The Slow Life

A little while ago, myself, my partner and my (elderly) dog spent a week on board a 60 ft narrowboat wading our way slowly through the leafy Oxfordshire countryside.

It was the fastest way to slow down I have ever experienced.

“If you are going faster than the walkers on the towpath, then you are going too fast” we were told in our induction. Not just permission – instruction – to slow down.

IMG_3855
Wading into a dark horizon on our first night…

For those of you who have never been narrow-boating, as well as being a lovely way to spend a few days going from one place to another and then going back again, it also offers transportation back in time to an almost forgotten age, preserved now by the passion of a few people who have made a home and a life along the routes of Industrial Age canals that once connected the country. Once bustling networks, used daily to carry tonnes of goods to trade, the canals now feel like a silent, hidden world, shaded by the canopy of trees that help to muffle the sounds of the wider, faster, world that they helped to build.

IMG_3957
Working our way oh-so-slowly towards Banbury…

To move the boat, you steer from the back. By the time you get where you are going, the boat has already been. Moving just above the surface of the water, you are invited to feel a small part of something much larger than you. If you look directly ahead you see the gentle parting of the otherwise still water in front of you. The canals have no current, the waters are undisturbed until you wade through them, slowly enough that water birds, unflustered by your presence, glide alongside. If you look up, you feel shrouded in the shelter of trees, invited to study their shape, experience the light through their leaves as you move below them.

IMG_4135.JPG

You can cruise slower than walking pace for hours, traveling, in reality, no further than a few miles. At that speed you are invited to savour the idiosyncrasies of the landscape which is moving, almost imperceptibly, around you. You can hear the sound of the water rippling below, the rustle of leaves, take in the sight of a housemartin skimming the unbroken surface of the water before you. There is the smell of damp ground, earthy water, thick with the remnants of its former days. The backs of disused factories host bird nests made from gathered twigs foraged downstream. The flow is broken only by meeting a boat traveling in another direction, passing each other at a pace that ensures you have time for a cheery hello.

The connection between the canals and their industrial heritage is most tangible when you arrive at one of the many locks that punctuate the waterways. Giant cogs turn wheels that open sluices and enable water to pour in. You literally have to pause and go with the flow as the boat is lifted to higher ground by the weight of the water or taken underground as it empties beneath you.

IMG_3970
The ancient locks that line the way.

You can moor the boat anywhere along the towpath, providing it isn’t already marked as private, and spend an afternoon with your feet in the grass or while away the evening immersed in the sounds of nature, watching the sun go down as you prepare for the most peaceful nigh’ts sleep you’ve had in a long time..

IMG_3993.JPG

We hired our Narrowboat for a week from Oxfordshire Narrowboats and sailed from Lower Heyford to Banbury and back again. You can find out more here – https://www.oxfordshire-narrowboats.co.uk

Advertisements

Our first editorial

I was delighted to see Little Beach Boutique featured in our first editorial recently. Smallish Magazine, which specialises in ‘Family life for the Modern Mother’ ran a feature in their May edition all about Brighton, aka ‘Britian’s Riviera’ and we were described as a ‘firm fav’ in the North Laine shopping area. They mention our limited edition children’s books by Temporary Measure and our handmade felt slippers and describe us as ‘bijou’ which brought a smile to my face (because I had to look it up!)

image
A guide to Brighton ‘Britain’s Riviera’ in Smallish Magazine in May

We were in great company, alongside the newly completed British Airways BA i360, as somewhere to visit, and local favourite, the Coalshed, as somewhere to eat.

May is a perfect time to visit Brighton, so it is well timed. The city comes to life with two festivals running alongside each other. The Brighton Festival is curated by Kate Tempest this year and I am really excited about the personal touch she has already bought to the established way of things, with a focus on inclusivity and branching out into areas of Brighton that haven’t be featured in recent years. I’m excited about ‘For the Birds‘ which is an ‘immersive night time adventure’ running throughout the month. As a bird nerd and someone who loves to get away from it all up South Downs, this is the perfect event for me!

I am also excited about the Brighton Fringe festival which runs throughout May.  It always boasts a packed line up of events and brings music, art, comedy, theatre and a sense of adventure to each corner of Brighton.  A great way to see the city and its amazing creativity whilst peeking behind the doors of some of Brighton’s historical homes and buildings is to follow the Artist’s Open Houses trail. There are always some established listings who open their doors each year and become veritable art galleries for three weeks. Alongside them are new listings made up of artists collectives exhibiting for the first time.  I wish I could go every weekend-but I still wouldn’t have time to see it all!

image
Make time to visit the Artist’s Open Houses during the festival this May.

We hope you’ll be able to pay us a visit if you visit Brighton during May-but it is always a great place to come…and we are open every day!

Bye for now x

,

 

Spring Inspiration From Brighton

Brighton is beautiful at the moment. A heavy fog for most of February seemed to obscure the horizon for days on end, but it eventually cleared away, and from behind the mist, some much needed spring sunshine appeared and made the sea sparkle again.  Spring is here, albeit tentatively.

No matter what the weather, dog walkers and joggers pound up and down the seafront, but it is at this time of year, as the clouds start to clear, even for a day, the crowds decend to warm their faces and stretch their legs over the pebbles.

I went up the British Airways i360 on a beautiful sunny Sunday and saw Brighton from above, reaching for the Downs, the glorious Recency layout of Brunswick and Adelaide and the lonely and majestic West Pier.  It is a wonderful view from up there!

image
The West Pier as seen from the British Airways i360

As well as the beach, people are often drawn to Brighton because of the volume of independent shops and eateries which offer unique, diverse and interesting selections which won’t be found anywhere else. In particular The North Laine, between the station and the sea, is home to dozens of small shops and independent traders. For decades it has  been seen as the most vibrant area for quirky clothing, vintage finds, vegetarian and vegan cafes, boutiques and some of the best pubs in the city for people-watching over a delicious craft beer. Spring is a particularly good time to do this!  My favourite is the Dorset Pub, just on the corner of Gardner Street and across from us here in Little Beach Boutique.  It is the best place to sit and watch the world go by and offers excellent home-cooked style food.

When we’re not basking in Spring sunshine or watching buskers from the Dorset, we have been busy coming up with some new glass designs here in Little Beach Boutique, inspired by the season.

image
One off glass curve handmade here in our North Laine shop and workshop

Above is a one-off piece of fused glass, made with layers of sheet glass, with strands of copper leaf placed in between, and colourful ‘confetti’ and ‘frit’ placed on top to convey spring shoots peeping through the ground. It has been fired twice – first to fuse the individual peices together, and second, to ‘slump’ it into a mould so that it will be free-standing. It looks beautiful in a sunny window on these fresh spring days.

We have also been producing some new designs for screen-printing onto our hand made coasters and glass tile frames. Following themes of wanderlust, travel and exploration, we have designed a hot air balloon silk-screen which we have layered with pieces of ‘dichroic’ glass.  ‘Dichro’ adds an iridescent quality to glass pieces, and a few small bits added between the layers, before going into the kiln, looks beautiful when fired….

image
Hot Air Balloon Fused Glass Tiles handmade here in Little Beach Boutique

We have also been running our popular fused glass workshops and have been putting dates in for the months to come.  The next available date is 14th May – if you would like to learn how to make your own glass pieces and in a fun and creative environment, why not book a space with some friends and have a wonderful day out in Brighton during the May Festival?

We have been adding lots of new pieces to our Spring collections, so do watch this space for more to come!  In the meantime, enjoy the spring sunshine! X

A North Laine Christmas

It might only be the 1st of November but here at Little Beach Boutique we’re already excited about Christmas because we’ll be joining some of the best independent shops in Brighton for a one-off late night Shopping Event this December.

image

The North Laine  is always beautiful at Christmas, with fairy lights draped between buildings and the varied and vibrant gift shops offering a wonderful range of products, many of which can’t be found on the high street. This year there will also be carol singers to get us in the mood for the festivities!

We’ve teamed up with neighboring shops such as Present in the LaineLavender Rooms, Pretty Eccentric, Whirligig, Silverado, Bluebird Tea and Toby Tiger  in offering a 10% discount on all purchases  – as well as a glass of fizz for our customers. We’ll also be giving out a free gift to shoppers.

The offers and late night shopping start at 5.30 on December 8th and finish at 8.30. Visit our Facebook page for updates and further info…we hope to see you there!

In other news, we’ve been sourcing some wonderful new collections this season from some emerging designers, small businesses and makers, including a new range of skincare from Nathalie Bond Organics,  accessories by Imagination Illustrated and beautiful Jewellery by Misskukie, all designed and made in Britain.

 

I’ve been feeling inspired by the new season and have been making some glass tiles to reflect the change in the environment around us.  I was pleased with these tiles on an earthy green glass. The tree branch is screen-printed and layered with orange frit (crushed glass) with the words ‘Let’s Fly Away’ written underneath.  The woodland scene is also screen printed from my original drawing and layered with a slightly sparkly green confetti (very thin glass) to add some intrigue.  I have mounted them both into white box frames which really sets them off.

 

I’ve also been running regular fused glass workshops which have really gained momentum this year. There have been some wonderful creations and I’ve been so amazed by the variety and creativity in what people produce in one day.

image
Playing with colour and texture in our fused glass workshop here in Brighton

We hope to see you soon here in Little Beach – bye for now x

Creative Days of Glass Fusion

DSCN0016 (2)
“Introduction to Fused Glass” Workshops run monthly at Little Beach Boutique in the North Laine, Central Brighton

 

I have been running fused glass workshops once a month for a year now, and they have been so much fun!  I have often been amazed by how quickly each person gets into the flow of making their own unique and beautiful pieces – even people who say they have no artistic tendencies and just came along for a nice day in Brighton!

DSCN0014 (2)
I love this turtle tile, made by someone who was completely new to glass

Each workshop is aimed at complete beginners, as an introduction to glass.  I tell people about the different types of glass they can use for different effects – stringers (long rods), frit (crushed glass), metals, papers and ‘inclusions’  – soon into the session we start with learning how to cut glass – and that’s when the fun starts!

DSCN0013 (2)
This colourful kingfisher panel uses different types of glass to make the most of the strong colours and transparent qualities

You can approach glass a bit like a blank canvas, layering and assembling pieces where you want them – a little like a collage.  The unique quality with glass is trying to visualise how it will look after it has been fired. A kind of alchemy occurs when it is fired in the kiln – colours deepen, textures change, metals react, bubbles emerge – and it can often be a surprise – mostly a good one though!

DSCN0007 (2).JPG
These pieces are going to be linked with a piece of driftwood to make it a unique glass boat decoration

Very few people come with an idea of what they want to make, but find that they soon feel inspired by the sample pieces we have in the workshop, or feel drawn to a particular colour, or come across an interesting shape in a piece of glass and start from there.

DSCN0004
These glass butterfly coasters were made by one workshop attendee using glassline paper, colourful dichroic glass and some turquoise frit.

What I love most about the workshops is seeing the diversity of the pieces people produce – abstracts, seascapes, scenes from nature, detailed drawings, textured pieces, Christmas decorations.  People find it quite meditative to absorb themselves into something so focused and completely different for the day.

The workshops take place in our colourful downstairs space in my shop Little Beach Boutique.  It is right in the heart of Brighton, in the North Laine area, surrounded by lovely coffee shops, cafes, boutiques and restaurants – a Sunday workshop here could be the perfect ending to a weekend away by the sea!

In case you feel inspired, there are dates and details about the glass workshops on our website – http://www.littlebeachboutique.com

Maybe I’ll see you soon!

Time to teach the joys of glass

I have started to teach fused glass workshops in the basement of the shop. I can’t wait to show other people why glass is so much fun!  Glass is a fascinating medium.  I discovered it on a weekend workshop and it soon became a favourite hobby of mine, and, later, my main source of income.

After an introductory workshop, I was hooked. I rented a workspace in the Open Studios on Brighton Seafront and started to teach myself.  Fused glass is made up of layers of sheet glass, decorated with other forms such as crushed ‘frit’ that adds sparkle, depth and texture. It is arranged almost like a collage and essentially ‘cooked’ in the kiln so that it melts, or ‘fuses’ together.

That is when it changes occur – it is like alchemy! Colours deepen, or alter altogether, sharp edges soften and round off. It loses its brittleness.

And it is almost always a surprise!

 

Glass Making Workshop at Little beach Boutique. Brighton
Teaching my first ever fused glass workshop

Blue glass wave made at Little Beach Boutique
The beauty and alchemy of glass. 
Beginners Glass Workshops at Little Beach Boutique
I think they look happy- they are certainly focused!

We hope to see you soon!

Suzanne x

Our Creative Customers – Personalised Glass Tile Frames

Recently, we’ve had a little run of inspiring and thoughtful messages conjured up by our creative customers to personalise the framed glass tiles which we make here in Little Beach Boutique – and I wanted to share some with you…

It was Father’s Day this weekend, and as a present for her father, one customer chose the Brighton and Hove Peace Statue tile, which is a beautiful angel, screen printed as a silhouette onto a fused glass tile.  In the frame we have written the words “I’ll be your angel because you have always been mine”.  Such a lovely personal touch…

Brighton and Hove peace Statue Handmade Glass Tile
“I’ll be your angel because you have always been mine” We make all our glass tiles here in Little Beach Boutique and mount them in white box frames. You can personalise your chosen tile with your own message, which we write by hand on the border.

Another customer chose our Hove Beach Hut tile for her friend’s birthday because the area holds special significance for them as a place they grew up together.  The message reads “Hove is home…We didn’t know we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”.  So beautiful, I would love someone to give that to me!

hove is home, glass beach hut tile
“We didn’t realise we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun” Hove Beach Hut tile made from copper leaf and glass. We make these to order in Little Beach Boutique and write your own words in the frame for that personal touch.

 

For a child’s christening, the Peace Statue was chosen by another customer.  This time, they opted for the glass tile to be made with copper foil, which forms the infused blue bubbles within the glass.  It is a beautiful turquoise blue and really stands out.  As a godmother to her niece, she chose words that reflected love and protection, personalising her tile with the words “I promise to help you and lead you, to encourage you, to care for you, to always love you”.

Peace Statue Brighton and Hove, glass tile from Little beach Boutique
Handmade Fused Glass tile mounted in a white box frame and personalised with the words “I promise to help you and lead you, to encourage you, to care for you, to always love you”.

I was feeling inspired by a sunny Brighton myself, this week, and made some new glass tiles reflecting the boats on the calm blue sea.  I chose the words “There’s something beautiful on the horizon” to write underneath the tile.  This piece is made with crushed glass, called frit, and fired on quite a cool temperature so that the glass doesn’t go fully liquid in the kiln.  The result is a lovely texture that reminds me of the sea.

Of course, you could choose any message you like to write underneath and I could also make a similar tile with the boat in a different colour, to make it really individual!

Glass boat tile, Little Beach Boutique
Handmade and unique, this textured glass boat tile is made in Little Beach Boutique and comes mounted in a white box frame, personalised with your own message. It can be made to order in other colours and alternate sizes – we love doing commissions!

You can see more of our range on http://www.littlebeachboutique.com or pop in to see us in our Brighton shop one day.

DID YOU KNOW? We also run glass making workshops, so you can even make a unique glass tile yourself!  Visit our page for more information here.

It’s our first birthday in our North Laine shop!

Little Beach Boutique has just celebrated our first birthday in our North Laine shop and we would like to thank everybody for their support and custom over the last 12 months.

Little Beach Boutique in the North Laine, Brighton
Little Beach Boutique on North Road in Brighton’s North Laine – celebrating our first birthday in our lovely new premises

Moving from a small seafront arch to a larger space in Central Brighton was a big challenge (and an even bigger leap of faith!) but  this year has been amazing and we haven’t looked back.

Now a team of three – Suzanne, Claire and Jennie, we feel fully part of the North Laine Community of independent shops, cafes and venues. We have met lots of lovely local characters as well as talented and inspiring designer/makers from Brighton and further afield.  Since opening our new shop in 2014, we have expanded our handmade collections of homeware, jewellery, accessories and thoughtful gifts –  proudly showcasing new designers and emerging talent alongside our collection of glass which we individually design and make on site.

a-northern-light-murmuration-lamp-tall
We love this illustrated lighting by A Northern Light, made from parchment paper.
Cassette Cufflinks
Cassette cufflinks by Brighton and Hove based jewellery maker, Maria Allen
Hummingbird Earrings by Mica Peet
Our favourite earrings – we love these patterned hummingbird studs by Mica Peet

We have had our first workshops – including our “Introduction to Fused Glass” alongside our “Natural Skincare” and Aromatherapy courses, and during the May festival, we had a daily puppet show based on Mermaids and Sea Shanties which was a great success in our downstairs space.

This year we have started running our first workshops in our downstairs space.  Suzanne ran 'An Introduction to Fused Glass' and everyone made beautiful coasters, dishes and wall hangings.
This year we have started running our first workshops in our downstairs space. Suzanne ran ‘An Introduction to Fused Glass’ and everyone made beautiful coasters, dishes and wall hangings.
We continues to design and make our unique range of handmade fused glass in house and have done some lovely commissions for homes and hotels.
Suzanne continues to design and make our unique range of handmade fused glass in house and have done some lovely commissions for homes and hotels.

Now looking forward to the year ahead, we will be bringing you lots of new products for the coming months, creating new glass designs, and running more workshops for your crafting pleasure!

Dylan the dog enjoys his new home and gets spoiled rotten by customers with treats and cuddles!
Dylan the dog enjoys his new home and gets spoiled rotten by customers with treats and cuddles!

We would like to thank all our customers and suppliers for their support, enthusiasm, kind words and encouragement over the last year.

Pop in to see us at 74 North Road, Brighton – we are open 7 days a week – we’d love to see you!

Or visit our website – http://www.littlebeachboutique.com

Bye for now!

Suzanne x

Showcasing Local Designers – Lighting by Brighton based artist Joanna Corney

We’re very lucky to live in a city like Brighton – it’s so full of creative people and there’s inspiration on every corner.

One of my favourite local designers is Joanna Corney who screenprints her stylish Brighton inspired illustrations onto a range of contemporary homeware.  Here at Little Beach Boutique, we’re delighted to be stocking her lampshades in a range of prints which capture the essence of our city by the sea.

10482598_803277296435514_4789003419462947099_n
Little Beach Boutique, Brighton and Handmade Lampshades by Local designer Joanna Corney

I love the representation of the Deco buildings along Brighton seafront in this design.  It can be used as a ceiling pendent or for a floor lamp base.

500x500 (2)
Deco Building Lampshade by Joanna Corney

This Beach Hut design is contemporary and stylish with its minimalist lines capturing the essence of a lazy day on Hove seafront.

500x500
Beach Hut Lampshade by Joanna Corney in Little Beach Boutique

And this murmuration design is a stylish addition to any home, with a nod to the stunning patterns made by the starlings as they go to roost for the night on the West Pier.

500x500 (3)
Capturing the essence of the starling murmurations near the West Pier in Brighton and Hove

These designs are all available to browse and buy in Little Beach Boutique, 74 North Road, Brighton and are also available made to order in different colours.

Each lampshade is made with screen printed cotton fabric, and bonded to a fire retardant PVC backing with rolled edges. All lampshades are handmade in Brighton.

Each lampshade is made from UV stable and flame retardant PVC which has been tested and passed the glow wire test carried out by the Lighting Association. 40 watt bulb recommended

This lampshade is available in a choice of two sizes:

20cm diameter x 20cm height (8″ x 8″)

30cm diameter x 22cm height (12″ x 9″)

 

It is also available with either a lamp base fitting or a ceiling pendant fitting

Meet our Makers in Little Beach Boutique

Here in Little Beach Boutique we love handmade, we delight in being able to showcase new talent and we are proud to be able to offer our customers something different to the high street.

So, we thought we would introduce you to some of our most recent stockists whose unique range of products make an independent shop such as ours a very special shopping experience, and well worth a trip to Brighton.

Mica Peet

We discovered Mica Peet’s work via Instagram and were delighted to find out that she is based just along the coast in Southampton. Mica is a textile designer whose patterns are inspired by colour and nature.  She laser cuts geometric and animal shaped pieces and prints her bold designs onto them to produce her range of individual and striking jewellery, including brooches, earrings and necklaces.  We love her stag design brooch and her hummingbird earrings. Each piece features different parts of Mica’s print, so each item makes a unique handmade gift for someone (but they are very hard to give away!)

Mica Peet patterned Stag Brooch, Little Beach Boutique
Mica Peet patterned Hummingbird Earrings, Little Beach Boutique

A Northern Light

We met illustrator Claire (aka A Northern Light) at a trade show in January and fell in love with her first ever range of lighting.  Her beautiful illustrations are based on the natural world and feature starling murmurations, woodland scenes, and floral patterns.  From her Manchester studio, she has handmade her range of lighting from parchment paper, each featuring her detailed and intricate illustrations.  The range includes tea lights and plug-in lamps.  Our favourites are ‘A New Day’ because it reminds us of the colours of the morning and ‘Murmuration’, because it brings to mind the starlings on Brighton and Hove’s West Pier which roost there at dusk.

A New Day Lamp by A Northern Light, in Little Beach Boutique
Murmuration Lamp by A Northern Light, Little Beach Boutique

‘By Alex’

Finally, we would like to introduce ‘By Alex’ who is our most recent stockist.  We liked her work as soon as we saw her range of quirky stationary and wash bags, because her designs are based on our Great British weather and that is always interesting!  Alex’s textile patterns feature polka dots and umbrellas in crisp, fresh colours and she makes each piece by hand in her Hertfordshire studio.

 We love the fabric on these make up pouches, which are perfect for a weekend away.

Handmade Gifts By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton
Handmade Polka Dot Pouch By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton

 Watch this space for more to come about our latest designers here in Little Beach Boutique, visit our website, or even better, come to see us if you are shopping in Brighton – we are in great company among lots of independent shops and boutiques in the North Laine.