Archive for Eco/sustainable/green
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!
I rue the day when the architect who designed our house decided to install purple window frames throughout. Apart from anything else, it’s makes it very hard to coordinate blues and greens into our interior decoration. And that’s precisely what I’d love to do with this truly vintage wallpaper design by Voysey, in the V&A’s fabulous wall coverings collections.
The pen and ink sketches above, created for ‘The Owl’ wallpaper and fabric, celebrate the owl in its natural habitat. You can check out the original designs here at the V&A, and luckily it looks as though you could get your hands on a roll or two via Trustworth Studios, who have Voysey’s owl wallpaper in stock, labelled ‘Whoot’.
The next offering is brought to you courtesy the ever-thoughtful Kat (author of one of my blog faves KatGotTheCream), who in turn heard about designer Abigail Edwards via Arianna Interiors- another blog of wondrousness. Not only is the delicate and detailed design of this Owls of the British Isles Wallpaper right on trend, it captures most beautifully the individuality of ten different owls.
Moreover, 5% of profits from the sale of this wallpaper will go to The Barn Owl Centre to advance the conservation of the barn owl and other species of owl.
Those of you with a love of all things ‘owl’, will most surely have stumbled across the incredible My Owl Barn at some point, and I read there with interest about Anthropologie’s colourful owl wallpaper.
But I was equally taken with this Little Owl Wallpaper. The detail is hard to see in the image above, but it offers a perfectly cosy, stylish and warm-hearted interior decoration solution, all thanks to the pearlescent (and eco friendly) owl design. Rock on Anthropologie – more of the same please.
Finally, if you can’t stomach the thought of wallpaper paste and trestle tables, and frankly, your other half is not as tuned into ‘feature walls’ as you might have hoped, then perhaps the wall decal is more your cup of tea. I love this origami offering from RadRaspberry on Etsy (also to be found on Facebook).
This pear print high chair has been on my bloggage radar for ages, but it was seeing it used in a French restaurant this summer that reminded me to actually feature it, along with other pear-inspired baby products.
Back to the highchair: it’s beautiful, it’s made by Cosatto and has many amazing features for the super-organised parent/carer. While I have been known to resort to a cushion, towel and a large scarf to tie my offspring onto a chair, this option is more stylish. In fact, it deserves a special corner in the kitchen, unsplattered with gunk so it can ooze pearish perfection instead. (They also come up on eBay quite often. Had to just mention that quietly in case the price was off-putting.)
And if you’re using a highchair, the chances are you might need a bib (or several hundred). I love these organic, block-printed by hand, non-toxic versions by BIRCHseed – aka the mega-talented Nikki Shipard who designs and creates wonderful home, interiors and kids stuff from her Australian workshop. Find her on Twitter, Etsy and in blog form too.
I’ve only recently clocked Nature Baby – an organic kids clothing company based in New Zealand, but available to purchase online. I’m particularly fond of their pear print, organic newborn gift set (including the following items - 1 x Long Sleeve Bodysuit, 0-3M; 1 x Knotted Beanie, 0-6M; 1 x Towelling Bib, 0-6M; 1 x Wrap and 1 x drawstring bag). Follow Nature Baby on Twitter for updates and general info.
American organic baby (and mums and pets) clothing company Sckoon (also on Twitter and Facebook) make a range of pear print items for bubbas – this outfit can be found here, and they also make washable organic nappies – with pears, of course. See below.
Finally, before you are stunned pearless, here are a selection of baby pear outfits from Swedish kids clothing design fiends DUNS (also made from organic cotton). I strongly recommend you check out their autumnal pear print items for babies and older kids (see their Facebook page for more details). This fabric deserves to be available for all ages, but I’ll let it go for now.
This blog post is for my good friend Lila, who always tells it as it is, and is one of the greatest owl aficionados out there. It’s been a while since the last blog post, but in the hope that owls (and pears) are still of interest, may I introduce you to Roddy & Ginger – purveyors of some of the finest owl goods this side of the Atlantic.
Virginia Armstrong is the freelance graphic artist and textile designer behind these beauteous owl items, and her stylishly retro website, blog and Etsy shop are testament to the charming allure of her vintage design ethic.
Her bags and individual prints, not to mention various home ware items and accessories, are hand printed on linen and cotton, using water-based dyes. The result is a return to retro owlishness of the seventies, with a modern twist – the daffodil/mustard owl illustrated above is a bestseller, and would look just as good on an Ercol couch as a good old (new) JL sofa.
Veronica explained to me how she “created the double owl motif about five years ago as a design for a little boys’ t-shirt and then used it as my logo because it just seemed to suit the name. Since then owls have become really popular – as you know! The roddy the owl cushion [see above and below] I introduced just last year by popular demand, I was always being asked for an owl cushion, and it has proved very successful.”
The owl cushion also comes in a turquoise print (above), with the same very slightly faded effect and wondrous eyes framed on an elegant ecru linen background. And for those occasions when you need to take your owl out of the house, there’s a printed pencil case too. This would have made maths lessons just a tad more bearable…
Keep your eyes peeled for any future owl designs from Roddy & Ginger (and the log pile wallpaper she has in the pipeline), but in the meantime, feast your eyes on Veronica’s perfect pomegranate linen cushion – same colourway; another distinctive design.
I know I know I know. I’ve already done the exact same giveaway. But I found some more of these superb bags in Tesco last week and couldn’t help but indulge in a bit more competition malarkey.
In case you missed the last giveaway, here’s the nitty gritty on the actual prize: Orla Kiely’s recent collaboration with Tesco resulted in the superb specimen above – an exclusive, limited edition, collectable, reusable pear print bag. And it’s the first of a range of Orla Kiely bags to be sold in Tesco in 2011. Oh yes, there are more to come.
For those of you who share my love of all things Orla, and who’ve not yet tracked down your own bag, here’s a chance to win one pain-free, without losing an arm and a leg in an online auction. Not only is it totally gorgeous, the bag is made from really good quality cotton and jute (bonus – sustainable shopper) and has flamingo pinky-orange handles that are strong and not too long. Perfect for a a trip to the gym (see the fab-tastic Katgotthecream blog), or, for storing your toddler.
And the best bit by far is knowing that the sale of these bags has helped to raise money in support of two charities: CLIC Sargent - the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity – which aims to raise £5 million so that children with cancer can spend more time at home and less time in hospital; and Orla Kiely’s personal charity, the Royal College of Art, which funds bursaries for textile students.
To enter, just leave a comment in the box below and subscribe to the blog updates on the homepage. The subject is “your favourite pear product”.
For an extra entry, simply tweet the following: “I’ve just entered the brand new @owlsandpears Orla Kiely pear bag giveaway and so can you: http://wp.me/pTCMb-ey”
The deadline for entries is midnight GMT on Sunday 27th March and the winner will be announced on the blog the next day (having been chosen by random.org). Check back then for details, or else make sure you have subscribed so I can contact the winner individually. If the winner doesn’t respond within 7 days, a new one will be chosen.
If you’re in the mood for some linky goodness, then please feel free to link to this giveaway on you own blog, go for it – the more the merrier. Here’s a short link: http://wp.me/pTCMb-ey.
Owing to dealing with a minor toddler illness, the announcement of today’s Orla Kiely pear bag giveaway is slightly delayed. Apols.
A huge thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway – there are some truly fantastic comments and it’s great to know that there are so many pear fans out there. I’m only sorry I do not have one of these spectacular bags for each and every one of you.
So, without further ado, I am pleased to announce that the spinning selection process (using a conference pear and a Newgate clock on a Gordon Russell table, in case anyone is interested – see above) resulted in the pear stalk pointing to the eighth minute of the hour on the clock face (see below).
And correspondingly, comment number 8 was from mollyandtheprincess, whose blog (see hyperlink to the left) is testament to the fact that she enjoys “finding beauty wherever we go”. Congrats all round. One Orla Kiely jute pear bag is in the post.
Watch this space for future giveaways and random owl and pear bloggage. And thanks again for taking the time to enter the giveaway.
Now then. Owls on t-shirts can be a tricky thing to get right. But they are an essential addition to every wardrobe, male and female, and Fluffyco have ticked all the boxes here. To start with, I like the company name. FluffyCo. Lovely. Secondly, they are a small, independent business that is sweatshop free. They use eco-friendly materials from sustainable sources, and even organic and fair trade bits and bobs too. Moreover, they do a terrific range in owl printed t-shirts.
I first spotted the example above in one of my fave London haunts, SMUG – a truly lovely shop run by interior and graphic designer Lizzie Evans – which stocks an eclectic range of retro owl and pear-related products throughout the year. Definitely worth a visit (or a follow @ifeelsmug).
It stands to reason that owls on t-shirts are going to appeal to a certain type of person, and they are not usually male. But I reckon that FluffyCo have come up trumps with this print: it’s not over twee, and it’s going to look pretty good with khaki shorts or jeans on a bloke.
But just in case you’ve got a thing about printed t-shirts, and you’re male, and you’d prefer an owl on something more manly, then check out this owl heads eco wallet instead…
If you like what you’ve seen, you can preview the latest designs from FluffyCo at their website, via their Flickr photostream, or on twitter too (@fluffycosf). They do balloon prints too, just in case you don’t like owls.
Right, I’m back from the blog wilderness, this time with a bag. Apologies for the lack of recent postage – twas a busy festive period, followed by a break abroad sans internet. But as a result I have a small mountain of inspirational material with which to fill owlsandpears.com over the coming weeks and months, and I hope this giveaway will make up for the tardy start to 2011.
So, obviously, I had to start with the most exciting news to hit the pear world in recent months: an Orla Kiely collaboration with Tesco, which has resulted in the superb specimen above – an exclusive, limited edition, collectable, reusable pear print bag. And it’s the first of a range of Orla Kiely bags to be sold in Tesco in 2011. Bated breath all round.
When I read on the OK twitter feed (@orla_kiely) that these bags would be on sale for £4 each at selected Tesco branches from December last year, I embarked on several frenzied and yet completely futile expeditions around South London to locate one. In the snow. With a very tetchy toddler. Just when I had abandoned all hope and resorted to eBay, a lovely friend managed to hunt down a whole pile for me last week (Hayley, you rock). There was only one thing for it: share the good fortune and organise a giveaway.
I know that many owlsandpears.com readers share my love of all things Orla, so for those of you who’ve not yet tracked down your own bag, here’s a chance to win one pain-free, without losing an arm and a leg in an online auction. Not only is it ABSOLUTELY gorgeous, the bag is made from really nice quality cotton and jute (bonus – sustainable shopper), has flamingo pinky-orange handles that are just the right length for nonchalant shoulder-wear and buggy clips alike, and could easily fit the contents of a moderate supermarket session, with room for a Wottle too.
And the best bit by far is knowing that the sale of these bags will help to raise money in support of two charities: CLIC Sargent - the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity – which aims to raise £5 million so that children with cancer can spend more time at home and less time in hospital; and Orla Kiely’s personal charity, the Royal College of Art, which funds bursaries for textile students.
Getting back to the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment of up to 50 words in the box below and subscribe to the blog updates on the homepage. The subject is “Why Pears” and a winner will be chosen from the first 60 comments using the spin-the-pear method (me, spinning a pear on a clock face: it works, seriously).
The deadline for entries is midday GMT on 14th Feb and the winner will be announced on the blog that evening – check back then for details, or else make sure you have subscribed so I can contact the winner individually. If the winner doesn’t respond within 7 days, a new one will be chosen.
Obviously, if you’d like to tweet about the giveaway, or link to it on you own blog, go for it – the more the merrier.
Cripes, this plushie owl is unbelievably covetable. It was made as a one-of-a-kind piece of art for Night Owl Paper Goods (@nightowlpaper) from washed, pre-loved woollen jumpers, and upcycled wood and letterpress odds and sods from the NOPG workshop. What a fantastic way to prepare for Halloween, and use up leftovers in a crafty kind-of-a-way at the same time.
Lori Nichols has handmade many of these owls, and yet each one is unique. She’ll even custom make them for you from extra special jumpers of your own. Who doesn’t have a stash of slightly moth-nibbled but still beautiful sweaters in the wings? Time to hand them over in return for soft, squashy owls.
As you may have noticed, I have a real thing about owl eyes (I can be discerning when it comes to chocolate eclairs, washing powder and good owl eyes). So I was just stunned to discover that these peekers are made from acorns. Yes! Acorns! Look at them again – they are outrageously cute.
Lori has an Etsy shop of her own here, or you can buy the above two plushies (or very similar ones) from the Night Owl Paper Goods website here, which, incidentally, is a truly marvellous institution, combining handmade letterpress stationery and eco-chic “wooden goodies” with all manner of owlish delights. Good browsing for the forthcoming festive season, methinks….