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my website Madeleine Boulesteix Chandeliers

Sunday, 13 April 2014

To See

I've been making a real effort not to miss exhibitions and had a binge of viewing on Friday. Here is Phyllida Barlow's installation at Tate Britain - amazing, she really knows what she's doing. Utterly uncompromising original stuff.

So that was a good start, then on to 'Boro' at Somerset House, also free. Not allowed to take photos, but these are patched and stitched abstract textile pieces in cotton from Japan. See here.

Then I went on to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincolns Inn Fields. I had known about this place for years but not yet been. This is full of jars of specimens, normal and mutated for study etc. There was a 4 legged chick and a 2 tailed lizard and creatures with too many legs. I didn't really like all the preserved foetus's etc,(funny that) but the bones really fascinated me; some with huge growths and awful diseases or just clever mending. Funnily enough I went with a GP who'd never known of it's existence until now. Google it's images to see if it's for you and maybe don't go just before lunch!

Thursday, 10 April 2014


My assistant joins me at teatime and as usual places himself at the hub of things.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Brighton Exhibition

I hung 5 chandeliers at this lovely gallery on Brighton beach. It's run by 2 talented painters; Katty McMurray and Kathryn Matthews. Everything seems enhanced by light reflected from the sea, but then I grew up looking out to see so it may be a childhood thing but this is a lovely location for a gallery full of very seductive things. So do get on down to '2 Kats and a Cow Gallery' for this lovely mixed show, and maybe chips on the beach to follow.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Whole Package

How did we manage before bubble wrap? what a great invention, and accidental as it was first intended for wallpaper, then the inventors thought it could be insulating but finally realised it was a great packaging material.  I found this great page when looking up the history of bubble wrap.. as you do. How have I not spent my googling hours looking up the history of boxes and packing tape too? but they cover all that and more. Their page on bubble wrap has several videos, one where you really cant see how it's made but has a very board looking machine operator and some mad music (with accordion!) one Chinese one that does show you the machines making it and one of cats jumping on it and popping the bubbles. All well worth a watch!

Latest Finds

I found this crate a few months ago, it's debris from Brixton's gentrification. I wondered why such a great box had been thrown out, especially as I know how much crates cost if you need them custom made. I looked up the name on it and the firm make plasterwork so someone round the corner has an elaborate plaster ceiling rose. I'm going to make it into a cupboard sometime with a shelf and some doors.
Shortly after finding this I found another gentrified box in the same street.

Well it's perfect shelving already, especially for bits and pieces in my studio. Again I wonder why it was put out for collection and they didn't have a use for it or the imagination for that.
I used to find nice old furniture in skips (in the good old days) but now with this posh packaging I shall make my own for the 'post shabby chic era'

Monday, 10 February 2014


I missed posting anything in January, not sure why, but I have been busy working with bright colours in the darker months.  This is thanks my customer Robinsons Goldsmiths who's shop in Bangor, Northern Ireland re-opens any minute now.  You can see pictures here. Cobalt blue in glass is a fantastic colour - it seems to magically invigorate all the other colours you pair it with. I love it with pink or yellow, here I worked with green and turquoise. This kind of thing fascinates me, I could spend my life marveling at what colour does.

I've been taking photos around the studio, partly for someone's book, (more of that when it happens) and partly just as sketches as it changes all the time. Leaving it this year is going to be very tough but I'm determined to find a nice new space to work in by chuck out time.

Friday, 20 December 2013


I hear there is a raging debate in the States as to whether Santa Claus was black or white, well maybe he was black AND white.....
Merry Festivities Blogland folk, have a fabulous 2014, whatever you celebrate the light will start to return after tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

More Finds

I went to Kempton antiques market recently, a nice crisp sunny cold morning to go hunting for junk but I found everything so expensive, like retail prices. Next time I'll go at closing time when the prices come down. Anyway I was giving up hope of finding any surprising, inspiring treasure when I came across a box of Meccano for £10. I looked up Meccano and they still make it but it's gone the way of Lego: over-designed with little room for imagination. I mourn the loss of a nation of boys making trucks and cranes with working pulleys etc. from scratch!

Also in the box was this screwdriver. I think they still make this style but isn't the practical simplicity beautiful. I have been marveling at it's economy of design. One rod bent around and with one end flattened - ticks all my boxes.

Dresser Find Update

I ended up painting the inside of the glass door cupboard I got recently to lighten it up. I gave it 2 coats proper coverage to avoid any hints of that fake shabby scratchy style....have you seen B&Q do floor covering with a trompe l'oeuil floorboard of worn paint? Amazing, look at it here. It still perplexes me that the styles of arty folk of 30 years ago that were considered leftfield and quirky are now mainstream taste and the things we scavenged because no-one wanted them and because we art students had no money are now highly desirable and expensive items.

I added a narrow shelf at the top for all my tiny glasses. And if you love the LED rabbit light...it was £5.99 at 20 Storey in Market Row in Brixton market. This is a really nice shop and better than the shop at the Design Museum which I found massively disappointing. I've done all my Xmas shopping in Brixton, fantastic to get all that done without leaving SW9.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


It's been a good few days for finds. These glasses are from Brixton's Saturday market, they were 50pence each. I love the hand engraved stars, especially the mini elegant one which will go in my little collection of the few I don't use. The stem is so fine anyway I'd be worried it could break in transit.

I also found, but then paid for a piece of furniture being thrown away. I saw this cabinet at the back entrance of a charity shop.

It's the top half of a dresser that they said was broken. It's not, the 2 parts just come apart. I looked at the bottom half and decided to offer a donation for both and pay delivery. So in all I paid £40 - that's a good deal better than the haberdashers cabinets I'd been lusting over online! Fashionable stuff is a ridiculous price so I don't participate in that scrum.
When it comes to old stuff and re-using I really aim to have something that really was otherwise being thrown away.

Someone has given it a fake shabby chic dose of paint - not my style - but I'm yet to decide how I'll finish it. It is nuts that it was being thrown away from a charity shop - those of us already alert to minimising waste are clearly in a minority, there's plenty of education necessary to redefine 'waste'. Think of the fantastic flea markets you could have with all the stuff charity shops don't want.
Anyway I'm thrilled with my finds and I have very little storage where things are out of view so this is a real novelty.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Living Etc

Living Etc interiors magazine had borrowed one of my chandeliers for a christmas decorating feature, It's well and truly festooned! They didn't hang the finishing glass on the bottom, so for me the proportions are wrong. It's the only part I unhook and wrap seperately for traveling so maybe they were in  hurry unwrapping and didn't spot it.

I'll leave you to add the end glass  in your mind's eye. I love the colour scheme of rather faded grandeur, dusty pinks and silvery greys.

Sunday, 3 November 2013


It's cooled to autumn - my favourite season - and so apart from beautifully coloured leaves it's also time to start admiring cats keeping warm. This is a friends cat, Treacle who lives in the countryside. As I started spending more time there I was going to post more photos but got unnerved by the dastardly local council bods trying to evict us who used this information in their social cleansing campaign, implying I may want to leave the area anyway - how weird, I don't. I am still in South London! and we don't go back to court til April.
Grayson Perry has been very interesting in his Reith lectures: talking about artists as the shock troops of gentrification. It's true, we move into an area people didn't much want to live in, clean up the dirt, make it buzzy and interesting and then the developers move in - he therefore suggested you should pay artists to live in these places for free. Yes! It's so saddening, when will planners and developers start counting us in as an asset instead of squeezing us out? Have a listen here on BBC iplayer.

I had bravely, or stupidly, walked through a field with a bull in it on the way to fondle an egg from under this bird and have tea with freshly baked cake using her eggs.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

R.I.P. Felix Dexter

Unbelievably sad news that we have lost the brilliant comedian and actor Felix Dexter. And at such a young age and yet another great person taken early by cancer. Every now and again we lose a public figure that was such an important part of our landscape and culture (John Peel, Charlie Gillett..) that it makes me really really furious. If you watch his characters for Bellamy's People on You Tube you can marvel at how they did those sketches without laughing. Also The Real McCoy. Genius. BBC news article is here. Sad news indeed.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


Isn't modern life fantastic - you can work whilst watching the Great British Bake Off on iplayer. I could feel guilty but I got loads done. I'm probably always at least 5 years behind on technology. I'm always amongst the last to get gadgets and stuff like mobile phone, website, blog, digital camera, laptop etc. I wouldn't know what to do with a smart phone or an ipad. In another few years I'll probably discover instagram and facebook etc by the time they're old hat. These things seem like magic to me, I still marvel at what's possible in photoshop. Funny though, alot of these digital things want to mimic analogue stuff like old type that's not aligned and old polaroids.   

These are keys from an old type writer I took apart. I really like the proportion of a metal arm the size of your finger with a tiny little apostrophe or letter perched on the end. I loved how the typewriter was assembled, these just had a rigid wire hook through a hole that I could unhook nice and easily to remove them - don't you love this analogue stuff?! I'm hoping these will end up on a chandelier but I'm not sure how yet.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tent London 2013

So London Design week ended last night after a hectic few days, though there are still lots of shows on around town. Thanks to all you lovely visitors who came to say hello. I didn't get to have a thorough look in the other halls at Tent, but one of my favourite things were these pots by Tortus.

I like their simplicity and especially the matt glazes.

I bought the little lemon cylinder vase below, it has a pinky red interior. Alot of the colours were subtle but appetising.

Top tip: Companies from other countries may want to sell their show-ware on the last day so as not to have to carry it all back home. Tortus' work can be bought at Flow gallery in London and no doubt they'll have found other stockists since this show.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Tent London Buzz

I'm showing 10 pieces at Tent London. I'd never done a shell stand before and amazingly the hang went according to plan and I didn't have to activate any plan B's. It's been a real buzz meeting everyone. I think we will just have got into the swing of the long days by the end, then we'll all be having long hot baths and lying with our legs up the wall to recalibrate.
Tomorrow, Sunday is the last day and is open 11 - 6pm.
Below is my favourite stand so far: Wallpaper by Deborah Bowness, it's really well designed but relaxed - you know, not over styled or over designed. Her imagery is so effective and I think her designs would be great for a new built interior that lacks history and texture. I also like some ceramics by Tortus from Denmark that I'll try and photograph tomorrow.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


I shall be showing this piece called 'HomeBrew' at Tent London later this month. The image has been with the press office and I'm happy to say is featured on Decomag's Tent preview page featuring eco designers. I clicked on this photo there, it enlarges slightly and the caption says "Homebrew by grande dame of upcycling Madeleine Boulesteix", Yay - this is the title I have been working towards for 20 years! Thank you Decomag!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

I have never wanted a fitted kitchen

In Shortlife Housing Co-ops life is very DIY. I bought my double stainless sink from a scrapyard for £5 many years ago and built a wooden frame for it. Our housing co-op now faces eviction. We will soon be in court and could lose our homes of 30 years.

In the photo below, you'll see that when I repainted the room a folk-arty blue I couldn't bring myself to lose the previous terracotta completely so I left these borders, nice no?, so much better than a full sweep of one colour and it keeps a little bit of history.

I had never wanted my place to be in a magazine, I love looking at other peoples but always felt private about my own. But then I photographed it because I had to start moving favourite things somewhere safer since the council threatened us with an injunction - that's 48hours to get out. This wasn't granted by the courts (twice) however it will be attempted again and the fear remains.

I love a slightly scruffy well evolved kitchen. I loathe anti-septic units, why do people want a kitchen like a hospital medicine cupboard? I always rather fancied living in an old fashioned railway carriage.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Tent London 2013

I'm really looking forward to showing my chandeliers at Tent during London design week. I've never done a trade fair before but I thought Tent London really exciting last year so I applied and happily got accepted. If I'd known my mum would have a stroke and my local council would launch aggressive eviction action against our 30 year old housing co-op this year I probably wouldn't have applied! But the show must go on as they say. I like to work flexibly making things up as I go along and changing them but with rigging the stand there wont be time so I've made a mock up of it in my studio to test everything out and save time on the day.

Tent doesn't have the corporate feel of 100% design, it's worth going to if you love great objects as there is a good cross section there so you're bound to find something that interests you. As you may have gathered from previous posts I'm not always enamoured with new design as I find so much of it gratuitous (I wish I felt more generous but some things don't need redesigning) but I spent most of the day there last year and really got into it. My 5 sq metres will be home from 19th-22nd September - come and say hello. Our co-op goes to court (again) before then, so fingers crossed our creative community survives Brixton's gentrification a while longer.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Small World

There is always some minute detail I hadn't been aware of in the making. I love these tiny events. Glass and light always give you something more than you bargained for.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

London and Luxury

I had always wanted to see inside the old Midland Hotel, the grand railway building in St Pancras. It opened as the Renaissance Hotel after years of restoration.

So it was a bit of luck that my old pal JF from Paris, a travel writer, journalist and photographer invited me to share some London luxuries. This place is really beautifully done, the scale is overwhelming.

We made a tour of the place, had a drink in the guest chambers club then headed off to The Shard for dinner. I don't make a habit of this kind of thing - I really should have dressed better for the occasion, but you know how it is when you're cycling.

So I got my champagne towards sunset on the 31st floor at aquashard restaurant. This place is seriously swanky.

We watched the sun go down and the city lights come up over 3 great courses of beautiful food.

This city is impressive, look at St Pauls's from here. As the night fell I understood why this venue is so desirable, the views are breathtaking and the pleasure is enhanced with good food and drink. Must do this more often!

Thursday, 11 July 2013


This one is almost finished - it was in progress here and going a bit Jules Verne..... you can see how it turns out if you come to Tent during Design week in September. Hall T1 Stand DO9. I thought this was possibly a change from slick product shots. I tend to like things a bit rough around the edges, think branding is overrated and get disappointed when people re-do their blogs so they look like a magazine. I'm not sure why this is; perhaps it's like preferring drawing to a finished painting - you can feel all the workings, the journey and struggle.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


He turned 7 years old on the summer solstice. He really is the bizness. He does these apparently lazy seductions that are very effective. He knows all the important things before you do. He takes the hard edges off the day better than a glass of wine can. I love him so much my heart could explode.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Graphics for Screw Boxes

I picked up this box from a pile of rubbish spotted while walking through Soho this morning. I LOVE the designs you get on screw boxes. I realised I had a very small collection - you'll have spotted one on my blog header.

This one - but I also had this one below,

Aren't they lovely? I can't wait to find the next one for this collection now, I think it should be green. I'm not much of a graphic designer myself, I'm messier but I'd love to have a go at designing some of these boxes.
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