A Rum Fellow

  • The machines which were built to last

    Posted on 28/08/2012 by A Rum Fellow

    We have a new member in the studio, well actually it is quite old but we are more than a little bit love struck with it. This beautiful Singer is admittedly a beast to lift but its hardiness has stood the test of time.

    Although we were already fully set up with machines when my Grandma very kindly offered me this one... how could I ever resist? Built in my opinion how sewing machines should be, with a belted motor and metal parts it not only fills every nook and cranny of my mid century love, it is as sturdy as they come and can take on the toughest of fabric.

    Back in the early 1950's, when she was not out on the fields, or cooking up her notorious stew and dumplings my Grandma was a keen sewer and decided to take the leap into the new world of electrical sewing machines. As I have been told many a times, back then if the money was not in your purse you did not not buy it. One summer, to raise the funds Grandma bought 20 turkey chicks, then on her own in a corner of the farm land, she raised them and eventually sold them for Christmas. With more than enough money in her purse she bought this sewing machine. This successful money raiser  did not go unnoticed by my Grandad and the next year he took over and bought 100 turkeys. A couple of generations later there are 2500 free range turkeys running around whenever I return home. The picture below is my Grandma in the fifties a few years after she had brought turkeys to the farm for the first time.

    I have been working on a quilt collection using some of the hand embroidered fabrics we discovered in Peru which were inspired by the jungle surroundings. As the Singer sat there staring at me in its perfect combination of wood and hearty metal it was irresistible. I cleaned it up (didn't need much cleaning as it had only the one careful owner) and gave it an oil. It ran so smooth and 'they don't make them like they used to' was ringing in my ears. I switched entirely to the singer for this collection and someone will have to tear me away from it.

    A post on the quilts will be coming soon but here is a little taster of the quilted jungle vines.

    This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with 1950's, A Rum Fellow quilts, Mid century, Peruvian textiles, quilt collection, quilting, singer 99k, singer sewing machine, turkeys

  • Matchmaking Bolivia and France

    Posted on 17/08/2012 by A Rum Fellow


    We are back home and the projects are rolling, remember the stunning hand woven vintage zig zag fabric from Bolivia? Well, it met a 1950's French chair and they're getting on very nicely.

    Arriving back to grey raining London and hearing the horror stories of the summer which had yet to arrive was a bit of a jolt. However our spirits were lifted by the lovely faces we had missed, and the boxes of beautiful South American fabrics showing up one by one. It would be an understatement to say we were 'chomping at the bit' to get into the long list of projects we dreamed up and sketched out whilst we were away. It even seemed like the greyness outside only made the fabrics look more amazing.



    This stylish mid century French chair and it's partner from a previous trip to the continent had been waiting patiently at home for us and oh did we have some Bolivian loving to give them.




    At roughly the ripe old age of 60 the chair frames had some story telling love marks and I didn't want to loose these, for one I love a good story, and these guys have serious character. However the thick varnish of mid century style was tired, so I stripped them right down to the natural wood, and then oiled them back to life keeping some characterful stories in tack.

    The original seats were filled with grass which is quite typical of French upholstery, but having kidnapped them to (now) sunny England, I used Coir (coconut hair) instead. The Coir retained in bridle ties gives a good solid and comfy covering for the hardy original springs which were so powerful they had actually made the old chairs quite uncomfortable.

    The beautiful hand embroidered arrowhead join has taken pride of place down the centre of both the seats with the original outside border sitting at the top of the seat backs. As tradition in the 1950s the under side of these seats had been finished with staples but as the hand woven fabric had set a high status, the idea of staples here seemed conflicting. Instead I decided to take them back in time a little more and used decorative tacks to mark the completion. One of the telling signs of a hand woven fabric is the loom set up rows at the start of a panel. In South America these were a couple of inches using all the colours in a mini stripe testing them out, checking they worked together and setting the tension. I loved the thinking and planning which must have gone into these rows before the weaver launched into the next month of weaving on this one piece. So as not to loose this history I kept a section of this at opposite back corners of each chair (shown in the photo above).

    This matched up pair are now available on our new website here.




    This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with Bolivian textiles, french chair, mid century chair, upholstery

  • Art Crush

    Posted on 15/08/2012 by A Rum Fellow

    Paintings by Californian artist Kelly Reemstein.

    This post was posted in Uncategorized

  • Olympic

    Posted on 14/08/2012 by A Rum Fellow

    Olympics, nailed. Go Paralympics! Some of the great Olympic posters as a little celebration...

    Mexico 1968, Lance Wyman, Eduardo Terrazas and Pedro Ramirez Vázquez
    Munich, Germany, 1972, Max Bill
    Los Angeles, USA, 1984, Robert Rauschenberg

    This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with Celebration, London, Mexico, Munich, Olympics, Poster, Poster Designs

  • Some London love

    Posted on 08/08/2012 by A Rum Fellow

    This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with London, love, padlocks, Shoreditch high street station

  • Embroidered Visions

    Posted on 19/07/2012 by A Rum Fellow

    Suddenly we have been surrounded by a whole new style of thread and fibre…and we love it. After hearing a rumours of the style of Amazonian textiles we travelled deep into the Peruvian jungle and up the Amazon river.  Search and you will find- the discoveries were worth the potholes, bumpy river boats and the constant humidity.

    Gone were the hand looms in courtyards, here the ladies were deep involved with the needle and thread working on "visions".

    Striking geomectrics link together like jigsaw puzzle pieces and slot around the trailing jungle plants or flowers. Just like in Southern Peru the textile designs focus on icons important to the natives. In the jungle it is the plants which are highly valued as for every ailment they believe there is a leafy cure.

    Good job we love a good story as there is always one to tell in Peruvian textiles. The intense maze of designs captures the hallucinogenic visions seen by the Amazonian tribes when they first developed Ayahuasca heeling ceremonies. The designs have been passed down through the generations and are still recreated by the tribes talented ladies today. Even when fixed in thread the designs almost start moving out of the cloth.

    The lovely Sara and Angela (below) are the talented embroideries of all the amazing pieces photographed in this post…they do love colour! Thanks to them we are once again straining under the extra weight of a grand lot of stunning textiles.

    This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with Amazonian textiles, Ayahuasca, Ayahuasca textiles, Ayahuasca visions, geometrics, Hand embroidery, Peru, Peruvian textiles, textiles

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