Cuban Chairs

chair
Lounging and slowly rocking on the back legs

All around Cuba people sit outside their houses or businesses, taking advantage of any wafts of cool air. People sit on steps, boxes, curb-stones, wooden stools and if they’re lucky, a favourite chair. Often these chairs look like home-made affairs, ingeniously bent lengths of rebar or other steel rod, forming a basic structure sometimes adorned with flourishes. They are mostly very old, worn, re-painted and above all, well-used.

folding chair
Havana – a new folding aluminium chair in the book market.
chair
Havana – a sturdy imported design, a building site guard’s chair
guard
Havana – building site guard!
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Havana – lovely example of a rebar chair with an extra flight of fancy by the maker.
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Havana – a 1960’s imported padded chair to sit on in your room behind the grille on a hot night watching the world go by.
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Cienfuegos – a modern chair, plastic-coated to protect it from the salt water
bench
Cienfuegos – green decking – so paint your cast iron benches orange!
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Cienfuegos – the basic aluminium tube chair have been strung with green plastic tubing, now over-stretched by so much use, today the occupant has chosen a green blouse to complement her chair. A glimpse of a shapely white chair just beyond with a good thick orange-coloured cushion.
chair
Trinidad – A scruffy old chair  with many coats of paint and a new cushion, love the blue.
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Trinidad – a comfortable padded, folding chair, with arms too!
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Sancti Spiritus – the only rocking chair I saw of this type, it is a fine example, strong and with good details, arms too.
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Santi Spiritus – a delightful chair making a good shadow tracing on the ground but no seat!
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The owner of this chair, one of four, is standing just to the right, she invited us into her home to see her religious shrines but I loved the fabulously curvy chairs.
chair
Havana – This broken chair is also in her kitchen right by the others, its an interesting design but the stringing is to loose now, I suspect it was her husband’s and he’s no longer there to sit in it.
chair
Havana – A very similar chair but with steel rods instead of plastic tubing, this one belongs to a Tarot card reader who invited us into her home,t has an interesting little flourish along the top.
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Havana – another chair belong to the tarot reader, this is a great rocker and the green tubing is a good contrast to the aluminium tube frame, bolted together.
bench
Havana – a bench made from iron strapping, – again the first i’d seen. It was in a zoned off district belong to a revolutionary group.
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Havana – another chair in the Revolutionaries street, tucked away in a bath set into a niche in a wall
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Vinales – a friend photographed this one for me as I didn’t make it to Vinales, it belonged to the tobacco grower whom they visited. It reminds me of summer, tennis and lemonade! And there’s a face in the back, eyes high up and a long round-ended nose that seems o be upside down!

A Better Place

The garden was over-grown and filled with an invasive wild plant which was choking all the shrubs and the lawn. The neighbouring garden had at one time included 25 mature fir trees which blocked light from this garden causing shrubs such as the Pittosporum Garnettii, Ceanothis and Cercis Canadensis, searching for light, to grow into trees. After an extensive clearing out of weeds, overgrown shrubs and general detritus, the garden was left with just the trees and shrubs that would come into their own with careful pruning and ground cover planting beneath.

dismal

A pyramidal greenhouse, somewhat abandoned, sat sadly in the shaded side of the garden, the path to the garage had all but disappeared in the undergrowth.

pond

The circular pond had originally been fed by a little rill running down the side of the garden from a stone bowl near the house, the circulating water being pumped around by a small fountain in the pond. Over the years the pond had become infested with weed and the water-lilies had died, the rill’s foundations failed.

cleared

The ugly cracked concrete crazy paving was dug up and replaced with a larger area paved with blue/green stone leaving plenty of space for the table and chairs, a wide path was laid with a 127º angle echoing the footprint of the greenhouse and with shallow steps leading down the slight incline to the garage.Steps

The planting scheme was designed by John McCormack to create a low maintenance, informal garden that has plenty of interest in every season, the layout is quite masculine and perfectly set off by the wide variety of leaf shapes of the plants. The deciduous plants have magnificent autumn colours and numerous evergreen grasses of 3 or 4 types and heights are laid out between the trees, their upright stems catching the light. Other signature shrubs have been planted, Hydrangea Quercifolia (an old favourite), the climber Trachelospermum jasminoides to splay out over the brick wall, Viburnam Davidii, Pittosporum Tom Thumb and lots more Hellebores to join the existing collection. The Liriope Muscari have wonderful arching dark green leaves and purple flower spikes which turn to stems of black berries in late Autumn.

water trough

The pond has been filled in and replaced, in a different position, with a large water trough, a sort of infinity pool with the water level right up to the lip, reflecting the sky.
Before the tank was properly installed it was left for a while upside down with a sculpture displayed on top.The trough will gradually turn rust red on the outside, which will look good through the grey strap leaves of the Iris Germanica and the delicate white blooms of the Gaura Lindhei and the dark purple Cosmos planted in front. A few bright orange Crocosmia and spring bulbs as well as summer meadow flowers will fill in the gaps with splashes of colour.

sculptureIMG_5519-1

dusk

A place that for a long time has been forlorn is now a sunny spacious delightful garden to spend time in or to look upon at night when lit up by strategically placed lamps.

Thanks to John, Mario and Michal of JMC Landscapes and John Richardson who made the trough.

Jewellery

For the last year or so I have been directing my creativity towards painting, sculpture and creative writing.  Designing and making jewellery  has been my main occupation for some 10 years now but the time has come to follow other paths. The jewellery shown here will be the last pieces I make barring commissions, so if you like bold, geometric, sculptural jewellery, take a look at my collections and visit my online shop.

All Photographs by Matthew Booth unless stated otherwise.

Geodesic Dome Pendant
Geodesic Dome Pendant – photo by Sally Wakelin

The geodesic Dome pendant can be worn rolled into a partial sphere or spread out flat like a cobweb as seen below.

The matching earrings which can be re-arranged in the same way.

Geodesic Dome Pendant
Geodesic Dome Pendant and Earrings
compression_bangles_ring
Compression Bangles and Gold-plated Ring
Angled_Compression_Bangle
Angled Compression Bangle
Angled Compression Bangle and Rings
Angled Compression Bangle and Rings
Trace Pendant , Earrings and Spinning Ring
Trace Pendant, Earrings and Spinning Ring

Kate Ruth Romey – Design for a Wedding Stationery Website – A Joint Venture

My daughter, who is a freelance designer of bespoke wedding stationery, created a design for her new website and I then transformed it from paper to web. I think it looks great. Kate Ruth Romey
Kate Ruth Romey - DesignKate Ruth Romey - Design

kateruthromey - design

Creating Shadows

Here are the Quails eggs which I am going to cast in order to set up some new shadow structures. I shall be making a mould of them in Chromium Alginate bought from Maragon, who sell everything one could need for casting in plaster and are the most helpful people. I am surprised at how much the eggs vary in size, shape and in texture, some are quite rough and gritty feeling and a few are very smooth. I have coated them all with petroleum wax to help with the moulding and I shall choose the nicest shaped ones with the smoothest surface. I do like the mottled colouring, they look good on the blue vintage French plate but Ido like to see them in black and white too. Quails Eggs on a blue plate

Qualis eggs to be cast

The Beauty of Glass

I found these 1950’s/160’s Cocktail glasses in an antique shop in Essex and the Salt at an exhibition of crafts in Clerkenwell, London. The glasses were ridiculously cheap and the salt was not expensive.  The glasses are perfectly weighted, the stems are gilded glass, not a metal cone as I had thought when I first glanced them in a showcase. I have not identified the make yet, let me know if anyone recognises them. The salt it is mouth-blown glass intricately hand-engraved with plant forms by Katherine Coleman.
50/60's Cocktail Glasses Katherine Coleman, Salt

Katherine Coleman signature
Katherine Coleman signature

Creating Cast Shadows – Eggs

I want to explore creating shadows with eggs so I’m going to try making a mould so that all my eggs are the same shape. Some of these real eggs have subtle textures which I love, I don’t know if I will be able to combine areas of texture from several eggs into my mould, I hope so. I think the moulds will be half-eggs, which will make it easier to create the shadow effects I want.
Eggs in a row7 eggseggs