Saturday, July 30, 2011

Artistic Inspiration - or - What makes my heart beat faster

I've spent last week recovering from travel and grand kiddlet fun.  Sleep isn't a priority when you're visiting family you don't see but once in a blue moon but the aftermath. - a killer.  Also getting the last of the Nativity Scenes finished. Pictures soon.

I'll tell you a secret. I need to feast on others artful creations as much as possible in order to get my creative juices flowing. Thanks to the great almighty web I come across some great images.
Like these cute little bears I found through a fun blog by a English mom living in France.  Aren't we global?  Debora of Kickcan & Conker has so much eye candy.  What is a Conker?  I don't care. 
I just love that she introduced me to these great bear prints.  They are made in France by Zu.  These bears are French, don't you think?  Would any American do a print of a teddy type bear smoking a pipe?  Only the French. I'm in awe of how they use simple shapes to make the cutest images and how they create distinct personalities from essentially the same features.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Public Art

I just came home from a great visit with my parents and sibs.  Traveled with the BestLoved First Daughter and her kiddlet.   Mom and Dad have lived in Olympia, WA  for nearly two decades but before that they've been pretty nomadic and have somehow encouraged their children to roam the world (or at least the USA). This was the first time in 17 years they have had all 7 of their children together at once.  We ate, painted Dad's garage (he's 80 and built a proper building all by himself including building a homemade crane to lift his self built trusses), taught baby Simon to roll over, ate, slept very little, visited the farmers market and generally enjoyed the fellowship.

I love flying into SeaTac Airport because they have public art installations - some have been there and loved by me for years.  It's really worth it to down load their brochure "Art in the Airport" to locate what's there.  My favorite piece is an installation titled "Flying Fish" in terrazzo stream by husband wife team Judith and Daniel Caldwell.

The floor of Concourse B is cream colored terrazzo (a cement with stone flecks) with grey and blue flecks.  The flecks in the terrazzo make a meandering path that resembles a stream and  embedded in the "stream" are flat, carved bronze leaves and fish.  People have been walking on it since the floor was built and it still delights me.  When we pointed it out to the BestLoved Kiddlet she happily skipped the entire length of the concourse, weaving side to side to stay on the stream.  Together we looked a some of the bronzes more closely.  There are salmon of all kinds, big fish, little fish, some eel like fish and beautiful leaves.  For the first time I saw a fish holding a suitcase and a fish who's fins are arranged so it looks like a flying plane.

It was pure magic to share it with the kiddlet.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I couldn't post about children's dinnerware without giving some love to Royal Doulton Bunnykins dishes.

In the 1934 a daughter of the general manager of Royal Doulton, Mary Barbara Bailey, did the original art that was used to manufacture a charming line of nursery dishes featuring bunnies at work and play with borders of the cutest brown bunnies with white tails.  Barbara was a nun, not a professional artist but had grown up drawing the countryside and farm animals she and her six siblings kept.  When her father wanted to use her artwork for childrens dishes permission was granted by her religious order under the condition that neither Sister Barbara or the order profited from the project. 

I first was introduced to these wonderful bunnies when 17 years ago I found a Wendy Schoen book that used the Royal Doulton designs as shadow embroidery designs on a beautiful white organdy dress that I sewed for my now nearly grown niece.   Love these little rows of bunny love.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dinnerware Just for Kids

Do you have special dishes (cups, bowls, plates) just for the use of the small folks?  I don't mean the old ratty plastic stuff we let the kids use so our "good china" is safe from mayhem.  I mean special, pretty dishware designed just for kids.  There seem to be two kinds of these dishes - kid sized and doll sized.  My faves are the kid sized.  Here's some lovelies you can get that would be wonderful to make dinner special for a kid.

Victorian German child's dish on ebay
I've seen a few similar to this one below.  This one is from the 1940's.  It's double walled and you fill it with hot water so baby's food stays warm during a feeding.  These must have been used by moms and not just displayed.
1940's Warming Divided Dish on ebay

More modern sets usually have a cup, plate and bowl so you can serve any meal.  Lenox has some cute ones like this Teddy Bear set.
Lenox Childrens Teddy Bears on ebay
What I like the most about Lenox's Teddy Bears is that the mug has a bear on the bottom of the inside.  It's a little reward for drinking all your milk.
 Lenox Teddy Bear Mug on ebay

Wouldn't it be fun to use something like this?

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July

We live in a southern state where anyone of any age can purchase enough explosives to mimic a small war.  We usually don't spend a lot on fireworks. We all have favorites - mine are the big Roman Candles.  The BL Boys love bottle rockets which give you hours of fun for little cash outlay.  Some towns prohibit fireworks but if you  live in the county you can set the world on fire!  We came to Grandma Merry's lake condo for the holiday  (which includes a preschool nephew's birthday) and expected to take the kiddlet and cousin to view one of the municipal, big,  firework displays but were disappointed to find that Hot Springs did their fireworks July 1.  ?  Reminds me of Southern California where they would do Independence Day fireworks at  5am the morning of the big day.  They had fewer problems with huge crowds.

When we took the girls swimming Sunday evening, we discovered that another family was setting up for a huge firework display.  (They had a entire porch stacked several feet deep with flammables.) Grandma's condo is located on one of the prime "points" on Lake Hamilton.  Each unit has nice lake views but the pool is one of the best locations to view the lake and to enjoy a beautiful setting.  The fireworks were being lit just below the pool right on the seawall.  To make it short - we attended!  It was a better show than most commercial events!  The only difference between this show and one you might pay for was the huge starbursts didn't seem to go as high, so it felt like we were in the explosions.  Awesome.  I love living where they let you live dangerously.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I know that there are folks that live for summer.  Me, not so much.  I missed school. (Yup, a total nerd.)  I lived for the Summer Weekly Reader to arrive.  I missed friends.  I did love being able to read a lot, though my mom thought I should do a fair share of garden weeding and house cleaning.  (What a hard life!)  I did love that I pretty much learned to sew, embroider , cook, knit and crochet on summer vacation.  4-H projects and some Primary girls activities gave this instruction some structure and 4-H gave me Dress Review and County Fair to show off my projects.  In this spirit, we've got a Best Loved kiddlet for a couple of weeks and though she's no bigger than a gnat she's big enough this summer to share in some of my passions and her reading ability has leaped ahead so we can enjoy really good chapter books.  One thing she wanted to do was to learn to sew On The Sewing Machine.  She took to it like a natural. 

Behold. . . an elastic skirt made without a pattern, made by the kiddlet herself!  My first 4-H sewing project was a gathered skirt without a pattern.  The project guidelines said it had to have a waist band, a placket and a hand hem.  I was a year older than our kiddlet but this is a bit easier.  Only straight line stitching. We bought a yard of fabric and just seamed it lengthwise, folded the top over to hold elastic and hemmed it by strait stitching it down.  She picked out the fabric (her Mom and I really urged her to choose this not another orange and pink print as it would be better for fall). To use my sewing machine we had to put her on a booster seat and then put the foot pedal on top of a Rubbermaid bin.  Yea, she's short.   We practiced on paper without thread in the machine, then progressed to scrap fabric.  She will tell you that she's crafty and she really is.  I had such flash backs of me sewing my first projects with Mom on my shoulder telling me to slow down the machine - "you're not a racehorse".  Yes, I said it, too. 

We also did some basic embroidery  instruction.  Behold, the first sample piece of Stem stitch and straight stitch.  
We think this will become a doll pillow.  What kind of fun is summer fun at your house?