Tales from the Sea Garden

Tales from The Sea Garden

Email me: theseagarden@btinternet.com

Sunday 28 February 2010

A few days in Devon...

The ancient market town of Honiton in Devon has become one of my regular haunts for sourcing stuff for the shop. With its long history of lace making and many antique shops, market days twice a week (Tues and Sat), plus a regular textiles fair organised by Caroline Bushell of Fountain Antiques it never fails to please. I am very fortunate that my good friend Mr. T. has a place there where I can go and stay. On my last visit Caroline was preparing for the Bridport Rag Market, and asked me whether I would like to pop round for a sneek preview of the lot she had just bought at auction. Would I ever! So I thought I'd share with you dear bloggers and fellow vintage fanatics some of the stash of goodies which will soon be winging its way onto The Sea Garden shelves.

Two amazing cards of dyed Mother-of Pearl buttons..........

Even the backs of the cards are beautiful!

Next an array of coloured silk ribbons and trim,

I particularly like this turquoise silk bow

A Victorian silk doll's dress,

and several lengths of cotton trim

Does anyone know the name of this type of trim, where the cotton is alternately bound very tightly and then opens out into a lozenge shape?

I love delicate net pieces with embroidered borders.......

An unusual black chiffon and cream embroidered trim,

And a selection of embroidery cottons and silks in my favourite turquoise sea green shades. Are you like me, can you only buy what you personally love, even though you're going to be selling it on?

Coming back en route to Cornwall I decided to divert off the A30 and spend a few hours in Totnes. Another lovely market town full of really interesting independent retailers. Greengrocers, such as this one with its mouthwatering display of fresh fruit and veg spilling out onto the street,

along with numerous butchers, bakers, delis, tea shops, fishmongers, a dedicated cheese shop, the Riverford organic farm shop, go to make up a vibrant mix of quality food retail establishments. Isn't this how all our high streets used to look?

A contemporary interior design shop,

narrow alleyways lead off the high street, I wonder if they call them "opes" in Devon too,

a very attractive contemporary art gallery, with porcelain vessels by
Linda Bloomfield and paintings by Sarah Bowman (amongst others).

'The Bead Room' on the opposite side of the road had a great variety of interesting beads on offer, I bought this lovely plateful!

And loads of freshwater pearls in the most delicious rich colours

"Seasalt' clothes shop was having a Festival of Rain celebration, with all the wellies out the front;

they are a very eco-friendly clothing company based in Cornwall, using organic cotton and manufacturing garments in closely monitored factories where workers are paid a fair wage for their labour.

The Totnes branch of Seasalt has one of the most immaculate paint jobs I have ever seen, with logos painted beside the door of some of the other brand names sold within.

Further up the High Street is this lovely interiors shop,

and a new discovery for me, No.69 High Street, had a lovely display of pastel painted antique furniture and handmade driftwood items, so I decided to venture within......

The owner of the shop, Kevin, was working out the back and we got chatting. It was clearly evident how much care and attention he was putting into the restoration and painting of each piece of furniture; I loved this cupboard with the mirror back but just couldn't think where on earth I was going to put it if I took it home!

This child's rocking chair was also delightful

In the end I came away with the low coffee table (for home) and the blue painted crate shelves for the The Sea Garden where it will make excellent display space.

Saturday 20 February 2010

I love winter!

I love this time of year. Christmas has been and gone, it's so quiet in the village that I only open the shop on a saturday, which means that the rest of the week I have the wonderful luxury of being able to 'play' with new ideas. Yippee! Cards are such good sellers, and it's nice to present something to the customer that they would never find on the high street. Whenever I'm making anything with textiles, all the cut ends of threads and every teeny, tiny scrap of discarded fabric gets put into this old sweet jar. This range of cards came about as a way of using up all those scrap ends - nothing gets thrown away here!

I have used old will documents as the background for each heart. The bits of thread and fabric are randomly scattered all over the document and sealed with a layer of glued tissue paper - a tricky process! After drying, I use various sized heart templates to draw the heart shapes and then cut them out. Each heart is then sewn directly onto the front of each card. A little linen button with a hand-stitched 'x' adds the final finishing touch.

Butterflies are a favourite theme of mine at the moment. By cutting out the butterfly images and then only sticking down the centre section you can bend their wings up and make them appear as if they are just alighting! Although these cards are printed, each one remains entirely unique as I am feeding the paper into the printer by hand several times to achieve a layering of text and pattern. The fabric I have printed from in this instance is a lovely 1930's floral.

It makes nice gift tags too!

I love to use old sepia toned photographs in my work.

The same girl appears in both these photographs, and I have more from the same album. She's always smiling, a very cheery sort!

A beautiful French 19th c fabric forms the background for this group.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday 11 February 2010

Gifts from the Sea

I cannot go the beach without returning with something in my pocket......

And this is where my shell collection gets housed; in the drawer of an old table,

and in various driftwood boxes. This lovely little selection of seaweed, shells, sea urchin and crab claws all came from beaches on The Scilly Isles. I am always careful to pick up just a few here and there and not take too many.

Have you read 'Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh? (Wife of the aviator Charles Lindbergh) It will change your outlook on life.

'One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky. Gradually one discards and keeps just the perfect specimen; not necessarily a rare shell, but a perfect one of its kind.'


Other delights for the dedicated beachcomber are smoothed, shaped bits of driftwood, some with fragments of paint still attached,

and sherds of old china with Victorian patterns; blue and white are my favourite.

Smooth, rounded pieces of sea-glass, each one a slightly different hue, opaque yet translucent. For how many years have they been tumbled in the maelstrom of wave and rock and sand? A little girl came into the shop once and on opening up her hand, showed me her precious bits of sea-glass. "They're mermaid's tears" she said.

I have a particular fondness for pure white shells.

To A Wave

"Lucent wave,
Flash in sparkling bells
O'er the colour'd stones and tiny shells;
With low music lave
Shelving rock,
Flood the glassy pool,
Sway the foliage 'neath its crystal cool........"


Tiny cowrie shells are the ultimate shellseekers' delight. One has to train the eye in to find these minute pink beauties!

Fragments of sea urchin, they look almost space-age!

I have just completed some new shell collages; this one is in palest pinks, creams and whites.


Underneath each carefully chosen shell, pebble, piece of seaweed, is written a word from the poem 'Sleep', by A.S.J.Tessimond:

"The ring and rim
Of tidal sleep
Will slip and creep
Along my limbs

And I shall watch,
But never catch
The final change,
The water-plunge,

And through what caves
Beneath what waves
I then shall go
I shall not know,

For I shall come
From that lost land
Half-blind, half-dumb,
With, in my hand,

A fish's head,
A shell, a shred
Of seaweed and
Some grains of sand."

This one contains several pieces of pale turquoise sea-glass.


'The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.'

Anne Morrow Lindbergh