Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas - Buon Natale

Well folks, I have finally posted all my Christmas cards and today I finished wrapping up the last of my pressies so its time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I imagine with all the snow around some of my cards will arrive at their destination about Easter time, but be patient, better late than ever!
I only have 3 working days left in the posh gift shop in Turin and it has proved to be very hard work as usual, but on the "nice and fancy" side it is very enjoyable wrapping up hundreds of pressies of all shapes and sizes... frying pan shape can be very difficult, triangle and round boxes are also quite a handful especially when you are in a rush.

I had hoped to do one last post with the winner of my Top Five useless/interesting items found in dusty spider-ridden cellars but the holiday rush has finally totally engulfed me. I have also noticed that there aren't many people dying to know what the winning item is so I think I can take my time and please myself when to post, anyway, if anyone out there is really interested the wait will add a little suspense.

So it is pretty obvious that I wish you all a very NICE Christmas and an exceptionally FANCY New Year, and heres hoping you all get whatever you most desire under your Christmas tree!

Vorrei fare gli auguri anche in Italiano. Buone Feste e un Felice Anno Nuovo a tutti.

Friday, December 10, 2010

N° 2 Vintage Christmas Ornaments

It is just the right time of year to post these lovely blown glass vintage Christmas baubles that I found in dusty boxes. Truly wonderful, very old and VERY FRAGILE. They seem to break by just looking at them. I took some very quick photographs of a few of them but there are so many I need to take more time and catalogue them, I also need to find a better way to present them as I had to invent a couple of backgrounds to disguise my bad photography skills! I do hope you enjoy them anyway. Some are incredibly elaborate and moulded into strange shapes, others are painted using bright colours or covered in glitter. There are also some surprising characters too like the cat with a cartoon face or the snowman being hugged by a little boy. Yummy!  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

N° 3 Wallpaper Borders

These gorgeous borders are very old but I can't really put a date to them. They certainly deserve 3° place as they are quite unique, the colours are fantastic, the paper lovely and chunky just like real paper used to be, and they are all embossed. Roughly all are about 2cms wide and some have silver or gold shiny bits! What a great find.
I immediately wove some together to make a pattern. I hope to do some "fancy bits" with them and post them here soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

N° 4 Fruit Tree Pruning Booklet

This great find is I’m afraid not in very good condition. It is a text manual used for agricultural training, dated 1965 (fourth edition). By the title of “La potatura degli alberi da frutto”, roughly translated as “How to prune fruit trees”, it measures 15cm by 20,5cm, and has 166 pages. It has a 4 colour cover with black and white internal pages, 12 chapters and 66 illustrations and cost a whole 800 lire, that is 0.41 euros or 0.34 sterling! The illustrations are beautiful although very technical and precise and are all reproductions of original drawings done by the author, A. Calzecchi Onesti. It was very hard just to choose two or three of them to post here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

N° 5 Frog Money Box

This funny little frog moneybox is quite sweet in his own way. Made of papier mâché with a high glaze finish, 15cm tall, Made in Germany, and I think of late sixties design. He reminds me more of a Toad than a Frog, probably because of his size (I frequently see toads in my garden which are nearly as big!). He is very ugly and seems to be sulking but has lovely swirly designs on his tummy and back and flowers for eyes. In my book any animal which has flowers for eyes can’t be all that bad. My only criticism is his size, if he was a bit smaller and was just a frog instead of a moneybox as well he would be perfect. So with a little help from my computer I have created three little cousins for him, one orange, one sky blue and one purple, at about 7cm tall they are much more appealing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beware of spiders 2

The saga continues… we are now into the seventh week of the grand clear out! (It is also the reason for my extremely quiet blog.) The whole exercise has proved to be harder and more time consuming than expected. Now that all the spider-ridden black holes have finally been investigated the only remaining problem is disposing of all the rubbish in the correct recycling bin, easier said than done! 
No hidden treasures have come to light (unlike the amazing discovery made in London and sold at Christies) so we are almost resigned to the fact that our marathon will not yield any great financial benefit. The removal van is booked for Saturday so you could say we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 
As mentioned in “Beware of Spiders” I have decided to post a TOP FIVE of the most interesting and/or useless items found whilst sorting through mountains of rubbish. Just give me a couple of days to sort out photographs and one by one the chosen five will feature under my NICE label. You will discover that they have nothing to do with spiders but are just objects which have caught my eye for some reason, it also means they have been saved from the recycling bin and will live a second life in my collection of cherished “interesting” rubbish at home!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Beware of spiders

Over the last month we have been emptying a large flat with 3 cellars and 2 outhouses which has always been used as a warehouse. There was a slight hope of finding some forgotten family heirloom but we quickly discovered it was full of 40 years of family rubbish and spiders!
Although I don’t suffer from Arachnophobia it has been a trying experience. How we come to be doing this is a long tale and not very interesting, however halfway through the job we are coming to the end of our strength and patience. So why am I writing about it here, I don’t know, I think just to get it off my chest. When we are finished I could post a top ten of the most useless items we have discovered just to prove the utter worthlessness of all our hard work. Having said that I am secretly pleased with a couple of strips of original 50’s wallpaper and a few old, old, I mean OLD, Christmas decorations, but nothing to compensate for sorting through piles and piles of junk. There is one Black Hole left, a disused cellar that hasn’t been opened for about 20 years. When I peeped in I saw a big wooden chest in the corner, we could be lucky but meanwhile I am too preoccupied with the spiders to get excited about it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Deliciously disgusting

I have created a new label especially for these sweets because I did'nt want to post them in my NICE archive, so from today I have a NOT NICE label.

I usually love bad taste graphics when executed in a fun fashion, however I really don't see the funny side of these sweets! I spotted them in my local bread shop today and was so distracted by the explicit illustration I immediately took a photo, strangely a spotlight shows up on the bits I could'nt take my eyes off, but I think the message is loud and clear. So I then bought some and opened a packet... the brown ball inside is hard and sticky... yes sticky!!! At this point I cannot bring myself to break the crust to let out the gooey red stuff inside, YUK!

This post has prompted me to have a quick look on the web at other bad taste sweets http://www.chocolatebuttons.co.uk/ I must say there is a whole new world out there waiting to be discovered, Giant Jelly Spiders, Jelly Brains, Chocolate Ghosts, Toxic Waste Candy Tubs (not bad) but nothing quite on the level with Camel Balls. The search continues...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

IPhone App Magnets

I saw these great fridge magnets by Jailbreak Collective some months ago and whenever I intended to buy some on-line they were always out of stock. Then I secretly hoped I would buy (or receive) the real thing. As this hasn’t happened yet I think I will just buy some and be done with it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100% Design - Made in Turin

Today the 100% Design Exhibition opens in Earls Court, London. It
is all about the best of contemporary interior design. The Turin based Design Firm ToDo will be there and will be presenting their new product SPAMGHETTO in the emerging talent showcase 100% Futures.

"Spamghetto is the inappropriate, intriguing, irresistible spam-based wall covering that turns the bad ideas flooding your inbox into patterns of insight into the human nature.
Comically misspelled offers of love and enthusiastic advice on how to get rich, fast: most people like their spam filter to spare them such nuisances, but at ToDo they are cherished as a testimony to the humanity of our emotions, the universality of our deepest desires. Before someone finds the way to ban this blip of fun and inspiration from our everyday correspondence, ToDo has decided to give spam a new outlet with Spamghetto, a print-on-demand, “green” FSC-certified, non-woven wall covering that has won international recognition with a Silver Award at the 2010 European Design Awards.
The process is just as fascinating as the product itself: ToDo created a generative software that feeds on spam’s enticing claims, creating mesmerizing, subtly offbeat digital patterns in which one striking offer leads to the other in a compelling, unique design.
Depending on the original spam material and on a handful of possible customization options, Spamghetto could have infinite variations. But typically, taking a closer look at its volutes and sprouts, you will find easy money, easy women, easy solutions to any problem.
Spamghetto is something very, very different from your Grandma’s wallpaper."

Go and have a look, I think it is pretty yummy and not only Made in Italy but 100% Made in Turin!

All photos and descriptive text © ToDo 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vintage Italian Tea Towels

For years I have been using these wonderful tea towels at my mother-in-law’s house. The illustrations I think were done by an Italian illustrator called Milvia and the towels given as a promotional gift by a company selling household goods, (sorry…, but I can’t be more specific than that). Milvia I suspect is the illustrators name and not the name of the company who produced the towels. I also have no idea how old they are, I think they’ve been drying pots for quite some time. My “Milvia” searches on the web have so far come up with nothing.

Although these towels are a bit of a mystery I really love them, the colours and illustrations are great and the handwritten typeface is superb.

Venerdì… giardinaggio, translated means “Friday… gardening”, such a wonderful dress and hat with a gorgeous balcony in flower.
Lunedì… bucato, translated means “Monday… washing”, it’s a shame that this towel is in bad condition as the face is lovely.
Domenica… trattoria, translated means “Sunday… restaurant”, I just love the headscarf and shoes!

Obviously I have now re-valued them and have stopped using them to dry the dishes. I am also on the hunt for the other four days of the week!

For more heavenly tea towels to buy, catch up with this great site, to dry for.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Female Humour Card

This is one of my entries for the latest Tigerprint Competition. The theme was Female Humour and I thought shopping was a good subject to choose. A woman will use ANY excuse to buy something and does'nt really care if it ruins them financially as it is almost always an item they desperately NEED!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's the day

Today my oldest and most crooked cactus decided to flower. Quite an event as the stem takes about a month to form but when the flower finally opens it only lasts for about 24 hours! I decided to immortalize the happening with a some photies and a few drawings in my sketchbook. Of course I've posted it in the "Fancy" bit of my blog, as, just for a change doing these sketches gave me loads of Cactus ideas. Will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Hols

Hi, I have'nt posted for a while, my excuse is I went on holiday to Sicily, thats not a crime is it? Anyway I was just about to add that as I'm talking to myself it dose'nt matter WHEN I post and then magically I find that I have a follower! Wow, it is very exciting and many thanks to TF.
Seriously I will be posting something soon, as Sicily allowed me to spend time with my sketchbook and experiment with what I think has the posh name of paper engineering (- that is, the combination of folding and cutting on the same sheet), but in my case it was more like fancy origami as I made a lot of it up as I went along. However I now have loads more ideas to develop, some "ruffle cards" are in the making... so why am I so behind with my Illustrations for the Bologna Childrens Book Fair... whaaaa.

Monday, July 26, 2010


This lovely little fellow came on to my balcony the other day. I tried to coax him on to my Geraniums for a more artistic photo but he was'nt having any of it. He just loved those hot brick tiles!


Well, the Lenci exhibition certainly inspired me. My sketchbook is full of ideas... even a tea cosy decorated with butterflies, however I can't bring myself to post a tea cosy, it would ruin my image right from the start!

So here are two illustrations taken from my sketchbook. I scanned them in and coloured them on my computer. They were inspired by the wealth of strange plants and trees which adorned a lot of the different sculptures. As often happens when I finish an illustration or pattern I have an idea where it might look best. I just happen to own a lovely Sadler Mug (I think 1930's), with a lovely quirky handle, just perfect for my illustrations.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bologna Children's Book Fair 2011 - Illustrators call for entries.

The Fair

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the most important international event dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry. More information about the Fair here.
Among the special initiatives launched each year the Bologna Children's Book Fair holds an Illustrators Exhibition. An Illustrators Annual is published with the work included in the exhibition and of course a winner is chosen. Click here for link with more information on how to enter and what requirements are needed.
I have received my invite to participate again so I am adding 5 A3 illustrations to my already busy schedule. Above is one of my illustrations from last year, which was not excepted for the final illustration annual.
By the way the Book Fair is a wonderful event, enormous and well worth the visit even if you don't feel like entering the competition.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New header for July

Well, my first post for July is a new header for my blog. Could'nt stand the white space.
Hope to be posting very soon, see you then.

Monday, June 21, 2010

View from Palazzo Madama

After visiting the Lenci Exhibition I went up into the tower above Palazzo Madama to take in the 360 view of the centre of Turin. The great thing was after 5 days of rain the sky was actually blue!


A wonderful exhibition at Palazzo Madama, Piazza Castello, Turin. More photos here.

Description taken from the exhibition catalogue. 


Design Ceramics 1927-1937

The Lenci factory in Turin, which was originally known for its dolls and tapestries in "pannolenci" felt, started making ceramic sculptures in 1927.

The exhibition shows a wide selection of these ceramic works, which were designed and sculpted in the first, most fertile period. After 1937 the sculpures were simply repeats of the most successful models.

What made the Lenci factory so original was that it brought together a great variety of artists in the design and creation of its ceramics: the works of Chessa, Sturani, Grande, Tosalli and Scavini are highly personal and instantly recognisable, some more innovative and modern, others more traditional.

Lenci interior design sculptures, which were perfectly suited to middle-class tastes, became highly fashionable and immensely popular at the height of the Deco period.

I particularly loved the work of Mario Sturani, decorative boxes, figures dancing on the handles of bowls and numerous frivolous objects show his originality and ironic creative style. The work of Adele Jacopi was also interesting with pieces portraying famous women of the time namely Marlene Dietrich, and "signorine grandi firme" by Elena Scavini showing fashion tendencies such as femmine figures at the sea or in the mountains. 

Great inspiration for me I hope to post sketchbook doodles SOON!  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One-off Gift Cards

I found some lovely flower stickers the other day. They have a raised foam circle in the centre which makes them stand off from the backgrounds. In a couple of days I whizzed up these little gift cards (60mm x 90mm), the nice thing about them is they are all one-offs, I managed to make twenty cards with the stickers I had, when I returned to buy more they had sold out... no more stickers no more cards! 
If and when I open an Etsy shop these are the type of things I would like to sell, but for now I am content selling them in a very posh gift shop in Turin.    

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nice and Fancy

After one month of trying to find a name for my blog (the titles I had set my heart on were annoyingly not available), I've decided on "Nice and Fancy", so at least now I can get on with the job! 
You'll be hearing from me very soon!