Monday, September 15, 2014

beach vignettes

I recently took part in the monthly '7 vignettes' challenge on Instagram. Many of you will know it, and perhaps also took part. It's a fun seven day challenge at the beginning of every month, where each day has a different prompt word around which you base your vignette photograph. I say 'fun' because it is, but stressful too because some days those vignettes just weren't quite looking the way I had perhaps imagined them in my mind's eye!

So what exactly is a vignette?
A vignette is all about the details. It's how you style your collections and treasures so that they tell a beautiful story, adding layers of interest within the larger space that is your room.

As I said in my last post, nothing gives me greater pleasure than phaffing around with my bits and pieces. You'll often find me arranging and re-arranging things in my home. And sometimes I'll style little vignettes just for the moment, for fun or for an instagram challenge. (As in these beach-inspired vignette images.)

The secret to a good vignette and to displaying your treasures, (other than practise, practise, practise) is to gather and cluster them into groups that will look good together, and provide a few clear focal points in your room. If you 'frame' things visually with props such as trays, platters, books, boxes, bell jars or old drawers, it will make it much easier for you to mix diverse objects together so that they make visual sense and your collections will tell a story that others want to hear.

Mix up your collections to make your display more interesting, but, to ensure it still looks cohesive, link the display together with a common thread. In my beach vignette, the link is the hint of cobalt blue running throughout the display, from the surfboard Milly is holding, the blue of the paua shell, to the rim of the plates, the old signwriting on the wooden chair and the colour of the vintage metal chair.

Create layers of interest with your displays. Variations in scale and height and texture and shape will visually stimulate the eye. Think in odd numbers and triangles. When choosing sizes to group together think of one taller piece at the back, one medium piece to the side, and the smallest in the front. Edit, rearrange, style, move. Play until you feel the display is harmonious and balanced.

Be a little unpredictable. Disparate objects often make the best bedfellows when linked by a display.
Throw in something unexpected for good measure. This will keep your vignette exciting and alive.

Photograph it - to really see whether your styling is working, take a photograph. When you visually frame the scene through the camera lens, you can instantly see more in a glance. Then you'll know whether you need to add, subtract or move the items in your display.

Have fun!
Amanda xx

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

phaffing & frippery

styling via small acorns blog

Phaffing and frippery. Try rolling that sentence off the tongue several times!
I've decided that these are two of my favourite words, despite the fact that they both have connotations that could be deemed negative. My old dictionary mentions the words needless, tawdry, empty and trifles all in the same sentence for frippery, and phaffing talks about time-wasting.

However, as a visually creative person, I love nothing more than phaffing about with a little frippery. It's a time to let your imagination and inspirations take the lead, to play with your collections and treasures, and be guided by your intuition. Phaffing time is always creative and inspiring, and a chance to see where those ideas may take me. I'm learning not to see it as wasted time, but as a chance to have a little time all to myself, where I can explore and pursue my creative endeavours.

As for frippery - my trifles may be trifling to some but not to me. (Hello cardboard milk bottle tops, pompom adorned chair and kokeshi collection, for starters.)

Needless adornment? Depends on how you view it.
Cherry on top kind of delicious detail that lifts your spirits? Absolutely!
I think that a little frippery is good for the soul - those special details and collected objets trouves that make me smile. And to remind me not to take things too seriously!

Amanda xx

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Monday, September 8, 2014


Florabundance. Isn't that what happens with flowers in spring after the depths of winter.
Suddenly buckets and buckets of daffodils and early cheer appear at the market and at the florist, and everything is fresh and bright and beautifully fragrant. With some late flowering camellias and my new love, hellebores, suddenly everything is floral again.

Here are a few of the ways I've been enjoying my floral moments lately, both at home and instore.

spring flowers via small acorns blog

spring flowers via small acorns blog
A classic spring posy - deconstructed, so that just a few blooms can make more impact. Just one or two stems in each old bottle or vase, with fresh sprigs of ivy and mint for some zesty greenery. The group is contained on an old film reel tin which has a new life as a tray. How stunning is the colour of those poppies?

spring flowers via small acorns blog

A beautifully ruffled late blooming (foraged, ahem) camellia, again with mint and ivy at the store. Pink and yellow must be the happiest of colour combinations.

spring flowers via small acorns blog

A small florabundance of jasmine smells softly fragrant and beautiful. When jasmine is abundantly in season, I love to use it on its own like this, all wild tendrils and arching sprays. Wish it was this plentiful all year!

spring flowers via small acorns blog

A single stem of winter roses looks beautiful mixed with ivy amongst my old pharmacy bottles. I've truly never I don't think, appreciated how lovely hellebores are until this season. Now I have a bit of a fixation with them, and am vowing to plant more for next winter.

spring flowers via small acorns blog

Almost the last camellia, with hellebores and mint in a low squat porcelain vase. I grow good strong mint, even if I do say so myself!

spring flowers via small acorns blog

A sprig of sweet william, a freesia and zesty greenery - our old friend mint again - in a small and an even smaller vessel. No flowers are wasted here - even the little spriggy offcuts can go in to a little vessel. I hate throwing anything out! Eva will be very happy when she sees her beautiful ceramic bell sculpture in this image. It's one of my most treasured pieces.

Simple flowers. How to make just a few stems go a long long way! Florabundance on a budget!

Amanda xx

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