How to make crystallised flowers with Lily Vanilli

Thursday 17th April 2014, 8.00




Unique cake decorating techniques for the perfect spring bake.

lily vanilli main image

Baker and cake decorator extraordinaire, Lily Vanilli has been wowing customers at her East London bakery with her naturally delectable designs. Boasting the best bakewell in town, the shop on Columbia Road opens solely on Sundays, offering Lily’s stand-out bakes and a cosy vintage-feel interior to enjoy them in. Cakes feature fresh flowers, fruits and nuts as her decoration techniques focus on putting nature firmly at the helm.

In this easy to follow guide, Lily shows us how to make crystallised spring flowers, perfect for giving your Easter cake that extra wow factor. She also shares her thoughts on traditional Easter baking and her top picks from our Kitchen collection.

“For the first time in recent memory, April actually feels like the start of spring and not a stretch into the abyss from the previous winter to the next one. The sun is out (mostly), the flowers are blooming at the right times and the first spring crops have been healthy. This is good news for the pastry chef, who looks forward to this time of year when some of the best fruit and edible flowers are on their way into season.

As traditional Easter baking (bunnies, eggs, chicks) has never really been my thing I have been busying myself with crystallising the first crop of edible spring flowers. If done carefully enough (it can be painstaking work, though the kind many bakers enjoy, myself included) they will last up to a year. Store them airtight in a cool place and make sure they are fully sugar coated.
Use them fresh or crystallised to decorate cakes and pastries for a really pretty spring look with subtle, fresh flavours.”

Some lovely edible flowers out now include:
Blackthorn blossom
Viola and cultivated/wild primrose
Brassica buds/flowers
Sorrel flowers

lily-vanilli-flower-baking

To crystallise a handful of edible flowers you will need:

1–2 egg whites, loosened with a few drops of water (approximately 4 drops per white)
Small bowl of caster sugar
One baking tray, lined
Fine, clean paintbrush, not used for anything besides food

1. Clip the flower stems as close to the base as possible and snip away the sepals (the green pockets on the back of the flower). Place a flower on your prepared tray and use the paintbrush to coat with the egg white, making sure you are thorough. Brush away any excess egg white. Hold the flower by what’s left of the stem over the sugar bowl and sprinkle generously with sugar. Turn it over and shake gently to release any excess sugar.

2. Do the same for the back of the flower, making sure the entire flower is coated. Place it face up on the baking tray. Repeat with the other flowers, and when you are done, put them in a cool, dry, dark place overnight or until the flowers feel crisp to the touch. Store them in an airtight container.


Lily’s Baking Picks:

Shop Lily’s top three kitchen picks from our inspirational Baking Essentials edit and kit yourself out like a pro. From the all important wooden spoon, to recipes from the Peruvian Kitchen, these pieces will enhance any culinary collection.

lily vanilli picks

1. Blue Six-Piece Enamel Prep Set by Falcon, £55.00
2. Olive Wood Spoon, £4.95
3. Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen, £25.00



Lily Vanilli’s first book, ‘Sweet Tooth’ will be available from the Liberty Home department soon!

Share your Easter baking successes with us and Lily:
Twitter: @Libertylondon @lilyvanillicake
Instagram: @LibertyLondon @lily_vanilli_cake

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Guest blog: The New Craft Society, pussy bow tie project

Thursday 6th February 2014, 13.12

 

Rosie and Hannah from The New Craft Society return again to guest blog for us, this time they have been working on a pussy bow tie project.

We catch up with Rosie and Hannah,

“Pussy bow ties are equal parts 70’s hippy and modern city-chic; what’s not to love? Tana Lawn is the perfect fabric for creating one of these subtle, floppy beauties and we love the opportunities the different prints give you for brightening up an outfit. The whole project takes under an hour to complete and is so easy – give it a go!”

You will need:

A quarter metre of Tana Lawn, we used ‘Ricardo’s Bloom

Rotary cutter or scissors

Sewing machine with a quarter inch foot (not imperative but certainly helps!)

Needle and thread

You need to:

1. Cut two 3 inch x 1m strips of your fabric.

2. Lay the two strips wrong sides together then cut their ends at alternate 45 degree angles.

3. Keeping the strips wrong sides facing, pin them together.

4. Stitch around the edges of your strips with a quarter inch seam allowance, a quarter inch foot makes this much easier. Leave a gap of about 4 inches along one of the edges.

5. Snip the edges of the corners off and snip into the seam allowance the whole way around making sure you don’t accidentally cut into the seam.

6. Using the gap you left along one of the edges, turn the bow right side out. A tool like a loop turner can make this easier.

7. Press your tie flat then slip-stitch along the gap.

Your tie should now be finished! We tied ours around our favourite silk shirt, how will you wear yours?

Choose your favourite print from our new collection here.

 

Follow Hannah and Rosie on twitter @newcraftsociety

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Make your own Liberty Print eye mask

Friday 31st January 2014, 14.33

 

Charlotte Smith of inspirational craft blog, Lotts and Lots, lets us in on another sewing project with her step-by-step eye mask tutorial. Using some of our glorious Liberty Print fabric, you can create something pretty and practical to help you catch up on some well-deserved rest.

 

You’ll need – Liberty Tana Lawn fabric, at least half a metre in contrasting colourways, felt, 6mm elastic, thread, pencil, paper, ruler

Step 1. First draw your pattern – you can cheat and draw around an existing mask you might have. I went with the free hand option, joining the straight lines with curves. You only need to draw one half as the pattern will be folded and cut later on. I used the following measurements:

Height – 8.5 cm

Half width – 10.5cm

Straight line across top – 6cm

Length from edge to start of nose curve – 1.5cm

Join these points with free-hand curves

Step 2. Once you are happy with the shape, fold the paper in half and cut out. You’ll be adding bias binding later so there is no need for a seam allowance.

Step 3. Cut out the fabric and felt. If you are using contrasting fabrics like I have here you will only need one piece of each.

Step 4. Securely pin all your pieces together, in the following order:

Fabric piece 1 – wrong side up

Felt

Fabric piece 2 – right side up

 

Step 5. Once securely pinned, sew all your pieces together – you want to stitch just under 5mm from the edge of the fabric.

Step 6. Liberty does a fantastic range of printed bias binding so if you want to skip a step you can buy pre-made. If not this is my cheat’s way of creating quick bias binding for small projects like this.

Take the selvedge edge of your fabric and fold at a ninety-degree angle into the centre of your fabric. Press the fold and cut. On your new diagonal line fold over another 4cm and press and cut again. Fold and press 5mm on either edge of your bias binding.

Step 7. Pin your bias binding into place over lapping the end pieces of fabric by 2cm

Step 8. Sew into place with a 5mm seam allowance

 

Step 9. Turn the bias binding over onto the other side of your mask, the pressed edge should naturally fold over on itself. Pin and sew into place. I found it best to sew on the front side of your fabric in between the seam of the fabric and bias binding to hide the stitches. Once done give your mask a good press.

Step 10. Cut a length of fabric 65cm long and 4cm wide, this will be used to cover your elastic.

Step 11. Stitch a length of cord, longer than the length of your strip, at one end on the right side. This is a tip I have learnt along the way, it makes turning thin pieces of fabric in on themselves much easier.

Step 12. Fold the strip in half lengthways, right sides facing, and sew with a 5mm seam allowance.

Step 13. Push the end with the cord back on itself and carefully pull the cord to turn the fabric the right way round. Once done, cut off the excess cord and press.

Step 14. Thread the elastic through the channel using a safety pin. Add a couple of stitches either end of the channel to secure the elastic and fabric together.

Step 15. Hand stitch the elastic onto the mask about half way down the outside edge, making sure any raw edges are covered.

Step 16. Make some more!

 

Follow Charlotte on twitter @tweetinglotts

 

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Meet OK David: The Man Behind the ‘Queue for the Zoo’ Print

Tuesday 28th January 2014, 14.03

The Liberty Art Fabrics department prides itself on the incredible talent of its collaborative designers and celebrates the opportunity to work with up-and-coming artists to create new season prints. One such artistic relationship gave birth to the, already iconic, ‘Queue for the Zoo’ design, inspired by Liberty’s Childrenswear department. Behind this bustle of exotic beasts is illustrator and children’s author, OK David. We caught up with him to discuss the popular pattern and delve a little deeper into the workings of his creative imagination.

Your wonderful host of illustrative animals designed for Liberty’s new season ‘Queue for the Zoo’ has been a real hit, becoming the best selling fabric for wholesale sales so far this year. Can you describe the concept behind the print and how it came to be?

Hello! Queue for the Zoo started really simply. Emma asked me to draw some animals but she left it up to me what and how to draw; I appreciated the freedom she gave me very much. Obviously it’s great to work with Liberty because it’s such a prestigious name, but the real pleasure was collaborating with Emma Mawston and the design team. Anyway, because I like birds quite a lot, that was where I began – with a flamingo and bluebird. The bluebird didn’t make it into the final design but the flamingo (in its knee-length socks!) did. I didn’t set out to draw animals from the African savannah or anything like that, they just galloped into my head and appeared in my drawing, like a story takes flight when you have the right characters. Soon I had a whole herd.

After the fourth or fifth animal, it was clear what this design was: a parade of colourful, patterned animals. Adding the little touches like the suitcase, the paper airplane and the giraffe’s Liberty trainers felt natural and obvious to me. They were drawing themselves by then.

By the way, if you look closely, the elephant is wearing a wristwatch on its tusk. I drew a wolf too, with a jelly baby on its tongue. Something appeals to me about details so tiny you miss them. It’s how people are too: I discover new things about people quite often.

Apart from designing for the SS14 collection, you were also on the panel of judges for the annual St. Martins/Liberty collaboration. What was the most exciting aspect of this process? Did you discover any new favourite artists?

Yes I did! I had so much fun with the other judges looking at the St. Martins artwork, which was of a really high standard. It was a privilege to get to see all their stuff and I have lots of admiration for how talented they all are at that school. Seeing how designs are spotted quite quickly among an artist’s work was interesting; when something is right it leaps out at you immediately: you just know when it will work. The judges were allowed to pick one fabric, which was a bit heartbreaking because I wanted to pick two.

 

Your design for the ‘Queue for the Zoo’ print represent’s Liberty’s Childrenswear Department, and the other prints within the collection are inspired by other areas of the store. What is your favourite floor or department within the building? Do you have any special memories of visiting the store?

This is a bit of a sneaky answer because it’s not part of the store, and the public don’t get to see it, but for me the heart and soul of Liberty is the design department behind the store floors, across the bridge over Kingly Street. It’s like a toyshop for me. You walk in the studio and see designs at every stage of completion on the walls around you, and all these very friendly, skilful people at work on fabrics. It’s a buzz to see all the stuff being made.

As for special memories, the day you mentioned, when I came to judge the St Martin’s competition, was so much fun and a great honour. I won’t forget it anytime soon.

As well as creating illustrations and designs, you write wonderful poems and stories. These often have a dark, folk-like style. What draws you to this way of writing and what other authors inspire your work?

I have always written stories and you’re right, they’re often dark in the way folktales are. Thank you for saying they’re wonderful. I write and draw in completely different ways, it’s strange. My stories are unsettling and dark, and my drawings are buoyant and joyful. I don’t mean for them to be that way but somehow they just are. I’m going to write and illustrate a picture book this year of Sierra Leonean folktales, so let’s see how that turns out. There’s a bit of dying in there but also some coming back from the dead, so hakuna matata…

As for writers, there are many I admire, but a few who have influenced me the most are: RK Narayan, William Steig, Ray Bradbury, Louis-Ferdinand Celine and Harper Lee.

 

How does London and city life inspire your stories?

I am a watcher really, and London is great for spying and plotting: two of my favourite things. The city is a moody, thoughtful place and I find stories come easily when there is so much life to spy on. I’d like to try other cities, to be surrounded by all kinds of people I can watch but don’t have to talk to if I don’t want.

I like talking to strangers. It’s great fun and leads to all kinds of invitations and opportunities. Then I meet up with friends to drink and chat about the things we’ve been up to, and scheme about what we’ll do next. Treat your home as if you’re on an adventure, that’s what I think.

Much as I like London, what I love more is exploring new places. I would like to keep travelling throughout my lifetime, maybe seasonally. Instead of winter, perhaps I’ll have a ‘voyage season’, when I seek ideas for stories and illustrations. I will take a recorder and travel the world collecting people’s stories, just like Alan Lomax. Another name I’d like to mention is Joseph Mitchell, a writer who wandered the streets of New York chronicling the characters and their haunts, and that sounds ideal to me.

 

Do you tend to work on a drawing first and the accompanying story afterwards, or do the words come before the drawing?

Every project is different. All I know is that I use both words and images, and I would find it a bit strange just to write without drawing, or just to draw without writing. Both are imaginative instruments, and when I do either I find I have to imagine quite keenly to get the ink flowing. Once you start imagining and thinking playfully, you do whatever it takes: write, draw, pace up and down…

 

What is your favourite children’s story or illustration?

A book called ‘Dominic’, about a little hound who has a different hat for every situation, and who decides one day to lock his house and go out into the world. It’s written by a Jewish immigrant to the States called William Steig, who coincidently invented ‘Shrek’. Please everyone, read this book! It is very wise, just like all William Steig’s stories. His illustrations are probably my favourite too, and have influenced my own very much. I like Quentin Blake’s of course, but somehow William Steig’s speak to me more.

Your art and writing often involves animals, what do you think it is about this theme that attracts people’s imagination and fascination?

Watching fireflies looping among long reeds, making glowing sword marks like shooting stars in space; or seeing how a hummingbird drinks from a flower; or understanding how little spiders climb up to the tip of grass stems and use their silk to fly themselves like a kite in the wind and then let go, before being carried into the upper stratosphere and across the world,  frozen in a little bit of ice, and then defrost and go back to whatever they like to do… If you really think about it, how can you not wonder at that?

Animals are proxies for ourselves I suppose, just like people use sport as a proxy for the little wars and triumphs of life. That doesn’t seem to stop us from treating animals terribly though, and it’s a great shame. I love to collect stories about animals behaving in surprising ways: it makes you realise how much of a mystery another living creature is, and how wrong it is to disregard and mistreat them. Anyone with a complicated family knows your own blood is pretty mysterious too sometimes!

In my stories and pictures I anthropomorphise animals all the time but in fact I am quite against presuming what animals are capable of feeling. One day we’ll look back and see what a crime we’ve committed over the years, and hang our heads for a while and then we’ll move to another planet and do it all over again.

I am fascinated by the natural world, but being from the city, I am a wimp and don’t like being swarmed by rats or crawled over by bugs or flapped at by massive moths. I went to Sierra Leone recently and there was a light bulb outside my door that attracted these mothy pteradactyls and weird noodle-shaped beasts that were almost big enough to ride on… I unscrewed the light bulb in the end.

What is your favourite animal depicted in the design for the ‘Queue for the Zoo’ print; which was the most fun to draw?

Try drawing a flamingo’s neck and its hooked beak and you’ll see how fun they are to draw. I had a good time sketching out the elephants too, although I wished they were patterned like the okapi, with its stripy bum. I enjoy drawing patterned animals but more than one patterned animal would have been horrible to look at and would have given everyone eye-ache. People notice the giraffe first, probably because it’s patterned, is quite central and obviously has nice little trainers on its hooves.

 

Have you created anything from the fabric to wear or have in your home?

Yes! I have a shirt, which I wear to smart occasions, and my bodyguard Mary has a jumpsuit in the same blue colourway. We went to my friend’s wedding this summer and wore them matching. To remind myself of ‘Queue for the Zoo’ when I’m an old man and in case my great great great grandchildren don’t believe me, I’m going to have a few bits of the different colourways framed.

 

Visit the wonderfully colourful and imaginative world of Omprakash Kaga David at www.okdavid.com.

Shop ‘Queue for the Zoo’ and other fabrics from the Spring Summer 2014 Art Fabrics Collection.

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LIBERTY OF LONDON: MEET HOME BUYER JULIE

Wednesday 18th December 2013, 15.04

Julie Hassan first started her career here at Liberty at the age of 22, working Saturdays and then as a full-time Christmas Shop team leader. In the 32 years which followed, her job role has grown to include the unofficial title of ‘Mrs Christmas’ and the responsibility of delivering Christmas to Liberty year after year.

Julie is now our Head of Home and looks after all the products you see in our homeware, furniture, dining, Liberty print, fabric and Christmas departments.

You may have spotted Julie on the recent Channel 4 series #LibertyOfLondon, which went behind the scenes as Julie curated the magical fourth floor in time for it’s opening and busiest season of all. The Christmas department is, in fact, almost a 365 day-a-year job, as Julie and her team start their buying trips for Christmas in January.

We caught up with Julie to find out more about her job as ‘Mrs Christmas’ and exactly just how many baubles she buys each year!

What has been your favourite Liberty moment of all time?
When I was first promoted to buyer – it was what I’d been working towards so it was a great feeling of accomplishment.

How do you feel about being on Channel 4’s Liberty of London?
It was quite daunting at the start as I was very conscious of what I was saying and how I was acting, but after a while I forgot the cameras were there. I think it certainly made me think about how we do things!

Why did you decide on the giant grizzly bear for this year’s Christmas shop?
I saw the bear poking out his head amongst fir trees in a Christmas trade fair in Germany. I thought he looked sad and needed a new home, and what better place than our Christmas shop?

What’s your favourite Liberty Christmas Shop moment this season?
When we sold the giant grizzly bear – I was pleased to see that he did find his good home!

How have you decorated your Christmas tree at home this year? What’s the theme?
I haven’t decorated my tree my twin girls have – that’s one job at Christmas I don’t get a look in on! Let’s just say, with my range of Liberty baubles, it’s an eclectic theme…

Ed calls you ‘Mrs Christmas’ on Episode 3 of Liberty Of London as you’ve been bringing Christmas to Liberty for the past 32 years. How has the Liberty Christmas shop changed during your time here at Liberty?
It is certainly much bigger than it was when I first started. The assortment of merchandise has got bigger, better and much more interesting year after year.

What do you have planned for Christmas day this year?
I shall be spending Christmas with my in-laws in Somerset and then New Year in our cottage in Norfolk.

Can you tell us any secrets about the Christmas shop? We hear it might be haunted
I think it is haunted with the 3 ghosts of Christmas; Christmas past, present and to come but you’ll have to be here when all the lights are off to see for yourself!

How many baubles and decorations did you buy from the Liberty Christmas shop this year?
I have to limit myself, there’s so many I love. Each year my girls come up one Saturday and choose one bauble each to go on our tree. Our collection is a truly treasured one, and it’s a tradition I hope they’ll keep with their own children in the future.

ASSISTANT BUYER BRYONY SHARES HER PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST

Assistant Buyer for Home, Bryony, works alongside Julie curating our Christmas and homeware departments – here are her top picks for gifting this Christmas.

1. Kitchenaid Mixer
“If you are cooking around Christmas, you need this cult kitchen classic.”

2. Astier de Villatte – Jerusalem
“This is my all-time favourite candle for Christmas – really gets you in the festive spirit!”

3. Liberty of London 2014 Diary
“What better way to get organised for 2014?”

4. KC Designs B Necklace
“Anyone who knows me, knows I am obsessed with the letter B!”

5. John Hanly Merino & Cashmere Throw
“Christmas isn’t Christmas for me without a bit of cashmere…”

 

Liberty of London the television show has now finished airing. To catch up on all three episodes visit Channel 4 to watch all three episodes online.

Join the conversion on Twitter #LibertyofLondon

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