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.