New Year, new blog post? Well, after a smidge of blog fatigue, I thought I’d slink back into the blogosphere and hedge my bets for a few months.
I do often wonder whether owls and pears are really worth getting stressed about (no; OK, sometimes), especially after I started reading my (amazing) sister’s (amazing) blog.
However, in the interest of maintaining my reputation for focusing on the frivolous things in life, while my sister (the gorgeous lady above) gets on with the serious stuff, here’s a blog post all about my new jumper.
Yuhuh. A jumper. It IS cold at the moment.
Photo © Kate Davies
Well it’s in the process of being knitted for me right now (thanks aunty Gilly). I’m feeling pretty lucky tbh and I can’t wait to wear it: the project has been a long time in the making, right from sourcing the special wool and needles from my local knitting emporium (if any of you live in Surrey and like knitting, you NEED to visit The Knit Club), to finding the mini dolly button eyes (mother of pearl, if you’re interested).
Here’s what it looked like the week before last:
Then it grew a bit:
I’m getting very excited about seeing the finished product. But I think I might need a new skirt to go with it (hope my mum is not reading this, I can just see her eyes rolling). Does anyone have any suggestions about what would look good? I’m thinking pencil.
Before I forget, has anyone knitted these Tanya Antonova owl wrist warmers from the Christmas 2012 edition of Mollie Makes? They’d match pretty well methinks, and if I manage to learn anything from my forthcoming knitting class chez The Knit Club, I might just give them a whirl.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted with any hot-off-the-press owl jumper-related news.
And a big thanks must go to Gail for a mahoosive kick up the behind: this blog post most probably wouldn’t have appeared otherwise. Which would have been a shame, because then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to mention her lushalicious blog Bake, Make, Rake.
You know how as soon as you make a note of something new, then the chances are you’ll see it again pretty soon?
I can’t help but see owls (and pears) everywhere – writing this blog has honed my radar. So I was always going to notice a news story on the BBC website about a newly carved owl in Harrogate to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
A few months passed; I organised a trip up north to visit friends; plans were made to meet blogging sensation Kat in Valley Gardens in Harrogate – a place I knew nothing about, but which turned out to be the perfect picnic and catch-up spot.
But there’s only so long you can spend in a park with a 3YO before you start to gravitate towards the swings. Lo and behold, outside the gate to the play park stood the carved owl throne from the article I’d read back in May.
Sculptor Jonathan Sherwood was easily located once back home, courtesy of Google, and I’m really chuffed that he has agreed to talk to us this week about his work and inspiration:
First of all, I have to ask: why owls?
A stylised tawny owl was the first thing I learnt to carve so I find them easy to create. The reason for putting one on the seat was to add something to the top of the chair to make it more interesting for kids.
How did you get interested in wood carving?
My dad [Tim Burgess] is a sculptor based in Mobberley and works in the Manchester area. I started by joining him on jobs and shifting wood around, then I had a go for myself. [Readers, a talent for owl sculpture and wood carving runs in the family: read all about Tim Burgess's jubilee Oak Leaf Throne here. It also features an owl or two.]
Apart from a chainsaw, what tools did you use to create the Diamond Jubilee Sculpture?
I used two chainsaws one with a standard sprocket bar and the other was an electric one with a carving bar on it (it has a pointy tip and no sprocket in the end). I used an angle grinder with a sanding pad, a file sander, a drill, a couple of chisels, a mallet and a crowbar. And of course all the necessary safety equipment.
How long did the work take to complete, and what challenges (if any) did you face in making it?
The work took five days; however some of the days were not full days. The whole project was a huge challenge – it was the biggest sculpture I had done (by a long way). It was in a public place which means having to stop a lot to answer questions. It was the first seat I had made and I had some problems with chainsaws and lost half a day of work due to some wood chip in my eye.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from my head and real life; I am always aiming to make my work more realistic so whatever the subject is I will look at pictures of it and then decide on what I think would look good in terms of movement, attitude and composition.
Who are your favourite contemporary sculptors?
I don’t really have a favourite contemporary sculptor: I’m not very good on names of artists and so on. If I had to name a sculptor who’s work I really like it would be Bob King who is a chainsaw sculptor in the US.
What plans do you have for forthcoming works, and do any of them include owls?
I have no plans for any work – it depends on what I get comissioned to sculpt. At the moment I don’t have time to go and make what I would like to make as I have a full-time job and will be starting my part-time university study again in September.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can visit Jonathan’s website (and read the BBC article) by clicking on the embedded links above.
In the meantime, I can heartily recommend a trip to see the owl seat in Valley Gardens. And if any of you can suggest alternative owl sculptures then leave a comment below – as you know, I like to keep the radar honed!
The arrival of a bubba is a marvellous thing, but it does rather restrict one’s social life. And on the week I was due to pop back in February, a very good friend had her hen send off at The Gilbert Scott. As you can imagine, I was extremely large, and very sorry to miss out – cocktails were made and sampled, and some seriously stylish pre-wedding fun was pursued.
Luckily Steph is incredibly fab and thoughtful in pretty much every way, and so she bought me a printed souvenir of the evening.
I hope your eye has been drawn to the Sloe Pear Martini recipe…? It is illustrated above in case you wanted, like me, to see how it turned out.
And here is the barman mixing his magic (in a stunning cut glass stem – it’s so pretty).
For the record, the hen night was a precursor to the most sensational wedding *EVER*. I just had to include this photo of Steph’s shoes (by wondrous wedding photographer Janis Ratnieks) so you could appreciate the finer details.
And here she is walking down the aisle, oh my goodness, this is iconic…
One final tribute – please raise your (cocktail) glasses to the radiantly beautiful bride. A belated send off, Steph, but may your marriage be filled with health, happiness, and infinite joy xxx
I’ve taken a mini blog break recently and have been updating the Owls and Pears Facebook page instead. (You can follow the news, and owlish or pearish finds, here.)
All the while I’ve been desperately trying to cram owl and pear bloggage material back into my brain – there’s loads out there, including a long-planned pear giveaway (watch this space!).
So when I opened my email this afternoon and checked out the brand new People Tree autumn collection, I simultaneously fell off my chair with excitement, and was kicked into action. Two of my favourite brands, combined to create the owl dress of my dreams. In short, the most perfectly retro owl pattern fabric, printed in the nowest-of-now autumnal colour way and fashioned into a flattering fifties style dress. This is exactly the kind of owl news I love to blog about.
I’d like to imagine myself leaning nonchalantly against the piano wearing my dress (yes, sigh, I have bought myself one; I bet you there’s a discount code in the post tomorrow but hey ho). It’s probably more likely I’ll be sitting at the laptop of an evening, wiping off half-chewed banana from the bodice and grinning from ear to ear as I admire the pattern and type up another blog post (while the bubbas catch up on sleep, obviously). Here’s hoping…
ps – if you’ve also succumbed to the allure of this dress, feel free to let me know and/or send in a picture: I’d love to hear how you wear it and what you team it with!
I’m finding it hard to write convincingly about owls today. I’ve started this blog post about five times before jabbing the back space key with a vengeance.
Perhaps it’s because the eyes on these newest Ikea owls are not to my taste. But there’s no denying that the vintagey styling, back-to-nature colours and comforting coterie of dragonflies and spiders all add to the allure of these particular kid-focused owls.
I for one find it hard to resist an oak leaf, and the coat rack above so cleverly combines mid-century kitsch with funky storage solutions that I can forgive the slightly confused looking owls.
However, I would make a special trip alone to find myself a yard or two of the Ikea owl and spiderweb fabric above, especially because it would look just perfect with the quilt cover and curtains below, in a mini person’s room, or just for fun on a cushion or a blouse.
Tabbrd. Not a word I’ve encountered often.
And yet this week, it’s come up twice on my radar. If it’s good enough for Denise to sport one on The Syndicate, it’s good enough for me to feature on the blog.
So, I couldn’t resist a quick mention of this fruity number, which I spotted (eyes of a hawk) while browsing around Mothercare last week. Made from a lightly waxed canvas material, this tabard will be perfect for porridge, painting and prancing – all of which are top priorities for my toddler.
And here is it is in action. The sunglasses were not my idea…. However, it is a hardy shield against the excesses of hummus. Fact.
I kid you not, this is a photo my Dad took of the garden next door…
To give you some context, he lives in a small rural village in coastal North Yorkshire. Such ardent owl appreciation is not typical.
He described it as a sort of owlish “angel of the north”. Indeed, a six-foot carved wooden owl could be forgiven for stopping the odd bit of traffic.
Here’s a close up for good measure:
Make my day: can anyone match this owl for size or placement?