Christmas really starts the moment you dust off the box of decorations, tinsel and lights stashed away since last year. There’s the moment of anticipation and rediscovery that is so much part of the excitement of the festive season.
To decorate the Christmas tree, you first put the fairy lights on the branches working from top to bottom, then add all the colourful glass or ceramic baubles, the handmade wooden or straw decorations, the lovely little felted booties. Finish with a star or Angel at the very top of the tree.
Getting one special Christmas decoration every year to build a collection adding a new one year on year creates a family collection that makes for new memories of Christmas to cherish.
As the evenings are getting longer, darker and colder, this is the time of year when you want to sit by the fire, light some nice candles and relax in a warm and homely room. You might want to add an extra layer in the shape of a woolly blanket for the ultimate in cosiness! The handwoven throws from Studio Donegal come in a great ranges of tones from earthy to bright. Scented candles from Candella come in many delightful aromas, with Vintage Rose (No. 1), Pomegranate (No. 3) and White Fig (No. 8) among my favourites this season. Complete this tableau of comfort with a cup of hot chocolate in one of KaroArt’s tweet cups.
To create her unique ceramics, Vivien O’Malley takes her inspiration directly from her surroundings along the coast of County Waterford.
The ‘Tidal Collection’ consists of a series of bowls with splashes of either a deep midnight blue or a greeny turquoise glaze on the outside surface. Inspired by the patterns created in the sand by the retreating tide, these striking colours are reminiscent both of the sky light and the sea water.
The ‘Urchin Collection’ has an outer dotted surface, evoking the exterior shell of the sea urchin as the name suggests. With this lovely textured surface and the varied inner colours, ranging from purple to pink and different shades of blue, this original collection of porcelain mugs, sugar bowls, milk jugs and bowls is as playful as it is exquisite.
Dublin-based jewellery maker Betzy Medina creates funky, chunky and very colourful fashion accessories under the brand name of Sandia. For her necklace collections, she has created some striking hand-cut pieces using expanding rubber foam. This is an unusual but creative choice as a material for jewellery: it has the advantage of being extremely light and easy to wear. Painted wood is another favoured material and with her interesting colour combinations and geometrical shapes Betzy’s jewellery is sure to be noticed! Sandia earrings and necklaces make a fun addition to any outfit and can complete either a casual or a stylish look. Totally addicted! Now available in Handmade Design Studio, Mullingar.
Thomas Wollen has been a potter for nearly 20 years and is one of only two ceramists in Ireland who uses the traditional Japanese Raku technique to glaze pieces. Raku (楽) which originated in Japan and has a 400 year history there, means enjoyment, comfort or ease but is anything but easy to create! In fact it is quite a difficult process to successfully produce the distinctive crackled glaze surface. Thomas’ inspiration comes mainly from the botanical world. Vases and wall-mounted cuboid pieces available in Handmade Design Studio include depictions of elongated floral heads and wading birds in both vibrant colours are truly unique and would make a spectacular statement in a home.
The design idea behind this beautifully crafted eggcup trio is as simple as it is ethical. Caulfield Country Boards have used the walnut and beech off-cuts from their wine racks to create a new and practical kitchen item.
This is a ‘waste not, want not’ approach and is in keeping with my love of up-cycling and recycling. For me it is a winner! I love the engraved hen and chick footprints that add a quirky detail. It is a fun element for the little ones to see when they’re having their soft-boiled egg and soldiers!
Being surrounded in our daily life by visible or invisible concrete, we might think that it is simply a grey and pretty common building material. Well, in most recent time, it has gained a trendy reputation due to its minimalist look but also to its durability. If you would like to add a chic modern touch to your home decor, look no further than the innovative homeware collection from Kaiko Studio. Their bowls, planters and candle holders have a beautiful and striking finish and they come in white, pale and dark grey. Perfect neutrals to suit many home style.
The Christmas tree evokes memories of simple childhood pleasures and excitements. I am reminded of the moment the box of decorations was taken down from the attic: feeling joy reopening it and exploring its hidden treasures, pulling out the glittery garlands, the old fairy lights and the delicate glass baubles that picked up and reflected so many colours. Passed on from earlier generations, some of our family’s Christmas decorations were intricately woven paper and ribbon creations, or hand-painted snowmen, robins and elves: sturdy time travellers from Christmases long ago.
Making your own Christmas decorations means being in the moment while having fun stitching, painting or découpaging! The craft as well as the decorations passes from one generation to the next. Christmas is said to be ‘all about the children’ but the ‘Down Memory Lane’ tree pays tribute to the older generation.
When I first opened the shop my counter and till point was a late 1930s pitch pine kitchen cabinet. It has all its original features including a pull-out enamel work surface, hooks for cups above the top inside shelf and air vents on the top doors. I initially painted this cupboard in Annie Sloan duck egg blue adding some time later old violet and Scandinavian pink to give it a newer life.
Many customers have commented on this piece of furniture reminiscent of their childhood memories at their granny’s or remembering their mum preparing some food on the narrow counter. I have been asked many times if I would sell this retro piece of furniture but I have become attached to it and it is now back in my house. The shop counter is now a large chalk-painted Edwardian sideboard with beautiful carved details and a large top beveled mirror.
The splash of rich Autumn colours and ‘mellow-fruitfulness’ in Anna-Marie Leavy’s limited edition print “Blackberries” vividly conjures up for me memories of foraging for this beautiful sweet wild fruit as a child. Cycling along hedges in search of the blackest, ripest berries in mid-September, we’d leave our bikes on the side of the lane and by the end of our picking we’d have eaten almost as many berries as we’d collected in our little buckets. We’d walk along the bramble-laden hedgerows, our fingers sticky and stained a deep reddish purple colour while our tongues and lips were matching shades.
Blackberry jam is simple and satisfying to make and here’s an equally simple recipe for how to create a deep aubergine colour using Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan: Mix equal parts of Burgundy and Napoleonic Blue to produce a rich and strong colour purple. Add a bit of Graphite if you prefer it to be a deeper shade.