This week I’ve been obsessed with traditional Hungarian embroidery. This style is known for its bright colours and nature inspired patterns. There are a few regional variations such as Matyo or Kalocsa, with multi coloured motifs of flowers and fruit, but my favourites are the simple red or blue patterns that make great table runners.
I also love this vintage pink variation:
One of the reasons I love it so much is that I know I will never have the skill or patience to make something like this myself so I am in awe of those who have. Maybe I will just have to console myself by buying one of these cute pendants with a typical flower motif:
For more Hungarian Embroidery see my Pinterest board here.
hereIf you are looking for that oh so charming, paired back, rustic French style here is some inspiration for you.
First up: I just love the simplicity of old French linens, they really give that rustic charm. This large tea towel with a perfect red stripe is an easy first step to achieving the rustic French kitchen.
Check out this vintage mannequin, dated 1900-09 here.
Or for something ultra chic and elegant to grace your walls this deco advertisement will do the trick.
Deep in the heart of Albania is the beautiful city of Berat. The two neighbourhoods of Mangelem and Gorica face each other across the river, each displaying the characteristic architecture of the Ottoman era, cobbled streets and a certain undefinable charm. High on the hill above Mangelem is the castle and from here you can capture views of the surrounding mountains.
I was lucky enough to spend some time in this city learning about its history and up close and personal with some of its wonderful architecture. The most memorable aspect of the city for me is the neighbourhood of Mangelem where the house almost look like they are built one on top of another and hundreds of windows stare out – getting the city the names ‘city of a thousand windows’ or ‘city of a thousand eyes’.
But I will not only remember Berat for its architecture – trust me to unwittingly arrive on the day of a craft market. There were still several stalls out when I arrived late on a Sunday, but I was drawn to one in particular. This couple sold me some stunning woven table runners made in the north of Albania, in the Shkoder region. The weaver has won national awards for her stunning designs and craftsmanship.
I was attracted to the simple and elegant red and white designs which I think are so typical in the Balkans and although they appear simple there are some deceptively intricate patterns.
Perched on the edge of the lake that shares its name, the city of Ohrid is known as the pearl of the Balkans. The city and the lake are both protected by UNESCO as cultural and natural heritage respectively.
As well as being home to beautiful vernacular architecture, amazing natural diversity, stunning scenery and a fascinating history, Ohrid is also home to some wonderful craftsmen. Traditional crafts in this region include wood carving, silver filigree and handmade paper.
At the handmade paper workshop on Car Samuil you can witness the process of paper-making that has been passed from generation to generation and find unique souvenirs like handmade cards and beautiful prints of scenes of the city or people in traditional dress.
Just along the street from the paper workshop is the Tron woodcarving gallery exhibiting the work of woodcarver Dragan Nelovski. This craftsman will show you his work and the process of creating it, explain the different types of wood he uses and share his passion for the craft with you.
Tucked away by the Church of Saint Sophia is one shop that is not to be missed. A deceptively small shop is an absolute treasure trove for traditional, handmade textiles. Outside you will see a selection of folk costumes, but inside is where the magic is. If you are looking for a handwoven kilim rug made here in Macedonia you will find no better place. Stored away in the back rooms are all conceivable sizes and colours so you are sure to find the perfect souvenir!
My final words on Ohrid: inspirational, tranquil & authentic
Back in September last year I spent several weeks in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. There was something about this city I really fell in love with and as it’s valentine’s day, I thought I would share some of the love.
One of the things I liked the most about Zagreb was that every time I went into the city centre there seemed to be something different happening – from folk dancing to burger festivals, film screenings to farmers markets. I particularly enjoyed stumbling upon a couple of craft markets in the central square.
At one of these craft markets I found a stall selling a variety of handmade fabrics, mostly woven and many with lovely embroidery or lace detailing. I really love the heart pattern that is traditional in Zagreb, but ended up buying a more subtly decorative piece which I gave to my grandmother for Christmas.
I stood talking to the stall’s owner for several minutes as she described the different techniques and the time put into each piece. She clearly loved making this textiles and was happy to share her knowledge and experience with me.
I’m now back in the UK and planning my next trip. Just wondering how to fit a visit to Zagreb into my plans…
Now, baby shoes may not be something that would usually interest me, but in Ljubljana they seemed to be in many of the design and craft shops. Alongside the ceramics and jewellery, the baby shoes were so lovingly made and of such high quality I couldn’t help but snap a photo (or two or three).
I don’t have much information about these super cute shoes apart from the fact they were all found in shops in Ciril-Metodov trg, Mestni trg and Stari trg, which is the area between the river and the castle. I do know that I found the amazing lace shoes (below) at the Idrija Lace Gallery, where I also saw a great necklace and lots of other great lace.
Don’t you think they would be perfect for a christening?
In one day in Ljubljana I discovered so many amazing handmade items I couldn’t possibly fit them all into one blog post! So here is part 2 of Handmade in Slovenia:
Jewellery is always something that catches my eye as it not only showcases fantastic hand craft skills, but it is also the biggest temptation to buy something. I don’t have a house to buy ceramics for, but earrings…you can never have too many earrings!
My will power was tested by this selection of wood and acrylic jewellery by SUI. I was really tempted to buy some of these earrings, but unfortunately they didn’t have the colours I was looking for.
This photo doesn’t do justice to these fantastic necklaces by MATEiKA.
On Mestni Trg I discovered a fantastic lace shop. Amongst the traditional white lace there were a few more unusual items that drew my attention, one of which was this necklace. The Idrija Lace Gallery is really a treasure trove, so whether you like traditional lace or something more unusual, you should definitely check it out.
Gent, a lively city in Belgium, is home to many makers and walking around the city I discovered several shops selling quality handmade items. Here’s a round up of my favourites:
A shop entirely dedicated to woven crafts, Woven Stories doesn’t just sell textiles – it sells stories. Bringing together woven textiles from all over the world (and some made right there in the shop), each also tells the story of its maker, the technique used or its inspiration. This shop contains not only a wealth of textiles but also a wealth of knowledge on all things woven.
Mayenne.shop is run by accessory designer Mayenne Nelen and features her own unique collection of leather goods (braces, handbags, wallets) and her selection of jewellery and objects by Belgian and Dutch design talent. I spotted this wonderful crockery set (above).
Unfortunately Marlies Davans little atelier/shop was closed when I passed by but the window display alone caught my attention. Marlies creates wonderful leather goods including phone & ipad cases, wallets and coasters.