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Friday, November 14, 2008

Solstice Calendar: The Influence of Books

Day 3: The Owl Mama Comes Back

A couple of books have influenced the early design direction of the calendar. The first, Owl Babies, which I mentioned in the last post, is a simple tale of three baby owls who miss their mama. It's a popular book in preschools and around our house. It's helping me with my goal of one day getting to leave preschool.

While the owl babies waited patiently for their mama, I got to work on designing her. She needed to be flat for a couple of reasons: first, she needed to be able to fit in the nest with the babies; and, second, she needed to be able to fly. I decided on making her out of one layer of felt — not stuffed — that way she'd be able to wrap her wings around the babies.

My local, crafty friend, Bethany, gave me some suggestions on using wool yarn for needle-felting the details. I just happen to have a shoe box full of darning yarn, which turned out to be a handy needle-felting palette. I've always wondered what I'd use the vintage bits of yarn for, since I don't darn. Enter needle-felting! All I needed to do was take up a new hobby. Another fine example of why one should never get rid of anything. ;)

For the mama owl I made a sketch first — I wanted to make sure she'd fit in the tree. It took a couple of tries. Next came the felt details and a little embroidery for the face, then the needle-felted yarn for the feathers on the body.

The Owl Babies book, the sketches, and the cut felt pieces for the mama owl.

The box of mending yarn, and the mama owl getting her feathers at my needle-felting station. I've since purchased a different kind of foam. Not sure if the new one works any better.

Mama owl flying home to Percy, Sarah, and Bill.

Mamas always come back.


Day 4: All That The Rain Promises

The second influential book I wanted to talk about is, All That The Rain Promises: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms.

I know, that for the most part, the US is full of people who are afraid of wild mushrooms. David Arora, who has written two of my favorite field guides to mushrooms, calls this condition "fungophobia," which we apparently caught from being a former British colony. Arora writes, "This irrational fear of fungi is by no means a universal trait. The media and medical profession have done their part to perpetuate it, but they are certainly not responsible for its origin. To a large extent, we inherited our fungophobia from the British."

All That The Rain Promises is the smaller of David Arora's books. It's the book that you take with you when you are out in the field, or forest as it were. It's the book that, with the help of my friend, taught me the basics of identifying wild mushrooms. While it might not be an obvious design correlation, Arora's books have influenced my life in many wonderful ways: by giving me inspiration to get out into the woods; by freeing me to study, touch and smell mushrooms; and, by educating me enough to feel comfortable eating them. And, if I need any ideas for the many needle-felted mushrooms I'm planning on making, I know where to look.



Blogger Cele said...

That rain cloud is so beautiful.

Sun Nov 16, 03:01:00 AM PST  
OpenID fiveflowers said...

Oh, M, it just is turning out soooo cool! what talent!

Sun Nov 16, 10:31:00 AM PST  
Blogger Average Jane Crafter said...

I am loving watching this project progress! Especially because of the Owl Babies influence. I got that book on a clearance shelf somewhere right after my daughter was born. It was one of the first books I read to her, and it's always been our favorite. There is such a rhythm to the reading of that book - especially this part where the mom comes back. I can hear how we read it in my head as I look at this picture of your work. It's just so so so so fantastic! I am in awe! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

Sun Nov 16, 11:06:00 AM PST  
Blogger futuregirl said...

I love how personal you are making this project. The cloud and mushroom are wonderful! I also like the way the mending wool is perfect for needle felting. Your momma owl is SUBLIME.

Sun Nov 16, 12:09:00 PM PST  
Blogger Knitsonya said...

OK I am here to reassure you that needle felting does not in any way shape or form constitute as a new hobby. It's kind of like recycling. It's a tool with which you can reuse those yarn scraps. Now that we have that settled, your solstice calendar is so, so amazingly gorgeous and can I say how much love how the owl mama's wings wrap around the babies? Brilliant and sweet and heartwarming all at the same time.

Sun Nov 16, 08:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger SmrfChic said...


Mon Nov 17, 09:16:00 AM PST  
Blogger Mrs. Pivec said...

Oh, so glad you made a Mama for those babies. I LOVE that book and owls. Love your tree and those babies too! So well done!

Mon Nov 17, 10:02:00 AM PST  
Blogger Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Your solstice calendar is stunning! I love all of the details and I am sure it will be a well-loved and anticipated family treasure for many years to come.

Mon Nov 17, 05:59:00 PM PST  
Blogger said...

This is the most amazing thing ever. You need Lol, let us watch you make this amazing thing all day long!

Mon Nov 17, 06:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jen said...

Oh my goodness, it just keeps getting better and better! I can't wait to see what you add next.

Mon Nov 17, 06:57:00 PM PST  
Blogger snow white and rose red said...

I am really enjoying watching this take shape. your rain cloud is so adorable. Thank you for sharing, you are truly inspiring.

Tue Nov 18, 02:51:00 PM PST  
Blogger Nancy Dag2 said...

As always your so creative. This is so beautiful and sweet. Do you take orders? (hee-hee)

Tue Nov 18, 09:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ulla said...

Beautiful and stunning! I love seeing your progress on this amazing advent artwork, and hearing about your inspiration! BRAVO!!!

Wed Nov 19, 11:21:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Kelley Hart said...

Your calendar came out beautifully! Your kids will cherish it forever. It's good to do these things when they are young. I always meant to make an advent calendar, but didn't get around to it. Now my son is 12 and frankly, wouldn't be so into it! Maybe I'll make one for myself (since I never really grew up!).

Wed Nov 19, 09:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger Di said...

Wow this is simply captivating! I love all the textures you're creating, and I'm sure the end result will be stunning. Very inspiring. This is what craft and creating is all about.

Thu Nov 20, 04:05:00 AM PST  
Blogger gwendomama said...

you make me feel completely useless.

Thu Nov 20, 09:08:00 AM PST  
Blogger bluekaeru said...

I love the concept but especially love the mamma owl. I love how you thought ahead to make her multi-funtional. Great project.

Thu Nov 20, 10:26:00 AM PST  
Blogger Artful Spirit said...

This is fabulous! I wish I had the patience to take on such a large project! I don't have the patience.

Thu Nov 20, 06:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger Pixie Mama said...

Just wanted to say I stumbled across your blog in my search for gnomes and felt things and am really enjoying it. Loved the gnome hats!

Fri Nov 21, 08:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger Pecos Blue said...

so cool we just got that book.

Tue Nov 25, 08:25:00 AM PST  
Blogger Frizz said...

aaaaahhhh - the rain cloud - brilliant!!

Tue Nov 25, 11:11:00 AM PST  
Blogger Andrea said...

Just came over from "Crafty Crow"--your calendar is so beautiful and impressive...can't wait to see what you put in the rock pockets!

Tue Nov 25, 11:51:00 AM PST  

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