the globe

Another gorgeous object recently passed down through the family to us. A globe, circa 1961. Isn’t it fine? We’re studying history, the children and I, lucky for me as I seem to have been somewhere else when they were teaching this stuff. (It is a shame we’re not in England, just at the moment when we’re reading about Richard III and princes in towers.).

1961 globe

I love looking at the globe as an object so clearly embodying a moment in history, the political landscape drawn out on its surface, the particular, faded shades of ink, the typography. We talk as much about 1960’s history as we do the medieval history we’re into just now. It is a great object to help us get a sense of the world. There’s always the 1990’s atlas, and modern interactive maps online, to round things out.

the globe, circa 1961

Such a pleasing old object, and still so useful.

(These images are variations from the traveller, part of the series of photographs I’ve been making of my new short & sweet handwarmers and things I love to do while wearing them. You can see all the images, and choose your own kit, in the shop.)

short & sweet seagreen handwarmer kit

short & sweet seagreen handwarmer kit

drinking glasses

For a few years now I’ve collected drinking glasses, as much a collection of stories as utilitarian objects. The lovely people at little shop where I acquired my latest piece asked if I’d ever photographed them. A fine idea! Here they are.

drinking vancouver

This petite vintage glass, my latest, is from The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver, which is pretty much my idea of heaven in a shop. Wall-to-wall useful, ecologically sound objects. The water is filtered with a charcoal stick that you can get at the shop – hurrah, I’d been searching! The decanter came with a box of French elderflower liqueur that my sweetheart bought for me when we lived in our North London flat, and I’ve used my grandmother’s antique glass canning lid to cover it.

drinking victoria

On a summery walk to the Moss Street Market in Victoria, Canada, I found this glass in a yard sale that a sweet old couple were holding. It is a bit elegant and I often used it for homemade liqueurs, drunk while watching Upstairs Downstairs in the old Sussex cottage. I wish I’d asked the owners about its earlier life.

drinking winchester

I admit this is not mine but my small girl’s glass, given to her on a trip to Winchester by a dear friend. Such lovely fluting, a cafe classic. It’s from a lovely place in town with unfortunate sharp metal handles at the front door, just the height to clip a poor three-year-old’s brow, once on a trip in earlier years. Owning the glass sets it all to rights. Good thing, as we’re fond of the Hambeldon.

<drinking oldfaithful

Spotted at another fabulous tried and true resource, Old Faithful Shop on old Cordova street, my favourite block in Vancouver, this is such a sturdy tumbler. You can still get these ones! For summer lemonade out on a blanket in my mother’s garden.

drinking tunbridge wells

In a charming, winding lane in the oldest bit of Tunbridge Wells, I fell in love with a couple of these tiny French handblown glasses and took them back to the cottage. It was from Le Petit Jardin, a pretty shop full of beehouses, feather dusters, needful things. They are my best loved for a bit of red wine.

drinking paris

In Paris there’s a gorgeous little boulangerie (Julien, I think) near Beaubourg, where we loved to buy sweet and savoury tarts, and take them to a park or up to our flat after a long day of walking. This small glass held a luscious desert. Not a parfait but something similar, do you know? I have a pair, and my children often choose them for milk and biscuits.

drinking ripple

I confess it. I can’t recall where we got it, but I adore it. If I ever get a chance to blow glass I’d love to learn how to make ripples like this.

drinking barcelona, spain

In drizzling November, just arrived in Barcelona, with small, tired children, we ordered in pizza and ice cream. The ice cream came in this glass! Such a surprise. I love its heavy shape. Swimming in the sea, walking the old town with my little girls (superimposed over memories of walking there in earlier years) and all of us sitting at a table in the middle of a narrow street on a warm night, eating ink-black squid risotto with an old friend from Munich. All that in a glass.

drinking sweden

Those Swedes. Ikea makes these delicately bubbled glasses, and I like them very much. They are strong and inherently replaceable, which makes them just right for small and bouncy visiting children. An important job!

drinking liberty of london

Ah, Liberty of London. One cannot come out emptyhanded, and after attending a friend’s book launch I succumbed to temptation. The pair of these just beg for cool inventions with fizzy water, lemon, garden herbs and booze. I want to say Sophie Conran designed them, I think so.

drinking a vintage sundae

Only the ambitious consider these for drinking, but I hoped the sundae glasses could slip in here too. I haggled over a set of six of tall ones at a vintage market in Winchester one very cold spring. The petite version, now where did that come from? I suspect it was another book launch at Liberty, dangerous affair. Ah, I wish I could remember now. They are beloved for sundaes, of course. Or bouquets.

drinking habit

When we first moved to London, I bought many of these very, very fine glasses at Habitat on Regent Street. Just scratching England’s surface at the time. One by one their delicate edges have done them in, particularly when meeting the hard white ceramic butler sink in our converted Georgian flat. That kitchen had the best, narrow open shelves for showing off glasses and teacups.

drinking italy

Equally delicate in structure, but somehow much stronger are these Italian glasses, found in an interiors shop near Paddington when we would stay in one of the mews by the station. Huckleberry shrub in Kensington gardens, rows of children out on riding lessons, catching crickets in the long grass.

drinking muswell hill

In Muswell Hill, London, where we first lived, is Sally Bourne’s shop, and one really cannot pass through the village without stopping to see what tremendous things are within. One by one I collected several teacups, and over the years these strong, bright glasses had to come home with me too. I love to keep one of these by the bed or at the writing desk.

drinking the 50s

Possibly the oldest glasses I have are these little ones from my Finnish grandparents, probably purchased in Winnipeg in the 1950’s. My grandmother would bake pies with the wild blueberries she’d picked, and we’d eat them at her melamine table, drinking soda pop out of these glasses, back in the 1980’s.

drinking glasses

I’m ever so fond of them all. I only regret that I never found more, in some of the places I’ve visited, my quiet souvenirs. Do you like them?

woodworks

Catching a break in the storms, my sweetheart took us for a little road trip, just half a step into America to see some dear old friends.

chuckanut

We drove along the beautiful Chuckanut;

34th street craftsman

To Martin & Jo’s house on 34th street, a 112 year old craftsman’s daydream.

the birdwatchers

We spent a gentle pair of days together. We watched the 34th street birds;

34th street grey cat

Visited with their two exceedingly charming 34th street cats;

yellow house

Then wandered with all our children around their old Bellingham neighbourhood, admiring chickens and sheep;

american post boxes

And good looking postboxes. I always wish I could live next door to my sweet friends. And fill a village with them!

the 34th street woodworks, bellingham, usa

Martin gave me a tour round his handsome workshop, the 34th Street Woodworks. What a wonderful place, full of good old machines and lots of space for his furniture-making, for custom cabinetry, for designing and handcrafting all kinds of gorgeous wooden things. It reminded me very much of my Finnish grandfather’s shop, where he too did very meticulous, beautiful woodwork, restoring and building instruments. I must show you the guitar he made me, sometime. I’m so happy there are craftspeople like Martin in the world, continuing the old traditions. Martin’s work made me long to work with wood again. Winter seems like a great time for it. Thank you, Martin & Jo! We loved our visit.

vintage suitcase

While redesigning my studio space with my very organised sister this weekend, I set eyes on our mother’s suitcase, bought in the 1960’s, which I’d restored this summer. It was a little worse for wear when I found it.

1960's suitcase

Amazing what a magic eraser, sodium bicarbonate, and a handful of dried lavender can do for a moldy suitcase. Isn’t it handsome? This case is one of my favourite shapes and is particularly difficult to find at a good price, as everyone else loves them too.

traveling sewing lessons

Traveling sewing lessons! I’ve folded all of my best small scraps in and hung ribbons from the pockets, which have useful bits and bobs tucked away in them too. Mostly the case moves round the studio when I’m running the ‘old school’ lessons. Lately these are for a group of small tailors and seamstresses, but soon for all ages. There are lots of parents who tell me they’d like to learn old skills along with their children! You? I’ll be teaching further afield in the coming months, so let me know if you’re interested. If you’re far away, there are more movies and projects coming very soon. My sweetheart is here with me now, and we’ll be shooting soon! Hurrah. Someday it would be great fun to take this case on another long trip round Europe and Canada, as it did in its younger days.

vegetable patch

Last minute, as usual, I’ve put together my best attempt at plant care to sustain the kitchen garden for a summer away. (It’s been madness, putting all of our belongings into storage. A trial.) The major threat to our vegetable patch is deer, though I’ve no doubt that rabbits, slugs and snails will have their share.

vegpatch © elisa rathje 2011

After long deliberation with a kind and knowledgeable gardener at the little local shop, I brought home a pair of rose arches and assembled them like poles for my netting tent. This stuff is distinctly not handmade. That would be the trouble with last minute gardening!

veg patch © elisa rathje 2011

I fear it will be merely a deterrent rather than prevention, even if the wind doesn’t put it sideways, but I’ve chanced it and planted out all of the brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, artichokes, kale, cavolo nero, and dill. The earth is in excellent shape, having rested a few seasons, and very few weeds survived my partial no-dig preparations. The squash are out to fend for themselves, as are the raspberries. The garlic is entirely self sufficient, and I will plant more of it next year as protection. A few strawberries made it under the arch; I am pinning my hopes on them to send out runners under cover, so that next year we’ll have a little patch of strawberries that might escape browsing by deer with delicate tastes. If anything survives our long absence I will be so very pleased. All of this could make a gorgeous crop at the end of summer, and much of it right could be harvested through til next spring, if we are so lucky. The greenhouse holds tomatoes and a lone pepper. My self-watering plans in there have been thwarted; perhaps if I convince myself to rise at dawn I will come up with a solution.(Friends may water – best to put one or another in place. Our London garden faired beautifully with both!)

We’re off in the morning to Canada, and I will write from there about new projects, tea parties, and adventures, just as soon as I can.