Monday, May 28, 2012

winners of the red fox pillow giveaway!

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winners of the Red Fox Pillow Giveaway! In the end, we had over a hundred entries, which I printed, cut apart, and folded into squares for my kiddo to pull out of a hat.




And the winners are:

Fox pillow of your choice (Sleepy Fox or Sneaky Fox): "I really like the sneaky fox! Your style is so unique, and creative!" --Jessica

Sadly, the winner didn't get in touch with me by the posted deadline, so we chose another winner: "Oh my goodness, the pillows are amazing! My daughter - not quite two - was sitting on my lap when I pulled up your blog and she went NUTS over them! --Kiza. Congratulations Kiza! Your daughter is going to be thrilled to bits!

Two mini pillows (Cold Shoulder Fox and Fox Face): "My son would LOVE these foxes! I envy your drawing skills and will add you to my Google Reader blogroll." --Holly U

Here's a new twist: Holly U can choose to instead to have the second large fox pillow (whichever one isn't chosen by Jessica), in which case, I'd pick a third winner for the two mini pillows. Holly chose to have me send her the second fox pillow, so here's the new winner of the two mini pillows:

"I love your line. If I don't win, I might have to make myself a pillow :) Right now the project I'm most excited about is the one growing inside me - little baby Bright is set to enter on Halloween :) Thanks so much for the generous giveaway! --alli b. Congrats on the new kiddo, and on the mini pillow win!


New winners announced here have until May 31 June 4 to get in touch with me with their preferences and addresses (info at thenightgarden.com). Pillows will be mailed on June 1 June 5. If either winner doesn't get in touch with me by June 1 June 4, the prize is forfeited, and another winner will be selected from the hat and announced here.

Thanks, everyone, for entering! I truly wish I had a bunch more pillows to give away, but if you're still interested in buying fabric and making your own Red Fox pillow, you can find the fabric here: http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/1136410.

A quarter yard will get the Sleepy Fox pillow front shipped directly to you. A full yard will yield fronts and backs of Sleepy Fox, Sneaky Fox, and both mini pillows (great for sachets, doll pillows, or pin cushions).





Thursday, May 24, 2012

new blog look!

The blog's been needing an update for awhile, something tied in to the Night Garden image a little more. I found this cool 1920s (copyright free!) star chart over on the Graphics Fairy blog and used it as the basis for the backgrounds.



I changed up the post heading font, too, to be more readable. I loved the hand-writing feel of the old font, but some glyphs were hard to make out, and the funky spacing had always been a thorn in my side. The new post headers
keep something of the casual vibe, while being presented in a font with fewer quirky little glitches.

There are a few other changes, mostly subtle color shifts and font size alterations. And, I struggled for awhile to find a way to use the illustration in the sidebar of the boy looking at the stars. It's someone else's, you see. I pinned it awhile back on my Design Love pin board over at Pinterest because I love it so much, but because I'm not sure it's past its copyright date yet, I figured the most honorable thing to do would be to link it back to a place to buy the book from which it came.

Here's a little reminder about how things used to be vs. the way they are now. . .

old header:


new header



old background


new background



old font


new font



I'd love your feedback on the new look!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

fabulous coincidence (fantastic stationery)

I picked out a bunch of blank cards from Fabulous Stationery so I'd have some on hand to send to family overseas. While I was at it, I picked up a few more for family members' birthdays and summer holidays. Here are a few . . .



Things I like: they have a really large selection. Even the dollar card shop, where I chose these, had pages and pages of modern, abstract, fun designs to choose. From ordering to receiving only took a few days, and my order was spot on. The print quality is good, too, and the colors match well to the on-screen colors on the website.

On the downside, the dollar card cardstock is a little flimsy, but since the the cards I chose were only a buck apiece, I can't complain too much. I'd bet the prices of their more expensive lines and personalized stationery are reflected by thicker, nicer stock.


Now for the fun coincidence: this pretty chandelier card perfectly matches a project of mine from a little while back . . .



. . . this wax paper faux capiz shell chandelier I finished up back in March.



As a bonus, the olive green in the background of the card is a nice match for the olive green accents on some of the pillows in the guest room (where the chandelier also hangs).

So I'm probably keeping this one to frame.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of inexpensive, attractive cards, so I'm really pleased to have found this resource. Do you have any favorite places to buy stationery? Or do you make it all yourself? I'd love to know!




Monday, May 21, 2012

red highchair

At the end of last summer, we ran across a wooden restaurant-style high chair at a car boot sale (flea market) a couple of miles from the house. It was $5. I snapped it up, since Baby P's shins had a habit of hitting the high chair we were using. I took it as a sign he was starting to outgrow the high chair, and as I found out at his two-year appointment, he had, in fact, surpassed the weight and height limits set by the manufacturer.

But a new problem presented itself when his shins also hit the cross bar in the new high chair. Imagine there was much cursing at this new discovery. I only imagined it, too, since the bebe repeats everything these days.

I'd resigned myself to getting rid of it via Craigslist and buying a booster seat to strap into a dining chair . . . until I saw a post on another blog about repainting an old wooden high chair, sans tray. And inspiration struck.

Remove the lap bar and straps, and suddenly, we have a functional chair that can we can scoot up to the table without our swiftly growing kiddo getting banged up.



Here are the bar and straps, after.



This is what's left after snipping the straps off of the bottom.



A screwdriver and a pair of pliers take care of the rest.




And thank goodness I ended up pulling the thing apart, because now I don't worry about all the restaurant grime left in and around the straps.

Here's what the arm rests looked like after removing the bar (loosening a few screws made removing the bar very simple!).



And here's the chair, scrubbed, sanded, and de-glossed, ready for paint.



I decided to paint the underside first, using the same cherry red Krylon paint+primer I used for the magazine rack . . . and our front door. Three light coats, with about 20 minutes dry-time in between.



Then I let it dry overnight before flipping it over and painting the top side.



Also three light coats + touch ups.



And there you go! I let it cure outside for about a week (the weather was still cool back in March, so I waited until the smell of spray paint faded).



I added some self-adhesive furniture felt to the runners to keep the chair from marking up the floors, and brought it inside. The kiddo is a big fan! How about you?



The paint has held up really well over the past several weeks; no scuffs, scratches or dents in the surface yet. And that's it for red, for awhile. My next spray paint project is pool blue and leaf green, so stay tuned!


(p.s. you can make these pictures bigger by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that.)



Linking up to:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

a celebration, a lesson, a giveaway!

**Scroll down to the bottom of this post for Red Fox pillow giveaway!



Welcome! Last week, this blog officially hit 10,000 page views, which is a pretty big milestone for me. For the first couple of years of this blog, I didn't blog with any sort of intention of having a whole lot of folks see it, and I didn't blog about every project I did. And I didn't blog very regularly. There was an especially noticeable lack of posts in 2010, after my son was born (who knew newborns could take so much energy? aside from every mother in the world, I mean).

Since finally giving up my regular gig designing book covers at the start of this year, though, I've made a commitment to be more intentional and frequent in my postings, and to try to start increasing readership. Turns out that I really thrive on sharing my creative work with others. So going from a couple thousand page views to ten thousand in the space of a few months has been very encouraging. Thank you! And this week, I'm actually on the precipice of 11,000 views. Incredible. (update: hit 12,000 tonight, 5/24.)

I know this will seem like small potatoes to some bloggers who regularly get thousands of hits per blog entry, but it's a place to start!

I'm also celebrating the release of my Quick Red Fox collection of fabrics over at Spoonflower.



This is a design set that's very close to my heart, as it is the first collection I've done since last year's Baby's Day at the Beach, and also the first since then to have been hand drawn and watercolored.



Doing artwork with my hands (and then manipulating it on the computer) is much more rewarding for me than doing all of my work on the computer. Although I'm designing both, I feel more ownership over the designs including handwork. I've always felt that way when designing book covers, too; the ones with handmade elements always felt more mine.

Of course, as with any design on Spoonflower, designs must be proofed before being sold to the public. Designers can order a single 8x8 sample of a single design ($5), or they can add all their designs to a collection, and order a collection sampler ($20 for up to 15 designs, $30 for 16-30). I always try to wait until I have enough to get a full fifteen designs before ordering, so I feel like I'm being as cost-effective as possible.

Here's a photo of my most recent collection, The Quick Red Fox, on a sampler sheet with four colors of my new Snow White print, my White Swans in a Blue Pool, and a couple of recent contest entries I hadn't had proofed yet (the vintage sewing pattern and the library check-out cards).



And here's the lesson: it might seem like a drag, and it might seem like too long to wait, but it's so important to proof your Spoonflower designs.

For example, there are three patterns in my Quick Red Fox collection that need to be reworked because, well, the color variations didn't have enough differentiation to show up well when printed. These are the three designs that included a neutral tone-on-tone chevron pattern in the background. The colors looked great on screen, but turned out too close to each other to perform well on printed fabric. You'll notice a couple of squares in the photo above that look blank. These are the ones with a nearly-invisible chevron pattern. So I'll make adjustments to beef up the pattern and upload revisions that fix the issues, and in the end, everyone will be happier for it.

That's the reason Spoonflower requires proofing before letting you sell to the public. Otherwise, there'd be a bunch of disappointed customers asking for refunds for bad fabric, and their reputation would suck.

Currently, five of the Quick Red Fox patterns are up for sale here, on my Spoonflower page. But, in celebration of the line going on sale, and in celebration of 11,000 page views (which I'm sure to hit by the end of the day), I'm hosting my first giveaway!



One lucky winner will win a fox pillow of his/her choice (Sneaky Red Fox or Sleepy Red Fox), sewn from my Red Fox Pillow Set fabric.

A second winner will win both mini pillows from the set (Cold Shoulder Fox and Fox Face).



How to enter the giveaway: Comment on this blog post (or any other blog post on the Night Garden Design Blog) about a project or post you especially like by May 25th.

If you post anonymously, add your name to your comment so I can add you to the drawing.

You can enter more than once by leaving comments on more than one blog post. I'll see them all, as my comment settings are set up to run everything by me first.

I'll also count new blog follows as entries, so copy my url into your reader!

On May 27th, I'll put all the names in a hat and let Baby P pick the winning entries at random.



Winners will be announced here on the blog, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and on the Spoonflower page for the Fox Pillow Set on May 27th, and the packages will be shipped out by June 1st (assuming I've heard from the winners by then). If you provide a way to contact you, I'll do that, too!


And yes, I'll even ship internationally.

Thanks for reading, everybody, and good luck to you!

UPDATED TO ADD WINNERS: Fox pillow of your choice (Sleepy Fox or Sneaky Fox): "I really like the sneaky fox! Your style is so unique, and creative!" --Jessica

Two mini pillows (Cold Shoulder Fox and Fox Face): "My son would LOVE these foxes! I envy your drawing skills and will add you to my Google Reader blogroll." --Holly U

Here's a new twist: Holly U can choose to instead to have the second large fox pillow (whichever one isn't chosen by Jessica), in which case, I'd pick a third winner for the two mini pillows.


Contact me by 5/31 at info at thenightgarden.com with your address and preferences! If I don't hear from you by the 1st of June, I'll pick a new winner.



Linking up to:



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Creative Itch



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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

teepee hideout, warm spring day

We made this teepee late last summer; the weather's been so beautiful this week, we finally got to set it up again. And it was fantastic. A light breeze was blowing, the sun was shining, and we were tucked into the canvas teepee in the sun-dappled area under one of the trees.

The frame is made of five suckers from our hazelnut tree (between eight and ten feet long) lashed together with twine, and we actually left it up all winter. Good news: I didn't have much work to do to put the teepee up quickly. Bad news: the twine's a little the worse for wear, and the poles should probably be swapped out for longer ones (I'll explain why in a minute).



You could use bamboo garden stakes or any long pole-type things without sharp bits, if you don't have a hazelnut tree sending long shoots up from its roots. When I was a kid we used mops and brooms and shovels, and draped them with blankets. And you know, that was kind of awesome, too, so don't be afraid to be creative.

The body of this teepee I sewed together from six triangular sections of a canvas drop cloth.



Set up your frame first, then measure the length of the legs from the twine lashing to the ground.

Next, measure the distance between two legs. Using these measurements (plus a seam allowance), cut six triangular panels from a large drop cloth (two will overlap to make the door flap). Cut a few inches off the top for the skylight. (This photo isn't really an illustration of technique, so much as a visual guide to what you're aiming for as a final product.)



Stitch all the panels together along the long sides to make one long, open panel. Then, fold over and hem the edge of the whole thing. I double stitched my seams flat with two rows of yellow stitches (pretty quickly, which is why the rows aren't perfect. I think it makes it look more "authentic". Ha!).



Cut strips of an old t-shirt to use as ties. Knot the ends and tack down the centers along the seam lines at the top, bottom, and middle of each seam, on what will be the inside of the structure. These will tie to the five poles to keep the teepee cover in place.




Overlap the two end panels and stitch along the top to form the door flap. I stitched down about a foot from the top, too, and added a star of stitches to really hold this vital part of the the fabric strongly. Trust me: it's not ripping, no matter how hard the kiddo plays.



It's kinda pretty, too!



I left too much seam allowance on ours; it drapes somewhat on the frame. Learn from my mistakes! If you give yourself a half-inch seam allowance when you're cutting, sew a half-inch in from the edge. I think this summer I'll make a larger frame or take in the seams a bit to make a snugger fit.



In the meantime, I can't think of much to beat the view of a tree through the top of a teepee.





Except maybe my kiddo, about to get me with the squirt bottle. Most fun ever, right?



So, are you building a teepee in your yard this summer, or do you have a more permanent play house? Let me know in the comments below, if you like! I love following your (non-spam) links!


p.s. You can view larger versions of these images by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that!


Linking up to:
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