Cake Toppers That Look Like Flowers, Embroidery, Geodes and More

Design & Designers, Food & Drink, Thumbs Up

My Modern Met shared some amazing buttercream cake toppers in an article. They are the work of Leslie Vigil, California-based artist and cake maker. And they are. So. Beautiful! All of them!

Among the most interesting to me were these three toppers that include embroidery-like elements:

Instagram Leslie Vigil Cake Collage Embroidery

Leslie Vigil on Instagram; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Her geode cakes would make great treats for theme parties for N.K. Jemisin The Broken Earth trilogy:

Instagram Leslie Vigil Cake Collage Geodes

Leslie Vigil on Instagram; collage by Eppu Jensen.

There are also a few explicitly geeky ones, like this Groot cake:

Instagram Leslie Vigil Groot

Leslie Vigil on Instagram.

Visit the My Modern Met article and Vigil’s Instagram for more – there are so many designs to love! Almost makes me wish I were in California, too. Then again, I’m sure my doctor would be much happier if I were to stay away, far away, from cakes. 🙂

Found via Good Stuff Happened Today on Tumblr.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Short Roundup of Unicorn Crafts

Arts & Crafts, DIY

Last month, I needed an idea for small gifts, so I searched for interesting unicorn crafts. Here’s a short roundup of my favorites.

Unicorn Crafts Collage

Shellie Wilson at Kids Crafts posted a video tutorial for a sleepy unicorn pencil case:

Kids Crafts Shellie Wilson Sleepy Unicorn Pencil Case

Shellie Wilson at Kids Crafts.

So cute – I just want to cuddle it!

Naomi Julia Satake’s mobile was featured at Oh Happy Day:

Oh Happy Day Stained Glass Unicorn

Naomi Julia Satake via Oh Happy Day.

She made a gorgeous hanging unicorn reminiscent of stained glass windows from posterboard and gel filters. Such an elegant DIY.

Kim at Bugaboo City posted a free pattern for three cross-stitch bookmarks, including a unicorn:

Bugaboo City Kim Cross-stitch Bookmarks

Kim at Bugaboo City.

I was impressed by the cardboard trophy head posted at Bespoke Bride:

Bespoke Bride Unicorn Trophy Head

Bespoke Bride.

However, I didn’t quite have enough time to do it, so I ended up going with Nikki’s tutorial:

Tikkido Nicole Unicorn Bookmark

Nicole at Tikkido.

In the end I made two, a unicorn and a lobster:

DIY Bookmarks Lobster Unicorn Collage

I am really intrigued by all of these projects, though, and might get back to one or two later.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: Embroidered Forest Animals on Hand Dyed Fabric

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials

Illustrator Chloe Giordano sells cards and prints of embroidered bunnies and other animals on Etsy. And they’re amazing! Below are just of my favorites: a winter mountain hare and a sleeping fawn:

Chloe Giordano Winter Mountain Hare Print

Winter Mountain Hare Print. Chloe Giordano.

Chloe Giordano Sleeping Fawn Greetings Card

Sleeping Fawn Greetings Card. Chloe Giordano.

Clearly a lot of work went into the embroideries. I also love the hand dyed fabrics she uses as the background – the colors are gorgeous. It looks like Giordano uses regular sewing thread to create her intricate designs. Not the most obvious choice, but it makes a lot of sense now that I think about it. The thread is sure to be durable for one thing.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

My Con or Bust Donations for 2017

Arts & Crafts, Geek out!

Here are my donations for Con or Bust‘s yearly online auction for 2017: two sleep masks.

One is a sleepy critter. It’s made from brown polyester felt lined with a soft linen blend fabric; there’s also felt applique (ears and nose) and embroidery (eyes).

Critter Sleep Mask Collage

The other has a stylized dragon embroidered as an interlace pattern on black polyester felt lined with navy blue cotton.

Dragon Sleep Mask Collage

Bidding will start in two weeks, on Monday, April 24, 2017.

Before that, you can have a look at the 2017 Auction Index (Google spreadsheet), visit the Con or Bust website for more information or browse the 2017 Auction Tags.

Con or Bust, Inc., is a U.S.-based, tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited to the United States, to particular types of con-goers, or to specific cons; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. It is funded through donations and an online auction held annually.

As I’ve had firsthand experience of being on a miniature budget and having to limit my geeky hobbies accordingly (i.e., not that much fun), I decided to add Con or Bust to my list of things worthy of support. This is my second time donating.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Embroidered Version of Van Gogh

Arts & Crafts, Fabrics & Materials

Lauren Spark was asked by her mother to create an embroidery of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The results are stunning!

Lauren Spark Tumblr Starry Night

Lauren Spark.

Lauren Spark Tumblr Starry Night Progress

Lauren Spark.

The direction and hues of the stitches are spot on, even on the black tree where they are difficult to see. Very impressive! I’m not surprised it took her almost 60 hours to finish. Visit her Tumblr for more pics of the process.

Found via Colossal.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

 

 

Discoveries: World-Class Costume Embroidery by Michele Carragher

Arts & Crafts, Movies & TV

Costume hand embroiderer, illustrator and artist Michele Carragher has produced work for several historical or historically inspired tv series and movies, including the Elizabeth I miniseries, Stardust, Prince of Persia and Game of Thrones.

Carragher uses her experience in textile conservation and traditional embellishment techniques to combine various materials and styles from around the world into breathtaking garments. The workmanship is exceptional!

Michele Carragher Peaky Blinders Graces Evening Dress

Grace’s evening dress, ca. 1921; Peaky Blinders. Via Michele Carragher.

Michele Carragher Sansa Wedding Dress Detail9

Detail from Sansa’s wedding dress to Tyrion Lannister; Game of Thrones / HBO. Via Michele Carragher.

Michele Carragher Dragonscale Detail HowTo

Detail from Daenerys’s dragonscale dress; Game of Thrones / HBO. Via Michele Carragher.

Check her website for the image galleries – gorgeous, detailed, layered work in such a range of materials and techniques! Carragher has also included a short how-to for Daenerys’s dragonscale dress embellishments (picture above) that might be of interest for Game of Thrones cosplayers out there.

Highly recommended for costume enthusiasts!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Wool on Wool with Medieval Motif

Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

While pawing through my fabric bins in search of wool for another project, I came across an old embroidery that I’d forgotten about. I originally had a purpose for it, but my plans changed, and so the finished embroidery sat around for years.

The pattern is from 9th century metalwork, with an animal – dog, if I’d had to guess – framed by a triangle. I got it from Eva Wilson’s book Early Medieval Designs (in the British Museum Pattern Books series). I used blue wool yarn on mustard-y orange wool blend.

This embroidery project was a textile history nerdery win for me, because it was my first attempt at a historical design without a counted pattern (such as cross-stitch) or a pattern drawn on the fabric. I did measure and mark the corners for the triangular frame but eyeballed the rest.

In the spirit of celebrating your successes, I decided to frame the embroidery to hang somewhere in the house rather than keep it hidden.

I don’t remember why I chose complementary colors for the work; I guess that’s what I had available at the time. The effect is a little jarring, though, which is why I chose a neutral, naturally light-colored wood frame. The two-layered mat has a narrow navy accent on the inside, which goes with the blue yarn very well.

Looking good. 🙂 I still need to decide where exactly I want it.

Discoveries: Antique Pattern Library

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Colors, Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials, Inspiration

Antique Pattern Library is a non-profit project that collects and publishes old craft patterns online. The textile history nerd in me was immediately interested, so I spent some time browsing the site.

The purpose of the library is preservation and access:

“This ongoing project is an effort to scan craft pattern publications that are in the public domain, to preserve them, so we can keep our craft heritages in our hands. Most of these scans have been graphically edited to make the images easier for craft workers to see, and to reduce file sizes. They are available, for free, to anyone who wants them, for educational, personal, artistic and other creative uses.”

The site has several sections, including calligraphy, carpentry, drawing, paper crafts and sewing, and various forms of yarn crafts like crochet, cross-stitch, knitting, lacemaking and tatting.

Each section has a number of resources ranging from a handful to several dozen. Mostly they are pdf scans of old paper publications or detail images posted as individual webpages. Some patterns are available as either part of the pdfs or as separate webpages. Unfortunately, the resources listed also include things that are not yet published online. The woodworking section, for example, is almost entirely made up of placeholder thumbnails with basic accompanying metadata. It does look like items are added as they are processed, though.

I’ve included some favorites below to give you a tiny taste of what Antique Pattern Library can offer. First, a fancy bird from a booklet on handwriting, copyrighted in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1881:

Intro Real Pen-Work p30of54

Screencap from Introduction to the Real Pen-Work Self-Instructor in Penmanship, 1881; via Antique Pattern Library.

 

This handwriting guide has one of those quaintly over-long titles: Introduction to the Real Pen-Work Self-Instructor in Penmanship. (Phew!)

I was particularly impressed by the needlework resources. Below are three embroidered borders from a booklet drawn from Bohemian, Moravian and Slovakian museums, possibly from 1920s:

Czecho-Slovakian Embroideries p23of53

Screencap from Czecho-Slovakian Embroideries (DMC Library), ed. by Th. de Dillmont; via Antique Pattern Library.

 

Some of the patterns and color selections look surprisingly modern, like these snippets from a booklet on art nouveau designs (of unknown date):

Point de Croix Nouveau Dessins 6meSer p10of25

Screencap from Point de Croix Nouveau Dessins, 6me Série (Bibliothèque DMC), ed. by Th. de Dillmont; via Antique Pattern Library.

 

In general, many of the library’s publications come from northwestern or northern Europe, but some American works are also included. I have studied Nordic and German patterns in libraries and museums back in Europe. As I don’t have access to them at the moment, the Antique Pattern Library is a very welcome find. I especially appreciate being able to look at Slavic and Dutch sources, since I haven’t really had a chance before. It’s also nice, albeit a little intimidating, to be able to stretch my less-often used language muscles.

There’s so much on the site that I didn’t even scratch the surface. I definitely see myself returning to Antique Pattern Library again and again!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Creativity Is: Soundweaving

Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials

Soundweaving is an interdisciplinary, integrative and experimental art project by Zsanett Szirmay. She took traditional cross-stitching patterns used in Hungarian folk embroidery and transformed them into tape-like punch cards which in turn were played by a comb music player. (Follow the link to listen to samples.)

From the project Introduction:

“Soundweaving equally stimulates all senses, and calls for interaction. … It belongs to the analogue and digital realms at the same time as the handmade embroidery is translated into laser cut patterns. At the same time, the visual world is presented in audio, or rather the graphic aspect of music gets a role in developing the tunes.”

Sound-Weaving-by-Zsanett-Sziarmay_dezeen_SQ01

Zsanett Szirmay and Bálint Tárkány-Kovács. Photo by Sándor Fövényi; via Dezeen.

Zsanett Szirmay and Bálint Tárkány-Kovács. Photo by Sándor Fövényi; via Dezeen.

Szirmay was inspired by punch cards used in weaving machines to program patterns and in some musical instruments to produce music. She describes the roots of the project in an interview like this:

“I used to do folk dancing and wore traditional Hungarian embroidered clothes… Contemplating and taking it a step further, I was curious to find out what cross-stitched patterns might sound like.”

“The principles of [musical] composition are similar to textile design. Both areas use the prime form, inversion, retrograde and retrograde inversion… I played with these transformations in the creation of the punchcards with the help of musician and composer Bálint Tárkány-Kovács as co-producer.”

The punch card patterns themselves look like this:

Szirmay Punch Card Collage

Melodies 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Zsanett Szirmay and Bálint Tárkány-Kovács; collage by Eppu Jensen.

For exhibiting her project, Szirmay reproduced lace-like cross-stitch patterns on huge laser-cut sheets and surrounded the music boxes with these sheets and some original works of traditional embroidery.

Sound-Weaving-by-Zsanett-Sziarmay_dezeen_468_4

Zsanett Szirmay and Bálint Tárkány-Kovács. Photo by Sándor Fövényi; via Dezeen.

(Additional reporting from Dezeen magazine and Colossal; both have multiple images of the project.)

I find the embroidery-to-music aspect of the project fascinating. Also, as a textile history nerd with some knowledge of traditional Finnish patterns and techniques, simply looking at traditional handcrafts in a completely new light interests me.

The hanging laser-cut sheets are the most impressive aspect of the project for me, though. The combination of traditional patterns with a modern production method works seamlessly, and reproducing several individual motifs on each sheet keeps the whole interesting. Despite the huge size, there is enough transparency to let some light through. In fact, you could model room dividers after them. Love it!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Favorite Handmade Xmas Presents from 2014

After Hours, Arts & Crafts, Fabrics & Materials

Happy New Year to each and everyone! I had such a relaxing Christmas and a great break in general. I hope that was also the case for you. It’s good to be back to a fresh start, though, with some fresh snow outdoors. I just love how everything looks so clean and clear and soft after snowfall.

Speaking of soft: Every year, I try to include something handmade in my Christmas presents. Here are some soft projects from 2014 that I most enjoyed making:

2014 Handmade Xmas Presents

Clockwise from top right: three nesting bins in the recipient’s favorite colors; simple gift wrapping with a hunter green envelope, a bunny paper clip and a recycled Christmas card cut down to size; freeform hand-embroidered rosemary sachets, cotton on cotton muslin; two nesting bins out of blue Marimekko poppy print fabric; and eight fabric coasters with felt innards and fringed edges, complete with a small custom storage bin in coordinating colors.

In this case, part of the pleasure came from being able to use for personal gain a fabric bin construction technique I developed for my business.

Any handmade gifts you either made or received that you’d like to share? Please do!