A Weekend’s Foraging in Hertfordshire

Vintage Finds“Let me take you out to lunch darling,” that’s how it began on Sunday morning. Dave had something to collect locally, something he’d ‘won’ on eBay for 99p. We hopped in the car and off we went. We pick up the item and began heading off to find somewhere for lunch.IMG_1013

“OMG, did you see that?” as the car came screaming to a halt with Dave besides himself with excitement. I recognised that look on his face. I’ve seen it before, many times. He has extraordinary peripheral vision! He sees things I don’t even notice…..like this huge sign on the side of the road that announced a ‘Garage Sale’.

A quick U-turn later and we were parked up outside what turned out to be the mother of all garage and house contents sales. The lovely couple were selling off the contents of her mother’s house – everything from furniture to contents of the kitchen cupboards, from garden pots to glassware, from bedlinen to old clothes, from knitting patterns to vintage diy tools.IMG_1020

There was a vast selection of tea plates, dishes and saucers, sadly not many tea cups. Some of the patterned plates I noticed had drill holes through the centre which I was happy to see. I’ve since ordered the pieces I now need to turn them into a tiered cake stand.

We’re fans of vintage silver cutlery too. We have a huge eclectic and mis-matched selection at home. Deep underneath the tarnish we discovered some gleaming silver dessert forks and spoons.IMG_1201 (1)

We spent about an hour there going from room to room, opening cupboards and rummaging through boxes. We found some gems. It was a veritable Aladdin’s cave on the side of the road.

The pictures give you a little idea of the variety of items we found. Some we will keep and some we will sell on. We’ve just opened our new Etsy shop where over the coming weeks you’ll be able to see some of the things we’re selling.IMG_1137

I was delighted to find a vintage Witney 100% wool blanket. It has a beautiful baby blue stripe and although a little tired and worn in places was ripe for upcycling. I’ve made a few cushions and some lavender pillows so far.

IMG_1153 (1)In amongst a pile of cheap old glasses I spied some beautiful  fine old champagne glasses which are now washed and shining. We found a beautiful old document box which just needs a clean to lift the grime and some oil or wax to bring out the beauty in the wood…..oh and lots of vintage tobacco tins, some of which are already on Etsy!

 

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How We Live + A Look Inside Our Home

Home is very important to us. Where we live has been in Dave’s family since 1979 and we are now fortunate enough to create it as our home together. We came together in later life both with children of our own. When we made the decision to share a home it gave us the opportunity to decide only to surround ourselves with things that pleased us. As William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

vingage stool and oil lamp

A vintage stool that’s been in the family for decades. The lamp we bought via eBay.

At the time and with limited disposable income we were increasingly looking to charity shops and eBay to furnish our home and clothe ourselves. What started out of necessity has now become a way of life for us.  We have an overriding need and desire to nurture, care for and provide for our families. We live frugally yet are surrounded by abundance.

Bergère chair, handmade quilt tweed cushion

Rebecca reupholstered the Bergère chairs which belonged to her great grandmother. The quilt and tweed cushions were made by Rebecca.

We’re both creative and resourceful people who are also passionate about using quality materials and ingredients. We have taught ourselves the skills we needed to learn in order to restore or create something new. We are inspired by the challenge of learning.

vintage typewriter vintage trunk

This is the trunk that came with Dave’s father from Trinidad to London. The typewriter was a gift from Dave to Rebecca on publication of her first book.

We’re story lovers. Many of the pieces of furniture or items at home have come down through our families – a Bergere settee and chairs were my (Rebecca’s) great grandmother’s and on which I learned my upholstery skills. A substantial mid 19th century Welsh oak pew came from the church I attended as a child. A trunk that came with Dave’s father from Trinidad to London acts as a storage unit and stand for a vintage typewriter. A church candle box belonged to my grandfather. The kitchen cupboards are the original ones put in by Dave’s parents that instead of replacing we’ve repainted.

brick fireplace

We love the warmth in the colour of brickwork. The trunk is a great storage unit and coffee table.

We’ve collected silver cutlery, cast iron saucepans, terracotta pots, oil lamps, Victorian chimney pots and a variety of vintage ephemera that have either been given away or picked up in charity shops and on eBay. We take inspiration from what’s around us and see beauty is aged and neglected things.

painted sideboard

One of a pair of sideboards we won at auction which will eventually become a floor to ceiling dresser in the kitchen. The canvas was a gift from a friend.

We have a shared vision for our home. It’s vintage and scuffed around the edges, it’s loved and lived in, it’s warm and welcoming.

victorian fireplace original tiled hearth

The original cast iron Victorian fireplace with tiled hearth. The quilt was handmade by Rebecca’s mother.

Our garden is as important as our home. We grow our vegetables, salad, herbs and fruit. We aim to be as self sufficient as we can. We have a dislike for waste and we recycle as much as we are able. We take cuttings from all we can and family and friends benefit whether that’s a fig tree sapling or tiny box plants, rosemary or lavender bushes.

Our Victorian Cottage garden filled with Terracotta pots is verdant at this time of year.

Our Victorian Cottage garden filled with Terracotta pots is verdant at this time of year.

Whilst repainting the kitchen units last summer Dave decided to give a couple of old stools a coat of paint too give them a new lease of life. He discovered a new passion for painting and upcycling furniture. More of his creations can be found on our Instagram feed.

We love what we’re doing. I have fun creating products for our Urban Upcycle website from cushions to purses and phone covers to bags. Dave loves finding tired old furniture ripe for a new life.

upcycled heart appliqué cushions

Two feather filled upcycled heart appliquéd cushions.

Each of our products is entirely unique and carefully curated – we spend time choosing and matching fabrics to create something that is bespoke, limited edition and highly visually appealing.  Our design philosophy is based on function, form, simplicity and playfulness.

upcycled painted chest of drawers

A chest of drawers upcycled with a few coats of paint changes its look entirely.

What is Urban Upcycle? We believe in giving a second life to fabrics, furniture and homewares, using our imagination to create something that is original, tactile, beautiful, and functional.

Urban Upcycle Rebecca Perkins Dave Graceson

Rebecca and Dave also knows as WelshTrini

Who are WelshTrini? A girl from Wales with a passion for fabrics and stitching. A guy from Trinidad with a love for old things. We share a love for restoring, recycling, reusing and repurposing. We can be found most weekends rummaging in charity shops and London’s street markets or at home stitching, repairing, gardening and painting.

You can find us being social on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

You can find our products on our website and featured on Remade in Britain.

Bespoke is Best!

We’ve got a friend called Katie and Katie has some lovely clothes. Some of these clothes either no longer fit or the style has gone out of fashion. Many of them have special significance for her and she’s been reluctant to hand them on to the charity shop because in a way it’s parting with a bit of her life, her story. She can remember many a happy occasion wearing them. All this came out one day whilst chatting over a bottle of wine. She loved what we were doing and the whole ethos of upcycling fitted in with her way of living too. One day Katie arrived with a bag of clothes she had decided to part with, a couple of them she wanted me to make into something special if I could.

These are the results.Bespoke custom made ipad coverbespoke custom made upcycled clutch bagThis iPad sleeve was made from a stunning turquoise silk velvet crossover jacket that had been loved and lived in! In Katie’s words, she was now able to ‘wear’ it everyday. It was a thrill to see her face when she saw her custom made iPad cover.

In the bag of clothes she handed over was a stunning appliqué skirt that no longer fitted her. It was a work of art. The skirt is a fine cotton with silk and sequins appliquéd in patches all over it. I immediately fell in love and put it aside no yet ready to cut into it! And it was whilst rummaging through the drawers of fabrics that I have that I found it and knew immediately that a clutch bag would look perfect. I hope you agree! And yes, Katie has one put aside for her!

What garments do you have that you can no longer wear that you just can’t bring yourself to throw out? Have you thought about allowing us to make something that has special meaning for you? I love that we can weave meaning and stories and love into what we do.

I was asked by my brother in law a while back if I could make something for him which was really rather special. His father had been a captain in the Royal Navy and had passed away a number of years ago. Naval jacket WelshTrini ipad sleeve in naval uniform WelshTrini Detail naval sleeve ipad cover

He still had one of his father’s uniforms hanging in his wardrobe. The idea came to him to have something made as a memento and reminder of his father.

This is what we came up with. The sleeve is almost a perfect fit for an iPad mini. I removed the buttons from the front of the jacket and used them as the closing for the cover. We chose a bright lining to make it a little playful. It was an honour to be asked to do this and I know how special it is for my brother in law. I felt emotional making it and know he did to when I sent it to him.

Do you have anything that you’d like made from some special garment? Or something you’d like to have made for someone special? Get in touch with us…Christmas is coming! We’ll see what we can do for you!

 

I’ve got another blog to share shortly on another very special custom made item.

Our Love Affair With Old

Quote

French Enamel Coffee PotsWe love old things, not high value antiques that we’d be too terrified to have in our home for fear of becoming precious over or bumping into or scratching. We love old things that have been pre-loved, used day in and out and have a purpose and usefulness.

We cherish the things we’ve picked up in charity shops, flea markets, car boot sales, brocantes (however much our children roll their eyes at the ‘rubbish’ we bring into the house). The things we find have come to the end of their useful life for one person and they then become treasures for us.

We also have a love affair with all things French. The language, the landscape, the food, the markets, the homewares, the style.  We had a wonderful week in Honfleur, in Normandy this summer. We meandered around the streets with camera and iPhone taking photographs at whatever caught our attention. It might have been some peeling paint on an old shutter or the brickwork on an old house. It might have been the rusting metalwork on a railing or some tall grasses blowing in the wind. The weather was glorious and we indulged ourselves in one of our favourite pastimes, hunting out brocantes and ‘foires à tous’ where we found beautiful old things as inspiration for our home. Some we purchased and some we simply admired.

Here are some of the things we captured on camera that inspired us this summer in France.

Pont de Caen at sunsetSunset in HonfleurCourtyard HonfleurTerracotta Pots HonfleurThe Harbour HonfleurCarousel Honfleur at nightRusty Gates HonfleurPont l'EvêqueSignage HonfleurWood Log Burner Stove HonfleurHydrangea Honfleur

We are creating a home that is comfortable, lived in, a bit rumpled around the edges and filled with the people and things we love.

We are nostalgic and celebrate our heritage. We have a 19th century Welsh oak pew from the church Rebecca grew up attending and Dave’s father’s old trunk that came with him from Trinidad.

We have a very simple ethos taken from the Arts and Crafts master which we used when we decided to make our two homes one.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris

 

Festival of Heat at Spitalfields City Farm

Festival of HeatWe love the East End of London, it’s filled with inspiration for us from the coffee roasters on Brick Lane, to the incredible and ever changing street art on Hanbury Street, the small independent fashion and homewares shops, to vintage and eclectic fashion market stalls. Restaurants and cafes and galleries…what’s not to love?

This coming Sunday 28th September we are one of the craft traders at the Festival of Heat, the 2nd London Chilli Festival which takes place at the Spitalfields City Farm. It’ll make a great family day out, the farm itself is very welcoming with animals to pet and feed as well as learning about plants from across the world. The Festival of Heat attracted over 3,500 people last year and promises to be HOT again this year. Fingers crossed for a glorious autumnal day please!

Upcycled Leather Key Rings

Upcycled Leather Key Rings  www.urbanupcycle.co.uk

In keeping with the hot chilli colours we’re excited to be selling our latest products – soft nappa leather key rings made from off cuts of leather we found in one of our local charity shops. They are limited edition and I have no doubt they will be snapped up quickly from our website and at the festival on Sunday.

We’ll also have our other heart shaped, lavender filled key rings available on Sunday as well as our regular products. Nothing goes to waste at WelshTrini HQ! We keep all the scraps of fabric left over from our larger projects, knowing that between us we’ll come up with some new idea! The lavender is from Yorkshire and smells wonderful. Upcycled Wool Lavender Heart Key RingDid you know that not only is the scent of lavender like summer evenings it’s also very good at helping us relax? You might decide to hang it in your wardrobe (it’s excellent at keeping those moths at bay too). Or imagine the scent of lavender leading you to the keys in the bottom of your handbag! Wouldn’t that be great?!

We’re looking forward to meeting some old and new customers on Sunday. Why not pop along? There’s going to be plenty of fun from tasting and cooking and learning to grow chillies at this urban food festival!

Urban Upcycle by WelshTrini…..the blog

Urban Upcycle by WelshTrini

WelshTrini are Rebecca Perkins and Dave Graceson

Well, I guess it was the next step wasn’t it?!

We’re both excited about sharing a little more than the pictures we regularly post on Instagram. We’d like to share with you our ethos, the things that are important to us, the way we live, a little of our story as a couple, the importance of our heritage and yes, a few hopes and dreams for our business.

It’s always a bit weird starting something new, I mean, what do you write in a first blog post? So I guess we might as well start at the very beginning.  It all began with a gift. Dave’s father and step mother had just returned from visiting family in Jamaica and they’d brought us back a bag of Blue Mountain coffee. I was delighted, being the coffee drinker! It’s an unaffordable luxury here, so was thrilled to receive this gift!

The inspiration for Urban Upcycle

The inspiration for Urban Upcycle

Dave asked me one day once the coffee had been drunk and all that remained was hessian bag,

“What could you make out of this bag? I’m curious because there are a lot of roasteries in the East End and they are selling off the large hessian sacks that the beans are imported in.”

I went straight onto Pinterest and searched ‘coffee sacks’. What couldn’t we make was more the question?! So the following weekend Dave arrived armed with a few coffee sacks and I got straight to my sewing machine. We spent the weekend talking about ‘upcycling’, our love of old things, our ‘waste not want not’ attitude learned from our upbringing, our creativity and the possibility of beginning a business together.

Our first coffee sack transformation

Our first coffee sack transformation

We’d always enjoyed browsing in charity shops. You’d be amazed what people throw out! We regularly came across brand new and barely worn designer suits, jackets and coats. Quality and a love of natural fibres is very important to both of us. We began to wonder what could be made from all these pre-loved clothes we were coming across.

Our appetite was whetted. The possibilities for what we could create were seriously going to be endless.

We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment, tell us what you’d like to hear from us.

www.urbanupcycle.co.uk is where you’ll find all our current products.

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