National Stationery Week: Oh how I love postcards #natstatweek

National Stationery Week PostcardsMore National Stationery Week (#natstatweek) joy from me today. I thought I’d share my love of postcards.

This passion for postcards has been going on for some time. I bought my first set (Vincent Van Gough’s Sunflowers, Picasso’s Fruit Dish, Bottle and Violin,   Henry Rousseau’s Surprised and Monet’s Water-lily pond if you’re interested) when I went to the National Gallery with my dad when I was about nine.

I’ve been collecting postcards in earnest ever since I was a teenager when I used to gather loads from the Tate (it was just the one in London then) and the National galleries when doing my art project research. I obsessively collected and displayed black and white portrait postcards of pop stars, movie icons and various writers, artist and bohemians through history in my bedroom at home. Then I used postcards, gig flyers and magazine pages to decorate every student flat I lived in (and some that I didn’t). Even when Dr B and I had our first tiny studio flat, we went up-market and put them in those ubiquitous Ikea wooden frames.

National Stationery Week PostcardsBecause I’m such a massive fan of these wonderful mini art objects I now make a lot myself.  The one above and the four pictured below are ones I’ve created to promote our small publishing company Dunlin Press.  A free handwritten postcard gets sent out with every book order.  This was inspired by the amount of lovely handwritten postcards we’ve found over the years hidden in the pages of hundreds (and I really do mean hundreds) of second-hand books we’ve bought. Some are really charming and tell stories in themselves.
National Stationery Week PostcardsI’m also very, very fond of sending out postcard with my print and stationery orders to say thank you and I’m a bit partial to sending little motivational messages such as the ones from the Calm Gallery below to friends.
National Stationery Week PostcardsI now sell illustrated postcards. In the spirit of those portraits that adorned my adolescent bedroom I’ve done them in the style of hand-drawn bird portraits. You can buy a set of nine here. I’m astonished that the obsessions of my younger years come to inspire me even now, there are times I feel closer to my early teenage self than to the woman in my twenties or thirties.
Bird portrait postcards (C) Ella Johsnton

Home hack: Four Beautiful Flower Displays

Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukOne of the easiest and cheapest way to give your rooms a splash of quick colour is by adding some flowers to a table or mantelpiece. It’s amazing the instant impact that even the most simple of displays can produce.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukOver the past month I’ve made a record of my displays every week and now I’m sharing them with you. I’ve tried to keep my budget limited with a £40 maximum and £5 min.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

My luxury purple and pink display costs around £40. The mixed peonies in light pink and deep plum were from Value Flora where you can get six stems delivered from £19.99. The vibrant, frilly carnations from my local florist were a snip at 70p each and the roses were £3 for three. I got the wilder bits of foliage from the garden.

Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukBecause these blooms aren’t especially structural I wanted the arrangement to be informal. So I opted for a fairly loose dome. I did this by following the same method I use when making a hand-tied posy.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk You do this by creating a layering the stems in a spiral formation, starting with one flower in the centre and simply circling blooms around this central one and continuing until you make a dome. Then I give it a bit of a shake before I put into the blooms the vase – I do this to loosen the posy up a bit so it doesn’t look so rigid. I used one of my favourite pieces of pottery to place these blooms in – I just wish I’d made a note of who made it as we’ve had this vase for 10 years and it brings us both joy everyday. The side table was a charity shop bargain; £5 from Cancer Research.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

The display below was inspired by the paintings of Jan van Huysum and the recent Dutch Flowers exhibition in the National Gallery. I fancied creating something similarly atmospheric at home. Vintage floral display ellasplace.co.uk

Although this looks quite grand, this rather formal set up is so easy to recreate. I sprayed an old charity shop pub branded vase with bronze paint. Once dry I taped a small block of florists foam soaked in water onto the container. I then arranged the stems into the foam, making sure I walked around the vase and looked onto so that not a bit of the green soaky stuff was exposed. I kept the colours to a minimum for this one, using mainly white, cream and green tones with little splashes of red and pink. I placed the shells by the bottom of the vase to be arch.
Vintage floral display ellasplace.co.uk

I won’t lie, this one below is actually from my mum as the ‘rents came to see us this weekend. The yellow flowers from her and my dad’s garden smell divine; you get a whiff of a little puff of sherbet as you walk by. They look delightful with such vivid hues and open up into the most perfect shapes.

Yellow_1

My mum puts me to shame when it comes to her eye. Three simple, but bright ,stems, one of a contrasting colour, placed at different heights into a vintage old glass bottle that they bought as a job lot at an auction (Mr and Mrs J go to a lot of auctions).
Yellow_2 Crucially my mum removed the foliage that was below the water line; not only does this look better but it eliminates the bacteria that would thrive on those leaves. It also keeps the water in the vase cleaner and adds to the shelf life of the blooms.
Yellow_3

My final display was for a dinner party and consequently I didn’t want to spend loads of money on flowers as I’d already blown the budget on wine (#sorrynotsorry).
Flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukThe table flowers to be low (people need to look at each-other over the table). I also wanted them to be fun as we were having a good time.

I’ve gathered quite a lot of swan vases from various charity shops over the years. None of them in their original state are particularly artful or beautiful so they’ve all been given the spray paint treatment on more than one occasion. I wanted them to twinkle amongst the candle-light on the table so I’ve painted them in a shiney metallic.
Flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk Alstroemeria is ideal for when you want to create a floral statement but you haven’t got loads of money. A stem of alstroemeria has lots of blooms on it so you get a lot for your money and the flowers look very effective when grouped together in one colour. I teamed the red ones with little spray roses and some foliage from the garden, these were placed in water and arranged in the vase. I placed a block of florist foam in the white one, having two large lily heads as my main attraction while filling in the gaps with alstroemeria.
Flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk