Saturday, 31 March 2012

Eddie the (jingling) owl

One of my 34 things to make was a toy for my pregnant friend's little baby-boy-to-be. At first I thought I'd make a crinkle owl, like the one I wrote about in this post (where there is also a link to a great video tutorial). I didn't seem to have the right crinkly materials to hand however, so I put a little bell inside him instead... and got to try out a new idea... more on that below!
The other change I made was to embroider two little white glints in his eyes. It's funny, it was the first thing the father-to-be noticed when he saw Eddie! I think it gives him a little extra something.
The back is made of a scrap of old stripey jersey material from my mother's stash. I loved using it, as I remember she used to make cuddly toys from it when I was little. She used to sell them to local shops to help make ends meet.
I also added a little hanging tag, so the owl could be attached to a cot or pushchair (aka crib or stroller - I am proud to know my US translations!) My husband gave me the cute apple ribbon for my birthday. The ribbons across his tummy are vintage (from my mum) and the beak is made from a sweater of my son's that got accidentally felted in a hot wash!
Most excitingly though, I tried a new method for including a bell inside a toy. Way back in this tutorial post about how to make a baby's rattle, I was searching for a way to get a more jingly sound when the toy is filled with stuffing. Well, I found it! And, even better, it involves recycling, yay!
In our area, we can recycle plastic bottles but not their caps. But they do make great little containers. Simply save them up (I used small ones from mini yoghurt bottles), make some holes in them with a skewer (so the sound can resonate) and tape two together with a bell or two inside. You now have a neat, safe little pod for the bells to jingle in!
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Linking up with the lovely Claire again today! 
Plus newly-discovered link-up, 'Made-with-love Monday' at Sew Chatty:
Sew Chatty

Thursday, 29 March 2012

fly and make creations

OK, so remember in this post I said that I'd received something inspiring from a friend? Well, I thought I'd share it with you today. As you must know by now, I'm a big fan of my friend and mixed media artist Ashlie Blake. So I was delighted to invest in a (very affordable) original artwork that was custom-made especially for me!
© A. Blake
Ashlie used a page from the literary newspaper the London Review of Books that I'd sent her as wrapping in a parcel. From that source, words emerged that were destined to encourage and inspire me, as well as a background that is like a growing tree.
© A. Blake
I love the perfectly small size and the pretty Spring colours: yellow, green, pink and white. The musical wings and heart reflect my love of music and I love the notes F and C (if read in the treble clef) on the white wing, as for me those notes have colours that perfectly match the colours of the painting (more on that some other time).
© A. Blake
I love the border around the edges of the miniature canvas too. And you can see that the words have pretty pink edges. I really do love my one-of-a-kind owl!
© A. Blake
I have a lot of making to do before next March 16th (34 things, at least!) and it's good to know this sweet little owl is going to be flying alongside me and encouraging me in everything I do.

I have received some other lovely things in the mail recently too, including some more birthday presents (I love how my birthday is lasting all month!) So there will be more posts to come sharing pretty things and the boundless creativity of my fellow bloggers!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

LA unexpected

Sometimes when travelling it's the little unexpected things that give me the most pleasure. Here are some of my favourites from LA.
I know LA is a real car-driving city, but these colourful ones were a little different and less polluting!
 Downtown LA is full of vertical lines, but I wasn't expecting this forest of lamp-posts (an installation outside the LA County Museum of Art, LAMCA).
I love the In Wonderland exhibition of female surrealist art. Frida Khalo's paintings were amazing, strange and powerful. This one is called The Two Fridas (1939) but what I photographed were three women looking at each other.
 Possibly the best sticker shop in the whole world. I bought a few diggers and trains for my little boy but the real reason for going in was to add to my own growing collection...
 I'm sure Venice Beach isn't supposed to be seen in a huge storm, with thundering grey skies and the palm trees whipped by the wind and rain. No wonder that building looks so scared.
 There were several creatures I wasn't expecting to see: a mermaid in a doorway...
 ...an owl on a rooftop...
 ...a tiger in the canal. Venice's canals were so beautiful. Everything is reflected in the water.
A fire engine on the boardwalk on Venice Beach. It was especially unexpected after all that rain the day before! I had to take a picture for my little one, who loves fire engines. The sea is right behind me in this photo, but the long sandy beach, the deep blue sea, the gulls in the blue sky - all these things I was expecting. I'm glad I got to see them too.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

vintage memorabilia

So yesterday I finally got to venture out into LA a little. I went to the awesome Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then on to a sweet old 1950s farmers market in the Mid-City West district. I came across this brilliant shop selling real old vintage memorabilia - loads of random bits & pieces of unsold stock from the 1930s to the 1980s.
 This cute die charm and toy clown watch front were on sale. I felt like I could have won them in some 1950s Christmas cracker!
I fell in love with these cute 1940s iron-on transfers. I am going to make something with a vintage aeoroplane on it for my little boy and little Sioux City Sue with her cowboy boots, hat and guitar, well, she's for me!
They had a bunch of things relating to the great Barnum & Bailey circus. This really brought back memories as I went to this circus when I was tiny when we lived in Arizona. I can still remember it: it was vast, there were two huge rings with so much going on. It was exciting, incomprehensible and overwhelming. I loved it, and was a little scared too.
I absolutely love the colours and typeface on this decal. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but I had to have it!
This little toy watch face is so cute (as long as you're not scared of clowns, which I'm not!) I'm going to make it into a brooch. You can change the time to any time you want it to be!
The die from 'Harold's Club' is already adorning my little orange purse, which a friend brought back from Beijing for me.
This is the farmer's market. I hung out there during the evening. It had a great atmosphere: so many fun little kiosk restaurants and cafes, selling every kind of food imaginable. I had a tiny, delicious taco and then some yummy ice-cream from Bennetts (see below) which is a home-made ice-cream business that's been there since 1963.
I have such trouble ordering here - no-one can understand me with me funny, foreign accent! It's weird because I'm so used to hearing American/Mexican accents (on TV, films etc.) that I have no problem understanding them, just the other way around. I am a true outsider here!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

the art of daily life

The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA (MOCA) is an inspiring place that just happens to be next to my hotel AND it's free entry at the moment, so I plan on a few visits! I love contemporary art and the way it gets me thinking.
Concrete Infinity Documentation Piece (1970) by Adrian Piper
Today I've been thinking about art based on the recording of the details of everyday life. This piece by Adrian Piper from 1970, for example. Pages that look like they could be from a diary are encased in black frames. Each one includes a photograph taken in a mirror. The handwritten entries document the minutiae of what she eats, drinks, and wears each day.
From a distance, it looks almost abstract, like geometrical patterns of black and white. It doesn't look personal. But close up, you can see the photos of the artist, sometimes naked, sometimes in a nightgown, and read about her strange diet of tea, cod liver oil and vitamin supplements, her temperature each day, her weight.
What struck me was that this has some of the elements of blogging and other ways social media such as twitter are used today. In 1970 it took an artist to bring these private diary-like practices of documenting everyday life into the public sphere. But now these things happen all the time, and they happen communally through projects like APhotoADay and Project 365, as well as weight loss and diet blogging, and apps like My Fitness Pal and Instagram.
I Got Up At... (1974-5) by On Kawara
The ritualistic logging of personal information is now a collective online habit. The art of the 1970s was different: analogue, painstaking, tangible (in this it has some of the pleasures of scrapbooking, even if it's more aesthetically austere). But the continuity is in the comforting play of repetition and variation in the process of documenting daily life.
So, what do you reckon? Is the blogosphere a giant, interconnected piece of communal performance art?!?

"We are the same, but different
Things are the same, but different
The days are the same, but different"
- On Kawara

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

taking flight

I'm flying to LA tomorrow morning! I'm so excited: I've never been to California before. It's a work thing, but I'll have a little bit of time to explore too. 

For me California is the ocean, the surf, palm trees, highways & driving, the movies, sunshine, the Mamas & Papas song, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Point Break. I'm looking forward to having all my clich├ęs blown apart (& maybe confirmed a tiny bit too...)

I have no posts scheduled (I know, I'm so ca-raaaa-zy!) but will have my laptop so I'll let the inspiration of the moment guide me. Today, in the midst of packing and finishing off work and getting ready, I suddenly took a 5 minute break and collaged an owl in lovely California colours (above). I love it when creativity takes me by surprise!

I have to thank my friend Ashlie Blake for this, for she sent me some beautiful art that encouraged me to 'fly and create' - I'll be posting about that very soon. In the meantime, another kind of flight... See y'all on Venice Beach!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

birthday: owls and fabric

It was my birthday on Friday and I've decided to share a few of the lovely presents I received. I noticed that owls and fabric seemed to come up a lot - much to my delight! My sweet, thoughtful and caring husband managed to find the time - goodness knows how - to gather up a whole host of wonderful gifts. Most of these are from him. I am so very thankful for my family and friends near and far.
 A beautiful fabric/suede-covered notebook by Paperchase.
 Cute owl birthday card and pretty cupcake fabric on a mint/white polkadot background.
I love this striking green fabric! It has a 1960s feel to it and I love the colour. There is enough of it to make something I could wear... The fat quarter pack is really pretty too. I'm going to have a lot of fun.
These owl notelets were from my Mum. They feature an owl hieroglyph, and oddly enough it looks exactly like something my Mum would have drawn - it's her style, somehow. I can totally see this as an embroidery pattern, or inspiration for my sketchbook.
Finally just look at this pretty strawberry fabric wrapped in twine! I love the addition of a tiny orange dot by each strawberry.

Whenever I share new fabric for my stash I always welcome any suggestions about how to use it. Any thoughts?

Plus: watch this space, for soon I will be sharing a big, exciting (well for me, anyway!) LIST of things I plan to make before my next birthday!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

fabric cards

It's Mothering Sunday in the UK this coming Sunday 18th March, so I decided to make a card for my mum. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will have gathered that (a) we're really close and (b) she's an amazing and creative woman!
Since she was the one who taught me - quite recently - how to sew, I decided to incorporate sewing into my card. I was inspired recently by this fabric card DIY I saw on A Beautiful Mess. Although I love the simplicity of Elsie's design, I couldn't resist adding my own personal touches (I can never stick to recipes either!)
This is the card I made for my mum: with a turquoise accented zig-zag stitch, a piece of 1940s French taffeta blue polkadot ribbon and a gold sequin (which also almost counts as vintage as it comes from a stash I must have bought about 15 years ago!)
Of course it helps if a lovely friend happens to give you a perfect matryoshka stamp - that pretty symbol of all things motherly.
I have a little stock of plain cream coloured cards and coloured envelopes and I choose the fabric according to the colour of the envelope and work from there.
I was having so much fun I decided to make another card - yes, I was on a card-making roll! This one will be a thank-you card as it is my birthday tomorrow and I already have a sweet little to stack of things on top of the piano, waiting to be opened. Lucky me!
I made this with my Dad in mind, as he remembered my birthday this year and has been very thoughtful - he has got a lot better at such things in recent years! I know that he and his wife love the colour orange, so I started with that.
I added a piece of vintage embroidery with orange accents, as well as a mother-of-pearl star-shaped button sewn on with orange thread. 
Mum's card will be posted today, the other one is going into my card box to wait until after my birthday!

Linking up, as I often like to do, with Polkadot Pretties:
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