Monday, January 21, 2019

365 Days of Ornaments - ORNAMENT SIXTEEN

Ornament #16 - I Believe in Angels

Along with country cotton dolls, wood played a big part in the 1990s.  Laser cut wood pieces were still just an idea in the minds of people which meant that wood pieces had to be cut the old fashioned way - by hand.  But there were a lot of people who could accomodate you if you wanted just the raw pieces for painting.  

The above ornament is one I found from another crafter.  I loved the simplicity of it - 2 pieces of wood, a little paint, some black wire, a piece of cotton and a little black ink - and once again, I thought I would venture into painted wood decorations.  Well, I managed to do a few pieces but the time to make each piece was just too much and I really hated the repetitiveness of the process of creating the decorations.  Why did everything have to be the same?

The above ornament is mine.  Now, instead of 2 pieces of wood I used 4 (I always felt I had to elaborate on an idea).  I added some decorative writing but I kept the basic idea intact.  I did sell every one I made which leaves this poor lone soul to be offered in my ETSY shop along with the other. 

Another design I liked during the 90s was this one, similar to the one on top but a whole different design.  Again, very simple, 3 pieces of wood, a little paint and a bit of black wire.  As long as you could write a simple phrase or personalize an item, you could always sell an ornament.  

And my reinterpretation?  What you see above.  The same 3 pieces of wood but a different color scheme, my own painted flowers, a halo for the head and a transfer phrase rather than a handwritten one.  Again, yes, I sold the angels but I still grew tired of the repetition.  So needless to say, once all my wood pieces were used up, I did not venture into making wood ornaments again.  

Yes, it's easy to copy someone else's work but in the 90s who copied who?  Craftsmen sold patterns at wholesale shows and, at times, craft shows.  Buyers bought the patterns to either recreate or come up with their own take on the pattern and if they sold at a craft show to another crafter, the design could/would be reinterpreted again.  And so it went on and on and on until eventually the true originator of the design would be lost forever. The 2 pieces I purchased are unsigned so how I am to know who to give credit to in this blog.  In the long run, the only people who really benefited from the patterns were the people who sold the wood components and paint.  

My father once told me "Robbie, you don't want to be the person who sells the finished product, you want to be the one who sells the supplies."  I think he was right.  Demand for wooden pieces is as high as it ever was only now, the designs have changes and the cut pieces are oh so much lighter!

Till next time.....

Sunday, January 20, 2019

365 Days of Ornaments - ORNAMENT FIFTEEN

Ornament #15 - Sugar Babe

This is going to be a lengthy blurb because I am going to put all my thoughts about country fabric decorations in this one installment.

Earlier I mentioned how country crafts start coming around in the late 1980s and 1990s and I have to admit, I was intrigued.  Especially the designs by artists that combined fabric, wood and other bits and pieces to create a product that anyone could love.  The popularity of creating a doll or enamel with only 2 dots for eyes was appealing - it meant that you didn't have to have any artistic ability to create something so rustic.  The only thing you really needed was a sewing machine and the wherewithall to sew a straight line!

At the Beckman's gift show you could buy finished product, unfinished product in a bag or just the pattern.  What I am presenting now are the designs that prompted me into not only purchasing the pattern but in trying my hand at the making.  Well, to be honest, after the first few patterns I tried, I decided right away that I didn't want to spend the amount of time it took on each item.  So into a pile everything went and that pile ended up with me here in St. Louis when I moved from Los Angeles.

Now the above country girl, well I have no idea who designed her.  I just fell in love with the design and I think I just purchased this piece from the crafter.  Anyway, I will list this darling girl in my ETSY shop and will hope that someone decided to give her a home.  She would be easy to recreate.  And if the original designer is out there and happens to find my blog, please contact me so I can insert your name and give you the credit you deserve!

The muslin girl above was another design that I liked and found very appealing.  Again, it would be easy to recreate BUT I hated sewing the doll form.  Too much work once more!  Adding straw wings and cotton clothing was again, so easy, and painting the face, again, so simple.  But that doll form!  So I don't need her anymore and will add her to my ETSY inventory.

Now the above girl I can tell you all the info you need to know.  She was designed in 1994 by K&K Designs of Abbotsford, B.C., Canada.  She came in a prepack and this is the prototype that accompanied my order.  I think she is so adorable She's made of 2 pieces of wood, a lot of hand stitching and a simple bit of painting.  Since I no longer need her and no longer will make items like her, I will offer her, as well as the pattern from K&K on my ETSY shop.  

The above lady is my favorite and the only one I have left that I made myself.  Designed by Sandy Johnson in 1994 for Wood N Yarn Collectibles, the little girl is called a Sugar Babe.  She is made of wood, cotton fabric, straw, paint and black wire.  I loved making her and to be honest, if I did have a lot of time to spare, I would love to continue making items like her.  But now, in 2019 I am off in another direction and cotton fabric is no longer carried in THIS house!  So I will offer my one country doll AND the pattern from Sandy in my shop on ETSY.  For the lady that loves country - this pattern will provide a world of delight!

Till next time....

Saturday, January 19, 2019

365 Days of Ornaments - ORNAMENT FOURTEEN

Ornament # 14 - Lace Heart Box

Discovering Marcela and her work led me to experimentation once again.  I really thought she was covering chipwood boxes with fabric so off I went in search of them.  I can't even remember if Wangs had them - it seems I had to buy them at Moskatels in Los Angeles, a store which eventually turned into a Michaels.  Now a chipwood box is like very thin balsa wood and if the pieces weren't packed correctly, you got cracks.  And those cracks usually led to something that couldn't be fixed.  So the fabric overlay could cover a myriad of blemishes within the wood and still be strong enough to support a design. While I was able to make a fairly decent Marcela lookalike, the time involved was terrible - upwards of 3 hours to make one small ring box.  So I tried something a little different.  I decided not to cover the box is in its entirety.

Leaving the underside of the lid uncovered as well as the sides, I was still able to come up with a design that sold well.  Instead of plain moire taffeta on the top with maybe a single flower, I decided instead to cover the top with different bits of lace and floral trim, goodness knows I had enough of the stuff lying around my apartment!  I covered the bottom and then edged everything in gimp and I kept the color combination to whites and creams, they seemed to sell the best.  While chip wood boxes came nested in threes, I liked working with the smaller boxes the best - an example of which you see above.

Anything heart shaped always seems to sell and this design continued to sell well for me right up to the day I left Los Angeles for Missouri.  As I mentioned earlier, I placed a lot of the balance of my inventory into a craft mall here in St. Louis and managed to sell most of what I had.  The rest went to friends and family as gifts.

This is the last box I have of this design and since I no longer plan on making more, I will offer it now in my ETSY shop.  I do still have chipwood boxes left to decorate but I don't think I have any more hearts, the other styles were round and oval.  Hmmm, maybe I'll just do a destash listing on ETSY to sell them off. Maybe someone would like to play with them!

Till next time.....

Friday, January 18, 2019

365 Days of Ornaments - ORNAMENT THIRTEEN

Ornament #13 - French Ribbonwork Hair Comb

Let me take you back a little further in time with regard to my creating decorative hair combs.  

I've already explained how when I arrived in Los Angeles via San Diego I discovered the Fullerton Craft Show.  Well, at about the same time of the invention of the glue gun, a fad took hold of Southern California - Hair Combs!  Now for the newbies reading this posting, you probably won't have heard about the movie PERFECT starring Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta.  Or maybe you have. Anyway, around that time Olivia Newton John came out with a record called LET'S GET PHYSICAL.  Well all this caused an incredible push in physical fitness AND how to keep your hair in place while working out.  Head bands were all the rage and along with head bands came, yes, hair combs!

With all the glue gunning I was doing, hair combs seemed a natural craft to jump into.  i could buy store bought silk flowers, wrap a comb with rat tail, glue the flowers on and sell them for the awesome sum of $3.50 each of 2 for $6.  They were so easy to make and each night, after work, I would craft hair combs until it was time to go to bed.  On Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, I would do a craft show or I would sell "in the round" in Westwood Village.  I had a small table, a mirror and would sell a small amount each night.  It was a lot of fun until one day, the fad ended and I was left with a lot of finished product and a lot of supplies.  

I always knew that hair combs would be continue to be wanted but that it wouldn't be me selling them.  Now, companies such as Goody turn them, and headbands, out by the thousands - all Made in China.  So when I started fooling around with French Ribbonwork techniques in 2018, I decided to create some hair combs as well.  Again, since I like One of a Kind items, it was easy to use small bits of antique ribbon to make combs that might be worn at a wedding or with a special outfit.  

So now, while not technically an ornament to hang on a tree, I'll start offering my ribbonwork creations in my ETSY shop and on the website. There won't be too many in the shop to begin with as I stopped making ribbon roses last November in order to focus on Christmas ornaments.  So once I get a little further into this year you'll be seeing a lot more silk ribbon work and how I am using that to decorate more than headbands and hair combs.

Till next time.....

Thursday, January 17, 2019

365 Days of Ornaments - ORNAMENT TWELVE

Ornament # 12 - Country Girl with Heart

I am slowly pushing my way into the 1990s and my foray with country crafts.  By country I mean anything with a primitive, folksy, down home feel.  Country crafts didn't have to be over the top in terms of decoration but they had to have a few things in common - cotton fabric, wooden beads, burlap, and a sweet face!  Take the above ornament.  So simple to make, I can't even remember where I found it but I thought it was the cutest thing I had ever seen and knew I could reproduce it.  It's not a big decoration, about 3-3/4" high and while the above was meant to be a plant stick (stick it in a potted plant for a little country color) you could also just add a hander at the back and turn into an ornament.  The cost to make was relatively inexpensive as long as you bought the wood beads and cording in bulk.

So what I came up with is above.  Yes, the same green/beige fabric with hearts on one, but sunflower fabric on the other with the wood heart not on the hand but on the front of the dress.  Again, so easy to make with just a tying of the cording and a little hot glue.  This was something I could make in bulk and at a low cost!

What remains of my attempt at this craft is what you see above.  Just 3 little girls in green, 1 in yellow/blue and my prototype.  I will list them all (okay, maybe not the prototype) on ETSY and hope that they find a new home.  What will you do with them?  Well, you can add a stick at the back and turn them into plant sticks - you can place on in your favorite doll or teddy bear's hands or you can add a hanger at the back and hang it from your country Christmas Tree.

Till next time.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Taking a Breather....

I started designing some new ornaments last night and failed to download some pictures so I'm just going to talk a little about what inspires me in my work.

Actually anything can inspire me but I love anything from the Victorian era.  The time that was taken to create something out of love has always amazed me.  I mean it was de rigeur that a young lady in those days have a thorough knowledge and aptitude for sewing, embroidery, musicianship, writing, drawing/painting and more.  A girl was not considered accomplished until she mastered the feminine arts.  It didn't matter if she didn't know how to cook or clean a house or take care of baby - there were servants for that.  Yes, arts and crafts in the old days were a hobby of the rich but a means of employment for the poor.

What I love about items that have survived from the Victorian era is their "look".  They can be perfectly preserved or in an aged condition but all have an appeal that cannot be denied.  Maybe it did take Rachel Ashwell to promote the fact that old and fragile equated to Shabby Chic but in my minds eye it's been the faded, slightly darkened by age patina that has always caught my attention.  It is, simply put, beautiful!

So I will head back to my living room where I have a large table set up for my ornament experiments and tomorrow I will list another item from my past.  Eventually, most likely by the end of the month, I will have finished my "history" of how I got to where I am now.  Then I will begin showing the ornaments I am making now and how I am influenced each and every day into creating an item.  One thing is for certain, every day I say a little prayer about how thankful I am for the Internet and all the wonderful craftspeople that sell on the Net.  Their work continues to influence me every time I turn the computer on.  I can't stay away from Pinterest and I can't stay away from links.  While one thing might work for me in one way, maybe something else won't.  Or maybe a combination of the items will prompt something new from my hands.  I never know.  In fact, right now, I never know what is going to come out of my hands.  I usually start with one idea and end up either shredding it or changing it around until it suits my idea of perfection.

Till next time.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

365 Days of Ornaments - ORNAMENT ELEVEN

Ornament #11 - Hand Rolled Roses Tassel Ornament

I'm gradually moving into the 1990s with how I was influenced by other crafters as I moved along with my designs.  Marcela Designs was another company that fit into my line of thinking when it came to romantic designs.  Marcela was a single lady who designed what I considered to be the most exquisite boxes and ornaments using a very simple design - hand rolled ribbon roses.  I fell in love with her small line of moire taffeta covered boxes covered in lace and roses as well as her tassel ornament.  One look and I knew I could make the same.

I can't remember if Marcela used Banar as her starting point when it came to the ornaments but I was firmly convinced that it was chip wood forms that were the basis of her boxes.  It was only much later that I found out that she actually made her boxes out of cardboard.  I tried my hand at making her engagement ring boxes and I was lucky enough to land a contract with a store to sell them everything I made - they offered a box with each engagement ring they sold.  Creating the boxes and making the ornament was fun for a time but, like everything else, I soon got bored with making the same old, same old so I decided not to make anything else.  The projects were much too time consuming as well. 

After 30 plus years, Marcela is still in business (see the link to her site at the bottom left of this page) though her designs have simplified somewhat.  She is now incorporated and her daughter has joined the firm.  Her line of goods caters towards the Bride as well as the Newborn.  Her craftsmanship is by far the best I have seen and any item from Marcela has been crafted with love. 

The tassel ornament shown above is the last item I made using Marcela's idea for placement of ribbon roses.  It's a simple design and would work well as a Christmas ornament or a package tie.  Done in white, the coloring of the florals is extremely subtle. 

I will now proceed to list this in my ETSY shop and hope that it finds a new owner soon. 

Till next time. .....