autumn is really here (and I have something to tell you)…
Posted in amsterdam, amsterdam: made by hand, pia's photos, recent work, yellow October 31st, 2009 by pia

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It’s beautiful riding around this city on my bike feeling the chilly breeze against my face, leaves falling all around like it’s raining gold.

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I thought it about time I tell you what I’ve been up to for the last 5 months. Have you been wondering? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t, but I’ll tell you anyway…

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I’m writing my second book. It’s the next  Made by Hand book and yes, it’s Amsterdam. I’m still working on it and at the moment I’m writing and editing images. Autumn is the perfect time to be writing – being tucked up inside mon petit bateau as the weather turns cold and damp.  Inside here it’s super cosy, and I spend my days making cups of tea and writing about the ateliers and boutiques I’ve chosen for the book. It sounds romantic no doubt, but of course there is alot happening behind-the-scenes. Writing books is intense work. But, the wonderful parts override the hard parts, and one of the best parts of this job is the excitement of discovering these special places and being able to share them with you. One of the difficult parts is keeping them secret for so long! But that will make the book unique and special which is always my goal. So, until I finish I may be a bit sporadic with my posts but oh, I really hope you’re gonna love what I am creating…

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Amsterdam: Made by Hand will be released worldwide in April, 2010 by The Little Bookroom.

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Posted in canada, nature, pia's photos October 30th, 2009 by pia

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You all know how I feel about Canada, right?

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You can imagine then, that I was a little bit giddy when I discovered that a new Ray Mears series called Northern Wilderness was starting last Sunday on the BBC, and it’s all about the vast Canadian wilderness. The first episode rocked – among other things Ray showed how to make a shelter from fallen branches, how the beavers make their incredible homes and why they are so integral, and the footage was just spectacular.

Coming episodes will be looking at the ways of the Inuit, and further exploring the forests by canoe and snowshoe. I can’t wait!

If you don’t know about Ray Mears, click here to find out more about him, he’s a pretty amazing guy whose life work is all about bushcraft and bush survival. One of his previous series which I now have on DVD is called Wild Food , taking viewers into various wilderness regions and teaching about various indigenous food and cooking techniques. It’s inspiring to say the very least, although it’s a sad reminder of how much knowledge we have lost.

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The photos above are gathered from my personal album,  taken during my trips to the West Coast of Canada over the past few years. I hope to go back one day soon. For now, I will be content watching Ray’s journey through the northern wilderness every Sunday night. I hope you get to see it too.

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Posted in fashion, stores October 30th, 2009 by pia

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Marie’s crochet bags are super cute, don’t you think? I think one of these sweet little crochet bags would look pretty teamed with this peacock mini from nanidoo

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…which you could wear any season, love the scoop back.

I’ve been perusing big cartel while having my breakfast. There are heaps of great boutiques but it’s not the easiest site to search. Any tips or tricks?  I’d love to see big cartel do something similar to etsy, with a market place home page that changes regularly, I think it would be  much more appealing as both a buyer and a seller. And then us bloggers could do ‘big cartel favourites’ posts too.

Oh if only I had my homeware store still. I would be perusing these fab internet markets every day, in search of beautiful handmade and vintage stock. Perhaps one day I’ll open another one somewhere in the world. There are so many cute shops for lease in Amsterdam these days, no doubt because of the current economic climate. I often fancy myself setting up shop again in one of them. Although I adore shopping virtually, nothing beats a bricks & mortar shop, there is something so special about walking into one that just captures your imagination, like walking into a little world where you can buy and take home the things you fall in love with. I think now is the time you can negotiate a great lease deal and set up your dream shop. Some of my fondest memories are those of first setting up my shop  – having very little capital and finding cheap second hand shelving, filling old indian cabinets with handmade treasures, lugging a ridiculously heavy old iron claw foot bath into the storefront and filling it with handmade soaps. So much fun.

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“Thank you for a great day out in Paris!‏”
Posted in paris, paris: made by hand October 29th, 2009 by pia

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The other day I received an email that totally made my day. It was from a (blog)house reader named Natalie who is a freelance graphic designer specialising in book design. Originally from Auckland but now residing in Sydney, Natalie had recently spent a little time in Paris with her partner, and used Paris: Made By Hand as one of her travel guide companions.

Natalie wrote such a beautiful email describing the moments when she first received the book (which her partner ordered for her and had sent up from Melbourne, how sweet!) and the trip itself a few months later. She wrote:

“…we had both been to Paris before so we were freed from having to visit all the tourist spots. Instead we wandered … and had a really wonderful day seeking out some of the ateliers that you recommended. My partner even came with me, and he had as much fun as I did, (luckily he took care of the road maps, and metro stops and I could just wander and soak in the atmosphere … it was perfect!) I think in the end we made it to about 5. Which in the scheme of all the fantastic looking places in the book wasn’t many. But each we went to was just perfect. And all the shop owners were lovely.”

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How beautiful is that?  I asked Natalie if she’d mind sharing with us all some  pics of her time in Paris, and she obliged! Here they are, above and below with some captions…

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“I saw these little pottery heads in a window in St Germain and thought they had the sweetest expressions. Unfortunately I didn’t write down who the artist of them was.” I don’t know the artist either, anyone? They are rather gorgeous.

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…inside Le Petit Atelier de Paris.

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“One of the other ateliers from your book we visited which was a wonderful experience was Alexia Hollinger with her gorgeous vintage fabric bags. Alexia herself was away for the day, and her mother was looking after the shop. It was her first day, and she was very eager and so warm and welcoming. Her English was not so good, and our French even worse, but together we had a lovely conversation”. Pictured above in Alexia’s atelier/boutique.

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“We went to Les Papilles for dinner, I highly recommend a visit. A wine bar with a menu that is only one option! but beautiful, like having a rustic home cooked meal in a warm bustling café. ”

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Sunset over the Seine.

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Thank you dear Natalie, I am thrilled that you enjoyed the book and were able to visit some of the featured boutique ateliers. I hope you will get as much pleasure out of my next Made by Hand book. Yes, you read right, there is another in the making…

xx

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circles of mystery
Posted in guest quarters October 29th, 2009 by zoe

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There’s a village nestled somewhere in the chalk downs of Wiltshire in the south west of England. As a village it is unremarkable – undeniably picturesque and very cute, but there are hundreds like it all along the rambling country lanes. In other respects, however, this particular village is unique indeed.

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The stone circle at Avebury is the largest henge and stone circle complex in Britain. The village itself winds through the monoliths – many of the missing stones were broken up and built into the very fabric of the village itself.

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The circle itself is more than 5000 years old. The henge – bank and ditch – is considered the first stage of the structure, and is over 400 metres in diameter. The outer circle of large sarsens originally consisted of 98 stones, some up to 40 tonnes in weight. Within the large outer circle are two smaller circles, one with a cove (a u-shaped configuration of 3 stones) at its centre, and one centred by a single huge stone, weighing up to 100 tonnes.

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The Avebury circle is … well, awe-inspiring. Despite the ominous atmosphere provided by darkened skies, photos don’t do justice to the drama of the scene that confronts you when you see these stones in person. The circle is accessible – unlike Stonehenge, here you can walk amongst them, touch them, feel dwarfed by their shadows. The view across the downs from the top of the henge is dramatic, and the mystery surrounding the stone’s existence within this idyllic landscape is tangible.

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The circle and henge are part of a wider prehistoric landscape. Stretching out from the henge are two sarsen-lined avenues, the West Kennet Avenue and the Beckhampton Avenue. In the hills nearby lie the enormous man-made Silbury Hill, with its distinctive flat top, and the West Kennet Long Barrow, where the remains of up to 40 burials were uncovered, dating back between 4000 and 5000 years or more.

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There’s more mysterious phenomena to be found in the hills surrounding Avebury village than the Neolithic human influence. Every summer, Wiltshire experiences the overnight appearance of those enigmatic creatures known as crop circles. Often more popular with the tourists than the stone circle itself, the mysterious patterns appear in the summer-ripening wheat and corn fields, prompting many an irate farmer to destroy the evidence before the field is trampled by a horde of curious travellers. Regardless of which theory you ascribe to, the reality of a crop circle at ground level is a decidedly anticlimactic experience – they are simply too large to be able to appreciate without the benefit of distance – as the many small aircraft overhead can attest to.

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Whatever your circle interests – whether Neolithic or mystic – this amazing place is full of atmosphere and mystery, with plenty of unanswered questions to fire your imagination. Enigmatic and inexplicable, Avebury is one place that will continue to fascinate long after you leave its physical presence behind.

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photographs and text by zoë yule

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