Friday, February 7, 2014


My fella is in Austin right now where apparently it's even grey, cold, and sucky there. The groundhog gave us a big "F U" for waking him up and pointing him at early risers buy saddling us with 6 more weeks of winter, so I'm not expecting the sun to swoop out any time soon. But I need Spring already gad dammit!

Trying to shake off the dark moods that have been haunting me lately as well as the weather by making fun little useless things. like pin wheels!

I get a stupid grim on my face every time I check in on my Animal Crossing town and my hubbies mayor hands me a pinwheel, so I figure the other day when I woke up maybe it would be fun to give making one a go? I'm told most kids make these in school or at parties, but apparently I was a deprived child and never did. It looked pretty much to be a square of paper cut most of the way diagonally into triangles, then literally pinned to a stick. I had paper, pins, and sticks, so now I have pinwheels!

It started with just the one (red, green and gold one of the left), then had such a blast making it and watching it twirl,  I used up the rest of my ancient origami paper and wooden dowel stash on the other two. They now sit in a mason jar with some rice on top of my tea cabinet. To me at least they honestly look pretty sunny up there (I also occasionally pull one out and take a few turns round the living room with it for fun) I kinda think with a bit of matching bunting over the tea nook they would be perfect. Maybe if I throw a Spring tea party later...

Added a couple of tutorials on how I made these for fellow deprived kids of yore who never learned to the Quaintrelle Life website. there are some paper patterns to print out too for anyone who hasn't been hoarding a half empty packet of origami paper for 5 years.

 Might not be a picnic under the sun but might be just the colorful distraction we all need right now! (I'd love to see any pinwheels you guys make too if you give it a go)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Drawing of an Old Era

 Rolling up my sleeves and using a few personal obsessions to start chipping my through a personal fear.

The obsessions: a love of early 20'th century illustration. More specifically the racy kind of tricolor proto pin ups that would appear in magazines like "La Vie Parisienne" or "Le Sourire" during the late 1910's-early 1920's, and of course all things rococo, (something those illustrators were pretty obsessed with as well, vive la panniers! ).

The fear: Drawing again after not having drawn anything of any scope in a good few years.

See I have a background in fine art. Got my degree in it, been studying it most of my life. But as drawing became a smaller part of my job, I fell into a lapse. Then after few years, became almost deathly afraid of what I would see on the page when I finally put a pencil to it again.

This past week though like I say, I finally plucked up the nerve and the pencils to see just how much rust was sticking up my drawing gears, and I started drawing up some stylized pin ups to get back into figure drawing, and something I love.

(Nerd note:) The backgrounds were loosely based on 18th century pleasure gardens  like Vauxhall and Ranelagh, and the names from breeds of roses.

So obviously the rust is showing, but it wasn't quite the cack handed scrawl II was expecting. things are already starting to free up within just these three. The lines flowing better and becoming more elastic, and things started to become more comfortable. There is hope after all!

Next demon to hopefully be banished by frothy frolicking figures I guess will be painting. The biggest "sucking at stuff I used to rock at" specter of all...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Dolls

Been doing a whole lot of real life stuff lately, but at the same time got to play with some dolls again too! 

First up in honor of the season is the Halloween Dal a good friend asked me to make. She gets a new doll every Halloween and this year wondered if I could customize one into a cute spooky lolita girl. She wanted something slightly casual, and I maaaaay have gotten a little frill happy, but wrapped her up with a wooly scarf and earmuffs to make her a little more cozy looking. Dal dolls always look so grumpy, I figured she's the kind of charachter who wouldn't suffer the cold just for a bit of candy.

I was sad to see her go but happy she went to a great lady with a great home. Snapped a few photos before shipping her off still.

Doll number 2 is still Halloween for me! I know a lot of people will want to hang me for saying this, but as a rule I find anthro dolls kinda terrifying. I don't know why, they just typically aren't my bag. That is until of course I ran into Pinkie Cooper. Somehow that peppy little spaniel won me over.

I have the London Pinkie sitting pretty just as she came out of the box, but something in my head snapped and I had to customize another Pinkie into Isabelle from animal crossing new leaf. So I did.

Something a bit different. I love painting her big eyes and making her tiny clothes. Just before I had her finished a friend said she needed a pet gyroid so now she has a little Lloid the gyroid to keep her company.

That's about all the sugary horror i have for now, but there are more photos over on Dolly Daydream for anyone needing an extra fix.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cute as a Garter Button

Frippery du jour over here at quaintrelle towers (ok duplex) is garter buttons! You probably know the things I mean... Little silk covered buttons printed or painted with sultry eyed flapper faces from  the 1920's.

New styles and new hosiery had lead to girls rolling their stockings and holding them tightly in place with either rubber like bands or adventurous garters. Above the knee if you wanted to play it safe or bellow the knee if you were feeling sexy and wanted to let your knees do the taking! Fashionable girls could display their modern and irreverent attitudes with these flirty faces peeking out from under
rising hemlines.

Created by the ribbon companies at the time, they seem to have been printed on long ribbons, then cut and shaped into various whimsical buttons. Some were left simply as printed faces, some adorned with further ribbons and frills, and others went further with cheeky sayings like "You'd be surprised" or my personal favorite, a police man proclaiming "Stop go no further!"

Not wholly found on garters, they could also be seen on other flirty items such as powder puffs, and mirrors, all the various ribbon covered items in a true coquette's  arsenal!

You can often find them for sale on places like easy or ebay, but as a girl who likes ribbons it seemed like a fun thing to make from scratch. 
Currently still just buttons here are a few of the faces to come off my work bench this week....

Their destinies will be another post later on, but for now, anyone else wanting to say it with buttons might want to check out the quick tutorial over on the Quaintrelle Life website and make some too! 

What do you think your knees might want to say?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dream Deco Teacup

Ok, my teacup Embargo hasn't been going well. I had said "I just need one Paragon teacup" but now I've also got a 2nd one. But hear me out!...

Wedgwood Deco Bloom
When I first started collecting teacups I was just looking to pick up the cup and saucer from each design. Since then however I've been trying to pick up trios instead with the matching side plate as well as the saucer. Some times it's easy, sometimes not so much, either because a pattern is discontinued, or because it never had a matching plate to begin with. This was the road block for me when I was looking to add a super art deco cup to the fold.

See, I fell in love with the "Deco Bloom" cup from the Wedgwood Harlequin collection. Since the line launched they've
adding extra pieces like side places to the collection for some designs like my spiffy polka dot set, but sadly Deco Bloom wasn't one of them. I wrestled with the fact it was my perfect dream cup, but that it would never be a full place setting. Then something amazing happened! An identical cup showed up on Ebay, complete with side plate! Uncanny right? The crazy thing was the auction cup wasn't Wedgwood.

My Paragon Pink Hydrangea Trio
Wedgwood's Harlequin collection is based on old designs from their design archives brought back to life, but this old auction trio was by Paragon.

The Paragon china company ultimately became part of modern day Royal Doulton, It's old pattern books presumed lost. I wonder if some of those books or later ones found their way to the good people at Wedgwood?

No matter how it happened it was a dream come true when this vintage trio made it way into my hands!

I dug around looking for more info on the pattern,  just stamped with a number on mine the design sometimes pops up as "Pink Hydrangea". I've seen a few pieces show up on auction sites as part of big lots. The cup and plate shape was used with a few other designs from Paragon for any other deco china fans. My little set is also marked as being a replica of a service made for the queen, though I couldn't find any information on the pattern's royal provenance they way I could with my other Queen Mary set. Royal or not though it's amazingly pretty, amazingly deco and amazing that I was able to get this dream setting after all!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Faking the Frippery

It's possible that one of my favorite things to design and
collect in the world is costume jewelry. Growing up I used to scour my favorite antique shops for their sparkiest pieces. I'm a die hard magpie and costume jewelry could always transform an outfit and make me sparkle like a duchess! (but not like a princess because that's too much of a pain)

We rather take costume jewelry for granted these days, but the decade we can really thank for it for starting the fervor for fakery is the 1920's...

With styles changing fast after WWI, and a growing spectrum of women finally able to participate in fashion, the inherited gems of the aristocracy could no longer fill our thirst for baubles, and it was time for paste to make a come back.

Dusausoy (Jewels) 1923 J.G Domergue Art Deco Style Doll ElegantUsed by Coco Chanel as a means to complete a woman's costume and unify her vision, fake gems were a must have for the wealthy woman looking for a little frosting to co-ordinate her pristine new outfit for the night,  and for the average gal on the streets it also allowed women of more modest means to enjoy wearing "jewels" of a less modest design. Jewelry designers also got to let their imaginations run wild without the constraints of precious material costs creating all kinds of whimsical designs.

I love vintage jewelry, real and "fake" from the 1920's for it's unique designs. There were a lot of interesting mixes of sparkle and colorful geometry. They also loved their pearls, and long time blog followers know what a soft spot I have for pearls!

I've been craving some deco gems to ad to my wardrobe lately, and despite being seeing some amazing period precious stone pieces, I just don;t have a Christie's budget, I'm also concentrating a great deal on sharpening my skills in the jewelry area so it felt only natural to turn my hands at designing and making a little costume jewelry set for myself, ready for when I get that deco feeling!

I went with a bit of Nile green  and tried to capture the long lean lines of my favorite 20's jewelry pieces. Something with the hard geometric shapes, but in a softer pallet to go with my usual wardrobe of pastels. They've proved quite versatile together and separate, and something I'm going to get a lot of millage out of.

I love working in costume jewelry using a lot of techniques I was taught to work with in fine jewelry, and I always give a big "thanks" to the 1920's for setting the ball rolling!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deco Month

I've been all psyched up for the return of Boardwalk Empire. Coupled with knuckling down to finess my 1920's dress making techniques, I'm all swept up with an art deco fever this month! I figured I cant be alone in all this so I'm dedicating this month's blog posts to the 1920's. Got some tutorials on the way, some recipes, clothes, and who knows what else. For right now though here's a 1925 photo of a girl with an infinitely more picturesque sewing space than mine.


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