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teeth

20 Jul

I went to the dentist today. I’m exhausted. This post will be short.

"Toothbrush" print by Molskred Illustration & Design

Fionn now has three and a half teeth (the weird one on the top/side is just peeking through).   And I eagerly anticipate the arrival of every single one.   Maybe that’s why I love this signed print by Marianne at Molskred Illustration & Design. The print measures about 6″ x 6″, costs $25, and features a little boy brushing his amazing new teeth.

Marianne’s website features more of her adorable illustrations – see them here.

UPDATE 8/20: Marianne’s currently working on setting up a new shop, where the prints will be newly available for sale.  To check on the shop’s status, see her blog (link above).  Thanks Marianne!

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inspiration: richard scarry

29 Jun

Apple car shirt, Cluchtees.com

I recently found a great book on the closeout pile of one of the big bookstores. Called “The Busy Busy World of Richard Scarry,” this tome of a book could be best described as a love letter to Scarry, written by his long-time editor (Walter Retan) and art director (Ole Risom), and dedicated to his fans worldwide.

There’s a lot in this book; certainly too much to cover (and too many great images to be nostalgic about) for a single post.  So I thought I’d start with a list of three things I’ve learned, which now endear him to me even more than before:

Richard and wife Patsy, courtesy The Busy Busy World...

1.  He met his wife (Patty) through his work – she was an accomplished copywriter, he was an art director.  They both left advertising.  She became a children’s book author.  He became Richard Scarry.  The two of them led quite a glamorous life, jet-setting and sailing, then moving from Connecticut to Europe and eventually settling in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Best Word Book Ever, biography, Biggest Word Book Ever

2. His books were truly trail-blazing in concept and design.

In 1963, “Scarry wanted to create a different kind of word book for children, one that would arrange words by categories instead of by the alphabet.”  His publisher at Doubleday rejected the idea.  He took the Best Word Book Ever to Golden Press, and ten years later, over seven million copies had been sold.

In 1985, Scarry’s Biggest Word Book Ever was the largest scale children’s book ever published to date (2 feet high), and also one of the most expensive (at $29) and costliest to manufacture.  Random House sold out the entire run.

photo from the book

3. He never thought it was beneath him to sell (a selection of) merchandise based on his work. (I was too old for the video series but hear that it was quite wonderful).  I laughed out loud when I saw the caption under this photo.  It reads, “Dick looks at a variety of samples of stuffed toys based on his characters.  Merchandise and other licenses resulting from Scarry’s enormous international popularity added considerably to his income.”

lowly worms, amazingly handmade by stitchcraft creations

But what’s amazing about Scarry’s influence is that, to this day, people are still inspired to create their own Scarry-ific toys, stuffed animals, busy worlds and clothing.   The McDonalds toys are still around on Ebay, and the videos (as above) still exist, yet folks are staging their own birthday parties (check out stitch/craft’s website) and turning Scarry’s book pages into amazing up-cycled playthings.

Here are two of my favorites, courtesy of Etsy artisans:

blocks by LiliaRose, Etsy

Lilia Rose covers oak wood blocks with vintage ilustrations, then glazes them with a non-toxic, water-based sealer.  The images on the five blocks above are sourced from the Best Word Book Ever.  Find them here for $15.

collage by aboundingtreasures, Etsy

Wow.  Dallas, at the Abounding Treasures shop, makes amazing 3-D collages.  This one happens to feature hand-punched butterflies from Scarry books.  I love the delicate, yet sophisticated, beauty created in these collages – and at $15 for a 5.5″ x 7.5″ you really can’t go wrong (save your money for double-matting and framing!)  And please check out her shop to see other patterns and shapes.

storybook wristlet, Flamingice.com

Lastly, one for the nostalgic moms out there. I found this wristlet, created from the pages of Please and Thank You, then coated with some type of vinyl to keep it from tearing.  It’s $35 and such a cute piece – maybe it could be used in a nursery or kid’s room to keep wipes or small toys?

The only thing I haven’t been able to find is any kind of textile; I suppose you can create your own via Spoonflower … that is, f you were to keep it to yourself (no one likes a copyright infringer).  I’m sure a Richard Scarry bedding set could do a cracking business – has anyone out there seen any?

mason jars everywhere

24 Jun

assorted antique fruit jars, on antiquebottles.com

It seems like there’s a new restaurant opening every day in our neighborhood.  And although the latest, named Seersucker, doesn’t offer the most unique concept for a restaurant (I think it’s the third ‘new’ place to offer southern-influenced ‘fine dining’ within a one-mile radius), there’s something about this one that makes me want to pay a visit.  I hate to sound fickle for saying this about a restaurant, but Seersucker – more than its competitors – really Looks The Part of a modern Southern hot spot.

image courtesy New York Magazine

As described in New York Magazine, the 40-seat spot features “a zinc bar, whitewashed brick, and wood salvaged from old snow fences.” More to the point, a review on Chowhound reads, “The food was kind of like the decor, simple and comfortable with a lot of style.”  Personally, I think it’s the mason jars that make the design.  In this age of  small-batch-locally-sourced-homemade-and-handmade foodstuffs, mason jars are more relevant than ever (and bring to mind the best local pickles, kimchee, fruit preserves and anything else featured in Edible Brooklyn).

our beach treasures, next to our Preston North End memorabilia

But I love mason jars for their usefulness and storage potential.  As shown above, this jar (which was left at our house by friends and subsequently ‘reclaimed’) is now on display with all the rocks we collected on beaches during family holidays.  I’m racking my brain to find images of a gorgeous nursery I once spotted, featuring gallon-sized mason ‘tubs’ as storage for puzzle pieces, Legos, and other miscellany.  What I found so charming was the way the lids were painted to match the decor (which would usually be a bit wedding-favor-ish for my taste, but it really worked in this instance).

So, how about it?

for collections, not canning

I discovered that Ball now sells gallon jars for just this purpose.  They’re called  “125th anniversary ‘collectors’ gallon jars” (meaning they’re not meant for canning), they’re $20 each at Cooking.com, and they’re super-cute.

But if the notion of a gallon jug made of glass makes you a bit nervous (as it does me), I found these super-cute PET plastic jugs, which would do beautifully with a bit of acrylic paint to fancy up the white lids.

Paint me!

Available at Freund Container, the gallon jugs are $4 each.  The comparable glass versions are also available at $18 each.

Need more inspiration?  Mason jars are ALL over the Internets – tutorials on how to make mason jar lamps (Design*Sponge has the best one), photos of flower-filled jars for wedding decorations (Amanda Pair’s snaps are beautiful), images of artsy-craftsy handmade porcelain lanterns, and offers for boatloads of soy candles.

'mason jar with marbles' by ria hills, $120

And, lastly, I discovered this BEAUTIFUL pastel artwork, created by a woman named Ria Hills.  At 7″x7″ it’s a bit small, but I believe it would look beautiful in a larger frame with red or blue matting.   And what’s more down-home and kid-friendly than a jar of marbles?

notting hill tube poster discovery

21 Jun

Thames travel poster, London Underground

Just saw this post on website Neatorama and thought it was too cool not to share.   In short, “workers on the renovation of London Underground’s Notting Hill Gate Station were recently surprised (flabbergasted in fact) to discover a long abandoned passageway with all the original advertising posters from the 1950s [mostly c. 1958 and 1959] still intact.”

Poster by Victor Galbraith, London Underground

London Underground describes how it happened:

In around 1959 Notting Hill Tube Station underwent modernisation. The old lifts were abandoned and new escalators were installed. The passageways to the lift were sealed off. Recent work at the station has rediscovered these passageways and when they were opened they revealed a marvellous time capsule. The adverts which were on the walls the day the passageways were sealed off remained and reveal a world long since disappeared.

Mikey Ashworth, a London Transport employee, uploaded these photos to Flickr on June 6th.  You can see the ads individually or as a group (which is probably the most thrilling) and all in situ.   He writes, “I’ve worked for London Transport for over 20 years and we have ‘found’ other posters – but none quite as good as these. We have on occasion arranged for professional removal and/or conservation of old adverts – but in this case, given the scale of the survivals I’m minded to simply leave them and re-seal the ‘tomb’.”

Ideal Home Expo, London Underground

Pepsodent ad, London Underground

All the posters are illustrated – there are hardly any photographs – and they’re similarly stylized with this paper cutout look (as above). See the entire set here.

gowanus kid

18 Jun

On our way back home from a long day out, Fionn and I often walk through a neighborhood on the banks (?) of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.  I must have taken the same route tons of times, but only noticed this graffiti art by a guy called Dolk on Wednesday. Thought it was too cool not to share.

Although he hails from Norway, his work can be found all around the world.  And although there were rumors of the “Dolk” name being an alter-ego for the artist known as Banksy, these rumors are still unfounded.

Check out more images on the Flickr pool here. Apparently, prints of his work are/were also available. (I’m unclear as to whether they can still be purchased.) So, without further ado, another of my favorites (found in Bergen, Norway), and fond wishes for a great weekend.

Protesting Baby

julie morstad, alphabet cards and personalized name art

15 Jun

"Race"

Julie Morstad is one of my favorite illustrators. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, please check out her website (for limited edition signed prints like “Race” ($60), above, and children’s book illustrations).  I first learned of Morstad about a year ago, while browsing an increasingly eclectic and growing selection of alphabet flash cards for kids.

Jargon Boy, Lisa DeJohn, Julie Morstad

These are my three favorites:

M is for Modern ($25), created by Greg Chinn (Jargon Boy) is a fantastic primer in mid century style.  Nearly 3″ square, the cards would look fantastic displayed checkerboard/wacky-pack style.  Get a large RIBBA frame from IKEA and mount with some double-backed tape on a white board.

Alphabet Animals by Lisa DeJohn looks like it was designed in the 1950’s (a great thing, in my book). A description on the Buy Olympia site (an excellent resource, by the way!) reads thusly: “Printed on sturdy board and featuring an engaging collection of animals—including dragonflies, sea horses, and warthogs—these cards are perfect for little fingers and inquisitive minds.” The cards are almost 5″x7″, plenty big to enjoy and spread around on the floor.

But back to Julie Morstad.  Her ABC cards are truly unique in the subject matter covered… instead of Apples or Ants, you get an Acrobat.

The 4″x6″ cards come in a glossy cardboard box with magnetic closure, and are available on Amazon (I’ve added a link in the sidebar) for less than $13.  I’ve placed my favorite chain of letters in an IKEA RIBBA frame, purchased for $14.99. (BTW, please click image to make it larger).  I’m in love with the flapper girl in the red chapeau – in fact, I want to BE the flapper girl in the red chapeau.

For my future niece

If you’ve got some wall space to fill, I’d highly recommend getting a set of alphabet cards … they’re so ready for framing they almost call out for it.  And either arrange them as a grouping (as with the letter chain) or mount them individually.   And if you’re lucky enough to have a son or daughter whose name has zero repeating letters, how about creating your own personalized artwork?  This one (above) is for my soon-to-arrive baby niece. (Finished via three sets of NYTTJA frames, at $2.99 for the pair).  Thinking of you, K, and your soon-to-be little one.

josephine’s vintage and handmade art

14 Jun

Josephine in her room

This is Josephine.  She’s almost two and a half years old and has a fantastic room full of visual interest and great artwork.  Her mom, Shannon, shared these photos with me, and I was really impressed.   When (re)decorating a kid’s room, it’s easy to fall into model-home/Ikea-showroom territory – especially if you’re buying everything in one fell swoop.  What happens is that everything starts feeling samey, matchy-matchy, and overly coordinated.  (I see this often with modern nursery designs).  But there seems to be a shift towards using vintage,  secondhand, and handmade items in kids’ rooms – a change I find really refreshing.   The juxtaposition of secondhand artwork, flea market finds, and modern furniture makes for a more visually intriguing space and a looser, more laid-back feeling.

An eclectic collection, arranged artfully

close up

As you can see in these images, nearly everything featured is either handmade, one-of-a-kind, vintage, or personalized in some way.  I really love the combination of bunny picture, large initial and vintage framed illustrations – three things you might not intuitively put together but that really work as a grouping.  Shannon found the three 60’s era illustrations at a local vintage shop (Union Max, if you’re in the neighborhood, specializes in this kind of stuff.)  The “J” was from Anthropologie (I don’t think they sell it anymore), and the bunny was a stoop sale find.

blue bunny

(Incidentally, I just noticed a similar image at our local frame shop.  They placed a cute, but small and plain, image on top of a patterned/busy background, then mounted and framed the whole thing.  I think this would be really easy to reproduce with your favorite cut-out and some wrapping paper.  It’s a great way to make a small picture seem bigger and more impressive, so it occupies more space on a large empty wall).

art by friends

Josephine is also a very lucky girl because her mom’s friends are very talented!  Shannon tells me that she “wanted to fill Josephine’s room with as many paintings and artwork from friends as she could.”   Both the honey triptych and the moon painting come with histories that mom and daughter will be able to share for years to come.

My dad reminded me today of my toddler bedroom, which was covered in animal-print wallpaper.  Apparently I had a bedtime ritual of saying goodnight to each and every giraffe, elephant, monkey and lion on the nearest wall.   It makes me happy to hear that  Josephine does the same – with her bunny, bees and moon.