DIY Ombre Pot: Hibiscus in the House!

Some of you might know that I have family living in Malaysia, which is suddenly relevant because May’s Plant of the Month at The Joy of Plants was the Hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower!

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The Hibiscus flower always reminds me of hotter, sunnier climes; aren’t Hawaiian shirts typically covered in the flower, for example? And I’m pretty sure hibiscus drinks/cocktails were invented in the tropics (by the way, there is a recipe for hibiscus tea on the website, and it looks YUM. Did you know that the flower is full of vitamin C and can lower blood pressure? Well, now you do!).

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It’s only fitting then, now summer is upon us, that we spend some time admiring the hibiscus plant and showing it off in our homes. Here’s a DIY for a dip-dye flower pot! Enjoy.

What you need:

  • Hibiscus (in a pot)
  • Glass tank, vase or a bucket
  • Coat hanger with clamps (the kind for clipping trousers with)
  • Tin that will fit the plant
  • Piece of cotton fabric, preferably washed so that it doesn’t shrink
  • Pot to mix the glue with water
  • Textile dye
  • Salt to add to the dye (so it will set)
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Rubber gloves

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Fill the tank vase with dye according to the instructions. Cut the fabric to the width of the tin. Hang the longer side of the fabric on the coat hanger.

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Put the rubber gloves on and lower the bottom half of the fabric into the dye. Take the fabric out after 1 minute and then lower the fabric a bit further into the dye. After 5 minutes take the fabric out of the dye again and then lower it even further into the dye. You do this until the whole fabric is coloured in stages. Tip: attach the hanger to a string hanging from something, so that you don’t have to hold the fabric the whole time.

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Let the coloured fabric dry. Then mix the glue with the water in the pot. Cover the whole tin with the glue mixture and stick the fabric to the tin. Make sure that the end of the fabric is glued securely so that it can’t come loose.

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Your dip dye pot is now ready! Now all you have to do is put your Hibiscus in it. It will look best if the edge of the plastic plant pot is at the same height as the edge of the tin. You could put stones, or something else in the bottom of the tin to fill it up to right height.

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Images and DIY courtesy of The Joy of Plants

Light, breezy interiors with Arlene Gibbs

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The Tuscany Project by Arlene Gibbs (images: Mario Flores)

Hello there! I know, it’s been a while! Been busy practising for a music exam and working hard before the end of the year. Now that the exam is over (woohoo!), I am back!

Today we bring you another guest post by the lovely Rossella Di Bidino all the way from Rome, Italy. Rossella kindly took some time out to interview Arlene Gibbs, a decorator and writer, and previously film executive/producer/screenwriter! Curious? Read on…

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Arlene Gibbs’ style is “understated luxury” or, as one of her closest Italian friends describes it, “relaxed chic.” Arlene, a decorator and writer based in Rome, was born in New York City to parents from the Caribbean island of St. Martin. Her parents were very traditional and did not allow her to put posters on her bedroom walls like her American friends. However, she was able to choose the paint color for her room. Her bedroom received a lot of sunlight so she went with a cool, light yellow, a feel which still influences her work today.

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Arlene studied foreign affairs at Syracuse University. While in college she did an internship at Bloomingdales’ headquarters in Manhattan. Upon graduation she was offered a position in their highly competitive Executive Buyer Trainee program where she worked in the Home Furnishings Division.

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Prior to moving to Rome in 2008, Arlene worked in Hollywood for ten years as an executive and producer.

“When I moved to Rome six years ago, I was still working full-time in Hollywood as a screenwriter. After the release of Jumping The Broom, I had to decide if I were going to move back to Los Angeles. I didn’t.

“Instead I did an internship with a prominent Italian interior and furniture designer in Rome and followed up that great experience with an intensive design workshop with interior and textiles designer Kathryn M. Ireland in Los Angeles.”

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“My career change is a return to my roots in a way,” Arlene states. “I love my job because is collaborative, creative and not corporate. It can be emotional and not necessarily logical. There is a strong connection between her former Hollywood career and interior design: “Being a decorator is very similar to working on a film set. Both are visual mediums that tell a story.”

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Her interior design mantra is “let the house breathe”. “I don’t enjoy rooms that are too minimalist or the opposite extreme, overly decorated. I like my spaces to “breathe” and to be rooms that people can actually live in. For those reasons, I collaborate with my clients to create homes that reflect their style and tastes.”

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She gives us some suggestions on how improve our homes: “Even something as small as a throw pillow adds a personal touch. I suggest not buying all your furniture from the same store, whether it’s B&B Italia or IKEA. The room will be too homogenous, without personality. Look at what you already own with fresh eyes. For example, try to put an old table in a different room or paint it with a different colour. That will give it a new life”.

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When Arlene isn’t busy with new decorating projects, she is trying to learn the dolce far niente (‘the sweetness of doing nothing’). Not bad for such a multi-talented, busy woman!

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For more of Arlene Gibbs’ style, visit her at http://www.arlenegibbsdecor.com/.

Visit Rossella’s blog at http://machetiseimangiato.com/.

Images: Mario Flores via Arlene Gibbs

Real Studios: Inspiration from Holly Booth Photography’s quirky studio

Most of you probably already know the wonderful Holly Booth – one part stylist, one part photographer, one part quite lovely and talented. If you are a small creative business you need to get Holly on speed dial!

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Holly is a commercial photographer, who pretty much specialises in product shots for businesses. Her style is distinctive, which was what led us to want to see her studio. Holly started her photography business in 2010, and has since been featured in various magazines, including Mollie Makes.

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Beautiful Derby is the setting for the studio, and is where Holly lives, with her fiancé, Pete, their French bulldog boy, Remi and a tiny, mischievous housecat called Juno. She’s a self-professed fan of documentaries, exploring antique shops in search of treasure (we do too!) and “pretty much anything to do with David Bowie.” Haha! Doesn’t she sound delightful?

We have been kindly allowed to snoop around Holly Booth Photography’s studio, and we really liked spotting quirky items (like the Japanese lucky cat!) that show off Holly’s style and vintage love – inspiring interiors with a dose of fun. Enjoy!

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Thanks for having us!

For more Holly Booth Photography inspiration and information about services, visit http://www.hollybooth.com.

Images: Holly Booth

Table Styling with Suitcase Susie

Remember Suitcase Susie from our Makegood festival favourites? We loved her travel-inspired collection of dining wares so, that we asked her to pop back in and say hello!

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There’s something wonderful about alfresco dining in the summer that makes you feel like you’re on holiday when you’ve never left home. I always associate it with having friends around for some good food, maybe a glass of wine or two, great conversation and definitely a few laughs.

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It’s not as constrained as a formal dinner party and that lovely casual feel often means your friends enjoy themselves more because they’re more relaxed. Of course it’s helpful if the sun’s shining as that always makes people smile, but I’ve had some great ‘alfresco’ dining moments when we’ve had to rush indoors to escape a summer ‘shower’ (for shower read downpour – ah the great British summer)…

Now I was lucky when I styled the first image because someone had left behind that fabulous piece of wood in my garden when I moved into my home. But the rest of the photos demonstrate how you can still achieve the right feel even with a standard wooden dining table. You may not have a garden, or the weather might have changed – but you can recreate the alfresco feel indoors too.

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The key thing about styling your alfresco dining table is to retain a casual feel. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be beautiful. It’s just a lot simpler. The bottle (used as a vase) is a small port bottle that came with a Christmas hamper, but even a jam jar with a ribbon tied around it would do. Wildflowers or even dandelions (as I’ve used in the image at the top) are perfect to retain that impulsive feel.

A rustic basket for that just-baked loaf of bread and fresh fruit sets off elements of your table with a touch of colour and a warm friendly feel. You may have a wooden board to lay out some antipasti or use a wooden salad bowl. Natural materials are what you’re looking for where possible. Keep it slightly random – no need for perfect symmetry here!

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Because you’re eating outdoors it doesn’t mean you have to eat from paper plates. Suitcase Susie’s Koru tableware is fine bone china, but perfect for this setting. The wave pattern makes you feel like your at the beach (maybe you are!) and just knowing it was inspired by New Zealand whisks you off to another part of the world, even if it’s only in your dreams. Notice I’ve set out lemon slices for everyone’s gin and tonics…

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I’ve tied the pretty napkin with some suede thong I had at home – no need for fancy napkin rings. You could use some coloured ribbon or raffia twine – the kind that’s popular for gift-wrapping these days. Just a simple knot gives it all the detail it needs.

So I hope you enjoy lots of lovely days in the sun this summer, but even if the skies are grey, you can still recreate the alfresco experience under cover and pretend you’re by the sea in New Zealand – at least you won’t have the 24-hour flight to endure!

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Thank you Suitcase Susie!

All of Suitcase Susie’s designs are screen printed in small runs and hand-decorated onto fine bone china in Staffordshire, while her screen-printed textiles are made from 100% cotton also in small quantities in Lincolnshire. 

Visit Suicase Susie at http://www.suitcasesusie.com.

Images by Suitcase Susie unless otherwise credited.