Art+Design

A crafty type and a lover of mischief, a whim, a ‘Why Not?’. Tania is also a mum of three, a wife, a graphic designer, a juggler extraordinaire (in training). You’ll find her over at Myrtle & Eunice, celebrating her crafty hits, confessing the misses and always bewildered by the pile of dirty washing.

It Ain’t Only About The Flies

It’s not that I’m obsessed with flies, cos I’m not. Certainly, if you happened to refer to the November page of this year’s Whipup calendar,  you’d turn to look at me all sideways and squinty and doubtful-like. But THAT fly – the one composed of a bazillion stitches, was really all about the obsessive joy in (finally!) mastering the french knot. THIS fly, the one above, was all about the sudden fascination with the crafty potential of fly screen.

I almost did my eyeballs in. Crafting with fly screen is like crafting blind. The grids of tiny squares appear to move and intersect, creating a moiré effect. Half the time you can’t tell which is shadow, or which is the surface you’re working on. And it’s a SHOCKER to photograph. Navigate the light, the shade, the shadows cast, the greying effect of the mesh, the disappearing into-backgrounds, then give up in a huff. Put away your camera, live it in real time.

In real time – and you’ll probably have to trust me on this – it is possible to appreciate the delicate intricacies of embroidered fly body hair.

As a crafty type who never knows when to leave well enough alone, I couldn’t help but try my hand at cross-stitching a flying fly…

…which in one fell swat, becomes a cross-stitched, well past-his-prime fly.

It struck me that flies were not the only obvious subject matter. Too busy losing focus to fly screen, to notice teetering laundry piles, a disaster kitchen, and an impressive spider web population inhabiting window frames, it finally dawned upon me. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

While the bug lovin’ middle kid is chuffed to bits with his fly-eating, window-inhabiting spider,

I have been forced to concede to the Mr’s long-held theory: not one part of this house is safe from the craft.

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Anna Hrachovec is a Brooklyn-based designer and fiber artist who creates strange and adorable characters for all ages. She divides her time between designing knitting patterns that she shares with the crafting community and creating complex knitted worlds for exhibition. She is the author of two books of knitted toy patterns, Knitting Mochimochi and Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, and you can find her blog and patterns at mochimochiland.com.

Knitting Teeny-Tiny Toys

I’m really excited to be guest blogging on Whipup again!

This time I want to share with you my biggest (but actually smallest) knitting obsession over the past two years: really tiny knitting. I’ve been knitting toys nonstop since 2007, but in July of 2009 I decided to challenge myself by designing and knitting a new miniature toy every day for a month, and sharing a photo of the finished project on my blog. My subject matter was about as random as you can get: animals, foods, people, and any kind of object I could think of. I started with a Tiny Brain.

Some days it was more of a challenge than other days (a Tiny Mailbox turned out to be a tricky project, for example), but I was having lots of fun with it and getting encouragement from my blog readers. So I decided to continue the challenge on a weekly basis, and 130 Tinys later, it’s still ongoing to this day! I never thought I would stick with it this long, but it seems that there is no end to the things that are fun to make in miniature knitted form. You wouldn’t think that a Tiny Asparagus would be so cute, but often I am surprised by which random things turn out to be my favorites.

So I started out the project because I was looking for a challenge, and I continued it because the challenge was so much fun. The fact that it turned into a book was a huge bonus! Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi was just released by Potter Craft in August (at least in the US; the release date for other countries is happening this fall).

Designing a Tiny takes about one to three hours, depending on how complex it is.

I start with an idea of something that I want to knit, whether it’s a frog, a hamburger, or a fire hydrant. I make a sketch of what I think that thing looks like. I think it’s valuable to put on paper my imagined idea of what this thing generally looks like (I’m not a skilled illustrator by any means, so it truly is a general idea).

Then I usually do a Google Images search to see if there are any important features that I left out. Sometimes I’ll look at other simple line drawings, like clip art, although I don’t want to be too influenced by another person’s artistic rendering.

Next, I go back to my notebook, and keep sketching until I arrive at a design that’s as simple as possible while capturing the essence of whatever it is I want to represent. Sometimes this means sketching something over and over again, until something takes shape. In the end, I usually have one basic shape with just a few details. And a pair of eyes, of course!

Now it’s time to knit. Since I’ve been knitting toys for about five years now, I have some go-to formulas in my head that I use for basic shapes. But there’s nothing better than trial-and-error when knitting toys, and since the designs are so small, it doesn’t hurt to just start knitting and then start over if I have to.

For the main piece, I usually work from the bottom up, or from back to front, because the closed-up end looks better than the cast-on end. I almost always knit this main piece in the round using double-pointed needles.

Time for details. For flat pieces, I will often pick up the stitches, which looks like this:

And for long, thin pieces, I make an I-cord and thread it through the main piece. I do this with lots of arms and legs on animals and people.

Embroider on the eyes and a few other details, and we’re done: a tiny blue penguin!

It’s so simple and quick, I bet any intermediate knitter could tackle their own Tiny toy design. Let me know if you do! You can see all of my Tinys on the Mochimochi Blog. Happy knitting!

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Karen Barbé is a textile designer and lives in Santiago, Chile. Her passion for crafting, textiles and everything nostalgic finds its space on her blog where she shows her works in progress and what currently inspires her. Her textile creations can be found on the her online shop.

Hi there! I’m Karen, I’m a textile designer and I’m happy to be guest blogging here on Whipup.net.

I chose to hand print this piece of fabric because it’s been a long while since I had last tried it and I had in my mind these images of cross-stitch patterns, grids and textile structures I wanted to play with.

For making my stamp I used a clear polycarbonate sheet and small squares (5 mm / 2.5inch) of EVA foam [hard foam - comes in blocks - is used quite a bit in packaging too].

What I like about using small squares is that you can easily build a nice motif without having to carve or cut complex shapes. Just choose your favorite cross-stitch pattern and start gluing the squares (or “stitches”) on the surface.

I printed a piece of roughly 1 x 1 mt (a bit more than a yard) of natural cotton muslin with three rows of my design. It’s best to use clear bases for the stamp for easier registration (instead of wood or matte plastic).

I must confess I was going to cut the final cloth and sew a bag but when I saw it finished I changed my mind. I can now use it as a small tablecloth, a wall hanging or small curtain, a cloth for sitting on the grass or for wrapping your stuff you have to carry around (like returning the books to the library).

Can you think of any other ideas?

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Alexandra Smith aka Lola, writes the blog Lola Nova – Whatever Lola Wants. She is a mother, wife, designer, musician, and maker of 100% pure handmade goodness.  She lives in a little green cottage in the Pacific Northwest United States with her family, some lovely lady hens, The Buddha Cat and an ever changing population of fish.

Everyday Inspiration

How lovely to be asked to guest post here at Whipup.net, a place so chock full of inspiration and wonderful folks, thank you Kathreen!

So I have been thinking about inspiration lately; where does it come from? In this modern life we live, we have access to so much through our technology; there are amazing blogs, fantastic music, images from all over the world at our fingertips. Many of us have access to museums, galleries and exhibits that fill our heads with new and exciting ideas. However, in this modern life we live, there is also an issue of time. We are all so busy; we have jobs, families, homes to manage, etc. and often it is a struggle to find time just to make something - let alone go to a museum, craft fair or to spend hours scouring the internet. I am no exception.

Recently, I was caught up in the whirlwind of everyday life, feeling un-inspired and a little sorry for myself if the truth be told. After a long afternoon of wearing my grumpy pants and punctuating my chores with heavy sighs, I looked around and realized that no one was going to take me by the hand and say, “There, there dear, why don’t you take the afternoon off and go to the museum and while you’re at it, get yourself some cake.”  No, I was going to have to buck up and find my inspiration in the everyday stuff.

Here are some of the ways in which I found inspiration in the small details of everyday living:

*I picked up a new notebook, made myself a little pouch to keep the essentials in… a small pair of scissors, tape, a glue stick, pens and pencils, as well as a wee sewing kit. Now armed with everything I needed, every outing became an opportunity to look for inspiration. I collect things; a feather, an interesting scrap of paper, a leaf to press between the pages, and I add them to my notebook. Some days it is just a single tidbit with a small note, other days it may fill up a few pages with drawings, observations and thoughts. Whatever the case may be, I find it opens up my eyes and my imagination.

*I engage my daughter in the exercise as well, she has her own notebook and we talk about what we find and why we chose those things. If we don’t have time to put everything in our books, we save things in our pouches until we have a moment to stick them in.

*I take my camera everywhere; going for walks, trips to the park, even to my back yard, and I take pictures of things that strike my fancy. No pebble, stick, fence post, storm drain or bit of dandelion fluff is safe from my lens. I discover patterns, colors, shapes and textures that fascinate and inspire me.

*My daughter and I play a game while riding in the car that is a little like “Eye Spy” only we call it “I Like.”  We call out, “I like the way that yellow sign looks against the blue sky!” or “I like that giant letter M on that brick building!” or “I like how that tree looks like an old man!” It’s all about opening our eyes to the little details we often miss.

*I remind myself to turn on music that makes me happy. It just works.

All of these things make an impression and they lead to inspiration that makes its way into my work. Not all of it turns into a dress, a quilt, a cushion, or a handbag but, I am often surprised how these little inspirations show up in something I have made, sometimes in ways I would never have imagined.

…and yes, I have even been inspired while doing the laundry.

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Guest post by Heidi from Uncovered cover art

Uncovered Cover Art features reimagined children’s book covers. Professional and amateur artists can submit artwork, and new illustrations are added daily. Art directors, designers, and agents are all frequent visitors.

When you browse through the bookstore or the stacks of a library, a book cover makes all the difference. A good cover provokes an emotional reaction and instantly lets the reader know what the book is about. Every artist has their own unique style. That’s why it’s so fun to see a book illustrated again and again. As a children’s book editor, I’ve always enjoyed the process of finding an artist and working with the art director to design a new book cover. And I LOVE when we get a chance to go back and refresh a book with a new cover. It makes all the difference and I fall for a book all over again.

There are so many talented and creative artists in our world. Uncovered Cover Art is my way of celebrating them. I really hope this website will be a matchmaker for artists, art directors, and agents. I’ve been amazed by the response to the website with agents encouraging their clients to submit and artists sending in new work every day. I’m so excited each time I get a new submission. Here’s what I love to see…

I love art that feels loose and alive.

I discovered Jana Christy on Seven Impossible Things and her Little Red Riding Hood is a favorite on Uncovered Cover Art. She is so sassy!

I love color.

Meg Hunt gets it completely right with her Alice in Wonderland pieces.

The Princess & The Pea has been a source of inspiration for so many artists because it offers so much room to design amazing textures and contrast colors in fresh ways. This piece by Heather Ross would make me return to the book again and again.

I love texture.

Kate Slater’s The Owl and the Pussy Cat is the ultimate example. I could not care less about this poem, but there is so much here to draw you in.

Kevin Stanton’s homage to Where the Wild Things Are is so dreamy. I just want to stumble along the edges of this paper world and fall in.

I love being surprised.

Some of my favorites are those that just completely reinvent the book.

I absolutely love Quentin Blake’s artwork, but this illustration of Matilda is stunning. Chrystal Chan created this piece for the Gallery 1988’s Required Reading show in Los Angeles. It’s gorgeous, poignant, and made-you-gasp memorable.

This version of The Little Prince by Jennie Lynn Paske is so surreal. It truly feels like Le Petit Prince has landed on another planet.

Billy Nuñez’s Chinese take on Goldilocks is just right. His work has been hugely popular on the site because it feels so obvious (How Has This Not Been Done Before?) and yet, so fresh.

Dokino hails from Mongolia and gave an entirely earthy and unexpected African twist to Alice in Wonderland.

Berk Ozturk’s punk Rapunzel is funny, dark, and suggests this story could be updated for tweens and teens.

To celebrate the launch of Uncovered Cover Art, the three most popular artists will receive a copy of Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration. If you know someone who should submit to Uncovered Cover Art, I would be delighted if you spread the word to your friends, any all other souls who are passionate about children’s books. Voting ends August 30th.

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