in 1975, on the market in one of Perth's most expensive suburbs in a blue chip location.  What I love about it is its utter ordinariness (is that a word?) which you would never find today in this hood.   In the mid seventies, at the other end of the design spectrum, with Iwanoff's Brutalist to your left, to your far right saw extremely simple, yet graceful houses built for those with less directional tastes.  This is one such house.

 Drinks on the terrace tonight darling?

Hang on, now that's a bit racy, some crazy paving under the clothes line, go on, cut sick!

Plain, yes, but still sort of lovely.  What happened to that style of tiling I wonder.

The estate agent appreciated my confession to viewing with an interest in mid century design (I've given up trying to come up with stories any more), and even humoured me with ideas of opening up the serving hatch from the kitchen to make the space flow, but who is he kidding.  This house will undoubtedly be met by a demolition team and something enormous with mega-swank built in its place. Sigh.

I want one of

Today, thanks to Kylie's alert, I went to visit a fantastic open house designed by the renowned architect Ivan Iwanoff that is currently for sale in the Perth suburb of Dianella.  Iwanoff emigrated to Perth from Bulgaria in the early 1950's and began designing luxurious cutting edge modernist dwellings that would have been unbelievably radical and exotic in their day.  Perth was and still is a pretty conservative and homogenous place, relatively speaking, so it must have been wildly exciting to have someone like Iwan on the architectural scene.  Built in 1968 it boasts some outstanding Brutalist features, is in is virtually original condition (apart from a contemporary kitchen, shame) and is an absolute peach.

This house is not one of his most famous or jaw dropping (see this great blog post from 6000Times for a tight round up his really hot stuff), like the  neighbouring 1967 Marsala House with its disco floor,  but it is still pretty goddam sexy.   Of course I took some snaps.

These babies greet you as you enter the house.  Indoor water feature, now that is nice.

I'm buying tiles at the moment so honed straight in on those gorgeous hexagonal numbers.  And what a wonderful textile hessian is for mounting artwork, why did that ever stop happening?

Outside is just as good, even the dogs have their own modernist residence.

The organisers of The Iwanoff Project have set the house up for the weekend to also showcase art fashion and jewellery from local designers, which didn't really work for me, but gave everyone who is not moved by mid-century design (see my companion for details) something else to look at.

I mean, who could not want a sunken lounge.  Surely it would not enhance the life of anyone who is not in a wheelchair?

Brutalist design is not for everyone, indeed my mother adopts a face of someone who has sucked a lemon if she happens to cross paths with any, but it certainly floats my boat.   I'd live in it tomorrow, except that I couldn't live in Dianella, apologies to anyone from Dianella!



I know there is one forum where I can parade my latest mid-century textile finds, and that is amongst my lovely bloggers.   I've given up anticipating much reception from my family, "yeah that's great Mum, what's for dinner".   This week I've got a few more threads to add to my collection, and they've come from a range of sources.  It's got me thinking about where our treasured finds come from, and if fibres could talk, the stories they would tell.

Verge collections raise a bit of a spike in collection rates.   In the street where my Mum lives three people have died in a row of five houses, in the last six months.  It wasn't looking good for my Dad but moving was not an option.  When we were piling the shed junk on the verge Jim's family three doors down were doing same and I picked up this gorgeous tablecloth.

I just love those fine black lines against the grey and yellow, so fifties.  But I also think about jim sitting on his front verandah, and the not-far-off-condemned condition of his house with the outside loo and limited power supply.

These linen luncheon napkins were an op shop find, 50c each.  There are six, but one is much more faded than the rest.  Why?  Did someone who lived alone use the same one every day for solo civilised lunches?

From the same expedition, this 'bolster case' (now that would have been tres exotic in the sixties) was still in its packet.  That's a long time to keep something in mint condition.  How many linen cupboard sorting sessions saw it put back for another time?

Back to the verge, this sheeting fabric was rescued by a friend who knows I like this stuff.  

And finally a lovely fabric piece bought in a second hand shop.  I tend to think less about provenance for things acquired via the traditional retail channel.  I wonder why that is?


Bring out your dead

It's now seven months since my father passed away, and the council verge collection this time round has meant one thing for my Mum: clearing out his shed.  We had a busy bee (her term, not mine)  today and attacked the shed with gusto.  She had always told him that once he was gone the first thing she would do is a get a skip in.  He joked with her that would be fine, she could put him in that.   Which is funny because my father was a man who never threw anything out.   This was the first corner to be tackled:

A few good tools which will certainly find a new home in my shed, but a lot of very rusty cheap screwdrivers that were past their use by.  That shelf used to be in our living room in the 80's.  Like most sheds, it was the penultimate resting ground for a lot of discarded furniture, before it hits the verge.

See, a paper shopping bag from the 70's.  Remember those?  Oh yes, he kept it all.

This handy appliance shelf never did quite live up to its name, it stayed pristine in the box since it was bought in, judging from the packaging, around 1982.  

Some things survived the firing squad and will live on for another episode in our family life.   This wardrobe was from three houses ago, left by the last owners with cuttings on the inside door from the 50s.  I might do something with that one day.  The CWA cupboard was a verge rescue a few years back, I'm definitely keeping that. 

A few childhood memories were rekindled with some more survivors.  This was my baby bouncer which Grandma enjoyed putting my babies in.

 And in a box of old electricals, my old night light.

This set of scales which I will probably never use, also had to be reshelved.

I wonder what he would have made of it all, the boxes and boxes and more boxes of random nails, wire, string, broken handles, redundant front door bells, cables, castors, etc that are now gone.  I just know next week I'll be trying to fix something and remember the perfect item required for the job, that I recall putting on the verge today.  Isn't that always the way?!