Posts tagged handmade
Parisian Handmade Flowers Laurence Aguerre

Our trip to Paris yielded so many good experiences and memories, beyond words, really. From meeting (and lunch!) with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch of to hanging out with the delightful Cécile Figuette of , making flowers with shopowner and author Adeline Klam... It was all so fascinating... Oh and did I tell you that we were treated to a beautiful lunch and dessert at ? We were indeed. We also visited the much envied children's online store  in their first new storefront. Oh, and there was the great hotel that treated us so nicely, , with a bathtub I could have slept in... It was a beautiful week. But there's more... I got to meet a fan of my blog who is also an exquisite artist, a textile designer with the hand of a magician, who transforms delicate fabrics into blooms that you simply have to see to believe. Her name is . Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

We spent time with Laurence chatting in mostly French (thank God I had my friend with me to help!) in her tiny, sunny studio that is part of a collaborative artists' space where you have to win a lottery to get your own atelier (or not) there. The  35 ateliers are located in a large building in central Paris called , which is known as a incubator of creativity or as the French would say, "L'incubateur des métiers de création."

Laurence was such a joy to meet and as sweet and calm as the flowers she creates. Clearly passionate about textiles and production, it is one of her dreams to see her work in the window at a store like because she wants to touch many more outside of her native France. After working for two decades in fashion, she furthered her education by returning to university to study textile design and today, she's doing installations and creating things from fabric, wire, beads and string that are quite impressive.

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Her love for nature, particularly flowers and plants, inspired her recent work to make poetic, dancing flowers that are peeking out of a wood board while others are mounted in raw cement holders. And they do indeed dance. When you pass by, or open a window, they sway magically just as they would in nature. These light and airy blossoms captivated me and I only wish I had been able to spend more time with Laurence to examine each more carefully. Yet the time I was able to observe her creations was so inspirational to me because, upon close inspection, each flower is so meticulously made that you really couldn't walk away without enormous respect for the time that must have went into crafting each bud and blossom.

Thank you Laurence for having us and a special note of thanks to dear Amelie for setting up this special visit for us, and to Toni for the translation and the beautiful photographs. I would be no where without the wonderful people I work with and the fantastic chances I get to meet such special artists. Merci!

(Text: Holly Becker)

Playful Book Review
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Are you looking for a beautiful craft book for kids? I've got one for you! I was so happy when I first heard that Merrilee's book, , published in German under the title, "". It's such a sweet book and I think it will do just great here in Germany where I'm currently living. Merrilee Liddiard is the blogger behind and I've followed her blogging adventures for years so it's very nice to see her in print. playful2

The crossover from blog to book is never easy, but Merrilee and her team pulled it off just beautifully. Her photographer, , made Merrilee's projects shine  too - Nicole is quite amazing behind the lens and takes such great photos of the children interacting with the various projects. It's so hard to photograph children and now that I have a toddler, I have even more respect for photographers who work with children on a regular basis. My god. Capturing portraits of children at play is like shooting wild animals for Nat Geo - you have to observe for what feels like hours and be patient as you await that perfect moment because until they've hit a certain age, there is no such thing as posing them. I've tried with my little 16-month-old and forget about it. The second you have your shot composed, they dart off or start whining and you're back to square one. Nicole if you're reading this post, great job on your impressive captures!

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Playful is a really charming and well designed book but also quite a helpful one because there are several projects inside to keep little hands busy that are affordable, educational, fun and great for building stronger bonds between parents and their little ones. I can't wait until my son is old enough to make some of the projects in this book. I want to try a few in the interim to make for him and my little niece, Ewa, who is 2.5 years old and positively the sweetest little girl ever.

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Divided into five sections (Paper Crafts, Dress Up, Art, Toys and Repurposing), with templates in the back of the book to guide you as you go which you'll need to enlarge at your local copy store, you'll find a bevy of projects that appeal to both boys and girls with most things being quite gender neutral. Some of my favorite projects are shown in this post, like the Paper Floral Crown (above) from page 23, Tiger Pinata on page 25, Pencil Bags on page 97, Fingerprint Art on page 101 and the Duct Tape Cardboard Brownstone on page 107 which remind me so much of the canal houses of Amsterdam. I found many other projects that I want to try too and I just love Merrilee's aesthetic!

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In summary, this is a really lovely book for parents and children alike. All of the projects are inspirational, and though some are more complicated and require a steady hand or a measure of craft know-how to make, most of them will still turn out lovely by applying whatever creativity you can and by just letting go, having fun and not taking the projects too seriously. You can modify a lot of them to make your own version and you can certainly make some of the projects simpler if you decide too. This book teaches little ones how to create something from what they most likely already own. I think all of you, my dear readers, will just love .

(Photography with permission from Stewart, Tabori and Chang. Photography by: Nicole Hill Gerulat and Book Photos: Holly Becker)