Lost in the Stacks…

Photo from Love and Squalor Photography

It’s not uncommon that while watching a movie – I’ll turn to the person next to me and say – wait, isn’t that Vancouver? We’ve got a bustling movie scene here – so much so that we’re often called Hollywood North and it’s not so unusual for there to be reports that Kristin Stewart or Dakota Fanning or some other star has been spotted out and about town. I’ve got my own celebrity run-ins that I could share too, but I’ll save that for another post. Because this post is about our downtown public library – as libraries go – it’s breathtaking. So beautiful that it’s not uncommon for movies to be shot inside – and they’re not usually library scenes either, one recent film of note that was shot here – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. As I write this post, sitting in the library, I can’t help but look around at all the wonderful architectural details and feel lucky that this library has been built in our city.

Photo of Vancouver Public Library – Battle Star Galactica Set – Via: The Pocket Square

But really, what’s infinitely more important than the design or look of any library is it’s contents. I think I’ve always known this to be true. As far back as I can remember I have been obsessed with books. It must be due, at least in part, to influences in our home. There were always books strewn throughout it and one of my earliest dreams and desires was to be able to read like my brothers could. It’s even possible that this lifelong passions roots can be traced to one of the first books that was read to me by my brothers, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – to this day I fondly remember the twists and turns of this delightful tale. From the golden tickets to the wonders and quirks of Willy Wonka’s factory. When I finally did learn to read my mom would take me to the library where I was allowed to check out a stack of books as tall as my little arms could carry. I’d excitedly bring them home and quickly read through each and every one before returning to check out many more.

Librarian glasses from Je Sophi

I think one of my greatest delights will be teaching my children to read (when I have children of course). Who’s to know if they will share my passion for reading but I do hope that will be the case. I also know that while we may never be able to travel to all the places or meet all the people we’d like to in this lifetime, inside the pages of books so many adventures and experiences are waiting for us.

Library Ladies from Janet Hill Studio

Today – with libraries on my mind, I’ve gathered a number of handmade finds to share – I hope you enjoy them. Please do feel free to share a favorite book either from childhood or one you’ve read recently, I’d love to hear about them!

Bookends from Knob Creek Metal Arts

Let me pencil you in.

I woke up this morning and realized that we are now a full month since Christmas and I still have presents to ship and cards to mail. (Sorry, Mom! They’re on their way!) The holiday season was one of my busiest yet. In addition to all of the craft sales that I had to get ready for and participate in, I also had to keep up my end at home, fulfill my obligations at the store AND get settled into a brand new job, which I will go into more details about next week. Needless to say, I got so far behind on doing all of the “little things”, personally and professionally, that catching up became a daunting task, to say the least. (Regular readers of this column will have noticed a certain absence on my part and for this, I apologize profusely.)

I am determined to make a full-recovery from my 8 weeks of total disorganization, though, and it starts right here. The first item on my agenda is, well…an agenda. The key to keeping things under control is a good time-management system and it all begins with a good planner. Some people choose to go the electronic route, but I am one of those people that needs to see it in ink on paper. If you’re like me, this handmade Eco-Planner by Nature’s Cubbyhole (above) is just the thing to keep you organized; whether you are scheduling meetings, play dates, exams, or lunches with friends. The rugged cover is made of 100% recycled rubber, which has been fused to natural hemp burlap; inner pages are 100% recycled banana fibre paper, printed in what is described as a “no-nonsense” font. (This is, after all, serious business!) Keep track of all of your important dates and reminders in this functional and eco-conscious personal planner, and, when the year is up, you can return it to Elena for a refill! How’s that for planned sustainability?

One of the challenges in keeping a household organized is getting everyone on the same page. When it comes to this oversized monthly calendar (above) from Simple Shapes, the “page” is the wall. Not only is this chalkboard wall calendar a great way to keep the family informed of upcoming events and special occasions, it makes for a bold, graphic statement and will complement nearly any decor – from shabby chic to minimalist. The durable, infinitely reusable (and removable!) vinyl wall decal includes the calendar grid (pre-spaced for easy application), a memo section and “This Month” in a bold serif font. Just add chalk!

I am feeling more organized already. See you next week…I promise!


Green applique pillow

Julie of tractorgirl and her partner live on a farm, with cereal cropping and sheep and three small children (5, and twins 3), in south-eastern inland Australia. And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, she also sews lovely pillow covers, tea cozies, brooches and makes textured silver necklaces.

From an early age, Julie’s been a maker and a dreamer.

My mum used to work as a dressmaker, and so she would always have scraps of lovely fabric around for me to wrap my dolls in.

At University she studied jewelery and silversmithing, and while she loves it, with small children around, it’s difficult to do, so she’s returned to sewing. While she’s sold things now and then ever since finishing University, she’s always had another job as her main income. Now, however, as a stay-at-home mother – which is definitely a full time job in itself, it’s also one without without an income and she’s becoming much more involved in selling her work.

Green and Teal fabric brooch

I have always felt compelled to make something somehow, and it didn’t seem to matter too much what type of medium – drawing, lino, textiles, metal.

My head is repository for all sorts of wonderful things. I like to keep on open mind; inspiration comes from all sorts of things, everything from nature to architecture. I have a Fine Arts background, so I have a large aesthetic resource to draw on – for instance, I am using classic motifs from various time frames and cultures for my current designs.

I care about my work – the process and the finished details. Each item is unique; I use upcycled materials somewhere in all my work, so I can rarely make the same thing twice.

I always try to be gentle on the earth. For me, upcycling refers to fabrics that are remnants from old projects and other sources, and from clothing, homewares and remnants found in op shops (thrift stores). This saves it from going to landfill, and besides, some things are too beautiful to throw out!

Julie’s favorite item is usually the last thing she made – right now it’s a cushion cover featuring a decorative motif from Pompeii, in white velvet and red satin. Her reverse applique on cushion covers is a beautiful combination of rustic and modern.

Turquoise and red handmade pillow

You can find out more about what’s in her head and on her workbench by following her on Facebook, her blog and twitter. If you’re in Australia you can also find her on MadeIt.

Ideas for Fairytale Fashion

Everyone please welcome Helen Hobden to Try Handmade! She’s a seamstress, artist, writer, renovator, pyrographer… The list goes on – I think she’ll really fit in here. Please leave her a comment on her first post and let her know if you know of any great alternative fashion she should feature. Other than her own shop of course :)

I’ve been wanting to watch Red Riding Hood for ages and I finally have this weekend. I loved it! It was everything I hoped it would be; the snowy village scenes, the mysterious atmosphere; Grandma’s fantastic cabin in the woods, but especially the costumes. (Credit to Cindy Evans for costume design.)

Due to films such as this one and fairies being the new vampires in the literary world, fairytale fashion is getting bigger and better than ever and there are some fantastic outfits on the market. I have never really grown up as far as clothing is concerned and I relish any opportunity to dress up just like I loved doing as a kid. I just wish invitations to fancy dress parties came my way more often!

This is one of my absolute favourites made by Enlightened Platypus; it is surely the ultimate Red Riding Hood coat. Made entirely out of recycled jumpers, this must have taken her hours and hours to sew together all the different pieces in various shades of red. I know her work sells very quickly, so if you’re after one these coats, watch out for new listings regularly.

If you’re on the look out for the perfect fairytale dress to wear beneath the cloak, then don’t be tempted to buy a horrible polyester number in a cellophane wrapper that you’ll feel uncomfortable wearing. Instead look for a creation that will make you feel special and stand out in the crowd.

This lovely medieval style velvet dress with its large bell sleeves and decorated belt is beautiful. Yes, it’s blue, so may not be your first choice for Red Riding Hood, but this is actually quite similar to the dress Amanda Seyfried wears in the beginning of the film. You could easily wear this one to another party without a red cloak and go as a different fairytale character!

This cloak has my favourite hood – I love the pixie-ish shape of it. Although it doesn’t look like it in the picture, it’s actually made from lightweight wool and trimmed with black lace. I bet it takes the chill out the wind when out walking in the woods on the way to Grandma’s.

If dressing up to such an extent isn’t your thing, then there are several t-shirts with really cool designs that give nod towards the Red Riding Hood trend. One of my favourites is this one from limeyts.

Geometrics in Motion


Geometrics in Motion bracelet by Virginia Stevens: Art is integral to life. The two cannot be separated. Wearing beautiful objects is a simple way to bring art into your life and to connect with it in a very direct and personal way.

Virginia Stevens enjoys working with metals and stones to bring out their inherently unique and striking qualities. Nature provides beautiful raw materials, and Stevens feels the artist’s drive to translate those raw materials into her vision of wearable works of art. Her pieces are designed to enhance the everyday aesthetic of life.