Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Can Sing a Rainbow...

Where to start with this post?...I know it's in danger of being all over the place you see, so please excuse. (Also, I really shouldn't be sat here typing this, as there are 101 other things that I really should be doing!!)
When it comes to talking about colour, I am generally torn in all directions. Colour has such a powerful effect on our emotions and general outlook, and I personally find that I have different favourites depending on my mood, or where the colour is to be used or enjoyed.

When crafting and sewing, colour becomes a vital component to the piece. Get this choice wrong from the start and the item may never work as a finished product. I think I have used just about every hue at one time or another in my work...and also in our my wardrobe...even in our garden.
When putting together my gift sets, I love to find coordinating vintage treasures; and creating a patchwork of antique fabrics is such a joy.

I do so admire anyone who can stick to a selection of colours and run with them in all aspects of their life; from their interior design, the hand crafted pieces and artworks they create, to their own dress and fashion accessories.
For me, the queen of the strict colour code would be Rachel Ashwell from 'Shabby Chic' - her love for pale pastels, including aqua, pink and minty green, all anchored by white, creates such a calming palette to live by, and one which is easy to add to and mix in with all kinds of vintage treasures.

Andrea at 'Everyday Beauty' always impresses me with her very tight selection of colours of mostly peach, olive and mocha beige/browns - her hand crafted pieces that use this range of hues are exquisite.
Heather from 'Pretty Petals' shares that love for a closely related colour palette, choosing pale pastels and white, but predominantly soft sky blues.
Neutral but never dull or ordinary is Tiina's world at 'Dream in Cream'
Teena of 'Kitschen Pink' works with a wild and zesty scheme of retro brights, but especially magenta pink and cyan!
Sylvia at 'Villa Extra' chooses an ethereal palette with echoes of nature.
Christine from 'White Vintage', shares the passion that many Scandinavian ladies do for a very pared down palette of whites and off-whites, which echo the snow covered landscapes beyond their front door.
And of course any regular visitor to Blogland will know that there are many American girls out there who adore sugary, shabby pinks in a BIG way! Lori at 'Faerie Window' is one of those girls.
And there are many other clever ladies out there too...I know that you will have your favourites.

I'm personally a bit of a fidget and get restless very easily. I've tried sticking to a muted palette of mostly faded French reds teamed with creams/white, but soon find myself wandering from that standpoint. So I guess my work will always reflect my mood at the time.
I was recently given this lovely old box by Teena, who suggested I give it a make-over. The original lining was a black satin, so I felt I needed to work with that.
I love working with black as it creates a dramatic, 'boudoiry' and sophisticated look. I remembered the French hand painted panel of satin fabric that I bought at a recent fair, with its glorious tumbling roses and thought this would be ideal for the lid.
This was carefully glued and smoothed into place.
I then used a C19th faded floral French fabric for the sides and some jet black velvet to cover the base.
The edges were finished with a vintage piping braid.
I think it would make an attractive jewellery box in the boudoir.
Its funny to me how my tastes for certain colours change...this strong colour has been with me for a while now, as I was reminded of a large satin nightdress case that I bought at the V&H Fair from the lovely Amanda (Shabby Chic - from Totnes Flea Market).
The hand painted roses are so pretty and tie in nicely with my new jewellery box.
So, inspired by my rediscovery of black, I also made over an old 50's chocolate box this morning, which came to me via Sue, after the V&H Fair - She thrust it into my hand and told me to do something with it!

I covered the lid in another C19th French fabric and finished the sides in vintage petersham ribbon. Victorian velvet tied in a bow keeps the lid closed and I also added a millinery rose and vintage postcard - ideal as a special gift box.
I'll probably find now, when I settle down to make my next project, that I shall start on a new colour scheme, with black now being out of my system! I also like to vary what I make and soon get sidetracked by new ideas that pop into my head. I do admire other craftspeople who are able to stick at making very similar items over and over...I wonder what their secret is in not finding it repetitive...
As you can see from some of my archive photographs, my stalls at the antique fairs were always bright and breezy and full of colour. I accept that this wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but it was always lots of fun to put together. I always tried to group to colour, so as not to totally overwhelm the colour-phobic! ;-))

A few years ago I was able to buy beautiful vintage hats and accessories from America. The shipping was quite high, but it was nice to be able to offer something a little different to visitors to the fairs.
Just recently though, buying from abroad has caused me a few problems. Sorry, just going off on a slight tangent here for a minute - I wanted to ask any UK girls if they have experienced similar problems as I have with HM Customs? The last three parcels that I have had sent from the U.S.A. have all incurred an extra charge. A card has been pushed through my letterbox requesting the payment before delivery will be made. In one instance it was an extra £26.00.
I feel for those who may be ordering Christmas gifts this year from the States, hoping to save a little money because finances are tight, only to get stung for the added duty.
Back to colour...Those of you have bought copies of my Nostalgia calendar (thank you kindly!) will realise that I have lots of vintage bits and bobs in every colour of the rainbow...I was able to make each month of the year represent a different shade! Most of these items were gathered from my personal collections arranged throughout our home.

Available at
Most of our rooms are painted with white walls and floorboards, which I think helps anchor all the other colours. I do try to restrain myself from running riot - Red is a constant in our home, and I am quite partial to turquoise too...
But then having been bought up in the 70's, I'll always have a soft spot for purples and mauves...
And then there is the faded reds bordering on pinks....
Honestly, what am I like?!

When I say to people that I generally only buy old items for our home, I think they imagine it to be brown and muted. The surprise on their faces is evident when they see the riot of colours that welcome them when they visit for the first time...

Antique doesn't have to mean dull, gloomy, dingy or drab, does it?

And being the fidget that I am, I also struggle to stick to one area of collecting...should it be my antique shoes or boots, the accumulation of flapper ladies...or perhaps the sparkling costume brooches?
Boudoir babes from the 20's?

My vintage/antique fabrics..hmmm, better not go there for my defence, these are all used for my handmade items...
As well as my recycling of old buttons and baubles.

Victorian least these can be tucked away in an old album and added to quite discretely!

Can you blame me? many pretty ones...

I could go on, but that would be a whole other story...and you probably already think I have a few colour-orientated issues! I put my hands up - My name is Niki and I am a 'colouraholic'!!
Hope you are more well-adjusted than I! ;-))
Niki x


  1. Anonymous7:41 pm

    Good morning Niki.
    These images are fantastic.
    Album of the cards are a dream...
    And your colors I like so much!
    Dear greeting, Maria.
    (with translator)

  2. Hi Niki

    How bizarre that we've both posted colour today! I'd never have recognised the box - well done. Much nicer than when I thrust it at you!!!!

    Lovely photos as always.

    Sue x

  3. hi Niki...thanks so much for mentioning me!! You have been such a great example for've made my my my my Year!!

  4. Claudette9:50 pm

    Hi Niki!
    At last...sorry, but I thought it was just me that had been stung by the Custom's "ransom notes" to get my beloved treasures out of "postal prison"! I love buying from the states, a wide variety of goods, great when the pound is strong and really gracious sellers (as there is in the UK), but my-oh-my, the price you pay. It was only a year ago that I started getting those horrid ransom demands, I seem to have winged for years. I buy ALOT of jewellery from a lady on ETSY (AGEBEFOREBEAUTY), because I really can't get that precious heirloom style of treasure here. I know now to add on at least £25 per parcel...Grrr!!!! I have asked Parcelforce, the postie, why all of a sudden do I get nabbed everytime and none of them can give me an answer. I do my bit by "upcycling" in the Uk, I should be entitled to buy from a unique artisan across the globe wothout being penalised. It is sheer greed, BUT I won't stop, because her jewellery is incomparable for me.

  5. Hi, What a feast for the eyes! Lots of food for thought in your comments on colour. Find myself drawn to the black fabrics with floral designs and yet not colours I'd wear so often. I grew up in the 50's so I get a warm glow when I see those old floral prints and stuff like ric-rac braid!!
    Lesley XX

  6. Hi Niki,
    Loving all the colours and your beautiful collections.
    Oh, I know those cards well. I buy quite a lot of my modern fabric from America, the selection is second to none and it is cheaper. However, as you may know, anything over £18 attracts the customs duty. I don't really mind the duty which on my parcels is typically about £4, I do REALLY mind the £8 handling fee by Royal Mail. I now know to expect this but the fabric is still cheaper per yard even with the customs fee. Annoying, I agree, I never seem to get any which slip through the net these days.
    Hen x

  7. Such a glorious post, Niki! I shall look forward to eploring those links you gave as well. xx

  8. love that: I could sing a rainbow!

    (great book title for you!!)

    hint hint

  9. So funny, Niki. I just posted last week how I cannot decide what colour to paint my bedroom because I love so many colours, patterns and styles.

    And I know the pain of duty charges. Boots from the US just cost me 43.00US just for the customs charge. Not pleased.

    Lisa xo

  10. Hi Niki... Oh I love all of your colors!! Actually, it is one of the wonderful things I have always admired about you... the way you put colors together. I get so bored with the choices I always seem to make with my color palette and then when I stray from those colors... they don't seem to sell as well for me with the things I make. Anyway... you just keep up what you are doing... it is devine!

    xoxo Heather

  11. So many beautiful images here!!!
    A sweet day to you!

  12. A very fun post to both read and see. I enjoyed the photos!! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Oh my goodness, Niki! You have splashes of beautiful color combinations in everything you do. LOVE this post. And I look forward to starting a new year with your 2010 calendar. ;)

  14. Hi Niki, you have so, so many beautiful items around your home, the boxes you made are so lovely. I love to be surrounded but many colours as you do. Who you are? You are like a rainbow...
    María Cecilia
    p.s. I´m waiting for your visit...

  15. Hello Niki

    I would saty that I am a bit like you, I can't just stick to one colour alone. I like variety and as I have got older, brighter colours appeal more and more. I used to decorate my previous houses with dark paints such as dark reds or dark greens, now I find that all gloomy. I like the calming effect of whites and have a fair bit of white painted throughout the house. However, I do like each room to have it's own individual feel & splash of colour here and there. When it comes to dressing, I find more often than not that greens, blues and pinks feature the most!
    A very preet colouful post, loved the pictures.
    Warm wishes
    Isabelle x

  16. Hi Niki, I would also like to work with a muted restrained palette at home & on my stand, but I see so many lovely things in rainbows of colours and can't help myself!
    A lovely post on a dull afternoon.

  17. Love the colour, just what was needed on a gloomy December evening.

    I've been hearing from various crafting friends that Customs are having a clamp down on parcels from the US and they are all being checked. Like most people I don't mind paying the duty, it's the exorbitant 'handling charge' that irritates me.

  18. Yes, you do see a rainbow, and we all love seeing it through your creative eyes! I've noticed that about you from when I first found your blog. You have a knack for color and making it all work so beautifully.
    xo andrea
    p.s. thank you for the kind words you said about me as well. I do tend to stick to my palette, but even I get bored with it sometimes!


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx