Monday, 26 January 2015

Flower Love

In May 2013, I started with a photo series on Instagram under the hashtag #onebouquetperday. Every day, until the 31st of October, I picked a bouquet of flowers, wild ones found in the meadows and woods and varieties from our garden, and posted the photo on Instagram.

Last year, I took up my #onebouquetperday series again. In 184 days, I picked 184 flower bouquets, well-documented by my camera. This time, I was joined by people in France, the USA, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and other countries, some only during their summer holidays, others for two, three months. 

One of the people who joined me, was Elodie Love (yes, that is her real name) of Madame Love, a beautiful French flower and interior blog. The other day, Elodie surprised me with a pretty collage of my photos and a lovely little post about my #onebouquetperday project - have a look here. 
I follow Elodie on Instagram as well and every day I enjoy a good portion of Parisian chic and flower inspiration while parading my vintage dresses together with muddy wellies in the Scanian countryside.

This year I will start my flower series for the third time, maybe even a bit earlier, in April. Like Elodie, quite a few of my followers have already asked to join the floral journey again and I am very much looking forward to pick the first spring bloomers in a few weeks. From the curious little heads of the springdrops to tell, the bouquet picking season will soon be starting...



Friday, 23 January 2015

Colours of January

A sunny hello from wintry Skåne!
(and thank you for still visiting this place after a little blog break, quite much needed)

January has welcomed us with stormy weather and lots of rain and I was about to join the masses and strike up the same old song about the first month of the year being grey and dismal. But then I decided to not cave in and let the bad mood bug bite me as well. Fortunately, grumpy Mister January finally got a grip and granted us glittering snow, blue skies and amazing sunrises in the past few days.

These two girls have already arrived at their new homes far away, I finished them earlier this month and truly enjoyed their colourful and merry company. They were a great remedy to come over the usual January fretfulness (together with proper workspace lighting, the first spring bloomers on the windowsill and colourful fabrics on the work table). The hem on the purple dress was cut off a 1970's summer dress I've found some years ago at a fleamarket. Even though the dress was too threadbare to wear myself, I can't help thinking of a warm summer breeze, flowers in full bloom and bare feet in the grass whenever I cut into the fabric.

Today we've heard the silvery zee-zee-zee of a little bluetit that sat in the old lilac bush next to our house. Spring is on it's way, despite January's boorish manners.


Friday, 2 January 2015

Paper Diamonds (and a Happy New Year)

[these were my handmade gifts for New Year's Eve: Origami diamonds on a golden string with a silver bell inside]

I send you my warmest wishes for a happy and sparkling 2015. 
May you all have great beginnings, a year filled with creativity and hope, with light and joy.



Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Tiniest Christmas Tree

Some time before Christmas, I received a little package from Petra, a dear blog reader. I was battling a heavy cold that day, feeling like on a wavering ship, it was dank and overcast outside (we only had a couple of hours of sunlight in December) and no coffee in the house. In short, it was the perfect day for a moral boost.

When I opened the package, I found a handwritten card and a delicious homemade Christmas Stollen (a traditional German fruit cake) for Kiki and a little silk sachet. Inside I found the tiniest handmade Christmas tree I have ever seen, with a wee golden top star and sparkling crystals...

As an expat, I treasure my traditional German Christmas decorations, especially the ones from Erzgebirge, the Ore Mountains. The area around Seiffen/ Saxonia is known as Toy Corner (Spielzeugwinkel) in Germany due to its long tradition in Ore Mountain folk art. There you can find the most skilled wood carvers, sculptors and toy makers. In the old days, when the tin and silver deposits in the mines declined, families had to look for new ways to earn their living, and many of them turned into woodcarving and woodturning. People started making nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids, candle archs and wooden incense smokers (smoking men). While the vast majority of Christmas decorations is being produced in China nowadays, the Ore Mountain toy manufacturing has been growing strong over the centuries, their products can be found all over the world as ubiquitous souvenirs of German craftsmanship.

The tiny spiral tree, carved from one little piece of wood, has been made by Petra's husband Uwe Uhlig who runs a wood carving workshop in Lengefeld in the Ore Moutains. Even though the homepage is in German, the photos are truly inspiring. For me as a dollmaker it is such a pleasure to read about someone who has a passion for artisan craftwork, to see what skilled hands can make from just a piece of wood.

On the website of Miniaturendechslerei Uhlig, their workshop, I found a wonderful little film that you too will enjoy for sure. Not only does it give you a beautiful insight in the art of woodturning, it does also reveal a little secret about what happens in a toy workshop in the night once the lights are turned off...

Thank you so much, dear Petra and Uwe, for your heart-warming package!

Sending you sunshine from wintry Sösdala,


Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Time Between the Years

A warm hello from a wintry Skåne!

I hope you are enjoying the time between the years (as we call it in German, my mother tongue), those precious days between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Days filled with slowness, calm, quietude, with time to wave the past twelve months goodbye and time to prepare for a new year.

We spent a very cozy and calm Christmas with family and with friends. Taking long walks through a glittering winter landscape, drinking tea by the crackling fireplace, reading books, abandoning ourselves to sweet idleness, watching starlit December skies and listening to the singing ice that covers the small lake in the woods.

As every year, we decided to give each other mostly handmade gifts, and for one of my closest friends, I made this string of light with small star-shaped lanterns from Origami paper. It turned out so pretty and I had almost kept it for myself, but just almost ;-)

Luckily, I ordered some more paper (if you live in Sweden and are looking for a good source, I got mine from here) that arrived just the day before Christmas and the past few evenings I have been folding more tiny lanterns to make a string of lights for our house. They look so beautiful when illuminated and it is such a meditative craft to do, perfect for the time between the years...

Sending you snowflakes and warm greetings, enjoy the weekend!


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Into the Woods (Dreaming about a Hermitage)

After yesterday's storm, I filled the thermos with tea, put on warm mittens, loaded the heavy camera tripod on our little handcart and went into the woods. The air was crispy and fresh today, as if someone has had an enormous Christmas cleaning in the forest last night. I picked fir branches, beechnuts and moss to decorate our house with and even found blooming periwinkle and a few snowberries, a last farewell gift by Mister Autumn who had stayed much longer this year in our neck of the woods.

In the forest, about twenty minutes walk over hedge and ditch, there is an abandoned hunters hut. Although I have never seen anyone up there, the traces around the weathered cabin and a few things behind the blind windows tell me that every now and then someone turns a key in the rusty lock.
For quite some time I have been dreaming about a little hut just for myself. A cabin surrounded by old beech trees, in the middle of the forest, just like this one, not far away from our home. With a window on each side to let in the light and nothing in it but a table and a chair and a woodstove to keep me warm while poring over ideas. A place for reflection, like a hermitage, where I could enjoy the quiet for an hour or two every day before walking back home, through the woods, over hedge and ditch.

For now, building a proper greenhouse and converting a part of the barn next to our house into a larger studio are far higher up on our list of priorities. Still, I am dreaming about that little place of mine, a hermitage where I can leave the everyday bustle behind me for some time to refresh my mind.
I don't remember when my wish for a little cabin just for myself started growing. Years ago, when I read about a beautiful wood hermitage in a magazine, I cut out the photo below to keep it for inspiration - probably that was the beginning.

To my surprise, Sandra of Atilio, one of my favourite Swedish bloggers, wrote about a drawing she is hosting at the moment: The lucky winner will be spending a creative weekend together with a group of bloggers, photographers and writers at the Wood Hermitage of Urnatur - and she posted the photo of a tree house that I still have in one of my sketchbooks.

The Wood Hermitage is a beautiful retreat that, as part of an organic farm, consists of several small cabins and tree houses in a forest area near Ödeshög in Östergötland, Sweden. A magic place where you can reconnect with nature and where you can experience the beauty of the woods with all your senses. 

For several years, I have been wanting to visit Urnatur, and when I read about Sandra's drawing, I decided to try my luck. Because if you can't yet afford to have a cabin of your own, with just a window on each side to let in the light and nothing in it but a table and a chair and a woodstove to keep you warm while poring over ideas, you could simply rent it, right? Or, for that matter, spend a weekend in the merry company of other creative people in one of the beautiful cabins at Urnatur. 

And after a day or two, or maybe three, the hermit in you will start longing after the everyday bustle of your home again, I promise...



P.S. Ah, and before I forget: Happy St. Lucia to all of you! Remember what happened to Kiki last year?
© image no.7 by courtesy of Urnatur.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hand-carved doll furniture by Anja Sundberg

Some time ago, I started with a new collaboration as part of a larger project that I am preparing for 2015. Already last year, Anja Sundberg, a talented wood carver (and a creative relative of mine) and I discussed ways on how to work together as crafters.

In September, I finally sat down and started on making sketches of doll furniture in scale 1:5, a size that would fit my Kiki dolls. For my project, I wanted to have something really simple, in so called Allmogestil, a traditional Swedish style that is characterised by its simplicity and functionality. Anja, who received her education at Sätergläntan, the famous Swedish college of traditional handicrafts, was full of enthusiasm (she still is) and once she had my sketches, she started working.

The pieces of furniture I am sharing here with you today are a kitchen table with a cutlery drawer, a practical bench and two kitchen stools and a beautiful kitchen rack for plates. The stools are about 9cm in height (just to give you some figures), which is a 1:5 scale. When our grandparents were little, small toy shops and doll furniture often were made in exactly that scale, it is a perfect size for children to play with. I am always on the look-out for small vintage toys in that size, just the other day I found a pretty little doll china (the one you can see in the photos). I am still a bit undecided on whether I am going to paint the rack and the table with organic linseed paint or leave them the way they are, with just a little wax to protect the surface. We'll see...

We are still in the process of experimenting around with ideas, not only defining a style for Kiki's furniture, but also pondering over further options. I'd love the idea of being able to offer a small-scale series of doll furniture for my customers, but as a doll maker, I do also know about the struggles with toy-safety regulations as well as the general problem of justifying fair prices for craftsmen. 

Anja is not only known for her artwork but also for her beautiful hand-carved toys - and it was very important for me to work with someone here in Sweden, with someone who has a passion for traditional handicrafts as well as a lot of ideas and knowledge. Our collaboration has become some kind of creative cross-fertilization and I am very much looking forward to soon be sharing more with you. 

Another crafter I'd like to introduce to you today is my blogger friend and colleague Giova Brusa of One Bunting Away (link here). Giova has joined a so called blog hop to link artisans and makers from around the world and I feel very honoured that she has nominated my blog as the next in line together with Mirta of Mi plus Ed Design. The last time I met Giova was in August last year in Copenhagen (oh, time is flying), but even though we live more than 1000km beeline apart, I always enjoy visiting her at least virtually and getting inspired on her beautiful blog and I hope you too will find lots of craft ideas over there!

Sunny greetings from Skåne,


P.S. The beautiful "floor" in these photos is a patterned paper by UK-based designer Esme Winter (Frequency in light blue, available in different colours). All her products are made in England and printed with vegetable inks on high-quality paper. I use Esme's papers for covering storage boxes and for craft projects such as origami, they are such a pleasure to work with! You can read more about Esme Winter on her website.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday Slowness

Sunday slowness at Snogerups Gård

Picking the last herbs in the kitchen garden and putting the geraniums to bed
Spending hours at a flea market with dear friends and calling it a successful treasure hunt
Finding eleven quinces hidden under wet foliage in the garden
Watching the wild geese in the sky while chatting with the neighbours
Eating small raspberry cakes and drinking tea while folding umpteen glittering paper stars in a merry company
Coming home from a walk in a forest with chanterelles, two feathers and a bouquet of blueberry twigs

A Sunday, calm and slow, exactly what we needed...  

[I hope you are spending a cozy weekend, too]

Monday, 3 November 2014

Monday in my Studio - Week 45

Another monday, a new week.

A week that has started with the finishing touches on the facade of a miniature (doll) outhouse that I built last week for a certain little cottage that most of my readers are familiar with. It has been on my to-do list for quite some time - because what is a house without a toilet, right? 
There are still a few details missing, but it I am slowly getting there (and I am looking forward to soon showing you more). 

Slow is also the motto of this week. I will take some time off to recharge batteries but will certainly update the blog with a post or two...

In the meantime, be good to yourself and enjoy the first week of November. May this month be a bright one (despite the decreasing amount of daylight).



Thursday, 30 October 2014

Happy Pumpkin Weekend!

You know, I'll put up something, Kiki says
Something spooky, to scare away 
The old fox who is sneaking
Around the shed, every night

He'd better watch out! I reply
You bet! Kiki says


I know, I am one day early, but: 
Happy Pumpkin Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Physalis alkekengi - Autumnal String of Lights DIY

Are you too in some kind of autumnal nest building mode, decorating the house, making it cozy and comfortable for the winter months? 

I totally am in a nest building mode at the moment, which is why today's lunch break mini craft project to decorate our kitchen with was an autumnal string of lights with the beautiful red husks of Physalis alkekengi, also known as Chinese Lantern, a relative of the Cape gooseberry.

The other day, my friend Linnéa (who has an amazing garden) gave me a basket full of Chinese Lanterns and I felt quite fortunate because I had been scouting the neighbourhood for the past few weeks, always on the look-out for these red beauties!

It is a quick and easy DIY,  all you need is the husks of Physalis alkekengi. At this time of the year you'll find them at the florist's (or ask around in your neighbourhood). Make sure that the husks are still somewhat soft, freshly picked. Use manicure scissors to cut a tiny circle around the little stem and gently remove the small berry that is inside. Leave to dry for a day or two, until papery, then put them on the small lamps of a string of lights, preferably with LED lamps that won't get too warm. You can even use a drop of hot glue to keep the husks in place. Done!

I love these simple light decorations, they spread such a warm light at this time of the year and remind me of my childhood, they are quite common in Germany.  They would also make a fantastic centerpiece when arranged in a bowl (with the light string inside) and I plan to prepare a few more for our Christmas tree this year.

Hope your evening is a bright one!