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weekend project: sukie iron ons

30 Jul

I debated for a while whether or not to feature this item, but decided to go ahead, with all the requisite warnings.

Found this fantastic book of iron-on patterns at our local art shop the other day.  Designs are by husband-and-wife team of Darrell Gibbs and Julie Harding, who run Sukie, the Brighton, UK-based firm.  They’re known for their whimsical and bright-patterned textiles and stationery.  Needless to say, I love their work.

butterfly iron-on

So I was slightly dismayed to see the reviews on Amazon.com for Sukie Iron-Ons.  Apparently, they’re not incredibly easy to use, a fact that’s led to some disappointed customers writing about their experiences.  But there’s some good news.

I checked out the Sukie blog today and discovered a post (7/2) which read, “New and Improved Sukie Iron-Ons are out now!”  They also reference The Happy Honeybee blog, a craft site that offers tips and tricks on how to achieve the best transfer (basically, use light pressure and a wooden cutting board to protect your fabric).

I’d also recommend trying the iron-ons on some pillowcases and sheets before taking the clothing route.  The patterns do lend themselves quite well to home decor.  I can’t wait to create some of my own pieces as well.

Below, my favorites from the 30 pages of transfer designs:

Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

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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?

sincere flattery and flag bunting

5 Jun

Olivia's room

Fionn's room

Browsing Ohdeedoh yesterday morning, I discovered a very interesting room tour; it’s the first one to feature exactly the same poster, crib set and arrangement of those items as in Fionn’s room.  It could be a total coincidence.  Or it could mean that someone actually liked Baby Daley’s room enough to want to have some of the same stuff.  And that’s really cool.

So in that vein, I wanted to share with you an amazing nursery decor trick that I’m just dying to ‘borrow’ myself.

Craft paper bunting, The B-line

If you haven’t heard of Amy at the B-line, please check out her blog.  It’s a beautiful and impressive website, apparently an offshoot of her Etsy business.  I believe she’s just had a baby – so the blog (and Etsy store) aren’t currently up-t0-date.  (Amy, if you read this, I’m hoping everything’s going wonderfully for you!)  I discovered Amy through her nursery photos posted on Flickr.  But they’re also featured on the blog, where you can read all about the amazing nursery she crafted and created – especially the bunting, made from scrapbook paper, contact paper and spray adhesive.

Frog made of custom-designed fabric

This woman does everything. Designs her own fabric (via Spoonflower – an amazing company that lets you do just that), makes jewelry, pillows, stuffed animals, wall decorations, among other things, and that’s when she’s not teaching during the day.   I love this frog – and check the pattern!

So onto finding cool bunting inspiration elsewhere.  I’ve uncovered three items, two from Etsy, and one from IKEA, all of which are interesting takes on the triangle flag theme.

1. Flags and garlands made of vintage children’s books

Sailor by Dick Bruna

Dr Seuss bunting, Richard Scarry garland

Bunting by LeJeune, Etsy, $8-$22

Alexandra LeJeune of Sydney, Australia, creates what she calls vintage storybook bunting.  She takes children’s books from the 60s and 70s, cuts and then sews them together with cotton tape.  I absolutely ADORE the Sailor images, and Richard Scarry is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators of all time.

2.  Bunting, illustrated

‘Bunting’ original illustration by Moonbeam Ice Cream, Etsy, $35

An original illustration by Edinburgh artist Kathryn Sutcliffe, this drawing is one of a kind — a real pen-and-colored-pencil piece of art.  And if I had somewhere to put it, it’d be mine.  If someone doesn’t buy this drawing within the next day or so, I’m afraid my PayPal trigger finger might get a bit twitchy for it.

3. Bedding textiles

Vitaminer Vimpel twin duvet and pillowcase, IKEA, $10

I couldn’t not mention this cute (and cheap) child’s duvet set, sold at IKEA.  Don’t know how well it’ll hold up after a few washes, but it’s worth a go. Start with this piece, and you’re room’s all figured out for color, too.  Basically, it’ll match any bright/primary shade – get a red rug and paint a wall sunshiny yellow, and the rest of the brightness can come from all the toys on the floor.

felted rocks, small and large

28 Feb

Balloon Dog, Jeff Koons, Palazzo Grassi, Venice

I’m on an art kick this week.

Back in my design firm days, we used to talk about the need to engage all the senses when creating new products. Of course, we all want pictures to be beautiful. We want candles to smell lovely, we want watches to tick, and we want cookies to be delicious. But for some reason, we don’t always think about how things feel when we touch them, and how delightful it is when the sense of touch is stimulated.

Haptic perception is the power of recognizing objects through touch. And to me, it’s best sense to play around with. As Balloon Dog (above) illustrates, it’s super-fun to have your expectations challenged. And just as a balloon dog is supposed to be small and lightweight, a rock is supposed to be dull and heavy.

That’s why I think these felted rock cushions by South African textile designer Ronel Jordaan have captured the imagination of many bloggers and online shopkeepers.

Silver rock cushions, Ronel Jordaan


Ronel Jordaan rock cushions, Viva Terra, $298-$595

If you feel like shelling out $300 for a cushion, at least you’ll be pleased to know that they’re all hand dyed, carded and felted merino wool with natural filler, and “made by women in a successful job creation program in Gauteng- Johannesburg.”

Ronel Jordaan lumbar pillow, Viva Terra, $198

The lumbar pillow features little cabbage flowers amidst the stones.

Smarin Living Stones, Olozoo, $320

A French designer named Stephanie Marin sells her own version of the stone cushion, called Living Stones, which I found for sale at an environmentally-friendly kids’ shop called Olozoo.

If you’d like to try your own hand at felted wool stones (albeit on a smaller scale), I found two great tutorials online.

DIY felted rocks, design*sponge
One is from the ever-prescient design*sponge, in a post from last February.

Felted stones, Resurrection Fern

The other is from Resurrection Fern, which includes directions on where to find merino (wool) roving, the fabric you’ll need to make the stones. It looks like a great weekend project. All you need are little rocks, wool, soapy water, and a washing machine. (By the way, the rocks come out at the end. After all, no one needs that kind of haptic experiment happening indoors…)

Remember, don’t throw things at your friends.