Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Drunken Plums

The seasons are definitely turning and it is so incredible to be watching it all at such close hand. Ashdown Forest seems to sigh as Summer leaves and the heat from the chalky footpaths has evaporated into beautiful dewy mounds of bracken. It is so easy to imagine Piglet and Pooh in this setting where it was set, especially when our little Piglet is busy collecting pine cones! Perfect for a few Christmas decorations or an indulgent fire. So in the spirit of collecting the Autumn fruits and being new to this foraging lark, I persuaded my unsuspecting father into a hunter gatherer expedition and was lucky to share his abundant countryside knowledge. We were alarmed by the sloes even more determindedly hiding and very sparse on the hedgerows. So feeling a little helpless I was guided by some wonderful advisors on all things rural on twitter and led in the direction of Plum Vodka. As the plums come to the end of their season we decided that since the hedgerows seemed rather bare it might be time to reap the benefits of the Farmer's Market and kilner jar in hand I shall be filling it with plum jam and the lethal sounding plum vodka! Here our recipes for a wonderful weekend of home brewing and stewing!

Plum Vodka

Plum Vodka recipes vary, but this is the one we have chosen to follow. First things first, sterilise your jars before you set sail. In all the recipes it states add half the amount of caster sugar to plum weight. Place the halved and stoned plums in a pan. Then add 75 cl of vodka or every 500g and bring very carefully and slowly to simmer and dissolve the sugar. Other recipes state that you only need pour sugar, then vodka over the halved and stoned plums in a kilner jar and shake. It's up to you! Or try brandy instead of vodka for a different twist. Shake regularly at first and then once a week. After three months strain through muslin into a  fresh bottle and enjoy...just in time for New Year!!

Any plums left over try this delicious looking plum chutney recipe...yum! http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1553649/richly-spiced-plum-chutney

Come and keep up to date with Duck Egg on our Facebook page with more info and soon our Christmas Fair details www.facebook.com/duckeggdesigns

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Art of Inspiration - Part III 'Weaving a story'

Our third and final part inspiration is stylistically miles apart from our Duck Egg designs, but by its very nature is woven into our fabrics. I am constantly drawn to the art of tapestry. On face value tapestry might hold nothing suitable for modern design than a decorative use for keeping our draughts should you happen to live in a medieval castle or like to collect a substantial amount of dust. For these points I beg to differ. The magic of the stories, carefully crafted and coming to life through fabric is entirely magical to me. In the incredible 'Bayeux Tapestry' the force of Halley's comet as it propels its prophesies of bad omens as it powers across the tapestry, the faces of long ago and the chaos of battle so realistically rendered, display the ability of fabric to talk, to tell stories through a medium, which by it's very nature should not allow for fluidity of narrative. Tapestry allows for something other worldly to happen. It is both decorative, yet because it is (to a certain extent) a material  it is therefore something more (or less) than a painting, it is functional and behaves like something more every day, an item of clothing, a soft furnishing. It is a conundrum and we are both detached and attached. So from these epic narratives it encouraged me to allow my designs to tell a story, a story about the countryside - the natural forms and the folk lore.

Bayeux Tapestry

At University when I was studying History of Art, I found myself on an esoteric and rather more demanding course of Medieval art of a specific and defined period in France. There were four of us. It turned out to be the most incredible chance encounter of a lifetime. Through the gentle and scholastic teachings of our guide through this time, I discovered not only the worth and beauty of art such as tapestry but also one of my favourite places in Paris, the Musee de Cluny.

Musee de Cluny

Hidden amongst ancient architecture this gem of a museum boasts amongst many others, the ethereal tapestry, 'The Lady and the Unicorn'. Decorative, evocative and skillful, it is all a hanging should be and all I aspire to when designing our blinds. It is worth a visit and I say this as someone who never thought they could meander through cabinets of mitres, husband in tow at first trailing and then finally drawn into the drama of the eras the museum discloses. It reaffirms my aspirations of decorative fabrics. Through this series on our inspirations I hope it is possible to see that whilst our designs have a more abstract narrative that all our fabric designs tell a tale.

The Lady and The Unicorn (Musee de Cluny)

For us the notion of tapestry evokes a craft created not always by one individual, but often along with the techniques of embroidery and weaving (for the Bayeux is frequently described as an embroidery) these feats are a team effort. This community of weavers and embroiderers acts as an inspiration that looks to the future, that continues to form and reform and is in inherent in the strong and supportive crafts groups that growing in social media. A notion that was as current in Medieval times as it is now.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Ahoy there! How to get that coastal look...

Gurney's Fish Shop on the beautiful Georgian market place in the Norfolk town of Burnham Market

Duck Egg is on summer holidays! However, while we are away we thought we'd deviate from our ongoing series and meander the scenic route with our new coastal ideas fresh from our sojourn on the North Norfolk coast.  We never fail to have a thoroughly good time, eat far too much and have the cobwebs well and truly blown away. Huge skies, miles of sandy beaches, which after a very keen start on a  rare sunny British summer's morning we had all to ourselves; whilst there was a moment of panic as the parasol sailed away with increasing speed across the vast expanse of sand, it was very conducive to being relaxing! It was not just the little man who loved finding crabs scuttling along the sea beds in the inlets, we were all splashing each other, jumping waves and digging endless random holes in the sand! Maybe that is why we are all so fond of coastal inspiration in the home. The fresh palette of blues and bright whites is an uplifting colour scheme. It also lends itself well to shabby chic with the gentle distressed furniture and driftwood pieces.

Coastal Colours

Try softer blues with a green hint for a more subtle take on the blue and white nautical theme, try our favourite from Farrow and Ball, 'Pale Powder' and for a more statement colour perfect for hallways is 'Lulworth Blue' with a bright white or an old white, depending on how coastal you would like the look to appear.

Colours from www.farrow-ball.com

Decorative Items

There are some wonderful shops in Norfolk and while I was able to restrain myself to a certain extent, the temptation for accents of coastal style was inevitable! It is possible to do this look on shoestring too, so don't let my wish list items put you off!


For full on seaside appeal we love this lamp...

Driftwood Twig Lamp

by Nautilus Driftwood Design


 For a more every day look Garden Trading have some gorgeous lights, in particular we'll be adding the aptly named 'Pendant Fishing Light'.

http://www.gardentrading.co.uk/lighting/indoor/pendant-fishing-light-white.html and a stylish but understated focal seaside piece.

Seaside appeal can also be added with a distressed life ring..

Or some artfully placed fish, you could recreate this yourself and use a subtle seaside palette, perfect for the bathroom. Hang off painted peg rails amongst towels, useful and beautiful!


You can add coastal art work to your walls with your own photos. Choose vintage frames, even if they are strange colours, don't be put off and look for decoration and details which might look effective once painted. A great car boot/junk shop find! We love our vintage coastline Ordnance Survey map from the 1950's found on ebay, and put in a great frame above the bath! It cost very little to put together and a white mount sets it off perfectly, making it look much more expensive than it is! It is also my excuse for spending far too long soaking in the bath retracing our holiday steps!

We also have a few pieces from a very talented Norfolk artist. Visit his studio in Burnham Market and take away a little piece of the seaside for home. His sculptures, paintings and prints are original, colourful and a gorgeous addition to any interior. We love them in the nursery!


And of course we couldn't sign off without that final finishing touch, a beautiful blind in a gorgeous seaside print, the signature Crab print from Duck Egg!

Duck Egg Designs Norfolk Crab Curtains

We will resume with our three part inspiration guide when we return but for now happy holidays!

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Duck Egg Designs