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Books + Magazines

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

December 8, 2011

I’m so happy to announce that the second lovely issue of Heart Home magazine goes live in just a few minutes and it’s a lovely feast for the eyes. I love this magazine and look forward to seeing many more in the future because it covers mostly British designers, crafters, artisans, etc. and well, that niche stuff gets me all tingly. I love it when magazines have a very clear focus and aren’t all over the place and totally random, I know what to expect! I know when I look at VTWonen the aesthetic is mainly Dutch, or Inside Out is mainly Australian with lots of Aussie homes… Same for Selvedge magazine, it’s all about textiles. This is the kind of focused content that stands on its own and for me, Heart Home has a good thing going on. Are you ready for a special peek into their next issue? I’ll start by sharing my two favorite images in this magazine — this gorgeous bedroom for one…

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue
Oh dear this is where I imagine going on a weekend holiday… I love the natural light in this space and that gorgeous duvet or “eiderdown” as the English call them. The white floorboards are lovely and I like the contrast of the flooring against the wooden dresser – truth is, contrasts excite me. The fireplace and its surround is enchanting, in fact I noticed that in all of my favorite spaces in Heart Home I could see a fireplace – my absolutely favorite element in a room. The arrangement of things on the dresser is perfect, this room is fun to examine I think, don’t you? And now for my second favorite room in Heart Home, this amazing living room below… The corner nook is so appealing to me. I dream of finding a yummy leather chair like this and curling up to read on a Sunday morning… The flag is a perfect touch I think. If you put your finger over the Union Jack and try to imagine that corner without it, it’s simply not the same. That statement piece provides energy and fun.
Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue
Lets get a closer look at what’s on that mantle, shall we (see below)? Well isn’t this a nice arrangement of quirky and sweet bits – some look sentimental, others perhaps were collected during a walk and still others could be flea market finds. There is sure to be a story behind each item, wouldn’t it be nice to know?

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

When I look at vignettes like this in other people’s homes, I often try to imagine my own stories for each of their objects. Maybe that black No. “3” is their birth month (March) or how many children they have or perhaps their lucky number. I have a ceramic vintage house number on my wall with “22” on it. I bought it in New Hampshire before I moved to Germany because I knew it would be the house number of my first address abroad, when I moved here I lived on a street in house No. 22. I’ve moved since, my new house is No. 46 – but my little No. 22 will always be special to me. Whenever I look at it I think of when I was planning to relocate and the excitement I felt, and my first apartment in Germany. These are the layers of stories behind objects that we decorate with that give a home some heart.

The second issue of Heart Home has around 160 pages and is packed with diverse homes and ideas to suit every taste. I was thrilled when editors Carol, Ari and Daniel gave me exclusive photos from the magazine to use in this blog post – it makes me happy to see how the rooms look without copy laid on them and they are gorgeous and totally pinterestable (new word, I know!) now so pin them, tag them “Heart Home Magazine” on Pinterest, and spread the word!

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

This photo above gives me ideas for my vintage Moroccan wedding quilt that is currently folded on my sofa… It really looks beautiful on a floor, doesn’t it?

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

Lace and neon is a great way to freshen up something seemingly old-fashioned with a little ‘edge’ appeal. I love the gift wrapping feature in this issue, lots of pretty ideas and color palettes.

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

I don’t know if the random purple fringe on the far left of that rug was an accidental soda spill or intentionally dyed to add some personality, but either way the result is great – I love it! This is something I find about British design that always makes me smile – a sense of humor and slight wrongness where you stop and say, “Wait, that shouldn’t be there… or should it?”. Even rooms that appear a bit serious seem to incorporate slight bits of quirk in England, at least from my outsider observations…

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

I like this idea because you can also use a found branch if you don’t have a fancy one like this. Aren’t all of these ornaments pretty? I have the reindeer, he is from Anthropologie and I know that because my friend Joanna just gave him to me. :) You can make some of these ornaments yourself – paint some found acorns white and leave the caps natural, then string them to hang or buy vintage door keys at a tag sale and paint them a chalky matte white to make them look almost like ceramic keys.

Heart Home Magazine: Winter Issue

I like the wooden cabinet above as well, the knotty wood adds character and warmth. It is also a great contrast to the all-white floors. The quilt is cozy and charming and wow, what a gorgeous fireplace – what is up with English homes anyway, do they all come with amazingly aweseome fireplaces or?!?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into Heart Home’s latest issue – it will be live on their website very soon today so keep clicking by their page until you spot it – there is a patio set on the cover with a huge wreath above it, you can’t miss it!

(photography: Oliver Gordon, Sarah Hogan, Andrew Boyd and Jeska Hearne)






Books + Magazines

Always Inspired By Camilla Engman

December 6, 2011

I’ve been a bit under the weather this week so posting will be light, but I had to share the good news from Sweden — that Camilla Engman, an artist that so many of us love, has released some new prints, a 2012 calendar that I’ve just ordered AND a beautiful book about her dog Morran who recently passed away. The Morran Book Project is a delightful book that contains 236 illustrations from artists who contributed around the world with their very own take on Morran – I love all of the different impressions and find it fascinating how everyone sees a single dog so completely different from the other!

Always Inspired By Camilla Engman

Always Inspired By Camilla Engman

Always Inspired By Camilla Engman

Always Inspired By Camilla Engman

Always Inspired By Camilla Engman

All profit from her beautiful book will go to the World Society for the Protection of Animals – Sweden (WSPA international). You can preview the book here.

(images: camilla engman)






Books + Magazines

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

December 2, 2011

There are tons of beautiful decorating books that just hit stores in time for the holidays and as a result, it’s so hard to choose the perfect one! That’s why I thought I’d make it easier for you! I recently had a lovely chat with Deborah Needleman, author of newly released and very girly interiors title, “The Perfectly Imperfect Home” published by Clarkson Potter Books and illustrated by Virginia Johnson, and thought I’d share it with you today…

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

But first, my thoughts on her latest pride and joy. This decorating book is different because there are no photographs but please don’t let that put you off — what it does have is beautiful watercolor illustrations of room and objects by Virginia Johnson, a Canadian artist and designer whom I’ve followed ever since I started blogging. In fact, I once worked for domino, the magazine the Deborah founded, from 2006 until it folded a few years later and I always loved the overall message behind the magazine and wondered where Deborah would go from there after leading such a successful adventure in print… And now here she is on her second book. Go, Deborah, go!

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

The Perfectly Imperfect Home is a really pretty coffee table book filled with lots of helpful decorating tips that Deborah has learned over the years from her work at domino and now WSJ. Magazine. When you combine her knowledge with colorful illustrations of the rooms that you may remember from her first book and from domino magazine, you have the recipe for a successful title. I loved seeing some of my favorite rooms created into works of art through Virginia’s talented hand. The illustrations really made the book (for me at least) because I found them just so pretty to look at. In fact, I got so lost in the illustrations, examining them over and over again, that I nearly forgot to read the text. I think Deborah could have told me to do anything in this book, jump off a bridge, run naked in the park, and I wouldn’t have even noticed because all of the illustrations swept me away. I did read some of the book though and of course, the text is helpful and written in a very relaxed and personal tone and didn’t come across as preachy or textbook. This is a book that is purely inspirational for me above everything else and though I’d hate to take it apart, the thought has crossed my mind to cut out my favorite images and frame them because many are too lovely and girly to not show on a wall.

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

When Deborah’s publisher sent me a copy to review, I knew I had to chat with her personally to learn more about the book and to learn of her inspirations behind-the-scenes. Care to listen in? Great! Then pull up a chair please and lets chat with domino’s one and only Ms. Needleman.

Holly: What are you up to these days, Deborah?

Deborah: I’m the Editor in chief of WSJ. Magazine and also created and oversee a Saturday lifestyle section for the Wall Street Journal called OFFDUTY.

Holly: What is your background – where did you study and how did that affect your career decisions today?

Deborah: I studied philosophy in college. I always thought that had nothing to do with my career path, but now I think it may have everything to do with it. I am interested in the principles behind things and the structure of things. What makes a great room? A beautiful house? What makes a good magazine? A strong brand? A coherent mission for a company? My passion is in making things, little eco-systems really. I’m not a part of any ‘industry’—the decorating industry, the fashion industry, the garden industry, but I work in all of them. I’m driven by how to deliver information and inspiration to people in a satisfying and exciting manner. My career choices have all been driven by trying to do something that makes me happy—photography, gardening, writing about great gardens, creating an unsnobby, but chic magazine that would help me, and others, learn how to decorate better, etc.

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

Holly: When I read the first page of your book, I couldn’t help but feel sad because you mentioned your childhood and how perfect your home was and that it never felt cozy as a result – things only changed when the decorators were called in. I grew up just the opposite, my mother was constantly decorating and I was either assisting her or doing my own decorating projects and for me, this began around age 7. Yet, you and I share the same quest – to help people to find their comfort in the home and to create a home with personality that also fits their lifestyle. I wonder, when did you figure out that your childhood views of decorating were what drove you as an adult to flip those views upside down and encourage others to do the same, “imperfectly perfect” living as you call it? Was this a recent discovery or one you’ve always known?  Do you think growing up in a perfectly perfect home is what got you into design writing in the first place?

Deborah: It is interesting! Some people learn by example from strong role models, and other people are like me and learn just by saying, ‘NO! NO! NO!’ in a rather bratty way to what’s around them. I grew up in a new cookie cutter suburb where all the trees (and houses, for that matter) were about as old and mysterious as I was. (ie. Not very!) I developed a passion for gardens–for beautiful, mysterious, wild, grand gardens, but I had never seen one. I had only seen suburban lawns and limited palette, low-maintenance planting schemes created by teams of landscaper/contractors. I had read about gardens, and they struck my imagination powerfully, and my passion developed out of fantasy and desire, rather than from what I knew or had experienced. Eventually I got to travel the globe writing stories for House & Garden magazine on some of the most wonderful gardens in the world. Similarly, all the houses I knew were neat and orderly and not very interesting. I remember our next door neighbor, who was a wacky lady, had one of those 70’s poems—“If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you, it’s yours forever…” printed in calligraphy and hung on the wall, and I thought, ‘Cool! How personal! How unusual.’ We had nothing personal or quirky in our house. So again, I just said ‘no!’ to the repressed, boring houses I knew, but I didn’t know how to get that effortless, cool style I craved, so I started a magazine to help me and others learn. While you are helping people learn what you know, I am helping people learn what I want to learn! But to do that one needs people like you Holly, whose mothers were an inspiration. All the top editors at domino had mothers with great style. I’m basically sharing what I learn, as I learn it. That’s what excites me. Now I’m immersed in the worlds of culture and of fashion. They are new frontiers for me.

Holly: What made you want to write a second decorating book?

Deborah: I wanted to do a book that addressed decorating from the point of decorating, not from its result. The point of decorating so far as I can tell is to create the best backdrop for the life you want to lead. If we start thinking about our homes from what we want it to do and convey—instead of from ‘cool chair’ or ‘pretty fabric’—then we can make homes that really grow out of who we are, and that truly inspire us.

Holly: What gave you the idea to have a decorating book with only illustrations of rooms vs. photographs?

Deborah: People keep asking that and it’s funny because it never occurred to me to use photographs. This is a book about ideas, not about particular things. If you want to look at photos to get ideas for rooms, there are loads of books that do that beautifully. The illustrations allow the reader to think about the ideas, the principles, rather than going deep into all the particular things that someone may have. This way each image ‘illustrates’ a point. A photograph has a million points of reference in it—and I personally can get lost in that.

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

Holly: How long did it take you to accomplish this project?

Deborah: This book took much longer than I thought because coordinating all the art with Virginia was a huge project. I looked through what felt like zillions of pictures to find the rooms I thought best expressed the ideas and the feelings I was after. Then I would scan and annotate them so that Virginia could understand what I was hoping to convey in each picture. She is absolutely brilliant, and could do a painting in about the time it took me to slog through all the labeling and uploading and technical nightmares.

Holly: Virginia (your illustrator) lives in Canada from what I recall, did you work mostly through email and if so, what were some of the challenges of that and how did you meet them?

Deborah: We did the whole thing over email. We’ve only met once. She is truly remarkable and talented and lovely.

Holly: I imagine it took her a long time to take the images of spaces that you sent to her and then, have her turn them into watercolors. On average, how long did it take her to turn a photo into a watercolor?

Deborah: She could create a chapter—about 12 illustrations—in two weeks—all while she was running her business, getting married, moving house and having a baby.

Holly: How many watercolors are in the book?

Deborah: There must be over 200 paintings in the book.

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

Holly: When you were the managing editor of domino, many knew who you were and what you were about – and you had a following! These days, not everyone follows your WSJ work as religiously as domino for obvious reasons — the appeal of domino was that it was something we could collect and look forward to at the same time each month. Do you think you’ll ever bring domino back? Do you think you’ve moved on or do you still imagine running your own magazine again someday? Thoughts?

Deborah: I feel as satisfied making WSJ magazine as I did making domino. It’s been a great challenge, as was domino. While we didn’t start this magazine from scratch, but I do feel like we’ve completely re-imagined it. It’s a different set of subjects and a different audience, and yet I’m reaching many of the same people, in addition to new people. It’s immensely satisfying. I have no desire to go backwards. If I felt like domino was unfinished business, maybe I’d feel differently, but I don’t. We made the magazine we set out to make. We grow, we change, the world changes, we’re on to the next thing.

Chatting With Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

Holly: Can you tell us about your personal style?

Deborah: My style is layered and elegant and a little messed up. I like nice things treated unpreciously. I’m sitting now with my feet up on a big antique suzani-covered ottoman, it’s piled with books, magazines, and games, a fire is crackling, the late afternoon light is shooting through some ruddy-leaved privet branches in a big glass container and sending long shadows across the floor and rug. I’m sitting on a purple linen, tufted sofa with soft pillows made from old sari fabric squished behind my back, my laptop is on lap, and there’s a slightly too cold cup of coffee nearby that I wish was warmer. I think that’s my style.

Holly: What are a few of your favorite things at home?

Deborah: All my favorite things are sentimental. Nothing else is dear to me. I love a big blue ceramic pumpkin and a small stuffed leather bull I found with my husband at a shop on Rue Jacob in Paris we love. He just got me a fantastic 19th century naïve painting of an owl for my birthday a few days ago. I am crazy about big heavy linen tablecloths—they are not sentimental, just really, really nice. I try to make everything I have and use be attractive, so it makes me happy to look at it, or at least not annoyed. There is that great quote from William Morris: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. But that’s not always possible: I’m talking to you ancient orange le creuset pots and Swiss Army wheelie luggage.

Holly: What’s next for you?

Deborah: I always like to have a plan B. This week’s fantasy plan is to open a little shop in our town in the Hudson Valley that serves simple, good food, sells flowers in jam jars and maybe little paintings and things made by friends, and basic things like toilet paper and newspapers. And maybe it has a small cutting garden where people can pick their own flowers. And at night, there should be tables outside and good music and good times and sparkly lights in the darkness. This idea may have floated away by next Monday. I just have to be doing something I’m interested in, feel good about, and feel creative doing.

Thank you Deborah – so, so much and congratulations on your beautiful new book. I wish you loads of luck with it and have a wonderful season!

(images: photos: holly becker, others: clarkson potter)






Books + Magazines

I’m Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

December 1, 2011

If you’re a fan of MilK, a French interiors and fashion magazine for kids and hip parents, like I am then you’ll love their latest little book (#5 in the series) called MilK Decoration N°5. It’s gorgeous! See for yourself…

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

A Bollywood inspired home from the book, I found this spread particularly pretty in violet and red tones with hints of fresh green and black.

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

The table and lighting caught my eye in this room above.

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

The Edwyn Collins sketched owl wallpaper shown above, produced by my friend Katja at Elli Popp, is one that I definitely plan to order for my home. I not only love the paper, but I really love the story behind how Edwyn’s sketchy series of birds came together and how my friend discovered his work and turned it into ceramics and wallpaper that is now selling at stores like Liberty and Anthropologie. So inspiring.

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

Gorgeous floor and bookcase. I love how most of the books are stacked, too.

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

This room is very me – I love the bright, fresh openness of it and the warmth of the wood which keeps all of the white from looking too clinical.

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

Such a sweet boy’s room. I love the no-nonsense curtain.

I'm Loving: MilK Decoration N°5 Book

This is a truly lovely and cozy nook. The wall color is positively to die for – it’s this smoky eucalyptus color that feels so inviting.

I found my copy of Milk Deco No. 5 in Berlin but you can pick up a digital or print version online here. If you have a hard time with the French site, Little Big in England sells it online. The book is written in both English and French, which was a real selling point to me because it eliminated the usual frustration I feel when purchasing foreign language decorating books.

I love the beautiful, diverse, casual, personal and eclectic homes in this little book – this is my personal style all the way so naturally I’m drawn to the more quirky touches and personalization that I see in the homes featured in this sweet volume. If you pick up a copy, I’m certain you’ll love it as much as I do… and a big plus is that the layout is very fresh with each family story divided by a gorgeously golden page with perfectly pretty typeface that make it such a joy to flip through if you love pretty letters as much as I do. :)

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Books + Magazines

What Liberty Ate

November 18, 2011

I’m so in love with e-mags but we need more spice and variety out there because they are basically starting to all look the same. Have you noticed? That’s why when a new one hits the web, I flip through it yearning to find a new perspective, fresh ideas, and something that makes me stop and say ohhh yes, that’s a nice idea… It’s funny how picky we are despite that this content is always free – I don’t know anyone charging for e-mags (though I think everyone should be but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation), BUT we the consumers are particular about what we consume – free or not – simply because most of us have zero “free” time and anything, even the pure pleasure of reading a magazine or book, requires setting aside the time to actually do it. When I consume anything lately, particularly online, I make sure it’s really good stuff. What I’m about to show you is quite worth your time to peruse – I think it’s really well done for a one-woman-show. Meet Gabriela and What Liberty Ate….

What Liberty Ate

It seems that most e-mags come out of America, though more and more are starting to pop up in the UK, Europe and abroad (which I love and wholeheartedly support – we need diversity!). That’s why when I heard from Gabriela Iancu, a graphic designer and photographer in the Czech Republic, I had to learn more about her brand new e-mag called What Liberty Ate. Here are a few of my favorite glimpses…

What Liberty Ate

What Liberty Ate

What Liberty Ate

What Liberty Ate

Gabriela loves food and travel, and her beautiful blog deliciously shares her love with others. She thought to combine the two with some of her favorite food bloggers and created a magazine to shine a spotlight on the best food photography around the world. In What Liberty Ate, you can find interviews with American food bloggers like Sprouted Kitchen, Desserts for Breakfast and Not without Salt along with food bloggers in Romania like the ladies behind I’m Learning to Cook, the Delightful and Bite and Cook. There are also lots of delicious recipes for the season (cookies, my favorite!) and Gabriela traveled to Venice and the old town district of Prague to capture the mood of both cities and to talk about the foods there that she enjoyed.

What Liberty Ate

What Liberty Ate

All I can say is nom, nom, nom! What a sweet magazine and I hope that you enjoy it as much as currently am. A big congratulations to Gabriela for the courage and confidence to pursue your dreams and turn them into a published e-mag. Woot woot!

(images: what liberty ate magazine)






Books + Magazines

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

November 1, 2011

There is no end to the beautiful books out there, nor to the number of them currently lining my shelves! I feel so lucky to be surrounded by printed pages filled with inspirational thoughts and ideas from the talented people whom I admire. The ultimate experience, outside of owning and flipping through a book, is to have an autographed copy from the author. That is why when “Dottie Angel” signed a copy of her book for me recently, it immediately came home and found a special spot on my shelf.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

I recently had the honor to give the keynote speech before a group of 450 people in St. Paul, MN at The Creative Connection alongside Cristina Ferrare (how lucky am I?) and as part of TCC, there was a brilliant handmade market downstairs that I had a few hours to peruse. My chance to meet the makers, how lovely! One such maker really stood out with her quirky handmade booth adorned with pendants and doilies and that was the very gracious, down-to-earth and very English Tif Fussell.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Currently residing in the Pacific Northwest, Tif attended TCC with her publisher, Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE in Canada to share her handmade wares and her new book printed in a limited run to fans of her work and blog. Tiff, like most bloggers-turned-author, is a very charming and humble lady who found her name on the internet through her blog and the alter ego that she created called Dottie Angel. Tif is a fortysomething wife and mother of four and Dottie is a crafty lady who exists through the virtual pages of her blog and now through her beautiful book which is part of the Uppercase Suitcase Series as #2.

I thought I’d share a few of my own thoughts on her first book along with some photos and a special interview that I had with Tif about Dottie Angel, homespun “granny chic” style, her success as a blogger, advice to others who want to write a book, etc. But first, my thoughts about her book…

This book is well done. Really well done. Bravo!

I appreciate the attention to detail (each cover is hand embellished with thread) and comes with a small envelop containing a few of Dottie’s favorite things. The writing style is the same as her blog, which I appreciate so much… And the overall style is the granny chic retro magic that so many online and off are into these days so it’s a timely book in that this style is currently a huge trend.

I love the spreads in Dottie Angel, Janine did a wonderful job laying out everything so that there is nice pace to the book. There are tons of photographs, all snap shots taken by Tif herself, and lots of text talking about her favorite things along with people she loves and the items she uses (and calls by name) in her home studio. It’s a quirky and charming book that, in a world where so many publishers seem to rely on a standard template to toss together yet another title, this one really stands out in the sea of crafty decorating books for sure. I will cherish my autographed copy for years to come and I can’t wait to finish reading it though I must confess, I’ve not gotten too far beyond the first section because the visuals are so distracting in a very, very good way!

I’ve interviewed Tif, the lady behind Dottie Angel, and would love for you to sit in with us to have a listen… so gather around and join us, won’t you?

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Holly: Homespun style is all the rage at the moment, and for good reason, it’s accessible, personal and soul-filled and that seems to be what so many gravitate towards now when it comes to decorating their homes. What do you think are some of the key elements of homespun style?
Tif: For me the key elements would be handcrafted and vintage. Both elements are relatively easy to achieve, perhaps requiring a bit of time either to make them for your home or to source them. The brilliant thing about homespun style being popular is the wealth of talented folks out there making fabby things for the home. If indeed you are not super crafty yourself or perhaps just really do not have the time to make, then you can still decorate your home in a homespun way, whilst supporting handcrafters. The vintage side of things is my favorite pastime and most addictive. Hand-me-downs from family, forgotten souls stumbled upon at the thrift store or the flea market can still be picked up relatively cheaply. If you are handy with paint, fabric or vintage wallpaper even the saddest looking piece of furniture can have its moment to shine again. For me there is no wrong or right way. Over the years I have learnt to trust my instincts when faced with a slighty odd or ugly secondhand find, and I am never disappointed upon returning to Mossy Shed (our home) with said peachy find in hand and spending some happy moments with fabric or paint resulting in a spiffy looking piece of furniture unique to me and my home. Homespun style or as I like to call it, Granny Chic, is such an easy style to live with and one which you can put your own stamp upon, making it unique to your own creative soul.

Holly: How do you define homespun or granny chic style?

Tif: Homespun “Granny Chic” style is an eclectic mix of furniture and knick knacks which have a story to tell, and when put together thoughtfully and organically over a period of time, creates a place to call Home. A place which is easy to live in, embraces family and critters alike and provides on certain days when perhaps it appears the world outside your door is a little nutso, a place to feel safe.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Holly:  So many now want to make the things that you make, so I wonder, why isn’t your first book a how-to sewing/craft book? Any particular reason?

Tif:  For me making things is just one part of who I am. For almost 20 years I have been a mother of four children and I also like to write, I have never actually called myself a writer, but my love of creative writing started long ago at school. In recent years blogging has allowed me to find myself again in the written word and play with my imagination and therefore I felt a dottie angel book should include all aspects of my life. Before Janine, I did have several offers to produce a ‘how-to’ book but I decided this was not the right choice for me. If the opportunity were to come my way I would very much like a book to reflect not only my creative work, but include our home Mossy Shed (which is my canvas), my life and also my blog, which has played such a large part in making my work a success… a diary of sorts.

Holly: How did a book about the Dottie Angel style come to be?

Tif:  When Janine’s and my path crossed it was the perfect opportunity, here was someone who not only was an independent publisher but a talented designer. Janine was able to see inside of my head and create the book I visualized. Details such as hand stitching on the cover, little snippets of vintage fabric and postcards depicting forsaken thrift store souls, are just a few of the wonderful elements she made happen for me. The book contains a sprinkling of ‘how-tos’ throughout, simple little happy ones and my hope is, when the reader has tried them out, it will inspire them to go on and develop their own style of patching and piecing vintage fabrics together. All these elements perfectly add up to book I think my readers and others who stumble across me, will see as unique and perfectly dottie angel.

Holly:  What are your career goals with your Dottie Angel brand, can you imagine more or are you simply peachy just as you are?

Tif:  Well firstly can I mention that I never set out to make a brand, all I knew at the time was I loved to make things, dabble in interior decorating of my home and writing, when I came across Etsy and the crafting community I knew I wished to be part of it. Having been a stay at home mum of 4 stranded in suburbia abroad (in the USA, I am from England), this was my life line. It was not until I started styling and taking photos of my wares, our home and also writing about day to day life in Mossy Shed that a brand emerged. As for career goals, I have dreams for sure, things I wish to achieve but sometimes when you get carried away thinking of what could be, you end up missing the very thing you have right now. So for that reason I imagine down the road a little bricks and mortar shop with my business partner and soul sister Debbie, filled with handcrafted, secondhand and booky goodness, but for now I have given myself a good talking to and told myself to enjoy the moment I am in, and most importantly the last few years I have left before all my children will have flown the nest.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Holly:  What inspires you?

Tif:  Certainly for my work I am inspired by vintage fabrics, secondhand finds and certain love affairs I have with color. When it comes to our home I am inspired by the Scandinavian way of decorating, preferring plenty of white to showcase our bits and bobs. If I stumble across a home in an interior magazine painted white with vintage furniture and handcrafted elements it can certainly inspire me to beaver away with Miss Ethel (my trusty sewing machine) and rustle up a new cushion cover for the couch.

Holly:  Now who are some creatives out there that inspire you?

Tif:  I am inspired by folks who are passionate about what they do and do it so well, continuing to be genuine and kind whilst doing whatever it is they do. I would have to say Emily Chalmers from Caravan (who kindly wrote the forward for my book) would be a perfectly perfect example. Her book Flea Market Style was a defining moment for me when I found it upon the bookshelves a few years back, suddenly I no longer felt alone in my love of secondhand finds for there, amongst the pages, were other equally obsessive vintage fabric lovers. She is talented, quirky and generous. Another grand example would be Janine Vangool, the talent behind UPPERCASE and indeed designer of my book. I am actually in awe of what she does and how she dedicates her working life to showcasing creative folks around the globe.

Holly: You mentioned when we met that you are also inspired by small stores. Can you tell me more about this?

Tif: Yes! I’m inspired by independent shop owners who, despite the mass produced things on the high street and the current economic times, continue to offer up unique and individual wares from by-gone years and hand crafters. Supporting the community around them and offering consumers the opportunity to shop ‘non mass produced’. When I travel I always make a point now to search out these little stores, to go off the beaten track and I am always rewarded by the wonderful stores I find, their spiffy window displays and always lovely genuine owners.

Holly: Can you think of a lovely shop owner and shop to recommend?

Tif: Oh yes, Anna in Amsterdam and her beautiful store Het Grote Avontuur was the last one I visited and to be honest I wished to move in and stay forever.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Holly:  What is your jumping off point as I call it, or the source of inspiration, for the many projects you make and the decorating ideas that you have?

Tif:  Usually it is kick started by stumbling across a vintage fabric in the most wonderful color/floral combination; yes every time, this will get my creative cogs turning. On occasion flicking through an interior magazine and coming across a home which makes my pulse beat a little faster. An interior filled with an eclectic mix of vintage and handcrafted elements always makes me happy. I find this can inspire me to look around my shed and start shuffling things around. However the results of my shuffling never ends up looking like the home I spied in the magazine, and quite rightly so. It is more of an inspiration for me to look with fresh eyes at what I have to play with in front of me and see an alternative way to arranging things.

Holly:  Your work is very imaginative and creative – have you always been like this or did you have to train and practice to develop your aesthetic?

Tif:  My imagination and creativity have been there for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I let it out to play and other times it stays hidden away. Over the past few years, as my clan has grown older and I have more time to myself, allowing my imagination out to play more often has in turn led me to developing a stronger aesthetic. not intentionally mind you, I just think I have given myself more time to focus on what I make, how I style my products and indeed my love of writing, together this has developed into a recognizable style which is ‘dottie angel’.

Holly:  What is your business background? Did you go to college and if so, where did you study and what was your major?

Tif:  I married young and had 4 children in the space of 6 years. I am a self taught crafter and despite in the beginning thinking perhaps this was something to be a little ashamed of, I found in recent years it has defined who I am, how I make things and today I am happy to say I am proud to be a self taught crafter. Did I ever think I would have a book one day, or sell what I make? No not really. It is a little surreal to say the least. However what I hope is, others who perhaps like me, for whatever reason never went onto college will see, if you are passionate about what you love, work hard and are original, then anything is possible and you do not need a piece of paper to define who you are.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Holly:  What is your advice for others who are being copied – how do you suggest people protect themselves and also deal with it when it happens?

Tif:  Yes I have had my share of dealing with such crappity crap things. Your heart sinks, you feel so completely gutted to see another taking advantage of your work. However one thing I have learnt over the years is, fretting over such things only causes negativity and in turn one’s creativity suffers. A copied piece of work always lacks soul and others will see that too. My advice to others would be, as I tell myself on days when perhaps I have stumbled across something I wish I had not. Yes they may copy your work, but they will never know what you will make next, the wonderful ideas in your head, the scribbled bits of paper on your desk, the very pieces of work which slowly build your portfolio and put a stamp on who you are. This is what makes your work and your style unique to you and no one can take that away from you, for it comes from deep within, from your own original creative soul.

Holly:  What are some of your pet peeves about the internet and being so public with your work online?

Tif:  Ha! This is quite funny because actually I have never thought about having pet peeves before this question! Sure I probably on occasion felt a little fed up about something, (see question above) but to be honest it is having the internet and my work publicly online which has in turn allowed me to continue creating, selling my wares and now being published. Sometimes I wish the crafty world around me was not quite so cyber dependent, but then again, if it was not, I would not have met so many nice folks from around the globe. Finding a balance between the internet world and the real world can be a tricky one, so I do try very hard to not let it consume me. I am pretty crappity crap at twitter and indeed facebook. Some days I wish I was better at this whole internet cyber social world, but at the end of the day my family and my critters are important and I wish to spend quality time with them too. Yes, it is all about the fine art of balancing.

Holly:  What are 5 of the greatest blessings of the internet – like so many, it seems to have launched your name and brand, besides that, what else do you love about the web?

Tif:  Ah well let me see.

  1. The friendships which have come my way, I like to think of them as modern day pen pals.
  2. Never having to feel alone, does not matter what corner of the world you live in, how remote your home is, there are friends to be found who will share your interests, for me that would be the crafting community and indeed the lovely readers of my blog who never cease to amaze me with their kindness.
  3. The sheer volume of creativity out there, so many folks being able to share their talents and have a voice.
  4. Cyber window shopping on eBay and Etsy for vintage finds when the thrift store is closed and I need a fix.
  5. Being able to connect with my daughters, one lives in England and the other in North Carolina, just a short message or a skype call is all I need to know life is okay and I need not fret about them, out and about in the big world.

Holly: And finally, what is the best advice you can give to others who want to write a book about their passions – can you give us some tips on how you suggest someone break into book writing if they also have a successful blog and online brand? What should they do next?

Tif: Well as I said early my publisher found me, and actually for most things to do with dottie angel, folks have found me, I have just continued upon my path of blogging and crafting and feel most fortunate to have folks like what I do. Certainly being passionate about what you do and having a unique voice and style will in turn make you more appealing to publishers. I really do not have any top tips of how to break into the publishing world as that has not been my journey, however I do advise if you are approached or indeed approach a publisher be sure to have a clear idea of what type of book you are wishing to write, your style and how it will be different to what is already out there on the book shelves. If there is one piece of advice I would offer up to anyone whether they are thinking about writing a book, perhaps only just begun with blogging or opening up a little online store. Be yourself and be unique. Do not worry about what others are doing or saying. Stay true to who you are and your creative soul, do it because you have a love for it and it makes you happy and chances are, others will find you soon enough.

Book + Interview with Dottie Angel

Be yourself and be unique. Do not worry about what others are doing or saying.” – Dottie Angel

What a nice chat we had, don’t you think? To purchase Tif’s beautiful new book, please visit UPPERCASE online. It’s stunning and I’m sure you will adore it as much as I have! It’s perfectly peachy.

(images: holly becker for decor8)






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