Friday, April 30, 2010

Licorice Allsorts and that lovely fake candy that I have been making.

I have been working on various projects since my last post concerning the changes in the blog format. Let me know what you think and please let me know if there are any problems that you may encounter. I was wondering if the blog is loading a lot slower than when it had two columns?

My post about the ten foil letters and the ten inspirations from Britain mentioned Licorice Allsorts as an inspiration so I thought that I would do a post about licorice allsorts.

Last year, August 10 to be exact, I did a post about candy and included a few of these images in it.

This postcard that I bought in Switzerland shows how popular licorice is in Europe. Licorice Allsorts, Pontefract Cakes, Licorice Goodies, Sprogs (those beaded round jellies in Licorice Allsorts), Licorice Pinwheels, the list goes on. The Dutch like a salted licorice, I don't, it is nasty stuff!

I was collecting images of candy for quite a while as reference material. These mini Licorice Allsorts are from South Africa.

This portion of packaging shows more Licorice Allsorts from South Africa, probably from the same company that made the mini Licorice Allsorts. These Licorice Allsorts have triangular candies as well as a candy with two sections of licorice and two sections of fondant. Our absolute favourite licorice is Panda Bear Licorice. It is completely natural and the best tasting licorice we have come across.

Remember this photograph from an early post, it was a sample of the candy that had been made.

Later on I posted this picture. Slowly but surely when there has been time I have made more candy. The last 4 days was spent colouring a very large amount of fake candy. It was not just the colouring but the mixing of colours to approximate the real colours of the real candy that took so long. Can you see where this is going?
The picture that I have been waiting to post (that is the reason I haven't done any blog posts for a while) doesn't exist. That sounds a little cryptic doesn't it? It could exist if all of that yummy candy didn't start to lightly stick to each other and then leave tiny bits of the different colours on their neighbors.


I feel like the contortionist in this Victorian poster. Life gives you little surprises doesn't it? All of the candy needs to be stripped and recoloured. The paint that I was using wasn't cheap either. I had asked for a paint at the art supply store that would flow and leave a smooth glossy surface, that I got. I have never come across a paint that stayed a little tacky before. I have now. Oh well, onward and upward. At some point there will be a post about the wonderful candy that I have finished. There will also be a picture of that wonderful candy, just not now though.

Friday, April 23, 2010

There are going to be some changes around here.

I am in the process of changing my blog layout. I have wanted a three column layout for a while and now with the Blogger in draft templates I can do it. I hope all goes well but if it doesn't just bear with me I think it will look so much better.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

a little tour of my brain part 17 - Ten foil letters and ten inspirations from Britain

I bought these beautiful foil numbers in London quite a few years ago.  They are about 4 1/2 cm high or 1 3/4" high if you are not familiar with the metric system. The vibrant colours are printed on heavy gold foil paper, what more could a child want or an adult for that matter.

My ancestry is British and I didn't realize how much of an impact it has had on my design. So instead of just showing you these foil numbers that I bought in London each number will have a corresponding inspiration from Britain to go with it.

1. These foil numbers

How could they not be an inspiration, I have kept them for so many years.

2.The Victoria and Albert Museum

When you go to London visit the V & A Museum. Their website blurb says it all, "V&A South Kensington is the world's greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Discover 3000 years' worth of amazing artefacts from many of the world's richest cultures including ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, jewellery, metalwork, photographs, sculpture, textiles and paintings." It is a truly amazing museum.

The museum also has The V & A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London. I can't describe the museum any better than they can, "The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is home to one of the world's largest and oldest collections of toys and childhood artefacts. The collection, which dates from the 16th century to the present day includes dolls, teddy bears, toy soldiers, train sets, model cars, puppets, rocking horses, costumes, board games, and some of the first jigsaw puzzles ever made." It is a great museum to visit as well.

3. Bird's custard

British comfort food that can be eaten alone or used in making trifle and poured hot over Christmas pudding. The packaging is quite lovely, I have several vintage containers.


4. Licorice Allsorts

I have known for along time about the happy accident that created Licorice Allsorts but for the life of me I could not find the information in the books I have about candy, so I checked online. Wikipedia says "In 1899, Charlie Thompson, a sales representative, supposedly dropped a tray of samples he was showing a client, mixing up the various sweets. He scrambled to re-arrange them, and the client was intrigued by the new creation. Quickly the company began to mass-produce the allsorts, and they became very popular." History was made! I will be using some fake licorice allsorts in an upcoming project.

5. "Merrythought" teddy bears

"Merrythought" make beautiful mohair teddy bears, I have mine still from my childhood.

6. Pip and Squeak Annual

I still have my dad's 1930 annual. Check the posts here, here, and here to see samples of the illustrations

7. Rupert Annuals

We gave these annuals to our children each Christmas. I have some vintage ones as well. I will do a post about them soon. Show and tell is so much easier.

8. Children's books - Beatrix Potter books, Flower Fairy books, and Winnie the Pooh

I cheated here didn't I? These three sets of books have all inspired me. I like the realism in the illustrations as well as the fact that the characters are a part of our real world and are treated as living beings in their own right. Disney did a disservice to the beautiful illustrations of Winnie the Pooh once they became a cartoon. Whole generations have missed out on some very beautiful art work. I am on a soap box at the moment aren't I, well I won't apologize. Here is another future blog post, stay tuned.

9. Tricia Guild

Her firm Designers Guild, founded in 1970, is a world force in the design industry. Designers Guild produce textiles, carpets, paints, home accessories, wall papers, and furniture. Her use of colour and pattern are extraordinary. I'll do a post about her as well!

10. Carolyn Quartermain

Carolyn Quartermain's silk screened textiles are vibrant, bold and totally feminine but not fussy. Her use of colour has been an inspiration. There will be a post featuring some pictures of her work as well.

Well there we have it, ten foil letters and ten - or more if you a stickler for details and accuracy - inspirations from Britain. I am happy that I did this post because there will be some more in depth posts to follow. Honestly I had a bit of a mental block before this post, the brain just stopped and said "I don't have anything to give you at this moment so just go away!" See you next post.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kay's Corner and Thrift Store Inspiration

I enjoy window shopping, I suppose that has a lot to do with my display background, it is interesting to see what the the current trends are. I also love browsing and shopping at thrift stores, second hand shops, and flea markets, they are my source for textiles and accessories for the ornaments and sculptures that I design and make. This last week I have been downsizing the items that have been accumulating in my studio and garage. That doesn't mean that I haven't found some great items to incorporate into future sculptures, I am just being more selective.

"Kay's Corner" at the corner of  Cook St. and McKenzie St. in the Cook Street Village in Victoria always has an interesting selection of vintage items on the sidewalk in front of the store.

Each time I visit the shop there is always something in the window display that catches my eye.

The prices are very reasonable and the owner is very friendly, I always enjoy browsing around there.

I like browsing the thrift shops this is where the ideas originate. Sometimes I see an item and the piece has given me a finished design, while at other times there is something about the shape and colour that says it will work in a sculpture.

The wooden drawer front chocolate box that is used in "Vegetables Gone Bad - Jake and Dewey Sneak Into the Professor's Laboratory"
was originally going to be a package that was getting ripped open by veggie guys, but a parcel was not that interesting so it became a shipping crate. The 1950's Wonderscope pulled it all together.

Everything that I look for was used for something else. The candlestick that Black Cat is holding in this "Portrait Rattle - Black Cat's Midnight Stroll" is a game piece from an old Clue game, the fringe at the base of the rattle came from a vintage cushion, and the bells although new came from chocolate figures. The candlestick was the inspiration for this rattle.

I am always on the look out for millinery flowers. I have a lot of the larger flowers that were used on the 1950's and 60's women's hats but the smaller flowers are the ones that I am trying to find more of. This shoe candy container ornament, "Red and Yellow Victoria Shoe", makes use of some of the small flowers to create a bouquet with the stems wrapped in vintage rayon ribbon. There is a small tulip in the mix of flowers. I would love to get more of those miniature tulips, it is made of celluloid. That was the only tulip that I have ever come across.

I must get back to work. I am in the process of making a large supply of blanks, creating new graphics for the shop keepers that will be making an appearance on the sales blog, and tidying up! Oh the tidying up!

(“Lovey's Tea Room” and “The Full Moon Companions” are finished, but that is all that I am saying.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring has sprung...

Spring has sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonders where the birdies is?

That poetic gem came to mind as I was looking at these pictures. The animal life is definitely getting down to business around our neighbourhood in the last few weeks.

The fishing creel on the front door had a few tiny branches sticking out of the lid a while back so I pulled them out of the top of the basket.

I had to take the basket down to get them out and found this inside. At first it looked like a bunch of debris that someone had picked up off of the ground and put in the basket as a joke. I realized that the depression on the right was a bird's nest.

Trish, my wife, moved the basket off the door and onto the wall 10 feet away. Undaunted the bird kept on with building his home. We soon realized that the basket and nest would get very wet when it rained, so I put a nail in the wall under the upstairs overhang so that it would stay dry and moved the basket yet again. We weren't certain if the bird family was around or not but I saw him/her today. All is well in bird-land.

Last week a raccoon wandered across our yard and onto the neighbour's fence.


It wandered along the fence directly opposite one of the living-room windows. Raccoons are so cute.


I love Spring and this bird's nest shoe is my tribute to all of those busy birds. Go to my Etsy shop to purchase my "Spring Time Bird's Nest Shoe".

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 16 - Easter Postcards - Flowers and Crosses

 Happy Easter Everyone! 

Have fun hunting for Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. Enjoy dinner with friends and family. Have a very relaxing weekend.

Here are the last of the Easter images for this year. Years ago I bought a group of Easter postcards on Ebay and these cards were part of that group. I love flowers and the flowers pictured on the postcards were not what we commonly see today, especially associated with Easter. None of the following cards were used. They may have been old store stock. The first group of six cards are quite beautiful. All of the cards have the cross in various forms on it accompanied by flowers. The colours and draughtsmanship are superb. They are embossed as well. The crosses are gold ink and the design that you see on each cross is accomplished by the embossing process.

I was looking up the language of flowers to see if there was any meaning in the flowers. Dahlias stand for elegance and dignity. I do not know what the deep red colour would mean in conjunction with the flower.

In the language of flowers the red rose stands for true love while the pink rose stands for desire, passion, joy of life, youth, and energy.

The passion flower stands for faith and religious fervour.

The day lily stands for wealth, pride, and prosperity. These cards may or may not be sending these wishes to the recipient but this was a time when people were reserved, supposedly.

Morning glory is such a lovely flower. The sentiment sent would be one of affection.

Majesty and honour, purity of heart, virginity, it's heavenly to be with you, and youth are the messages sent with lilies.

These two cards are more traditionally religious in their treatment. The embossing is very beautiful and they have a lacquer finish on the surface.

Whether or not any sentiments were implied, the unusual crosses paired with the uncommon flowers make for very beautiful images.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Little Tour of My Brain, Part 16 - Children's Easter Cards


This little chick's basket folds into place under her arm to give this card a three dimensional effect. The back of the card says "To Dids From Nana and Grampa XX April 13/41."

The bath tub on this card is separate and tabs at either end of the bath tub slide into slots on the card. This card is to Dids from Mummy April 13/41.

This little rabbit certainly has a mischievous look and maybe that is why Auntie Leen and Uncle Alex sent it to Robert.

This 1950's card is really sweet. It is written on the inside "Love from The Easter Bunny".

Unused, this card is the size of the small Valentines cards that were exchanged between classmates.

Another of the small Easter cards depicts a baby chick surprising this lamb as he is about to paint eggs for Easter.

Number three of the small cards shows a small duck admiring her Easter bonnet.

Four baby chicks and two more decorated eggs to go; this mother hen looks a little flustered. Number four of the small Easter cards.

The fifth and final small card features none other than the big boy himself , "The Easter Bunny", painting eggs for Easter morning.

A lamb, two chicks, and a wreath of violets, all of the colours and animals of a Spring morning at Easter.

The colours on this card are vivid and the design is strong and simple, I love it.

The card pivots open to reveal the Easter chick inside and the message "Happy Easter".

A postcard style Easter card, the envelope is long gone. Like the previous card the colours are vivid with geometric designs. All of the colours are outlined in gold. I like this one very much as well.

Open the lid of the round box that the chick is looking at and inside is this little fellow to wish you a "Happy Easter".

I have opened this hand silk screened parchment paper Easter card to show how the design flows from the outside on into the inside. The colours and design are quite delightful. It is marked "Made in USA" on the back. Unfortunately the envelope that was with it and now long gone has stained the front and back.

Another silk screened parchment paper card. This is an accordion fold card showing two children planting and tending a garden. In the last picture they are gathering a basket of tulips. This silk screened accordion fold card was printed in the USA as well.

A boy and girl bring home a very large Easter egg, carry it into the house, place it on the kitchen table, and it cracks open to reveal a duck and three chicks! The two accordion fold cards are designed to be read the same way as a comic strip in a newspaper or opened as a normal card with the story revealing itself in book format. All of the silk screened parchment paper cards appear to be done by the same unknown company.
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