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Like many families, now we’re in the run up to Christmas, we’re spending time getting crafty together, making presents and decorations, and this book has given us hours of delight. Full of ideas about how to customise wooden peg dolls into adorable characters, Bloom also provides lots of tutorials for how to use your peg dolls in innovative ways, such as in mobiles, wands, wall hangings and pincushion embellishments.
Super clear and friendly instructions, made beautiful and even easier to follow by the inclusion of simple but beautiful watercolour illustrations along with many photos of all sorts of children making and playing with peg dolls made sure this book really appealed to my kids as soon as they set eyes on it.
That the instructions are easy to follow and result in items which the kids are really proud of was clearly demonstrated by the way my 9 year old, M, took the book off by herself and created her first ever felt toys:
Although M was totally absorbed by herself in her sewing, as a parent I especially enjoyed Bloom’s emphasis in her instructions on how the whole family can take part in making their own peg dolls; she clearly indicates which parts even the youngest children can get involved with, and encourages us grown-ups to be involved, but also to let our kids do their own things with the dolls. This book isn’t about parents turning out coffee-table-book-worthy gorgeous ornaments (although we’re definitely encouraged to play, sew and create along side the kids); it really is about facilitating children’s exploratory play and creativity.
The book includes a list of suppliers of peg dolls, felt and one or two other items that are especially nice to use (such as artificial/millinery flower stamens) and I would heartily encourage you to gift a bundle of supplies, including some watercolours, with this book so that the recipient can dive in straight away. I’ve personally used Craftshapes for my blank wooden peg dolls in the past and they’ve always be lovely to deal with.
What we started with
Here are some of the characters we created:
Whilst painting, sewing, sticking and playing we listened to:
Wedding of the Painted Doll, one of the hit songs from the musical “The Broadway Melody” – indeed, it reach #1 in the charts in 1929! Another version with more lyrics can be heard here.
The doll dance from Delibe’s ballet Coppélia
Come Over To My Dollhouse by Lunch Money. Whilst in some ways this is a world away from the lovely peg dolls made by Bloom (which are the antithesis to Barbie, who does feature in this song), the video is enormous fun and might inspire you and your kids to make your own video for your favourite music.
If you want ideas about how to take things a step further with your peg dolls take a look at:
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys that spin, fly and bring sweet dreams: It is beautiful to look at and filled with enticing projects, which are both achievable and give results to delight in. It is also a book which is very proud to be just a starting point; it’s really about giving you ideas which will bloom in you and your kids’ imaginations.
What family craft books would you recommend?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.
It started here. I made five fairy busts for my book demonstrating the different ways to approach painting skin tones.
It then moved onto this without me realizing it, I began doodling them with this crazy spiral hair during Inktober.
At the end of October I listed the five busts from my book to be sold during my first Flash Sale at my Etsy shop. They went so fast! I didn't think something so small and so simple would be that popular.
Once the sale was all finished and I had so many envelopes to draw on, I decided to continue with these wee fairy busts as a way to "brand" the sale. I came up with a simple design and modified it for each envelope. Every envelope from a sale during that day has a fairy bust drawn on it. You can view all of them on my Facebook Page.
Now, with all of that said and done, here is where I have ended up.
I think I am border line obsessed with these wee ladies. They are quick, full of sweet personality, and I really can't wait to paint them. I envision them in tiny ornate frames hanging together or in the smallest of nooks and crannies around the house. Just like a fairy! They measure about 2x2 inches.
It used to be my favorite holiday. Seriously, over Christmas. Who needs gifts when you can dress up into your wildest fantasy? That's what I used to think.
The question I ask myself this morning, on Halloween, is:
The image on the left was painted in 1996. I was in 8th grade, obsessed with the movie "The Crow", listening to heavy metal, and addicted to Gen 13 and Witchblade comic books. I believe it was around that time I dressed like the Catwoman from Batman Returns for Halloween. Whip and all. Yep, I thought I was quite the bad girl. I hid behind a made up character I named "Raven", who I drew all the time, made stories for, and just simmered there. Angry and lost.
She followed me all through high school and into my freshman year of college.
In college she began to morph, just a little. And although I invented other stories to hide myself behind, she was always there. I tried so hard to hold on and not forget who I thought I was.
2003 - Heavily into Manga and still learning watercolor
2004 - Style used for my senior project in college.
When I left college the real soul searching started. I continued to practice witchcraft, but grew in my watercolor and figure drawing skills. I entered into some really difficult relationships, did my years of exploring the night life, and hit rock bottom.
Enter the church. Now wait, don't jump the gun yet. There was LIGHT. I lived in the shadows so long, it was refreshing and very unexpected. I was skeptical but continued to find faith in it. I always had faith I would find LOVE. Find TRUTH. Find WHO I WAS. Who I AM.
I can't paint the darkness like what's above anymore. I try, and this is what happens:
This image (just below), after many years of searching, is the truth of who I am. I hide behind masks to protect my heart, but it's golden because I am a child of light, the daughter of He who is LIGHT. I wander through the night, not because I am lost, because I'm hunting evil and snuffing it out to make the night safe and beautiful. I have wings so that I can fly, because I am free. These are the truths I have learned through the years, and it is because of these truths I can not go back. I am glad that Raven is now a face who smiles, who comforts, who flies in to bring LIGHT. Not death, pain, or sadness.
So Halloween you say? Sure, I'll dress up, I'll laugh and find the joy in it, but the holiday used to have such meaning to me - freedom to hide. I think today as we celebrate dressing up and scaring away ghosts and goblins, I see myself as a warrior who doesn't need to hide anymore behind costumes, it doesn't matter anymore. So, I'll happily eat some zombie finger pretzels and begin to look forward to Christmas, when family, love, light, and joy are all dancing about.
There is a quarrel inside me about fairies, and the form of literature their presence helps to define. I have never tried to see a fairy, or at least not since I was five years old. The interest of Casimiro Piccolo reveals how attitudes to folklore belong to their time: he was affected by the scientific inquiry into the paranormal which flourished – in highly intellectual circles – from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth. But he also presents a test case, I feel, for the questions that hang around fairies and fairy tales in the twenty-first century. What is the point of them? What are the uses of such enchantments today? The absurdity of this form of magical belief (religious miracles are felt to be different, and not only by believers) creates a quarrel inside me, about the worth of this form of literature and entertainment I enjoy so much. In what way am I ‘away with the fairies’, too?
Suspicion now hangs around fairy tales because the kind of supernatural creatures and events they include belong to a belief system nobody subscribes to anymore. Even children, unless very small, are in on the secret that fairyland is a fantasy. In the past, however, allusions to fairies could be dangerous not because belief in them was scorned, but because they were feared: Kirk collected the beliefs of his flock in order to defend them against charges of heterodoxy or witchcraft, and, the same time as Kirk’s ethnographical activities, Charles Perrault published his crucially influential collection (l697), in which he pokes fun, with suave courtly wit, at the dangerousness of witches and witchcraft, ogres and talking animals. Perrault is slippery and ambiguous. His Cinderella is a tale of marvellously efficacious magic, but he ends with a moral: recommending his readers to find themselves well-placed godmothers. Not long before he was writing his fairy tales, France and other places in Europe had seen many people condemned to death on suspicion of using magic. The fairy tale emerges as entertainment in a proto-enlightenment move to show that there is nothing to fear.
The current state of fairy tale – whether metastasized in huge blockbuster films or refreshed and re-invigorated in the fiction of Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, Margaret Atwood or, most recently, Helen Oyeyemi (Mr Fox, and, this year, Boy Snow Bird) does not invite, let alone compel, belief in its magic elements as from an audience of adepts or faithful. Contemporary readers and audiences, including children over the age of 6, are too savvy about special effects and plot lines and the science/magic overlap to accept supernatural causes behind Angelina Jolie’s soaring in Maleficent or the transmogrifications of the characters. Nor do they, nor do we need to suspend disbelief in the willed way Coleridge described.
Rather the ways of approaching the old material – Blue Beard, The Robber Bridegroom, Hansel & Gretel, Snow White and so on – opens up the stories to new meanings. The familiar narrative becomes the arena for raising questions; the story’s well known features provide a common language for thinking about families and love, childhood and marriage. Fairies and their realm allow thought experiments about alternative arrangements in this world. We are no longer looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden, but seeing through them to glimpse other things. As the little girl realises in The Servant’s Tale by Paula Fox, her grandmother through her stories ‘saw what others couldn’t see, that for her the meaning of one thing could also be the meaning of a greater thing.’ In the past, these other, greater things were most often promises – escape, revenge, recognition, glory – but the trend of fairy tales is turning darker, and many retellings no longer hold out such bright eyed hope.
Featured image credit: Sleeping Beauty, by Viktor M. Vasnetsov. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
It was a little like suddenly seeing the trees for the wood, as Flower Fairies have long been a favourite with my girls; they love dressing up as Flower Fairies, they’ve recently “wallpapered” their bedroom walls with Flower Fairy postcards, and with autumn now approaching, they’ve been using the dried seed heads in our garden as Flower Fairy wands; as you wave them about ‘fairy dust’ (seeds) fly out casting magic which will grow next year.
These seed heads come from poppies, love-in-the-mist, bluebells, Granny’s bonnets (also known as Columbine), teasels and cow parsley. Playing with these natural objects is such a delight – not only are they free, they are exquisite. (Poppies, love-in-the-mist and Granny’s Bonnets have the added advantage of being the easiest flowers to grow: Just throw the seeds onto soil and forget, and they’ll reward you returning year after year!)
Apart from the original collections of Flower Fairy poems and illustrations, my girls favourite book is How To Find Flower Fairies. With truly magical paper engineering, replete with hidden treasures, and lavish illustrations this is a book they treasure.
In searching for new Flower Fairy related books I came across some incredible illustrations that actually pre-date Barker’s Flower Fairies:
If you are pulled to this drawing, you are being asked to look at: This card is the Graduation card. Congratulations! You have burst through old beliefs and limitations recently. It’s a new way of being. You can now fly to exotic places where you can dance with snakes!
REVERSE: You might be looking at your limitations this week and areas where you are using “in the box” vs. “out of the box” thinking.
Healing Fairy Alphabet deck available for pre-order here
Written by Larissa Theule
Illustrations by Adam S. Doyle
Carolrhoda Books 10/01/2014
Age 8 to 12 104 pages x x
“Welcome to Bald’s Farm. Well, perhaps it’s not Bald’s Farm anymore. The old man has kicked the bucket, setting off a wave of conflict from the muddy pig pen to the tall wheat fields. In this darkly funny, slightly supernatural chain of tales, no creature is safe. Not Leonard Grey, a spider with sophisticated tastes. Not Esmeralda, a resentful one-footed pig. Not Tulip, a plant with a mean streak. And as for Bones, the old man’s son, and Fat, his winged rival? They’ll learn that danger lurks in the strangest of places . . .”
“Fat stood on the topmost branch of the tree, gazing in the direction of the farmhouse.”
Bones is the son of his father, the farm owner, who has most recently passed away. Fat is the former farmer’s fairy. They hate each other with a passion usually reserved for love. Now that Bone’s father has died, Bones will run the farm and his first priority: get rid of excess Fat.
In the span of one day, Bones tries to take out Fat, who tries to take out Bones. The pigs must move around on less and less feet to supply Bones with his favorite meal of pig foot stew. Pa may be dead, but Bones is still hungry. Ma, who is crying herself blind ventures out to the pigpen to grab a foot. Which one does she get?
Leonard’s family thinks he is the strangest spider that has ever spun a web. He cannot sneak and lives alone. He reads poetry while drinking herbal tea. Down below, Fat is making a new potion and needs the fresh blood of a spider. Leonard picks this moment to prove he can sneak. He cannot.
The Dead Man Song is for Priscilla Mae, the escaped spider for which Leonard has found love. She sees a group of animals honoring the dead farmer’s passing. Jimmy’s in Love pits mouse against mouse for the love of a mouse across the kitchen floor. Cat lurks on the floor, waiting for a wandering mouse. Sometimes he greets the mouse.
“Good afternoon, mousie-pie.”
Sometimes he pounces. Occasionally, that tricky cat does both. A mouse just never knows. Jimmy decides to take a chance but the floor is full of water—salty, tear stained water. Daisy and Tulip are the best of friends, sharing a puddle. All is well, until little sprouts move in and choke the water supply. Daisy and Tulip argue over how to get the sprouts to leave. The differences could mean the end of Tulip or Daisy.
Finally, Dog Alfred visits his Ma. Ma wants Alfred to go home. Alfred is sneezing. He has a cold. Alfred is upset, (and sets up Ma to speak a line of funny I love)
“Ma,” he said, [pleading voice] “I came all this way. I can’t go home now.” “You live next door,” she said.
Fat & Bones: And Other Stories is a fast read with only 104 pages. On those 104 pages, every word counts thanks to wonderful writing and editing. Each story has something to teach kids. In Leonard Grey III, Leonard learns it is okay to be yourself and love is better than alone. Fat feels morally obligated to care for his neighbors, even when he is the one who injured said neighbor. Be nice to others; get to know your neighbors; be responsible for each other. Esmeralda must decide which is more important, her jealousy and “revenge” or the good of the group. Fat and Bones is philosophy 101 for the middle grades.
I am not a fan of the cover. The moon grinning as it does is eerie, but that is the intent. The illustrations use dark tones of green, grey, and black. The image is often part of the shadow or obscured by it. I am sorry to say, I am not a fan of these illustrations. I love the individual stories. I enjoyed the way one story depends on the other. What happens in one story—or does not happen—affects another story, which affects another, and so on, yet none may be the wiser. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories play this out for kids in a way they can understand.
Humor plays a big part, easing what are actually dark themes of death, jealousy, war, and dejection into an enjoyable, funny story, odd as that may sound. Some kids may not like the darker, philosophical themes, while others will love them. I think the older the child, the more they will enjoy Fat and Bones.
These Seven stories, all intertwined, are a great read. Each story has a unique mix of characters from the Bald Farm. Each has their own plot, conflict, and resolution, yet the stories build on each other, need each other to live. There are many things kids can learn from these stories while reading a funny, heart-felt whole divided into parts that seem to stand on their own—because they do. Older kids will enjoy this book. Adults will enjoy this book. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories is the author’s debut.
All the training in Heaven couldn’t prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.
In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.
The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Traditional Apocrypha, the Pearl of Great Price and the Kabbalah. The Watchers are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.
Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s, The Watcher’s Series, is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.
“You could be gorgeous, brilliant, a star athlete, or great singer, or you could put a hex on your worst enemy. And all you have to do is raise a flock of two-inch-tall fairies. Easy, right? Wrong. Ali learns this the hard way when her flock-starter fairies get to work. Raising them means feeding them, and what they eat is hair. Lots and lots of human hair. Where to get the hair is Ali’s first challenge. What about the beauty salon? Easy, right? Before long, Ali’s friends, classmates, teachers, sister, and parents are entangled with the evil fairies, who have their own grandiose and sinister agenda. It’s up to Ali to overcome these magical troublemakers and set things right.”
“AGREEMENT 1. Alison E. B. Butler in exchange for one wish, hereby agree: . . .”
Alison is raising a flock of evil fairies in exchange for one wish. She wants to be smarter than her sister, who get s straight A’s and her parent’s attention. She has two problems right away. Michael gave her the two flock-starters and now he insists on checking up on her, constantly. It wouldn’t be so bad if he weren’t the second worst jerk in town. His brother is number one and dating Ali’s sister Hannah—the one who can do no wrong. Second problem, the baby fairies. All the babies want is to eat and they eat human hair, lots if it. Where is Ali going to get all that hair? She can’t use her own, and keeps her hair in a high bun to ensure the fairies don’t get to her hair. The boys shave their head.
Ali spots the beauty salon across from the middle school. They throw hair away every day. Ali tries to grab some of the discarded hair, but Mrs. Hopper, who has cut the Butler family’s hair since forever, catches her. Ali learns that Mrs. Hopper is not who she seems to be and wants to rescue Mrs. Hopper—the real Mrs. Hopper. Hopper is not the only one held captive. Molly and Tyler, who broke the rules while raising their flocks, are now suffering the penalty, and Mrs. Hopper—the fake one—is now holding them captive. Will Ali be able to free all three? Can she be able to get anyone else to help? Most importantly, will Ali raise her full flock and get her wish?
I love Evil Fairies Love Hair. It has some normal teenage angst, a normal family, middle school casts, two flockstarters who may or may not help, and a good dash of magic. The good kids are not always as good as they seem and the bad kids are not as bad as everyone, including parents, believe. Then there are the little evil fairies, who may not be fairies at all. Evil Fairies Love Hair could be a confusing story, but events happen in good time and everything flows nicely from one plot point to the next. In fact, I had read half the book before I thought to check the time. I didn’t want to put the book down.
From the title, Evil Fairies Love Hair, I had no idea what to expect. The fairy on the cover is odd looking with large, bulging eyes that fill up half her face and a baldhead. She looks demanding and she and her fellow fairies are a demanding bunch. Their leader put the fairies in this position and was now trying to get them to where she wanted to be in the first place. Problem is, she easily makes mistakes, mainly due to her enormous ego. I love the humor and the middle school principal who never has a clue what his students are doing. He just wants them back to class. All the adults are clueless.
Middle grade kids will love this story. It will have them thinking about what they would wish for, if they had the opportunity. Kids will also wonder what getting their wish would cause to those around them. Would it be worth it to have everything you want? This is the author’s sophomore novel. (Escape from the Pipe Men! is her debut and will be reviewed here soon.) The writing is excellent. The story pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages. Kids looking for a magical tale with a few twists and turns will want to read Evil Fairies Love Hair. You may think you know what a fairy is and what a fairy does, but do you really? To find out, you need to read Evil Fairies Love Hair. Be careful what you wish for—you might just get it!.
If you are pulled to this drawing, you are being asked to look at: When you are planted in wrong soil and you are not thriving, you feel there is something wrong with you, rather than the soil. This happens when we are in places or situations that are not good matches for us. I love the Indian Gardens message. Indian Gardens is a lovely forest area near Sedona, Arizona, not far from my home. It’s filled with fairy energy and well, I love fairies, being part fairy.
“This is a message about honoring yourself. Do not compare yourself to others or feel that there is something wrong with you. There are lots of forests, but this one has it’s own voice. It is special and enough to who it belongs to. When you honor and accept yourself and your uniqueness, the world will reflect that back to you.”
This year I am creating original sketches on all of my orders going out through Etsy. If even just an ACEO (2.5x3.5 inch print) is purchased, the customer will receive an original sketch on the envelope.
With a new baby I don't get a lot of time to just sketch, this has been a great way to get some sketching in while at the same time treating my customers with something special.
My customers mean a lot to me and this is one way I can show them.
These sketches are not scanned in and saved, or reproduced. They are sketched, photographed for my own documentation, and then mailed off. Who knows, maybe one of them will become a painting some day. Now wouldn't that be fun! :)
I suspect there’s a reason why fairies are found at the bottom of the garden: the bottom of the garden represents the limits of a child’s freedom. It is the furthest they can go from home without entering the big wide world – and it’s in this space between security and freedom that magic occurs.
Children have so little freedom. Freedom beckons, but is also frightening. Perhaps this is why I loved reading so much when I was a child. From the safety of an armchair in the front room or beneath the covers of my bed, I could escape safely.
When I was seven I loved books in which magical items transported children directly from the security of home into another world - stories like Enid Blyton’s TheWishing Chair, in which an old chair intermittently grew wings and carried the children off on fantastical adventures. There was also Nesbit’s Phoenix and the Carpet, in which an old rug turns out to be a magic carpet - and let’s not forget that wonderful flying bed in Bedknobs and Broomsticks - or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, in which an old wardrobe provides the portal to freedom.
Part of the excitement lay in the fact that the children never quite knew when their adventure might take place. Nesbitt’s children always had to wait until their parents were out – and Blyton’s children had to keep going down to the playroom to see if the chair had grown wings. The appeal also lay in the fact that there was always the risk of mishap - along with the assumption that the children would return home safely.
When my friend’s daughter Elinor told me about a dream in which her bedroom flew, I was delighted. What a wonderful symbol her unconscious had conjured up to grant her both security and freedom! She could go wherever she wanted without leaving the safety of her bedroom – and what’s more, she would have everything she needed with her: a raincoat, a book to read, a sunhat or a swimsuit …
So, inspired by Elinor’s dream, I wrote The Flying Bedroom, a series of short adventures in which Elinor’s bedroom takes her to faraway places including a tropical island (from which her bedroom nearly floats away), the theatre (where Elinor reluctantly takes centre stage), and even to the moon (where Elinor helps a man called Niall fix his rocket). I’m hoping that The Flying Bedroom will satisfy children’s longing for both security and freedom – the tension that never really goes away, no matter how old we are.
Forest Online Camp starts this Friday! OMG! Since I can’t take all of you to the forest, I can bring the forest to you. Let’s have a campfire and roast marshmallows, and find ladybugs to talk to, while counting the new seeds in the trees. We will discover and play with our different “clairs” while nurturing our bodies with the sensual treasures found in Nature. I made a movie about the class and registration is open, so head on over to see and sign up HERE.