Up To The Table!

I have a new mid century obsession! And much like my interest in Aussie MCM, its one that requires a little bit of effort on my part to research it….

….And by effort, I mean that I need to do a bit more Googling than usual as there is no Wikipedia page on the subject that I am currently fixated with.

Anyway, my latest MCM obsession is Arkana furniture!

Anyone heard of it?

Not me, until recently anyway!

Let me explain how this all started. I was googling how much an Eero Saarinen Tulip table would cost. I have always liked the look of them and quite fancy one myself. Designed around 1955 these stylish tables and chairs are associated with the 60’s space age era and a design classic.

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from madaboutthehouse.com

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from madaboutthehouse.com

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from chinaadyea.com

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from chinaadyea.com

Obviously I cannot afford a vintage or current Tulip table made by a licensed manufacturer, so a knock off cheap and nasty, plastic, reproduction would be my only option.

But then I came across various Arkana dining tables and chairs listed on Ebay. From what I can gather, it seems that Arkana were a British manufacturer in the 1960’s and 1970’s that basically ripped off Saarinen’s Tulip designs. So there is a chance that I might be able to afford a genuine knock-off vintage piece from the era!

Image from bullet.org.uk

Arkana table and chairs. Image from bullet.org.uk

Arkana table and chairs. Image from haussmith.com

Arkana table and chairs. Image from haussmith.com

Now I don’t condone copying in any shape or form, especially when it comes to MCM design* – has anyone else noticed the amount of fugly chairs out there with Eames shells, but with different legs?  Yuck! Just no really, please stop messing with perfection!

But for some reason this furniture does not offend me. Maybe its because its British (the factory was in Falkirk, Scotland and the head office in Bath) and was designed by someone called Maurice Burke? I mean, can you get a more British and seventies and un-designer-like sounding name than Maurice Burke?!!

Or maybe its because Arkana seem to be a bit of an underdog in the history of MCM British furniture design that have been almost forgotten about?

To be honest, I think I slightly prefer the four legged look of the Arkana Tulip chairs rather than the original Saarrinen designed Tulip base. But that’s just me. And I do love both designs!

For now, this post contains all the information that I can find on the company and its pieces. I am guessing that back in the day they made relatively high end, expensive furniture. My guess was made only because not a lot of people owned their pieces (or rather, there is is not a lot of it around today) and Arkana are not as well known as other furniture manufacturers of the same era, like G Plan or Ercol.

What pieces I have found on the internet are pretty swish. They are of the era and they scream 1960’s/1970’s, but thats what I love about them. You can just imagine people sitting around them in polo necks, with huge framed glasses, interesting facial hair, eating fondue and talking rubbish drinking mass produced cheap white wine all night long. And doing the same thing back in the 70’s too! Boom boom!!!**

Image from Pinterest via firstdibs.com

Image from Pinterest via firstdibs.com

Also designed by Maurice Burke in the 60’s is the Mushroom table and chairs. Which I was not super keen on at first, but it has grown on me more and more. A bit like a fungi. (Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself!)

Image from pamono.com

Image from pamono.com

Image from Pinterest (sorry not sure of original source)

Image from Pinterest (sorry not sure of original source)

Image from theguardian.com

Image from theguardian.com

And we have the Safari or Chelsea chair.

Image from firstdibs.com

Image from firstdibs.com

We also have this chair designed by Geoffrey Harcourt and manufactured by Arkana in the 70’s. Not to my taste, but I can appreciate its design appeal and retro factor.

Image from modernism.com

Image from modernism.com

P.S I consulted my collection of MCM design books and the only mention of Maurice Burke or Arkana that I could find was a credit in a photo for the table top in a home tour on page 501 in Mid Century Modern Complete by Dominic Bradbury.

P.P.S I found a Facebook appreciation page with a grand total of 47 likes!

*I will make an exception for pretty milk glass cake stands though!

**Sorry, its far too easy to make fun of hipsters!

Mid Century Down Under

If you have read this blog before you will know that I am a huge mid century modern fan. And indeed, it seems that everybody and their dog is also a MCM fan these days!

I mean, what’s not to like with the clean lines, the elegant style and the post war optimism of the furnishings and architecture from the period? Yes please, I say! I just want to fill my house with some of that goodness, read every book I can find on the subject, ogle MCM pictures on Pinterest and hope to find some decent West German pottery priced less than £19.95 in my local charity shops (I mean come on! Seriously, how much?)

So now that MCM is a mainstream thing, its safe to say that everyone has heard of most of the American architects/designers from the period like your Eames, Bertoia and Nelson. And I think that most enthusiasts have also heard of the big European players like Jacobsen, Wegner, and the Days etc. Plus we can all tell the difference between our vintage Ercol and G Plan pieces.

…..But what about designers and architects from Australia? Can you name any of them? I couldn’t until recently!

Thanks to Instagram a whole new world of MCM goodness has been introduced to me in the last few years!

Because Australia had a booming economy in the 50’s and 60’s with the influx of new immigrants to the country and because importing furniture from America and Europe was so expensive, they designed and made their own furniture (and Pyrex!) instead!

Today I am just going to introduce a few of the designers, manufacturers and architects as I am far from an expert on the subject (or anything else really) and I still have lots to research and learn about Australian MCM. As an enthusiast its good to see that lots of bloggers and Instagrammers down under appreciate their beautiful MCM buildings and objects and want to preserve their rich heritage in todays throw away society.

Grant Featherston is probably one of the most famous names from the period. His contour series and R160 lounge chair pictured below are probably his most famous work.

Image from vita-interiors.com. Click on image for link.

Image from vita-interiors.com. Click on image for link.

Harry Seidler is one of Australia’s best know architects from the period. The Rose Seidler house in Sydney is a masterpiece (IMO) that I would love to visit. If only I could stomach the flying part to get to Australia that is!rose6rose4

Images from themodernhouse.net. Photography by Darren Bradley.

Images from themodernhouse.net. Photography by Darren Bradley.

Parker Furniture was a furniture manufacturer of rather nice teak sideboards, dining tables, dining chairs and other pieces. Check out the hashtag on Instagram!

Image from julietsbalcony.com.au. click on image for link.

Image from julietsbalcony.com.au. click on image for link.

And Some further reading for you if you want to find out more on the subject – I recommend Retro by Adrian Franklin and Iconic Australian Houses 50/60/70 by Karen McCartney.

My Aussie MCM books

My Aussie MCM books

From inside Retro some Australian designed and manufactured furniture goodness.

Inside Retro – some Australian designed and manufactured furniture.

Two Family Heirloom Vintage Cookbooks

Recently, my Mum had a clear out and gave me two of her cook books. One was her copy of the famous cookbook that every young housewife owned back in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s – The Dairy Book of Home Cookery and the second book was one that used to belong to my Nan’s sister – Good Housekeeping’s Picture Cake Making.new old books

I do feel pretty privileged to have been given these books. Mum bought her copy of the The Dairy Book of Home Cookery from the milkman back in 1979 and it has been a fond favourite of hers and used in many kitchens over the years. It takes me right back to my childhood and I really did not expect her to part with it any time soon. In fact, a few years back, I once declared on here that I would have to prise it out of her cold dead hands! – What a lovely daughter I am, eh!

The Good Housekeeping’s Picture Cake Making belonged to my Nan’s sister Aunty Sylvie who died young in her 40’s and was a keen baker. Nan, herself was not much of a cook, nor did she bake. But my Mum and I have both inherited Aunty Sylvie’s love of baking, and so the book has now been passed onto me. My sister, bless her heart, has not inherited the baking gene. She loves cake, but she just cannot be bothered to make any. Fair enough, she has Mum and I on hand to make birthday cakes and treats for her and the nephews! Its an arrangement that keeps everyone happy and fed in cake.

My copy of the Good Housekeeping’s Picture Cake Making was published in 1952 and has lost its cover a long time ago. At some point it was covered with plastic book wrap and has a few mould spots inside, so is not in the best condition. It also has clipping from 80’s Family Circle mags and some handwritten recipes from our former elderly neighbour Marjorie all tucked inside for safe keeping by my Mum, and I love it for this! Its a little piece of family history that I will treasure for many years to come.

It has colour photos inside and (my favourite bit) some vintage advertisements. Even a Pyrex one! On the downside, it also has some shocking politically incorrect cakes. Lets just say that I never knew that cakes could be so offensive and racist until I read this book. Things like that are best left in the past.good housekeeping bookcakes!mixerfancy cakesequipmentequipment 2equipment 3equipment 4tala adbefore cometold adold ad 2Its funny, because a few months before Mum gave me her copy of The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, I actually found one in mint condition in a charity shop for £1.50! You can tell which one is which in the photo below!twins!I politely declined her gift, explaining that I already had a copy and that she could keep hold of it if she needed to. But she insisted I take it as she was determined to declutter (no, she has not read this book either). I thought about ebaying the charity shop find, but in the end I decided to hold onto both copies. Mums for sentimental purposes and the other copy for back up sentimental purposes (i.e if Mums falls apart in the future, I can still think of her flicking through the back up book!)

In the last decade or so Mum has used her book less and less, as I guess, she finally learnt to cook from it (Im joking Mum!) It is a bit dated now and tastes and cooking habits have changed a lot as its all about the cream, eggs and offal this book rather than current foodie favourites like quinoa, chia seeds and kale. But some classics never date – like the well used recipe for scones inside this book. See below!sconesThat reminds me, I must scan the recipe for her. She thought she had memorised it, but the other day asked me to “write down the scone recipe from my milkman book” for her! You just can’t beat a nice homemade fruit scone, eh!

Take a Chance On Me

Some new vintage glass has entered my life recently, and for once its not Pyrex!

The stars aligned when I spotted this Chance handkerchief vase in the window of a local charity shop. It was just a shame that the shop was shut at the time! So I sent my Mother in to buy it on my behalf the next day, who, predictably, could not understand what I saw in it and why I would want such a cheap, ugly nik-nak in my house!

Thats her words, not mine! I muttered something to her about these things go for around £15 on Ebay. But of course I have no intention of selling it! hanky 1

Its hard to explain the appeal of these strange little vintage vases. After all they are not the most practical of items, being a bit of a dust trap, easy to break and no good for actually displaying flowers in like vases are meant to do. For me the appeal is in the kitschy patterns, the bold primary colours and, dare I admit it, the fact that most people think that they are ugly, old fashioned and tacky! They remind me of my favourite era the 50’s and 60’s, and of my grandparents, which is always a good thing in my book.

I was also chuffed to find one of these in my favourite colour yellow! I planned to display it in the dining room, as the predominant colour in this room is yellow, but for some reason it just didn’t look right on my sideboard. I think it was because it was displayed a bit too low. Handkerchief vases need to be displayed at eye level if you ask me, so that all their curves can be appreciated. So, for now it lives on the top of my book case in the bedroom, next to a half dead plant, as shown below.hanky 2Not that I need another collection in my life, but I would love to have a shelf of these on display somewhere in my house. For the mean time I will just satisfy my greedy, hoarding urges by just sharing a few photos of my favourite patterns and colours on my blog and looking at this guys Pinterest board!

Image from 20thcenturyglass.com

Image from 20thcenturyglass.com

image from afterglowretvro.com

image from afterglowretvro.com

Image from etsy.com via Pinterest.

Image from etsy.com via Pinterest.

Not the best quality image I know, but don't they look great together? From gumtree.com via google images.

Not the best quality image I know, but don’t they look great together? From gumtree.com via google images.

I Still Like Big Old Books And I Cannot Lie

So as I mentioned in a previous post, the parents recently had a sort out of all the junk stored up in their loft and asked me to collect the last of my books from my childhood which had languished up there for the last 15 – 20 odd years.

We collected a large suitcase full of trashy Point Horror, Point Romance, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, Babysitter Club books and GCSE english books. This was donated straight away to the charity shop and not photographed for my blog Im afraid.

And then, the mother load – a huge box full of Enid Blyton books! (With some added Laura Ingalls Wilder et al for the keen eyed!)big booksol booksBrace yourselves for lots of badly composed pictures of books!80'sI discovered this 80’s tactic encyclopaedia type book for young girls which also has tips on how to keep fit and stay slim, beauty tips and some recipes to try. I wonder if the young boys version included these? #feministrantalertL I WI loved the Little House books when I was a kid.tv booksI also loved the TV series All Creatures Great and Small and Mr Majeika. Unfortunately I could not get into the James Herriot books and I never did read them (sorry Mum!)st claresmallory towersBut I did love a good book about an all girls boarding school or two! Midnight picnics and Lacrosse ahoy!mystrysecretsecret 7famous 5adventureAnd books about gangs of children solving crimes and mysteries.books againSorry for the blur on this photo. The box of books took me all afternoon to sort out! Its funny, in a telephone conversation my Mum, her exact words were to me “I never knew that Enid Blyton wrote so many bloody books!!” I know what she means!random EBbooks galorebooks galore 2So what did I do with all these lovely old books you ask? Please don’t hate me but after sorting them and photographing them for my blog, I decided to donate most of them to charity. I kept a few of the older books and some of my favourites, but the rest had to go. I have spent years working hard on curbing my hoarding habits and they would have only been stored up in our loft for decades. Its best that they can be read and enjoyed again and raise some money for a good cause rather than gather dust and mold.

Are they family heirlooms? Yes and no. A lot of these books were bought secondhand in jumble sales and so on. I have 3 nephews and no children of my own so there is no one to pass them on to. If Rob and I do start a family, I reasoned that this is my childhood, not theirs. A lot of these books are dated and not very PC. Any possible future kids of mine can chose their own interests and books. And if they decide that they like Enid Blyton and old books then I will kick myself!

I Like Big Old Books and I cannot Lie

Can you believe that we have lived in our current house for almost four years and I still have boxes to unpack!

Today we were doing our usual chores and while Rob was putting some bits up in the loft for storage, I asked him to find and bring down my last few unpacked boxes. I knew that I still had a few boxes of old books and photo albums up there and it was about time I ticked that job off my to do list.

What a trip down memory lane on a rainy Saturday afternoon I’ve had! In the two boxes that we bought down, I found reference books from my childhood, old books that had been passed down the family, a shedload of festival programs and a selection of children’s books from the 1950’s!

When I was younger (around 7-9 years old) our old next door neighbour Mrs Ferguson knew that I liked to read, so she gave me all her daughters books that she had kept. This was back in the eighties and the books were from the late 40’s and early 50’s. They included a war time Mickey Mouse annual, some Just William books and a few Enid Blyton books. Even as a kid I loved the old fashioned illustrations and smell of them! The other vintage books were bought by my younger self in jumble sales and charity shops, as I always had a thing for old books. Fast forward 25 odd years and not much has changed!

Sorry about the photos taken in artificial lighting.

boxes

Mid unpacking. I also found a vintage kitschy dog ornament (not shown) that I have had for as long as I can remember, my old A level course work book and mini Simpsons toys!

I loved Tin Tin and Rupert when I was a kid. I only ever had these two Tin Tin books. Maybe the top one sparked my fascination with whales too!

Did anyone else collect the tokens on the Weetabix packets to get the books? I was fascinated with maps as a kid and would spend ages studying my atlases. You think after showing all that early promise that I would grow up to be a brainy academic type. Sadly  this is not the case. I am a dumb ass!

Did anyone else collect the tokens on Weetabix packets to get the books? As a kid I was fascinated with maps and would spend ages studying my atlases. You would think after showing all that early promise that I would grow up to be a brainy academic type. Sadly this is not the case. I am a dumb ass.

What a dumb ass eh!

What a dumb ass eh!

Books from my childhood that I kept because I liked the design and illustrations. Plus a old skool game that hurt my fingers and a book about Enid Blyton books that my Mum got me for xmas one year in my late teens.

Books from my childhood that I kept because I liked the design and illustrations. Plus a old skool game that hurt my finger and a book about Enid Blyton books that my Mum got me for xmas in my late teens.

The war time Mickey Mouse annual (see their uniforms!) and a Punch 1929 annual that my parents gave to me, which I guess must have belonged to one of their grandparents. I must ask about it next time I see them.

The war time Mickey Mouse annual (look at their uniforms!) and a Punch 1929 annual that my parents gave to me, which I guess must have belonged to one of their grandparents. I must ask about it next time I see them.

More annuals that I bought in charity shops when I was a kid. Not because it was vintage/trendy but because I grew up with thrifty/skint parents and grandparents.

More annuals that I bought in charity shops when I was a kid. Not because it was vintage/trendy but because I grew up with thrifty/skint parents and grandparents.

The books from Mrs Ferguson (I cannot remember her 1st name, although I think thats how we addressed her! The other old ladies down our road used to be my "aunties". I had a Aunty Molly, Aunty Sybil and Aunty Nancy! Bless!

The books from Mrs Ferguson (I cannot remember her first name, although I think thats how we addressed her!) The other old ladies down our road used to be my “aunties”. I had a Aunty Molly, a Aunty Sybil and a Aunty Nancy! Bless!

More books from Mrs F next-door. Except the two corner books of the bottom row.

More books from Mrs F next-door. Except for the two end books of the bottom row.

Here is inside 'Just like a girl' and 'The Bells of St Barnabas'. Louisa Raggett is my great grandmother. I have no idea who Betrice Reynolds is. I think I must has just bought the book in a chazza as a kid/teen because it was old. And because I like old books.
Here is inside ‘Just like a girl’ and ‘The Bells of St Barnabas’. Louisa Raggett is my great grandmother. I have no idea who Beatrice Reynolds is. I think I must have just bought the book in a chazza as a kid/teen because it was old. And because I like old books.

So thats the most photogenic of my loft stash shown. A few books have lost their covers and the rest were boring school dictionaries and the like. I am going to be ruthless and sort through and donate some of these books. I just do not have the book shelves to store them and I no longer hoard stuff like I used to (honest). Plus my parents have been on to me to collect my boxes of books that I have stored up in their loft, so there may be another one of these posts soon!

Oh, and I never did find my old photo albums. Annoyingly I still have another box somewhere up in the loft waiting to be unpacked.

Edit 16/02/14 – OMG I knew that children’s books from the 1950’s were a bit un-PC, but I didn’t think they would be this bad!! See below – A french character called Frogs, Simple Simon, Paleface and Dirty Dick! So wrong!
omg unpc

A Ceramic Piece That Made Me Curious

I have a confession to make – I am starting to obsess about West German Pottery, or rather fat lava, as some people call it.

By obsess, I mean start a Pinterest board and casually browse eBay for bargains. Its all harmless stuff, honest!

So what is so special about these ugly jugs I hear you ask? To me, its that they have just the right balance of ugly and beautiful. And most importantly, they look amazing when artfully arranged on a teak sideboard!

But I am digressing. The point of this post is to geek out about a ceramic pot that used to belong to my grandparents.potty pot 1
It came into my possession last year when nan moved into her care home. Mum was sorting through her belongings and found it in a drawer. She thought it had a certain retro look that would appeal to me. She was right, its right up my street!

This little pot made me curious. I wanted to know how old it was and who made it. I could not see any makers mark, but looking at the style I guessed it was from the 1950’s, as to me the dots looked very atomic and kitsch!potty pot 2

After a couple of fruitless Google searches, I spent the next 6 months occasionally wondering about this little pots origin. At one point I wondered if it was a vintage Hornsea piece. Then I happened upon this listing on eBay which told me everything I needed to know about it.

It turns out I am right, it is from my favourite era!

image from ebay.co.uk

image from ebay.co.uk

Its a West German piece of pottery made by Jopeko Keramik probably in the 50’s or 60’s. It comes in several vase forms and according to a helpful man called Kevin Graham on Flickr (click on the previous link) it was a copy of a product made by another West German pottery manufacturer called Jasba, but Jopeko Keramik added the three coloured dots to avoid copyright issues.

Image from glaskilian.de

Image from glaskilian.de

So what do we use this little pot for?
Well, it has solved the problem of my beef with Rob insisting on keeping his ugly bottle of cod liver oil tablets out on his bedside table, so that he can remember to take them, into a much more pleasing on the eye solution.PicMonkey Collage
Never mind that Rob hates this little vintage pot and thinks its ugly! Thats a small detail I can overlook!

Tina Is My Bitch

Yey! I won her! It seems that if you put it out there to the universe, sometimes things will go in your favour! Now that’s about as deep and meaningful as I am ever going to get on here! But please can someone pay my mortgage off…….I’m just putting it out there as you do!

And would you Adam and Eve it, I (Rob) only had a five minute walk (drive) around the corner to collect it!Tina

Once again I slightly messed up by buying something on eBay that is a little damaged, oopsie! Although to be fair, it only had one small picture and they did not write a brilliant description (yes, I know all classic things to watch out for on eBay!) I will hold my hands up and admit this it not the first time I have bought rubbish on eBay. I do tend to get a little carried away sometimes! But luckily I did not pay that much for it, so I can live with a splodge in her hair. And a slight mark on one of her boobs. Oops!

At least now I have an original 60’s print. I can sell it on in the future if I see one at a good price in better condition. This saucy minx is now mine!

So at least our bedroom will finally have one good looking saucy minx in it – Rob really needs to up his game!

Two New Vintage Recipe Booklets

I have to show my latest vintage cookbook acquisitions on here, they are just too good not to share!pyrex booksThe first book on the left is an EBay purchase, the second was given to me by my Mum who thought of me when clearing out my nan’s kitchen cupboards recently. Thanks Mum!

The McDougalls booklet has no date on it, I estimate by looking at the pictures and style that it is from the late 70’s to early 80’s. I also have big apron envy of the lady on the cover. How cool is that pattern? Its right up my street!pyrex cupsAnd look what I spotted – a Pyrex cup! The same as we have for our camper van. I also have tea towel envy. That orange flowered one would be perfect for the van.

The other recipe book is total Pyrex porn for a Pyrex perv like me. It was published in 1977 with lots of pictures of pretty casserole bowls in it. Plus the recipes are hilarious! I have photographed the best ones to share on here. Somehow I do not think I will be cooking any of them though!

local tuckerA local(ish) bland dish. The food inside it that is, not the Pyrex bowl! Styled on a haystack.mmm beefy horse burgersA classy dish to serve and impress your guests with at a dinner party maybe? just say no kidsSorry, but it does not matter how you dress them up, marrows will always be tasteless slime.niceGiblets anyone?insane in the membraneOr brains?heart attackOr if that has not wet your appetite, how about some hearts? This would be perfect as a romantic themed meal for valentines day! Bleugh!

A Useful Tool

I cant believe that I have not shown this little kitchen tool that I picked up while visiting the Isle of Wight on holiday with my family, back in August on my blog yet! Oh yeah, I just remembered why – because it is not that interesting! I bought it for £1 in a charity shop, and I did have to chuckle to myself, as on the price tag it was labeled as a potato masher, even though it clearly says on the side it is a pastry blender!

One of my cooking goals is to improve my pastry making. Its a goal I have not really worked much, as I hate rubbing in fat. I don’t know why, I just cant stand doing it. It is one of my pet peeves!

I used this tool for the first time on Sunday, when I made my disastrous Malt loaf. It was so handy! It made rubbing in the Trex to the flour *shudder* such an ease! If you see one of these “potato mashers” while out and about, I urge you to do yourself a favour and buy it straight away. It makes the rubbing in method a doddle!

I also have to add that Rob peered over my shoulder when I was writing this little post yesterday, and said “a useful tool, is that me?”

Well he’s right about the tool part!