Friday, February 27, 2009

Market research in London

We took a day off on Thursday to go & visit the sights of London. (Well we could really call it market research I suppose).
I've wanted to visit the ecclesiastical suppliers Watts and Co for ages. It's right behind Westminster Abbey. They have been making Church vestments and furnishings for more than 130 years. I was not disappointed. There were Chasubles and Copes thick with gold embroidery, stoles and surplices, candles in all sizes and behind glass, Bishops rings with whopping huge amethysts and a magnificent Monstrance. Heaven on a stick for me really.
A Mr Cook came out to serve me with a tape measure round his neck, he'd worked there as the Cassock maker for 26 years. When he realised I wasn't just some tourist he warmed up a bit and told me about the rigours of Cassock making as well as helping me source some silk Damask that I've been trying to find in the right shade of blue. A mere £127 per metre! Bargain. I bought a great book on Church embroidery.
After Watts we walked through St James park where the crocuses are sprouting. The squirrels there are so tame that they come right up to you & put their little paws up to ask for nuts.
Past Buck palace (no corgis seen). Don't you just love a golden winged statue.
Then on to my favourite place in London, can you guess where it is from this photo of inside the toilets?Yes it's the V & A museum. More market research in the textile rooms looking at embroideries from the 15th century onward. They're all mounted in small glass frames which slide out with a handle on one side. It's not a very popular spot as the frames are awkward to handle and so we had the huge long room to ourselves for ages. Calling out to one another as we found more & more amazing specimens. The one I liked best was a piece from an altar cloth from the 1920's of swallows flying with garlands of blossom in their beaks between them, trellises beside them were covered with Pussy willow & Catkins and beside these were huge yellow iris and lilies. It was all so tenderly and perfectly done. Tall stems are incredibly hard to do in embroidery as the stitches have to go horizontally to the long vertical stem and your eye picks up any divergence.
After feasting our eyes it was time to make our way out.
It was so hard to walk quickly through the new jewellery section though. It's low ceilinged & painted glossy black with clear glass cases zig zagging through the room, spot lights pick out the jewels and the whole place sparkles. Here's a picture from the V & A website of the staircase which we didn't have time to go up... And here some pictures of the jewels to make your mouth water...
A diamond and saphire tiara designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria
Then it It was time to meet up with Richard's friend Rose, who was in London with her gorgeous daughter Abbie for a flying visit to find distributors for her organic make up business 'Zuii'. Rose is a stunner and a great advertisement for Zuii. She had great stories about her pet black cockatoo that used to have a diamante glued onto it's beak, the same cockatoo that had to have liposuction on it's legs as it had been eating too many sunflower seeds..... the same pet that poor Abbie used to have to arm herself with a rolled up newspaper to walk through the house against from a young age.


Lulu LaBonne said...

I love the V&A, Intrigued by the chap in the vestments shop

JoeyJoJo said...

You would have loved him Lulu. I wonder what you would have called him. Mr Cassock maybe?