Saturday, October 30, 2010

Arty Arrivals

The mail lady is my personal Santa this week as my recent Etsy art print purchases begin to arrive.

Here's a peek (chosen for their bright colours and powers of distraction, as discussed earlier).

Now, I love me a motivational slogan. They can focus, inspire or just make you smile. I'd love to hang this up on our wall, but now that the 6 year old is learning to read I can't get away with it.


So I found something a little more PC at Gus + Lula.

It's good to remember how lucky we really are. Find it here

My Cup Runneth Over was the last print bought, but the first one to be received. How is that possible? you ask, nervously eyeing the space time continuum.

It's a digital print! You buy it, choose your colour and size ratio and within 24hrs it's in your inbox ready to print at home. If you have a decent printer it's a great way to fill walls with extremely well-priced art.

This next one is small (only 2.5 by 3.5 inches) but packs a punch. It's called The Blue Cat, and it's an original (!) by Teconlene.

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I love buying from Etsy as their sellers often go the extra mile. Look at the personal touches on the envelope it came in:

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Do Not Bend, European style.

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Hand drawn kitty cuteness.

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Open it up.

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Tweety-pie cuteness.

Now lots of Etsy sellers will pop a business card in their package, but look at this:

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Cute little tea-bag.

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Could it get any better? 

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Do you have any favourite online art print shops? Let us know about them in the comments.

Like Picasso said: "Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life". Amen, Pablo.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The decorating bug: I haz it.

Must. get. this. house. sorted.

I love our house. It is spacious (unusual in France), on a large, leafy block and feels very French.

However, it's a rental, and it kinda shows on the inside. The upstairs carpet is orange (except for our room which is avocado green) and has seen better days. The walls are all very stark white, except for the living room which is peach. The white paint has been battered around a lot, and the peach, well, there's no love between peach and I.

When the landlord's agents handed over the house they took photos of all the walls, marking down where all the picture hooks were. We were told we couldn't put a single hole in the wall. Let alone a repaint.

So in order to distract from the walls and carpets I am undertaking a cheap and cheerful redecorating campaign (yes, I know we've been living here almost a year, what's your point?)

My loud cushions show the sort of direction I'm talking about.

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And I've been using these awesome Command Hooks to hang everything without putting a mark on the mark-filled walls. Take that suppressive landlord!

My latest triumph is this fab world map print I bought online from Famille Summerbelle



I tell you, between this and their Paris map, it was a tough decision to make. 



The website says it is a print of a hand cut paper original - can you imagine cutting all this out with an exacto knife? Incroyable!

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Here it is, chez nous

The detail is wonderful. Here's France. 

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And Father Christmas. See the jingle bells on Rudolph's antlers? 

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Look at all these wee penguins.

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And Australia. Oh look, they even captured the essence of our national drinking problem. ('Tis true, we Aussies love a drink.)

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The kids adore the print, it has that 'Where's Wally' quality to it which encourages long, quiet and considered scrutiny.  As any mother will tell you, one cannot put a price on such a quality. 

The print fit perfectly into IKEA's largest RIBBA frame. Sadly for me, IKEA were all out of black frames when I visited, so I bought a light coloured one and painted it. 

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You can use the triangular edge protectors that come with the frame packaging to prop it up so you can get at the edges without painting your work surface. 

I found the paint in IKEA's children's section. I should have primed the frame first, but I was too lazy. As a result, the paint scratches easily, but seeing as mine is resting untouched on the wall, I'm not too worried. But if you do want the finish to match the other black RIBBA frames you will need to seal/varnish afterwards as this paint has a very matt finish (the black RIBBAs are glossy). 

I also turned the off-white matting in the frame around the other way to use the white back side. I felt it better matched the white in the map. 

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My frame-painting put the kids in a crafty  mood too, so we decided to paint the pinecones we collected on Monday.

They picked their favourite colours. 

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And mixed some new ones. 

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Seems the decorating bug is contagious. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Yay for Piping!

It's the first day of the autumn school holidays here in south-east France; the kids have ten days off.

I find the first few days of holidays we all rebel against the normal routine before setting back into a sort of quasi-regimented timetable.  This is why I'm blogging in my pyjamas at 1130am. The kids are watching Scooby Doo (in French, it's educational!) in their pyjamas. The baby's even gone back to bed, that bum.

Later we're going to get dressed and collect pine cones for some craft activity that I've not yet thought up. Plenty of time for that.

I forgot to mention that our little petrol station received a batch of fuel that lasted about 20 hours on Thursday. The mister tipped me off after he drove past on the way to work, so we raced down and filled up the tank. The line was only three deep, which surprised me.

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The next day I went into Eurodif in search of piping. Eurodif is a bit like Target, but smaller, and with a haberdashery section. A small haberdashery section. That doesn't sell white piping. But it did sell thick white bias ribbon by the metre as well as cord, so I bought some of both to make my own.

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Thankfully my zipper foot was in a good mood and I whipped up some piping and finally sewed the Monaluna cushion together. I'm really glad I waited.

I loved the selvedge pictures on the Circa 50 fabric and wanted to incorporate them into the cushion. I fussy-cut the little houses and sewed them together to make a little panel, which I included on the back.

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I was supposed to quilt the cushion cover but for some reason forgot to (am I the only person who does dumb things like this all the time?) - I remembered just after sewing on the piping. I wanted to quilt it to strengthen the seams, as cushions take a fair bit of wear and tear around our house.

There was no way I was taking off that piping, so instead I cut to size pieces of heavy iron-on interfacing and ironed them onto the reverse sides of the cushion's front and rear (two for the rear, above and below the zip). This will hopefully reinforce my seams and has the added bonus of stiffening the cushion so it sits very nicely (cushion posture is very important).

When I arrived at Eurodif it was still a half-hour from opening, so I had to spend that time browsing the Aix-en-Provence market. (Yes, life is hard.) There was a fabric merchant selling proven├žal prints, and I bought myself a metre of this.

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It's a traditional pattern, but on the subdued taupe I find it looks very modern.

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I was also upset to find a linen sale underway at Eurodif when I arrived. I bought some stripy and solid pillowcases purely for their material. I have been inspired, yet again, by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts and her stripy "In A Spin" quilt.

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Pillowcases are a great way to amass a varied stripe collection (especially when the back side has a different stripe, like these two.) I haven't enough yet, so I guess it's more linen sales for me, darn-it.

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I also picked up an assortment of stripy tea-towels.

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I'm hoping to use them to dress up a sad, empty wall along our stairway.

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I'll let you know if it works out!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Process Post.

Process posts in quilting blogland were all the rage a month or so ago and I love them. It's so interesting to see where everyone gets their ideas and how a final creation comes together. So here's my version.

1. I need to make another quilted baby mat for a little boy.
2. I read too many home decorating magazines.
3. I <3 IKEA.

These three coalesced the other day when I saw this picture:

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And then this in IKEA:

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I loved the bold colours in this doona/duvet/eiderdown (whatever you call it) cover and pillowslip set.

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Lots of matching material in nicely sized squares ready to be hacked to pieces and sewed back together again.

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Quilting does seem a little silly when you think of it this way, so I prefer to think of my re-sewing as value-adding.

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So the bathroom photo was translated into a design chart (I inverted the blues and the greens as I had more of the later):

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(sorry about this pic, I should have upped the contrast but I'm too lazy to go back and do it)

I cut out a hellofalotta squares and started laying it out.

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Then I tweaked it a bit, moving a few squares here and there.

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Hmm, I'm not so sure about this.

So, to the kitchen for cuppa and a think.

1. What is it that I love about the original inspiration photo?
2. I love the subtle graduations in colour between the turquoises and aquas.
3. I also love the use of larger squares to frame the smaller, more mosaic-like squares.
4. Why is it so quiet?
5. Where is that kid - you know the one, small, no hair. Other two children shrug around their mid-morning snacks.
6.  Crap, did I remember to shut the study door?

No. No, I did not.

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I really wasn't upset because I already knew I wouldn't be making that quilt (plus the little guy was having such a great time it was impossible not to laugh).

The big kids were mortified, having followed the process all morning. My son was especially enamoured with the 'quilt map'. I think he's going to be an engineer (bless him).

While I fed the baby they picked up all the squares and put them into separate piles for me. Yay, kisses all round.

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Later, that night, I tried some other layouts. I knew that I really wanted to explore the colour-graduation thing. And that some white was needed.

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Simple, structured, sexy.

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Mixing it up with some half squares as well.

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Or maybe lose the grid and go for lines instead.

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The inverse. I love me some negative space.

These are just small mock-ups to get an idea of how the pattern would look - the finished quilt will be larger. I used one inch paper strips to make the borders (much quicker to lay out and move around than fabric).

I still plan to make my original design, but using a more subtle colour range as per the original inspiration.

But for the redesigns, I think I'm going to go with the first one. Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

US visit - the final installment

A final few quick photos from my recent US visit.

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My sister lives in an area full of town houses, or row houses as they call them, predominately built in the 1920s.

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Many have been renovated and I couldn't get enough of them.

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There were tasteful neutrals:

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Some a little more daring - love the red one on the end:

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Some seriously loud (and fabulous) turquoise:

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Or how about orange?

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How about that turret at the end? How about this one (my kids want to live here):

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Aww, and check out this little guy. Probably chock-full of rabies, but still so cute!

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On many of the houses I saw these lovely bronze stars, or in this case it's painted white. I wondered what the go was with them, they were everywhere.

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As always Monsieur Google had the answer. These 1920s houses were built to a basic design - four brick walls, and niches in opposite walls where beams would be inserted (upon which the floors would be laid). House walls tend to settle and move slightly as they age, and these floors beams had a tendency of popping out of their niches. And unsupported walls have a tendency of collapsing which is somewhat inconvenient for inhabitants.

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So people started putting steel rods right through their brick walls, alongside their niched beams and out the other side again. Boring folks would secure these rods with a normal round nut while the stylish crowd started using nuts in the shape of a star.

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A cute design addition and a house that doesn't fall down. Bonus!

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