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my website Madeleine Boulesteix Chandeliers

Monday, 16 March 2015

Recent Treasures

On my way to Dartmoor Prison Museum (quirky and worth a visit) I found a charity shop I hadn't known before and despite thinking I've got a grip on acquiring more stuff....well it seems I haven't. The toast rack and glasses are permitted because they're for my work, but the teapot was £1, so I had to have it. In fact sometimes I buy things that are now fashionable to collect even if I don't want them myself, because I have done a vintage stall and sold things off, but I don't know if I'll get around to doing this again. So the teapot was going to be to sell on or more likely for a friends birthday but then I had alot of people around this week and only this big teapot could cope.
The collection of hat pins are from a charity shop in Tavistock, £1 for 7, so great bargains all round.

This little painting on hardboard was £3 in Tavistock market, from a stall holder who I think has a good eye for things and I do try to mostly resist. I got my wooden spectator stand from her. Yes I don't need any more paintings but this was small, lovely, a bargain and I love that it's of a craft/industry, it's so so charming - had to have it!

And these handsome compressed recycled paper things are Jailhouse Briquettes from the Prison Museum shop; £2.50 for a big bag so I'm trying them out in the wood burner. I confess to buying them because they look so amazing. They work and are good for filling in gaps between larger logs in the wood-burner.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


My copy of Upcyclist arrived today - I am so proud to be included in this beautiful book. It really is gorgeous and full of great artists and photographs - no dabblers here - this is seriously good design only.

And perhaps most importantly.....Otis made the edit....in what is perhaps his best portrait to date.

Handsome and well dressed.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Upcyclist Book

Exciting News! This book 'Upcyclist" Reclaimed and Remade Furniture, Lighting and Interiors, will be published on March 1st in the UK and April 1st in the USA.  Antonia Edwards is a champion of upcycling and runs the site Upcyclist. She's been working on this book for some time and now it'll be available in just a few days.  Happily my work made the edit so I'm super curious to see it and see all the fellow makers included.

Friday, 13 February 2015


By coincidence I've been working on two very colourful commissions this winter. It shows how far we've come in being more adventurous with our homes and especially lighting. When I started out - a long time ago now - the only lighting with bright coloured glass seemed to be in Barcelona or Milan but not customary on this island, but then again continental cafes were rare and so was a good coffee. Even if you always had adventurous taste you just couldn't get the stuff. We've clearly learned alot from mainland Europe.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Viv Albertine

I want to down tools and read this book all day long, cant put it down but don't want to finish it. If you have any interest in pioneering women, punk, surviving life's challenges this is the best read ever; Viv Albertine's autobiography, 'Clothes clothes clothes, Music music music, Boys boys boys'. Don't buy it from those online tax evaders NO, get it from a proper bookshop. I bought my copy at a great independent book shop on Broadway Market in North London; The Broadway Bookshop. You may not get a few pounds off but your pounds will be going to a decent business (not a greedy machine) which will be in keeping with some punk ethos you can brush up on in this read.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Winter Sun

Lovely winter sun illuminates some of my glass collection in the studio. I don't remember where I found each of them only some of them, but the little hand-painted green one is a bit of a favourite and from Clignancourt flea market in Paris.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Chain Accessories Large and Small

These kind of chain link connectors are very useful when I'm rigging up systems to hang my chandeliers so I have a little collection of them.
Yesterday I took some friends to a place known as Bogey Knights in a tucked away corner of Plymouth next to the dockyard. It sells army and navy surplus stuff and chandlery, so if you're looking for an old anchor....this is your place.

Here we marvelled at the huge accessories, I stuck my very cold fingers into the photo to show you the scale. This is exactly the same design as the little one in the top picture - but surely I would need huge arms and hands 10 times bigger to screw these securely!

I love this huge pulley part, it looks like a pantomime prop! I've used the domestic size for putting my candle only chandeliers on a pulley (no electrical wiring to disturb) with this part guiding the cord, but this one looks like it would pull your ceiling down. So - respect to all those deck crews who actually handle all this enormous stuff.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry, Merry, Merry

Merry Festivities Blogland Folk!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cheeky Barista

I was served this cappuccino at Federation Coffee in Brixton yesterday. Someone's having festive fun........wonder what else may have gone unnoticed in my coffee.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Capital Culture

I have seen loads of fantastic exhibitions in London over the past couple of months. I'm not able to be there all the time so I try to see as much as I can when I am. One of my favourites was Disobedient Objects (til 1st Feb 2015) at the V&A museum. It looks at the role of objects in affecting social change. I LOVED the Barbie Liberation Organisation; watch this short video - hilarious.
This tree in the V&A courtyard went from yellow up to beetroot and looked beautiful against the red brick.

I also loved: Egon Schiele at the Courtauld; amazing nudes, virtuoso drawing until 15th Jan 2015, Rembrandt at the National Gallery til 18th Jan, late Turner at Tate Britain til 25th Jan: all these guys were radical in their day. And Constructing Worlds at the Barbican Centre; fantastic photographs of amazing architecture and environments, until 11th Jan 2015.
I wanted to live in London since I was about 12, I thought that's where it's all going on, I still do and it's easy to dismiss the provinces; to be honest - by my demanding standards there isn't remotely enough going on in the Plymouth area, so I was thrilled to see Light Fantastic, a projected light spectacular in the city recently. Hats off to Illuminos who created it, enchanting. Below is the facade of the beautiful but derelict Palace Theatre with ever changing moving images and sound collage on a loop.

This gave us time to walk to another site, the Eddystone lighthouse on Plymouth Hoe.

This piece was simpler,  to suit the tower and so beautiful on a clear night by the sea. Both pieces incorporated historical snippets from the locale cleverly put together. Look out for Illuminos - they work all over the country and it's a treat to see really great public art.

And I took this photo of the Palace Theatre 3 years ago - check out the buddleia, must be like trees by now. I remember seeing a pantomime here when I was young, Aladdin I think with the late great Irene Handl. I wonder if the building really will be saved and used again for something.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Urban Sightings

In this wig shop in Brixton I spotted something I've never seen before........fake grey roots!

How inspired is that??!!
I have to wonder if this caught my eye because I let my roots go over 6 months ago, I just cant be bothered to henna anymore and don't want to have orange hair in middle age, and what do I find - grey hair is really trendy!

But back to redheads; near my studio in East London I saw this beautiful fox trying to sleep curled up in the middle of a landscaped area amid flats and surrounded by loud traffic. It seemed such a strange spot to choose but it beats public art (!) 'challenging your perceptions' of fox beds.
He had perfect markings with black tipped ears that twitched as I walked past him. Beautiful. I love him.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Small is Beautiful

This is one of my Duets for 3 candles. I've been trying to make more smaller pieces for Xmas stock. These actually take ages to make; because they're small they're more intimate so all the detail has to be spot on. I wasn't going to use turquoise in this colour scheme but I was holding some glass drops up to the piece to see if I wanted to use them and the turquoise was attached and suddenly they made the other colours sing louder. I'm thrilled to still be having these happy accidents even after 20 years plus of making my chandeliers because that's really the root of the way I've been working and I love a solution that I couldn't have planned. This is for sale for £295, you can contact me on the e-mail address on my website here. Info on size here, scroll down.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Studio Change



I left Carlton Mansions after 30 years - all my adult life really - because Lambeth evicted our 35 year old co-op. My work was born and nurtured here and I see how the decaying grandeur of my all time favourite building (and Will Self's!) influenced my work. When I moved in in 1984 Brixton was a very different place; some places were called 'no go areas' and some flats and houses 'hard to let' Imagine that!

Packing was a complete nightmare - there was no motivation as I didn't want to leave. Circumstances meant that I'd be taking half my stuff to Devon to be near my mum in her old age and half my stuff to a London studio which I finally found after months on waiting lists, so every item needed a decision of which of the 2 places to go to and you can imagine how much stuff I have as a salvage artist who hates waste!

So, moving forward I find myself beyond Bow in east London with a whole new area to explore; already got lost cycling but autumn has been so sunny and my favourite season for cycling in London that it's been a pleasure. I love my new studio, am gradually making it mine and have started to meet my customers there. It's probably a good thing to be in a completely new neighbourhood as leaving the glorious Mansions was so painful - I hate to think of it standing there empty without our 16 households keeping it warm and I think of the foxes who would prowl our stairwells at night - I hope they and the squirrels and wrens and tits who all nested there have all taken it over completely.

I love old industrial buildings and it's very hard to find a nice, affordable studio in London these days so all in all I'm very lucky. Most importantly Otis has made the transition well too - I am so proud of him. Here he is resting in the bubble wrap box in between explorations in his new country garden.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Some Recent Finds

Pickings from charity shops are often thin on the ground these days but I have found a few things recently in Devon. There are plenty of charity shops in Totnes, known as a 'bohemian' epicentre in these parts; look past the hippie stuff and it's great for healthy food shopping and eating, vintage and loads more. Transition Town Totnes initiated the Totnes pound to promote local economic sustainability, Brixton followed and others evolve inspired by the originators. 
In Animals in Distress I found this bean slicer.  I'd never seen one before, you screw it to the table like a mincer. I just loved it, especially the fact that it's green bean coloured. I haven't tried it with beans yet - my finds are usually destined for a life outside the kitchen - but I'll give it a scrub and have a go. 

In Tavistock I found 3 eye baths in one lot. Odd I thought. In my junk collection I have some glass ventouses from a Paris flea market and a box of test tubes, so maybe enough to consider a medical themed chandelier......

Also from Animals in Distress are these mini master-pieces; sewing machine parts for 50 pence each. Beautiful tiny sculptures, much bigger and they could be in the Tate Modern Gallery. In this shop I also got the box of spoons in top photo background (I use these in my Jelly Bowl Lanterns), a large Jaeger mohair scarf and a gents dapper paisley fringed scarf - so rich pickings there - just like the good old days.

And just because I haven't posted a cat photo for a while....spot an assistant stylist for the above shots.

Monday, 29 September 2014

London Design Week 2014 Highlights

It's always great to see what Paul the Rag and Bone man has been up to and these lamps were on show before they go to a hotel in Australia. I wish there was more one-off invented hand-made stuff like this in London Design Week so this was a real treat. Seeing that they all wind I think I have an old mincer to give to Paul. I used to have it screwed to a bench and kept my pencils in it but people kept winding it and crushing them!
If you didn't see Kevin Mccloud's Supersized Salvage where Paul and 2 other designers set to work on re using an old aeroplane do watch it on 4oD here. It's interesting to cost it all as it's a tragedy that it can be cheaper to discard than re-use, something we are trying to turn around.
I went to a big show too but it felt a bit like a department store, everyone's marketing is very smart and shiny these days, probably a good thing but I like things that are a bit rough around the edges or more accessible. For this Designers Block seemed the best to aim for in the big fairs.

And here I was completely taken by Camilla Barnard's prolific amount of carved and painted sculpture, beautifully done, charming and witty - I was so refreshed to see this. The little carved shreddies just made my heart sing. I love just knowing that there are people who spend there time obsessively working away enriching our culture making these objects from their imagination. So hats off to Camilla and to Paul my personal faves of London Design Festival.
Another hit was Old Sessions House the building Designers Block was in, I really wanted to see inside and it didn't disappoint, it's very very beautiful inside with amazing stairwell's and a huge dome but.....

....I discovered afterwards that it has a horrible history - read here. On the top floor the walls were part plastered and patched with layers of historic colour - very Rough Luxe I know - but very beautiful, the latter photo is definitely enhanced by my god-daughter elegantly stepping into the photo. They must surely use this place for shoots and filming - it is such an amazing backdrop and atmosphere.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Really Good Coffee

I've been working on a chandelier that I had to put on hold but I hope to finish it soon, it's called All Day Breakfast and uses little croissant moulds. I didn't know whether to add colour but then decided - since it was a breakfast theme - on different coffee colours from dark espresso through cafe au lait to a creamy colour. I am a lover of cafe culture and it's hard to beat the fix of a really good coffee mid morning, very often though you can get served a massive bowl of milky soup - yuk. Many years ago I met the designer Antonio Scarponi of Conceptual Devices when I was on a residency in Cork city during European Capital of Culture year. We were eating in a great wholefood cafe but never had the big mug of coffee there and I discovered he was even more particular than me about what a proper coffee should be. I think the Italians got the proportions perfect, the big cups are all wrong and the cocoa powder should go between the espresso coffee and frothy milk. 
Happily I had 2 really good coffees out and about in London recently so let me share with you a cappuccino that was less than £2 - yes! £1.70 in fact, nice and strong, perfect size at EATalia on Bermondsey Street. Another at £2 was in Waterloo, near Lambeth North tube at Perdoni's (also known as Riverside 2). It's amazing what we will pay for coffee caught with the urge - a powerful drug indeed. Do take a look at Antonio's devices: clever design with a social responsibility.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Barbican and Jean Paul Gaultier

Last chance to see Jean Paul Gaultier at the Barbican, this exhibition ends on the 25th of August. I'm so late to get to things otherwise I would have put this here sooner.

I didn't realise I was a fan but I loved alot of this. The variations on sailor stuff for men and women are so flattering to each, gorgeous shapes and lines; fat espadrilles on the men and big buttoned trousers and 30's shapes on the women. He really had fun with that. I also loved the stuff inspired by Mongolian costume: amazing.

I'm not at all a fashionista but I love creative revolutionaries. I think JPG loves men and women. I see so much fashion that I think despises women - I'm so sick of seeing women dressed up like men in bad drag - unflattering oversized everything, perched, pruned and pinched with sticky looking hair and eye lashes. This show was full of subtle, elegant detail - oh the old punks are the best!!!

Everytime I go to the Barbican centre I love it and wonder why I don't go more often. The residential bit always made me think of Star Trek from my childhood when they land in a strange place with no people - I am yet to see a human on a balcony here - or how I imagined Tokyo would be before I went there. I like the strange atmosphere. I went for morning coffee before the exhibition opened so it was very quiet, the centre opens at 9am, the gallery at 10. Membership looks like good value if you go to more then 3 exhibitions there a year.

I was taken to the front restaurant called the foodhall on the waterside there for a birthday lunch treat once - good choice, it's a great place to sit and eat and meet pals. I love the decor; lots of lights made from large jars, understated furniture and I really appreciated the unpainted columns left rough and ready - looked like a last minute idea to not paint them over as their texture and marks are so complimentary.

There - I think this ended up being an hommage to the Barbican Centre post - hope I sold it to you!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My work is included in the directory of this online eco magazine Deco. You can subscribe to their newsletter and if you do that soon you'll no doubt get their preview of Design week; a selection of eco conscious design. I cant believe how quickly it's coming around again. I took part in Tent last year but this year I shall be a happy spectator and am looking forward to getting to Design Junction and Designers Block. The details of what's on are here. It's 18th-23rd Sept.
I used to avoid Design Week - too many silly chairs and superfluous stuff but I surrendered because amongst that I see a tiny handful of stuff that excites me.
This year Designers Block is in a building I always wanted to get into, Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green. It's opposite Craft Central's Corner Shop so when I was exhibiting there I looked onto this grand building.  You can start registering for tickets now.

And sorry for the huge gap in blogging - summer and straddling south London and Devon have something to do with that.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Vincent and Banksy

I think Vincent Van Gogh may have liked these hydrangeas; the intense purpley blue. They are are at the front of a house he spent time in. Did you know he lived on the edge of Brixton for a while? Yes, so the creativity of the area dates way back, he was there from 1873 -1874. I went into this house recently when an artist made an installation of the house based on it's history - more here - sorry this event is over now, but nevertheless interesting and you can pay homage at 87 Hackford Road, SW9.

So I really enjoyed walking up the stairs that Vincent did, holding the handrail he must have too.
I went to the Banksy exhibition at Sotheby's - and here is his homage to Vincent in this exhibition. Isn't it interesting that he ended up so Bankable, maybe he should update his name! I'm so curious how this has affected his stance and the sharp political insight of his early work.

And how do you know what's a genuine Banksy now? well obviously Southwark think this is one. It's quite painful watching everything become a commodity. As our community in Brixton is destroyed by Lambeth Council and our building will be boarded up this year (criminal!) I wonder that they will later want to capitalise on OUR history and the great old days when pioneers lived where others didn't want to, where residences were called 'hard to let' and where artists thrived creatively. 
And poor Vincent never saw the real appreciation of his work in his lifetime.
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