Fabulous new contemporary glass book

My friend, the photographer Simon Bruntnell, has just sent me a copy of his new book on contemporary glass. And it’s a triumph! As one would expect from this fantastically skilled and talented glass photographer, the images are nothing less than vibrant and sumptuous. Just like today’s market in contemporary studio glass, in fact. Simon works with nearly all the glassmakers who exhibit at the excellent International Festival of Glass and Biennale, so has privileged and unprecedented access to both these masters of glass and their masterworks. As such, as well as their work, you’ll find fascinating pictures of the artists themselves. The book, suitably titled ‘Objects of Desire’, is a must for anyone who loves contemporary glass, and costs £15 including postage and packing. You can find out more about it, and order your copy, by clicking here.

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25th London Original Print Fair

Although I’m usually associated with 20thC design and collectables, I’m an enormous fan of prints, from engravings to etchings and aquatints. I’ve collected them since I was at school, when I used to spend money earnt from my paper round at local antiques fairs and shops. Naturally, at that level, I couldn’t afford anything valuable – far from it. But the ‘wall of prints’ I’ve built up looks great and gives me enormous pleasure, so that’s value enough for me. This rather miserable looking old lady is one I own. Based on Rembrandt’s etchings of his mother, it was etched by Francesco Novelli in 1792, and was printed later. Alas it has been cut down beyond the plate mark – but that’s one of the reasons why I could afford it! So I was delighted to be able to make it back to London in time for a visit to the 25th London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy. Offering prints from the 16th to 21st centuries, this really is the best one-stop place to shop. Dealers …

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Antiques Roadshow in Saltaire

The World Heritage Site of Saltaire, founded in 1853 by Titus Salt largely for the benefit of his workers but also his business, provided the perfect backdrop to yesterday’s Antiques Roadshow. Despite the predicted rain, the good folk of Saltaire turned in force, and the queue was already stretching around the block when I arrived with Eric Knowles and John Benjamin at 8.15 in the morning. And it stayed pretty much like that as nearly 3,000 people queued throughout the day to show a specialist their treasures. Spread across the beautiful Victoria Hall, we were all certainly put to work, but that work was made all the more pleasant by the friendliness of those who visited – and the wonderful items we were lucky to see. As to what I saw, well you’ll have to wait until the show airs to find out! Within minutes of arriving, I was whisked off to make-up to film my first slot with a lovely young lady, shortly after this picture was taken. All I can say is …

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Cracking Shopping Sources No.4

Kathryn and I hope you all tuned in and enjoyed last night’s episode of Cracking Antiques, where we helped Jodie & Adrian from Stockport find Victorian and Edwardian antiques for their living room with their limited budget. So, if previous weeks are anything to go by, you’ll all be wondering where we went! Well, here goes. The sofa was sourced at an amazing warehouse in Bolton, called Salvatore’s Antiques. I wholeheartedly recommend this place as the variety is truly mind-blowing, but please bear in mind that it is primarily a trade focused company. As such, you will need to call before coming and also show some serious interest! If variety is what you’re looking for, then you can walk straight into the wonderful Bygone Times, near Ecclestone in Lancashire. I was quite upset about having to film here, as this has always been one of my personal ‘secret’ places to shop. Every time I’ve been, I’ve come away with a car boot load of stuff. You’ll find everything from furniture to ceramics, glass, vintage technology retro …

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The Cracking Antiques look spreads…

Leafing through this morning’s Metro newspaper, I spotted this advertisement for HSBC mortgages. I smiled as the quirky and appealing arrangement of antique pieces, including frames, mirrors, furniture, and glass decanters, is exactly the sort of look that we love on Cracking Antiques. It’s interesting to see how the look is really moving into the mainstream, as people move away from the yawn-fully repetitive ‘minimalist’ look promoted by high street chains and out-of-town retail giants. Quality and individuality over chipboard! If you want to learn more about this revolution, which is clearly happening, why not invest in a copy of the accompanying book, which you can buy direct by clicking here – saving £7.60. And, of course, I don’t need to remind you to tune in to BBC Two tonight at 8.30pm to see the next episode…!

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With the sun shining and temperatures nearing 20 degrees, this weekend was perfect for a country jaunt and some antiquing. Although the streets of Brighton have been well-trodden lately, I hadn’t been to neighbouring Sussex town Lewes for some years. Which is strangely remiss of me, as I remembered it as being very good indeed. And this memory was accurate – the town is positively heaving with enormous antiques centres offering an entire day’s worth of shopping and browsing. First stop was the Lewes Flea Market, run by the same people behind the excellent Brighton Flea Market in Kemptown. This old Methodist chapel on Market Street offers plenty of variety across two floors and more. It’s easy to spend a few hours here, browsing everything from costume jewellery to glass, ceramics, and small furniture. An adjoining room offers a more ‘interior design meets architectural salvage’ look. I found a rather mavellous vibrant blue glass vase about which I know nothing (but hopefully soon will!) for £20. Once you’re done there, wander down Station Road …

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Cracking Shopping Sources No.3

Kathryn and I hope that you enjoyed last night’s episode of Cracking Antiques, with Ellen & Dean. Kathryn did a super job on their room, and it’s one I’m rather green with envy about as I’d love to live in it myself! Once again, the usual flurry of emails has prompted me to post details about where we went shopping. So here goes… The chairs, (free!) table, and a number of other smaller pieces were found at the enormous and excellent Lincolnshire Home & Antiques Show. Organised by Arthur Swallow Fairs, this is up there along with Newark as one of the biggest and best antiques and collectors’ fairs in the country to source pretty much whatever it is that you’re looking for. But away from these mega-fairs, never ignore your local fairs, auction houses or dealers’ shops – check your local newspaper and Yellow Pages for details. The Antiques Trade Gazette also publishes listings online and in its newspaper, and it’s free to sign up to their website. You may just be surprised …

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Tremaen Pottery

I can’t resist an antiques fair. I get all itchy and jumpy if I drive past one, and usually end up turning my car around. Exactly that happened yesterday as I went down to visit my parents for lunch. As I passed through Ripley in Surrey, I noticed that a small Sunday fair I used to visit over 10 years ago was delightfully still taking place. In I popped and, 10 minutes later, out I came with a smile and these two lovely 1970s Tremaen pottery lampbases – for £10 each! The Tremaen pottery was founded by Peter Ellery in 1965 in Marazion near Newlyn in Cornwall. Trained in fine art and ceramics at Bath College, he was inspired by the Cornish landscape around him, with many of his forms and glazes being taken from smooth, rounded pebbles found on local beaches. He was also inspired by natural motifs, such as cow parsley and grasses and  – like many West Country potters of the period – by ancient runic symbols. Many of his forms are also reminiscent of sculptures by …

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Cracking Shopping Sources No.2

Both Kathryn and I have had loads of emails and tweets asking us where we found the antiques and vintage pieces we used in the series. None more so than for Karen Jones and her ‘shabby chic’ dining room this week! So, to save some time, here goes. The chairs, ceramics and wonderful French ceiling lights were found at Barn Antiques Centre, in Long Marston, near Stratford Upon Avon. One of the many rooms is shown above. With over 13,000 square feet packed to the gunnels, there’s sure to be something for everyone. This is a proper antiques centre, just like they all used to be before reproductions began to sweep in and take over. Plus, when you’re done, pop into the lovely bistro next door for some delicious food. And please do say a cheery ‘Hello!’ from Kathryn and I to the lovely, helpful ladies behind the desk there, who kept us smiling and primed with tea when we filmed. The reclamation yard we visited is in the same part of the world, and is as brilliant …

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18th Century English Porcelain

I’m not an expert in every area of antiques and collectables, and you should immediately mistrust anyone who says they are. I’ve always admired my colleagues, both on and off the Antiques Roadshow, who know about 18th & 19th century English porcelain. I’m always impressed how they can hold a piece to the light and tell from the ‘orange’ tone of the body that it was made by Caughley, for example.  Then there are the patterns and the shapes – some of the latter being inspired by period silver wares. I’ve also really rather liked it all but have, dare I say, always been a little scared to get involved before. So, to remedy all of this, I’ve begun to build a small reference collection of porcelain by different makers, so that I can learn by directly comparing them against each other. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so I’ll tread carefully and am not aiming to become an ‘expert’ in any sense of the word. Because my budget is tight and I’m not buying for investment, I’ve …

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Antiques For Everyone

I’ve just got back from attending the four day Antiques For Everyone fair at the NEC in Birmingham with Judith Miller. And what a wonderful – and incredibly busy – four days we had! Hundreds of people stopped by to say hello and chat to Judith and I – and queue for signed books. We sold out of our stock of the brand new Miller’s Antiques Price Guide & Handbook 2010-2011 by the start of the second day, and had to order another emergency delivery for Saturday! Not only that, but the equally brand new Miller’s Collectables Price Guide & Handbook 2010-2011 sold out early on Saturday, and was soon followed by Miller’s 20th Century Design, Miller’s Antiques & Collectables Fact Book, and my new TV tie-in book ‘Cracking Antiques‘! If you don’t know about them and want to find out what all the fuss was about, click on any of the links to learn more – and buy your copy direct from Octopus Books at …

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Part Vulcan

Amidst the many reviews of ‘Cracking Antiques’ last week, two made me giggle. The first was courtesy of The Guardian TV Guide, whose reviewer thought I was ‘possibly part Vulcan‘, and the second was in the Leicester Mercury, whose reviewer thought I was ‘like a grown up Thunderbird in a suit‘. I have to say neither are looks I aimed for, and my ears aren’t at all pointy! A friend of mine, at British Doll Showcase, who was writing about action figures at the time, also saw the first comment and sent me this picture. Thanks Sue!

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