Since I bought a wire sculpture from Becky Crawford at the Rotherfold artisan market in Totnes, I've been following her work on Instagram and regularly paying visits to her spacefruit Etsy shop. This culminated in my asking her to make a special commission and I also met up with Becky for a coffee and a chat recently. We decided it might be fun to feature her work on the yay retro! blog as I know lots of my customers will just love her work too!
above... A flowery wire sculpture by Becky Crawford of spacefruit on Etsy...
a long and bendy road to wire sculpture, with ceramics along the way....
Becky told me she's been messing about with wire for probably 30 years or more. She loves wire because she loves drawing, and sees her work with wire as kind of drawing. Surprisingly, her degree at the University of Central Lancashire was in 3D design, specialising in ceramics of all things. She had wanted to specialise in glass and jewellery but it turned out she couldn't do them both together, so opted for ceramics. This made sense as having been taken to craft shows since she was tiny, the potters always captivated her with their wonderful squidgy clay and potters wheels; she'd spend whole days watching them in amazement. She actually hung around the potters so much that they would give her lumps of clay to play with! In the end Becky's parents bought her a bag of beautiful red clay and she made lots of little creatures which sat on windowsills around the house for years. When she got to Uni, she found she still loved the feel of clay and the way you could change it from a lump into so many different forms. After graduating she saved to buy a kiln, glazes and equipment but as she always lived in temporary accommodation, she found it impossible to set up a proper workshop and it sadly all ended up in storage until recently.
jewellery making and selling her work in galleries...
Being unable to set up her kiln, it was easier to work with smaller materials. With parents who were makers themselves, Becky had often played with wire after her Dad had given her tools from a fairly young age; pliers and snips and solder and things to play with. She wanted to make silver jewellery so started with what she could afford; wire, beads and sequins. Her work however, was always very unique and creative.... one of the first pieces she made were crazy ladies with hair made from fishing line scrumples that she found on beaches. She sold these through galleries, saved up and eventually bought some silversmithing equipment. She says: "I loved making jewellery and I sold a lot for many years, in some fairly prominent galleries around the country".
above....Becky's wire 'doodles' which become wire sculptures when put together...
working from a garden studio to make 'wire doodles' into wirework sculptures...
Becky now works in a lovely studio in her back garden. As mentioned before, she sells her work via her shop called spacefruit on from Etsy
, and she also sells work through galleries, artisan fairs and shows. Working from her garden means she is often inspired by the things she sees around her, she says: "The chickens in the garden make me smile and inspire my wire bird pieces. Flowers, the shapes of leaves, patterns of stems in gardens, hedgerows, my local woods and being on the Devon cliff tops all rattle around in my head and influence the shapes I make in wire. I LOVE the time I spend in my studio... I always say that I actually barely notice what I'm making, my things tend to 'make themselves' if that makes any sense... I'm there listening to some amazing music or something on the radio but the wire or pen or whatever is actually doing the work itself!"
above.... spacefruit cork and bee sculptures, bring to mind warm sunny days...and have raised money for charity
Much of Becky's work features bees, hares, birds etc...She says: "The natural world is very important to me, so it does feature a lot in my work. Without the natural world we have nothing, and I worry about the future of our planet and what is going to be left for my daughter. Last June I started donating £2.50 to the Bumblebee Conservation Society for every bee on a cork or bee on a block I sold; in 6 months I managed to raise over £50!
Customers who collect her work and commissions...
Becky says: "I have customers around the world who collect my work. A lady in Australia collects my mobiles and buys them for her family members as well, another lady in America who collects wire artwork now has quite a few of my wire pieces. My work gradually changes over time and new ideas come along so there's always something new for people to buy". Becky is also available to make commissioned pieces. I asked her to make a sloth hanging from a branch for my daughter in law for a gift, and the result was fabulous! It arrived in a beautiful package and was exactly what I had hoped for!
above....coloured wire hanging sculpture....lovely to prop on a shelf or hang in a little nook or window...
Personally, I love the characters in Becky's work, and I wondered if they have names? Becky told me: "I don't exactly give them names, but they definitely have conversations with me and each other, and have very real personalities; I've done a lot of people watching in my time and real people do seep into my work. When I'm making a commission like a portrait I like to get an idea of personality and character and even taste in clothing before I start. My friends and family also probably don't realise that they've been turned into wire characters!"
above....a roller skating lady - full of movement
Mobiles, cards and much more...
Becky also creates mobile artworks, she started making these way back in 1999 by picking up rubbish from beaches in Cornwall and turning coloured bottles into jewellery. However, when she started working in a recycling centre she suddenly had access to many more colours, and started turning the waste plastic into mobiles instead. She says: "I do find some of them quite tricky to make – all that working out of balancing can take a lot of brain power!"
above...one of Becky's mobiles with one of her drawings behind...
In her spacefuit Etsy shop, you'll also see that Becky sells cards, and even instantly downloadable colouring in sheets. So it's certainly worth a visit. Becky says: "My work develops and changes all the time so there are always new designs. I've done a few bespoke wire family portraits recently which I would like to make more of this year. I would also like to develop some designs for paper based products."
The artist at home...
I asked Becky to tell me all about her home and she explained: "Our home has lots of handmade items in it, as it's quite hard doing shows and not coming away with lovely things from neighbouring stands! I've always collected beautiful vintage plates from the 1930s – 1970s, and used them daily until I moved into this house. Sadly they all got broken when the shelf they were on fell down! I was utterly devastated at the time, but they are all in a box waiting to be turned into mosaic things; so far I've made a bathroom mirror from them with more ideas yet to come. Our house is also full of beautiful paintings and things that our young daughter has made".
Becky talks yay retro! and crochet...
"I love bold bright flowery patterns from the 1970s as they remind me of my childhood; same with all yay retro!'s gorgeous crochet stuff, as all our childhood photos have some kind of crocheted item in them made by my Mum or Granny!"
Recently I purchased a wonderful display shelf to show off my vintage ornaments and collectables. I bought this from Devon based furniture maker Peter Lanyon after seeing him at the Rotherfold Craft Market in Totnes. I fell in love with the curvaceous shape and high quality finish of the shelf, and saw it as the ideal artwork to invest in. I wanted something that would become a family heirloom and that could house my most precious finds.
What I love about it is the fine delicate woodwork and the way it draws and holds the eye. It’s beautifully light yet strong and sits perfectly in an alcove in my lounge. Speaking to Peter I found out that the shelf is made of a steam bent ash hoop, with wild English cherry shelves. I think you’ll agree it looks fantastic with my most favourite ornaments on it.
I first came across the work of Peter Lanyon in my local town of Totnes in Devon, when he created the Rotherfold bench which is a feature in Rotherfold Square. This was created with the help of 16 volunteers and put in place in 2015. When I bought the shelf I had no idea that he was the maker of the bench, and also the award winning furniture maker of the gorgeous seating on the Sharpham Estate (pics below Rotherfold & Sharpham Bench Projects).
I’ve now gone on to find out that Peter uses sustainable, home-grown British woods in his work and that he creates a wide range of furniture for the home. Some of the designs I would love to have in my home include the stunning hand-split and shaved legged desk which has a minimal Scandi feel and the sculptural dining table which would make a superb feature in any kitchen, dining room or open plan hallway. I think these up-to-the-minute timeless designs would really withstand the rigours of everyday living, and become part of the family.
I also really like the Double Stem Standard Lamp which has an organic feel, since each piece has been cleaved out from a log and then hand shaped into restful curves. If I had one of these I would have it displayed prominently in the room as an artwork.
The Tall Beech stool would be great as a side table as well as a stool and is a handy piece of furniture to have when guests descend! When not in use it’s clean lines would make a very pleasing addition to a lounge diner. All of Peter’s work is hand crafted in his Devon workshop and it’s worth knowing that you can buy his work online, great news if you are out of area. Why not visit Peter Lanyon’s Furniture shop here?
You can find out more about Peter's furniture making courses in both Devon and Portugal and his other community furniture projects on his website here.
About ten years ago we hired a fantastic VW camper van from O'Connor's Campers in Okehampton, Devon. We'd never been in a camper before and hiring the VW Splitty called 'Noddy Windsor' from them was one of the very best holidays we've ever had (see below). The van came complete with a basket of goodies and we spent a fantastic fortnight touring North and South Devon. We loved it so much we actually bought a VW California Camper when we got home!
This meant we kind of lost touch with O'Conners, as based on our fantastic camping experience we had bought our own van. The years have passed and we have sold our van, and consequently have been thinking of holidaying with O'Connor's again. By Happy coincidence Zoe from O'Connor's got in touch to say they had recommended yay retro! for 'Glorious Vintage Accessories for your camper van' on their blog. What a lovely surprise! Added to this I was seriously blown away by the huge range of vans O'Conner's now have in their range!
If you adore VW vans then you are spoilt for choice, from 1960s Splitty's to 1970s dubs and up to the minute VW California T6's there is something for everyone to hire. Do pop in to O'Connor's Campers to book your next holiday. You won't be disappointed!
If you are looking for vintage camper van accessories, vintage bedding or vintage inspired crochet to go in your camper van then yay retro! is for you, my online shop is here.
Kelly is both a yay retro! customer and also the proud owner of this Pearl White 1965 VW split screen camper van with it's original Devon Caravette oak interior. She runs the White Van Wedding Co., driving her fab van for hundreds of happy couples, who all enjoy the vintage camper experience on their wedding day. Based in Welling in Kent she covers the London area, Kent, Essex, Surrey and parts of Sussex offering chauffeur driven wedding car hire. Read on to find out about her lovely VW splitty van!
The White Van Wedding Company was started in 2015, but Kelly has actually owned the camper since 1997, when she invested the money inherited from her Grandad - what a fantastic thing to buy!
Kelly tells me: "I offer a wide range of different coloured flower garlands and ribbons for couples to customise the van to match their wedding theme. Also, as I only have one van, and am not a big company couples get a fully personalised service. People deal directly with me from the first phone calls and emails right through to driving on the day."
(Photo Michelle Lindsell Photography)
She goes on to say: "I know I'm biased, but the van has been beautifully restored, the guy who painted it usually paints Aston Martins. When I arrive at a wedding I often get comments like "it's even nicer in real life, the photos don't do it justice!". I do spend an insane amount of time waxing and polishing it. It has even attended a wedding at Westminster Abbey - the van and I get about a bit!"
Business is growing from strength to strength with bookings rising every year. She has 59 couples booked for this year and more bookings arrive each week! Bookings can be for the couple, groomsmen, bridesmaids etc, etc.
Attention to detail from The White Van Wedding Co:
On wedding days, everyone gets to eat as much pick and mix as they can manage on their journey - from the table full of sweet jars, and bags ready for people to scoop up their faves, just as popular with the adults as the kids! Also, the van has a 1950s Pepsi cooler so that couples can chill their champagne. There is also an original period Blaupunkt Frankfurt chrome radio in the dash, converted to run an iPod, or link via bluetooth to play their favourite tunes from their phones! The curtains are Eames Small Dot pattern fabric, imported from America. A full set of Gaydon Melmex melamine crockery in pastel colours, (which would have originally come as standard with the van) are to be found in a special cupboard. Kelly notes that "quite often my shoes and handbags are vintage on wedding days too, and are from the 1960s and 70s!"
When Kelly is not driving around on wedding days, she loves 60s nights, 'New Untouchables Mousetrap Psychedelic All nighter' at the Orleans Bar in Finsbury Park is one of her favourite club nights. She also loves visiting old seaside towns, especially those with piers and vintage arcade machines.She has a trip to Brighton planned for this year, for the mod weekender.
Regarding the yay retro! online vintage shop
, Kelly says "I love it all! I've purchased a few bits before, including flower power bedsheets to go with my 70s James Seccombe plastic space age bed. At the moment my favourites are the Hornsea cat salt and pepper pots and the Staffordshire Potteries Stowaway Flower Power tea set. I like anything brightly coloured and psychedelic, from the late 60s and 70s".
There are many out there who swoon over handbags from Radley to Louis Vuitton, not me. I've never got the handbag thing, and until a couple of years ago and avoided carrying one at all.
However all this changed when I got into vintage and I saw the wonderful bags made by Ellie of Jelly Jam Vintage. Ellie makes bags from genuine vintage fabrics such as 1950s, 60s and 70s Barkcloth and Towelling and it's fair to say for someone who is not into bags I am completely hooked!
This is my collection so far, and it is yet to grow....
The top bags in the photo are ones I've chosen for each season, and they give me a lift every time I see them as they are so cheery and bright. I absolutely love flower power designs from the 60s and these bags are just a sheer joy for me to carry about! Many of you may not consider these to be 'handbags' more a shopping bag? But for me they work brilliantly. Soft and strong, I can chuck anything and everything in and be comfortable and stylish.
I often get people stopping me to admire my bag and collectively we go into rapture about the wonderful mid century fabrics used to make them. Most people are amazed that fabrics like this can still be found in such wonderful condition. I always point them in the direction of Jelly Jam's Facebook and Etsy page. My most recent Jelly Jam Vintage acquisition is the 50s towelling bag at the bottom covered in crazy fish all nipping at eachother's tails. This is a large bag which I intend to use as a shopper, meaning I now go out with two fab vintage bags at once! It would also be perfect when I go on holiday as a beach carry all bag.
The smaller yellow and orange flowery barkcloth bag on the left is ideal when I want to go out with my my phone, sunglasses and a bit of cash. I tend to use this in the summer on hot days. I can sling it across my chest as it has a long strap. The teeny towelling purse under was a wonderful surprise gift from Ellie in my parcel this week. It's so perfect as yet I am just looking at it and wondering whether to use it as a purse or makeup bag. All the bags are lined with contemporary cotton, often polka dot to co-ordinate with the exterior vintage fabric and each has a little Jelly Jam Vintage label. Simply fabulous, you must get one!!
Why not pop in to the yay retro! online vintage shop while you are here and check out the vintage fabrics and more that I sell for your vintage styled home?
Recent *HaPpY* messages and feedback from yay retro! customers who bought a retro shelf, vintage French glass storage jars, a vintage kettle, a 1970s biscuit tin and vintage shot glasses in a rack:
'The Shelf is lovely! Thank you. So well packaged and fab free gift. The glasses fit in the rack perfectly- just need to fill them up!' Lindsey (see photo) I Love the way Lindsey has combined her two yay retro! purchases together.
'Just received my retro kettle from you, and I am really pleased with it, it is gorgeous also thank you for the Scandinavian dish cloths they will come in very handy in our old motor home where the kettle will be living too, and what a great service I have received from you xx' Julie
Recently I have been undertaking a lot more craft activities in a bid to get off the computer of an evening and unwind from work. As a result my small home has been inundated with wool, embroidery threads, craft books and magazines and much more paraphernalia! I needed to be able to put everything away tidily otherwise I might quit crafting all together!
'Dear Sue, I am just emailing to say thank you. Your parcel arrived this afternoon... I shall definitely be using your site again. Again many thanks for your prompt delivery and for the return of the other postage most appreciated.' Sandra
Fortunately I found the most wonderful retro styled cabinet on Amazon in the Steinberg Retro Patchwork cabinet range. It's sold by the Sue Ryder Charity shop and is a new flat pack piece of furniture which includes a tallboy and a chest of drawers. Both are of a compact size meaning you can use them in a small space. Though don't be fooled by their dimensions as they are built like the Tardis! Here's my chest of drawers in situ. I simply adore the 1950s styling in the leg department and the Scandi feel with the happy colours which match my lounge perfectly.
The dimensions of this particular cabinet is W70 x D29.5cm x H85 cm. It arrives in a large box which is extremely heavy, so two people are needed to carry it. We unpacked and laid out all of the contents to check everything was there before starting to assemble it. My husband was the person doing the constructing, and I was very glad about this as it took him three evenings to put together, doing a bit each night. The different drawers and little cupboard are all well constructed, with a matte finish to the coloured panels. We made everything extra strong by adding PVA glue to the wooden dowels.
I actually bought this to house my yarn stash, however now it's put together, I am using it in a different way which tidies all my bits and bobs away. I have a drawer for my cottons and needles and one for buttons and embroidery threads. Then all my knitting and crochet needles share a drawer with my knitting patterns. I have a drawer for my current craft books, and a cupboard which houses boxes of craft kits. The two small square drawers are as deep as the unit and house my felt tips and crayons, when I need them I can simply pull the entire drawer out - perfect! I actually have one empty drawer and intend to find the suitable thing to pop in there today! I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone who is handy with flat pack furniture and at £129.99 I think it's fantastic value.
If you love handmade items, there are some for sale in the yay retro! online vintage shop here:
Cushions using vintage fabrics
Vintage Textiles for your own crafting projects
If you wish to find the unit for yourself on Amazon here is a link. NOTE this is NOT an Ad. I purchased this myself.
This weekend there is an extra special event taking place in Totnes, Devon where I live. It's the Bodykind Festival
, the first ever festival dedicated to encouraging each and everyone one of us to feel comfortable in our own skin. The event is taking place from October 13th - 15th and I am really looking forward to going along.
With the media showing us photoshopped bodies at every turn, it can be hard not to compare ourselves to often unattainable looks. This 'first of a kind', weekend long, not for profit event has been set up to encourage us all to love and respect our bodies. There are speakers such as Bodyposipanda from Instagram, Harnaam Kaur & Glory Pearl plus workshops, music, theatre and dance, art, film and photography, so something for everyone to get involved. You can find out more about what's on here.
Looking at the Bodykind website, you'll see that: "Bodykind is about honouring life in its various forms, rather than comparing oneself or anyone else to an external concept of beauty." The Bodykind Festival will promote inclusivity, celebrate diversity, illuminate and challenge non-acceptance. Why not buy your ticket today?
See you there!
A bit about me....I'm Sue and I run yay retro!, which is an online vintage shop selling vintage homewares and more from the 1940's, 50's, 60's & 70's. Here on the yay retro! news blog I post cooking ideas, recipes and write reviews about interesting people and businesses who I meet in reality and online! (Note I have paid for this Degustabox myself.) So, September's box is here and I opened with excitement straight away. This is the best box so far as I will definitely be using all the contents. There's a picture below of all the yummy things in the box, so don't look if you haven't opened yours yet!
yay retro! - September 17 Degustabox unboxing - A quick overview
Degustabox is a monthly subscription box of food, drinks and treats which arrives direct to your door. Each box is guaranteed to be worth more than the price paid, and you get to try things you might not have seen before or thought of buying. If like me, you love surprises, food and cooking then why not get involved? There's a voucher code to get your first box for only £5.99 at the end of this article.
Why I love this month's Degustabox!Inside are all the kinds of things I would personally buy, so this months box is ideal. First up is Cheerios Oat Crisps Cereal. Love Cheerios, and we often have them for supper, but we've not tried this crunchier variety. Then there's a carton of Rice Dream with quinoa. This is something you use instead of milk. I'll try anything like this in porridge (another passion of mine in the food department), so we'll see if it tastes different and exciting with this in it tomorrow!
There are 2 products from the Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen range, a brand I've just started buying from our local Morrisons. Not tried these which are a Colombian Albondigas Sauce (fresh tomato) and microwavable Coconut & Chilli Rice - love this, it's the kind of thing we use all the time.
There's a can of Wild Planet tuna with no water or oil - great! Just the thing for a tuna mayo sandwich with last months Hellmans Mayonnaise. There is a bottle of Knorr Rich Beef concentrated stock. This will last for ages added to any stew, bolognese or other similar recipe. Although we don't eat meat anymore, I don't mind using meat stocks in my cooking (not staunch vegetarians), so will give this a go.
There is a pack of Green's Creamy egg custard filling. I've never used anything like this before, but all you need is some milk and a pastry case and you're off to a lovely traditional pud, so that's a big 'yes' from me, and who know's it may appear regularly on my shopping list.
There's a scrummy bar of Green & Blacks Velvet Edition Dark Chocolate 70% cocoa chocolate which will be polished off tonight, and a family pack of Mentos just natural mint flavour sweets. Ideal for popping in the car and nibbling on the way to deliver my parcels to the courier!
To finish up there are two cans of flavoured Virtue sparkling energy water berries and Lemon & Lime; with zero calories these are spot on for me! A bottle of San Miguel beer rounds off this perfect-for-me box!
Come back soon to read my in-depth reviews of each item along with vintage photos and more on the yay retro! blog.
Try Degustabox with yay retro! and get money off your first box!
An interview with Hello Retro DesignI've 'known' Raphy for the past couple of years as she follows yay retro! on Facebook and Instagram, we've never met but we like the same things, so I thought it was high time I had a chat with her for the yay retro! blog as I am sure yay retro! followers will love the furniture that Hello Retro renovate and sell. Raphy and her husband Kan set up Hello Retro Design which is a mid century furniture company with a super snazzy online shop. Their business really started from their love of mid century design and from many hours of hunting down retro goodies everywhere they went.
They tell me that: "their backgrounds are in music, sales and photography. Kan used to be a session guitarist for a number of bands and then guitar technician for The Cure. He then moved into photography and became a commercial photographer." Kan is responsible for all the Hello Retro Design photography and for the website, and very stylish it is too.
The couple are apparently completely self taught, with Raphy saying "it hasn't been an easy journey but it has been exciting - My father was a carpenter and I grew up with him renovating our houses and watching him work with wood; I now find it one of the most relaxing parts of my job. I have a history in music and sales and am passionate about fashion and interior design. I love transforming things that look a bit tired and naff into something new and appealing."
Initially, they would find mid-century pieces that looked interesting and worthy of a second life. After refurbishing them they sold them on. Then they started to buy G Plan Fresco modular units from the 60’s and 70’s and separated the wall units into individual pieces, adding coloured hairpin legs for a bit of a pop into the Retro futuristic look. Very soon orders were coming in from the world over, faster than they could make, photograph and list them and I think you can see why!
Raphy tells me a bit about their renovation process: "I sand the tops of our sideboards and chests by hand, which I know is a longer and more labourious method but it gives the best results. When you’re working with pieces that are over 50 years old you need a more gentle approach. I then coat the tops with OSMO oil to give them a beautiful finish. This oil is environmentally friendly, good for people and good for wood. It’s expensive but so worth it for the incredibly fine and durable finish. Then it’s over to Kan for plinth removal from our sideboards and chests, which is no easy task a lot of the time because G Plan certainly made very sturdy furniture. Next we add the hairpin legs (customers can choose the colour of these). These are custom made for us from high grade steel to our specific design. They are sand blasted prior to powder coating to ensure the highest quality finish and durability. We can accommodate most colours on the RAL colour chart for those that want to go wild with colour or we offer legs in copper, gold, and bare steel finishes. The legs are also available in different heights to accommodate different uses for the furniture. We sell a lot of our pieces on 8” legs which work perfectly for media consoles and our record cabinets are usually sold on 14” legs so you can have your record player at waist level. Once the tops are done and the legs are on, everything is professionally cleaned and oiled with Danish oil to nourish the wood and then they’re ready to go!"
What Hello Retro loves at yay retro!
Looking at the yay retro! online shop which sells mid century and flower power home and kitchenwares, Raphy says "I am mad about melamine and colour so the butter dish ticks both of those boxes and the coffee jug is divine with a splash of my current favourite colour orange!! A lot of our furniture is bought for use as kitchen cabinets so I am always on the look out for colourful retro pieces to use as props for our photo shoots and these two items would look fab!" Have to agree that a mix of blue and orange together is one of my current vintage loves too!
Visit the yay retro! online vintage shop here
Visit Hello Retro Designs' Furniture shop online here Use the Hello Retro Design discount code YAYRETRO15 at checkout for 15% off!!!!