Friday, April 29, 2011

Who is Art: Hazel Village

If you would love to find that magical spot where foxes in tailcoats co-exist with mice in cardigans and tutus, look no further than Hazel Village.

Catalina Mouse

Jane, the artist behind the inhabitants of Hazel Village, lets us sneak a peek at the makings of her self-described “woodland animal cottage industry”... 

Woodland creatures are not a scarcity in the handmade world, but your sweet little friends look like they have personalities just bursting out of them. How do you inject so much life into inanimate objects?

I imagine them with the personalities of really cool four-year-olds. It helps that their general proportions, and their flailing limbs, are more evocative of toddlers than any other type of person.

But technically speaking, the visual thing that gives them the most personality is probably the white ring around their eyes. It's really remarkable how much more alive the animal looks with that little touch, like it just put its glasses on and is awake now. I usually do that part last, because once it's done I feel like the animal is staring at me, and would object if I did any more surgery on it.

You mention that you stitch up your little creatures in the garret of a little house in Brooklyn, NY. Does the fact that you live in one of the busiest cities on the planet pull you towards the idea of creating animals that would be found in forests and woodlands?

Ha! A good question. As Jonathan Richman said, "I want the city, but I want the country too." In fact, I think the animals and I have a similar pace of life; we walk around and visit our friends, we do little errands and projects. In the scheme of things, we all have charmed lives and are well provided for. I mean, I have a job and live in the normal economy, and they live in a utopian gift economy of some kind, but it's all a matter of perspective.

Toadstool Rattle

Also, I think living far from nature helps me mythologize the paradise world of Hazel Village. The animals don't have mosquitoes, or foul smelling muck, or snow tires, or wintry mix; i.e. the exact sorts of things that make me happy to be a city girl.

Have your sweet little animals always been such brilliant dressers, or did their wardrobe evolve over time?

Brilliant dressers, always. And modest too. Actually I used to use more silk and delicate fabrics. Their wardrobes have evolved to be sturdier for babies, and quicker to produce on a sewing machine. I try to design the patterns so the clothes have hand-stitched details where they count, like a contrasting buttonhole or a little embroidered detail on the dress front.

Reginald Fox

I adore Annicke Mouse and I’m sure you must fall in love with all the little creatures you make as well! Is it ever hard for you to part with your little critters after pouring so much time into them? Have you ever set one aside for yourself? Initial prototypes, perhaps?

Annicke Mouse

Not really. If I set one apart, what would that say about all the others? I really love them all, and I love it when they go to new homes. Everyone is so nice about them; they seem to bring out the best in people.

Annicke Mouse

There have been one or two that were too odd looking to sell. Last fall when my sister Lucy came to visit, she adopted a yellowish-green understuffed bunny who was occupying a sort of forlorn place in my workshop. She insisted she liked that one.

Right now, I also have a toad with some hand-stitching under her eyes, which makes her look a little creepy and Tim Burton-ish. I haven't been taking her to markets, but she needs a home too. If anyone would like to adopt her, please let me know (, most compelling case wins) and I will mail her to you.

Squeaky Robin

What motivates you to continue to create and be a part of the handmade community?

I guess that people keep buying animals. Especially when I hear about their new lives with their kid (or grownup) owners. Sometimes people send me photos of their kids hugging the animals, which makes me really happy. Seriously, each picture is cuter than the last. You can see them on the animals' Facebook page (

But really, I love making things more than anything else. If I were on a desert island, I would do cool desert island crafts. If I were in prison, I would do prison crafts. On a related note, when I was in elementary school I did a lot of craft projects, using locally available materials, in the cubby under my desktop: cheese wax sculptures, braided chains of clover blossoms, tiny baskets and mats woven from twisted strands of Kleenex. So maybe a more apt question would be, what motivates me to socialize with my fellow man? And the answer would be, I have never been alone for long enough to be sure.

Anything else you would like to share about your life, work or inspirations?

Coming soon: separate outfits for the animals, custom monograms, limited edition animals with extra special details.
Coming in September: animals hand-made in an ethical factory in Doddaballapur, India, available at and in stores.

Mortimer Mouse

You can go deeper into the lives of Hazel Village at the links below. Jane has also offered my readers a 10% discount on all orders through May using the Coupon Code PETALHANDMADE! So sweet!

And next week, we chat it up with Sarah Louise of Branchbound (who is awesome). Check out her handmade lace jewelry and accessories now, then come back next Friday for her Who Is Art feature. P.S. - If you or your work has a story to tell, let me know!

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

VintageChild:Modern Giveaway

Happy Friday to you! Pop over to the One of a Kind blog from Garden of Eden designs to enter our giveaway for $25 shop credit at VintageChild:Modern

Deadline is May 3rd, so what are you still doing here? Get movin' (but come back this afternoon because I chatted with Jane of Hazel Village and she has something in store for you all here too)!

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Bubbles...

I have been filling the shop with bubbles this and bubbles that, including our NEW Bubble Pants, joining the ranks of our Bubble Skirt, Bubble Romper and Bubble Bloomer Shorts...

Not to mention the Limited Edition Golden Days Summer Collection No. 1 which includes a polka dot ruffled tube top and a pair of our Bubble Bloomer Shorts in a bright golden floral pattern.

Ready for your little one to simply toss a towel over her shoulder on the way to the beach. (Maybe add a touch of sunscreen.)

To celebrate all our bubb-a-licious new designs, we're offering 10% OFF all orders from our VintageChild:Modern shop, now through the end of April. Just enter APRILBUBBLES at checkout. (All US Domestic orders always ship free!)

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Art Full: Missed Connections

I had never experienced art that made me feel like I am sitting down with a brilliant novel until I discovered Sophie Blackall's Missed Connections Project. 

Face Painter

She describes her work on her blog this way...

Messages in bottles, smoke signals, letters written in the sand; the modern equivalents are the funny, sad, beautiful, hopeful, hopeless, poetic posts on Missed Connections websites. Every day hundreds of strangers reach out to other strangers on the strength of a glance, a smile or a blue hat. Their messages have the lifespan of a butterfly. I'm trying to pin a few of them down.

When I Put Your Coat Collar Up

Knitting Girl on 7 Train to Sunnyside

Throat Tattoo

In the Library, Browsing

Owl Lady in the Red Dress

Butterflies at the Museum

I Wish I Could See Inside Your Head

There are so many more stories to discover from the Missed Connections Project on Sophie Blackall's Shop and Blog

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Accidents

Perhaps I shouldn't admit this, but some of my favorite designs from both PetalPetal and VintageChild:Modern have been the result of pure mistake, or what I like to call happy accidents. Most recently...

The Spring Collection No. 2 from VintageChild:Modern has an unexpected detail on the back which I'm sorry to admit is the result not of design intuition, but of losing my little head and cutting the back panels too short. But this is where a great opportunity appears and true creativity kicks in...

The little sky blue detail that resulted from my hurried measurements is so sweet and now I can't imagine this lovely little outfit without it! 

Other divine mistakes...

The Biggest Flower skirt from PetalPetal was the first skirt in our Flower Girl line and the result of (again, not proud to admit this) not calculating that a pleated waistband would need 3x the length of fabric (as it is pleated... yeah). That piece of short, pleated fabric became the flower that I attached to the first PetalPetal skirt, causing my sister-in-law to say, "Oh, I wish you had made that before I got married. It would be a perfect Flower Girl skirt!" And the seeds for PetalPetal were planted!

And the new Bubble Bloomer Shorts with Bow from VintageChild:Modern are incredibly sweet and the result of incredible chance (although I like to think I would have gotten here on my own eventually).

That little bow on the bum... meant to be for a Floppy Hair Bow until I set it down on top of the bloomers to grab a phone call. 

Ahhhh, genius at work...

So the take away from this little post? Not that I do many (many, many) things that make me wonder how I manage to keep my head on straight. You are free to forget that little behind-the-scenes insight into my life as a designer. But please remember that mistakes are opportunities, happy accidents and perhaps even a bit of divine intervention.

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

Inspiration Boards: A Circus Life

To view the full collection, and for acknowledgments, click here.

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

Friday, April 22, 2011

Who Is Art: Floodplain Studio

I’ve always believed that there is an art to science and a science to art, which is probably why I was immediately attracted to “How It Eats,” an original drawing by Cara of floodplain studio on Etsy.

"How It Eats" by floodplain studio

Then I read her Etsy profile and knew I had found a woman after my own heart. Here’s how she describes her work…

I make unique, accessible, quality accents for your interiors, things I like to see in my own space: joyful things, bold, simply composed, spirited things.

dark head original ink & acrylic drawing by floodplain studio

I’ve got a special place in my heart for depicting unsung heroes of the animal kingdom, critters that adapt and survive in our midst. I also love to work with sign, symbol and diagram.

You can read the interview below...

little red bird print by floodplain studio

What do you see as our relationship to the natural world and the rest of the animal kingdom?

We may not always understand our place in it, but I firmly believe we are an intrinsic part of the animal kingdom. Granted, we spend a lot of time using technology to separate ourselves from the natural world. But I say thank goodness because we don't have warm fur to protect us from the cold and our babies take so long to grow up! If I had to raise my son Felix in the jungle, he and I would've been eaten by a tiger long ago.

I think technology is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it's the very thing we need, while at other times it seems to take us closer to our destruction. But this in itself is natural, really. All species experiment to find the best means to survive and prosper.

 man-made man print by floodplain studio

bunny friend print by floodplain studio

I love that there is something almost scientific about many of your pieces. There is so much realism. And then you throw in a depiction of a jackalope. Would you say you see the world through more of a scientific lens or with the hope that anything is possible?

Both! At the bottom of the ocean floor scientists are discovering new animals every day, animals that require no sunlight and can survive in freezing cold water by living near geothermal vents.

I live in the desert, and at first glance it looks barren, but it's actually teeming with life. Harsh environments aren't explored as much as pleasant ones. Who knows what's out there in the desert, or deep in the jungle, or way below in the cave?!

jackalope print by floodplain studio

Where do the inspirations for “How It Eats” and “How It Stands” come from? Are they your own questions that you answer through your art?

My Etsy work is all about striking a balance. I love contemporary drawing but so often it comes across way too serious or a bit stodgy. A good drawing should entertain people, make them laugh or ponder a bit. I like a strong visual punch, so I use formal aspects of contemporary drawing, but I never try to purge my stuff of what might be considered kitschy or lowbrow or folk or whatever.

Both of those drawings are meant to be a bit silly, but also beautiful in an unusual kind of way. And it goes back to each species ability to adapt: the process a cow goes through to digest otherwise inedible food astounds me! They say truth is stranger than fiction.

 "how it stands," original ink drawing by floodplain studio

0908, original microcosmigram by floodplain studio

Any other insights or interesting notes on your work you would like to share?

Not really, other than to thank you for featuring me on your beautiful blog and to tell you that your children's clothing line is wonderful. And I want to encourage everyone to visit our little shops and other little shops on Etsy. It's a place where us little guys with big ideas can adapt and even thrive amidst the big box/big brand dinosaurs.

doodle head 8x8 print by floodplain studio

wooly goat linocut print by floodplain studio

Cara, and her work, are a delight. To find out more about her work, visit her at any of the links below...

Next week we'll chat with Jane of Hazel Village about her self-described "woodland animal cottage industry."

For the complete Who Is Art series, click here or let us know if your work has a story to tell!

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chevrons and Solids and Florals, Oh My!

The best thing about an upcoming craft fair? The opportunity to get a little extra creative! The black and white chevron stripes with sky blue tulip pocket and lime floral accent buttons on our A-line Mini Dress... LOVE!

The Spring Collection No. 1 includes our A-Line Mini Dress, with matching Bloomer Bubble Shorts with Ruffle Accents and a Floppy Hair Bow in modern florals for good measure. There are only 3 sets available that we will be taking with us to Crafty Wonderland next month, unless they get snatched up off Etsy first!

Isn't this dress is just delicious with our Reversible Hooded Cape!

And if you are loving that lime green and sky blue modern floral as much as I am, check out our new Dock Unisex Top. It's available in several fabric options, but I love it in this bright and bold floral!

To view the entire VintageChild:Modern Collection, click here or, if you're in the Portland area, join us at Crafty Wonderland on May 7th!

Much (Petal) Love,

PetalPetal designs and VintageChild:Modern
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