Monday, April 1, 2013


Happy (slightly belated, oops) Easter!


A typical scribbled-down week in my diary...
My very scatty mind means I have to write everything down in one of many notebooks & diaries I keep. Alas, my post for Easter gift ideas was one of those important "to-do's' that I didn't scrawl down in one place or the other, damn!
 Hopefully, I'll still keep you entertained and you can have a good nose through some of our lovely items we've got in store at the minute for you to lust after whilst feeling ridden with guilt from Easter-egg excess.

I have spent the Easter weekend sourcing gifts for the next lot of spring & summer birthdays I'm going to buy for and despite my Dad's birthday gift of a lifesize 'Ted' from the recent movie, everything else is looking to be bought from independents, creative's or secondhand... So I popped into landbaby for a browse (per usual) and found some 'definite buys' to go on the birthday present list.

A window full of faces. (Mr Bearded Cushion/s, you will be mine shortly.)
Huzzah! Probably my favourite display in the shop window so far. This beautiful display reminds me of a game of cluedo and I really want any of the cushions with the bearded men; if only to make me feel less of a man that my beard is practically non-existent....
(and they'd look ace in my new flat too, of course!)

Aside from the people-filled window, I am really loving the new range by an old-time favourite Amy Lawrence. Loads of my friends are after one of her knitted necklaces (Birthday Gift Alert!) and the new range of colours are fantastic. Definitely put these on your 'must-have' list for the coming months.....
This one opposite is my favourite colour combo'.

Now, back to the Easter related stuffs. As I said before, we have some amazing new items in store for you to lust after, but for now check out our three Easter favourites that have had some really great interest and are ones to watch for the coming months.

'Nest' by The Aviary

Victoria (one half of the super talented Aviary) kindly sent me a free printed-card of this design a few weeks ago- alongside a stunning acorn necklace for a friend- and this print is equally as stunning as the latest lot we've been exhibiting in the shop recently. Fortunately, it doesn't have "HAPPY EASTER" scrawled across the front in some garish font (my hatred for 59p cards prevails) so it would make a lovely spring birthday or occasions card too! We also have 'Nest' in print version, stacked in our lovely print stand with others by The Aviary and other designers.
Rabbit Earrings by Silk Purse, Sow's Ear
First off, you should go check out Silk Purse, Sow's Ear website now, it's packed full of wonderful jewellery curiosities that you'll be 'adding-to-cart' whilst you undoubtedly grab for that next mouthful of chocolate orange.
These new earrings are perfect for a spring gift- the design is intricate and really reminds me of illustrations of 'Alice in Wonderland'. What I really like about Silk Purse, Sow's Ear's designs is that they originate from vintage, used curiosities; which is really distinct from alot of our other wonderful designers. And they really are VINTAGE, not vintage in the 'it's-just-secondhand-so-we'll-call-it-vintage-to-seem-trendy' way. (Oh, and really reasonably priced for one off, handmade items!)

Bags by Coo & Co

Coo &Co are Landbaby's new designer this year and by golly, they have been doing super well- their newly released book has been getting some amazing press (keep an eye-out our blog post book review for this soon) and their  range of bags are currently donning the shop mantelpiece and are super popular with you beautiful customers. They come in a range of sizes and styles with stunning nature-themed designs: from moths & butterflies to in-flight little birds. All of their bags are excellently made (and look it!) and are produced one at a time in the good'old handmade fashion that we know and love.
Keep your other eye-out for the Coo &Co exhibition we'll be holding later on in the year, it's going to be equally as wonderful as our recent Aviary one and will show some stunning items & prints for sale.

I hope that you're as excited as me for the next seasons at Landbaby (but please be aware, our spring/summer collections may not reflect the 'spring'/'summer' that nature provides us with). And remember, next time you're passing, pop-in and have a gander at all the brilliant items we've got on display. The shop is looking fresh, bright and rearing to-go for the next part of the year!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Folded Page

First off, I'm experimenting with a new font, which for me is like Sophie's Choice as I know-what-I-like-&-like-what-I-know regarding text settings. But with the banal aside, Having recently finished a bookbinding course myself, I thought I'd share with you one of our lovely  papercraft designers, Rosy and her clever creation that is The Folded Page.

Landbaby met Rosy in February last year when we started to stock some of Her Heart-Books, just in time for Valentines Day. Originally, we had them here & there in the shop, as part of pretty, themed displays and they really fitted-in with other items by some of our regular artists & designers. So because of this and also because of the great reception Rosy's work received by our lovely customers, it wasn't long before we began receiving folded books in various colours, shapes, sizes & designs.

Customers (and myself!) are always so shocked to hear that Rosy doesn't use any scissors, scalples or knives in creating her small-wonders. IT'S ALL FOLDED. Which baffles me when I think back to trying to simply fold a paper aeroplane, or one of those four pointed fortune-tellers in which you were usually insulted by the end of your choosing of colours & numbers.


Whilst The Folded Page heart-books have been ideal as 'sweet nothing' gifts or Valentines Day presents, Rosy's folded-text books have equally gone down a storm; they've been a fantastic alternative to any of our albeit wonderful, prints and peices of jewellery as customers have realised the intricate work that has gone into creating such decorative items and how they'll make wonderfully personal gifts.
If however, you're not sold on a local-lass spending hours folding pages of a book into words such as 'Love', 'Hello' etc being a personal gift, then fear not! Rosy's Etsy page shows just how personal you can get with a folded- page book. Rosy makes anything from a folded celtic knot to folded initials of a loved-up couple and it's items such as these which make her work so desirable and unqiue, in that you won't be picking one these up from the Homeware dep' in John Lewis!

And like I've said before, social media goes a long way in showcasing the work of stunning artists such as Rosey; The Folded Page Facebook  has more than 1,000 'likes' and is constantly being updated with personal thoughts from Rosy, new ideas, posts of newly created books & the like. There's such an interaction with 'likers' on her page that really show why there is such love for Rosy's work from us here at Landbaby: it's inventive, intricate and ingenius and fits in so, so well with all of our other items by artists & designers. You should definitley check out a video made by Rosey showing her work from start to finish...


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations

Most definitely the one to watch-out for in the shop for the coming spring & summer months (I use 'spring' and 'summer' with a pinch of salt- judging by the dreary days March has so far brought us!). Deborah Ballinger (formerly known as Raccoon Press) is an amazingly talented freelance- illustrator who creates all manner of things floral, intricate, inventive and simply beautiful.

We originally began to stock Deborah's work because of how well it works alongside that of
The Aviary and their recent exhibition we've had on display in store. But Deborah is a talented artist in her own right, whose unusual work makes her distinctive from a lot of other contemporary illustrators; you only have to pay her website a visit to notice how broad her body of work is, from a fantastic wordpress blog to personal commissions & custom patterns.


Having explored Deborah's web pages, I have become obsessed with her collaboration with a professional shirt maker, Victoria Eames-Fernandez and their brilliant idea of combining two different modes of art to create something extra special for more-than-appreciative individuals. As someone very much into their tailored, well made clothing, I think I may have to be placing an order in for one of these. Here's an example of this collaboration from Deborah's website, by far my favourite!

Whilst we don't have any of Deborah's apparel in Landbaby, we do have (and keep an eye out for more upcoming stuff!) various other stunning creations by her. A really popular item in the shop has been the patterned origami writing set. Available in two different patterns, each pack contains excellent quality writing paper, envelopes, stickers and sheets of origami instructions to turn your love letters, hate mail & general correspondence into a blooming paper flower. These sets make excellent gifts, look lovely on the edge of a book shelf and are a brilliant modern twist on the old favourite of letter writing.

If you're a Landbaby regular, you'll know that we do love a good tote bag and Deborah doesn't disappoint: using her original designs, she has created an excellent range of totes with designs that are simple and clean in their lines but are coloured beautifully with various pastel shades (like the wonderful origami writing sets, these have been a very popular with you lovely shoppers)
Admiring Deborah's work, it really reminds of traditional tattooing and how that similarly uses thicker, bolder outlines, clean-cut lines and builds upon this with colour and ingenuity regarding style and design- this is what attracted me to the pieces created by Deborah, both in Landbaby, and also when browsing her website and
facebook; how she doesn't seem to shy away from bold, unusual prints but more so, how there's a definite rethinking in how to 'create' in the current independent scene- creating naturalistic graphics but making them into temporary tattoos, illustrating using the conventional pencil, but creating some of the most stunning, macabre images I've seen, such as the 'Howl' piece on her website.

So, next time you're in store, have a good look at all of Deborah's work which we have in stock (and stay tuned on our facebook for when we have more of her stunning items in). Her work compliments the shop and other current designers we hold perfectly, yet still remains unique; Deborah's floral patterns and designs are refreshing to see- a brilliant alternative to seeing Cath Kidston, Emma Bridgewater etc prints everywhere you turn and this is what I love about independent artists and businesses- the ingenuity and hard work that goes into their creations and how it sets them aside from the high street and chain stores. Something which Deborah Ballinger Illustrations more than succeeds in doing!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's our Birthday !

this week on the run up to our 5th birthday here at the bluecoat and our 8th year in business, we'll be sharing the love and running giveaways over on our Facebook page .
Each day you have the chance to win something from the shop, all you have to do is LIKE or SHARE the image posted , and then each night I'll pick a winner at random's that simple.


and the winner of Monday's giveaway is ......

Caroline Maclennan

And the winner of Tuesday's giveaway is ..... 

Emma swift

And the winner of Wednesday's giveaway is ......

Rebecca Chrystall

And the winner of thursday's giveaway is .....

Sarah Pugh

And the winner of Friday's giveaway is ......

Arron Mitchell

well done everyone, please email me with your address thanks .

Friday, March 1, 2013

finding beauty in the everyday, the overlooked, the once loved, the almost lost”

The Aviary

I am just going to presume that you have ventured into Landbaby over the past few weeks and gazed in wonder at our current exhibition by Victoria Foster, one half of the extremely talented The Aviary. Initially, the exhibition was meant to last only several weeks but because of the exceptional reception it’s received (many thanks beautiful admirers of Landbaby!) we’re going to extend it a little furthe

Displayed on our feature wall of the shop- along with the much loved, seasonally decorated stag’s head- the exhibition of The Aviary’s work is one to be marvelled at. The clean lines of the framing and the simple white backgrounds make the intricately detailed, natural, beautifully coloured designs stand out for admiration (and jealousy) by all. It is only on closer inspection that you notice the finite detail that has gone into creating these stunning pieces and this is where you’ll notice the said “beauty in the everyday, the overlooked and the almost lost” that Victoria successfully creates in her unique work. But fear not! Although this is an exhibition, you can still purchase the art and once you have gazed at how well Victoria uses colour, patterns and niche designs, you will have a moral obligation to do so. My personal favourite is the small accordion fold-out design containing various connecting prints. (If you’re reading this my and you’re feeling generous, it's birthday on Sunday…)

Nonetheless, Victoria is not a one trick pony! She has recently sent us a selection of smaller prints (which look extra special when framed in a lighter frame!) and greetings cards which have been of a very high demand for Valentine’s Day and are still continuing to be. In a recent Seven Streets interview (and those of you who are followers of creative activity in Liverpool, will know that a Seven Streets appreciation is more than a good thing) said that she loves translating her drawings across a range of surfaces and this is definitely the case when you take a look at The Aviary’sFacebook page. It shows an exciting array of new & upcoming products for spring and summer 2013 including organic cotton cushions (the floral heart design being my favourite) and more recently printed T-Shirts. I truly believe that the success of The Aviary as a unique, specialised beautiful craft collaboration is due to the service in which both Victoria and Ben provide; constantly updating their facebook page with unusual images, pictures of their work in progress and most importantly, polls to determine what their appreciators would most like to see them work with next- I believe we’re all on tenterhooks for the spring men’s & women’s tees and tops!

To end, I thought I’d share with you my own tale of appreciation for The Aviary...So, it’s the middle of October and I’ve suddenly had a panic that my mum is the big 50 in late December. You may well be thinking “that’s around eight weeks away”, but I like to put a lot, probably too much, thought into my gift giving. I trawled the internet for hours, trying to search out something that the mother would like (bearing in mind she’s very fussy and allergic to nearly everything but fresh air) when I stumbled upon a review for a stunning pendant from The Aviary. I got in touch with Victoria and she was so helpful sending the pendant to me in gift wrap that would put ‘Harrods’to shame. Months later (once I’d spent hours trying to find where I so brilliantly hid the gift) my mum opened the pendant with sheer delight and appreciation. She could not believe the detail that went in to combining the stunning swallow piece and the antique optical lens. Aside from her wedding ring, this is one piece of jewellery I rarely see her without.


Remeber! You can still pop-in and take a look at Victoria's work in the shop (and all our other stunning items, for that matter) as we've extended the exhibition. Believe me, it's definitley worth it.


Friday, February 8, 2013

"And when darknesss lifts and the room is bright I'll still be by your side for you are all that matters and I'll love you to till the day I die"

Enough of The Smiths, so, I received an email off ‘Amazon’ earlier today with lists of suggestions for Valentine’s Day. But to be honest, it made me loose a tad more faith in the internet as ‘personally recommending’ things. I’m pretty sure my fictitious, nonexistent partner would love a box set of X-Men Cartoons, an Iphone adapter and a car battery monitor....  I digress.

Valentine’s Day is upon us, six days to be exact and we’ve got so many wonderful gifts in the shop for you to pop in and gaze in wonder at. Hand crafted, homemade, one-of-a-kind shopping was most definitely made for this time of year and I can’t think of a better way to express love, fondness, giggly courtship than with a stunning item from us at Landbaby.

Please, please, please, for the sake of my sanity and your relationship, don’t settle for a Boots 3 ‘4’ 2 gift set or a Next voucher. Y our partner and the rest of society deserves better than that and I have the perfect, modestly-priced rundown of ‘Our Valentine’s Landbaby- Loves’ for your sweetheart (or just for you, if your single and Bridget Jones & a bottle of Vino aren’t doing the trick)...

**Paper Butterflies....
Now, if you’re a keen follower of our blog, or just pop into the shop on a regular basis you’ll know that the ever-so talented and unique ‘The Aviary’ are now a treasured part of the work in store with the stunning exhibition of intricate prints we have on display (come in and take a wide eyed look, it’s jaw droppingly beautiful!).

But for Valentine’s Day, we can’t think of anything prettier and delicate than these stunning little paper butterflies. As expected with work from The Aviary, these come brilliantly packaged and are perfect to put inside that tear-jerking Valentines card, attached to pin-boards or if you’re feeling extra creative why not string them together as an alternative to bunting? I’d be very impressed to be served breakfast in bed with these strung across a doorway!
But then again, they are also a brilliant alternative to the conventional-oh-so-boring scattered rose petals. Imagine these trailing upstairs, as part of wrapping for a gift or on a table for a nice home cooked romantic meal.

You won’t break the bank or someone’s heart with these fluttering lovelies!

Porcelain Key Pendants....
from our recently-blogged Katherine Lees (remember the exquisite Frozen Charlotte pins!?...) we have these delicate porcelain and silver Victorian-inspired jewellery. With Katherine’s work, for me, the excitement lies in the history and attention she puts into her creations. It was said that in Victorian Britain, the key was symbolic for status and suggested a woman had secrets locked away- and it’s this attention to detail that makes these pendants such a perfect Valentine’s gift; a mixture of tradition, beautiful crafting and the guaranteed smile on your other halves face when they open this stunning handmade, thoughtful gift.

Alternatively, get them the Next Voucher......


**Solid Silver Rings....that are a less gut wrenching alternative to the ol’ engagement ring.

I remember BUG’s work in the shop at Christmas time and I kid you not, I have never seen a more happy lovely lady than when her husband bought her one of BUG’s pieces of jewellery. If I remember correctly, she loved these brushed silver pieces because they were unusual and mainly, NOT ON THE HIGHSTREET and I really think that is so important for Valentine’s Day- a gift that is handcrafted and in limited supply, it really makes the thought extra special and extra appreciated!

These rings are so delicate, natural-looking, subtle yet striking (and I really don’t know how many more adjectives I’d need to say how lovely these are!). Admittedly they are slightly more expensive than the other items on our ‘Our Valentine’s Landbaby- Loves’ but you get what you pay for.... handcrafted, solid silver and most importantly, made with so much attention to detail and care.

**’I Love You’ card...

by littlegreenshed. Don’t worry, Alan Titchmarsh isn’t going to be lurking behind a display cabinet when you pop in to the shop (heaven forbid). But littlegreenshed have really created a Valentines Card unlike the others. Personally I get a little bit tired of seeing Bears holding hearts, garish colours, high heels, footballs (and other gender stereotypes) on the front of your bog-standard grettings card yet this one is perfect; doing away with all the glitter and in-your-face images, these are beautiful designs to house your most treasured thoughts to your loved one and would look stunning framed and put on a bookshelf or somewhere similar.

psssst, we do have other Valentine’s Cards in for your perusal and admiration too, mind!

**Cupcake Teacup Trio....

Without wanting to sound too grouchy, I am getting a little tired of picking up tea cups in shops and finding a whopping candle popped in the centre. And I must admit, I thought the same when I first saw these. But, oh the folly of youth! These are REAL teacups with REAL cakes inside them. Coming wrapped up beautifully, in a range of different cups and cakes, these are a great affordable Valentine’s gesture. Which the object of your affections can use, and reuse with a lovely pot of tea.
Now can you say that about your sweet delights, Mary Berry?

Just a quick side note, these are available to order through us so send us a message on facebook, twitter or just pop in, we’re friendly enough!

**Paper Roses...
made to order, our delightful paper roses make a great alternative to your usual bunch of flowers. And what’s even better, they last 397594375945 times as long! Attached to a rounded wooden stick, the paper roses work really well on your romantic dinner table, propping up the side of an office desk or even sitting comfortably on a mantel piece.

And as with all of our other Valentine’s recommends, they are handmade with the love and attention of our very own Claire Bates. Like with the Cupcake Teacup’s just pop in, drop us a facebook message etc and we can sort you out with as little or as many as these paper pretties as you like

Thursday, January 31, 2013

“He tore the mantle from her face, and the cold stars o'er it shone.
Then quickly to the lighted hall her lifeless form he bore. Young Charlotte's eyes was closed for ay, her voice was heard no more.
And there he sat down by her side, the bitter tears did flow”....

Frozen Charlotte pins; new pieces we have in the shop that are both eerie and beautiful. We’re super excited about these.
I wandered into the shop when these stunning little pins were being delivered. At first glance, they just looked like small imitations of the classic ‘Jelly Baby’ but alas how wrong could I have been!
On closer inspection the Frozen Charlotte pins are, without sounding too much like Gok Wan, subtle and classic with a fascinatingly morbid history to them.

The Frozen Charlotte doll gets its name from the eerie cautionary folk ballad which tells of a girl who refuses to wrap up warm on a cold winters night travelling to a New Year’s Ball and freezes to death on the journey. There are very, very few versions available of the ballad online, but here’s a link to one I stumbled upon on youtube. (Unfortunately it’s just a young lady in her room with what looks like excellent storage facilities, but you get the idea....)

The Victorians used the Frozen Charlotte doll as a lucky charm and keepsake; putting them in Christmas Puddings, children’s bedrooms and some even used as toys for bath play. But please do not use your Frozen Charlotte pin as a substitute for a rubber duck; they are much too pretty and delicate for that! And for this we have the amazingly talented Katherine Lees to thank, whose current projects are all heavily influenced by Victorian designs combining intricate, delicate craftwork and stunning pale yet interesting colours & tones.

You can check out and keep up-to-date with Katherine’s work here
OR pop into Landbaby, we have bits and bobs of Katherine’s work in the shop and it is really complimented by our lovely new flooring, pale walls and other gifts and trinkets we have in at the mo’.  Personally, I absolutely love my own Frozen Charlotte, mounted on a small decorative card with a small bio of the history of the pin, it makes a beautiful gift for both men and women and with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, need I say more!

Images are courtesy of Katherine Lees Wordpress blog

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Aviary @ Landbaby.  Saturday 26th January- Saturday 2nd March

Landbaby is proud to host the latest exhibition from the extremely talented and very unique

Victoria Foster

aka  The Aviary. Collections of stunning work with snippets of history, folklore and original beauty, intricately designed to create not only exceptional gifts but also stunning pieces of art.

For further information pop into the shop in the bluecoat or send us an email:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Slumber, Youth and young remain.
Free from sorrow, fear and pain.
Wander not to Death’s domain


We know, we know, it’s January not the 31st October, but there’s no way we could avoid telling you about the weird, wonderful and outright sinister ‘The Soldier’s Rest’ . A brilliant combination of Welsh haiku poetry and embroidery, ‘Soldiers Rest’ was a very unusual piece for the Liverpool Biennial 2012 held within Landbaby itself. Whilst it’s wonderful to be have so much contact with independent artists and all you lovely customers, it’s equally great to be able to transform the shop into something interactive and engaging with the wider Liverpool creative and arts scenes. And ‘Soldiers Rest’ has allowed us the chance to do just that.

Claire Bates, the very talented owner of Landbaby created all the embroidery pieces for the exhibition herself, using some ingenious imagination deciding to embroider, not with your standard 50 pence market thread, but with human hair! In doing so, Claire really enhanced the eeriness of the accompanying poem by the well regarded & wonderful Rebecca Sharp, who you may recognise from the Whale Song piece earlier on in the year! Oh, and it's definitley worthwhile checking out Rebecca Sharp's website( ) if not to marvel at how extremely talented she is, but to also find links to her other work and upcoming events. She is a truly inspirational writer whose work has been called "fascinatingly complex" by Neil Cooper of Herald Scotland. What more could you ask for!

Together they created a fantastic piece for the Biennial drawing together traditional elements of the ghost story and contemporary crafting. Without a shadow (or a ghost) of a doubt, the exhibition attracted some well deserved publicity with several features on the piece itself and Landbaby being produced in Liverpool’s home grown Seven Streets publications... 

But that wasn’t all, ‘Embroidery Magazine’ published a stunning several page spread on Claire’s ingenious way of crafting, a real cherry on the cake for us at Landbaby as it meant that more people could see how wonderfully hard Claire works in making the shop beautiful .

If you missed ‘
The Soldier’s Rest’ exhibition and are weeping profusely at how wonderful the show sounded or you managed to come and enjoy it during the Biennial, fear not, we have another exhibition coming your way on Saturday 26thJanuary which will be showcasing the work of the excellent ‘Aviary’. I assure you, this is one not to be missed!  (and we'll be posting about The Aviary at a later date too, so keep a beady eye out for that).