Posted in Sparky gifts

Hello, Dolly

Sometimes I get lost in the great online marketplace that is etsy. An email link here leads to something else there and before you know it, I’ve found this shop called Josmund from Oregon in the US of A. Josmund’s tag line is ‘miniature madness and funky finds‘ – I’d also add disturbing dollies and possibly crazy crap, but I appreciate that doesn’t necessarily have the same broad marketing appeal. Nonetheless, I wanted to share some of the madness and finds from this little etsy treasure trove with you here. And the arrangement of the pieces in these photos has a definite artistic quality, I reckon.

"Set of 7 Barbie and same size doll heads"...I do not like the way that one in the middle is looking at us...
“Set of 7 Barbie and same size doll heads”…I really do not like the way that one in the middle is looking at us…
"Doll parts"...just look at those jazz hands...
“Doll parts”…just look at those jazz hands…
"8 individual Kelly and Tommy size doll shoes"...I don't know who Kelly and Tommy are, but presume they are one legged dolls...
“8 individual Kelly and Tommy size doll shoes”…I don’t know who Kelly and Tommy are, am only guessing that they are one legged dolls…

Uh huh. You can check out the Josmund shop on etsy here, if you dare.

Posted in Arty sparks, Sparky gifts

Bunny with a Toolbelt

Yes, that caught my eye too. Bunny with a Toolbelt is the very cool name of Hilary Pfeifer’s business in Portland, Oregon, where the focus has been ‘making you smile since the late 20th century’. Hilary creates sculptures, animals and wedding cake toppers from recycled wood and other materials. And they are brightly coloured and very quirky. Hilary has also written a couple of books and sells t-shirts and mugs adorned with her work. This Bunny is busy.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

I’ll start with my favourite. This dog is made of painted, upcycled wood and stands about 4 inches tall and 11 inches long. The piece is called ‘Oh Happy Day’. And with this brightly coloured piece of magic in your home or office or classroom or shop, I’m tipping you’ll have a very happy day indeed. If you’re a deep kinda person, you can probably read something into the placement of the clouds, or the fact that the dog is happily supporting three animals of another species, all of different colours. But I just like it because it’s bright and cute.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

If you’re looking for a customised gift for that certain someone, you can help Hilary to design your own Mini Me. You send photos and thoughts about the subject to Hilary and she creates a mini version of them. In brightly coloured monster form. Uh huh.

And then there are the elephants that Hilary created to illustrate her first alphabet book – Elephabet. As you might expect, it’s no ordinary alphabet book. Y is for Yippie-ki-Yayiphant, S is for Sushiphant, R is for Radiophant. But my favourite is probably this guy: V is for Vice Versaphant.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Oh, and the wedding cake toppers – not normally even remotely my kind of thing, but these have a quirky style. Granted, they won’t suit every couple, but for some people, I think they’re probably just perfect…

Like that really tall couple that you know.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Or those two IT geeks who fell in love in the server room.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Or that couple that took forever to make it down the aisle.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

And with more than 60 varieties, there’s plenty more where those came from! You can check out the Bunny with a Toolbelt website here and the etsy shop here. Love your work, Hilary!

Posted in Arty sparks, Sparky gifts

Puppet People

Puppets aren’t for everyone – some people are a little suspicious of their hollow centres, beady eyes and lack of a voice. And, you know, the fact that there’s a human hand inside. But I think there’s a lot to love about these puppets, made by Erica in Florida and sold at her etsy shop Sublimations. Erica’s specialty is customising puppets to look like their owners – so you can get a pair of lookalike puppets as a wedding gift, or a mini-me puppet for a friend. Erica reminds shoppers that she makes puppets, not photographs – she encourages people to ‘close their eyes and imagine they’re a puppet on Sesame Street’ to get an idea of what to expect.

Erica’s website features lots of pics of puppets & their people, so you can see just how closely they match. But since we don’t know those people, I thought I’d stick with some of the more famous faces (and half bodies) that Erica makes. Like Jimi Hendrix here. Down to the detail of making outfits for the puppet that match famous photos of the singer from back in the day. Brilliant.

And I’ve written before about the love that some people (not me) have for bacon. From toothpaste to bandages to wallets and everything in between. We can now add finger puppets to the list, as Erica includes a rasher of bacon in her range. Six inches tall, Erica says it’s the perfect gift for anyone who loves bacon so much they want to “BE bacon”. And I have no doubt that those people exist.

Here’s an example of a puppet couple. All you have to do is send a photo and a description of the couple in question (to get a sense of wardrobe, jewellery etc, I guess) and Erica will turn a couple of people into a couple of puppets. Such a great gift idea, especially for people who seem to have everything. Bet they don’t have small versions of themselves made from felt and wool and stuff. Yet.

Your furry friends are not forgotten – Erica is happy to turn your beloved pet into a puppet too. If you’re not into taxidermy, this could be a more fun and slightly less creepy way to ensure that the memory of Fido or Kitty lives on…

These are just a sample of the fantastic puppets available at Erica’s shop – you can check out Sublimations here. You’re welcome!

Posted in Arty sparks

The Art of the Brick

Nathan Sawaya is a Brick Artist. That’s his trademarked title, according to his website. And no, it’s not a fancy name for a builder or labourer, it reflects that Nathan makes his art not with charcoal, or paint, or even sprinkles, but with LEGO bricks. Nathan currenly has over 1.5 million bricks in his New York studio – you can see some of them in this pic from his website, colour coded and boxed in a way that would put even the neatest parent of a toddler to shame.

Nathan’s work is incredible. Like this amazing man-inside-a-man (clearly not its official title, but my own) featured on Nathan’s Facebook page. I think this is why Nathan’s so clever – he can use the brightly coloured bricks of our childhood to make a giant dinosaur (currently on exhibit in Taipei) or rainbow hearts or giant bodies. And then, he can use Lego bricks to make a sculpture like this more serious and muted man shuffling along living a sort of half-life in his corporate suit, while inside of him is that lively, passionate red man just trying to get out. At least, that’s how I see it – there’s always the chance that it’s just an alien themed sculpture of the red people overtaking the humans. Either way, I like it!

If you’re an Elvis fan – or even if you’re not – you’ll appreciate the detail of this life-size (height, anyway) Elvis creation of Nathan’s from 2011, to commemorate 34 years since the King’s passing. (Alleged passing, I should say.)

There are so many amazing brick sculptures in Nathan’s collection, it’s tough to choose what to include here. So I’ll finish with this, which is surely the dream bedroom of many children (lack of comfort aside, it would totes impress other little people who visited). Nathan was “commissioned to create a display of how a bedroom would look entirely out of bricks” – not one to do anything by halves, the drawers open and the brick pillow is removable. Oh yes, and that’s a Lego cello there, against the wall. And a Lego model of The Thinker. Just because.

If you want to check out more of Nathan’s work – and it is well worth a look – his website is here and his Facebook fan page is here.

Posted in Sparky gifts

Beware of the Trolls

Do you remember troll dolls? Those faces that were a bit Benjamin Button-like on a small plastic body, with a crazy mop of brightly coloured hair on the top. Sort of cute, sort of scary. They popped into my head this week, so I thought I’d check out the range of trolls available on my beloved etsy. Look out…

Ah, the Troll Ballerina. Never has there been such a contradiction – the grace and beauty of ballet teamed with the slightly hideous old-troll-ness of “Belle” (a 1960s doll with pink lambswool hair). For sale at Maggie’s Klosets, along with some old army boots, jewellery and a fairly disturbing cat brooch.

This troll looks like a surfer dude (with creepy hands that look like he’s often up to no good), but he is apparently an original DAM troll doll from Denmark, made in 1980. I think that DAM is the name of the toy company, rather than a mean term for this little fella. Ah yes, a bit of troll trivia for you from the good people at Jolly Wollytrolls were originally created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. The dolls became popular in several European countries during the early 1960s, shortly before they were introduced in the United States. I haven’t checked these facts, so please don’t complain to me if you lose points at a pub trivia night…

Now, if you’re afraid of clowns, then this could well be your worst nightmare. As if trolls weren’t scary enough, this guy has been frocked up and his vacant stare and rosy cheeks are enough to make anyone think he’s more of a Stephen King clown than a roll-up, roll-up fun sort of clown. On sale at Snap Vintage, he is another DAM troll from 1986. I know that because there is a photo of a stamp on his clubbed foot that says so.

If there’s a gym junkie in your life, or an old aerobics tragic, or someone with a withered face who likes leg warmers and leotards, this may be the troll for them. It’s a vintage Russ troll doll and it’s scary. Not sure that the face matches the body, but I think anything goes in troll world, so whatevs. This great shop Plush 26 also features this frightening troll baby. But I don’t think you should give it to any new mothers, just in case they think you’re being mean.

And the same shop sells a few other beauties that I wanted to share: the limited edition Russ “Troll around the world” from Scotland, a bonnie wee chap that makes me wonder what other nations’ trolls looked like in that collection…Or the Troll Artist (presumably from the “Career Trolls” collection to inspire kiddies to live their dreams, just like the trolls). He looks suspiciously like the Scottish troll with a different jacket, but I’m sure that there’s more to it than that.

Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to turn a little person into a troll. In that case, you can buy a knitting pattern for this troll hat from Petal Knits and whip up a creation that’s sure to scare little people and big people alike.

Whatever your style, no doubt there is a troll doll just for you. With big beady eyes, a mop of bright hair and a giant fixed smile, what’s not to love?