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Workroom Profile: Bridie Hall at Home

26 March 2014
Ben Pentreath
20 Comments

Beginning a blog featuring our many and varied suppliers has been at the pinnacle of my ‘to do’ list for the last three months. I must admit to suffering from ‘blog block’ and am anxious to do everyone justice.

I’ve been stuck too, on finding a way to concisely yet lovingly describe my visit to the potteries in Stoke-on-Trent last year and what it meant to me. That blog will come, it’s half written, but because of my failure to write anything more, it has set back this whole project.

So, I’ve decided to start with something I know a lot more about, is even dearer to my heart and much closer to home. My studio! It also occurred to me that it is an excellent opportunity to introduce myself.  Although I’m sure the more regular readers of Ben’s blog and visitors to the website will know that I am the Bridie often referred to and I am the Hall in ‘Pentreath & Hall’.

Obligatory apron hanging off door. Also the malachite wall and a gorgeous reproduction Irish Mirror by David Turner that I haven't found a place for in the shop yet. I wonder why?
Obligatory apron hanging off door. Also the malachite wall and a gorgeous reproduction Irish Mirror by David Turner that I haven’t found a place for in the shop yet. I wonder why?

Ben and I are old friends and we began the shop together back in November 2008. It wasn’t until early last year that we had the idea and indeed I had the means, to separate the shop from Ben’s architectural practice and make it, its own business. Boring details for you, but the opportunity to take on a vested interest was so the right thing to do at the right time. I’d had some pretty intense family bereavements and had lost all enthusiasm and focus for most things. Forming a business partnership with Ben was a tonic for this.

At the same time that we were fleshing out our partnership agreement (crucial!) the flat above the shop became available. It was as if the stars were aligning. I needed a studio to base my self and my homeware range, where better to be? After years of working on my range at home, the wheels finally fell off. I was spending more time hanging from the fridge door wondering what to eat rather than working out what the next decoupage design would be. And I had developed a great fondness for a boozy lunch out.

Having an office and a creative space above the shop was the key to making it all work. As far as how I thought my studio space might work, I knew I needed a lot of storage and a lot of work surface. I make most of my range by hand in my studio. The candles, decoupage, intaglio boxes, scholar’s sets, stamp collection on a string , are all made on site. To store all the materials for these many different disciplines, I had an entire wall fitted with shelves from floor to ceiling and I was completely seduced by this double-ended plan chest from Drew Pritchard. It was commissioned in the mid 1950’s for the Welsh National Library and it seemed perfect for more storage, 16 huge drawers, and a massive surface to work on and around.

A beautiful thing, currently in storage. It needs a new home.
A beautiful thing, currently in storage. It needs a new home.

Love is blind and I had completely overlooked the fact it needed to be dismantled to be brought into the room by three builders then reassembled taking those same three men half a day to complete the task. It looked fantastic. There was barely more than a couple of feet spare to move around it. It was good to work on but its dominance ruined the space. The studio could really only cope with one person at a time and it was awful to move around, I had to resolve this.

Studio Profile
Nice, but big. Size really isn’t everything.
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See what I mean about the surrounding space?

The only thing was to take it on the chin and call the builders back to dismantle the plan chest and start all over again.

I wanted two working spaces that were long and high but not too deep.  A lot of floor space was important, to help with flow moving between workstations. I wanted one wall clear that I could wallpaper from time to time with different colours and patterns on which to hang and style out my work and see how it all looks.

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Now there is ample room for Max to pose in with his stupidly oversized bed.
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The right-hand side of the studio. A little colourful.
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Some display cases I am currently working on. Lacquering the frame to a high gloss in almost primary colours (scary) and painting the interiors with the flattest of gouaches. I plan to put intaglios inside. They might also make nice mirrors.

 

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Believe it or not, Ben & I need to design this years Christmas crackers now! In fact, we might be behind on this…
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A detail of the shelving. What I don’t have, you don’t need. Do you like the pineapple plates? You might need some of those.
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My favourite corner. Reference books, display cases, plates to be decoupaged and piles of antique prints. Do you see the 5 litre tin of Briwax? One of my greatest possessions.
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Not all pen pots are created equally, or paint brushes, or rulers.
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Ongoing testing of new candle scents. I am sent the samples from my perfumer Hiram Green who is based in Amsterdam which I make up into candles and subject every one to for weeks at a time.
A small selection of the decoupage I make in the studio.
A small selection of the decoupage I make in the studio.
Batty Langely Blossoms meets Fornasetti Malachite.
Batty Langley Blossoms meets Fornasetti Malachite.
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Do you like my Picasso? I bought it on eBay. Next to it is a picture of Luke and Max. Luke thought we could take pictures of ourselves in front of the malachite wall and call them ‘Fornaselfies’.

So far so good. Recently I’ve had an obsession with malachite, so I chose the Fornasetti pattern by Cole & Son to get the ball rolling and painted the other walls Farrow & Ball ‘Stone Blue’. I love the malachite but I’m pretty fickle with these types of thing and can see a wall of marbled paper, maybe lightly lacquered, starting to gain momentum.

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Some recently finished intaglio boxes.
I thought it was beginning to get a bit serious.
I thought it was beginning to get a bit serious.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot happens in my studio, from making up gesso to blending the ingredients for my range of scented candles. Things are going well and I have a couple of exciting projects in the pipeline. A series of decoupage plates using images from the Soane Museum archives has been talked about and I’m working with a set of Piranesi prints that Ben owns for a little collection of Pentreath & Hall decoupage. Two new candle scents are being developed. The first, to conjure a woodland in spring (if you pop into the shop this week you’ll smell one of the prototypes burning), the second, a piney sweaty smell. It has the working name ‘Hunt’ which is the vibe.

I am always looking for interesting stores and boutiques to work with, so if you are a shopkeeper and if anything strikes a chord here, please do get in touch.

I’m also on the look out for a bright and enthusiastic part-time studio assistant.  If you would like to see the job description drop me a line at info@bridiehall.com and I will forward on the relevant information.

I’ll look forward to posting again soon. On reflection it wasn’t so bad. Look out for my profiles on the workrooms and time-honoured processes of some of our best-loved products soon.  I think a visit to Peter Hone’s should be next. If you have any questions or ideas on who I should profile, leave a comment below.

What do you think, shall I go and see what make Peter Hone tick?
What do you think, shall I go and see what make Peter Hone tick?

 

 

20 comments on this post

Hi Bridie,you really have a workshop to die for, I have been an admirer of your work for a while and now I can get to know you more through your blogs, can,t wait for the next instalment. And must try and meet up when you are staying with Ben next.
The shop looks fantastic too.
Congrats x

Bridie, OMG I didn’t think Ben’s ‘Inspiration’ blog could get any better! But here you are. Or, rather, here we are, why have we Inspiration readers not been following your blog all along? OK, I speak for myself: Too enthralled by Ben’s magic world of country garden, books, travel and architecture. So nice to finally meet you!

Your studio is so perfect…does it always look like that??? Perhaps because you can’t afford to get debris stuck in the decoupage finish? I confess to loving decoupage as well! I am a big fan also of Fornasetti ( as well as Piranesi, Rex Whistler, Jos Cornell, Fortuny, Edward Gorey, Beardsley, Polly Morgan, and others)

Bridie, good to meet you!

Nicolasays:

Very interesting post. Some synergies evident with the interiors and enthusiasms of Mr Pentreath. Look forward to further revelations on all things aesthetic and domestic. Your dog is CUTE! Doubtless he’ll have his own blog before long, eh?

Mary-Annesays:

Bridie, I think I picked up from some post or other that you are a Kiwi? If so – greetings from Wellington, NZ, you do us well proud. All the best.

Bridie Hallsays:

Thank you Mary-Anne. I am indeed originally from New Zealand. I grew up in Auckland, I love Wellington.

Great blog post! And yes, to more Peter Hone. I’ve been fascinated by his collection since I read about it in WoI years ago.

Love the Irish mirror on the first image! We saw some like that at a shop in NYC a few years ago, and fell madly in love. Your studio is amazing and looks like you have tons of fun. Can’t wait to read/see more!

Angelasays:

Great read Bridie, you certainly sound like you have a full creative plate! Keep up the amazing work.. Do you ship to Nz?

Bridie Hallsays:

Dear Angela,
We ship everywhere, especially New Zealand. I am a Kiwi!

KjPsays:

Lovely post Bridie (always call you Birdie in my head…don’t know why!?) good to see where all the ‘creative’ goes on. About those crackers, there’s some grey tones going on in the background paper, now grey tones would be perfect for my Christmas table…..yes please 🙂 look forward to your next post, good fun.

Deby (in Canada)says:

Bridie
This looks wonderful, can’t wait to have a full proper read. We fly to England this afternoon- leaving snowy, cold Canada behind – for two and a half weeks in the Herefordshire countryside-
and a squeeze in of two days in London!
It will be such a treat to read you every week…
cheers
Deby

Bridie Hallsays:

Thanks Deby!
My posts are going to be monthly for now, so do look out for them. 🙂 x

Brilliant Bridie! You write beautifully lovely to see Max making an appearance too.
Can’t wait for more of your posts x

Mary Andrewssays:

I think the photographs you have used would make amazing paintings or illustrations. I enlarged them on my iPad so that I could see the items on your shelves. Everything appeared to work together to form interesting vignettes. I loved the repetition of orange -from the lacquered frames on the wall to the labels on the file drawers. Both the text and the photographs are a delight.

Thank you from an American fan!

Rachelsays:

Wonderful to read about your space, Bridie, and very much look forward to your upcoming posts!

Lynsays:

Greetings from a snowy valley in Canada! It’s like breath of fresh, spring air just wafted through my laptop’s screen with your joyous use of colour and pattern. Your writing and images are a wonderful and in sync addition to Ben’s blog. You are most welcome to one of my favourite blogs, offering a very personal take on design. I look forward to hearing more from you, Bridie.

Alexissays:

Thank you for the introduction to your world! It’s always a treat to get a peek at a creative person’s workspace, and yours is a gorgeous one. I agree with Miranda – any post on your process of making the things you make would be fascinating.

Debbosays:

I have been looking forward to your posting; a midweek treat to back up Ben’s blog. It will be good to know more about your work and the people who help to supply the shop where I browse and spoil myself when in Bloomsbury. Thank you for letting us in to your well organised work space.

Not so bad, at all! Bridie, you’ve created a really charming place to work – the fornasetti wallpaper is marvellous. I also like the great oak plan chest, a beautifully detailed and well made object, almost sculptural. Congrats!

Hello Bridie how nice that you are blogging on bens website, I am a complete addict of the BP ‘Inspiration’ Sunday night special, , and can see I am going to be slavishly following you too… Can you do apost on how you do your decoupage? I would love to more about the process, from choosing the images to the final article. BTW, a friend of mine runs the most amazing blogging course( held, coincidentally, at my house for the London sessions. Check out writetopromote.co.uk. Post on Peter hone would be fun.

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