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Birdhouse update – Roof damage

The mornings are crisp. Fallen leaves are rustling under my feet and the air smells of rotting, decomposing nature. As the bottom of the sky reddens with the sunset I draw the curtains, snuggle up to a good cup of decaf and think of the summer gone by.
This is the time to change the decorations. To banish the gaudy and the bright and bring in the warm and the rich. Was there a better time to change the front door wreath?

I headed to our storage, shuffled among some boxes, dove head first into others. A high-pitched shriek left my lips when I saw my little Scrummage. (See these posts for more on the beautiful house I made for him). Well, two years have gone by (what? when? where?), and the acrylic paint on the little house has chipped. And chipped badly.

Overall the paint on the outside walls if in pretty good condition. The tiny cracks that mark the front actually adds to the lived-in feel of this tiny cottage.
The problem starts with the rafters. The original acrylic paint has chipped so badly some spots are actually bare.
Could the difference in material be causing this difference in chipping? I’m kicking myself for not using any sort of base when I was painting the house. We are always so smart in hindsight!

Scrummage is taking this situation pretty well… considering. I mean it could be worst, right? I think I’ll look into solutions on how to fix the chipping. Not glue it back down, of course! But ways of taking off the old paint and reapplying it after a good base. Any ideas on which base could be the best when using acrylics on paper? #mousediy

Moving in to the birdhouse

If you read my post about how the creative process works for me it will not be news that I tend to (over) analyze my pieces even after I deem them done. This is exactly what happened to my blue birdhouse. I kept looking at it as it hung on our door and felt that something was wrong. After a couple of days I realized what it was: it was lifeless.

I know I said I wanted a birdhouse that was empty and waiting for the nesting birds to return in the spring. But I realized this is not us! If I looked at all out other door ornaments, it was always full of life and fun. The winter wreath has snowmen while our summer wreath gardeners. I knew I had to have someone or something in the house to make it right.

 A while ago I searched around for ideas, inspiration and tumbled into Larissa Holland’s world on mmmcrafts. Oh my! I simply fell in love with her style! It reminds me of folk design, but with a modern twist. I believe I pinned every single felt creature, ornament, design she made on my Pinterest board.

There was one little creature in particular who heightened my curiosity this time: Tucker the little mouse. Why a mouse? As I was flipping through my sketchbook I saw an old drawing I made a couple of years ago. It was an idea for a fall wreath that had a little mouse collecting summer’s bounty for the scarce days. I am not sure if I believe in fate or not, but this sure felt like it.

mouth sreath sketch

Before I knew it my little mouse was born. The rest of the design (I know it sounds strange, but) just happened.felt mouseFor the trees I collected some branches in the garden. I started to glue together little pieces at random with hot glue gun. Once I liked the outcome, I pruned it to shape. The trees are attached to the base  with glue gun as well. This is hidden with walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts. The very bounty the little mouse would collect.tree mini birdhousebirdhouse trees

Now that the house had a little tenant it lit up. It was full of energy and life. Every time I leave or come home a little smile is there to welcome me. This is what I was originally missing, and this is what I have come to find. Looking at it I knew this is it! NOW it was finished.

OK… one last thing. If there is a creature, it must have a name, right? As the Rugby World Cup (one of my favorite sports by be way.) is in its full swing right now, I thought it is right to honor this great event. This is how our little smiley friend came to be known as Scrummage.

felt mouseGO ALL BLACKS!!

Birdhouse revisited

Now that I had a bit of time over the weekend I decided to go back to my birdhouse project. OK, it was more like I had to return to it. The dilemma of how to finish it was driving me mad! Whenever I had a spare moment during the day, or woke up in the middle of the night all I could think about was how to make those planks on the walls of the house.

My first instinct was to paint a think line with acrylic paint and then lightly wash the bottom edge. I realized this would not work. Trying it out I noticed it did not have the dimension in color or texture that I was looking for. That was the moment that I tried something totally different: approached it with the same technique, but in a different medium. I used watercolor pencils instead of the paint.

The use of different colors, hues at the same time helped me achieve the depth I was looking for. Since it was not a color that was blended it had dimension. Also, since the pencil applies dry I was not pushed to finish it as quickly as possible. I could take my time to get the  shading just right. It ended up looking beaten and ragged as a house would after years of tough weather conditions.

birdhouse blueFor the chimney I sponged the surface with a color that matched our model home’s. After it dried I painted in the mortar with an off-white color blend.

birdhouse closeupHumor is very important to me. For this very same reason I am head over hills in love with this little mini birdhouse! I mean, could it be any funnier (and weirder at the same time) that there is this little house within a house concept? I first thought I’d make a miniature bird to live in it. I think that would have been a tiny it too much. What do you think?

bitdhouse on the doorAnd here is the end result:  our new fall ornament. It is going to be our colorful Norwegian welcome whenever we come home. And so nice to return to it!

Return of the birdhouse

Taking up a project one has left to one side is always hard. However, it is even harder when the same project just will not let you go. When it gets into your brain, it makes its way into your every thought – no matter how unrelated – and it just does not let go! It is like that stubborn tune you hear – many times wish you haven’t – and you just cannot shake it: it is there for at least a week!  (By the way, have you found a trick to combat this nightmarish situation?)

The reason the birdhouse project was occupying my thoughts was quite simple. I had to make an adjustment and I had no idea how to tackle it.

The sides were the toughest parts to create due to the complicated three paneled windows. I thought they would look quite good, why not then? The problem arose when after a day of completing the skeleton of the house I  realized that it is too thick. Looking at it with fresh eyes I thought it would look much better if it were about 50% thinner.

And that is when the dilemma started. What should I do with the windows? Should they stay or should they… there was not even an opportunity to finish the question. I worked too long on them, and I liked them far too much to simply trash them! And then the question comes: what to do?

I though about it, thought about it and nothing. And then a couple of days later I suddenly realized all I had to do was change the original window design. This would allow me to cut out a portion of the side panel – between the window frame and the corners – and glue the remaining part back on. Voila! That easy????

birdhouse resizing walls

Once you know the how to, the what to seems so simple! Then came the chimney, now that I was so into the modification. When it all came together I knew I would not be able to wait another day to start experimenting with the color! My husband suggested to mimic a blue house we saw in a book about Bergen, Norway, so blue it became! And such a beautiful color!

Bergen blue birdhouseThe thing is, now I’m stuck on the question of how to create the realistic looking planks that make up these beautiful wooden houses  Oh boy, I’m into the same trouble as before…



Birdhouse for fall

As the days become shorter and the weather colder comes the sad realization that summer is nearly over. This usually means I get the urge to change a couple of decorative items in my home: bring in the reds, the burgundies and make it more fall-like. And that is when I realized – although it should not have been a surprise – that I don’t have a wreath for the season!

In previous years – when it comes to wreaths – I jumped from summer right into winter. The Gardeners were half frozen in their slippers when they finally got their well deserved rest, while I was lucky my Family Frost didn’t melt in temperatures not meant for snowmen.  This time I promised myself I would not let this happen!

I knew I wanted to make something colorful and fun. I thought about a bird house. A little house that saw the birth of new lives and the busy work of the parents. A little building that is temporarily left to rest. However not long before it is filled with life once more when the first warm breezes come in spring.

I didn’t see a house that I liked in the craft store so I decided to make my own. I had a shoebox that was just the right size for the project, and some incredible photos of colorful houses in Bergen, Norway. I drew the sketch and boldly approached the box with my scissors.

birdhouse cardboard
Birdhouse – skeleton
my workspace
Working away on the birdhouse project
mini birdhouse
Getting a tiny bit carried away while the glue is drying

A mess I made for sure, but the project is not going as fast as I’d like. Daylight is not my friend right now. Rain and gloom have descended. And still my mind and body crave the remaining outdoor hours, days before the cold autumn comes. So I must juggle this urge and the project. This weekend it was not the project’s time. Oh, but it will come soon…

Christmas gift ideas – for the child

It is not easy to purchase a gift for a child. This day and age they seem to be into a very specific thing and by the time you learn about it and get it, the craze is already over. Was over for months. And on this subject, is Frozen still a thing? But what I have learned is that kids love when they receive something unique, something nobody else has. And what better way to gift something unique than to make the gift yourself? Continue reading “Christmas gift ideas – for the child”

What is a year?

Usually we stop and reflect on our deeds (or lack thereof) at year end. Ask anyone, I am definitely one of these people (you might even find a post about it here). However, when I realized that a year had passed since I first ventured into the scary realms of this corner of the internet called blogging, I stopped in my track. It was not the end of the calendar year, but an important milestone in my life. It took me, however more time than usual to be able to put what I felt into words. For there was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that I didn’t quite know what they were. In fact it took me a week long hiking trip in the wondrous woods of the Bükk to finally get it.

A year has passed, and I gotten a year older. But as not only the second, but the first number character flipped – from 3 to now 4 – it got a bit strange. Strange, because I started hearing the “Oh, believe me there is life after 40” jokes and I just didn’t get it. I felt nothing of the worry, anxiety that others told me I should. Hiking in the quiet forest, hearing nothing but my panting while climbing the mountain I had plenty of time to think and reflect. And that is when it hit me: I never felt more alive, more happy and more like I am in my own skin then right now, when I did turn 40. And the why is right here, written all over this little diary I now call my blog.

From left to right: Still life with fork, Lake Balaton – Keszthely, Still life with lemons and a glass, Angels on glass, Lake Balaton – Swans, Notre Dame, Still life with lemon and vase, The City Hall – Stockholm, Still life with lemons.
Selection of drawings from The 100-Member Kitty Band series.
From left to right: Saint Anne with savoy cabbage… (detail), Szentendre, My Camino, Poppy, Cornish Harbor, Coneflowers, Szentendre (detail), Poppies, Padstow Harbor (detail)
From left to right: Family Frost, Bunny, Rooster, French Hen, Scrummage the mouse, The Gardeners.
From left to right: finger puppets, e-reader cozy, owl keyholder, mobile cozy (detail), sock monkey, mouse applique, airplane mobile, Grumpy the cat, The Little Mole’s Trousers – Treasure Seeker Card Game.

In a short year I turned from an avid social media recluse to someone who has found her voice in this realm. From someone who thought of art as chachkies a year ago thinks of it now as one of the most important things in her life. Through the rediscovery of my love for creating art I found unexpected techniques, materials, tools. I found long forgotten sets of pencils, pastels, even a box of oil paint so old it solidified to a rock right in the tube. Art has put down its foot in my fantasies and dreams so hard in fact, that it has solidly shoved out Excel files and Power Point presentations, my demons from them.

But something I was not expecting is that what I make is somethings others would find inspiring. That there would be more than 700 of you out there who read this blog on a regular basis. I cannot be thankful enough for the friendships I’ve made through the blogging community. The inspiration, ideas we’d share, the discoveries they’d initiate. I never in a million years thought that a musician who inspired me would actually find the drawing I dedicated to her and post it on her Facebook page. So when more and more people around me at this age start turning inward and lose their footing and inspiration in life, I think I found mine. And so something that started on a whim, something I did not expect to last more than a week is now here to stay. Hope you stick around with me for more!

Snowbirds in flight

Yeay, it’s December! The holidays and the end of the year are coming with lots and lots of celebration. A month for cooking, baking and crafting – all of these in excess of course. It is also the time when it finally becomes appropriate to listen to and to sing Christmas carols.

snowbird whiteI took out my favorite CD with classic carols (yes I’m a bit old school) that I love to listen to. Was already in high spirits when it came to that one particular song which I have to confess annoys me to no end: The twelve days of Christmas. I don’t know if it is the tune or the simple(ton) lyrics, but I find myself grabbing the remote control faster than is fathomable and skip to the next tune every single time. This is why I find it rather strange that when I started to think about holiday crafting the first thing that came to my mind were ornaments inspired by this very song.

When I made Scrummage, the little mouse I already had a good look around Larissa Holland’s world at mmmcrafts. I knew I wanted to revisit it later. Especially because working with felt is so different from drawing or painting. It is no longer just a pencil or a brush – a foreign object – delivering the color onto a flat surface. Rather I find my hands constantly communicating with the materials I am using. The silky colored felt, the rough threads, the slippery beads, the shiny sequins. Such a different and delicate maneuver. Such an experience!

As I had a bit of time the last couple of days I finally decided to give in to this embroidering itch. I tossed and turned over which one of the six ornaments to start with and decided upon the Snowbird. The white Snowbird in particular. It looked so delicate and pretty. I had some blue felt lying in wait and I couldn’t wait to use it.

To be honest at first it was hard. Many of the things the instructions called for I didn’t have at hand. Also, it just would not be me if I didn’t want to make it just a tad different right from the start. So figuring out how to accommodate for these changes was an extra challenge. But I did it! And I think the end result is quite nice.snowbird-head detail2Larissa said many times she embroiders the birds while watching a movie. I just could not do it this way, because I found making it was like meditation. I fell into a little zone and everything around me just melted away. The material caressing my fingers, the thread passing through the fabric slowly drawing a pattern, making the tiniest of noises. It is so relaxing!

I have to confess, right in the middle of the project I decided I have to have more. I set out and cut the felt and looked for the matching sequins, beads and thread. As I already had the know-how, these two flew out of the nest much quicker than the first one. I love them.

snowbird-red on creamsnowbird-red on red2snowbirds feltI originally intended them to be ornaments on our Christmas tree. However, I found a different home for these lovelies as I want to see them all year round. I’ll put them on our bedroom door to cheer us on our journey each morning and to welcome us back each night. Will be such a wonderful detail!

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