Friday, September 28, 2007

Letters from Heaven

I found this quote yesterday, its gentle voice feels to me like a personal message from heaven, I would like to share it with you.

"Go Placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery, but let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affectation. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the council of the years, gracefully surrender the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and, whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."

The quote comes from an inscription in Old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore, USA; dated 1692.

The picture above is a painting of mine called "The Hermit", oil pastel on board, 75cm x 104cm, 2004.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On the Table - some essentials

Don't let anyone tell you that the quality of your tools aren't important. The old saying that a bad craftsman blames his tools, might be correct because a good craftsman/woman knows that having good tools is absolutely necessary. I've found this out the hard way.

A couple of tips that I have found invaluable are:

*Always have a different pair of scissors for each type of material. Seen above are the little scissors I use for Scherenschnitte (paper cutting). I use them on fine paper only. When I'm finished with them I put them away in a box, so there will be no temptation.

*Finding a good brand is like finding gold, don't be tempted by a cheap alternative as you'll be wasting more money that you think. I have one brand that I just love, many of you will be familiar with the Japanese company Clover. I first bought one of their seam rippers a few years ago and I haven't looked back. I've found all of their products to be superior in every way and are worth every penny.

On other news, the website is nearly finished and will be live as of the 1st October. To coincide with the new website the blog will be undergoing a template change. It might take a bit to work out any new bugs that inevitably accompany a big change so if you do have any problems with the site or the blog once it's up I'd really appreciate hearing from you :)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chic-Chic are baby chicks

In my quest for simplicity without compromising detail or personality, I'm pleased to launch Chic-Chic baby chicks as the latest edition to the Flying Star Toys collections. Currently they are featured in grey cotton velvet and orange pin wale corduroy with navy blue sashiko hand embroidery.

Chic-Chics have closed eyes - they are still so sleepy because they are young, just baby chickens.
Their simple shape is also a reminder of their fledgling state. Anyone who has cared for little animals knows how much they like to bunch together when they sleep and enjoy frolicking together when awake, curiously checking here and there for food.

It's funny how an image can create a seed in the mind. The Chinese peasant painting "Two Old Men Playing Chess" by Jun Zhang from Shanxi (above) has always been a favourite of mine. The old men looking so content playing chess, smoking a pipe and having tea by the fruiting vine. It displays a natural piety that William Wordsworth would recognise. Can you see the little chicks playing amidst the old friends? Well, there you have the seed of inspiration for this toy series! It has been over a year since the loving contemplation of this painting. Then, one day, a shape reminiscent of the baby chickens from the painting fell into my lap. So now I can bring to you our new friends Chic-Chic (chick-chick).

Chic-Chics are approximately 16.5cm (6 1/4 inches) from nose to tail and standing approx. 7.5 cm (3 inches) tall. They are available in right and left facing colour/grey and are weighted to stand independently.

*"Two Old Men Playing Chess", by Jun Zhang from Shanxi China, Chinese Peasant Paintings: Familar Scenes and Everyday Language exhibition catalogue, Chinese Exhibition Agency, 1980s.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering When - handmade clothes

Shula's look back in time posts have inspired me in some of my own remembering. Today I remember when my mum would make our clothes. Recently mum and I where packing and distributing my grandparents' things, I asked to have this photo. It's a picture of me and sister when we were younger sitting for the "loving siblings" shot that parents love to take. As you can see I found the whole process a little dubious, but my sister, God bless her, always got in on the act....she is just so cute isn't she :)

While we stood in my grandparents' slowly dissolving living room, I told mum I remembered those dresses but particularly the way the buttons felt on my finger tips - they were small red roses. It's amazing how subtle an impression can be left upon the mind. Mum, also musing on that time, remarked that she was very fond of that dress pattern. I must admit, however, that I didn't enjoy wearing it or most of our handmade outfits. I always felt that the split in the front of this dress was too low and it embarrassed me, and in general I felt a bit uncool when around other kids. I never told mum that, however, I choose to remember that mum loved to makes clothes for her dear daughters and I'll cherish memory of those tiny red rose buttons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Red Finch White Finch

Please welcome "Red Finch White Finch" to the Flying Star Toys collections. I'm very excited to be finally launching these friendly little birds. Red Finch White Finch are a set of two hanging toys. Hang them together, apart or share the pair with someone special.

The subtle design of Red Finch White Finch is a combination of silhouette work and origami folding. This design makes it seems like there is another set of birds when you turn them over. You can enjoy them both. Red Finch White Finch are happy to be friends for ever, no matter what their differences.

Made with woven cotton/linen blend fabrics and hand embroidered with cotton sashiko thread, Red Finch White Finch are 18.5 cm (7 1/4 inches) from head to tail tip. Hanging thread is linen yarn, eyes are black glass beads.