2.28.2011

Blu Dot Swap

The amazing Minneapolis based modern furniture design company Blu Dot is having a swap meet!  Offer up something you'd like to trade for any piece of their furniture!  I'm offering up this luscious sculpture of a moldy growth I made for an exhibition a few years ago in hopes of acquiring this gorgeous sofa...bold I know.  I would happily take home just about everything in their catalog.  Check out the Swap Meet here and make your own offer!

2.24.2011

custom work

I've been busy with several custom orders lately which has been a new experience for me.  It's been a challenge for me to keep my creative process fresh and exciting (for myself) and keep on top of the custom work at the same time.  There are so many things I want to do and make...I need to make sure to make time for the new ideas to become realities.  I may need to take a break from taking more custom orders for a time until I get some of these projects out of my system. 

This has always been a problem for me;  I go a little crazy making the same thing more than a couple of times!

2.23.2011

easter rabbit



I'm thinking of trying this one in blue and maybe yellow too? I've gotten a little behind schedule on my projects lately. The never ending cycle of illness is really dragging us down this winter. I WILL POWER THROUGH.

2.21.2011

snow day



We are getting buried once again under huge amounts of snow...at least a foot so far and still falling. My class today has been canceled and we have all spent the day watching movies and playing checkers and shoveling mountains of snow. I've had a chance to work out the new rabbit pattern too. I've got plans for rabbits and ducks and maybe a couple of bears for Easter this year. My Etsy shop is looking pretty barren these days but I'll plan to add the new toys to it in early April.

We are shoveling snow in shifts today and it's my turn!

2.18.2011

funny bunny



I'm working on a new pattern today. The first pass yielded this ridiculous creature. A good reminder to work out patterns with less precious material. I do like him with his drawn-on face so I guess all is not lost.

Have a great weekend!

2.17.2011

28+



Well we did it. Oscar and I made twenty-eight of these little fellas for his Valentine's day party at school today. Actually we made a couple extras so Oscar could give one to Jude and his Dad too. Of course I needed to keep one for myself as well. I almost drove myself insane trying to choose the one I liked best. Oscar's way with color is so delightful...I think because he didn't go to art school.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses to my last post!

2.16.2011

toys or collectors items?



I've had a couple of really good conversations lately with friends, customers (friends/customers) about whether or not the toys I make are suitable for their children to play with. It's a totally appropriate question and one I think I should address. I'm going to talk a bit about my feelings on the subject...but this post is just that: My own personal feelings on the topic. If you are a parent trying to figure out what toys are safe or appropriate for your kid to play with you have your job cut out for you. Many things children have enjoyed playing with for ages are now considered unsafe. Many new toys and baby products are sold to us with the assurance that they will not harm our children only to be recalled later. It's frustrating and confusing to me both as a parent and a toymaker.

There are a couple quite legitimate reasons why a person might not want their kids to play with expensive handmade toys. The first is the price. These toys are more expensive than most mas-produced toys. They cost a lot because they are made with good materials in a very time consuming and conscientious fashion. They can't be mas produced and so they are special. It's tempting to want to put them on a shelf to preserve them and keep them from harm. My feeling about the toys I make is that it's okay to buy them and put them on display, but it's better to let them get played with. If a handmade toy is well made (as I believe mine are) they will be sturdy and stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Sometimes a repair might be needed, but that is a battle scar any well loved toy would be proud to bear. I've seen pictures of toys whose owners (well, owner's mothers no doubt) have gone to pretty extreme lengths to give a toy a little extra life. These toys only get sweeter and more charming with age. The purchase price is no longer really an issue...they have become priceless to the child.

The second reason is over concern about toy safety. I wish we lived in a time where we could all just use common sense. Know your child, choose well made toys, supervise play, inspect toys for damage or lose parts, repair or replace if needed. My boys are not especially rough with toys and so as soon as they were over the stage where they put everything in their mouths they received jointed bears with button eyes. The toys are still in great shape and have never been in for repair. They are getting rumpled and worn from love. Perfect.

Some of my toys are bought by adult collectors. I too have a great love of toys and have a hand full of my own that sit on a shelf. They bring me joy just to look at them, so I totally get it. But what I love to make is toys and if I didn't know that many of them are now treasured by children I wouldn't be motivated to make these dolls and animals. I strive to make un-fussy, sturdy and charming toys that are reminiscent of a time when toys were made with care and skill. If you have bought a toy from me, thank you. I hope that you or your child are truly enjoying it.

I just started a Flickr account (another thing we all must have apparently?!) I started a small set of photos called toys at home where I have pictures of some of my own kids handmade toys in their natural setting. If anyone out there has pictures of toys I've made that are receiving love from children I'd love it if you sent them to me for inclusion in the Flickr set! You can email me at foxandowltoys[at]gmail.com.



This is one of Jude's favorite bears, one of the first I made. He has been slept with a million times, scrubbed clean, and dragged around by the arm for the past two years. While nothing lasts forever, I think he will be around for a long time.

2.13.2011

king of the mountain


Leroy.

We are enjoying the most glorious weather here! I hope your weekend is sunny too.

2.10.2011

x28


This is the design Oscar and I came up with for valentines for his classmates. My criteria was that it had to be cute (of course!) easy for us to make together, and I wanted to use these wooden beads I just got at a bargain price. All other materials and tools were things already in our craft arsenal. Oscar and I had a heated debate about whether or not the felt circles should be of varying sizes (my idea) or the same size (Oscar's idea). I argued that if they were of various sizes you could stack them in descending order and would be better able to see the different colors. Oscar's point was that you could still see the different colors from the side- a point he illustrated by stacking his hands on top of one another..."see!?" he said, exasperated. Of course, he was right and it does look better that way. You win again, Oscar!

A couple of notes about the materials:

The hole punch pictured is a Martha Stewart hole punch with a really tiny hole. It's one of my favorite tools and I use it all the time for gift tags etc. A big needle would also work just fine to make a little hole in the paper heart.

I love DecoColor paint markers but they are not safe for very young kids to use. Use supervision or use a non-toxic version. Sharpie and Elmer's both make non-toxic paint pens that are okay.

2.09.2011

today's treasures



When I need to get out of the house and regain my sanity I go to the thrift store....alone. The process of visually sorting through all the junk in search of treasures is so soothing to me. I don't care if I find anything or not, but I did snag these beauties today.

2.08.2011

new girl



I just finished this custom doll and she's going to her new home today, just in time for a Valentine's Day birthday. I'm dreading having to go to the post office...it's only 3ยบ (Fahrenheit!) outside here today.

2.05.2011

I love this duck



How I wish it could be mine.

2.04.2011

elsie marley

I feel like such a real blogger today. I just did my first guest blog post at elsie marley!

They say at a dinner party you should never serve something you have never made before but I always end up doing exactly that....the same priciplal probably stands for a guest blog post too but I kind of did the same thing: my very first tutorial! It's a really simple project good for young sewers. Check out my Stocking Cap for a Small Friend Tutorial on the very fine blog elsie marley.



Leave a comment over there why don't you! That way maybe it won't be my first and last guest blog post ever...

Thanks for asking me to do it ,Meg. It was fun!

2.03.2011

we are busy





I'm just finishing up a group of custom Valentine's toys today. While I was busy embroidering little hearts with names of lucky children and other messages of love, Jude was busy adding to his own heart pillow. He told me today he wants to lean to sew. I think he's ready...He has very nimble fingers!

2.01.2011

so long, january



My good friend John Vogt just started a blog called jvworks that showcases his gorgeous design work. I'm particularly fond of this Winter's Greetings piece.

In other news...It's February! January is such a long cold month and it can be kind of rough. So now it's February which has such a nice ring to it, and you know what comes after February don't you? March! I think I'm going to make it.

Congrats on the great new blog JV, keep it coming.