On the landing at the top of the stairs of my childhood home lived a padded wooden trunk, known as the ‘box ottoman’, covered in a crochet blanket, and smelling of mothballs. Under the crochet, the floral fabric covering was tattered through age and wear, but despite being unprepossessing and ragged, the box ottoman is a treasured family heirloom.
It belonged to my mother’s Grandmother, Emma Collett, who was one of 12 children from a farming family just near the town of Cradock, in the Eastern Cape. When she married Charles Butler in the early 1890′s, her brothers and father made her trousseau box from planks and palettes, covering it in pretty floral fabric, padding it with horse hair, and lining it in yellow silk.
My mother had always been too sentimental about the original fabric to re-cover it, which is where the crochet blanket came in. However, my suggestion of covering it in one of my fabrics struck her as a great way to give the ottoman a new life, and add to the story of Emma Butler’s trunk.
So now, with the help of an upholsterer just up the road from my studio, it’s been re-covered and re-padded, using my brand new Wild Flowers print, in the Lemon Humbug colourway.
But it’s nice to know that underneath all the fresh new fabric, we kept the old horsehair and ragged cloth, and inside, the yellow silk remains, adding to the family archeology for future generations.
Wild Flowers forms part of my brand new Flower Dreams collection, and comes in Lemon, Strawberry, Plum and Humbug colourways. It’s the kind of large-scale, slightly mad print that could work as well in a little girls’ room, as in a folk-inspired boudoir. Find it for sale in my Etsy shop, as well as my online shop for SA customers.