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my website Madeleine Boulesteix Chandeliers

Monday, 5 October 2015

'Money for Nothing' on BBC

A chance glance at Rupert Blanchard's blog alerted me to this series of programmes; Money for Nothing on BBC iplayer. Hurry it's your last chance for the first one of fifteen episodes as that's available until 7th Oct 16.30pm, then each consecutive episode expires a day after the previous.

Sarah Moore intercepts things about to be dumped, gets artisans to revamp them and sells them on. Happily it's all done seriously well, not dabbling dilettante upcycling that there is so much of now, no this series uses some of our favourite talented artisans like Rupert Blanchard and The Rag and Bone Man. I don't like everything that gets done but some are great and having seen 3 episodes so far you really get the point about our wastefulness and neglect of potential use.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Art Auction

photos from Cancer Research UK website

I was lucky enough to be invited to an art auction at Christies last night. I've never been to a proper auction, only a more relaxed one at Pilchuck Glass School during a summer session, so I was really curious to see what these DNA form sculptures would go for. I hadn't seen this art trail in London but these sculptures were out and about before sale. All funds go Cancer Research UK at The Crick Institute due to open fully next year. So a great cause as this will be the largest facility in the world pursuing effective treatment for some awful diseases.
Two of these sculptures were by Ai Weiwei so I thought they would go for massive prices since he is a huge figure in the art world. They went for £32,000 and £30,000, I wondered if these were bargains. Of course if they were bought as investments and get resold I wonder if that profit can go to The Crick Institute?
Ai Weiwei has a major exhibition at the RA currently, I admire him as a political heavyweight but looking at his conceptual sculpture I couldn't respond to it without reading all the blurb.

It's definitely exciting to go to a big auction and watch the bidding, at Christies we were told to dress smart, the champagne was flowing and the canapes were top notch as you'd expect.

On the left: sculpture by Kindra Crick recreating the drawings of the workings out of the structure of DNA by her grandfather.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Making Futures

I just took part in the Making Futures conference in Plymouth organised by Plymouth College of Art and Design. The full title was Making Futures: craft and the (re)turn of the maker in a post-global sustainably aware society. What a treat it was to be around so many clever people who are thinking of solutions to our problems all the time and experimenting with materials and ideas to change our thinking about waste and beyond. The speakers were excellent and thankfully most presenters didn't speak in such strong academic language as their writing so I could understand alot more than I thought. It's not every day you meet a Professor of Materials and Society; listen to Mark Miodownik being interviewed here on his work and mixing up scientists with artists. With 80 delegate presenters there was alot going on here, if you're interested in participating they are every 2 years - this was the 4th - so you can keep your eye on Making Futures 2017 and the birth of it's sister conference next year Making Learning about education. The texts from the conference will be available on the Making Futures site early next year - do take a look at the previous one here.
Big Thanks to Devon Guild of Craftsmen for my bursary to take part!

Friday, 28 August 2015

LED Filament Bulbs

I was thrilled to find these LED filament bulbs at B&Q. Having always had one eye on the development of low energy bulbs waiting for those big clumsy white plastic ones to get replaced by more refined designs it's great news that LED bulbs have been getting better and better and are more easily available. This filament style are great for my chandeliers, are a warm tone with an A++ energy efficiency rating. They were about £5 or £7, can't remember exactly, but these are 4 watts and 2.2 watts so a great saving in electricity usage. I hope they'll make the candle style with a twist in the glass one day, it scatters light nicely.

Jelly Bowl Lantern with rusts, amber and pinks, 4 watt bulb (similar to 40 watts incandescant) 470 lumens.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Summer Snacks

Just because they look great - Runaway Cornets in Margate. Blue sauce?

I love food that's visually amazing but looks unappetising - though as a kid I loved toffee apples when the fair came to town. These looked like they'd melted and reset several times though and I wondered who would buy one.......so near to Dreamland.

Retro sauces.  Spotting all these foodstuffs was like visiting a sculpture park (to my eyes) I did have a swim in the sea in Margate amongst other explorations but nothing seemed as photogenic as these collections.

Monday, 27 July 2015

How much Wiggley Food do you eat?

Just a thought....

The kitchen utensils in the picture with the wooden painted handles - what are they for? cutting a wiggley edge on something - but what? It was whilst wondering this that I realised just how much of our food is created wiggley. Now some of it is obviously to create more crispy crust. I used a pastry cutter in the kitchen for the 1st time in my life recently!!! I made scones for a Devonshire cream teas. When I was growing up we just used a glass tumbler upside down; why have another object when an existing one can multi task?
Lots of pasta shapes are wiggley - I know this is designed to hold sauce, so the shapes hold more or less sauce in their ridges and folds, but then some of it must be purely decorative - like zig-zaggy edges on ravioli. I suppose ridges in brioches and cakes help you to cut even sized portions, is that why jelly bowls have ridges - for serving slices? If I was an academic I think I'd take on a PhD on this, what fun the research would be!

Monday, 20 July 2015


Thanks to Reloved magazine for including me in the editorial of their August issue.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Slicker City

I always loved this tin church in Clapham, South London. Googling tin churches I found a great selection of pictures of more places like this here. I love corrugated iron as a material and rusted up in the countryside it is perfectly landscaped. I wish I'd photographed this palce before it was repainted too; it used to be more greeny. So many times I've kicked myself for not getting a photo of something that's struck me in London and then it's gone. This city is changing faster than ever.

And sure enough this place is supposed to be replaced at some point according to this article on the Brixton Society site. Of course the owners may be thrilled to get a new place - this looks hard to heat, but I'm a sucker for character and quirks and London is getting them ironed out at a rate of knots - how boring!!!!
I read a very sobering article on the changes in London here; 'London: the city that ate itself'. Very interesting and amongst other examples it tells how my previous studio provider ACAVA will have lost 200 studios to development. Most other providers are having similar losses. Hands up who's not under threat!?!

Included in that article is the sad tale of the A&C Continental Delicatessen on Atlantic Road in Brixton. Save the Arches is a massive campaign.

This is a lovely, much loved shop run by lovely people. They gave me a hug when I was in there one day feeling miserable that I was going to be evicted (them having no idea they were next) and my mum had had a stroke at the same time. It's a proper friendly, community shop that knows all it's customers. Go there now while you can before Pret a Manger crash in at quadruple the rent and where will we get all those lovely Mediterranean herbs and olives etc, and a slice of water melon on a hot day?

My former home in Brixton: I am proud of everything we achieved there as a housing co-operative. In How to be Bohemian (not sure which episode) Will Self mentions how Bohemia becomes commodified and then becomes hipsterdom and loses all edge....exactly what's happened to Brixton. It's significant that my chandeliers were born and nurtured in a self help co-op in an old building with tons of character and the scope to make our flats really our own environments.
Well I guess that the provinces will benefit from all this rapid change, partially squeezed out myself (split between several places now) I find the undeveloped corners of Plymouth - for example - really refreshing to see. Then in years/decades to come  I'm sure parts of London will be an urban wasteland again and we can all go and live in Billionaires Row (rotting mansions) or those luxury flats that are owned as investments and not lived in; in fact maybe ACAVA could run them as artists studios....

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Recent Treasures

These twin dogs called my name from a stall in Tavistock Market. How feeble is my attempt to not acquire too much more stuff.....but I'd never seen a pair like these, a fun variation on the classic Staffordshire spaniels. They were £15, again I thought maybe I'd give them as a present but actually they're not going anywhere!

I love the very straight legs of the little puppies.

More things from the same market, some from the £1 table, the little scissors I thought I'd use in a chandelier, the little fridge I just couldn't resist, might keep some earrings in it. The old jug has a little crack but beautiful fern engravings on it. And purely for my work so needing no justification 2 fantastic sets of pastry cutters £15 for the 2 large sets. They have mucky pastry on them still - just like the good old days of car booting (20 years back) when I found loads of this stuff and no-one else wanted it and thus the chandeliers could grow. And four of the 12 pressed punch cups I found - it's not always easy to find nice ones and these are a style I don't usually see.

From a Devon charity shop; Woodside animal rescue, for 50p I had to get this because of the accordion!

A boot sale sweep; old hooks and mature hinges all 20p each, hoping to use the hinges in a chandelier. Other odds for my work and then something I  really don't need - a lidded baking dish; I could become a Pyrex fanatic if I let myself because the design is so great. I love the lids on these dishes, they sit underneath well, and right way up or upside down on top or the lid can be a separate plate. It's the decoration on this one that appealed, I love those French style drawings of onions etc - this was £1 - so had to come with me.
I found 5 things in the house that can go to the charity shop so I've almost justified the recent haul.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Orange, Green and Exam Time

Orange and greens, nice colour scheme to work with. So many clients have wanted bright colours this year, that must be a good sign I reckon.
Many youngsters are doing exams around now and are under far more pressure than in my day. Many years ago I got a C for my art O Level (equivalent of GCSE) that was the lowest possible pass. I then left school at 16 and went straight to Art School where I took my A level during a foundation course. For that I got an E, I think, anyway again I got the lowest possible pass. So my conclusion is don't worry about your Art marks - what do they know?! Having scraped through (according to others opinions) decades later I am still enjoying a pioneering creative life with many highlights under my belt, 3 exhibitions in Tokyo, 5 chandeliers in the British Council collection, teaching at Pilchuck Glass school and a residency in a Capital of Culture amongst many other adventures. So, follow your heart and don't let them get to you!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

More Works of Art

I have always admired the (ever changing) bricks a painter friend uses to sit his canvasses on when he's working on them. Having just visited Collect, the Crafts Council show of high end craft I think it was hard to find much that was actually more beautiful than these - craftsmanship aside of course. I notice Collect's sub-title is careful not to use the word 'craft' but rather 'the international art fair for contemporary objects'.

The wear and tear or signs of use of tools of an artist are often full of passion and interest and their aesthetic has evolved unselfconsciously - I love this.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Little Works of Art

I bought these gloves for £2 in Age UK charity shop on Leather Lane recently. Aren't they beautiful. They caught my eye; I've never seen sideways knitted gloves. I cant work out how the fingers were done. I'm guessing they were cast off and stitched up the side of each finger which seems a really long winded way of making the fingers and if that's so then it's very very neatly done. And I love the feature - how cute are those little bands with a bright pink button. Aesthetically this is perfection! I think they should be in a gallery.

Like the teapot in the previous post I originally thought they'd be for a present for someone, but we'll see if I manage to part with them. I sometimes fantasise about one day opening a Folk Art museum with just my collected loved objects. I don't think Folk Art has a high enough profile in this country. There is an exhibition at the Barbican Centre called Magnificent Obsessions; the collections of artists. I thought it was a bit patchy really, I suppose I'm more interested in my own collection but some of them were fantastic, most memorably Martin Parr's collection of postcards and Russian space dog clocks.

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.
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