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.)