Gosh, it has been a long time since I last wrote a post. I have been mainly working on our house. A lovely old property that looks just like a typical Georgian dolls’ house but very demanding of my time with a constant stream of maintenance to keep the old dear in shipshape condition.
This month I foolishly decided to block up one of the four doors into the kitchen to create a large coat cupboard under the stairs, tile the entire room and commission a pair of larder cupboards. Like many tasks I completely underestimated how long the work was going to take! The larders are about to be delivered and I have just about tiled enough of the walls for them to be fitted. It has got me thinking though about how much I must really love tiling because there are an awful lot of tiles throughout the house, even the bookshelves my husband made have a frieze of Delft birds along the top.
The first time I ever attempted using tiles for mosaic was one New Year, in the highlands of Scotland, when visiting the family holiday home of my University flatmate. They had chosen to create a mosaic of the local wildlife that covered the entire conservatory and kitchen. It was a truly epic undertaking and I’m not sure my contribution had much of an impact!
My next attempt was much more successful, a seagull mosaic kit from the marvellous Martin Cheek – check out his work as he uses fused glass elements to created the most characterful designs. The colours are quite vivid when you first cut the mosaic but the entire design takes on more subtle hues with the grey grout, the odd pops of gold around the edges and that fabulous red spot on the beak. I really think I should have another attempt but first I must finish this kitchen.
When my husband and I married my parents commissioned a celebratory slipware plate from a local artist and potter, Mary Wondrausch OBE. At the time I had not realised quite how special this present was. For a start, it had to be collected in person, by appointment only, from her home and studio, Brickfields, in the village of Compton.
My goodness, what a treat, Mary was utterly unique, a real English eccentric with an absolute passion for art and cookery. She was so generous with her time, spending a good part of the afternoon showing us around the studio and demonstrating her slipware technique using bicycle inner tubes. We were then give a tour of the garden; introduced to ‘Pidge,’ a grey plastic shooting pigeon who sat on a pile of green glass sea glass in a ceramic urinal, shown the garden screen covered in ‘Barbie’ dolls which led to the private, grass amphitheater where, Mary told my husband, ‘she liked to dance naked!’
We returned to visit Mary a couple of years later to collect my sister’s wedding plate. Again, we were given free reign of the studio and I found one of my most treasured possessions, a sgraffito plate celebrating the Queen Mother’s centenary, pushed under an old garden bench! Mary then took us though to the kitchen….Oh, my goodness, it was quite unbelievable. Every surface was covered with her collection of old metal meat grinders and there were at least ten small enamel saucepans on the Rayburn each filled with wild fungi she had collected with her friend, Clarissa Dickson Wright, earlier that morning.
Mary died 26th December 2016 at the grand age of 93….. she was still painting!
Words really cannot describe this remarkable woman so click on either picture for a video.