Thursday, April 8, 2010

Custom Owl

Right before Christmas, I was hanging out in Fabrika with Ashleigh sewing up some owls during her holiday open house. Her friend Louis came in with his wife who loved said owls. And so Louis sneakily asked, while his wife was looking at fabric in the back room, if I could make a custom owl for her. But he said he wanted it in pinks and could I possibly give it hearts for eyes? Yes and Yes!

So here's some photos of said owlie. And wouldn't you know it - I even had some heart shaped buttons to use for eyes!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Hip to the Happenings

Full disclosure - I'm biased about the recommendations since the sites I'm about to direct you to are run by some of my friends. Still, I find them totally inspiring and quite darling and want to direct more readers to them. So take a look!

You must check out dearreader - my friend Beth's new Etsy shop and blog. They are chock full of clever and useful items guaranteed to make you feel cheery. And she works in felt - which of course gets me excited. Beth has a brilliant sense of humor and aesthetics so I am sure that as she continues to build upon the foundations of her new endeavors, it will be worth checking out regularly.

Kooky story - I lost touch with my old roommate Hadley after 1996. Couldn't seem to track her down anywhere. Where should she turn up 14 years later? Why living 10 miles down the road from me here in Savannah of course! And working as a ceramist who makes very fun and whimsical odds and ends. Check our her site for her full line of products or her Etsy to buy some of them direct.

If you are more into paper crafts, then you must take a peek at Asleep On the Couch Designs by my pal Sally. She just seems to be constantly creating and putting me to shame with her energy. And she has lots of opportunities for you to participate with reader giveaways. I really need to take some lessons from her on how to get my blog really up and going.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inspiration : Kate Greenaway

Considered by many to be the most popular of children's illustrators, Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) was a Victorian English illustrator whose images of children and fairy worlds exhibited the innocence of childhood and nostalgia for the idealic world in which they live. Greenaway's work creates a sense of the penultimate middle-class Victorian (although stylistically Regency) childhood - one where it's always nice weather, the flowers are always blooming and one can ignore the nastiness of life in favor of games, tea-times and stories.

Stylistically, her drawings are quite simple with clean lines and light colors - especially as compared to the ornate styles usually associated with Victorian era design. Her work became some of the first to be mass marketed through merchandise, although often without her permission and reproduced under the guise of the "Greenaway style". Her imagery has been used for porcelain figurines & tiles, wallpaper, dolls, tea sets, printed fabric and even children's clothing.

You can see a beautifully digitized copy of her book "A Apple Pie" at the Library of Congress.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recently Made : Owlies

Before the holidays, I started working on a new pattern for owls. This set of little dudes went over to Fabrika where I believe they all found new homes. Working on a set of spring owls for my Etsy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Inspiration : Jessie Willcox Smith

Part of a new series I'm hoping to develop; I hope to regularly post about some of the work that inspires me. This is hopefully to motivate myself to work on my own stuff and also to introduce them to my few readers.

First up - children's illustrator, Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935). I was first introduced to her work as a little girl. I had a copy of the classic A Children's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1914) that I remember reading cover to cover a lot. I still have some of the poems memorized. But it was the illustrations that I loved the most - all done by Smith. My mother, who collects vintage children's books, also had antique copies of The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley (1916) (which sadly, I colored in), At The Back of the North Wind (1919) and The Princess and the Goblin (1920) by George MacDonald - all with illustrations by Smith. Maybe it was all that time spent reading that informed my love of vintage children's ephemera (and libraries?). It is specifically Smith's work which helped to create the early modern feel of children's illustration that I love most.

Initially starting out as a kindergarten teacher, it was because of a chance discovery of her talents that Smith ended up studying illustration under Howard Pyle (who also mentored N.C. Wyeth and Frank Schoonover among others). Smith used her natural abilities with children to observe and draw them in their natural state of play. Using pen and ink with watercolor, Smith's illustrations combine realism with fantasy in way that seem to echo a child's imagination. Her illustrations were regularly used for the covers of popular women's magazines in the early 20th Century - in face, her work would serve as the cover of every issue of Good Housekeeping from December 1917-April 1933. In this way, she must have been as familiar to the public as Norman Rockwell and J.C. Lyondecker. (Those of you who know me well, know that I have other interests in early American magazines, especially Good Housekeeping, so this fact was particularly interesting to me.)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some (now old) New Guys

I've been so bad about posting about what I've been making. I'm trying to play a little catch up. Unfortunately, I made a number of the things for gifts in the past couple of months that I didn't get a chance to take photos of before I sent them off (a baby quilt, two watercolor paintings and some stuffed animals).

But here is a group of mini animals that I made before Christmas and sold to Fabrika. They are all about 3 inches tall so could be used as tree ornaments or just little decorative toys. Also includes a new pattern that I worked out for some owls. I'll post close-ups of those next.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thrifted Inspiration

Before the holidays, I went junk store shopping out in the boonies. I've come to realize that out in the middle of nowhere (and that means YOU Brooklet, Georgia) there are the best antique stores, flea markets, junk shops and yard sales. Here's some of the goodies that I found on a random day in December.

As I look around my studio, I'm realizing just how much I'm inspired by vintage illustrations for children and toys. The simplified designs, the colorful palettes, the naive subject matter. I'm not sure if it's based out of my own memories or an unwillingness to fully "grow up" or an unsophisticated aesthetic. They allow me to connect to my own imagination in a way that's much less judgmental than when I try to produce things for adults (though I think that's probably who actually buys my things when I sell them.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Word Resolution : Focus

This is clearly 15 days late for a blog post. But given that I had forgone resolutions for the new year in favor of concrete goals, I think that it's alright.

I have set three goals for myself for this coming year with the idea that they set in me good stead for the following year :
1. To pay off $15,000 worth of debt.
2. To focus on nutrition and health.
3. To be disciplined about spending 10 hours a week on creative endeavors.

I realized that in order to meet these goals, I would need to be incredibly focused. And so FOCUS is my theme for the year. Each time I start to get distracted, I'll need to repeat my mantra.

As a tool to get ready to complete #1, I've been playing around with this debt reduction calculator. Highly recommended if you're trying to figure out how to pay down in order to actually eliminate debt.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back to the Kitchen for Frugal Meals - Great Tips!

As a result of overindulging both edibly and financially over the holidays, we're back to cooking some frugal meals at home. I always create grocery lists and use coupons, but I've had spotty luck in the past doing menu planning. As part of my daily blog roll, I just came across this tutorial for a custom grocery list / menu planner on design sponge. What I particularly love is the printable grocery list - cute and practical! And I think that having it set up on a clipboard in the kitchen is an idea that I'll likely try out.

Another idea I came across yesterday that I think is practical and adorable - using vintage trays as magnetic recipe boards on Aesthetic Outburst. I'm always getting my recipes smudged and messy while I cook and I like that this would get them up out of the way but where I can still read them. The one problem is that in our tiny kitchen countertop space is at a premium and it might be hard to find space for it.

Finally, it's cold out and we're broke - break out the Crockpot! Smitten Kitchen had an delicious recipe for brisket that I'll be trying out this weekend.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holla! Guest Post.

Just wanted to throw you all a link to a guest post that I did for my pal Ashleigh's store Fabrika in Savannah. Just a short book review, but it was a worthwhile book and an even more worthwhile store that you ought to know about.