A B&R London day out: swimming, sketching, eating

A balmy July day in the midst of a heatwave, we managed a rare cultural day together. First stop, after a proper tramp across Hampstead Heath where we met 'one of the infamous dog walkers' (her words) and a jogging Christopher Eccleston (who was very polite and provided directions even though we weren't actually shouting at him at the time, but each other), was the ladies pond. The enforced march by Rolfe meant we were suitably sticky and in need of a refreshing bathe. 

Straight in and what a delight! Fresh smells (and I'm not being euphamistic) beneath the willows and amongst the weeds. We were temporarily 'evacuated' as lightening lit up the distance  - there followed much confused attempts at understanding the 'science' behind such a policy - all present had clearly forgotton any secondary school science they ever had - mid-week outdoor swimming the preserve of arts graduates only?  We were much amused by the human instinct to get out of a pond (water!) to shelter from the rain (water!) under a tiny bit of awning. Personally I delighted in the rain (it was a HOT day) and was pleased to return to the water with the rain beating down around us, making tiny and evocative bubbles on the surface. You don't get that at the local leisure centre.

The idlyllic Ladies Pond in sunshine

The idlyllic Ladies Pond in sunshine

Evacuated swimmers, failing to see irony, huddle under awning to keep dry

Evacuated swimmers, failing to see irony, huddle under awning to keep dry

Pleased to see the geese followed the evacuation order too.

Pleased to see the geese followed the evacuation order too.

The skies brightened and were able to lunch on the banks and do a bit of sketching, trying to capture the lush surroundings of this little idyll. 

From Bloomfield's sketchbook

From Bloomfield's sketchbook

Sketch by Bloomfield
Bloomers sketching at the ponds

Bloomers sketching at the ponds

We had to drag ourselves from the banks as the day was slipping away.

 Next stop was the V&A Museum of Childhood, somewhere we've been meaning to visit for years. It's a shame it's such a nightmare to get to really as it's full of lovely stuff, more suited to nostalgic adults in our opinion than children wanting entertainment. I was rather enchanted by all the dolls houses, remembering how much I loved things with 'little bits' as a child, and there were lots of fabulous characters.

A 'hug of bears' from the Museum of Childhood. Very sweet!

A 'hug of bears' from the Museum of Childhood. Very sweet!

Look at the hams!

Look at the hams!

There's none of this modern nonsense about not terrifying the little ones.

There's none of this modern nonsense about not terrifying the little ones.

Royal memorabilia: love it, even if Di looks a little subdued.

Royal memorabilia: love it, even if Di looks a little subdued.

As ever we couldn't possibly bid farewell to each other without partaking in a big nosh-fest. We happily toasted our day at the wonderful Wahaca in Islington where there was much coo-ing about corn and slavering over cheese. 

Bloomers enjoying the spread

Bloomers enjoying the spread

Rolfe having a scoff

Rolfe having a scoff

A day in the Typotetum

It's a rare thing that Bloomfield & Rolfe get together, living some 200 miles apart and with the commitments of little person, career, stamps and all the other extra-curricular things we like to do (but don't have time to blog about). So it was a delight when were set off in the blazing heat of mid-May (I made that up, it was the persisitant and freezing drizzle of mid-May) to learn about letterpress at Typoretum near Colchester.

And what fun we had! The inconspicuous purpose-built studio in Justin and Cecilia's garden was packed floor to ceiling with type and presses and ink (and amazing light fittings). Such was the excitement within I omitted to take a photo of the outside, but their set-up was like an episode of 'Relocation Relocation' made real (I'm allowed to romanticise, I'm insanely jealous).

drawers and drawers and drawers of type

drawers and drawers and drawers of type

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After a brief introduction from Justin were were allowed to get stuck in. There was a vast array of metal type available, but the lure and patina of the wood type was too much to resist and we both decided to set a poster.

After only a few minutes I was ready to go: always in a rush!

Jenny's Elbow inspired text

Jenny's Elbow inspired text

Holly's motivational text on the press (not to do with Nike at all she assured us. Hmmmm, is that a swoosh?)

Holly's motivational text on the press (not to do with Nike at all she assured us. Hmmmm, is that a swoosh?)

Rob helped me mix up this wonderful gradiation of ink which I, to be pretentious about it, call 'fresh morning light'. So I was ready to get printing.....

'Fresh morning light' on the rollers.... don't you want to eat it!

'Fresh morning light' on the rollers.... don't you want to eat it!

My type inked up... and that pesky uninked 'D' that caused so many problems.

My type inked up... and that pesky uninked 'D' that caused so many problems.

..... but, as is so often the case in my life, more haste and less speed was required and I can confirm that it's more difficult than it looks! All the attributes that make the wooden type so covetable, make it very difficult to print as it is worn and uneven through use. Many prints later I think I got something I will be able to frame.

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A big thank you to Justin and Rob for their help and patience and providing such an inspiring day and freedom to play with all their stuff, and to Cecilia too for the amazing home cooked lunch!

Postcard Project: Rolfe to Bloomfield #7

There's been a bit of a postcard project hiatus recently - big apologies - we were just so busy with orders in November and December everything else fell by the wayside.

Now we're in the comfort of January I was pleased to receive this seasonal offering from Rolfe... we're both big fans of Richard Long and his poetic wanderings (and great use of red type).

Rolfe to Bloomfield #7

Birthday ‘sprise’ from Bloomfield…

I guess less of a real ‘sprise’ (as my 6 year old niece wrote on my birthday card this morning…) as Bloomers always sends me a wonderful package every year upon this date, the anniversary of my birth. Each year I unpack the box the packaging seems to get more and more beautiful – and this year was no exception.

Colour, texture, ribbons galore! The presents were pretty cool too…

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Also I am lucky enough to have a wonderfully creative work crew with whom to share my special day – almost literally as there are 3 birthdays in a team of 8 this week hence this multiple cake offer. Who doesn’t love an overload of silver balls or, as the creator explained….”the starry sky”…!

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Who says working on your birthday is dull…!

Rolfe out and about: wrought iron pattern inspiration in Chania, Crete

20121012-150317.jpg Greetings from Crete and the Rolfe-Price honeymoon.

A short missive from me from a trip where inspiration is garnered from Minoan wall paintings, rustic Greek style and wonderful, romantic doorways with superb examples of inspirational wrought iron like this one in the heart of The Old Town in Chania, Crete.

More to come on my return - just DON'T get me started on the fabulous ceramics or covetable handmade rugs which, wedding budget exceeded x2, I can find absolutely no justification to be able to afford. Doh!

Back to the drawing board next week for both of us. Christmas orders ready and waiting...

The Bloomfield & Rolfe Postcard Project

Long before Bloomfield & Rolfe was even thought about, Bloomfield and Rolfe the people set about having an old fashioned correspondence. Real letters, stamps, and spittle to send the missives on their way. It may not be efficient, or particularly convenient, but getting something handwritten through the post, with texture and finger marks and crossings out, is a rare treat and can cheer the gloomiest spirits after a tech-saturated day. We've been lax of late. Blame baby Bloomfield and Rolfe's wedding prep. So we wanted a project that would compel us to get back on the snail-mail wagon, but encourage a bit of creativity along the way.

So, I am very pleased to announce the Bloomfield & Rolfe postcard project is officially open! There are no rules, or limits or deadlines. Just send each other a postcard approximately once a week. We can make our own or buy off the shelf or whatever else comes our way.

We'll post them up on the blog as they come...

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Rolfe: 'out and about' - Dulwich Artists Open House

After years of talking about it I finally made it down to SE22 a few weeks ago for the last weekend of Dulwich Artists Open House.

First stop after a little browse on Northcross Road (and an impromptu guitar serenade in Arterie Gallery) was Sally & Peter Nencini

Products on display ranged from brightly coloured knitted cushions in a variety of fun, graphic designs to reupholstered chairs and stools each decorated with delicate embroidered designs, half sampler, half story-book. Read more about my favourite the Tyrella chair on their blog here

An open house is clearly a great opportunity for a Lloyd Grossman style snoop around the often eclectic habitat of the artists themselves and this was no disappointment.

Around the room books, unique wall art and numerous collections of tiny objects and old toys made this light, south London sitting room the perfect place to start my tour. The frequent call of the lovely and unusual cuckoo doorbell could be heard as new guests arrived to have a gander.

Moving on, up the hill and down Crystal Palace Road I found jolly, brightly coloured flower-inspired felts and textile collages at the house of artist Charlotte Clowes. And further down Glenda Haseler’s fascinating house in a former butchers shop was home to a wide variety of works from different artists from photographs to oil landscapes.

I had been tipped off in advance that a visit to the Skip Sisters at 284 Upland Road was a must and I wasn't disappointed. Skip Sisters, a group of local women artists reclaim discarded items and give them a new lease of life, reincarnating old clock parts into jewellery, vintage fabrics into cushions and bags, postage stamps into cufflinks, and other weird and wonderful creations. The sitting room was a treasure trove of unique objects and I left happy with my purchase of a colourful cow pincushion made using scraps of fabric and an old plastic toy.

I couldn't come to SE22 without a gawp at Sophie Cook’s infamous ceramic vessels with necks delicate as they come. Apparently there's a queue around the block on the first day. I wasn’t disappointed by the beautiful selection of matt and gloss glazes and bright yet sophisticated colour palette.

On my way back I called in at the home of one of this area’s most well established painters and member of the Royal Scottish Watercolourists, Simon Laurie.    Bold, colourful, acrylic paintings adorned the rather resplendent sitting room and a large fluffy cat occupied a lavish chaise longe in the corner making well-heeled guests at an impromptu afternoon drinks party eye up the wasted seating opportunity with ill concealed envy.

Laurie’s paintings are wonderful, graphic depictions of food and landscapes reminiscent of both French still lives and St Ives abstracts.

On my way out I was particularly struck by a small piece hanging in the entrance hall, quite different to the other works, but executed in a wonderful colour palette "Oh that's just my small daughter’s painting" a woman interjected clocking my interest. Clearly the next generation of Dulwich artists is going to be just as exciting...

Project: From Russia with Love

June 2010 saw Bloomfield and Rolfe holiday in Russia. After taking in Moscow and St Petersburg we promised each other a piece of art inspired by the trip (we did the same after Sicily in 2003 to great success). As neither piece of art has yet materialised we've agreed to help things along with a deadline: we must both produce our artwork by 30th June when we have our Bloomfield & Rolfe summer meeting. Here are a few images from that trip - I was particularly taken with the folk-style illustration in rich colour palettes was a real dominant aesthetic. (I was surprised that there appears no book on the subject, in English at least).

[caption id="attachment_231" align="alignnone" width="300"] old postcard I picked up[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_233" align="alignnone" width="300"]big chicken Bought off the street from the artist in Moscow

Big cat
Another from the same artist[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_234" align="alignnone" width="770"] From The Cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin... All Russian Orthodox churches were stuffed with these sorts of panels which just made me think of comic strips.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_229" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Soviet posters[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_228" align="alignnone" width="1024"] found this one in a fish restaurant (of course!)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_230" align="alignnone" width="1024"] And just for fun.... what do you do outside Lenin's tomb? Jazz hands![/caption]

Rolfe: A little bit of life drawing...

...Just leading on from Bloomfield's post on her life drawing a couple of months ago here's a couple of efforts from me. Jen and I spent many winter nights in Leeds in the comfort of an institutional classroom, a fan heater and a naked person in variety of silly poses. It's something we still do to this day, albeit with years inbetween sessions and sadly 400 miles between us.

Recently, I've been introduced to sessions at the rather illustrious sounding Art Workers Guild in Bloomsbury. The environment is inspiring and just a little intimidating with the crimson walls of the 'work room' swathed from floor to ceiling with portraits of old guild members - with hilarious expressions veering from haughty to dumbfounded, and a variety of moustaches to rival even the trendiest Dalston nightspot. There's wine too, so that's nice.

A month or so ago I sat with some of my lovely co-workers, a glass of red balanced on the corner of our resplendant chairs drawing a woman with wonderful retro hair trussed up in pseudo-bondage gear. What else would you be doing on a Wednesday evening?

It took a little while to get the eye in again but overall I wasn't displeased with these attempts. I'm a big fan of a 'wash' at the moment hence the last piece, on the fabulously thick Canford paper in the homemade sketchbook Bloomfield made me, was a pleasing sensation of washed brush stroke sinking quickly into the ground.

Rolfe 'out and about': Saturday at the charity shop

Today a midday call with Bloomfield to discuss workings on our forthcoming launch on Not On The High Street and action points for our own dear website. A dash to the post office to post an urgent order for Holly's Houses and a quick peruse in Oxfam - some fab purchases!

I am especially pleased with a gorgeous book of British birds from 1958 bound in turquoise bookcloth with a small embossed black bird on the cover and, inside, the most appealing black and white woodblock style illustrations alongside simple line drawings of each species - how Bloomfield & Rolfe!

Also note the wonderful patterns and sumptuous teal glaze on this ceramic box from Portugal; possible inspiration for some new stamp designs? Watch this space...