Well, it’s so long since I last wrote (five whole weeks!) that my hair has grown and lost its sharpness so I guess I’ll have to get it cut and restored to its pixie glory soon (I fear there are Grey Roots too but lets not think about that).  In this post I’m going to return to vintage fabric and talk about a naughty purchase which arrived the same day I got my hair chopped off last month.

It was naughty because I couldn’t justify spending the money, but it’s a print I’ve loved for ages and the opportunity was too good to miss.  I had a job interview coming up and felt confident so this was kind of a congratulatory present to myself.  As it happens, I didn’t get the job and it was only this morning that I finally hoisted the frame up to the top of the hall stairs wall, where it now hangs, the giant sunflower heads gazing out of the window at the city views.

Howard Carter worked for Heal Fabrics during the 1960s and his two best known prints have to be the sunflowers and pansies, which both came in a range of colours.  They mark a trend for oversized botanical images, which probably started with Jane Daniels’ teasle print in 1960

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Jane Daniels’ Teasle print, one of the first of several magnified botanical designs produced by Heal Fabrics
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Howard Carter’s Pansies fabric, which was available in many colours

I love sunflowers and already have a couple of vintage fabrics bearing their image: there’s a huge, oversized single head screen print framed in the spare room and I’ve also recently acquired a beautiful barkcloth featuring an abstract repeat of flower heads.

Howard’s version is screen printed too, and depicts a realistic, almost photograph-like giant stem with several flower heads drying up and starting to droop, the seeds clearly visible.  However, the heads are surrounded by spiky bursts of yellow, reminding us of the rich colours beaming out when they were in full bloom.

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One of my sunflower fabrics – this adorns the chimney breast in the spare room
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Abstract sunflower heads printed onto barkcloth

Anyway, my sunflower fabric arrived last month and just a few days ago I found the time to frame it using 44″ stretcher bars, making it perfectly square and pretty huge.  I already had the perfect bit of wall in mind, a large blank space at the top of the stairs leading to the first floor in my house.  The staircase has a small landing near the top, then you turn and take a few more steps then you are on the hall landing and perfectly placed to view the picture on the facing wall.

It took some work to get it up there: the picture hook needed to be placed high up, directly over the staircase with a scary drop underneath.  Just as well my other half is a foot taller than me and he was able to reach across from the landing with a hammer and fix the hook in place.  I then balanced the picture wire on the end of a very long garden cane and swung it over the hook, taking care not to fall down the stairs.

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Dizzying heights: sunflowers at the top of the house!  The black and orange fabric on the landing was originally hung from the attic staircase wall but fell down last year and it waits patiently to be rehung (bit of a technical job, that one)

It’s fantastic to finally have something on that bit of wall; however, it was only once i had hung it up that I realised I’d made a bit of an oversight.  In my excitement at receiving the fabric and my keenness to get it framed, I didn’t notice the grubby lines across the width of the print, and it’s pretty obvious when you view it as they stand out like two narrow track marks against the white background.  Either I will resolve to take it back down at some point and clean it or I’ll regard it as a fabric with life and history, and the marks part and parcel of that long life.

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Oops!

Well done if you’ve managed to read to the end and apologies for such a long post about a single curtain!  Meanwhile, the job hunt continues and I’ve set up a small textile business as a way of passing the time while my cv bounces between agencies and job boards.  I’ll tell you more about the small enterprise that is Blue Lizard Textiles next time I write.

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