Robin Recital

Animated Robin singing in the snow

Festive feathered felicitations, fellows!

Warm wishes for the holiday season and all-the-best for 2012.


Old Bag

old bag with Santa cycling illustration

• Scratchy cycling Santa sketches (illustrator unknown


City-1 / Country-0

our woodstack wedged in exterior alcove
Once upon a time I'm sure that setting fire to stuff was the great skill people still pretend. Truth is, matches and fire-lighters have made the process pretty straight forward. This week I've found out all efforts are futile when the wind's heaving right down the chimney. But then who in their right mind would want a cosy fire during a storm?


Kiln Cat

slipcast cat figurine glazed in LR White

Although throwing pots was much more fun, I spent a fair amount of last year slip-casting too. Regrettably we had to stop wholesaling our owl figurine when demand outstripped production and enquiries for outsourcing came to nil (I'd love to transcribe the conversations, but let's just say the death of UK industry is sometimes no surprise).

slipcast cat figurine glazed in LR White

This weekend I'll be selling some of the quality seconds beneath the Westway at Great Western's Open Studio event. The remaining stock proper will be available at Elphick's or via us online soon. This cat was set to be our next figurine but we only got as far as the prototype. I'd really love a kiln... but where to put it?

 slipcast cat figurine glazed in LR White

Christmas Open Studios 2011, Great Western Studios
65 Alfred Road, London W2 5EU
Sat 3rd & Sun 4th December, 12 noon - 6pm both days
Café open both days, Admission free


Geek of the Week

Barcelona based illustrator Kavel Rafferty often makes sketches in series, finding meaning through difference, repetition and the accumulation of objects. While shoes, records, cranes and signage are all charmingly collated and catalogued in her work, it's the images of childhood and nostalgia that are somehow more telling.

Freud would reckon on the collector's indexical drive arising from the need to find order in chaos, abate the passage of time and guard against loss. Or maybe collecting stuff is just good ol' geeky fun. Either way, you can decide for yourself as Kavel spreads her archive fever to East London, curating an exhibition of Risographic prints by collectors, artists, photographers and designers at East London's Mill Co. Project. With all the work up for grabs, they may start collecting your pennies too!

• Images courtesy of another of Kavel's exhaustive side projects, Record Envelope.
Collectionistas, 26 Nov, 12 noon-7pm
The Mill Co. Project, Lime Wharf
Vyner Street, London E2


Judy Hawes 1967

Ladybirds are something I'd usually associate with high-summer but it's been a bumper year for these beguiling little bugs and they're still hanging around now, thrown into relief on the black wood of our garden studio, deep into November.

Judy Hawes, 1967

• Illustrations are by Ed Emberley from Judy Hawes' embarrassingly good
Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home (Adam & Charles Black, London, 1967/1970)


Around this time of year I just can't help thinking of Josef Sudek's spectacularly miserable mid-1950s studies, 'From the Window of my Studio'. Maybe that's why I'm especially happy taking a working break this weekend and joining the irrepressible Alice Tait alongside another 30-odd vendors at the Hampstead Holiday Market. If you're the tombola type, find raffles just-the-ticket or are simply in the market for some bargains... come along!

12 noon until 5pm
Saturday 12 November 2011
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel
Hampstead High Street, London


Haus Proud

There's no such thing as a bad stockist, some fire-off automated orders while others become friends, some places I've known for years while others I'll likely never visit. One place I'd love to go is also our latest stockist, The VitraHaus shop of the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein.

Depending on how you view it, Vitra Campus is either the Disneyland of architectural design or a town planner's nightmare: with a Buckminster Fuller dome; Jean Prouvé petrol station; Zaha Hadid fire station; Jasper Morrison bus shelter and Nicholas Grimshaw factory, but no Waitrose.

Showing recently at the gallery annexe of the Vitra Design Museum was the enamel work of Post Modern polymath, Ettore Sottsass. Vitra Campus is also, curiously, the resting place of the original Eames office. Now, ready to book that trip?

• VitraHaus, Herzog & de Meuron, 2006
• Vitra Design Museum, Frank Gehry, 1989
• Ettore Sottsass, Enamelled copper vases on wooden bases



Dietrich Lubs, Dieter Rams Braun Type: 4746/AB1 clock black porcelain vase

In the city I never needed an alarm clock, of course I had one but the neighbourhood noise would usually get me first. These days I need a battery of them and they'll all need changing come Sunday when BST (British Summer Time) or DST (Daylight Saving Time) ends and the clocks go back. Here ends the public service announcement.

Dietrich Lubs, Dieter Rams Braun Type: 4761/AB2, Jacob Jensen Beogram

• Braun Type: 4746/AB1
• Braun Type: 4761/AB2


More Mugs

illustrated animal mugs with Rosenthal jug, egg cup and saucer
Meet our two new mug designs, Sausage Dog and Tiger. (Actually, we took delivery of these a few weeks ago now and have only just got around to photographing 'em!)



It's true, I've got worms. They arrived in a box marked 'Frazzles' last week and are at work already, wriggling out Black Gold in the big wormery I found once on a West London street.



Popped into Hauser & Wirth, Piccadilly, to see Phyllida Barlow's RIG last week. Always an interesting space to visit with those beautiful oval and circular windows in the stairwell but, for me, the show's strongest pieces glower in the gloom of the gallery's basement bank vault.

RIG: untitled; hoops, 2011, plywood, cement, paint. Photos: Peter Mallet


Them Apples

One season is certainly insufficient for transformation into domestic gods and goddesses. I'm used to toil on the allotment so the unchecked plenitude of fruit trees was overwhelming. Too busy to bake, most of the apples rotted on the ground and gave my guilt a vinegary piquance.


Odds Off

With 10 thousand of the UK's 61.838 million living in Ludlow, chances are you'll not be in Shropshire's beautiful market town this coming month. But, if you are, don't be surprised to feel the effects of some Unplanned Magic as Kate Gibb and Marcus Walters get together for twinned exhibitions at dual venues, Black Bough and Material.

Unplanned Magic, 8th Oct-5th Nov
Black Bough, 2 Market Street, Ludlow SY8 1BP
Material, 131 Corve Street, Ludlow SY8 2PG



Given our sitter's wakefulness, I hesitated to name our new print Catnap, then I figured an immutable feline essence means all cats are only ever seconds from a snooze.


No. 4

Not only have the folk at Poundshop launched their online pop-up shop (i.e. it ain't there forever), during London Design Week they'll be filling a physical space with retail goodies too. Divided into £1, £5 and £10 categories from a host of top designers (including yours truly in the 'Liberty Picks'), it's worth braving the British weather for.

Alma Showroom
12-14 Greatorex Street
London E1 5NF
16th-19th Sept, 12-6pm



Trade fairs tend not to be the most exciting venues but this week's Top Drawer came pretty close to fun; catching up with our favourite stockists and making a few friends. Our new print was well received too, especially by cat-crazy folk like the excellent illustrator, Helen Hancocks (evidenced below). Thanks to everyone who dropped by!


Autumn / Winter

Forget hibernation, they'll bearly be time for a sandwich this weekend as we prepare for Top Drawer Autumn trade fair. Do come and visit if you can bear it, but look out for your lunch... hard work makes us extra-hungry!

Top Drawer Autumn/Winter
11-13 Sep 2011
Hammersmith Road
London W14 8UX


This Lisa

Last week the British Library got in touch for a small biog, something to differentiate this Lisa Jones from all the others catalogued in their system. Seems they have copies of the books we illustrated for Joanna Skipwith's Silver Jungle, I Choose You! and I'd Chew You!

Above is a cheesy spread that never matured to selection.


3 Cheers

London's N16 rang with the raising of glasses this week, toasting many happy anniversaries for Malissa Jones and (the other) James Brown.

• The kitsch old card is by Hallmark but special credits should also go to Ben, Irene, Zack & Coco for making space for us in the family home!


Crazy Legs

juggling octopus illustration
Better than finding folding cash in an old coat pocket, searching for something unrelated this week I turned up a discarded illustration. Clearly dissatisfied with this fella when I filed him away, I'm quite keen now... mix some inks and tweak some colours and I may even have a new card design!


Clean Sweep

Seeing press shots of the post-riot clean-up campaign in London this week, it was great to see the broom brandished by crowds as symbol of repair and weapon of resistance against further social decay. I'm put in mind of the arch social sculptor himself, Joseph Beuys.

• Joseph Beuys, Silberbesen und Besen ohne Haare (Silver Broom and Brush with no Hair), 1972 • Joseph Beuys, Ausfegen (Sweeping Up), 1972



Topographically speaking Hackney Wick is no island, though, sandwiched between the A12 and the River Lea, it often feels like one. This week we finalised our tactical retreat from London and broke down the print studio... just as everybody else was setting up the weekend's Hackney WickED Festival. We've met more great people in the final few weeks than we did during the two years prior, making it especially difficult to leave.

Occasionally popping to the Pearl for refreshments, we picked up some free papers as keepsakes. Issue 1 of The Hackney Wick skits on the vagaries of the area with cultural assessment from Iain Sinclair and local teens alike. The Cut is part of a broader project which takes an archival approach in mapping the area's socio-economic history (including Speedway,
a few failed visions for the future and, ironically, Class War's resistance to gentrification) while simultaneously putting paid to the notion that successive generations obliterate the memory of their forebears.



Chris Ware it-narrative panel

You don't need to visit a museum to see the way humans invest objects with symbolic currency. An incorrigible hoarder, I've lately tried to penetrate layers of sentiment and see the useless tat beneath. The process puts me in mind of a 36-panel Chris Ware piece which tells the episodic, cyclical tale of a table lamp.

Chris Ware it-narrative panel

In the 18th century a literary style sprang up around this approach to objecthood, called It-Narratives. Anthropomorphic versions of these narratives tell the fiction "from the perspective of the objects themselves, others use them as hubs around which other characters’ stories are spun."[1].

Chris Ware it-narrative panel

• Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #2, summer 1994