Sunday 16 June 2019

Welcome to the (New) World of Former Glory

Another long period of silence on this blog, I'm sorry. Unfortunately our son became very unwell after his treatment for leukaemia and although he remained mostly positive and the leukaemia never returned, he was so damaged by the potent treatments that there was no way back. He left us in July of 2018. It was devastating.

We're rebuilding our lives without him and are determined to help other people who find themselves in the same situation. Last December we held an open day at our shop, (oh yes something else that has happened, we bought a shop in our village). It was a French themed day, we offered coffee and croissants, a prize draw and a selection of quirky things that we had bought in France and then restored. It was pleasingly busy, we raised over £200 for the marvellous local leukaemia charity LEAF who had supported us so well during the three years of illness.

The shop

Me with Tash (Founder of LEAF charity) on the Open day 

So now we've made this a permanent part of our life. We have been so lucky to be able to earn a living doing what we enjoy - so it's pay back time. We'll be organising two or three events at the shop each year and also making a series of films about the trips we do to find the special bits and pieces for each event. I hope you'll enjoy them. The link above is just the intro for the films yet to be uploaded. The first two episodes show us travelling through four European countries in search of treasure. Our next open day is on 27th July this year, one year and one day since our son died, so a memorial to his life. Maybe we'll see you there?

Sunday 8 May 2016

Life Changes

It's been a long time since I gave any updates here, hope you'll forgive us. There have been so many changes in both our business and private life that I don't quite know where to begin.

We have been overwhelmed with work for the last year or so, some very enjoyable and interesting projects like the design of a Danish cord seat for a very beautiful rocking chair hand made for the "Masterpiece" exhibition in Chelsea. It attracted a great deal of interest, so much that we have four more similar chairs awaiting seats in the next couple of months. We decided not to take part in any exhibitions for a year, hoping that we could keep ahead of the workload and maybe take some time off.

Fluggadugga was accepted by the Crafts Council Directory.

Elle magazine included Former Glory in their "Secret Address Book".

And some famous people were photographed by Vanity Fair under the Chiltern Firehouse lampshades.

Some fame perhaps, but not a lot of fortune necessarily.....

After my last post in July of 2015 we were beginning to enjoy a few weekends away and visits to friends - the lovely bonus of not having to work every Bank Holiday at an exhibition. And then at the end of August a bombshell dropped. Our youngest son had just settled back into a new life here in Dorset after a period of working away. He started to feel unwell....... the diagnosis was acute leukaemia.

It has been a rollercoaster ride over the last eight months or so, chemotherapy and cancer treatment in general is very difficult. However, our son has been a superstar - totally positive in attitude. He had a brilliant Consultant and amazing care in hospital. I won't go into detail, but thanks to the progress medical science has made, our eldest son was found to be a perfect bone marrow stem cell donor, so in March of this year our youngest son had a transplant to "reboot" his faulty system. Thankfully he is now at home recuperating. Fingers well and truly crossed for a disease free future.

There's still a long journey to make back to "normal", (whatever that is) but there is a light burning bright at the end of that tunnel. How lucky we are to have two such incredible sons.

Sometimes life throws lemons, so we make lemonade - by the gallon.

Saturday 18 July 2015

More Lampshades

Once again I've neglected this blog. I could blame the amount of work that's being going on... life's happenings in general.... visitors... housework....any number of things, but in truth it's probably because Facebook has become the place where I now keep a log of daily life. But, it's not the same is it? So here is the meat on the bones of activities here at FG Towers.

There has been a lot of work - in phases as always. A batch of rush chairs followed by a set of Wegner's Wishbones, then endless cane work, every conceivable thing from a day bed to a sunrise back. Next it will be four sets of Danish chairs, all different, plus eight various other chairs, that's August and September gone.

No chance of a holiday then!

We have also finally been able to rebuild the workshop, well sort of. There's a new felt roof complete with raised twinwall roof lights - not a moment too soon as the old corrugated plastic one was leaking and rattling on its fixings in a storm. There were a few occasions when I was convinced that the whole thing would rip off and disappear into the garden, but it didn't and I'm very happy about that. We also fitted a new double glazed door to the back wall which is great, no more freezing cold easterly wind whistling through the old wooden door and it gives a lovely glow of morning light for the "dirty working" end of the studio.

What else.....oh yes, more bespoke woven pieces for design houses. I really enjoy this aspect, I'm loving the creative, problem solving needed to imagine and then make something that doesn't already exist. Keeps the grey matter from fermenting, hopefully!

Most requests are for lampshades at the moment, but I have a lot more ideas in my head....just need the time to do it all now.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Another year

I can't believe that it's been over a year since I last blogged, it's true what they say, time definitely speeds up as you get older!

It's been a busy year, Bernard our horsebox moved onto pastures new and will become a "glamper", (quite a fitting retirement really). We have hardly had time to leave the workshop and only did two exhibitions all year. I also damaged my back early in the year and it took almost two months before I could move without pain so we fell behind schedule which really put the pressure on.

We started work on the long overdue project to bring our home into the 21st century. Paint everywhere, walls taken down, ceilings replaced, new windows, curtains and carpets - basically chaos for months...and it's still not finished.

So what's in store for the New Year? First thing so far is a new look for the Seat Weaving Supplies website - that was a whole week gone! The dreaded price increases had to be made courtesy of the fluctuating world currencies, there's always some reason why prices have to go up, but strangely they never seem to go down.

I was also thrilled to see this in Vogue magazine, an article about the Chiltern Firehouse with two lovely pics of the lampshades I made for the bar. They were even mentioned in the editorial, but sadly no-one knows me, so it was the design house that were credited. Hey ho!

Happy New Year!!

Thursday 22 May 2014

Andre Balazs, the Chiltern Firehouse and My Lampshades - From Dorset to London

Way back in August last year I received an e-mail from a design house asking if I was able to make two bespoke woven lampshades for a new London hotel project, they would need to be made to specification and finished by November. I would also need to provide pattern samples for their client and the finished items would need to be finished and available by November.

Hmmmmm I thought,.......have I got time to make moulds and have two matching bespoke pieces of weaving made in the timescale? And do I really want the hassle? Well I fancied the idea/challenge so said yes, I'd love to help. Samples were made and sent off for approval first to the commissioning designers, then the architects and finally the client, which is a bit unusual I thought. My curiosity was up, I had no idea who or what these shades were for and why the secrecy.....

Weaving techniques sample

Then a client asked us if we could supply some whole rattan and woven panelling for a bar front in a new London hotel project. Then someone else asked if we could make dozens of complex woven rush seats for a ceiling feature for, (you've guessed it) a London hotel project. Now I'm more than curious.....

Fortunately the completion deadline for the shades was moved to February which was good because the finalised design was large and complex to weave. Making the shades meet the exact size, shape and RAL colour specifications was indeed a challenge. Each one took virtually a week to make and at times it was hard to explain to the designers why certain things had to be done in a certain way - a moderate compromise would be needed - they knew exactly what they wanted to achieve in terms of looks, but as none weavers the concepts of borders and working with finite lengths of material is a bit tricky to incorporate into a design. For example, when number one shade was finished I asked if they would like the second one to be woven in the same direction or would they like it to be woven opposite so that they would be a "handed" pair and sort of face toward or away from each other. After explanation the decision was to make them "handed".

Well the deed was done and the shades were dispatched to the designers for final approval. I was told that the hotel would be opening sometime in February.

Meanwhile we supplied a quantity of special herringbone woven panelling to a client and passed the contact details of some French weaving friends on to the people that wanted dozens of rush woven seat pads for a ceiling.

I asked the designers if I could possibly have a photo of the lampshades in place and they kindly sent me this:

Chiltern Firehouse Bar Lampshades

Which is great because although I would love to view them "in the flesh" in situ, this is probably the last I will see of them as they now hang in the much lauded and applauded venue for the famous - The Chiltern Firehouse Hotel in Marylebone. Here is the bar front complete with rattan poles and weaving:

Chiltern Firehouse Bar

A lot of hard work but worth it. I'm proud to be a small part of such a creative and ambitious project. From my Dorset workshop to the London land of chic, seems like a long way away to me....... Have a look at what The Times had to say here

Sunday 9 February 2014

A Whirlwind of Weaving and Weather.

Well the weather has been pretty awful here since before Christmas. Constant rain and incredibly strong winds have bought some areas of Dorset to a standstill. Even here where we live in East Dorset, the fire brigade and police had to rescue a number of residents from their mobile a boat! The homes were only a few hundred yards from a main dual carriageway which also became flooded and impassable when the fire brigade pumped the water onto the road to move it away from the mobile home park. Amazing and unprecedented flooding is everywhere, trees have been brought down blocking roads or damaging property, driving has been hazardous as the weather has swung from hail and rain to bright sun that at this time is so low in the sky that it causes dazzling reflections on the road surface.

There are definitely some benefits to working from home!!

So a quick round up of activity. We've had quite a few "bucket" seats to reweave. These are very beautiful, but they take an age to restore. This first one has "blind" caning, a type of weave where the canework is woven strand by strand into the perimeter holes and then plugged in place. The holes are only drilled half way into the chair frame so that the weaving doesn't show on the back of the chair. Time consuming doesn't begin to describe it!

Then there is this one. Not "blind canework, but still very awkward to weave.

The last "Captains" chair has a standard cane seat - no problems there, but sadly it also needed to be paint stripped, re-glued, bleached and refinished before weaving could even start. I don't know where all the time went!

Monday 30 December 2013

The Last Six Childrens Chairs for Christmas

Well here we are coasting up to another New Year. I hope that it will be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for everyone. So to end 2013, another festive half dozen chairs and bears to celebrate.

Gromit climbing on an 1870's cane seated chair.

Big bear and pink bear Kylie, (yes a joke present from my son) next to a porch woven American rocking chair.

Young Sweep on a recently finished colourful painted chair.

Shawn the sheep climbing on a William Morris rush chair.

The oldest bear on the oldest chair. Ted sitting on an 18th century "Bodgers" ash chair.

And finally lovely old Sweep contemplating the Christmas tree from an arts and crafts rush seated armchair.

Hope you've all had a great Christmas and we wish you all good things for the coming year!