Monday, December 23, 2013

Making some fun holiday deco

Here's one of those little crafty projects which I was talking about yesterday. I wanted to make some fun decorations. And here's how we started: I've picked paper napkins, in different colors and different pattern qualities (which is VERY important) - I had some of them in solid colors or with very low-key pattern, some of them with middle-sized pattern, bold and low-key, and some with bigger scaled patterns. That's important to make balanced composition and make sure that patterns remain distinct and do not mix and get lost.

Those paper napkins have been cut to ribbons. Pick some nice colors that you love, make it colorful, or keep it in one color family (like pink-orange-red on one of pictures below), or simply black'n'white. And don't forget the tip about the pattern mix - patterns in different scales.

I've cut a bigger piece of cardboard to triangles and glued my paper ribbons onto - quick'n'easy. Vary colors and pattern scales. See picture with the backside of cardboard triangles to give you the general idea of shape?

Next step was to hide the not so nice joints of ribbons. Grab a roller blade (well, that's NECESSARY for the step, for you never get the precise cut with scissors) and cut pieces of some heavier papers to slim and neat ribbons.

The last step (for today) was about playing around with some woven ribbons and cords - to add more visual interest and different textures. I've also put some punched circles in contrast pink just to break the horizontal-ness of the composition and get it more playful and open.

That's it! Stay tuned, I'm gonna show you how to finish it in next days!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday randomness

Now it's winter holiday time, my friends, and that means, my little girl is staying home for two weeks, her kindergarten is closed - it's christmas time. And I'm oh-so-glad. That means we can sleep a bit longer, we can make LOTS of fun crafty projects, and there aren't any other afternoon activities, hence we're free to make what we want and when. We'll go art supplies shopping (YES!), and fabric shopping (YES!), and shopping/thrifting for christmas (though it's already coming in a couple of days), and we can take our time.

All that being said, next couple of weeks will be full of some fun and easy projects. I guess I wouldn't have time to make anything more serious than that, but who knows... I'd love to spend those weeks taking more time for kids and appreciating that. Stay tuned and enjoy the christmas time!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fun stationery project - CALENDER 2014

A couple of pics from the calender that was made to put A LOT of children drawings into. That one (two of them, each with different drawings) were given to teacher's assistants as christmas gifts. 

Actually I've planned it way more simple and easy, but then I wanted to test this and try out that. It all worked out pretty close to as I've imagined, maybe except of month name tags - I should have practiced the hand writing better and maybe search for something more fancy, rounded and as much opposite to streamlined stenciled dates as I could. There's simply not enough contrast to bounce off and make them look enough different. I do love hand writing, but it has to look effortless and swinging.

Well, breaking down: I've painted my calender sheets that I cut to about 25 x 32 cm, with brayer and two different colors each, modge-podged some silk paper scraps onto, let dry and stenciled the dates with a stencil that I made specially for occasion. I've trimmed children drawings and glued them. I've made four groups - four seasons, so that each child knew to which season he had to make a drawing. That avoided me having 24 Santas or 24 flower drawings. Month tags are silk scraps, names are hand written.

That's it! Sounds like easy, but was a whole lot of work. I did enjoy it though, I wish I'd had more time to work more on month name tags, they look a bit stiff - see my thoughts on hand writing above. That's why I wouldn't give that project five stars, but I still somehow like it - it was new, challenging and worth learning.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Teacher's christmas gift - WINTER in FINLAND

Here' what I've made this year for my little girl's teacher together with other children -  as a christmas gift. A book, where each child has a spread to put a drawing and a little message for the teacher. The teacher is new in Finland, so the children had to come up with ideas what seems to them important for the teacher to do/not to do, to go/visit/try out during coming winter in Finland. I just LOVE their talks about keeping the sledge in car in case she wants try out a new hill, about cleaning the fireplace so that Santa can come through, about listening to the music, about drinking/eating this or that, about what to pay attention to etc.etc.etc.

So the basic idea was to make a folder in my favorite christmas colors with like 20 pages in mixed technique - hot pink, orange, some teal and gold (I guess those colors are pretty everywhere in my work). Children made drawings (about christmas, obviously), and their parents had to ask them about tips for the teacher and write the answers down. And here're some spreads from that book "WINTER in FINLAND  (including the winter coloring book)" - "L'HIVER en FINLANDE (coloriage d'hiver inclus)".

Another funny part is the afore mentioned coloring book. Some children made drawings with black felted tip pen. I asked their parents to pay attention to make those in the spirit of coloring book. Came out some really pretty drawings which I love even more than the colored drawings from the main part of the book (that's why I've started with sharing one of these spreads first, right after the cover). I put them into the folder as well, at the end - and the "COLORIAGE"part was done. Those one are for teacher to colour.

Stay tuned, tomorrow I'm gonna show you the calenders that I made for teacher's assistants - a nice new year present that is great to put many drawings as well.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New stationery

I apologize for the recent radio silence on the blog, my friends, but it's been a busy time around here. And maybe you don't have that much time for blog reading either - Christmas always brings along so many occasions of gift and card making, decorating, baking, knitting and the time is running as fast as never. Though I'm not that much into decorating home for Christmas, but some interesting eye-catchers must be, but they first must be found (which mostly means thrifted), then maybe repainted (in some non-christmas colours - this year my faves are hot pink and orang-y red) and properly styled - I'll write a proper post about it soon. I'm working on a couple of projects, that I've been postponing long enough and now they're moving on - another coming post.

This one is about stationery projects I'm currently finishing, for instance calenders 2014 just to name one of them.  They simply took me quite a bit longer, as previously intended. Stay tuned, I'll show you the break down in a couple of days (if only they'd be like fifty hours long each).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

About parenting and work

So my friends, the baby boy is growing well, crawing, rolling and singing. And all that means I need to be around him a bit more as in early days. And THAT means, the list of my activities which I can perform while he's awake is getting a bit different - you don't want your child come and grab your needle as you sew around, or pull the fabric from the sewing machine, or eat your sketches, right? Not to mention the fact, that's rather interesting and challenging to play with him or sing, or do many different kinds of silly things that are funny when you do it to your child, even if they seem not to make any sense. So that's the pleasant part - the baby's getting more alert and interacting. 

The tricky part is though, you know, getting my work done. I'd love to know how you folks are doing, but for me it's got obvious, that a big chunk of work happens when children get asleep. I have a couple of time slices during the naps, though I cannot make too much noise, somehow the evening sleep is the deepest one, so they easily ignore my sewing machine for awhile. Day time naps are more for fabric printing, cutting, stationery making and painting.

But! The most important to me is that it all seems to settle down. I used to think a lot about what's and how's as for the future, but it's coming, I adapt my schedule, and it all moves on, my friends, differently, but it's not impossible. Those have been my fears while being pregnant with the baby boy and thinking that I would have like tenfold less time as I used to have. But nope! Yes, I do have time. I just have to make more efforts to have it, and to keep it from slipping away, and I have to work more focused. That's it - as simple as it is!

There're lots of positive things that come along as your family grows, like you get better organised, decisions are made wayyy faster, and you just make routine stuff because it's on your list (still not to 100%, but, hey, who's perfect?), you learn to say no and save your time, and you learn to take time to see the world with eyes of your children. Honestly, it's pretty worth all the time and efforts, and sleepless nights. I guess the way you'd like to raise your child and how and what you want him to learn/see/think is a fun and smooth way of getting a better version of yourself.

And the last important issue for me is to stay open. Yes, planning is important, yes, keeping the focus as well, but, hey, there're moments that just come along unexpectedly and help you take off the pressure - like those ones, shared today as a drawing. Moments that are simple and yet feel somehow transcendental. You've failed the schedule and messed up the time slice for lino cutting, but for a few moments you feel like there's something special about your life, so please honor it and don't be tough. Take time to find out what you love and go for it! Life's about moments like those, and less about checking off the lists.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Random thoughts on Christmas decorations

Today I'm gonna tell you a story: a couple of days ago I went grocery shopping with my little girl. 

Inevitably we stopped in Christmas decoration department. And I guess those of you with kids will instantly understand what happened there. We're living in Finland since like a bit more of one year already, and the Christmas decorations are mostly: light bulb chains for in- and outdoor, candle holders and tonttu – little folk of Santa Claus. And about the latters is my talk.

Those tonttu's come mostly in reddish brown and grey, in variety of shapes and sizes. They are all mass produced somewhere, where the quality is not so important and good design even less. They are mostly having lots of little gadgets around and that makes them look busy and overdecorated. And they are eye catching, since they are EVERYWHERE in grocery stores across the country. My little girl wanted one of those, or even two, or maybe three. She wanted them to decorate her room. 

Well, reddish brown (or brownish red) and grey are not so much my faves when it comes to bringing in house little pieces that can spice up the interior and bring in some holiday spirit. It looks quite offen muddy in my opinion. But this is my opinion. Certainly lot of people appreciate those, because as I said, they are EVERYWHERE. And I am SURPRISED, because I know, this is the country of Marimekko, of Alvar Aalto, of Arabia, of Olli Tanninen, just to name the few, I'm not even speaking of very many local artists or other children book illustrators. So finnish people DO have an extraordinary sense for good design, and quality. But somehow those sad and cheap tonttu overflow here each year.

All that being sad, my friends, I said NO to my little girl's requests. NO to those bad-quality tonttu's, NO to that colourway, NO to the fact that they've been mass produced far away from here and have like no positive vibes at all. 

This morning I was picking up a parcel from the post, and I've seen those. And I felt in love.¨

Please meet the proper tonttu's, that are coming from a Finnish brand AARIKKA, and are made here, in Finland – of wood, and felt. They are bright, and sunny, and properly manufactured. They are kinda minimalist and I LOVE it. You can find them here. They are pricey, but they are worth every penny. I'm willing to pay for good design, for natural materials, for proper craftmanship, for the fact that those tonttu's create local jobs and not supporting the outsourcing into far away.

It's important in my opinion to have around things that have those qualities. Each time when I pass by, they make me smile, and feel happy about coming Christmas, and simply happy of having them here, in our family. And I hope they would somehow get under my little girl's skin to make her more sensitive for good quality products, locally made, something special that would brighten up our life and live for a long time in our place.

Friday, November 29, 2013

About planning while finishing applique

Remember, I've been talking a lot about planning, organizing, ToDo list making in the summer? Well, it all worked pretty well. In summer. We've been at home, spent lot of time in the garden, went for a walk to the beach, and the life was pretty easy to plan - both kids have been at home with me on vacation, the kindergarden was closed. And by kids being at home I mean that it was quite easy to know what to do and how to handle them and how to keep them even-tempered, for they've constantly been around me.

It's fall now, and my little girl is attending the kindergarden anew again. That means that in the afternoon I may expect any behavior, depending how and what she did in the morning far from me, and how the enviroment/her little friends have been. I may have a kid who's moaning and tired, or over-excited, or sort of defiant, or simply reclusive, or quite simple sick. And whom I have to uplift and motivate for some extra-activities, which I thought would make sence - like music or sport. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes I drop it and we spend a cosy evening reading books and playing indoor.

All that being told, voila, my point - planning work is HARD those days.  Since each day means I have to re-adapt myself and my schedule, and most of time I have to do that, it's become difficult to stick to make schedules that have to be constantly re-arranged.

On the one hand the schedules focus my work, attention, and I spare time, and I love them. On the other hand they leave me frustrated here and there as I realize, the day did not run the way I expected it to run, and all the rearrangements were in vain. And frustration is not something motivating me to keep scheduling. I have to figure out how to make it all work better. I still work on it.

Here's a project that had to look like this last week, but all afore mentioned delayed and fragmented the realisation. Well, at least it moves on, my friends, and I'm happy with that!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Making holiday cards (mock-ups)

I'm still working with the leftovers - here some paper leftovers as I cut bigger sheets to the size of future album pages - and trimmed the rest to the card size of 10 x 15 cm. They are coated with paint leftovers and sometimes patterned with painted crocheted lace. Remember, I've shared recently a card project from other leftovers, which were made from paper and tissue paper leftovers, and dipped in paint. Those are going into my little girl's crafty paper basket, I'm not gonna keep them - they are sort of visually overloaded, and I do not want to use them. The same for my recent canvas mixed media projects - I guess there's the same problem. There're too much effects, details, elements and such, so that there's no clear focus. I have to find the way to keep it straight, simple and focused.

Those crocheted little stars, or flowers, you name it, will probably decorate my holiday greetings this year. I guess, that's the best way of making a star as a central piece - without all the paper patterned fussiness and still visually interesting with nice haptic texture - so that it doesn't need any more colors or  any more processing. It's simple and rich in itself and I kind of like this effect.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How I work

And here a peek into how I'm working.

FIRST: I put the paint and hand print my piece of fabric (here). It's mostly based on a loose sketch from my sketchbook. Mostly I have already some loose composition sketched, but not detailed. 

The basic composition as a sequence of blocks/basic shapes comes from a pencil sketch. I cannot make this very first step digitally, it HAS to be a paper notebook and a pen. I get it better and sooner hand doodling it. But once I get it, I head on to the tablet.

SECOND: I take a picture of the fabric piece and off it goes to the PhotoShop. I still remember my early days of working with fabric and LOT of cutting of pieces in different colors to find the best for the whole composition and then moving them around to find the best placement.  And that stage was quite a difficult and time consuming. Well, I've learned a lot from it, but now I REALLY appreciate working with graphic tablet to make the whole piece work as a whole and choose my colors until I'm satisfied how the whole work looks like. 

Here's the side piece for a future basket.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

LIFE is about being CREATIVE

If you follow me since awhile, you know I have a weak spot for short phrases (or quotes) about life and such. There's been a small edition of ink drawing prints last summer, and I continued to put some of them here and there on fabric scraps and sew pouches. Some of them have been quite simple, some more philosophic, some have been quotes that I came across. 

This one might become a favorite - there's a whole lot ideas that can be put into "LIFE IS ABOUT...".

The first one (which might not be finished yet)  is about, well, CREATIVITY, what else.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Playing around with scraps

And here's the basic idea what I'm doing with scraps and what they look like. Here're a couple of A4-size sheets, that were made "by the way" - from leftovers of papers, tiny scraps, some hand printed papers, tissue papers, paint leftovers and some hand made doodles. I've put some gesso to fix all the papers, so that they wouldn't lay around and I wouldn't have waste. Once dried, I've let them wait until I was working with paint and once I got there, those backgrounds have got a coat of paint left over. The initial idea was to make a garland, then I worked around them in PhotoShop and got this funny card that I'm sharing today.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hand printing

There's one special unpredictable thing among others which I enjoy when working with paint - the spontaneous projects emerging from the paint leftovers. I've been preparing new backgrounds - hand painted and hand printed. And I've cleaned my brayers with papers to avoid going to the bathroom and making noise while cleaning them with water (baby boy has been sleeping) - and those papers have given start to a fun and quick project with my little girl. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Around here - about blogging

Last year, as I started blogging, my blog was about a dozen different topics, sketches, photos, trials with fabric surface design, different approaches, different styles, watercolors, ink, and so much this'&'that. And yet I deliberately decided to keep LOTS of inspirational stuff away from the blog, like books, other blogs, art and such, and to post only what I was working on. The reason was that I wanted to find my own voice, to find out whether I'd' be able to develop something...anything consequently, based on techniques which I knew, or which I'd like to try out. I wanted to scroll my blog down and process how I was evolving - so the blog had to have the exclusive focus on what I was doing.

So there's been a whole lot going through the content of this blog, and now I feel it starts getting clear and focused. And that's what I LOVE about blogging. 

There've been days when I hadn't had any idea what to share next, or when I simply felt empty, and there was the pressure to work, to create anything worth sharing. And I was asking myself, is that what I want my life to look like? Constant race for new ideas, for pushing it further and further.

Yes. Yes. And yes! It's hard, I know now. And I start quite often feeling nothing creative in particular. Or there's a sparkle of an idea and I labour to get it all together. It takes time, yes, I've learned to drop a project here and there, and not to force it. I've learned to respect that it's pretty hard to schedule. 

And you know what? Blogging has given me the sense of development. To push it to the final line. To make a lot of steps, sometimes baby steps. Sometimes re-start the project. But to GET TO THE RESULTS. At any price, and not to rest until I get there. So somehow I get the feeling that LOTS of work, and CONSTANT work, and all the errors, all the search and pushing myself through, that all this starts to converge, to build some sort of perspective. 

I work with flowers - drawing, printing, painting, I work with fabric scraps on painted fabrics, I journal my favorite quotes, I love color, I love mixed technique. If there's something that I love being pure, that's drawing. And that's all that you're gonna see here coming soon. I'm gonna make pouches, and develop the idea of FOREST FRIENDS as a baby line, and it's all gonna be colorful, messy, printed, free motion embroided. 

It took me one year to get here (a bit more, actually). ONE WHOLE YEAR. One year of working almost everyday, and non-stop idea spinning in my head. I feel much better now, and it was so worth it for me. I finally get the feeling that I start to come to my own.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Working in mixed technique on canvas

Hello, friends! Currently I've been working at this mixed media project on canvas (started back in October). Flowers and colors - something that I put.. well.... everywhere. Can't change, won't change. All it needs now is something being stenciled onto. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NEW zipper pouch

Remember there's been a photo with a quick drawing for a zipper pouch in my last post? Well, here's the end result, second attempt. The first one was sewn pretty exactly as I sketched it and it wasn't working. I've changed a bit some details, added another color (there's something fascinating for me in associating orange and rose) and here we are.

12 x 25 cm, fully lined, padded, made of scraps of handprinted corduroy and coarse silk, linen and stenciled piece of a cotton blend. And I couldn't resist to write my right-now-favorite quote from A.Camus about the invincible summer.

Monday, November 4, 2013

There're days...

Well, yes, friends.... there're days when I wake up jam packed with energy at 6 am, play with both kids, get all the cleaning done in the morning, bake a brioche, sun is shining, my sketchbook gets new ideas and and my projects move on. I'm NOT talking today about days like this. Today I'm struggling with some mean flu, sky is low and grey, day lights are poor, and I'm too understrength to get anything done as I planned.

And this is the quote I'm living for right now, when I'm on those days:

In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me lay an INVINCIBLE summer.
-Albert Camus-

Right? Newly got from sunny-windy-rainy-stormy Bretagne with wide sky, open ocean space, smelling sea salt and movement (where even greys were vibrant) back to crispy-greyish-brownish-calm-and-underlighted West-Southern Finland. It sounds like tough.

It sounds, my friends, and it's not - I have my work, I have my studio, I have this quote, that I'm gonna stencil soon, and I SO have the memories of the ocean in my heart, new ideas and ABSOLUTELY no time to moaning. Yes I have flu and fever, but the quote and some hot black sugared tea beat them all down.

Head on to new projects, my friends! 

P.S. this one is bit dull, but that was the assignment for a friend. Next time I get back with my usual colourways.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Going on with FOREST FRIENDS

Awhile ago, before the baby boy was born I'd been doing some funny decorative panels to put to the crib - click here

Now, as my baby boy got one of those and I like the way it looks like in his crib, it's time to change and make something new. Hence I'm now busy making another one - longer (like about 28 x 80 cm), featuring FOREST FRIENDS - same old, same old. And introducing a couple of newcomers - a fox and a hedgehog

I've coated in mixed green the piece of coarse silk to create some interesting background, appliquéd, printed some flowers and now it's all going to the sewing machine. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coming back from holidays

Another couple of weeks have gone, but this time there was a reason - we were on holidays in french Bretagne. Today I'm back and here's a short preview of an upcoming project - cannot reveal more than that right now. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Going on with the blanket

I'm almost done with that blanket, which stayed in the line for months (here  and here was the start). Not that I avoided it deliberately - I just didn't have that special teddy plusch fabric for the backside - the warm and cuddly soft cotton plusch, that I knew existed, but couldn't find it anywhere in Finland. So I brought it from our recent trip to Berlin and - yep, the blanket is going on!

As you see, I'm hand sewing the binding. And soon we're gonna have something fun and warm to play onto.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Memory game - NEW

And here the just finished MEMORY game. Actually it was done yesterday, but I didn't want to show it without a bag - a draw string bag, with matching applique. All the usual materials, all the favorites - linen (natural finish and some dyed blends), corduroy, a bit of cotton, some coarse silk. Those memory chips are pretty sturdy, because of heavy wool inlet between the linen fabric pieces (appr. 3 mm thick each).

The bag is fully lined. 

This afternoon we're gonna start to play with the baby boy, unless my little girl wants to be the first in the line. Positive side effect - I could use them as coasters if one day we end up loosing some of chips - nice and fun coasters for small and not-so-small (big enough to place a mug on top - they're appr. 8 cm (3") in diameter).

They come soon in the shop and would be a nice christmas present - the price is 40 EUR (excl.shipping costs). Included are: 12 memory picture chips à 6 different motifs (two bears, two birds, two flowers (pink and blue)) and a draw string bag. Dimensions: appr. 8 cm each chip, 14 x 21 cm the draw string bag. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday randomness

Currently there're couple of projects which I'm finishing now - the memory game, the blanket (started in..hmmm... somewhere back in summer, when my baby boy was very small and slept a lot), the canvas (this on is going on), I also need to paint new pages to finish my album about our recent trip to Berlin. 

But today I'm sharing another quick drawing made while my baby boy napped. Can't change, won't change - nothing beats the drive to draw, my friends. That's my passion, that's my oxygen, that's my therapy, that's what I'm living for (of course my family, sewing, and one-thousand-other-more-or-less-important-employs exempted). So please be indulgent with me. I got back on drawing train, and nothing is compared to the feel of real paper and pencil slipping over it.