Autumn Feast

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.

Say it with a card

 

We live in an era where the art of writing appears to be fading away to be replaced by emails, texts or messages on various social media platforms. The joy of receiving a real card through a real letter box is all the greater for being so rare these days.

This paper and ink card can be displayed and even framed, meaning that you can cherish it for longer. It stays as a is a reminder of the care and love that came with the card in the first place !

The cards available at Handmade Design Studio are designed for any and every special occasion. They are made in small batches and some are one-off or commissioned. The card makers include artists Orla Barry, John Corrigan, Carole Fanon, Lorna Farrell, Gail Kelly and Fergus O’Neill.

 

Flower power

I love this time of the year when the great variety of flowers are beginning to bloom. With their spectacular colours come some enchanting scents also. My favorites are lilac for its unmistakable scent, rose for its heady yet subtle fragrance and honeysuckle that offers a fresh and sweet hedgerow aromatic.

Bring all the magic of nature into your house by burning a Field Day Irish scented candle: the delicate Tea Rose fragrance is enriched by rose otto notes and has a hint of plum. Divine!

You can also enjoy the refreshing jasmine and lime soap from Baressential. This family-run business based in Co. Kildare only produces small batches of handmade soaps so these natural bars are the freshest possible bars of soap to be found. Baressentials’ unique recipes are made using sumptuous skin loving ingredients and luxurious evocative scent blends.

Not forgetting you can display your favourite cut flowers in a vintage-inspired handmade vase from Emer O’Sullivan. Emer is a Donegal native who makes a range of pretty ceramic pieces inscribed with flowers and impressed with lace.

 

 

Groovy jewellery

 

I recently had a throwback to my student days when I received some new jewellery made from vinyl records by Dana Creations. As I was admiring the quirky earrings and necklaces, I began to wish I still had my vinyl collection and could immerse myself in the soundscapes of Pink Floyd or Horslips. I felt nostalgia for the times I’d have to turn the disk over to side B once the scratchy crackly sound of the record player meant side A was finished.

 

Colour me Easter

 

Tulips and daffodils are in full bloom; woods are covered in a soft purple carpet of blue bells; birds are gathering twigs and feathers to built their nests: Spring is well and truly here and there is a great sense of the world coming colourfully back to life. English Yellow and Antibes Green by Annie Sloan are cheerful Spring colours that will, without doubt, bring life back into any tired-looking piece of furniture.

Amour Toujours

Valentine’s day is a day for love, of course, and most importantly it is about expressing that through a carefully chosen gift for your loved one. It is the little things and moments that make Valentine’s day special and you can enjoy any number of these with a thoughtful gift. Let’s see, these could be …

irish-cob-mugniki-collier-swirl-hat-raspberry-and-plumforgotten-china-pendantwalnut-paddle-board

 

The smell of freshly brewed coffee ready to be poured into your favorite mug. It could be the Irish Cob mug by Claire Molloy.

A walk along the beach (well maybe not in Mullingar!) or in the forest or across the beautiful midlands bogs all wrapped up in warm clothes. Nikki Collier‘s Swirl hat would be ideal.

Cosying up together for a chat, a laugh or a cuddle by the fire at home with some mellow music playing in the background.

Putting on a sparkly pair of earrings or wearing a stunning pendant before going out on the town. One of Forgotten China pendants are truly vintage.

Preparing some tasty food for a dinner en tête-á-tête. You will need one of Caulfield Country boards.

Let’s go “Greenery”

botanical-amsterdan-greenGreenery is the name of the fresh and vibrant new shade made by Pantone for this year. It is a truly Irish colour, symbolic of the undulating hills, the grazing land and dramatic landscapes of the Emerald Isle.

Foliage and botanical patterns are very much on trend at present and are reminiscent  of William Morris’ textile and wallpaper patterns. Greenery shades are revitalising and make me yearn for nature’s imminent revival in springtime.

Being aware of the natural world, and being conscious of sustainability, another useful trend is the idea of ‘upcycling’. This is a great way to reuse materials and reduce our collective carbon footprint. Using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, did you know that here in Handmade Design Studio we can refresh and redesign any item of furniture for you?

We discuss the ideas for the style you like, the colour and finishing and you will be guaranteed to have a unique, individual hand-painted piece that breathes new life into your existing furniture and doesn’t ‘cost the Earth’ in every sense of that expression!

Small Treats

The little ones and big ones are getting ready to dress up as witches, vampires, pumpkins, pirates and superheroes. Barmbrack recipes are being revisited and creepy sweeties purchased. Small treats for your treat bags could also be: a tooth fairy by Guadalupe Creations, the Petit Bijou earrings by DVM, a sample of Graphite Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan or a juniper wet stone soap by Baressential!
tooth-fairygraphite2juniper-wet-stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Indian Summer

as_giverny_01September feels good so far with mild weather, great sunshine and blue skies. A few wet days but we won’t talk about them !

A new colour has been added to the chalk paint palette: Giverny. Annie Sloan named this cool bright blue after the village in Normandy that was home to the impressionist painter Claude Monet. Giverny has a very contemporary look especially combined with Pure or Barcelona Orange. Associate with Paloma or Emile and you will achieve a more vintage style. Get your brushes out and start painting. Colour is everything!daiva-linen-scarves

Textile artist Daiva knows about art, colours and brush strokes too! She handpaints her silk and linen scarves in her Limerick studio. Each scarf is unique in its design, making it quite special to wear or to offer as a gift to a loved one.

 

Mid Summer

For me, June means going out to gather some of the fragrant elderflowercreamy-white elder flowers to make some delicious and refreshing cordial. mixed with sparkling water and served in a KaroArt porcelain tumbler, how delightful is that ?

If you are going to an outdoor food, music or literary festival or simply going picnicking by the seaside, you might want to pack a cosy and warm hand-woven tweed blanket for comfort. How about the colourful ‘Carnival’ blanket by Studio Donegal ? Blush tear drop

Invited to a wedding or a party ? Well then, the perfect and perfectly affordable acccessory to wear is the ‘Blush’ Palomar neckpiece together with the small teardrop earrings by Bláithín Ennis. Simply gorgeous! For a more casual look, wear the “Spring cycle’ or ‘Dublin castle flag’ necklace by ArtySmarty. Bound to be noticed.