It’s pretty but …

It’s pretty but …..

Sometimes when out thrifting you can find something pretty but it just needs a little extra to take it to he next level.

Here is an example that I found earlier this week.

I love this rose oil painting but it looks a bit 1970’s in its faux gilt frame. I knew it had potential but needed to be given the Lexi treatment!

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I thought I would paint the frame in a vintage-esque colour by the wonderful English paint manufacturer Farrow and Ball to soften the look.

If you want to have a go:

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Firstly take your sandpaper and rub all over the frame. Don’t forget the sides and try and get into all the comers. Sanding it like this allows the paint to stick to the frame.

When you have finished sanding make sure you wipe any dust off as you don’t want bits in your fresh paint.

Mask off next to the very edge of the frame on the painting with newspaper and masking tape to make it easier to paint the inside edges of the frame. If you have a steady hand you can risk it and not bother …..brave move!

I painted the frame with a white paint as an undercoat to blank out the gold colour. With darker paints you may not need to bother but with pastels it is a necessary.

With this particular frame I used emulsion which I know is normally for walls but I wanted a more chalky finish to this frame. Also the coats dry so quickly, it can easily be completed in an afternoon which for any busy crafter is a big deal !

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Now you can get cracking with your top paint colour. I went for a soft pink from Farrow and Ball. It is named Middleton Pink but has nothing to do with Kate, the most famous Middleton of them all !

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Make sure you let each coat dry well between applications. On the day I painted this frame it was sunny and breezy so it dried really quickly. Usually two coats is plenty.

When the frame is really dry you can GENTLY rub back areas of the frame to distress it a little but I didn’t with this one. Rub back in the corners and along the sides to reveal the colours underneath. It can look great and instantly ages painted items and they don’t look so flat.

Here are some examples from a seller on Etsy but sadly there is no seller name on Google images to credit him or her.

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This is how the 70’s rose painting looks now its done. Pretty and less shiny and altogether a softer more feminine look.

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And here it is in place on a wall with a number of other vintage oil paintings. A painted frame really sets a painting off nicely . Have a go, it so easy and looks so fabulous.

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Have a great weekend everyone

Lexi xx

Smile! It’s photoshoot time !

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I love setting up and working on a photoshoot.

I also love designing and making things. So when I have the chance to combine these two loves, I absolutely adore it!

More about making things in future blogs but this really is a big up to my preferred commercial photographer Nikki Kirk from Cheltenham.

Nikki and I have been friends for years and her photographic style is perfect for displaying the Essentially Lexi loves collections to perfection.

She has a feminine yet on-trend style and knowing each other so well means we totally ‘get’ what each other is thinking.

I will write up a shot list before the day of the shoot. I do this so i can be sure I don’t miss anything vital. I will then gather and collect all the things I need for each snap and tick them off my list. We usually just have a morning to get all the pictures I need so there is little margin for error!

I set up the shot, rather like a painting, putting everything in place and the Nikki will take the picture. We usually know instantly whether they will be fit for purpose or not, but 9 times out of 10 they are right on the money! Que lots of screaming and jumping around with happiness!

I am always on the look for props, especially vintage artefacts as they enhance the products enormously.

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Nikki also does amazing wedding photography and portraits and if you would like to see more of her work have a look at her website.

http://www.nikkikirkphotography.com

I can thoroughly recommend her. She doesn’t know I am writing this post so hopefully she will be pleased !

I will be posting more pictures by Nikki throughout the future so keep your eyes peeled. You won’t really be able to miss them because they are just so gorgeous.

Lexi xx

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A vintage find from Wales

Anyone that knows me will know I ADORE vintage homeware. For absolutely ages I have been looking for some some sage green vintage tins or enamelware to use to display plants or shabby roses from the garden.

I was inspired to do this this by some pictures I found on Pinterest.

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I love the green tin and the pink roses.

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Image courtesy of http://prettypetals.typepad.com/prettypetals/page/2/

Today I was in Newport, West Wales for the last day of my weekend visiting friends.

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A gorgeous little seaside town with pretty pastel cottages and a wonderful farmers market.

Whilst pottering around I was so happy to stumble across a junk shop, packed to the gunnels with all manner of bits and bobs.

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With shops like this I try and take my time to browse thoroughly as things are piled so high it can be easy to miss exciting bit and pieces!

Today I was really tempted by a gorgeous yellow china beehive honey pot with a moulded bee on the top and some gorgeous vintage sweet tins.

However, while searching through a big basket of the old tins I made a wonderful discovery.

I found this gorgeous, soft green Tala flour bin with a hinged lid and clasp. As you can see the writing on the front has nearly worn off, but that for me is part of the charm!

I knew it would be perfect as a display vessel for cabbagey roses from the garden. I also thought it might be nice planted up with a mini Christmas tree for the holidays or filled with vintage baubles…..the list of uses is endless.

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The gentleman who owned the shop was receptive to my offer and knocked some money off the price and now it is proudly sitting by my Belfast sink ready to be filled with roses first thing in the morning. Happy days !

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Thanks for reading

L xx

Shopping for buttons in New York

Recently I blogged about a visit I made to Tinsel Trading in New York and its amazing selection of ribbons and trimmings and I thought I would tell you about another little gem of a shop that I visited on my trip. This time, floor to ceiling BUTTONS !

After finishing at Tinsel Trading and having a much-needed Starbucks to revive us, Lou and I jumped in a yellow cab and headed uptown to Tender Buttons.

We were on a mission to find some blazer buttons for Lou’s husband and any others that took our fancy quite frankly! Now anybody that knows me will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for buttons and so I was really excited to be going to this shop. I didn’t know what to expect, but if it was like pretty much everything in New York, it was going to be pretty awesome!

East 62 St is so pretty! Tree lined and full of those lovely brownstone buildings that you see if films, this is where we found the sweetest little button shop lurking.

We momentarily got sidetracked by a grocery store across the street selling the most gorgeous flowers but then turned our attention to the buttons!

And look at the gorgeous gold hanging button sign up above the door. It was like a shining beacon in the rain!

We entered the shop, which is absolutely tiny but it still takes your breath away. It has a real old world charm with antique tables and cabinets being used to display the buttons and a lovely vintage looking shop sign over the counter where you stand to be served.

The buttons are stored in cardboard boxes, stacked up high with an example of the buttons inside,on the outside of the box. There must literally be thousands of types of buttons in the shop.

There were  brass buttons for blazers, hunt buttons, horn and bone buttons, amazing jewelled button (my favourites!) all sorts. It takes an age just to go along the row of boxes and to see what was inside.  A little bit of a Tinsel Trading issue here – don’t want to miss a thing so must look systematically!

We found the brass blazer buttons that we had needed to find, and I eventually managed to choose some buttons to take home. I was looking for some cute buttons for my trench coat and ended up chosing some lovely navy and cream striped buttons. I also bought some cute tartan buttons . I have no actual purpose for them (yet) but I think they will look really sweet on a little twin set cardigan…….Oh, and I also bought a gorgeous jewelled button made up of tiny crystals in pinks, pale blues and whites which is just so twinkly. That was my inner magpie coming out! I only bought one of those because it was V expensive! You can see this beauty of a button above in the picture with the shops card.

This picture came out a little dark but you can just about make out the lovely wooden Tender Buttons sign behind the counter. All my buttons came wrapped in the tiniest brown paper bag i’ve ever seen……

These are the buttons I bought. I have stitched these navy ones onto my trench with red thread. I did that to give the coat a slightly nautical look, and it looks good paired with my summer uniform of a Breton top, jeans and ballet pumps. The red thread looks so cheeky!

The other tartan buttons I bought are below. Thinking of adding those to a little cardi, or maybe saving them for some Christmas projects. In the meantime they will just look jaunty in my button tin!

So those were the little gems I came away with after my visit. I think I could certainly have bought more but I couldn’t think what I needed! Tender Buttons is definitely worth a trip, especially if you are looking for something really special . I certainly would love to buy some more of those twinkly buttons. Imagine those down the back of a dress…..

I had to include this picture. We were making our way to Penn Station later that afternoon and were in the fashion district of the city and I saw this outside of our cab while we were waiting at the light. I’d love this outside Lexi  loves if I had the chance but not sure it would pass the Cotswolds planning laws!

Thanks for reading, see you again soon

Lexi xx

A bit of sparkle at Tinsel Trading in New York City…….

I was lucky enough to visit New York last month and I loved every second. Today I am going to tell you about the most wonderful shop. If you love vintage, ribbons, trims and millinery flowers – read on!

 

One rainy morning my friend and I headed a 12 blocks south to West 37th St to the mecca of gorgeous ribbons, trims and prettiness – Tinsel Trading. I had read about this gem of a shop both online and in magazines such as Romantic Homes and American Country Living and had always wanted to go. I’d bought some little velvet pansies on their website a few years ago but its not everyday that you get a chance to actually visit such a wonderful shop so I went armed with my credit card and intended to make the most of my trip there !  I like to think if it as a form of  research!

 

If you had no idea that Tinsel Trading was there and were minding your own business pottering down West 37th, you could very easily miss the storefront. I’d imagined it to be a riot of colour like V V Rouleaux in London but no, just an un-obtrusive, tasteful, dare I say it – minimal window . Don’t be fooled however, this shop is a beauty!

‘see, you could easily miss it!’

When I stepped inside my breath was literally taken away. The industrial type space was packed to the rafters with the most delicious selection of ribbons, flowers, glitter, vintage fittings and fixtures and decorations I think I have ever seen. It blows your mind and for several minutes I just wondered around like a child in a sweet shop, not knowing what to look at first.

 

'vintage shop fittings

 

Luckily, I was there with my friend Lou and she is a vintage and ribbon lover too, so was happy to while away a good hour or so looking at things.

I decided to work in a methodical fashion around the shop as I was worried I’d miss something vital! So, I decided to head to the trimmings section first at the far back right of the shop. Sectioned in colours and stacked on shelves almost floor to ceiling the choice is really quite overwhelming.

I picked some polka dot grosgrain ruffled trims in bubblegum pink and white from here, and the same in black with white polka dots and added them to my basket. Next, I worked my way around to the ribbon section, which again, is vast. Take a look below….So vast in fact that they need ladders to reach the ribbons at the top!

'how many metres of ribbon do we think there are here ?!'

 

From the ribbon row, i chose some gorgeous grosgrains in aqua with a turquoise saddle stitch edge and also a pale pink with a lime green saddle stitch edge. I also put in my basket a reel of the finest pale pink silk ribbon as it was just so pretty.

 

My visit was the week just after Easter and so there were a couple of lovely Easter displays still out. I had a good look and the things were gorgeous. Little wreaths made of speckled eggs, tiny glittery eggs and rabbits by Wendy Addison and tiny bunches of decorative flowers. If you dont know Wendy Addison’s work you  must have a look at her website. She makes fantastic sparkly numbers, letters, animals and signs which are covered with glass glitter. The silver glass glitter dulls with age and almost looks tarnished and is fabulously vintage in appearance.

 
‘glitter is a girls best friend’

 

I put a gorgeous packed of tiny blue glittered eggs in a minute nest into my basket and a glittery pale pink rabbit decoration in too. I know Easter had passed but I couldnt leave them behind. I also bought a silver sparkly number 1 and 9 to hang in my house. I live at number 19! Plus a huge 3d glittered star for the top of my Christmas tree.

Next was the part of the shop I knew was going to cause me the most trouble! There was a whole wall of cardboard boxes stacked one of top of another and these are filled with all sorts of faux flowers in every colour in the rainbow. From big cabbage roses to tiny primroses and daisies. Some are silk, others leather or felt. It was just torture trying to decide what to buy! Most had pins on the back to they would be ready to wear on a dress or jacket but others were wired . The vintage velvet and paper flower bunches were my absolute favourite and I snapped up a couple of bunches. I also bought some sweet little peony brooches that were only $2 each, perfect for customising clothes or soft furnishings. Oh yes, I also popped a few bunches of chocolate-brown wired toadstools into my basket as I’d never seen brown ones before and couldn’t resist! In one of the boxes, Lou and I found a selection of tiny decorative birds, one of which you can see perching next to the Tinsel Trading business card.

 

 

 

 

 

My next stop in was a central island unit filled with little glass vases full of all manner of vintage notions. Lovely old pearl buttons still on their original cards, antique buckles and reels of old metallic threads and ribbons. I found a couple of beautiful moulded buckles made out of some sort of resin that was formed into tiny roses. These roses were in all the pastel colours and the buckles I chose were exquisite. I can imagine them being worn in the 1950’s on a pretty full-skirted dress. So gorgeous. I also picked up some fabulous reels of vintage grosgrain ribbon in various colours. Still on its original packaging it was manufactured in Dallas, Tx. I thought this would be awesome for photo shoots and styling, especially at christmas.

 

 

By this time I was getting in serious need of a Starbucks so had another quick walk round the shop to check that there was nothing else I had to have! I loved, but didn’t buy, the paper tubs of glass glitter and the lovely striped reels of ribbons…….

 

 

Just as I was going to the cashier to pay I spied this drawer full of vintage spools of metallic threads. How amazing do they look? I’m not totally sure what they would be used for but they do look wonderful. I can imagine them being used for weaving insignia or something to do with military uniforms but I think they would look equally as fabulous wrapping gifts at Christmas!

'ooh'

 

I paid for my basket of loveliness and did nearly have a heart attack at how much I spend but I don’t really mind as everything is so unusual and unique and who is to know when I will get a chance to go back and visit the shop again. Got to stock up when you can I say!

It wasnt until a few days later when I was back in Washington DC that I actually had a chance to have a close look at my bags of goodies. Everything comes in cellophane bags (like we do in Lexi loves!) and this just means that all the pretty flowers, ribbons and little birds look even more attractive. I took a few pictures of my items but some I have kept secret to use in photo shoot styling so will show you those later in the year.
 
I really would urge you to go and visit Tinsel Trading in you are in NYC, it is truly inspirational and awe-inspiring. Just make sure you save up before you go! I also visited a cute little button shop which I will blog about in my next post…..
 

'I cant bear to use anything yet...just going to look at these for a while!'

 

'look at those little buckles..'

 

‘reels of vintage grosgrain’

Thanks for reading.

Bye for now, lexi xx

Cool Britannia !

Hello y’all !

Its been an age since I blogged so I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to. I’ve had some really special things to make and I’ve been itching to share this make with you. A special commission which I hope you agree looks SO cool! I love it!

This is my take on a re-worked vintage trunk and in this blog I am going to show you how I made it…..

UJ Trunk

Some months ago I was flicking through Homes and Antiques magazine (September 2010 issue) and spied this re-worked vintage trunk which I thought was a great idea but then put it to the back of my mind……

Reworked Vintage Trunk

Now there's an idea.....

It turned out that some time later I would need this idea for a very special commission for a friend, and the ideas from the magazine were given the Lexi treatment.

So….first of all I needed to gather together all the bits and pieces for this special project. It was for a man with a love of vintage pieces and classic cars combined with a preppy English style that is so current right now.  I wanted to make my piece look  a bit like something from Jack Wills but way more exclusive and personal. Each element to the trunk was specifically chosen with him in mind. It takes a while to find all the little quirky car motifs and antique insignia but its what makes it unique and for me that is vital!

So, this is the trunk in its basic state – nice but awfully dull and SO brown!

Take one brown canvas trunk......

Take one brown canvas trunk......

Inside it was in quite a good condition. A little battered, but then so would you be if you were that old! I am based in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and I love the fact that this trunk was made in Cheltenham, 15 miles up the road. It feels a bit like its come home!

Trunk interior

Love the stripes!

In the magazine article it says  to paint PVA glue all over the outside of the trunk in order to prevent any colour leaking from the canvas onto the fabrics when they are attached to the trunk. So, I painted the trunk and let it dry whilst I got to work measuring and cutting out the fabrics for each section.

PVA

Bring on the glue

Glue is drying

Its nearly dry !

The fabrics I chose were to work around a union jack bandana that I had so I used various red, white and navy fabrics to co-ordinate.  I like to mix up patterns and scale to give an eclectic look. I found some red and white ticking which I was particularly pleased with. It was an arduous task cutting out all the little pieces of fabric to fit in around the curved corners and locks and hinges on the trunk, but I was not too concerned about it being perfect. I like it a little shabby around the edges!

Meanwhile….the union jack bandanna I wanted to use for the top of the trunk was very new looking and very bright! So, in order to vintage-i-fy it I left it soaking in a solution hot water and household bleach for half an hour or so to age it. Now, if you decide to do this, proceed with caution – too much Domestos and it could all be over very quickly! When it was the correct colour I washed it thoroughly and dried and pressed it so it was ready to go.Oh yes, and to make it look even more genuine, I rubbed it up and down on my grater to make a few holes!

In the bleach

Soaking.....

Now with holes

Now with holes

When sticking the fabric pieces to the trunk I started with the smallest in order to get the hang of it before attempting the bigger ones. What was concerning me was getting wrinkles and air bubbles underneath the fabrics. In the magazine article it says to smooth out any lumps and bumps by rubbing a bundle of cloth over it which should sort out any issues! I did have some little bumps as there were various screws etc holding the trunk together but I dont think this detracted from the overall look.

spotty corner pieces

Bit fiddly around the corners

On the areas of the trunk where the handles were, I simply sliced gently down the fabric with a stanley knife and then eased the fabric around the obstruction and stuck it down. You hardly even notice the slit and I think it looks neater that two or three separate pieces.

Around the handle

Easy does it with the Stanley knife....

Once all the underneath and side pieces were on I could then concentrate on the main two panels where I wanted to place the union jack and to add the monogramming letters. I planned to applique them to the fabric using a zig zag stitch on the machine along with the woven car badges and the mini union jacks and felt initials before sticking the base pieces to the trunk.

I put the flag on the trunk at a rakish angle to make things a litle more quirky and then cut it up the centre and pinned each piece of bandana to the base fabric and then I was ready to start machining.

The flag is cut and pinned

Cut and pinned - ready to sew

Now to sew it …..

Let the sewing begin

Let the sewing begin

The last things to be stitched onto the main fabric panels were felt initials as well as the fabric car badges and a genuine military insignia.

Car badges

Now for some of the fun stuff !

Vintage Insignia

Vintage insignia looks just the thing on here

Mini UJ

Its not all red, white and blue!

To finish off I had to stick the two large central panels onto the trunk and to look for any lose threads that needed trimming. I also checked for any bits of fabric that might have required a bit of extra sticking. And the result of all this hard work  was this …..

The finished product

And so here we have it. Whatd'ya think?!

I am please to tell you that the recipient was really pleased with it, and at the end of the day, thats what matters!

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you.

More soon,

Love Lexi x x