Elephant’s Breath & London Smoke

I spent over an hour in my local fabric shop with a new friend called Lulu.

Long story – a new 1800’s gown in the prep stage. Colour chosen (finally) deep wine red cotton.

Anyhoo and by the by. Through a different source I was recommended a book to read called Elephant’s Breath and London Smoke.

I knew immediately that this was about colour. My youngest and I painted his bedroom Elephant’s Breath.

WAY back in 2009 I wrote a post about 17th century fabric colours.

17th Century Textile Colours

One of my first ever research projects was on 17th century costume.
I got a beautiful old, old costume book from the library and much to my disgust – I can’t remember the name of it.

Anyway – from that book I made a note of the names used for textile colours in that era.
They are so evocative and always set the imagination running.

















And colours to try and get our minds around.

I’ll have a go…

I love the idea of SICK SPANIARD – a yellowy olive.


TEMPS PERDU- I see this as a pale violet.

ANGRY MONKEY- Is red brown too obvious?

APE’S LAUGH- Again, a reddy colour. But only if they were always being pedantic

RESURRECTION – Oh Gawd! A blue-grey????

KISS ME DARLING – Pale pink, maybe.

MORAL SIN – Love this. A deep, vibrant, singing red.

TRISTAMI – Sorry, can only think of pepparami here. Oops.

SCRATCH FACE – Purpley (if there’s such a word)

SMOKED OX HAM COLOUR – Pinky, purpley (if it’s not a word, it should be!)


CHIMNEY SWEEP – Too obvious????

FADING FLOWER – Mmmn. Pastel. Maybe like ashes of roses.

DYING MONKEY – Black, brown….ish

MERRY WIDOW – Deep Purple – nearly black but not quite.


This new recommendation looks wonderful.

Have you ever read about a Victorian dress, and wondered: “What color, exactly, is heliotrope?”Did you ever read an Elizabethan novel and say: “Did anyone really wear Puke?”When Chaucer wrote: “his eyen bright citrin” – did you wonder about what color is citrin?This book will tell you about color in history – the names of colors, when they were used, how they were used, what they looked like, and where they came from. There are dye recipes, paint ingredients, poetic language and general commentary – all in the words of period writers. Along with the glossary of color names, you will learn about mourning colors, the effects of artificial light on color, advice on what colors to wear, the colors found in cosmetics and theatrical make-up, and the names of the colors of horses. You can read about symbolism in colors, heraldic colors, and complaints about the names of colors. I have studied fashion magazines, books of dye recipes, art books, painter’s manuals, mineralogy guides, tomes on color theory, metaphysical texts, poetry and fiction, but especially period dictionaries and encyclopedias. Any resource that might give a hint on what a color looked like or how it may have been used was examined, from Chaucer to Chemistry Journals. Most of the entries were printed in English, American, Canadian and Australian publications from around 1380 to 1922. Because, French was the language of fashion, many of the English terms are French words. I have tried to explain those colors, too.This dictionary endeavors to define color names in the words of the English speaking people who used those colors. It is especially aimed at women’s fashion, but artists will also find it useful. Now in its second edition, “Elephant’s Breath and London Smoke” has more than 600 new and updated entries. If you are curious about color, you will want this book.

BTW. It’s coloUr. Too many letters in the word ? ? ?

Dyeing Today!

Wow! I took my life in my hands and allowed HIMSELF to dye my hair this morning.

Never, ever having done this before, he bigged himself up as a natural talent (!!)

OK. My hair is such a dark brown that most people see it as black but….It has natural red highlights so it’s technically dark brown. Pure black hair has a blueish highlight.

I started going grey when I was 17. Just a streak of grey and used to colour my hair all the time.

It’s been around 10 years now since a chemical dye went near my head so the lovely streak of grey has multiplied from a narrow line to around 20% of my dome

. And – to be perfectly honest – I just feel old and dowdy and extremely unattractive.

Grow old gracefully, my arse.

I chose a colour that perfectly matches my natural dark brown, almost black.


A son read the instructions, his father mixed all the ingredients and…

…Apparently I shouted a lot throughout the entire thing.

Shrug. I think they may be exaggerating :o)

Anyhoo. I’m now a piebald. Black and ginger. YAY!

 “To Harlequin the invisible”

Another day of boring chores but my mind has been elsewhere.

In audiobooks and the gold I’ve found therein.

I’m such a lover of Agatha Christie stories but my knowledge has proved to be extremely limited. Do you all know about Mr. Quin and Mr Satterthwaite?

Apparently they were two of Agatha’s fave characters…and she even dedicated her book of short stories – The Mysterious Mr Quin – as shown in the title above.

I’m on only my second story with these two and a thought just struck me. POW!

Harley Quin (Mr Quin) IS the aged Mr Satterthwaite’s subconscious mind.

Harlequin the Invisible appears and disappears at strange times in the old man’s life. And propels Satterthwaite in deep and mysterious adventures.

I’ve not watched the video below yet.

I don’t want any spoilers :o)

Faith in One’s Own Abilities ?

Above is the dishrag that I was gonna “burn the heart” out of yesterday.

It’s not finished but – on reflection – I might’ve been a bit more able than I thought.

The top is pure cotton. The bottom is deep brown cotton cambric…very light and airy and floaty. And see through.

This was made as an over garment. To worn over a tee-shirt and a pair of linen trousers/long, swooshy skirt.

M’eh. ‘S’OK. I guess. It’s utterly original anyway.

I’ll carry on, carrying on :o)

The V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum is my second favourite place to visit in London.

Not everyone’s cup of tea but I fell in love with it many, many years ago.

Which is rather strange as I’m an ANTI-Victorian :o)

In Search of Forgotten Colours…..


Alum as a Mordant

Anyone who has ever tried natural dyeing knows that we need a mordant to fix the colour.

Alum is very good and natural. Some use vinegar or iron or gall or other such.

I may be the only person in the world who can sit and watch this all the way through in awe.

I saw much the same in Karachi – from a car. The colours are amaze-balls :o)

P.S. I’m not 100% certain but the white powder he throws in could be alum.

Faith, Hope & Clarity

So many childhood memories.

We once lived in a flat, my parents, me, one toddler brother and one baby brother and the grown ups knew exactly how to keep me quiet and occupied for hours. All it took was a scrapbook, some Victorian pictures, scissors and a glue stick. I’d be parked at the dining room table but always found that too confining so ended up on the floor surrounded by “stuff.”


I’ve gone back to this just recently with Sarica as my guide and mentor.

The Traveler’s Notebook is now being used as both a planner and a journal. I’ve thrown away the amazing Ryder Carroll system. Again – far too restrictive.

My journal has two sentences hand written on the cover. The one in the title above because this process is incredibly peaceful and meditative. The other is a quote from Hamlet…


Simple. Childlike and something that can be done as and when.

Here is Sarica.

Today I Noticed…

A pall of mist over our village.

My youngest son paying for a pre-Christmas, pre- Christmas shop with his own debit card…………….

I’m still feeling a bit whoozy about that :o)

The car needs a darn good clean. All that wet and windy and muddy weather.

Even with a highly organised bullet journal, with a 2021 AND a 2022 handwritten calendar, I still don’t know what day of the week it is. Wednesday? Monday?

Both my laptop and my tv are sending me the same old, same old youtube BS. With the same old, same old peeps. Saying the same old, same old crap. And repeating the same old, same words and emojis.

A bit of a same old, same day all around out there.

But NOT in my world :o)

I’ve discovered WASHI TAPE. Woooohooooooo! Above is my first haul.

I love, adore, scwhoon over the muted colours. Like those found in old frescos. They are usually called “blackened” or “greyed” colours because they contain certain amounts of black or grey to knock them back.

My entire house is painted with Farrow & Ball Colours. Not a brilliant white or a vibrant blue to be seen. It has neutral, muted, calming walls in whites and greens and lavenders – all of them “knocked back.”

The true colours come from the soft furnishings. My handmade quilts and Persian rugs and hand-knitted cushion covers.

I’ve even taught my son the value of this colour scheme. His rooms (still being decorated) are all muted blues and greys and greens and his bed will be topped by a mad Mother made -Kaffe Fassett material- quilt.

Just saying :o)

Kinema in the Woods

This is my local cinema. I’ve been watching films here since I was 10 years old.

And I brought my kids back to my childhood….well almost teenage…home, so they’ve watched many films here too.

It’s about 5 miles away. Just down the road from the Petwood Hotel. Most famously famous for housing the Dam Busters AND GUY GIBSON of Nigger dog fame. From whence the name of the Black Labrador that I grew up with was called. NIGGER. NIGGER. NIGGER.

My dog was called Nigger.

As in Agatha Christie’s Ten Little NIGGERS which became PC’d to And Then There Were None.

BTW : I was given a Black Doll Girl for my 5th birthday and my favourite bed companion throughout my childhood was a Golliwog. Much the same as the one on the image above.

Take that as y’all will. Sigh.

I saw NO offence then and see NO offence now.

Maslow vs Sadhguru

We all know about the 1940’s hierarchy of needs. There are 8 ?

We all know about Chakras (?)

This world is still inside…deep inside the Base Base Chakra. The one between the legs.

Some put this above air, water and food.

The Rule of 3, anyone?

We can survive for 3 minutes without air. 3 days without water. 3 weeks without food.

Most can’t survive 3 seconds without sex.

But I may be totally wrong :o)

Elephant’s Breath

One son and I ADORE this paint colour by Farrow and Ball.

He has decided to repaint his rooms with it…one room done years ago but in need of titivation.

He’s doing all the paint work on the doors and windows too, and removing a door.

Complicated. He has three doors to his rooms.

We don’t STRESS about paint colours.

I STRESS about the fact that I’ve been blithely appointed his Sous Chef aka minion!!!

Mother : I know how much you love painting and decorating.

Elephant’s Breath. What a wonderful name for a colour :o)