February 23, 2014
I love Amsterdam! We spent 3 lovely days in January exploring this beautiful city. We only did a fraction of all the things on our list but with flights of just 35 minutes from our local airport just 10 minutes up the road, we are planning to be regular visitors.
We had bought a 3 day city transport ticket but hardly used it, we wondered around on foot experiencing all things Dutch, eating wonderful apple cake, pastries and cheese, visiting the flower market, admiring rows of old dutch houses on pretty canals.
There were two songs I couldn’t get out of my head all the time we were in Amsterdam. One was Tip toe through the tulips and the other was A little mouse on the stairs with clogs on! Also, on the first, very wet afternoon, the sun finally showed itself and a saying popped into my head that my Mum used to say when I was little; There’s enough blue sky to patch a dutchmans trousers and there was!
It was mid January but it felt like spring with people buying huge, gorgeous branches of magnolia. I learnt to watch my step, to avoid being mown down by the hundreds of Amsterdam folk on bicycles. We didn’t hire any [thats on the list for next time] but I found a bike that I wanted to bring home with me.
I also found a shop that has shot into my all time top ten shops in the world; Sukha.
From the papercuts in the window display, the understated, beautiful jewellery, to the super stylish home wares and clothes and the clever styling, I loved it all!
If it is fabric you are after, head to the Albert cuyp market. Behind the market stalls are rows of huge fabric shops, with every type of textiles. Don’t miss the De Peperbol with spices at the front and then rows and rows of all the kitchen equipment you could ever want.
You can spend hours exploring The Nine Streets [DE Negen Straajes] An area crammed full of interesting shops and bars. I was on my way to find one particular shop The Frozen Fountain. I got so caught up in the nine streets I didn’t get to the Frozen fountain until 10 minutes before closing. 10 minutes was not long enough to get around 2 floors of products by established and newly emerging Dutch designers. I raced round and had to be chucked out by the staff waiting to get home [ another reason to be back!]
I had asked my Dutch friend to recommend some places to seek out. One of her tips had been the Frozen fountain and another, a very different shop; Hema. I was glad I made the effort to find it. The shop was as my friend described it; a mixture between Muji and Woolworths! I filled a basket with wonderful, cheep and cheerful paper products, lots for members of my family who have an equal passion for all things in the stationary department!
My last purchase was a copy of my favourite magazine; Flow. If you are into paper products and illustration, get hold of a copy. Flow has an international version now, translated into English, but the magazine is crammed full of such wonderful imagery, it doesn’t even matter if it is the Dutch copy!
Some of my lovely things from a day shopping in Amsterdam.
October 8, 2013
My new book is out in 3 weeks time! It is very exciting, as it includes some of my woodland creatures as 3D popouts inside the book! I will be revealing all the creatures soon but in the mean time, in the run up to publication, I am going to share with you some of my favourite creatures, starting with the wonderful illustrations by John Hanna.
About a year ago I was digging around in a box of old books in a local junk shop. The owner asked if I was looking for anything in particular and I said that I was always on the look out for books with interesting covers. He said he had something that I would like and produced a pile of Country Fair magazines. I bought the whole lot!
I had one copy already that I had bought years ago but I knew nothing about the magazine, only that I loved the front covers!
I had tried researching John Hanna but not not come up with a lot of information and it wasn’t until a few months later that I learnt a lot more. I was lucky enough to be part of an event run by designer maker Jenny Duff and was soon to discover that Jenny had been given the permission to produce a series of table mats using the original covers.
Jenny was able to fill in a few gaps and point me towards an article in Creative Review.
John Hanna was an Australian illustrator who moved to london in 1947 and created a series of illustrations for Country Fair magazine in the early 1950’s. All of them depict a creature from the country side. They are really lovely, beautifully designed and bursting with character.
Jenny was offered the images by the family of the publisher Macdonald Hastings, who edited Country Fair. The family remember using copies of the magazine as table mats, so it seems really fitting that they are being used in this way, for all to enjoy!
I have the froggy mat from one of my favourite covers and below are a few more of my favourites!