Archive for toy
There are days when I long for something a little more whimsical, more light-hearted, more comforting than terrible twosome tantrums and online bank statements. This is when owl cushions such as these come into their own.
Little Blue Elephant is the brainchild of Nina Mistry-Rhoades and as the company name might suggest, has a more dominant line in four-legged elephantine friends. However, Nina’s owls are equally covetable: as she explains in her own words: “my elephants are very graphic and simple and the owl shapes are the same, very stylised.”
This back-to-basic line of design is just what I need amidst the maelstrom of colour and pattern that seems to adorn most owl-related items in the shops at the moment. Nina instead focuses on ”textile design, from florals to repeat patterns. But my work really leans towards a childrens palette of geometric patterns and bold colours.
I like the simplicity.”
Nina is inspired by “modern fabric designers and colours. I love Cloud9 fabrics, Lecien dots and little ditsy floral designs. In fact I like most things that are bright and colourful.” Yet the patterns and colourways featured in the owls illustrated here reflect her interest in current design, and also hint at a deep appreciation of more retro/vintage combinations of fabrics and motifs.
I was not surprised to learn that Nina honed her creative skills studying textile design at university before pursuing a career at a leading UK card company. However, her frustration with briefing designers rather than getting stuck into the actual work herself, followed by the arrival of children, meant that it was evening classes in dressmaking that finally unlocked her artistic confidence.
Quite frankly, I know I can harp on about owl eyes, but anyone who can make the most of an owl’s derriere in such a stylish manner deserves much applause and acclaim. And here’s hoping that Nina’s plans to design her own “nursery range, from bedding to wallpapers and not forgetting, cuddly toys” comes to fruition quickly and successfully.
I’ll keep you posted with any Little Blue Elephant updates here and on Twitter. But in the meantime, you can seek out Nina’s creations via her Folksy shop here, and her Facebook page here. And don’t forget to check out her latest designs on Flickr, follow her on Twitter or read her blog for more background information on how she sources her materials and where she draws her inspiration from.
It feels like the last few posts have been vaguely baby-related, so I’m going with the flow and adding one more post of small person-related niceness before reverting to some serious pear indulgence for larger people (watch this space). Anyhow, back to owls, and toys. Ahem.
I am very drawn to this first owl on today’s agenda. I mean, come on, it’s perched in a tree for starters, and look at its lovely printed cloth tummy (which is vintage William Morris fabric, stuffed with sheep’s wool) and fold-down beak. This owl is sold out on Etsy, but maybe Simmy Bains will sew up some new fledgling owlets in the future. In the meantime, check out her blog Echoes of a Dream, and cross your claws.
Next up is illustrator and picture book author Chris Haughton‘s owl toy. He designs lovely bags for one of my all-time fave fair trade fashion outlets, People Tree – woop. But if you need further proof of his niceness, then check out his blog post about Mahaguthi, who produce gorgeous fair trade handicrafts from Nepal. Chris (@chrishaughton) has written and illustrated a children’s book ‘A Bit Lost’ (which has just been published – you can grab yourself a copy here) and wanted to design a small fair trade soft toy to sell with the book that could be made by the women at Mahaguthi.
The result is the gorgeous owl toy above “made entirely from raw cotton, using all the traditional cottage industry techniques that Gandhi made famous. It is hand-spun into yarn, dyed, hand-woven and finally sewn all by the women at Mahaguthi.” Here’s hoping Chris’ publishers will agree to make this toy available to sell with his book – check out his blog post above for updates on that front.
To round things off, I couldn’t resist including this wonderful crocheted owl plushie by US-based delightful designer Ana Paula Rimoli (@anapaulaoli), who has a plethora of knitted lovlies for sale via her Etsy shop – Seriously Cute Crochet. Not much needs to be said: it’s seriously cute, it’s an owl, it’s crocheted. And bingo – it also comes in the form of a bag, which can only be a very good thing.
This owl post has been a long time brewing. I originally found the sleepy owl music box featured below back in 2009 through one of my favourite blog spots – Bambino Goodies – which regularly updates followers with hot owl products for babies and toddlers (triple woop).
Now there’s a lot of owl-related loveliness out there, so at times it’s hard to find something owlish that really appeals on all levels. This was it for me. At the time of my purchase, I did not realise how much the bump would love the tune played by this music box, but over the following six months, I came to appreciate the look and sound of this darned fine owl. As I type this now, it still hangs from the side of the cot, looking out calmly, exuding retro goodness and above all, sleep.
So where can you get your hands on one of these night owls? Well it was designed and made by the wonderful German graphic designer and illustrator Anne Wendlandt, who also goes by the name Enna. She has online shops on DaWanda and Etsy, and while she does not have any more of the music boxes in store for the moment, she has mentioned that if Owls and Pears followers react positively to them, she might make another batch… In the meantime, Anna/Enna does create an abundance of all things owlish: cushions (see above), wall decals, stickers. Owl lovers, eat your heart out!
It feels a bit cliched to include Vedel‘s wooden bird here – it is such an obvious choice for anyone interested in toys, Scandinavian design, birds or mid-century modern desirables. But I remember the first time I saw one – on the desk of an uber-cool designer I was working with. I was fascinated by the way you can adjust the bird’s head, even minutely, and its expression changes completely. Perfect when you’re a little distracted and need time out to figure how to proceed on something computerish. Luckily I received one as a gift last year and it is now sitting on the freecycled teak sideboard, looking out the window at the garden. Thanks Mark!