Blah blah blah … and oh! Blah di blah!

32 is a much better number than 31 – I have a much more positive outlook as a 32 year old.
Sunday involved croissants for breakfast, birthday cake, chocolates, flowers, a cuter than cute jug, music, a dvd, a box for my sewing stuff, a sketchbook and some pjs, unexpected phone calls from folks near and far and Amelia J clapping madly at the end of “happy birthday” and then saying “Ha!!” to me from time to time for the rest of the day.

This sounds totally ridiculous, but I have had to teach Amelia how to hug. Who knew that hugging isn’t necessarily natural?! Previously she would come up to one of us and give us a kind of nuzzle or maybe sort of hook her chin over our shoulders accompanied by an expression like “aaaah” or “mmmm”. I would see other little kids Amelia’s age or younger throw their arms around their parents and I was starting to worry that we had a problem here. Perhaps Amelia would never hug and never discover the joys of such an activity! So over a couple of days last week we went into training. I kept looping her arms around my neck as I said “arms around the neck – this is how you hug! See how good it feels!” and now there’s no stopping the girl. Any opportunity she puts her stubby little arms around my neck and buries her face into my shoulder. Duck to water I tells ya! I got lots of birthday hugs and they were the best.

Yesterday I paid a visit to my favourite japanese second hand textile warehouse and dived into the (somewhat smelly) racks and bins and found an old stained kimono that has some perfectly usable panels (now soaking in water and baby shampoo) and a length of beautiful silk ready for turning into tiny clothes for strange looking rabbits, kittens and bears. I am still experimenting with fabrics and patterns and ideas for these animals. I am inspired by funny old homemade vintage toys that are made from bits of recycled material with hand stitched faces. I like their quirkiness and their character and I am trying to get something of the same feel into my little animals. I have started hacking into polar fleece and toweling and flannelette and after I produced a very funny lopsided bunny (still needs buttons and a pocket etc) which was a rather hit and miss affair, I decided to cut out some patterns so that the arms and legs would be basically the same size. But they are still pretty odd. All this means they aren’t exactly the drop dead beautiful dolls that you might find in the finer doll stores and this also means that they do get misunderstood (our neighbour thought they looked pretty weird and told me that they were something you’d find in a op-shop (thrift store) ). But it’s a work in progress!

While out on my fabric hunt I also visited Dimmey’s which really does have some incredibly cheap bric-a-brac amongst the bargain basement pyjamas, sheets, tshirts and very scary fuzzy slippers. $15 later and I had a bag full of flannelette, gingham, bias binding in three weird colours and a length of beautiful ribbon.

My head is all over the place. I am also working on a three colour screen-print design for class to be printed through cut out paper stencils. As it’s all very blocky and I have to use pretty basic shapes and colours I am doing a Mary Blair inspired girl in the autumn leaves.

I am not sure what it’s going to look like when it’s printed up but I will get some digital snaps of the finished product.

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31 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday!!!!!As for me I have to say that I as turned 30 – I started dating my husband.
    31 was good, but 32 was great (I got engaged – not exactly on my birthday, but while I was 32), 33 even better (I got married) – so – so far 33 is the best year ever… and the best is yet to come!
    So …enjoy!
    By the way, I love your little doll creations!

  2. Hoping all your birthday wishes come true.

  3. Love the character in those kinds of dolls/stuffed animals! The kitten in the dress is great! Love the details.
    I remember my Aunt making a homemade bunny for each of her babies when they were born. It was always this sweet pale blue print material, and the bunny had no face. It was just a round oblong shape for the body, and the basic smaller circle head with two long ears. So simple to make!
    The kids loved them, and I remember them with probably as much fondness. I will always have great memories of my baby cousins with their bunnies over their shoulders in a headlock in their chubby toddler arms.

    Thanks also for the fabric finding ideas!

    Yay for Amelia’s hugs! And Happy Birthday to you!

  4. I LOVE your creations! I much prefer them to have cuddly character and individual faces and dress and details. Just the sort of easy-to-love comforters for kids (and adults?!!)

  5. Happy belated birthday, Claire! Mine is also on the 21st, but I turned 20. 🙂

  6. O yes…happiest of belated birthdays, Claire! And I think the fancy shop dolls are in fact dead creepy. Like they’re going to start to life and consume you whole to the tune of the Teddy Bear Picnic. Your fabric creations, on the other hand, are fabulous and cuddlesome and their lop-sidedness just adds to their whimsy. And I’m sure they’re so much more portable and huggable than the stiff porcelain dollies! They look like they’re made to be LOVED, not just admired from behind glass.

  7. congrats on winning the blog award!

  8. Belated Happy Birthday, Claire! My li’l girl’s is on the 20th.

  9. I love that bunny.It is fantastic. I am a monster maker from toronto…and monsters love bunnies!
    Your work rules!

  10. Claire, I love your bunny! Personally, I feel that the more original, the better. I grew up in a house full of beautiful dolls and dollmaking supplies (my parents were dollmakers and owned a business along with my aunt who was the sculptor. In fact, this one was made from a baby photo of me), but I still prefer dolls that were made by hand.

  11. Oops, the photo would be linked below.-Melanie

  12. Happy Belated birthday! I have to agree the most loved of my dolls where always the hand made ones. No one else owned them and they where incredibly unique.

  13. Happy Birthday !!!!I love your dolls!!Specially the bunny!! Congratulations!

  14. Yeah, 31 is such a nothing-number. Can’t wait to turn 32 next week!Happy Birthday Claire!

  15. … and i was just pondering what it’s like turning 30 in a couple of weeks’ time. =)
    anyway, happy birthday!

    i’ve been reading your blog for some time, but i only managed to say hello just now. i’m such a fan that i even recommended your blog in my site on web logs (

  16. happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…
    so when can we buy the loobylu range of felt/polar fleece/old kimono lovelies??

  17. 32 is a great number — and there are so many goofy geeky options — you can tell people you are 2 to the 5th. or super geek out and say 20-hex. two plus three is five, which is my favorite number, so i’m partial to that aspect. but then there is just the nice part of being just a little over thirty and happy and kinda winking at the world. happy birthday. i love the little handmade creatures.

  18. says:

    such a delightful story about your daughter and so many of her little hugs fest! wonderful. a hug from a child is simple the best and the sweetest feeling. oh and happy birthday to you! and to me too! it’s my birthday as well 🙂 yah for march birthdays!!!

  19. says:

    my birthday was sunday too! happy birthday aries!

  20. Just wait til you get to 35. I’m going through a great resurgence of creativity right now. It’s just the beginning, girl! Keep up the great work. Love it!

  21. says:

    Thanks Claire Alice loves her CAT, in fact she is all tucked up in bed right now with Flossy and has been each night since Tuesday. By the way she had to be shown how to hug too.

  22. I agree with the majority– I would much prefer to buy your little cat and rabbit than any “beautiful” doll. Yours are so sweet! I want one for my little girl!

  23. Happy B daycute B-U-NN-Y

  24. Ooh, happy belated birthday, Claire.
    Kazari is a gem!

  25. happy birthday claire!
    I’m glad that you had such an excellent day.

    May the next 360ish days be full of lovely hugs.

  26. Happy birthday.
    My cousin’s daughter (21 months) comes over and leans on you like a dead fish when she wants to give you a hug.

  27. I found your blog through a recommendation on livejournal and I just love everything. I’m desperate to know where your favourite japanese secondhand textile warehouse is though!

  28. says:

    Oh, I love those soft toys! I think everyone had a dolly similar when they were a kid, just felt, with funny eyes, and a simple outfit. I had a little brown lady, and on one side she was happy, and the other she was sad. I loved it so.