Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An elephant - stuffed toy for a newborn

A quick project to accompany a gift for a newborn girl - we had a ruffled gingham dress as a gift and that was a starting point to make a stuffed toy.

I had a piece of pinkish red gingham cotton, but making a stuffed toy mostly of that fabric perfectly according to a dress, would be neither fun nor challenging. The dress was just very pretty, but classic, maybe a bit too classic, so that was also a point - to find something to shake it up, and make it a bit more edgy, add a colorful and bold touch, maybe mix in other fabrics, and create more visual and haptic interest.

That's sometimes a bumpy road I mean, if you take a risk of making a doudou (stuffed toy)  by yourself - what kind of animal would please, or wouldn't, can there be any hidden associations I'd possibly overseen? Will they like colors if I choose them like I feel and mostly if I have choice, neutrals are not on the plate, except the linen.

This one is double sided, with a day side and a night, sleepy side - it let me use more different fabrics on a relatively small and compact surface.  I've taken neutral and black linen, a piece of wool, corduroy and cotons and also a piece of furry plush cotton for inner surface of ears.

Here we are with the mix and how it feels like  - there are soft corduroy strips, bold color accents of Marimekko flowers, cooler linen and warm wool, and very cuddly plush ears in this elephant, some appliqué (eye, feet and trunk), and embroidery - all in all it's a piece pretty rich in texture and color. I will possibly sew a couple more of them.  Let's see if this new thread Stuffed toy will get any other additions.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A teddy bear house

Those bears would happily live somewhere in Andalusia. Maybe. Or maybe not. Anyway they have this tiny home (35 cm x 20 cm in floor plan) for their family soon-to-be-of-four.

I've already talked about them - as a gift for friends (who loved Andalusia a lot), which made a loooong way from the initial idea into the realisation. And I'm happy those bears have been insisting enough to stick to me and wait until I got them alive and made the house, filled with furniture, art, leisures and toys.

I really, really love them and it was hard to make them go, honestly. But I'm happy - happy they turned out like I felt they had to be, and that the house feels like home and it's just a happy and welcoming place for them.

Two days ago, as I was preparing this post for publishing for the first time, I've written a long story, with lots of me thinking, me doing, me trying, me asking, and other me's - it felt a bit over top. Now I just want to share those pictures with you and let them speak for themselves. Yes, it was a challenging, many times frustrating, very inspiring, instructive in so many ways, and finally fun process.

Look at them and enjoy. Right now I just focused on showing an overview, and bears themselves - they are pretty small - about 10 cm (4 ") as you see on a picture in my hand. Made in almost (because of felting) classic technique of teddy bear making - hand sewn, fully jointed, with needle felted muzzle, and glass eyes.

Everything in the house incl. the house itself have been DIY-projects, except of a toy train. Plywood, fabric, felt, prints, paper collage and paper napkins - more detailed posts and some tutorials are upcoming.

I'll come back and zoom on furniture and other pieces. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A room corner REMAKE: kitchenette & Co

Hey there, here's another post about woodworking. In sad corners. I could have re-made it completely, but I thought more like of a challenge, and more of trying to develop/re-use the existing pieces.

See the first BEFORE-picture? That's what's a sad corner means – randomly placed dispatched items, lots of white space, not functioning with the rest, some other useful things (world map) sloppily fixed, and generally a magnet for all kinds of clutter. Just not a happy spot to look at in a rather getting to be pulled together young girl's room - that's a sad corner. Do you have those guys in your place? I have a LOT!

So here're the consideration points:
  • a thrifted and still cherished cupboard definitely too large for a re-painted BRIO toy stove;
  • the greenish teal of a BRIO stove not working anymore – too dark, it makes this smallish stove look even smaller;
  • world map too high and seemed to need a wooden support to live longer and not to peel off the wall every couple of days;
  • some plants here and there wouldn't be bad;
  • this wall would be a good place to display some nice treasures that don't need to be played with.
I have pinned some inspiration pictures on one of my Pinterest boards (House living ideas), among others the original picture of what a stove looked like – a red BRIO stove. Skip the next paragraph, or keep reading if you have a BRIO toy stove. A lot of details bummed me about this stove, and I need some more lines to make it clear. On the other hand, the imperfections of that monster made me create a nearly perfect kitchenette which my kids are happily both play with - now there's enough space on top surface and around. WITH storage.

So, dear BRIO - here we go - I guess on that Pinterest picture, the same as at our place, and this is the general problem of that BRIO stove – it's way too small to look good with anything not-too-toy'ish. Try to pair it with anything else that is not a toy, like a thrifted cupboard (our situation), or other neutral shelves (you'll find many examples on Pinterest) and this stove instantly looks tiny. Very tiny, and disproportional. 

This cupboard is the smallest I've found in a thrift shop (only 50 cm large), but it's looking huge, next to the BRIO (only 38 cm). Another question – finishings – cheap, white plastic, cut shorter as the main pieces, hence looking very imperfect. AND there's simply not enough space to move around, let alone the storage question.

All that being said – I took the front piece of the bespoken stove, I like it, and off it went into creating a larger version, integrating a DIY-sink and offering some more top space.

Other inspirations I wanted to make work together were:
  • a mirror, with a frame imitation old silver (had one, it spent six years waiting for a come back);
  • a box underneath it to put small bracelets, silk butterflies, and other precious embellishements a little soon-to-be six years old girl keeps loosing everywhere otherwise;
  • a floating shelf to display some nice paraphernalia;
  • cacti and/or other indoor plants.
Floating shelf has been made, a jewelry box is another 100% DIY because of the mirror measurements. I've also bought a small cactus and a plant.

I will come back one more time and show you the corner one more time. It's getting happier, and the new-old BRIO stove will get a light paint soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A wooden house

Hey there! Lately I've been permanently talking about woodworking. Now it's time to share some peeks, right? And make a new tag here on the blog. Well let's go then!

That's a wooden house, a very simple one. Yes, I could have bought it ready-made, but I find them a bit overpriced (at least here, in Finland), and then a ready-made wouldn't quite perfectly fit the inside I was going to make (neither measurements, nor in character/appearance). It took me one year longer as expected (mostly waiting time). You'll see more of this house later, as soon as I have better pictures. It's been made of plywood, and it'll be a home for three teddy bears (stay tuned, another post is coming soon).

This is a custom order, which influenced what is inside: my friends' reading/studying preferences, their favorite leisures, arts, travel "coups de coeurs", and a such. They moved in a new house and that is going to be kinda gift for them. They moved in last year by the way, and at that time back then though I knew I'd love to realise the idea, or sort of vision I had for them -  a teddy bear house, - I had no clue how to pull it all together. That's normally not bumming me, but last year as I started, I had made really, really bad pieces.

Turned out woodworking was a bit trickier to learn, and it took me some time to find out techniques, feasibilities, source out the tools, better organize my smallish work space so I'd be able to work efficiently. I put this project on hold , yep, for almost one year, that sounds crazy, as I'm writing those lines, but this year went fast.

And then came the moment last month when I knew I could make it better, faster, and actually bring to life what I had vaguely in my head. I've been working with my simple wood processing tools (a jigsaw and a router) since a couple of months, preparing my crafting class for kids, making shelves, boxes and a such for our home, it was getting more fun than frustrating/painful, and there was some sort of confidence though still a weak one that this project could finally work out, leave my head and live out there on its own.

All in all I had a carte blanche about this house. I asked a few questions about the above mentioned leisures, readings, travels, got some good responses with additional options and off it went into a very busy and fun creative research trying to make all those particulars work on a very reduced space (appr. 35 x 20 cm surface).

There're some fun things I've tried out at this project and I'm going to come back and show you more of that, with some tutorials and more details. This house is almost ready now. Come back next week to see more!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Album with children's drawings

There's another album, another gift - a teacher's assistant is leaving and we made with kids an album to say THANK YOU.

Recently I've got a punching-&-binding tool, which is rather simplistic, but I wanted to get started to make more profesionally looking albums, and was not ready to invest a lot into a more high-end device. Some details bummed me about pricier models, so I keep waiting. Anyway I got one, a reasonably priced starter model, that promised to punch thick cardboard (mine was about 2,0 strong), and it's working not bad.

This album went all crazy about colors, which happened accidentially. It was planned with many softy pinks and oranges, and some greens, and yes, vivid yellow hues for daffodils, but I got some drawings on colored paper, like hot pink or neon yellow, so I had to add more energy to the whole thing and shake it up. And as kids drawings are spontaneous, the album had to get more playful and less orchestrated as well. That's how it turned out more graffit-y, and merged, and experimental with unexpected elements. But you know what? That's normally where all the fun begins.

Anyway, the binding device did a great job - see the cover? I wish I had left the pages two days longer under heavy pressure, because I was not able to get good pics - the edges were slightly wound up (not a big deal, but tricky for photograph) - lesson to learn for the next time!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter ANGELS - DIY tutorial to craft with kids

This post has been scheduled.. for december!

We've made small angels back then in this technique and gave them to a friend. I've cut wood and prepared the supplies, the kids have applied paints, made hearts of hama beads, salt dough ornaments, and glued all the elements. They've been in other colors in december though. And all I managed to do was squeezing a picture of them into one of „round-up“ posts. I missed the occasion to share a tutorial before Christmas, which I repented a lot, and then it didn't fit in anymore. Until Easter.

Making angels for Easter suddenly made sence, hence I got out the supplies, polished the old tutorial pictures, we made a new serie in spring colours and here we go. All the usual suspects, my friends – wood, wooden beads, virgin wool, some decorative elements.

Happy Easter crafting!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Seasonal "nature" display

There's something from german Waldorf upbringing and educational concept I'd like start with to explain what we've been recently doing - „Jahreszeitentisch“. 

That means seasonal tables – creating of scenes following the seasons. That's about making walks with kids, looking around and watching what is happening in nature in each season, getting focus on what is particular, what is intrinsic/usual/interesting throughout the year, month for month, season for season. Than you try to re-create some of the ambiance at home captured with what you find in nature. There are some enlargements possible, you can replicate small scaled animals, human figures etc.

It's all about observing and learning what is happening outside, and crafting with kids. Normally you should find a small corner/table in your place to build the scene with those seasonal elements/materials.

We have not a table for this, maybe later, but not now. For now we've played around to create a small display – that's about end of the winter – clear sky, lots of warm greys, some brownish green (moss), straw. We haven't seen animals, but we might make another „display“ with them another time.

This display is not that deep, but that's okay for now.

The colors are very low-key, except of bright sky, that's the most beautiful feature of this mid-season. There're lots of graphically interesting elements – which are normally snow covered or melted into foliage – and then they all pop up under soon-to-be-spring sun.

That's fascinating and making our walks more interesting and less monotonous. We've added a little human figure there - a wooden bead, a piece of a branch and straw arms. This tiny creature (appr. 5 cm height) got a "stool", and is not fixed, we can get him out of scene and play with. My little girl has painted his face and hair. And a straw star, since that's abundant right now and gives a very beautiful golden ocher in the sun.

SIDE NOTE: that's kind of a project which is fun if there's total freedome for everybody to try out different ideas and where's no adult art-direction, or as little as possible. For me that was the hard part - to step aside and just try to stay playful and open, and not to force something that would be aesthetically pleasing (hence graphical and minimalistic) for me. My little girl has added this and that, and reinforced somewhere in-between, so we got more mass and thicket,  It's been fun for her to create "a forest"and she was very happy with what we did. Keep in mind to stay open!