Saturday, 13 December 2014

Into the Woods (Dreaming about a Hermitage)

After yesterday's storm, I filled the thermos with tea, put on warm mittens, loaded the heavy camera tripod on our little handcart and went into the woods. The air was crispy and fresh today, as if someone has had an enormous Christmas cleaning in the forest last night. I picked fir branches, beechnuts and moss to decorate our house with and even found blooming periwinkle and a few snowberries, a last farewell gift by Mister Autumn who had stayed much longer this year in our neck of the woods.

In the forest, about twenty minutes walk over hedge and ditch, there is an abandoned hunters hut. Although I have never seen anyone up there, the traces around the weathered cabin and a few things behind the blind windows tell me that every now and then someone turns a key in the rusty lock.
For quite some time I have been dreaming about a little hut just for myself. A cabin surrounded by old beech trees, in the middle of the forest, just like this one, not far away from our home. With a window on each side to let in the light and nothing in it but a table and a chair and a woodstove to keep me warm while poring over ideas. A place for reflection, like a hermitage, where I could enjoy the quiet for an hour or two every day before walking back home, through the woods, over hedge and ditch.

For now, building a proper greenhouse and converting a part of the barn next to our house into a larger studio are far higher up on our list of priorities. Still, I am dreaming about that little place of mine, a hermitage where I can leave the everyday bustle behind me for some time to refresh my mind.
I don't remember when my wish for a little cabin just for myself started growing. Years ago, when I read about a beautiful wood hermitage in a magazine, I cut out the photo below to keep it for inspiration - probably that was the beginning.

To my surprise, Sandra of Atilio, one of my favourite Swedish bloggers, wrote about a drawing she is hosting at the moment: The lucky winner will be spending a creative weekend together with a group of bloggers, photographers and writers at the Wood Hermitage of Urnatur - and she posted the photo of a tree house that I still have in one of my sketchbooks.

The Wood Hermitage is a beautiful retreat that, as part of an organic farm, consists of several small cabins and tree houses in a forest area near Ödeshög in Östergötland, Sweden. A magic place where you can reconnect with nature and where you can experience the beauty of the woods with all your senses. 

For several years, I have been wanting to visit Urnatur, and when I read about Sandra's drawing, I decided to try my luck. Because if you can't yet afford to have a cabin of your own, with just a window on each side to let in the light and nothing in it but a table and a chair and a woodstove to keep you warm while poring over ideas, you could simply rent it, right? Or, for that matter, spend a weekend in the merry company of other creative people in one of the beautiful cabins at Urnatur. 

And after a day or two, or maybe three, the hermit in you will start longing after the everyday bustle of your home again, I promise...



P.S. Ah, and before I forget: Happy St. Lucia to all of you! Remember what happened to Kiki last year?
© image no.7 by courtesy of Urnatur.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hand-carved doll furniture by Anja Sundberg

Some time ago, I started with a new collaboration as part of a larger project that I am preparing for 2015. Already last year, Anja Sundberg, a talented wood carver (and a creative relative of mine) and I discussed ways on how to work together as crafters.

In September, I finally sat down and started on making sketches of doll furniture in scale 1:5, a size that would fit my Kiki dolls. For my project, I wanted to have something really simple, in so called Allmogestil, a traditional Swedish style that is characterised by its simplicity and functionality. Anja, who received her education at Sätergläntan, the famous Swedish college of traditional handicrafts, was full of enthusiasm (she still is) and once she had my sketches, she started working.

The pieces of furniture I am sharing here with you today are a kitchen table with a cutlery drawer, a practical bench and two kitchen stools and a beautiful kitchen rack for plates. The stools are about 9cm in height (just to give you some figures), which is a 1:5 scale. When our grandparents were little, small toy shops and doll furniture often were made in exactly that scale, it is a perfect size for children to play with. I am always on the look-out for small vintage toys in that size, just the other day I found a pretty little doll china (the one you can see in the photos). I am still a bit undecided on whether I am going to paint the rack and the table with organic linseed paint or leave them the way they are, with just a little wax to protect the surface. We'll see...

We are still in the process of experimenting around with ideas, not only defining a style for Kiki's furniture, but also pondering over further options. I'd love the idea of being able to offer a small-scale series of doll furniture for my customers, but as a doll maker, I do also know about the struggles with toy-safety regulations as well as the general problem of justifying fair prices for craftsmen. 

Anja is not only known for her artwork but also for her beautiful hand-carved toys - and it was very important for me to work with someone here in Sweden, with someone who has a passion for traditional handicrafts as well as a lot of ideas and knowledge. Our collaboration has become some kind of creative cross-fertilization and I am very much looking forward to soon be sharing more with you. 

Another crafter I'd like to introduce to you today is my blogger friend and colleague Giova Brusa of One Bunting Away (link here). Giova has joined a so called blog hop to link artisans and makers from around the world and I feel very honoured that she has nominated my blog as the next in line together with Mirta of Mi plus Ed Design. The last time I met Giova was in August last year in Copenhagen (oh, time is flying), but even though we live more than 1000km beeline apart, I always enjoy visiting her at least virtually and getting inspired on her beautiful blog and I hope you too will find lots of craft ideas over there!

Sunny greetings from Skåne,


P.S. The beautiful "floor" in these photos is a patterned paper by UK-based designer Esme Winter (Frequency in light blue, available in different colours). All her products are made in England and printed with vegetable inks on high-quality paper. I use Esme's papers for covering storage boxes and for craft projects such as origami, they are such a pleasure to work with! You can read more about Esme Winter on her website.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday Slowness

Sunday slowness at Snogerups Gård

Picking the last herbs in the kitchen garden and putting the geraniums to bed
Spending hours at a flea market with dear friends and calling it a successful treasure hunt
Finding eleven quinces hidden under wet foliage in the garden
Watching the wild geese in the sky while chatting with the neighbours
Eating small raspberry cakes and drinking tea while folding umpteen glittering paper stars in a merry company
Coming home from a walk in a forest with chanterelles, two feathers and a bouquet of blueberry twigs

A Sunday, calm and slow, exactly what we needed...  

[I hope you are spending a cozy weekend, too]

Monday, 3 November 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 45

Another monday, a new week.

A week that has started with the finishing touches on the facade of a miniature (doll) outhouse that I built last week for a certain little cottage that most of my readers are familiar with. It has been on my to-do list for quite some time - because what is a house without a toilet, right? 
There are still a few details missing, but it I am slowly getting there (and I am looking forward to soon showing you more). 

Slow is also the motto of this week. I will take some time off to recharge batteries but will certainly update the blog with a post or two...

In the meantime, be good to yourself and enjoy the first week of November. May this month be a bright one (despite the decreasing amount of daylight).



Thursday, 30 October 2014

Happy Pumpkin Weekend!

You know, I'll put up something, Kiki says
Something spooky, to scare away 
The old fox who is sneaking
Around the shed, every night

He'd better watch out! I reply
You bet! Kiki says


I know, I am one day early, but: 
Happy Pumpkin Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Physalis alkekengi - Autumnal String of Lights DIY

Are you too in some kind of autumnal nest building mode, decorating the house, making it cozy and comfortable for the winter months? 

I totally am in a nest building mode at the moment, which is why today's lunch break mini craft project to decorate our kitchen with was an autumnal string of lights with the beautiful red husks of Physalis alkekengi, also known as Chinese Lantern, a relative of the Cape gooseberry.

The other day, my friend Linnéa (who has an amazing garden) gave me a basket full of Chinese Lanterns and I felt quite fortunate because I had been scouting the neighbourhood for the past few weeks, always on the look-out for these red beauties!

It is a quick and easy DIY,  all you need is the husks of Physalis alkekengi. At this time of the year you'll find them at the florist's (or ask around in your neighbourhood). Make sure that the husks are still somewhat soft, freshly picked. Use manicure scissors to cut a tiny circle around the little stem and gently remove the small berry that is inside. Leave to dry for a day or two, until papery, then put them on the small lamps of a string of lights, preferably with LED lamps that won't get too warm. You can even use a drop of hot glue to keep the husks in place. Done!

I love these simple light decorations, they spread such a warm light at this time of the year and remind me of my childhood, they are quite common in Germany.  They would also make a fantastic centerpiece when arranged in a bowl (with the light string inside) and I plan to prepare a few more for our Christmas tree this year.

Hope your evening is a bright one!



Monday, 27 October 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 44

Another monday, a new week...

To our joy, it was much brighter today in the morning than last week, although the alarm clock didn't show any difference (a cheer for standard time that makes you believe, at least for a couple of days, that winter isn't as dark as you remembered from last year).

We watched the elk nibbling apples behind our house, had a quick breakfast - and then I started with prop making, something that my main focus will be on for the coming week. In the forenoon, I made this batch of miniature potholders - all made from thin wool yarns that I got a couple of weeks ago. 

A lady in the village was cleaning out her attic, and when she found a box with these woollen yarns, she thought of me. I love the muted vintage colours, they are perfect for the project I am working on - everything you make from these yarns looks as if it has been used and washed for quite some time, such wonderful shades of colours!

What else is happening this week? 

My colleague and friend Suse of RevoluzZza has started a little virtual studio together with me. Nothing big, we are not working on a doll project together, but try to find ways how to connect virtually as colleagues, with shared schedules, to-do lists online, virtual mood boards etc. Like in a studio that two crafters rent together, each working on their own projects, but with a huge sofa and a coffee table and chats during the breaks (and always a door to knock on if you need an expert's advice). Basically, we have been doing this for a couple of years now, as real-life friends, sharing knowledge, inspiration and ideas, but it was about time to explore new ways of online collaborations as crafters. Every monday, we start the week with a virtual meeting and discuss our businesses and our craft projects. It is something that makes the two of us even more look forward to a new week, like a fantastic creative boost after the weekend!

Tomorrow I will find a new home for Storm, will do a lot of photographing, putting up small scenes, preparing two DIYs, writing texts and editing photos, start on two new dolls - and hopefully I will find the time to gather some leaves and pick the last flowers. Emily of MakeLight has created a beautiful autumn decoration for her monthly series 'Styling the Seasons' and I feel honoured that she was inspired by my Hydrangea Garland tutorial that I posted some time ago. Fingers crossed that I manage to do at least half of what I have on this week's to-do list so that I find time to make some flowery displays for our home...

Enjoy the start of the week and have a lovely afternoon and evening!



Saturday, 25 October 2014

Into the Autumn Sky

Come on, little boy, says the north wind, with a blustery voice
While I watch the leaves swirling outside the window
And the chestnuts falling from the tree, plop-plopp-plop
Come on, little boy, come on!

It has been storming for days, so much 
 That there are branches all over the yard
 The gutter sings in a funny tune
And so does the chimney

The roof tiles are dancing in step, all day
And the shutters rattle and shake
In the heavy winds
No weather to play outside, says grandma

There is no better weather to play outside, I think.
Come on, little boy, says the north wind, with a blustery voice 
I put on my coat and a hat, grab my kite
Then I count till ten, open the door
And before grandma has even noticed, I am outside

Oh! What a marvellous weather! 
And with a hoarse laughter, the north wind 
Grasps my hat and hurries down the hill
Just you wait! I shout and start running
Come on, little boy, says the north wind, with a blustery voice 
As I sit on a tree trunk, out of breath
And count beechnuts and empty snail shells in my left pocket
Come on, little boy, come on!

And I watch the leaves swirling in the air
And the chestnuts falling from the tree, plop-plopp-plop
And far away, up on the hill
I can see grandma, waving her kitchen apron
Come on, little boy, says the north wind, with a blustery voice
I count till ten, I grab the string
And in the blink of an eye, I run across the meadow
Past the stable, the old oak tree

Along the fence, across the bridge
Over stones and puddles, through swirling leaves 
Running, rushing, running
 Downhill, downhill
Come on, little boy, I can hear a blustery voice
Right behind me, and all of the sudden
 The wind grabs my kite and takes it
Into the blue autumn sky

Over the roofs, over the tree tops
Over the meadows and hills
With a dancing tail, with a singing string
Far away

As if it was anchored to the clouds

And on the hill, grandma is still
Waving her kitchen apron
Come home, little boy, come home!
With his tousled blond hair and chestnut brown eyes, Storm is looking for a new home on Tuesday, 28th of October. A true little rascal, always climbing in the highest trees, always with pockets full of stones, little twigs and empty snail shells, always with red cheek and scratches on his knees. Storm lives up to his name, without doubt!

He stands 54cm/ 21" tall and is made from organic sheep wool and cotton interlock, just like all my dolls. Storm has a sculptured face, carefully embroidered features, his wig is made of mohair yarn. He a round sculpted bum and little sculpted boy body parts, dimples in elbows and knees, a bellybutton and ears. Apart from a small seam around the neck, all seams and joints are machine-sewn, the torso and limbs are stuffed very firmly to endure many, many hours of play. His kite will be part of the listing as well as a repair set, care instructions and a lavender sachet.

Storm will be travelling properly dressed in dungarees, long johns, underpants, long sleeve shirt, a jacket, flat cap, shoes and scarf. I will be mending all holes in his clothes before we say goodbye, but be prepared - this little rascal loves to climb fences and trees, you better have your sewing kit within reach. You never know what Storm will be up to, he is quite of an adventurous nature.

While most of the dolls I make, are custom doll, Storm will be available in a short auction on tuesday, 28th of October, you can find his the here. The auction will run for three hours, from 06:00 pm to 09:00 pm EDT, you can find a time zone converter here.

It will be exciting to see where the autumn wind and his kite will take him next week!



*if you live in Europe, this equals 28th October 11:00 pm to 29th October 02:00 am CET, Berlin local time. The auction will be held at night time because most of the doll collectors are in Canada and the U.S. Thank you for your understanding.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Vintage Lace Secrets

Today I received a dusty box with pillow-laced and crocheted treasures. Some of them have been handed on for four generations in F's family, and from his grandmother's estate, they were now passed on to me. Such beautiful finds!

As a young girl, F's grandmother was a maidservant at Wanås Castle. She had to look after the children of the family and often told us about those steep and dark staircases up to the maidens rooms and how scared she was every evening when she had to go upstairs with just a candlestick in her hands. In the nights, when everyone was asleep, she could hear the wooden floors squeaking, as if someone was walking hither and thither, restlessly, every night.

I imagine that a few of these laces once have been stored in a heavy oak cabinet in the manor house at Wanås. Maybe they'll whisper me a little secret when darkness is falling, a secret about steep staircases, old wooden floors and nocturnal guests...

(or maybe, maybe, although Halloween never has been my holiday, I am about getting into a spooky mood ;-)