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Category Archives: Home Decor and Table

Discover this Holiday Gift Guide for Affordable Designer Shopping

Just in case you missed yesterday’s blog post the designer team at Atelier is hoping to keep your December stress levels down, with our holiday gift guides.

This seasonal gift guide is filled with ideas for unique, small-batch presents made by talented Canadian designers.

Designer Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Our design team handcrafts these women’s fashion accessories and clothing in their workshops, and only in limited quantities. You can find silky scarves, soft cashmere wraps and shiny rings and things – just what a girl needs for her closet.

Nancy Newman collects vintage fabrics from around the globe. She describes her workspace as slightly messy, but that is part of the creative process behind her handbags.

bucket bag vintage mali mud fabric and black leather @NancyNewmanTextiles

Designers Anastassia Sel, Melanie Neves and Katja at Skimbaco have a range of fabulous rings and necklaces made with semi-precious stones for a magical Christmas.

diffuser-jewelry-turquoise-set #Jewellery @Skimbaco

Morija Reeb admits that from time to time her weaving projects start to take over the basement, but she loves process behind creating her silk scarves. Read more about her story and see her handwoven silk collection here.

Handmade silk scarf @MorijaDesigns

Kaarina named her company KOTI Designs, the Finnish word for home. Her stunning geometrical  evening bags are made with raw silk. These bags are a must have accessory for ladies, and a perfect compliment to that cocktail dress.

silk-evening-bag-half-moon-shape-in-black-and-scarlet-and-gold @KOTIDesigns

On the West Coast, Artigiani Milanesi works with fine cashmere to create winter woollies. These wraps and ponchos will keep her warm all winter.

maxi-scarf-cashmere-artigani-milanesi

Did you miss the stocking stuffer gift guide? Here is the link.

DIY Project – How Do You Make a Lavender Wand from Provence

This DIY project requires 100 stems of freshly-cut Provencal lavender. Elsa Lenthal follows a process, an old tradition, that her grandmother taught her. Lavender wands, or in fuseaux in French used to serve a very practical purpose to keep mites and moths away from clothes. Today, although the wands can keep the bugs away, they also make for beautiful keepsakes or dried arrangements.

How does she do it?

The lavender stems are then counted and cleaned of any tiny shoots, by hand. The fragrant bundle is then tied just below the flowers with a piece of ribbon. Elsa then individually folds each stem over the lavender buds “capturing” the flowers inside. The final step is to weave a bright ribbon through the stems covering the entire packet. The result is a lavender fuseaux, essentially shaped like a baby’s rattle. It takes Elsa, after years of practice, one hour to make each lavender wand.

Elsa makes hundreds of these wands every summer in Provence; she works while talking to customers in 4-5 markets per week.

The lavender wands will last forever.

  • 100 stems
  • 100 % French lavender
  • 100 % handmade
  • 100% traditional

Why Lavender? Here are 10  reasons.

A perfect hostess gift!
A present for your mum
for a girlfriend

Available in limited quantities – buy now!

Laurene Bosc captures Elsa’s step-by-step process to make lavender wands in her beautiful video below.

Photo credit: Lua Williams Photography, Canmore, Alberta

Find Out What Makes Lavender Essential Oil So Popular

When it comes to lavender you fall into one of two camps (pro or con), but that is likely because of your exposure to over-processed, or worse, chemically created scents that try to mimic nature.

Lavender essential oil is expensive, although not quite as much as a return flight to France (from North America). Having participated in the harvest and watched the distillation process, I fully appreciate how much product (lavender) needs to be grown to produce that little vial of essential oil.

Lavender fields in Provence

Here, is a summary of the distillation process for traditional lavender growers:

  1. The flowers are cut, bundled and left to dry in the field for 1-2 days.
  2. Tractors loaded with dried bundles haul their purple loads to the distillery.
  3. This is where the bales of flowers are stuffed into enormous vats. It is incredibly hard work, but you smell terrific at the end of the day.
  4. Once the vat lids are closed, steam is pumped through the tubes (think large pressure cookers) until the flowers are hot enough to release their essence.
  5. This liquid has two components; a clear heavily scented essence and a fractional amount of essential oil. Both parts are collected and sold for commercial use.

Lavender distillation essential oil

What is the lavender essential oil used for?

lavender-wands-from-provence-by-lua-williams

Our friend Girl Gone Gallic wrote about 33 Uses for Lavender Essential Oil.  Yes lavender scent is used in everything from ice cream to floor cleaner, from lip balm to massage oils.

  • Household UsesShop here for 100% lavender “wands” for your linen closets.
  • Beauty Uses – perfumes, scrubs, balms
  • Relaxation Uses – massage, baths
  • Food Uses – syrups, cocktails, cookies, ice cream
  • Medicinal Uses –  cuts, bug bites, eczema

GGG and I are wondering could there be 100 uses for lavender essential oil? Please read her post here and let us know what to add to the list.

Dream of Drifting Away to Provence with the Scent of Lavender

Lavender is big business in Provence.

There is a significant agricultural industry built around the purple plants, which includes farmers, distillery owners and manufacturers (cosmetics, food). The is also an enormous impact on the tourism industry with countless visitors clamoring to get to see the rows of lavender plants at the peak of the blooming cycle.  There are tour groups and private guides who count on the lavender playing a part in their summer business.

Lavender Fields in Provence #Lavender #Provence

So, where do you see the fields? When is the best time for lavender viewing? Is there a driving route that you would recommend?

Franco-American blogger, Girl Gone Gallic  answers all of those questions in her post:

Tantalize your senses… Visit the Lavender Fields of Provence

Lavender has always grown wild in Provence…

Every year thousands flock to the hills and valleys of Provence to visit the famed lavender fields.  There are several different lavender routes (six official itineraries to be exact) that can be followed depending on the time of year and your interests…

Keep reading Girl Gone Gallic’s post here for details on lavender itineraries, drying tips and much more.

Can’t travel to Provence? We have the answer SHOP NOW! for lavender “wands” these make beautiful gifts, dried bouquets and they last forever.

lavender fuseaux

Settling a Purple Question What is the Difference Between Lavender and Lavandin

To the untrained eye, and certainly the uneducated nose it would be a challenge to know the difference between lavender and lavandin. What is lavandin?  Don’t worry you are not alone! We turned to our friend based in the “land of lavender” (Provence) and asked  Girl Gone Gallic  for her expertise in settling our slightly purple haze (not the Jimi Hendrix kind).

What is the difference?

There are actually 39 different varieties of Lavender.  Lavender has always grown wild in Provence, and maybe you’ve been lucky to discover the wondrous sensory experience that are the lavender fields in bloom. Cultivation has been around even in ancient times, and was one of the holy herbs used in biblical times to prepare holy essence. During the Roman period, the price for one pound of lavender equaled a full month’s farmers wages.  But can you tell the difference between Lavender vs Lavandin ?

Keep reading here… for the rest of Girl Gone Gallic’s post here to find out what the difference are and why real lavender products are worth the price.

Shop here! For 100% pure French lavender “wands” – shaped like a baby’s rattle – these are beautiful keepsakes, gifts and they will keep your clothes smelling of sweet Provence.

Lavender Fuseaux #Lavender #Provence #Handmade @atelier_boutiq

 

Why You Should Consider Buying European Linen for your Home

Recently, we caught up with Interior Designer Rebecca Bizzarri to ask her about her design philosophy and to understand the inspiration behind Anouk. The designer brand that she launched with her partner Victoria Guy.

Anouk has a line of whimsical fabric designs for home décor. Digitally printed onto the finest European linen these designs are intended for light upholstery. The Anouk fabric is also available in tea towels and aprons, perfect for gifts (or for yourself) and available on Atelier.

European Linen Anouk Designs Aprons

 

Creating linen is labour intensive. It is spun from the coarse fibres of flax plants and coveted for its durability and absorption qualities. There should be no surprise why linen is well-suited to tropical climates. You can read more about linen here.

Why European Linen?

There is a tradition of linen manufacturing in Europe that has existed for centuries, probably because the climate is suitable for growing flax. Poland and Lithuania have historically had linen industries with high-quality production. In fact, when I was doing research to source linen for Anouk, I discovered that Lithuania has some of the oldest, premium linen fabric production in the world. We decided to use this linen for our products.

European Linen Anouk Tea towels

 

Linen is Durable

We specifically chose mid-weight linen (230g) as it is meant for light upholstery, ideal for drapery and cushions. This gauge is perfectly suited for residential use, and our designs bring a touch of charm, a bit of frivolity, to the sometimes stark look of contemporary interiors.

European Linen Anouk Designs Pillows

 

Design Inspiration

After studying interior design in Italy, I ended up spending four years in the Swiss Alps, in the high alpine, near St Moritz. This was a wonderful time in my life. I was attracted to the Swiss landscape and natural environment and the beautiful scenery that surrounded me daily, and on my countless alpine hikes. I would have to say that the Engadin Valley generated the right environment for my sketching and plenty of inspirational ideas.

What is the Design Process?

Sketching takes a long time, as I wanted the designs to reflect what I saw in the Alps. Determining the final colour palette is important. Muted  Anouk colours compliment many interior design concepts. Once the design and colours are defined, the rest of the process is pretty straightforward. The high-resolution images are scanned and then the file is sent for digital printing on the linen cloth.

European Linen Anouk Designs Pillows

Dream Job in the Alps

With a degree in Fine Art and Italian, from the United Kingdom, I headed to Milan to study interior design. My first job was with an interior design team working on high-end resort properties. After, six years, I found myself working for a residential design firm that specialized in chalet interiors. Hence the magical Swiss sojourn, in the Engadin Valley.

European Linen Anouk Designs

 

Anouk for Home and Gifts

Frustrated by the fact that Swiss-made yard goods that are both glorious and expensive, I began designing these fabrics. Limited edition designs, Anouk textiles are purposely mid-range in price with a high-grade feel.  Buying artisan, handcrafted products supports local economies. It is my belief that the creator’s positive energy gets passed along the chain to the end user. There is joy in the process chain that does not come from a factory.

What is up next for Anouk?

Look for Hawaiian-inspired designs shortly…

Understanding the Art and Craft of Chandlery and all that Beeswax

Medieval Craft of Chandlery

 

The advent of residential electricity changed our lighting needs dramatically and eliminated a once critical position in the medieval household – the Chandler – the person responsible for the candles. Click here for a detailed description.

Next time you strike a match to light the candles on your dinner table consider what it takes to make a candle.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

According to Jill Smith, the owner of Salt Spring Island’s Bees Wax Works, the key ingredient in chandlery (besides the obvious: wax) is patience and more patience. Smith is a former ballet dancer and music industry professional who describes her career change as an “Opportunity to work independently, make things and grow a business.”

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

Becoming a chandler

Smith apprenticed under the company’s previous owner before she assumed the full responsibilities of Bees Wax Works. Although candle making was a learning curve, Jill Smith says “Making things with my hands has always been a part of my life. My mother taught me fibre arts at a young age and we were encouraged to ‘make things’.”

Did you ever “make” candles as a kid, by melting paraffin and pouring the molten liquid into milk containers? If so, the work that Smith does in her workshop is another world. She describes her studio as

“The best smelling garage on Salt Spring Island, with lovely windows and views of the Salish Sea.”

Process from raw wax to candles

There is a process to transforming a 45-pound block of beeswax into beautiful, clean-burning candles. The work requires smashing (she says this step is therapeutic), heating and reforming. According to Smith, chandlery steps are simple, and the tools rudimentary (a melting pot, simple hand tools, and steady hands). However, the age-old craft requires enormous amounts of patience.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

Smith chooses to work with beeswax exclusively.

“It is pure and simply the best wax for candles.”

However, not all beeswax is created equally. Smith sources her wax from apiarists in Alberta. A family who have been beekeepers for three generations because their wax is the cleanest she has found.

Did you know beeswax changes colours with the seasons, depending which flowers are blooming?

Simple Fern #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

At Atelier, we are thrilled to feature some of the Bees Wax Works signature BWW Collection candles. The new line of candles required Smith’s close collaboration with a ceramist.  Together they developed moulds that reflect the art of candle making. This collection mirrors the “hive to home” philosophy at Bees Wax Works.

Made with high-quality wax and the steady hand of a professional chandler these contemporary candles are perfect for gifts (or for your home) check out the collection here.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of Jill Smith @ Bees Wax Works

5 Reasons Why to Choose Beeswax Candles over Paraffin

Most of us would admit that Ikea furniture shared a place in our homes at one stage. Whether it was for your first apartment or outfitting kids rooms the renowned Swedish brand with the DIY, feel still is an affordable option. Ikea’s tea lights – sold in bags of 100 – are strategically placed on your way to the checkout. An impulse buy? Maybe.

Beeswax versus paraffin

Recently, we finished our last bag of tea lights and have yet to make the trek to the furniture warehouse. The thought of battling the parking lot and crowds to pick up some cheap paraffin candles started us thinking about the ecological impacts of these little light sources.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

What we discovered was the benefits of beeswax candles far outweigh mass produced paraffin versions.

6 Reasons to choose beeswax candles

  1. Beeswax is a natural product. Produced from the wax glands of honey bees (females) it is a natural, renewable product. Although, it is hard work for the bees who must fly long distances collecting nectar for honey. From 6 to 30 pounds (estimates vary) of honey is formed to produce a single pound of wax. Regardless of the number, you begin to understand why the wax is expensive.
  2. The expense equation. Beeswax candles may be costly to purchase, but due to a high melting point, the wax is slow burning and lasts much longer than paraffin versions.
  3. A clean, smokeless burn. Now, that we understand the impacts of second-hand cigarette smoke on our health. What about the toxic fumes from paraffin candles? Paraffin is a refined petroleum by-product. The black crude sludge is bleached, then acrolyn and stearic acid are added to provide texture and hardening properties. You can read more here.
  4. Light quality. Beeswax candles produce a brighter light than paraffin candles.
  5. Reinforcing traditions. For centuries, versatile beeswax has been used as a sealant, a lubricant, for artwork (think batik), in cosmetics and candles. Archeologists have identified traces of beeswax in Roman ruins and Egyptian tombs.

The Key to My Heart #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Check out Salt Spring Island’s Bees Wax Works story on our creator’s page here and the beautiful candles made with 100% Canadian beeswax, to enjoy the benefits of this natural wax.

Image credits: with permission from Bees Wax Works

3 Reasons to Visit Bowen Island and Handcrafted Wooden Serving Boards

Bowen Island was a discovery for Kathy Clarke when she and her husband moved to the coast from British Columbia’s interior (Okanagan). In her words, “I could not believe that this paradise was in such proximity that my husband could commute into the city, and I could work from home. We moved here on a whim about five years ago and now cannot imagine living anywhere else.” The best part was that Bowen Island also fulfilled her lifelong dream of living on an island.

Kathy Clarke Schooner Lane Designs Bowen Island

Kathy says she continues to be amazed by Bowen’s artisans – the talented craftspeople – who have also chosen this west coast island for their home.

Reasons to Visit Bowen Island

“There are so many reasons to visit Bowen and to pick a top three is nearly impossible! There’s a stepping back in time feel to it. The Island has a great history, the pace is slower, the people are friendly, and the sense of community is apparent. There is something for everyone; great hiking and beaches, unique shops, wonderful restaurants, an incredible arts community, an award winning golf course, community events. The list goes on.”

Heart Handle Schooner Lane Designs Wooden Serving Boards

Bowen Island Artistic Inspiration

Harnessing her creative talent and inspired by her surroundings, Kathy launched Schooner Lane Designs.

“The first boards I made were for Christmas presents. I loved making them and was pleased with how they turned out, so I decided to make a few more and take them to our local Christmas craft fair. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Schooner Lane Designs wooden serving and cutting boards are made with Canadian food-compatible hardwoods — walnut, maple and cherry. Kathy chooses rough off-cuts of timber that have lots of interesting knots, grain and rough edges. All of the boards are made from a single plank of wood (no gluing or laminating), and hardly any wasted material.

Schooner Lane Designs Wooden Serving Boards

In her outdoor studio (see below), Kathy cuts each piece freehand without a template. Once she finds a shape that she is happy with the wood is sanded to a smooth finish before preserving with beeswax and mineral oil paste. “That’s my favourite part you never know just what the wood is going to show you until it’s oiled and all its beauty shines through.”

Workshop Schooner Lane Designs Wooden Boards

Schooner Lane Designs “Board out of my Mind” ~ Cheese, Chopping & Serving Boards. Are available in several shapes and sizes: small, medium, large and baguette.

Perfect for gifts, for your home these one-of-a-kind boards are sure to be keepsakes.

Image credits: photos provided by and published with the permission of Kathy Clarke

Looking for the Perfect Hostess Gifts? Buy Lavender Wands

Elsa Lenthal  spends her summers in Provence making  lavender wands  (fuseaux). Her grandmother taught her how to take 100 stems of just-picked lavender and thread the ribbon through each stem. Elsa spends passes hot summer days creating these wands to with a goal of keeping an artisan tradition alive.

Each fuseau is shaped like a wand or a baby’s rattle. The lavender flowers are “trapped” in the centre and the stems adorned with a weave of bright coloured ribbons. These beautifully scented objects are 100% natural, as only freshly harvested flowers are used. There are no artificial additives, and each fuseau will last a lifetime.

  • 100 stems
  • 100 % French lavender
  • 100 % handmade

These lavender wands are perfect hostess gifts or beautiful as a dried bouquet.

 

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