I’ve just caught the last weekend of the Open Houses here in Brighton, and saw some beautiful, inspiring work. I even treated myself to a cushion cover from Fifi by Fiona Howard.Other women buy shoes and bags. I buy scarves and cushions. The cover is a greener grey than the image suggests, in a lovely heavy woven cotton.

I saw Sam Toft‘s work –– endearing illustrations of Mr Mustard and his animals, with gorgeous dusty colours and textures. She even does a ‘how to’ video on her website if you are interested in how she draws Mr Mustard. (I always want to know how artists create their masterpieces!)

I so very nearly bought one of Helen Howard’s (mother of Fiona Howard above) beautiful miniature beach huts, each based on a lifestyle, such as artist, bookworm, shabby chic or seamstress. Sadly I couldn’t really take a photo and she has no website, but here is an image lifted from the Open Houses website which does them absolutely no justice whatsoever. We had a lovely chat about Leonardslee Gardens, where Helen recently completed ten years of work on Beyond The Dollshouse, an extraordinary and colossal piece of work in miniature – take a look at the video. The attention to detail is extraordinary – Helen told me how she makes most of the parts herself, and each one is a true labour of love. I actually felt quite weepy looking at them. (Mind you, almost everything makes me feel weepy lately.)

I also visited the Boxbird studio, the home of all kinds of delicious prints and illustrations as well as an enormous silk screen printer which made me a bit drooly. I admired work by Helen MusselwhiteSally Elfordand two of my faves, Ruth Green:and Dee Beale:I’m planning to visit a few more tomorrow; in the meantime I have a new idea to work on….