4/01/2020

Nostalgia - Blind King Charles

Welcome to a new nostalgia post in which I will tell you more than one tale this time, but three - the tale of blind King Charles, the tale of the eye tin, and the tale of Ada-Ada all of which are connected to one another.

First of all let me take you to a big fleamarket in Tübingen about 30 years ago. We - my ex and I - were still very new at collecting Steiff back then. We made some epic mistakes, but which beginner doesn't, and don't forget, not only didn't we have internet in those times, but there were also not many Steiff books or price guides out there.
So when we found that little blind dog at a stand, we were not at all sure if the asked price of 30 DM was okay. We knew that it was a sitting "Charly", a King Charles Spaniel, famous for their association to King Charles II of England. "Charly" had been produced by Steiff between 1928 and 1936.
You could tell this one had had a bit of rough life. His fur looked a bit sparse here and there, but worst of all, his eyes were missing! We didn't have any eyes for him at home, and even being almost 60 years old, was he worth the money (we were a young couple and couldn't just throw money around)? He did still have his old button with remnants of red tag that was used from 1926 to 1934 underneath. We put him back on the table to think about it, took a few steps and went right back because we know we couldn't leave him there. He was so cute, and we would think of something. I guess that is how plush animals and dolls end up with buttons for eyes, but that wasn't to be our Charly's fate.
Obviously this is him with eyes which brings me to the next tale.


I don't remember at all when and how we stumbled upon the "eye tin" that I have mentioned before. I just remember how excited we were about it. In it there were mostly vintage glass eyes for plush animals, brown, blue, green, blue/green, pink, and of course the small brown ones I showed in the other post.
The first thing to do was to find the right size for Charly to give him his eyesight back. That was so much better! How could we ever even have thought about not taking him home?

Those eyes helped out some other animals over the years, a big one-eyed Fluffy cat, a big llama that had had to make do with some cheap plastic eyes before it came to us, and more.
Finally the tin got put away waiting for new patients to come along, but there weren't any. It was never forgotten completely, standing out there in the open, but the only time it was needed was when I made a teddy of my own. He's black and has blue eyes. I think he was the last one getting eyes from the tin.
I opened it every, now and then, admired the eyes and then put the lid back on.
Only when I started needle felting I thought it was time to put at least some of them to good use.


Here are a few quick pictures now. These are not showing the completely collection of eyes, and you can see I didn't go through dusting them yet, either.
The green eyes for example decided to break out of their bag and jump all over the tin, so they didn't get a picture. Serves them right. One of them smuggled its way into the small collection of bluish/green eyes #2 of which I only have very few. You can tell the difference easily. We are calling them pre-war eyes because it is a beautiful color that was usually used on old cats. It's hard to capture the soft beauty, but you can tell it is not green and it's also not light blue like #4 (which were in the worst shape from the beginning with the paint on the back flaking off very quickly, so most of them are almost clear now).
#1 shows a variety of brown tones including one showing white around the brown. There are more, but some sneaked in with the green.
#3 and #5 are two different kinds of pink eyes used for albino rabbits for example. While #3 are flat painted eyes, #5 have pink glass in the back. I can't be sure, but I always thought they were newer ones.

Maybe I'll get around to clean them up a little, set them up better and take good pictures, but I think you get the idea of the eye tin now.

Time for the third tale which means I'll have to go back to Charly for a moment.
Charly may not have his original Steiff name tag anymore, but he came with a different paper tag on a cord around his neck. We never bothered to try and find out what that tag was about, but we left it on because it seemed to be part of Charly's story. Maybe he had been a gift from a shop or something.
These are both sides of the tag.


One means "50 years of valued workmanship" with the brand ADA-ADA in the center, the other one translates to "Walking well with ADA-ADA".
When I looked it up, I found that ADA-ADA was a big shoe company. It was founded in 1900 by two Jewish brothers (a third brother was co-owner). They started by making children's shoes and later also ladies' shoes. In 1937 they were expropriated and the owners managed to emigrate to the USA in time. After the war they received restitution, the brand didn't go back to them, however. It was one of the biggest of its kind in Germany in the 50s, but finally ceased to exist in 1966.
The name was rather funny. In German "to go ada-ada" is baby talk for taking a walk. From what I read in a history blog they think that the founder was inspired by this term for the name of his business.

If you are as great at math as I am (can you hear my math teacher laughing?), you now know that it's impossible that Charly came with the tag as he was produced until 1936, but ADA-ADA only turned 50 in 1950.
Why should a shoe company or even a single shoe store use old Steiff animals for advertising? (Steiff studio animals were not unusual in shoe stores, by the way, but that's a different story.) My guess would be that a child inherited Charly and put that tag on him, maybe after his name tag had fallen off.
I have thought about taking it off, but I still think it's part of his story even if we will never know what exactly that is.
As long as he doesn't seem to mind ...

3/30/2020

Zibbet finds of the week - Cuties

Due to personal reasons there haven't been finds of the week posts in the last months.
I felt it was a good time to start again now to give you something else to look at than the news. Maybe the items I'll be showing you can lighten up the one or other moment just a little in these days.
Today I'll start with cuties.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines cute as "especially of something or someone small or young) pleasant and attractive. You may have also heard the term "kawaii" before which is the Japanese word for cute and which now describes the culture of cuteness that plays a big part in popular culture.
Let's get started!

Needle felted French beret - Cute paws by Inflated Ego Studio

Mary Lou Enamel Brown Orange Sloth Ring Set by Mary Lou

Cute Kitty Cat Soap by Luscious Lather

Tiny Toy - Baby Worm in a Leaf by droolwool

Plush Toy Cute Alien Monster by Zoo Toys

Elephant and Mouse Decal Set by Inkwood Impressions

3/28/2020

Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Gnomes

It has been a while since I last participated in the Art Elements challenges, and a lot has been going on since - and still is going on.
I'm not here to talk about a virus today, but about how I try to distract myself from it at least sometimes. The Art Elements March challenge seemed like a very good opportunity to me and I couldn't resist the topic that Jenny chose for it - gnomes.

Even though being German, I never owned a garden gnome of my own. That doesn't mean, however, that I didn't see my share of them in other people's gardens. For some reason I remember those best that were in the very small garden behind a friend's house. There was only a rather small spot of grass with at least one lying fawn and a gnome. Classic. We had to move them over every time we wanted to play crocket.
Of course I know all the stereotypes, German gardens overflowing with gnomes, but I can't remember ever having seen one of those myself. Thinking of it, the gnomes I knew must have been very lonely.
Then again, maybe they enjoyed the solitude like the sleeping gnome I have shared on my blog before.



My project was inspired by several things.
One of them were pictures from childhood, much like the one with the snail riding gnome in Jenny's post.
Another one were my friend Star's incredible polymer clay snails some of which carried tiny pixies (the link is working now, I had changed it to go directly to the Flickr album and had mixed some extra links in, doh!). One of them is Maeve, the snail racer, and she's not even the smallest pixie rider (yes, that means you should check out all of Star's snails ... but wait, after reading this post!).



Of course my gnome was going to be a little bigger than those pixies, but I still intended to make him ride a snail. It started with the snail (not a kiss ;-)). I was determined to use a pair of my beloved small vintage glass eyes that I had only used once before.
A little reminder or for those who don't know it, my ex and I collected Steiff animals. One of our finds was a tin full of vintage glass eyes of all kinds for plush animals plus some other stuff. We used some of them or actually the ex did as he was better in attaching them, especially with bigger heads because you really had to pull on the thread to make the eyes sit right and then tie the knot.
There were those small eyes, though, that we never found a use for. The tin - and you may have been expecting this, it WAS a cookie tin! - stood around for many years as I haven't added much to my part of the collection and completely forgot about it. When I started needle felting, however, it caught my look again right away.
Just look how many of them there are! I even like the waxy paper bag they came in.



The glass "sticks" reminded me of snail eyes, so I figured I'd simply felt around the sticks and use a little glue at the top part to keep the glass from sliding back out. I poked my fingers a lot even though wearing my finger guards, but it worked the way I had imagined it, yay! I went from the eyes to the body which was okay as well, but don't get me started about the shell. It took forever because I didn't just want to add a ball on top, I wanted a swirl that was noticeable, at least a little. In the end I added the contrast color - inspired by our snails, the colors are just the other way round on them - to make it clearer.


Next was the gnome. I hadn't made a figure yet, but I knew I would need something to reinforce the limbs, and the pipe cleaners I had were way too big. I ended up using some of my stainless steel. There have been better ideas in my life, but although it took me even longer than the snail shell I did not give up.
Mr Gnome got some brown pants, taupe boots with black straps to go with this tall taupe hat that has a little red zigzag embellishment around the edge, and a forest green tunic that is highly fashionable thanks to his belt that I made from some satin gift ribbon and a copper jump ring.
His nose and hands are huge. I'm sure he can smell his way all around the forest and if he had an axe, he'd cut down those twigs like no one else! His eyes are seed beads (shhh, I think he may be a wee bit jealous of Schneggle's eyes).



Of course there was no chance in this whole wide world that I could move Mr Gnome's limbs afterwards to make him sit on the snail by himself. Maybe you can tell that I already designed him in a slightly sitting posture. I could have made him sit right and attach him (what a terrible thought), but he had become too big. The two of them kept falling over, and while they had a good laugh doing it, I decided they'd rather walk together in the end, well, or crawl.
Oh well, I'm sure Schneggle - which is Swabian for "snail" - didn't mind not having to carry Mr Gnome. After all he has two feet that (almost) work perfectly well, doesn't he?



This is not just a design challenge, it is also a blog hop, so please check out the others' posts as well! Thank you!

Guests

Cat (that's me ;-)) - Hope - Linda - Sarajo - Tammy  

AE team members


Cathy - Claire - Jennifer - Jenny - Lesley - Marsha - Niky



P.S. Hey guys. This is Mr Gnome speaking. I wanted to tell you what the lady is not saying. Schneggle and I have been trapped. Forest, my foot. Walking together? Inside a vase?? Yes, you read that right. She. Put. Us. In. A. Vase.
Of course she said it was only temporary while we are still hanging in the light tent. It's too dangerous there for us without a place to hide. Because of Gundel. The huge panther who has been trying to kidnap innocent felt critters like us. The other day she stole the voodoo doll, she said. And the black cat head. Both could be saved. It's no fun being in a vase. After all we are not genies!
So if you could tell her to set us free if she hasn't done so yet when you are reading this post, we'd appreciate it. A lot. Thank you!

3/21/2020

Random Saturday - Soap

It's Day 11 for me here in self-isolation (for those who don't know, I'm immunocompromised).
Gundel is tired of me wanting to smooch her all the time. Her look seems to say "DO something, something that doesn't involve me! Stop running after me!" That's cats for you.

These times definitely feel strange for all of us, strange and scary, and along with them come strange thoughts (and strange dreams which is the reason for me sitting here at 6 am writing a post about soap).
When I refilled one of my soap dispensers last night for example and checked how much soap I still had, it made me think of handmade soaps. I still remember the good times when postage from the US to Germany didn't cost an arm and a leg and I ordered one of my first handmade soaps from a shop on Etsy whose exact name I can't remember at the moment - although I'm almost sure it had the word "soap" in there ....

Anyhow, I wondered if I maybe still had some extra soap bar in the house and guess what, I do!
Nothing can go wrong now, can it?


If you wonder why I would have something like this, well, all I remember is that it was from a fleamarket stand in Esslingen maaaany years ago where we also got an old wooden Coca Cola crate for bottles. Collectors, eh? From what I could find about I'm thinking that this soap is probably from WW II or shortly after, but I couldn't find as much as I would have liked. I did finally end up in a wet shaving forum, so now I know that using vintage soap from the 1900s should be completely safe, and go for it if you find vintage aftershave as long as it still smells right!
As I said, nothing can go wrong now.

1/17/2020

Tackle that stash - Needle felt jewelry

In my last stash tackler post I told you that my wire muse had disappeared which was one reason for me to embrace needle felting as a new outlet. In fact it was not just the wire, but jewelry in general. Somehow I felt stuck and couldn't think of anything new.
In my mind I have a few different projects - all non-jewelry, some with beads, some with felt - lined up, but I'm having a hard time to even start on them, like making a pattern for example.
The needle felting was a good way of emptying my mind and allow the creative child in me to play without any goal or plan. I already know that the child likes to be all over the place, it made a large and a tiny voodoo doll, a black cat head and a lion head, and it had so much fun doing it!




I also mentioned that I had no idea yet what to do with all that colorful roving. Bunnies? After all colorful bunnies were and are good enough for Steiff, so why not for me? Colorful "paintings"? The felted ball for Gundel after all?
Or - gasp - colorful jewelry?
You may wonder how I didn't have that not so unusal thought right away. I don't know. Of course I figured I would probably turn the both heads into pins eventually, but simple jewelry? When I was looking for an idea for the January Art Elements challenge, though, which has berries for a topic, I kept seeing raspberries and blackberries. I began mixing colors, but instead of a berry in the making I found "cabs" and "beads" in front of me.
From the start I had known that I wanted to add beads to the felt in some way because everything looks better with beads, right? When I saw the Waldorf style fairies of a friend and the beads she had added to one fairy's skirt, that only confirmed it.

Maybe I also had some bigger beads or pearls that would work with the felt components ... no pearls, the holes are too small for the headpins ... crystals maybe .... oooh, that mookaite with the purple .... and some beads on the felt .... actually this is the fast motion version as I got sick for two days in between.
This is what I have so far, two pairs of earrings and a pendant, very different from what I usually make, and I like that because it was kind of liberating. It's like going on a field trip just for the fun of it, like the time we were on a school trip to Berlin 40 years ago and a friend and I stepped on an S-Bahn and then randomly changed trains to see where it would take us, or that other time she and I were in London and did the same with the red buses.
Perhaps I'm still on one of those buses now, and who knows where I'm going to end up? ;-)


1/09/2020

Oldies but Goodies - Cobalt blue

What is cobalt blue?
According to "Pigments through the Ages" a pigment made from cobalt blue glass has been known since the Middle Ages, but an improved form has been established in the 19th century. It was regarded to be durable and even recommended by one painter as a good substitution for ultramarine.
It was new to me that the name cobalt has a connection to the German Kobold which means goblin. German miners searching for silver were often deceived by cobalt or goblin ore that looked like silver, but wasn't. In fact the "Kobold" - after a mountain spirit according to an old tale - contains not only sulphur and arsenic which could be deadly when the ore got melted down, but also cobalt, a metallic element.

This particular color hue was the topic for our Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge, and here's what I picked from the pieces entered.


1 and 8 Ganison Atelier
2 and 4 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 6 Cat's Wire
5 and 7 RioRita

1/03/2020

Tackle that .... erm, new stash?

First of all, a very Happy New Year to all of you!

I know I have been around even more rarely than usual in the last few weeks, but we had a little crisis here at home and I spent what I had hoped to be a relaxing vacation with some holidays in between on and off at the vet's instead and running after Ponder with different kinds of food. Now it seems he's finally on the mend *knocking on wood because we have to see how he'll be doing without any meds now* and I have a little time for myself before I have to go back to work next week.

In fact I wouldn't have had much to show you, anyway, except a few beaded bottles. I guess my muse didn't like that vet thing much because she was out of the door like a lightning. She has not been ready yet to play with wire.
So it was a good thing that my wish of a needle felting starter kit was fulfilled for Christmas.
I have been wanting to try that for decades, I think, but with everything else going on I thought I didn't really need something new, not to mention that I didn't expect to be any good at it.

Now, however, I felt that it didn't really matter if I were good at it or not, and it's not as if the tools take up that much space. It's a large brown box with a small plastic box in it that holds all the tools, and 40 baggies with colorful roving - I didn't count them, but that was what the description said - and a foam mat.
It didn't take me long to try it out, and of course I started with making a (flat) cat using a cookie cutter for the general shape. That cat did take me long. I don't have the right feeling for the felt yet and when the perfect moment for stopping is. I kept poking and poking and poking ....


When making the second animal, a fat little rat that came out a tad more feisty looking than I had planned, I started poking myself again and again. I think it has to do with getting or let's say trying to get faster, without much success yet, but at least I didn't lose that much blood or turn Ratty into a vampire rat ;-)


This is the last one I have made so far. Don't ask, I just grabbed a color and went from there, but doesn't the gnome look rather comfy snoozing like this?


There are a lot of colors that I normally wouldn't use, so I have to think of something I can do with them. That's also why the cat is orange, I figured it was a good color for a first attempt that would probably go very wrong.
Everything I won't be able to use in the end will be felted into a ball for Gundel, she doesn't mind colorful!