Is there anything more creepy than a box of old, beaten up, forgotten dolls you discover at a yard sale? Only perhaps, dismembered dolls, whose heads and limbs have gone astray. Perhaps they have wondered over to your house and ended up in your soap dish? That’s what’s your guests might think when they spot these chubby nubs in your bathroom. Real soap made from vegan glycerin, these baby doll arms will sud up your hands and send a chill down your spine. Baby powder scented, of course. Set of two is $6 at perpetualkid.com.
Hosting a Halloween party? Why not give your guests something to snicker about after they slip away to the water closet? Jack the Ripper Lavatory Mist will keep your ladies-and-gents rooms smelling refreshingly clean. Despite the yellowed label, the content is really a delightful concoction of sage and green apple. One bottle will give keep visitors smiling for about 500 applications of two sprays each. No blood curdling screams necessary. $12 at neatoshop.com. (Three other tongue-in-cheek flavors also available.)
I just finished Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour in which he travels the world in seplace of the perfect meal. I loved it. While Chef Tony can be sort of abrasively arrogant on “No Reservations,” in his writing, his passion is infectious and his arrogance dulled to a swaggering, appealing bad boy disposition. Every chapter was a new adventure (Vietnam, Russia, France, Japan) and (almost) every meal described in all it’s mouthwatering glory. It was a great read. More importantly though, A Cook’s Tour also introduced me to a literary genre I hadn’t ever read before: food writing. Now that’s I’ve delved into the genre, I’m hungry for more (sorry, couldn’t resist). So how about it, Shelterrific bookworms: what’s your favorite food writing book?
There’s something beautiful about stormy weather. Blues and grays mix with golden leaves, making everything moody and more interesting. That’s the feeling we get when we look at Eloise Renouf‘s prints. She takes the dark clouds of her native Nottingham, UK forests and mixes them with lovely repeats of leaves and flowers. We thought she’d be perfect for our Etsy artist spotlight this month. With unframed prints costing about $25 each, they’re divine when framed in a simple white border and presented as a series. We’re thinking kitchen but there’s no reason to stop there! Also available in tea towels and framed. We asked Eloise to tell us a bit about her art and her home.
How would you describe your work?
At present, I create prints and fabric accessories that are contemporary with a mid-century feel, largely inspired by nature, and with a strong emphasis on hand-drawn imagery and texture. I trained as a printed textile designer, so much of my work is of a decorative nature and it usually includes surface pattern or repeated elements. Everything starts as hand-drawn, painted or printed elements which then develop into collages, paintings or digitally manipulated images. I also place quite a strong emphasis on color, and enjoy unusual combinations and juxtapositions of these. Natural elements such as flowers, leaves, trees and clouds are recurring themes in my work. These are simplified, modernized and reduced to the most basic elements which are then re-enhanced with color, pattern and texture.
When did you start making your prints?
I began making my prints in the autumn of 2010. I’d had a bit of a career break to have children, and was feeling frustrated by my lack of creative output. The prints were a way of getting back into the flow of designing, and establishing my Etsy shop was just intended as a little artistic outlet. I hadn’t planned for it to be more than that, but it has created all sorts of opportunities and interesting projects that I’ve enjoyed being part of.
How does your home/city/neighborhood inspire you?
Nottingham is a fantastically creative city, and has become more so in the twelve years that I’ve lived here. Two new city art galleries have opened in recent years; there is a wealth of small, independent shops and boutiques; and you can find a craft fair, art show or creative event to go to almost every weekend. The two universities mean that there is a large, youthful crop of talent and that gives things a bit of an edge. My neighborhood is particularly rich in artistic blood, so I’m surrounded by others pursuing creative endeavors. You can’t help but be swept along by the energy. Nottingham is also blessed with lots of green open spaces and, being in close proximity to some wonderful countryside, it’s easy to escape and enjoy a different type of inspirational environment.
What kinds of artwork would one find on the walls of your house?
You would mostly find artwork from friends and family, and other Etsy sellers. These are mixed in with a few of my “experiments.” I have some lovely pieces by the very talented Cathy McMurray and equally talented Leah Duncan. My partner’s sister is an artist, so we have some of her prints and photographic collages. Another of my favorite pieces is a screen print from the 70s by a lady named Judy Gould. It’s a very simple repeating image of smoke stacks and is delightfully effective. And last but not least, you’d find plenty of artwork created by my 4 and 6 year old sons! Lots of dinosaurs, pirates and curious vehicles to enjoy!
Describe your decorating style.
I like the base of everything to be quite neutral, so favor white or off-white walls and wood flooring. I like furniture to have quite clean, simple lines, without being sterile, and I love mid-century style. To this I then add quite a colorful and decorative range of accessories. I find it impossible to stick to color schemes as my tastes and preferences in this regard change almost weekly. I enjoy having books on display, and also have quite large collections of mid-century ceramics and colored glassware. I’m also a fan of patterned fabrics, so these appear around the house in the form of cushions, tea towels and bags. I like things to be uncluttered yet warm, and simple yet visually stimulating.
To see more of Eloise Renouf’s work, visit her shop on Esty.
So perhaps a visit to the farmer’s market isn’t in your future. Maybe you’re working too hard and just can’t get out during the day (god, we hope that isn’t the case!). That doesn’t mean one has to suffer from lack of seasonal decor. Get thee a crate of pumpkins! Sure, $68 for 18 mini pumpkins might seem like a lot, but think of all the beautiful centerpieces and mantle-scatters you can do with them! Actually, these lovelies would be a beautiful gift idea. Thinking of sending flowers to your mom for her birthday? Try a crate of pumpkins instead! How can one not have a good day with these arriving your doorstep? Available now at shopterrain.com.