"Lizzie remembers spending her pocket money in Camden Passage as a little girl. Now as an interior and graphic designer, she has turned a regular shop front into a light and airy designed space filled with 1950s furniture, handmade toys, gorgeous stationery, quirky kitchenware, and chic ceramics. The space retains its old waxed boards and rusty manhole covers, but introduces sheets of glass as balustrades and portions of the floor, allowing light to penetrate the downstairs of the retail haven."
At least five people recommended that I visit the shop Labour and Wait, in the Brick Lane area of London. A meld of a hardware store, curio shop and fashion boutique, Labour and Wait offers timeless and classic design basics for living simply:
"The inspiration for Labour and Wait came from owners Rachel Wythe-Moran and Simon Watkins, both designers with menswear backgrounds who grew frustrated at having to redesign products and ranges every season.
There was no time allowed for products to mature and establish themselves and, in time, become classics themselves. The demands of seasonal retail trends had become more important than the products being sold.
To counter this, Rachel and Simon envisioned a place where functional, well designed, timeless products would always be available. Taking inspiration from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s exhortation to ‘Learn to Labour and to Wait’, they set up shop in 2000 in the old Victorian terrace of Cheshire Street, in the heart of East London’s market district. Here, they gradually sourced all the products that fitted their ethos of functionality, quality and honesty, and slowly established themselves as one of the leading independent shops in London." Read more on their website.
The shop is empeccably curated and very focused in its aesthetic. Simple tags, twine and butcher string brand the everyday items such as brushes, pencils and enamel cups. Their extensive inventory is available in their online shop as well.
Shopkeeper Richard was very agreeable to my photo-taking while he was busy assembling the workglove packaging (which makes all the difference in elevating the mundane into something special).
He asked that I take a portrait of him smiling for his mum:
Well worth a visit when you're in London.
Some characters I encountered at the V & A Museum of Childhood.
You know what would be an awesome project? New tin toys illustrated by contemporary illustrators...
When I return to London (for now that I've been once, I'll have to go back again and again) with Finley and Glen, we'll go to the V & A Museum of Childhood together. This free museum had excellent displays of traditional and historical childhood toys, but also areas for play and a nice place to have a lunch as a family.
This spelling cabinet from 1790 caught my eye. What an amazing specimen!
If it has letters on it, I'm automatically drawn to it.
This 1890s Victorian party programme outlined the activities for a wealthy child's party.
Some more modern-day items. (It's funny to see the Fisher Price village as "museum quality" — the one I played with some 30+ years ago is now Finley's.)
The boy mannequins look unhappy and worried about getting their clothes dirty. If anyone knows where you can get these Left and Right alphabet shoes today, I think Finley and I would both be happy.
I'm home in Calgary again and trying to take it easy since I really pushed myself on this trip and caught a cold at the end of it. Our home's internet, TV and phones were out for the past day so that was actually quite useful in contributing to some down time.
As promised, here are some of the fine folks who attended the Ray Stitch meet and greet.
From top to bottom: Ray Stitch is Rachel Hart's wonderful shop. That's her behind the counter in the teal sweater. / Excellent food for the event. / Lots of people came to say hi! I'm sorry, in my fog I have forgotten some names. Here's Janet Clare with her book, Freya & Fred. / Alex and Pui-Yee browse the latest issues. / That's Francisca Prieto (profiled in issue #12) and me. We look related, I think! / More details of the event and fine folks who supported it by braving traffic and weather.
Ray Stitch is a very attractive shop. Here are some exterior photos before the Meet & Greet event, after (another) rain shower. Fitting, though, for issue #13 which is about how weather affects/inspires creativity.
More about the event and people pictures to follow in the next while. Thank you to everyone who came out and to Rachel and Michelle for their efforts, this great venue to meet my readers and for the all-round support of UPPERCASE. Thank you to Sam for the tasty food.
Please join me at Ray Stitch, tonight (Friday) at 7pm. Click here for directions. (If you want to purchase a copy of the latest issue (#13), Ray Stitch has the only copies in London.) It's an evening of craft and conversation surrounded by the inspiring haberdashery and fabric selection offered by Ray Stitch. We'll be stringing together colourful bead necklaces, an activity that was such a hit at the Alt Summit. It's a free activity, easy and fun to do while noshing and sipping and talking.
If you're not in London we have a consolation discount code: meetandgreet for $5 off your order until end of day Saturday.
Emily Chalmers: Caravan, Flea Market Style, Modern Vintage Style... Chances are, you love Emily's styling aesthetic as much as I do. Emily generously wrote the introduction to Tif Fussell's Dottie Angel book and though she and Tif were acquainted, I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting Emily in person. We arranged to meet for the Thursday vintage market at Old Spitalfields Market. Emily has a 4-month old (beautiful!) daughter who napped in her white pram while we strolled the booths.
Emily's old and new, mix and match style makes for homey and eclectic rooms—as well as a unique personal clothing style. I always admire people who can wear vintage pieces, but it never seems to suit me. I loved the textures and contrasts of her outfit.
The child's rolltop desk was something we both instantly were drawn to. Emily's daughter will get use this as she grows older and arrangements were made to bring it home.
The pile of letters spelled "coiffeur" and were only sold as a set (not to us, sadly.)
I could easily start a collection of antique ink bottles, but I resist the urge!
Me in my yellow jacket besides some typewriters. I have seen a lot of Londoners in the past week and I have not seen a single soul wearing a yellow slicker.
I would have purchased the tin sign "World's Greatest Weekly for Women" if it would have fit in my luggage.
This morning I had the unique opportunity to meet Emily Chalmers (more on this visit later!) at Spitalfields Market. After Emily went home, I wandered into the end of a fashion show as part of Alternative Fashion Week. The models started to filter out backstage and outside and there were lots of men with big cameras taking photos. Since I was armed with my big lens, I decided to blend in with the journalists/paparazzi.
All the other photographers seemed to be men in neutral colours and there I was in my bright yellow rain slicker and patterned Orla Kiely bag, but no one paid me much attention.
I figured I could always pull out my magazine credentials!
The colours this afternoon in London were decidedly grey punctuated by soggy reds. I had an afternoon of being in tourist mode and took a double decker bus around to see the sights and stay out of the rain.
The view from the top window seat was really great!
This morning I took the tube to Anne Smith's studio on the South side of the Thames. Anne did the perfect pigeon illustration on the cover of issue #12, so I couldn't come all this way and not meet her!
We had some tea and a nice chat about books, the realms of online and offline community, the creative drive and inspiration... so nice. Her studio had lots of books—I saw many that are common to my shelves at home. With nice light diffusing in from windows on two sides, it was a really fresh and inspiring studio.
See a few more images in the flickr set. Thanks, Anne!
I had the privilege of visiting Donna Wilson's studio Tuesday morning to interview her for the magazine. We did our interview on-camera, so I have lots of interesting footage to edit when I get home. More to come later! (Issue #15, fall)
Thank you to Siew, Grace, Erin, Eva and Donna for welcoming me (and my camera and tripod!) into the studio. Donna was soon off to the Milan Furniture Fair, so I appreciate her taking the time on a very busy day.
This guy will be taking a suitcase back to Canada:
I'm sure that everyone who walks by this urban artwork with a camera or cameraphone takes pictures. But today, I was lucky enough to do so!
Here are some old enamel numbers in a shop on Portobello Road. I was really tempted to purchase one of the small numbers that were about an inch long—it would make a cool pendant! But I couldn't decide on a number: none of them had any special meaning to me and they were technically of French rather than English vintage. So I took lots of photos and walked away.