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Monthly Archives: June 2012

  • Independence Day the Small-Town Way

    Question: What is "America's Small-Town 4th of July City?"

    Answer: Seward, Nebraska. For 140 years this city, west of Lincoln, has hosted an old-fashioned family celebration. Most of the leadership for this event is provided by high-school youth. And upwards of 40,000 people are expected to attend this year!

    If you're one of those lucky 40,000, here are a few events you can expect: anvil firing, a carnival, parachutists, pet parade, apple-pie eating contest, band concerts, baseball games and a Wild West shootout. There are dozens more things going on, in addition to the fireworks, of course.

    If you're nowhere near Seward, there are still ways to enjoy a small-town 4th, even if you live in, say, Manhattan:

    1) decorate a bike

    2) drink lemonade

    3) wear red, white and blue

    4) light dime-store sparklers

    5) wish everyone you see a Happy Independence Day

    As for us, we'll start with #5:  have a Fantastic Fourth!

  • Kimono Girl Collage by Rachel Taylor

    Here's how to make your very own Kimono Girl Collage. Her name is Aki and sheʼs super sweet and very easy to make!

    You will need:
    - 1 template sheet (download Aki Template here)
    - a selection of colored and patterned origami papers
    - tracing paper
    - scissors
    - ruler
    - glue stick
    - pencil

    Step 1:
    First of all, you need to download and print off the black and white template I have provided, for the various parts of Akiʼs dress and hair etc.
    Then you can either simply cut out each white section and draw around these, or do what I have done and trace them.

    Step 2:
    If you have traced the elements - turn over the tracing paper and draw over your pencil lines. You should now have the same outlines on your colored papers, ready to cut out!

    Step 3:
    Cut around the lines carefully, using a different pattern for each part of Aki. You can either draw on your own face using coloured pens, or simply cut out the face from the template

    Step 4:
    Choose your background paper. Here, I have chosen a light pink candy stripe and cut a square 15.5cm/ 6ʼ in size. Choses a background paper which will contrast Akiʼs colourful clothes, so she will stand out! Now you are ready to arrange all the little parts, which will make up your finished piece of art.

    Step 5:
    Carefully place all the pieces together and begin to glue stick them down. You will need to begin with thebottom layers and work upwards. So start with her dress, then face, then add hair and belt etc.

    Step 6:
    Voila! The finished piece. You can frame your lovely Aki collage, or stick it to the front of a blank greeting card.

    Have Fun,



  • Rachel Taylor

    Artist Rachel Taylor’s flights of fancy decorate many a child’s wall. She is known for her colorful collages and her signature element is her delightful birds—mostly, but not always, wise old owls. Her work is so bird-inspired that she even works in a studio in an old Bird’s Custard Factory in Birmingham, UK. (More on that later.) We asked her a few questions recently about her process, inspiration and, of course, those beautiful birds!


    Oopsy daisy: Do you have formal art training?

    Rachel Taylor: Yes, I did a Foundation course in Art and Design at Blackburn College of Art. On this year-long course I studied all areas such as Fine Art, Graphics, Textiles, Fashion, Photography etc. From here I went on to receive a B.A. Honors Degree in Textile Design at West Surrey College of Art and Design, in the UK.


    OD: Your degree in Textile Design is evident in all your patterned backgrounds. Do you create those?

    RT: Some of my patterns are origami papers or vintage fabrics which I scan and alter colors or shapes. But yes, I do create a lot of my own patterns digitally. I love pattern color and I worked as a textile designer for many years. I used to design furnishing, bedding, upholstery fabrics and wallpapers, so I understand the whole design process from repeats to layouts.


    OD: So some of your art, the backgrounds, is created digitally. What other mediums do you work in?

    RT: I have a variety of artistic handwriting in which I work, such as hand-drawn illustration, watercolor painting and collage. I’d say that collage is my most common medium and the one that I am most renowned for. It is all very hands on—all scissors and glue stick.


    OD: Tell us about those wonderful birds and owls that show up in so much of your work.

    RT: I create them from cutout, patterned papers. They all have names. I first started to create these characters about 6 years ago and they are still as popular as ever!


    OD: Let’s hear some of the names!

    RT: I just think up owl-related cute names like Hootie, Barney. For birds, maybe Tweetie and Birdy. Different ones every time.


    OD: How does it make you feel to know that your Hootie and Barney, and so many other characters in pieces of your canvas wall art, decorate the walls of kids’ rooms?

    RT: It’s really great! My art is really colorful and fun. The characters I create are friendly and cute and I hope my work is an inspiration to the kids who have my art on their bedroom walls. Or maybe the characters just become their friends!


    OD: Speaking of artistic inspiration, what inspired you as a kid?

    RT: I was taken to art galleries when I was a kid by my Dad. Art is for everyone and everyone should experience it, in whatever format.


    OD: Now that you are an artist, what’s the best part about it?

    RT: Doing what I love and do best!! Seeing my designs out there in the shops and on products and in books makes it all worthwhile. Just knowing that somebody loves what I’ve created gives me a real buzz!


    OD: Are you a full-time artist?

    RT: Yes, I have always been a full-time freelance artist. I was also a partner in my own design company, Lov Li Design for a number of years. Now I also work part time as an external advisor and mentor on a Fashion and Textiles course at Worcester College of Technology.


    OD: What is a typical workday like for you?

    RT: I start with inspiration. This can be cutting images from magazines, Internet browsing or creating a mood-board of ideas. I then sketch ideas out roughly in pencil. Then I get creative! My desk gets messy with patterned papers and I get my scissors out and literally start cutting and pasting. People always think it looks a lot of fun—a bit like being at school!!


    OD: And all this creating happens in a Bird building?

    RT: Yes! I have my own studio in an old Bird’s Custard Factory in Birmingham, UK. The Custard Factory is Birmingham’s revolutionary arts and media center. The factory was built 100 years ago by Sir Alfred Bird, the inventor of custard. It is now a hub of offices and studios where I work alongside many other artists, designers and creatives, which is fab.


    OD: A couple more questions, if you don’t mind. Do you prefer rainy days or sunny days?

    RT: Sunny days defo [that’s “definitely,” for all us Yankees! –ed]. I love picnics in the sun. It’s raining today. Saying that, it is quite cozy in my studio hearing the rain pouring down outside.


    OD: We think we know the answer to this one, but we’ll ask anyhow: If you couldn’t be you, what animal would you want to be?

    RT: Why, an owl of course! [laughs] I’d be a very super cute owl though. Like one of my own characters!


    Have a look at Oopsy daisy's great selection of Rachel's art.


  • Just For You, Dad

    Father's Day is on its way! Personally, we love personalized gifts.

    Dads do too, right? That's part of why they love the little handprints kids bring home from art class, or the tiny clay pots they make. Not only are those trinkets darn cute, but they represent more than a little forethought: "I made this just for you, Dad!"

    Here are some other gifts that get the same warm message across, albeit in a more grown-up way.

    Check out this personalized bottle opener. It's the size of a credit card to fit right in his wallet, and you can put any message on it you'd like, from "Here's to you, Dad!" (get it?) to the oldie-but-goody standby, "I love you, Dad."

    Here's a gift that's about as personalized as you can get (or give); a personalized bobblehead. What a great idea. (Although we will say, the company's sample already looks a lot like a few dads we know.)

    Cards can be personalized, too, and not just with the signature. Here's a decoder card that can send him a secret message. Very cool.

    Finally, don't forget our favorite gift: personalized art. It's on sale here at between now and Father's Day (how convenient!). Think outside the box on this one: how about a growth chart that says "Dad's Little Girl," or an alphabet print that says "D is for Dad?" These would be especially adorable in the nursery or as a gift for a new dad.

    Don't let the day go by without telling him how terrific he is. Happy Father's Day, everyone!

  • Happy Campers

    Are you sending a not-so-little one off to sleep-away camp this summer? We are. First time ever.  “Everyone gets a little homesick their first time at camp,” we offer helpfully. “It’s not my first time,” she responds, which must mean that the one-night overnight with the entire fifth-grade class counts. OK.

    This reticence to admit that homesickness is inevitable just means we’ll have to be sneaky. We’ll already be leaving a few sealed letters with the camp counselor, to be meted out during the week.

    But today we had a brainstorm. And (surprise!) it involves this very site. No, we won’t be tucking canvas wall art into her duffel bag—that would be cool, but how to display it in a tent?

    No, we’ve come up with the perfect idea for girls going off to camp for the first time (or second or third!).

    An Oopsy daisy necklace is the perfect going-away gift. They are cheery and fun, making them great conversation starters at dinner. And she can wear it at night. If things get lonely, she can hold the necklace and know that everyone at home is missing her, too.

    Best of all, since these necklaces are not terribly expensive, we can even send along another one in case she makes a new BFF. What better parting gift from a new friend than a matching, colorful necklace?

    Now for something to send off to camp with a potentially homesick boy. We’ll think on that and let you know what we come up with. Any suggestions?

  • Pregnancy & Newborn June 2012

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