Feature Plant for December: Zinnias With Zing!

I just LOVE Zinnias! They are so bright, happy and colourful and always brighten up the day. I do not know of any flower with more zing than a zinnia!!!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0337 They are such easy plants to cultivate, growing quickly and blooming heavily and providing long-lasting colour in the Summer flower bed, as well as attracting bees, birds and butterflies.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0294 The Zinnia genus (Photo 1 below) belong to the sunflower tribe (Heliantheae) (Photo 2 below) and the daisy family (Asteraceae) (photo 3 below) and  and comprises of 22 species of annuals, perennials and small shrubs, though the species, with which we are most familiar, Zinnia elegans, is an annual. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogZinnia3018-01-11 10.38.09 BlogZinnia3018-02-24 09.55.00-2Since selective breeding began in the 19th century, there are now over 100 cultivars and an increasing number of interspecific hybrids. BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0684They were named after the German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727 – 1759).blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0361

Distribution and Habitat:

Zinnias are native prairie plants, which grow in the scrub and dry grasslands from the South-West United States (the majority of species) to Argentina, South America ( a few species), with the centre of diversity being Mexico, so they love hot temperatures, full sun and long hot Summers and are very drought-tolerant.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0260Description:

Zinnias come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and colours, so there is a zinnia to suit every situation! Even within the one plant, the shape of its blooms vary widely.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-23-29 The classic zinnia has a long sturdy single erect stem, 10 t0 100 cm tall, with soft downy opposite stalkless linear to ovate pale to mid green leavesBlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_7014 and topped by a single flower.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0187 Zinnia elegans has tall forms and dwarf varieties like the knee-high Magellan series (35 cm or 14 inches tall) and the tiny Thumbelina series (15-20 cm or 6 to 8 inches), while Zinnia angustifolia, especially the Crystal series is a creeping ground cover and is extremely drought-tolerant.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0337 The Profusion series is a cross between Z. elegans and Z. angustifolia and has good disease-resistance.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.36.07Flowers range from the simple single daisy-like form with an open centre and conspicuous disc and ray florets to semi-double and double forms (most modern varieties), the disc florets of the latter being much less obvious or absent. BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0673The ‘true’ flowers, which produce the nectar are the tiny yellow florets.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-15-30-41 They have many different forms, described as : Cactus/ quill-like (long narrow petals); dahlia type; pompom spheres or buttons and domes; stars; and spiders. I love the form of the buds and the emerging quills!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6974BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6976BlogZinnia5018-04-10 08.55.29 (3)blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-34-12BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0059They come in every colour, except for blue, and I have even seen two different coloured flowers on the one plant. As they age, the colours change and deepen.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0972Here in Australia, they bloom for a long time from Summer (end of January) through to Autumn (April/May).blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0335

Cultivation and propagation:

Zinnias are such easy tough plants to grow! I sowed the seed of Lambley’s Dahlia Flowered Mix in late 2015, the first year of my cutting garden, resulting in masses of flowers! BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0258They self-seeded with plants coming up in the nearby flower and vegetable beds in the Summer of 2016-2017 and I even had a few last season, though I think it is now time to sow fresh seed!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-01-21-06-19 Lambleys have a number of different hybrids. See: https://lambley.com.au/flower-seed-catalogue/z?items_per_page=25.

Zinnias are propagated from seed and should be sown directly into the garden, as their developing roots do not like disturbance, though having said that, I have transplanted zinnias once they have grown into sturdy young plants. They should be sown after the last frost and when the soil is warm. David Lambley often sows his seed in late November, early December, so I still have time to get some new seed sown!BlogZinnia25%IMG_4990 Sow seeds 1 cm deep and 8 cm apart, thinning to 30 cm apart when the first true leaves have formed, so there is plenty of air flow and powdery mildew doesn’t develop. A 60 cm tall plant will need a space of 45 cm between plants.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0998They can also be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost and sown in peat pots, which can be planted straight into the garden.BlogZinnia5018-04-05 10.16.05-2Sow in fertile humus-rich well-drained soil in full sun and keep the soil moist, but not soggy, for young plants. Once they are established, only water as required (once a week if that!) and always water the base of the plant (never overhead) in the early morning, so the foliage and flowers have time to dry off before the evening.

Avoid cold draughts and wind, especially for the taller varieties. Otherwise, being prairie plants, they are tough, withstanding drought and tolerant of poor soils, including hard clay. They will shade out the weeds and do not require mulch.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.30.54Seed usually germinates in 7 to 10 days and it takes 60 to 70 days (seed to flower) for the plants to bloom. Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering season. Pinching back the plants will result in a bushier plant and constant trimming encourages further blooms.BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0191 (2)

Diseases include:

Powdery mildew: Plant disease-resistant varieties like Zahara zinnias or the Profusion series; never water overhead; ensure plenty of air circulation and avoid overcrowding; camouflage tall, disease-affected stems with a foreground of other plants; and finally, live with it! It only affects the leaves and stems, not the wonderful flowers, though of course, disease-affected plants can be removed if too unsightly!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-23-22Leaf spot and leaf blight: also caused by fungi. To prevent, remove the debris from the base of the plant and keep the stems clean. Long wet Summers can be a problem!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0056Save the seed by removing the old dried spent blooms and harvesting the small arrow-head shaped seeds. Store seed in a cool dark dry place, then sow directly in the following late Spring.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 14.14.09Uses:

Garden Plant

Because of their huge variety in shape, colour and size; their fast propagation, ease of growth and low maintenance; their drought-tolerance and toughness; and their long-lasting colourful displays all Summer, zinnias are a very popular garden flower, especially in cottage gardens and cutting gardens.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019There is a zinnia for every situation. The tall forms of Z. elegans look great at the back of the border, while the dwarf forms look wonderful along paths. Z. angustifolia, especially the Crystal series, is often grown at the front of borders, in raised beds or containers and as a ground cover. They can even grow in weightless environments like the International Space Station!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0332They also make excellent companion plants for tomatoes, capsicums and beans- they self-seeded to the tomato patch and next to the beans last year!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0794blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1046 BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0655They attract bees for pollination and birds, especially hummingbirds, which eliminate white fly, and are a butterfly magnet par excellence!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0028BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38 The latter prefer the flat single varieties rather than the double forms.BlogZinnia3018-04-05 16.26.06-1Floristry

With their long vase life (5 to 7 days), huge range in colour and form and sturdy tall stems, zinnias are also popular in the cut flower trade.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-11-23-45BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 12.05.08 Their stems should be harvested at an angle above the bud joint, the bottom 2 cm recut on a sharp angle and the leaves stripped off most of the stem.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40 Use preservative in the vase and replenish the water daily.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0356 They are not ethylene sensitive.BlogZinnia2016-01-01 01.00.00-11 In the Language of Flowers, a bouquet of mixed zinnias mean ‘Thinking of absent friends’,BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50

while yellow zinnias denote ‘daily remembrance’;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-16-13-36-39BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0660 white zinnias ‘pure goodness’; blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0462magenta zinnias ‘lasting affection’;BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6949 and red zinnias ‘steadfastness and familial ties’.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32 BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28Obviously, I was thinking about absent friends in April when making my colourful zinnia cushion!

BlogFeltBooks2016-04-14 14.02.47BlogZinnia2016-04-10 18.10.32BlogZinnia2016-04-14 14.01.48BlogZinnia2016-04-14 14.02.11

 

 

Our Garden in Late Spring 2018

What an amazing Spring it has been! Even though a trifle late to start due to the recent drought, we had rain just at the right time and even though we can always do with more, it has certainly had a rejuvenating effect on the garden!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9388In my post on early Spring at the beginning of October, we were in the throes of Spring blossoms, Dutch crocus, primroses, tulips and other Spring bulbs.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3903 They were soon followed by ranunculus; Crested, Bearded and Dutch iris; tree and intersectional peonies; and now, our glorious roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8508The garden is full of colour and scent and the birds, bees and I are in seventh heaven! Here are some of our locals: a magpie, a baby galah and of course, Oliver, the quiet and sociable King Parrot!

It is probably easiest to visit each section of the garden in turn! Following my steps in my daily garden inspection- well, let’s be honest, I probably do this three or four times a day (!), starting from the house, along the side path to the treasure garden and terrace, then descending the steps to the Soho Bed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8990

We are then bowled over by the cutting garden with all its profligate abundance and riotous colour, then past the productive vegie and perennial bed to the bottom of the garden. On the way back, we visit the Moon Bed before swooning at the Main Pergola, then a walk up the hill past the new white hybrid musk hedge to the rainforest area, before following the steps down to Tea Garden and the shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8857House

The entrance arch from the lane is now looking very established and I love the appearance of these dainty little pink blooms of Cécile Brünner just as the camellias are bowing out.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9219We transplanted the Rugosa rose hedge from down by the brutish cottonwood poplar last Winter to the driveway and even though the soil is tough, these roses are also and can probably handle it! They will provide beautiful scent for passerbys and mask any odours from the garbage bins, as well as a beautiful sight from our bedroom window! Mme Georges Bruant (white) and Frau Dagmar Hastrup (light pink) are already up and blooming, but Roseraie de l’Haie has yet to find her feet, having been the closest to and worst affected by root competition from the giant poplar!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7776BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9060When we come out our back door, we are greeted by the sight of our magnificent Banksia rose, which has now fully recovered to its former glory, as well as the sweetly scented white and gold honeysuckle.

Its red and gold companion blooms further down the fence line, as does this glorious broom and this sweetly scented lilac.

Mme Herbert Stevens was one of the first roses to flower this year and has been so generous with her blooms. I love the soft tinge of pink on her creamy buds and her soft globular blooms.

The bright mixed massing freesias of early Spring were replaced by Cottage Gladioli Blushing Bride Gladiolus nanus and now, colour is provided by purple and pink lavenders.

Mrs Herbert Stevens was soon joined by the lemony white Noisette rose Lamarque, who is now quite established, and their combined scents waft up to the verandah every day.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8652Treasure Garden

The first garden bed I peruse on my daily walk, containing all my tiny or fragile treasures.BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8505 It never fails to surprise me. I discovered that the Rhodohypoxis baurii survived after all and this year, had my first Lily-of-the-Valley flower!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8029

The blue and gold colour scheme of early Spring bulbs and primroses has now been replaced by pink, white and plum dianthus and the spicy scent as absolutely divine.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3995 In order: Coconut Ice; Doris; Valda Wyatt; Sugar Plum and oldfashioned favourite, Mrs Sinkins with the strongest fragrance of the lot!

Terrace

We were thrilled by our first Bearded Iris blooms on the terrace, presiding over their older cousins in the Soho Bed (soft gold) and the Moon Bed (mauve).BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7777 A dear friend gave us a number of corms to plant at the top of our future lavender bank and they produced a range of colours from the dark purple of early Spring to a bronze, gold, royal blue, pale blue, pale mauve and white.

I now have a new passion- bearded iris!!!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7588 We were also mystified by another different iris from my sister’s garden, eventually identifying it by its white crest as Iris tectorum, the iris found in the thatched rooves of Japanese and Chinese houses.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7408Soho Bed

The Soho Bed has been an absolute picture from the soft gold bearded iris, purple Italian Lavender, mauve catmint, light blue forget-me-not, pink and white valerian and mixed pink, white and purple aquilegiaBlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7161BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3904BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7794… to the blowsy chaos of late Spring, as can be seen in the photos below.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8458BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9170BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8281The rose have been glorious: Mr. Lincoln and The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9510

Lolita; BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4161The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8567Just Joey;BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8713 and Fair Bianca.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8883Cutting Garden

Our decision to redesign the configuration of the cutting garden from 4 long skinny beds to 4 square quarters has certainly been vindicated by the best ever Spring display!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8255BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8969 - CopyIn the shady bed, the pansies persisted into late Spring, with magical foxgloves and aquilegia replacing the earlier Dutch Crocus.

I have never come across such tall heartsease, which skirt the purple divinely-scented sweet pea.

The late tulips (Carnevale) were replaced with the ever-faithful hoary stock, Jacobean lilies, blue cornflowers, yellow statice …

and poppies galore from wild species to orange, gold and white Iceland poppies and wonderful mottled mutations of Ladybird poppies.

The Dutch Iris were later than the bearded iris this year, possibly because we moved their bulbs in the reconfiguration of the cutting garden, but their display was superb,

especially in combination with the jewel-like colours of the Picasso ranunculus!

They have since been replaced with a wild riot of ladybird poppies, self-seeded from last year and mutating with a wide range of colours from the traditional scarlet to a pure red, mushroom pink and a delicate clear pink!

They looked fabulous with gold Dutch Iris and ranunculus and now, the blue nigella and cornflowers, which for once are standing upright with the support of the mass of poppies!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8977BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8253BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8660 And now, the dahlias are starting their season, both in the cutting garden and underneath the Albertine rose frame on the shed wall.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9501BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9786

The final bed is filled with feverfew, just about to flower, interspersed with Love-in-the-mist, Nigella hispanica, both beautiful fillers for vases! I love the variations in the latter’s colour and form.

The cutting garden has provided us with some beautiful bouquets, as well as edible flowers for our salads and omelettes.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9273BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7114Vegetable Garden

This Spring, we have been enjoying fresh shallots, lettuces, cabbages and broccoli, the latter well protected from the marauding bower birds.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9469We have also been feasting on fresh strawberries for breakfast with yoghurt, on their own with cream for dessert and also in homemade strawberry ice cream and rhubarb and strawberry icecream!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8194 At the back of this bed are new hollyhocks and peony poppies from last season.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9591 The perennial bed has established well with rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries coming into fruit, angelica producing seed and Russian and standard comfrey in flower.

The mulberries are also turning black and we think the removal of the shading cottonwood poplar branch above it last Winter has really helped with the full sun sweetening up the berries.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9457 Peaches, plums, elderflowers, crabs and apples are also developing. BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7641BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4166BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9572BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7264At the bottom corner of the garden, buttery Albéric Barbier is in full bloom,

but its thorny stems were not enough to deter a lost wombat, who tried to barge his way unsuccessful through the fence one night!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9438 We return to the main garden through the future chook arch,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4114smothered in pink Hybrid Musk, Cornelia,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8768 BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8259 and Climbing Tea Rose, Sombreuil,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9120BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8578 with a new vigorous Clematis texensis ‘Princess Diana’ rapidly clambering its way up the latter’s stems and flowering for the very first time- a real thrill!!!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4509Moon Bed

Another visual treat, it looked particularly good, backed by the snowball tree in full bloom.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4495 Starting with the mauve bearded iris and honesty,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7599BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7710 it was followed by six beautiful intersectional peony blooms, their colour reminiscent of moonshine….BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7797 very similar in fact to the beautiful blooms of Troilus:BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8708and finally the stunning David Austin roses: cream and gold roses: Golden Celebration, Jude the Obscure, Windermere and Troilus;

and soft pink William Morris, Lucetta and Heritage.

How could I not be inspired to make beautiful bouquets of these sumptuous globular roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8729BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9287BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9288Main Pergola

We are so happy with the main pergola, which is starting to look very established now!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8801BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7771 The roses are clambering over the top now with their heads bowing down and are just so exquisitely beautiful!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8933 - Copy On the lower side, creamy Devoniensis,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8572

perfect soft pink Souvenir de la MalmaisonBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7633 and now New Dawn,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9589 all backed by choisya, allspice and the snowball tree in full bloom. The photo below demonstrates the reason snowball trees got their name!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9190BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8573BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3916 The upper side sports Adam,BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8430 Souvenir de St AnneBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9520 and my favourite Mme Alfred Carrière!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8945 - CopyBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8805 Next to Adam, our tree peony bloomed for the first time this year- such a spectacle!BlogLateSpringGarden40%IMG_7115 And now, Philadelphus virginalis is treating us with her beautiful fragrance.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9588 On the other end of the pergola, the Michelia ‘White Caviar‘ gave a us a totally different olfactory feast in mid-Spring,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7167 followed by the everchanging hues of Weigela.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4067 The transplanting of the white hybrid musk hedge of roses last Winter was also a great success and all roses have experienced a great improvement in their health!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8943 - Copy

They included Hybrid Musk roses: Autumn Delight, Penelope, Kathleen and Stanwell Perpetual, a Scots rose with a delightful scent and long flowering period.

Rainforest Area

The big star of this area of the garden was the waratah ‘Shady Lady’ blooming for the first time!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7769

It was so exciting watching the bud, which had been dormant all Winter swelling and colouring up to produce its magnificent red bloom!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8325 We were also thrilled to see all the bluebells from my sister’s garden come up at the same time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7265 Down in the Tea Garden, all the mints have returned after their Winter dormancy and the Maigold holds court, being one of the first roses to flower this year and still flowering!

Entrance Arch and Albertine Frame

The gold of Maigold is continued at the corner of the shed on the entrance arch,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8431BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4015which is smothered with Rêve d’OrBlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4017and Alister Stella Gray.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4476 A blue Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’ is climbing up through the latter rose, but has yet to flower for the first time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9046BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8900The Albertine trellis has been spectacular in its second year with an extended flowering season and many many salmon-pink scented blooms.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9027BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9538The dahlias are now starting to appear under its petticoat!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9534Shed Garden

On the other side of the shed, Albertine is matched by the exquisite Fritz Nobis, climbing beside the entrance door.

Fritz Nobis and Leander (below) are repeat-flowerers in a predominantly old-fashioned once-flowering rose contingent in the shed garden,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4047 though Mutabilis and Archiduc Joseph also bloom throughout the season.

Once-flowering roses (left to right and top to bottom) include: York and Lancaster; Mme Hardy; Mme Isaac Pereire and Fantin Latour.

In amongst them grow old cottage garden favourites like yarrow, sweet peas, Gaillardia Goblin, agastaches, campanulas and alstroemerias.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9530The garden really looked a picture for the opening day of our latest venture, appropriately titled ‘Candelo Blooms’, selling handmade creations from the old shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9417 It has been a real labour of love and a long time in the planning and implementation, but we finally made it! My daughter Jen designed and painted the flyer and signs,

while my other daughter Caroline sold her own Christmas card sets, art cards and prints.

BlogLateSpringGarden40%IMG_9983

My products included children’s clothing, cushions, toys and crepe paper flowers, as well as fresh bouquets straight from the garden and plants and secondhand books.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4565BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8830 while Kirsten Rose sold her beautiful timeless ceramics.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4566This clever lady also designed another beautiful flyer for future promotions.IMG_9982We had a wonderful day- very well-attended by market visitors and many locals, who all really enjoyed the old shed, open garden and music provided by my beautiful daughters. We were even visited for the first time by a Tawny Frogmother Mum and baby, obviously very intrigued by all the festivities!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4580 It was such a fun day! Here is a photo of Ross and I outside the shed!GTOD9695

I hope that you have enjoyed a peek into our late Spring garden. Happy Gardening!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7286

Lovely Lilies: Feature Plant For November

I love lilies! They have such beautiful flowers and really come into their own in late November, hence I have chosen them for this month’s feature post. While there are many flowers, which contain the word ‘lily’ as part of their common name like Day Lilies Hemerocallis (first photo below) and Jacobean Lilies Sprekelia (second photo below), true lilies belong to the Liliaceae family and Lilium genus, which contains 80 to 100 species, all native to the temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The only true lily we grow in our garden is the November or Christmas Lily, L. longiflorum, so I was keen to know more about the other varieties!BlogLovelyLilies25%IMG_7449Lilies come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours and have been extensively hybridized over 4000 years, being one of our oldest cultivated plants and having thousands of cultivars. It is little wonder that it is so easy to get a bit confused and overwhelmed by the variety! Here is a brief rundown of their description; categorisation (species and hybrids); propagation and cultivation; history and mythology; and uses.BlogLovelyLilies3018-02-03 11.54.51 (2)Description:

Herbaceous perennial plants, their erect stems 2 to 6 feet (60cm to 1.8 metres) tall with narrow lance-shaped leaves, though some species are only 30 cm tall, while other exceed 2.5 metres.

Most of the cool temperate species are deciduous and dormant in Winter, but those species from climates with hot Summers and milder Winters, often lose their leaves for a short dormant period from late Summer to Autumn, resprouting a dwarf stem with a basal rosette of leaves from Autumn to Winter, which elongates as the weather warms up eg L. candidum and L. longiflorum. The stems of the latter are on the move with the warmer weather and longer day length in the photo below.BlogLovelyLilies2015-11-10 15.40.11Flowers are solitary or borne in racemes or umbels at the tip of the stem from late Spring through to late Autumn, their blooming times dependent on the variety, but most blooming from mid to late Summer (July and August in Europe).BlogLovelyLilies2015-11-25 18.58.53Each flower has 6 petal-like segments or tepals in a variety of shapes:

Trumpet or elongated tube (eg L. candidum; and L. longiflorum-see photo below);

Bowl (eg L. auratum);

Flat open cup, with or without recurved tepal tips; and

Tepals strongly recurved (eg. L. martagon).BlogLovelyLilies2015-12-02 08.45.33They face upwards, outwards or downwards (pendant) and have a huge colour range.

The seeds ripen in late Summer.

Lilies grow from underground naked scaly bulbs. Some North American species develop rhizomes with small bulblets at the base of the bulb and other species develop stolons.BlogLovelyLilies2015-12-02 19.19.25Categorisation

Lilies are divided into nine divisions, their photographs displayed on the following sites:

https://www.ftd.com/blog/share/types-of-lilies ;
and   http://www.lilies.org/culture/types-of-lilies/.

Another excellent link for hybrid lilies is: https://lilyflowerstore.com/fun-facts/about-hybrid-lilies/.

Division 1: Asiatic Hybrids

eg Tango; Forever Susan; Lollipop

Hybrids are derived from Asian species: L. tigrinum, L. cernuum, L. davidii, L. maximowiczii, L.x macultum, L. x hollandicum, L. amabile, L. pumilum, L. concolor, L. callosum, L. dauricum, L. lankongense, L. leichtlinii, L. pumilum, L. lancifolium, L. wilsonii and L. bulbiferum.

Straight stems 3 to 4 feet tall with a high bud count.

Blooms face up, out or down, depending on the parent species, and most are unscented.

Broadest colour range of all lilies: White, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red.

One of the earliest lilies to bloom from early to mid Summer with a long flowering period (up to one month).

Cold hardy. Grow in full sun to part shade. One of the easiest lilies to grow.

Very popular as a cut flower and potted plant.

Division 2: Martagon Hybrids

eg Turk’s Cap

Hybrids are derived from such species as L. martagon, L. hansonii, L. medeoloides, and L. tsingtauense.

They were first cultivated in The Netherlands in 1891, the first variety called ‘Marhan’ (L. x dalhansonii), resulting from a cross between pollen parent L. hansonii and L. martagon var. dalmaticum. They include the Backhouse hybrids (L. martagon x L. hansonii) from the late 20th century and the rare heritage Paisley hybrids (L. martagon var album x L. hansonii).

Tall slender stems (90 cm to 1.8 metres or 3 to 6 feet tall) with whorled broad leaves and many small (5 to 10 cm wide), dainty, nodding flowers (usually 12-24 flowers per stem, but can bear up to 50 flowers on a single stem from a single bulb), with strongly recurved thickish tepals, resembling a Turk’s Cap, from early to mid-Summer.

Their colours range from white and yellow to pink, lavender, light orange, deep dark red, spattered with freckles and spots, and the scent is only very slight or unpleasant, so it is not one for the house! Despite this fact, I would love to grow them in the garden!

Martagons do not typically grow well in hot, humid climates and much prefer cool weather and shade, so are excellent for the woodland garden. They are also excellent border plants. Highly disease-resistant, they like slightly alkaline, well-drained soil and good moisture. They can take a year to establish in a new garden. If you want to know more about growing Martagon lilies, read: http://www.da.lilies.org/articles/martagonlilies.pdf.

Division 3: Candidum Hybrids/ Euro-Caucasian

eg Madonna Lily, June Fragrance (L. candidum salonikae x L. monadelphum 1971)

Hybrids are derived from L. candidum, L. chalcedonicum, L. monadelphum, L. cernum, L. longiflorum and  L. henryi.

This division includes very few entries, and they are not easily found in commerce. It includes one of the oldest known hybrids: L. testaceum (Nankeen Lily), a cross in the early 19th century between L. candidum and L. chalcedonicum.

Fragrant large white funnel-shaped blooms with a yellow base on 4 foot tall (1.2 metres) stems from late Spring to early Summer.

Division 4: American Hybrids

eg Tiger Lily

Hybrids are derived from L. columbianum and L. pardalinum (West coast); L. canadense, L. superbum and L.philadelphicum (East coast); L. michiganense (middle states) and L. grayi, L. michauxii, L. catesbaei and L. iridollae (south). Other North American species include: L. humboldtii, L kelloggii, and L. parryii.

Tall stately plants with flowers with reflexed tepals on curved pedicels, which bloom about the end of June and early July (mid Summer), although if they are planted south of Philadelphia, where the climate is warmer, they will bloom in late May to mid-June (late Spring).

They enjoy light dappled shade and can develop huge clumps in woodlands if left undisturbed.

The best known are the Bellingham hybrids, developed from a cross between Lilium humboldtii var. ocellatum, L. pardalinum and L. parryi.

Division 5: Longiflorum Hybrids

eg Easter Lily, November Lily or Christmas Lily

Hybrids are derived from L. longiflorum and L. formosanum, both native to Japan and Taiwan.

These hybrids bear elegant large pure white trumpet-shaped flowers.

They are easily raised from seed, but not particularly hardy in the garden and need a protected position.BlogLovelyLilies2015-12-02 08.43.39Division 6: Trumpet or Aurelian Hybrids

eg Henry’s Lily; Regal Lily; African Queen

Hybrids are derived from L. leucanthum, L. regale, L. sargentiae, L. sulphureum, and L. henryi.

There are two types:

Trumpets: tall stately plants bearing huge waxy trumpets with a heavy sweet fragrance and a colour range from white, gold and yellow to pink, plum and apricot with maroon on the outside of the trumpet in mid-Summer. They can be upward-facing, outward facing or downward facing. eg Regal Lily…and the

Aurelians, resulting from the introduction of the hardy L. henryi to the mix and producing a plant with 5 foot tall willowy stems bearing secondary and tertiary buds over a long season from mid to late Summer. The buds open to wide bowls with flared petals, sunbursts, stars and flares.

Trumpets and Aurelians may need staking to prevent the heavy flower heads breaking in the wind and mulching in colder climates, as they are not frost tolerant.

Division 7: Oriental Hybrids

eg Stargazer, Casablanca

Hybrids are derived from L. auratum, L. speciosum, L. nobilissimum, L. rubellum, L. alexandrae, and L. japonicum.

They are stronger, more resistant and often more spectacular than their species parents. The plants are 5 foot high and bloom from late Summer to Autumn with huge (6-8 inch) bowl-shaped, flat or reflexed flowers, which face upward, outward or downward and have rich colours (white, pink,and red with yellow banded petals and striking spots) and strong fragrance, making them very popular as cut flowers.

They are not as east to grow as the Trumpets and Aureliums, but like plenty of water, an acidic humus rich soil and mulch for a cool root run.

Division 8: Interdivisional Hybrids

eg LA Hybrids; Orienpets; OA Hybrids; LO Hybrids . See: http://www.bdlilies.com/long.html and http://www.lilynook.mb.ca/Division8.html.

LA hybrids are the result of crossing L. longiflorum (the Easter lily) with Asiatic varieties. Most of such crosses on the market have larger flowers (4 to 7 inches across), a very slight fragrance and hardiness. Eg Brindisi. See: http://www.lilynook.mb.ca/LA_Hybrids.html and http://www.bdlilies.com/long.html.

OT hybrids or Orienpets involve crossing Oriental lilies (beauty and fragrance) with Trumpet/Aurelian lilies (robustness and adaptability; heat tolerance; and range of colours). They can be incredibly beautiful, robust and durable plants, 6.5 to 8 feet tall with many large heavily scented flowers (6 to 10 inches), which face upwards and outwards eg ‘Black Beauty’ ; ‘Leslie Woodriff’; ‘Scheherazade’; and ‘Starburst Sensation.’

OA hybrids are derived from crossing Orientals with Asiatics. Eg Kaveri. See: https://blog.longfield-gardens.com/new-for-2015-the-first-oriental-asiatic-lily-hybrid/.

LO hybrids are produced from a cross between L. longiflorum and one or more Oriental Hybrids. They have large (6 to 10 inch) fragrant outward facing trumpets with curved tepals. Eg Pink Heaven. See: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=271494&isprofile=0&.

Division 9: Species Liliums

Species lilies are wild lilies, the parents of all the lily hybrids in our gardens and hailing from temperate areas in North America, Europe, and especially Asia (Japan, China, Burma, and India). They propagate from seed, but are often harder to grow in the garden than the hybrids.

To learn more about some of these species lilies, see:

https://www.gardenia.net/guide/Species-and-Wild-Lilies and https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Lilium.

Other excellent sites for information on Liliums in general include:

The North American Lily Society http://www.lilies.org/culture/types-of-lilies/;

The RHS Lily Group http://www.rhslilygroup.org/;

and the Europaische Liliengesellschaft (European Lily Society), written in German, though their links page http://www.liliengesellschaft.org/links/ is particularly useful, listing a large number of other lily societies worldwide.

Here in Australia, some good sources for Lilium bulbs include:

Tesselaars https://www.tesselaar.net.au/liliums;

Club Creek Bulb Farm http://clubcreekbulbfarm.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cat-2018-lilium-email-version.pdf   in Victoria and

Van Diemen Quality Bulbs https://www.vdqbulbs.com.au  in Tasmania.BlogLovelyLilies2016-12-05 18.04.40Propagation and Cultivation

Lilies can be planted in beds and herbaceous borders (photo above); shrub borders; woodland plantings; formalised or natural pool plantings and alpine rock gardens and make excellent accent plants and patio plants.

They love cool climates, but the amount of sun or shade is dependent on the variety. The general advice concerning lily position is: ‘Heads in the sun; Feet in the shade’. Ideally, they should get direct sun all morning with partial shade on hot Summer afternoons. They love a north-facing aspect in the Southern Hemisphere. Blooms with pastel shades do better in partial shade, so they don’t bleach or fade with the sun.

Lilies like a porous loamy lime-free or moderately acidic soil (pH 6.5), but clay or sandy soils can be improved with large amounts of organic matter. Good drainage is ESSENTIAL.

They can be grown from seed eg Longiflorum hybrids, but take up to 4 years to bloom, so they are more often planted as bulbs in Spring or Autumn. Do not plant dry or shrivelled bulbs and on their arrival, plant immediately 12 to 18 inches apart at a depth of twice the height of the bulb, except for L. candidum, which is best planted in late Summer and should barely be covered with soil.

Water deeply and apply a 3 inch layer of organic mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. This mulch layer can be removed in Autumn.

A balanced fertiliser (low in nitrogen) can be applied every few weeks during the growing season.

Stake long stems with heavy flowerheads or grow them amongst shorter flowers for support. Remove seedpods as they appear and yellowing stems and foliage.

Really lilies are very easy to grow, except for species lilies and some of the American hybrids. My L.longiflorum plants receive minimal care and bounce back every season!BlogLovelyLilies2016-12-12 16.53.33

History and Mythology

Lilies have been cultivated for over 4000 years and have an extensive history and mythology. The Madonna Lily L. candidum was used in Asia Minor as a medicinal ointment and food in 2000 BC and artefacts depicting it have been found in ancient ruins in Mesopotamia, as well as Knossos, Crete and mainland Greece.  In Greek mythology, the lily was the symbol of the goddess Hera and represented purity, innocence and refined beauty and was used for ornamental and medicinal uses, a practice continued by the Ancient Romans.

During the Middle Ages, it was also a symbol of purity and often depicted with the Virgin Mary in artworks. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, lilies represented love, ardour and affection. The Easter Lily L.longiflorum is a symbol of the resurrection of Christ, while the Orange Lily, L. bulbiferum is, not unsurprisingly, a symbol of the Orange Order in Northern Ireland.

Colour also dictates lily symbolism. While white lilies are a symbol of modesty and virginity, yellow lilies represent gaiety and orange lilies passion, happiness, warmth and love.BlogLovelyLilies2015-12-07 09.43.15Uses

Floristry

Lilies are supposedly the fourth most popular flower in the world and are used extensively for funerals, representing the restoration of the soul of the deceased to a state of innocence, while the Easter Lily L. longiflorum dominates the Easter trade. Other popular lilies for floristry include: L. auratum; L. canadense; L. speciosum; and Oriental hybrids, Stargazer and Casablanca.

Be aware that some lily fragrances are so strong that they are best avoided in closed hospital rooms; some lilium species like L. longiflorum are toxic to cats, causing acute renal failure; and dropped pollen can cause gold stains on white clothing.

Lilies should be harvested when the lower bulbs are showing colour, but are not yet open. Stems should have plenty of buds. Remove the bottom leaves and cut the bottom of the stem at a 45 degree angle, adding floral preservative to the water. Change the water every few days.

Lily plants also make attractive gift pots.BlogLovelyLilies2016-12-05 12.14.11Food

While lilies are the food plant for some Lepidoptera larvae, including the Dun-bar, humans have also been consuming their starchy roots for years, especially in China, Japan and North America. Edible species include: L. bulbiferum; L. lancifolium; L. auratum; L. leichtinii; L. pardalinum; L. pumilum; L. davidii; L. brownii; L. canadense and L. columbianum.BlogLovelyLilies2015-12-07 09.42.44Medicine

Lilies have also been used for their medicinal properties, including:

Madonna Lily L. candidum: Astringent and demulcent;

Turks Cap L. martagon: Diuretic; emollient; emmenagogue; and expectorant properties and for heart disease and cardiac pain;

L. japonicum: for respiratory conditions; and

L. henryii, which relieves congestion and was used to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Lily oil has healing and softening effects, can be used for massage, as a hot oil treatment or in or after a bath, and is particularly good for sensitive or baby skin; dry cuticles and elbows and as a facial moisturizer and under-eye oil.BlogLovelyLilies25%IMG_1774I learnt so much about lilies through my research for this post and am now keen to trying growing some of the species lilies, including the Turk’s Cap lilies. Our lilies have been a little later this year, their buds not yet open. Maybe, they will be in another week, when I am posting an update on our late Spring Garden. What a visual and olfactory treat it has been! And there is a surprise in store…the next phase of our Candelo Blooms adventure! See you then!

 

 

Books on Sewing With and For Children

Now that the school holidays and Christmas are almost here, I thought a post on sewing and creating with children would be very timely! Sewing is such a useful life skill, whether it be the basic ability to sew on a button and repair your clothes or more advanced garment making, and learning at a young age gives individuals so much confidence in their abilities, as well as developing their creativity and just being fun!BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - Copy

I have already reviewed Learning To Sew by Barbara Snook and Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green in my first post on embroidery books (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/07/books-on-embroidery-part-one-general-guides/).

Another excellent sewing primer for children is :

Busy Little Hands: Sewing: A First Craft Book For Parent and Child  Illustrated by Douglas Hall 1988

Written specifically for children, this book has a very child-centred approach with simple instructions and fun pictures of mice and rabbits engaged in the task. Basic sewing skills are taught from enlarging patterns and using a needle threader to patchwork, tacking, oversewing, hemming and pleating, as well as a range of simple stitches, including back stitch, blanket stitch, herringbone stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch and cross stitch. There are some lovely easy projects from leaf needle cases and prickly hedgehog pincushions to butterfly mobiles; costumes, masks, hats and crowns; and drawstring bags and patchwork night cases. It’s a delightful little book and very appealing to young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6572

Once the basic skills are mastered, the next two books by quiltmaker Yolanda Gifford are wonderful for inspiring creativity and imagination and a love of fabric and colour.

Fabric Fun For Kids by Yolanda Gifford 1995

After introducing basic stitches (running stitch, back stitch, overstitch) and materials (vliesofix; embroidery thread; and fabric textas, markers, dyes and paints), Yolanda launches straight into the 24 projects themselves, including hanging pillows, cushions, bags, pictures, runners, Christmas decorations, quilts, toys and glove puppets and rag baskets.

Each project has a materials sidetab; clear instructions and finishing notes, patterns and diagrams and full-colour plates of the finished article.

When my eldest daughter was younger, she was inspired by the pattern Ellie’s Bird (seen on the book cover below) to make her dad a felt panel of a king parrot.

BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7245

My girls also made the Christmas tree pillow and picture; the heart pin cushion; and Jake’s Four Patches, as seen in the photo below.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7214 I could easily make the chook runner; the flower cushion; the Nick-Nack Sew a Patch bag and the Home Sweet Home panel myself! The projects are an excellent indicator of the popularity of Yolanda’s home sewing classes for children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6573

Simply Applique by Yolanda Gifford 1997

Yolanda’s second book is similar in presentation to her first book, but focuses on applique, using non-traditional methods and lots of freedom in colour, design and structure to portray children’s artwork on quilts, table cloths, curtains, cushions, bags, banners and family portraits and postcards.

While written for children, it is an equally wonderful book for beginners to the wonderful world of applique!

I love Yolanda’s use of bold simple shapes and bright colours and would love to make her family portrait and postcards; her appliqued curtains; her animal cushions and banner; her red and white embroidered cot quilt; and her love quilt, seen on the front cover of the book.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6574

Steiner education also have some wonderful books for encouraging imaginative play and creativity in children. Here are three of my favourites:

Toymaking With Children by Freya Jaffke 1987

Imaginative play is so important for the development of creativity, as well as developing basic life skills and this little book is packed with wonderful ideas from building sets, shops, dioramas and landscapes to making dressing up costumes, crowns, puppets, gnomes, toy animals and dolls, including doll clothing, houses and furniture and using natural materials to make toys like pine cone birds, bark boats, wooden animals and log trains.

Below is a photo of my youngest daughter’s make-believe fairy, which kept her occupied for hours in the local park, while our car was repaired during a family holiday.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7246There is also a large introductory section on the meaning and importance of play; the three stages of play; appropriate toys for each stage; and outdoor play.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6575

Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994

Felt is a wonderful medium for children to sew, as it is strong, firm and colourful; does not fray at the edges; and is easy to cut out into different shapes. Starting with simple embroidery stitches and instructions on making hair, the book describes a wealth of toy materials, construction methods and projects including:

Wooden standing dolls: Gnomes; a royal family; Saint Nicholas; an angel; a mother and baby ; hazelnut children; a wooden doll with moveable arms and legs and matchbox dolls;

Felt Dolls: Basic model; gnomes; woollen dolls; flower children and blossom fairies; finger puppets; and walking dolls;

Dolls with pipe-cleaner frames: Basic model; Christmas gnome; jester; man; and the man in the moon;

Animals and birds: Duck and swan; a bird; a seal; a butterfly mobile; a snail; cats, dogs and mice; a horse; a rooster; simple felt pictures and books;

French knitting and crochet: a picture and bag;

Felt gifts: Balls; jewellery; a gnome and a clown brooch; bookmarks; comb cases; scissor cases; egg cosies; purses and little gift boxes.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6577

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau by M van Leeuwen and J Moeskops 1990

After a brief discussion on arranging seasonal tableaux and basic techniques for making dolls and marionettes with sheep’s wool, cotton, felt, cardboard cones, wire and wood, as well as creating faces and embroidering hair, this lovely book follows the seasons and special celebratory periods with instructions for all the elements of seasonal tableaux from:

Early Spring: Mother Earth and root children;

Spring: Spring fairies; flower children; felt dandelions;

Easter, Ascension and Whitsun: Hen with chicks; hares; sheep with lambs; paper flowers; Whitsun doves and a Whitsun wedding couple;

Summer: Beehive with bees; Summer fairies; grass wreaths; and sandcastles;

Autumn: Pumpkin child; toadstools; teasel hedgehog and spider; a boy with a kite; and a spider web;

Hallowe’en and Martinmas: Lanterns; gnomes; and mice;

Advent and Christmas: Saint Nicholas and assistant; an angel; sheep, oxen and ass; crib figures- Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus; the shepherds and the three kings;

Winter: King Winter and Mrs Thaw.

It is a wonderful way to develop and promote an appreciation of nature and the seasons in young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6576

My final book, Baby Crafts by Juliet Moxley 1995,  looks at sewing for children and contains 25 wonderful creative projects to make for babies, exposing the latter to the wonderful world of colour.

They are divided into four categories:

First Needs: Moses basket; cot quilt; laundry bag; nappy stacker; travel seat; sleeping bag; night dresses and caps; and rag doll pyjamas case;

Bathing and Playtime: Fish bath mat and mitts; bath robe; cardigan and beret; play mat; painting smocks; and a very cute crazy patchwork teddy;

The Nursery: Torn paper frieze; painted toy box and chair; a delightful wall hanging with pockets based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea; a cot and quilt cover and an animal mobile using reverse applique

Photo of animal patches for mobile

Special Occasions: A beautiful christening robe and pin cushion; some very appealing Christmas stockings; painted plates; and a cross stitch sampler.

While directed primarily at adults, some can be achieved by children like the torn paper frieze and the painting projects. It’s a lovely book and is a great way to generate a love of bright colours and start young children off on their own creative journeys.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6578

 

Books on Doll Making

Last week, I shared my favourite toy and softie books with you. This week, I am focusing on doll making books.

While I tend to make toys rather than cloth dolls these days, cloth doll making is still a wonderful form of self-expression and creativity and these books are classics in the doll making world!

One name that is synonymous with contemporary doll making is that of Susanna Oroyan  (https://www.niada.org/portfolio/susanna-oroyan/). Sadly, she died in 2007, but she left behind her a wealth of doll making knowledge with her books, most of which I own except for her first (Contemporary Artist Dolls: A Collector’s Guide by Susanna Oroyan and Carol-Lynn Rössel-Waugh 1986).

In order of publication, they are:

Fantastic Figures: Ideas and Techniques Using the New Clays 1994

Anatomy of a Doll: The Fabric Sculptor’s Handbook 1997

Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction 1999

Finishing the Figure: Doll Costuming, Embellishments and Accessories 2001

Dolls of the Art Deco Era 1910-1940: Collect, Restore, Create and Play 2004

They are all fabulous books with beautiful dolls, packed with information and very inspiring photographs!

The first book, Fantastic Figures concentrates on working with the new polymer and paper clays, from working armatures to sculpting and curing heads, bodies and limbs, then finishing with painting and wax, as well as wigging, clothing and accessories.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6538

The dolls are so life-like and amazing, but I think cloth dolls and soft sculpture is much more my forté, so her next book Anatomy of a Doll has been very well-perused!

The first section discusses the creative process and the design process in depth, including the origin of ideas and concepts, as well as variations, then looks at the evolution of dolls from elemental, primitive, simple and basic forms (outline dolls and rag dolls) to some very sophisticated figures.

She examines heads and faces, the body and joints (bead, stitched bead and button), working with wire armatures, and finishing the figure with hair, footwear, clothing and bases, as well as a myriad of embellishments, all supported with photograph galleries of other talented dollmaker’s artworks.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6537

Designing the Doll is another essential book for the dollmaker’s library with more fabulous and inspiring art works and a more detailed and comprehensive analysis of doll design and construction.

Part One: Designing the Figure looks at problem solving and making choices, addressing the issues of construction (materials, costumes, embellishments and treatments); sculpture (materials, armatures, moulds); design variations and breaking rules. Considerations of form (animal, realistic human, toy, exaggerated or caricature and abstractions) and design elements (subject and motif, focal point, line, scale, colour, texture, pattern, balance, harmony, and style) are discussed in detail, including basic body proportions, developing patterns and making templates.

Part Two: Construction Materials looks at the nitty-gritty of constructing the head, body and body parts with notes on making moulds (wax, plaster, elasticon, latex and RTV); wire armatures; sculpture mechanics and movement; joint physics, considerations, design and construction; and cloth figure construction.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6534

Finishing the Figure is the final book in the trilogy, looking at costume and elements of design (line, scale, texture and especially colour), as well as a large section on pattern drafting and historical costumery.

The elements of costume include underwear, underpinnings, petticoats and panniers, kirtles and corsets to bodices, skirts, dresses, folk costumes, pockets, headwear and shoes.

The section on embellishments is equally large and ranges from painting, stencils, stamping, embossing, printing, dyeing and burning to machine work, pleating, weaving, felting, beadwork, hand embroidery, lacework and appliqué.

Specialized costume like wings, glasses, jewellery and animals have their own chapter, as do the elements of display, including furniture; doll photography; and transport considerations (packing and shipping).BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6536

I bought Dolls of the Art Deco Era to try and discover more about the vintage doll parts in my collection.

Boudoir dolls, which were dolls for adults, were displayed in the bedrooms of the era, especially the porcelain and wax-over-chalk half dolls and heads, which could be attached to pin cushions, purses, powder boxes on the dressing table and even lamps.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6517 I particularly love the flapper wax doll heads, the cloth mask faces made in Belgium and the antique French boudoir half dolls.

While I did not find my dolls in this book, I did learn so much about the Art Deco period, the dolls and dollmakers of the era,  the art of collecting vintage dolls, repairing and storing vintage dolls, and making and costuming boudoir dolls. I suspect most of my collection hails from the 1920s, when Marie Antoinette, Flapper and Harlequin and Pierrot dolls were very popular. See: http://www.jazzageclub.com/fads/the-boudoir-doll-craze/#more-916 for more on boudoir dolls.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6533

Patti Medaris Culea is another well-known name in the doll making book world. See: http://www.pmcdesigns.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/culea.html, as well as her videos on cloth doll making (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpoxSzpx0zQ) and cloth doll faces (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klNPrt0EUao) .

I own three of her books:

Creative Cloth Doll Making: New Approaches For Using Fibers, Beads, Dyes, and Other Exciting Techniques 2003;

Creative Cloth Doll Couture: New Approaches to Making Beautiful Clothing and Accessories 2006;   and

Creative Cloth Explorations: Adventures in Fairy-Inspired Fiber Art 2009.

Patti’s dolls are always very bright, fun and colourful and she makes the most of all the wonderful materials and embellishments available today!

In Creative Cloth Doll Making, she generously shares all her knowledge about the basics: the basic kit; laying out patterns; turning fingers; stuffing body parts; and creating the face, before progressing to all the fun and magical bits: surface coloration with dyes (silk dyes), paints (Dye-NA-Flow; Lumiere paints; pearl-ex pigments; textile paints; Prismacolor pencils; gel pens and Zig Millenium pens) and stamps (Impress Me); working with Tyvek, liners and machine embroidery; beading using Peyote and bead embroidery techniques; and collage with fabric, beading and photo transfer.

She explores all these techniques with backup projects like the Beginning Doll, seen on the front cover, and a gallery of other artists’ work. The patterns for the projects are in the back, as well as details about the contributing artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6541After an introductory chapter on making the basic cloth doll, Creative Cloth Doll Couture focuses on costumes and accessories.

There are four wardrobes: a 1940s Haute Couture stylish suit; a 1960s Flower Power outfit; a Formal Affair and a whimsical Fairy Gathering, each section a platform for teaching specific techniques like collage and layering appliqués, fibres and transfers (1960s);  working with beads, lace, satin and silk (Formal affair); and dyeing, painting and stamping (Fairy outfit) and again, reinforcing and inspiring with a gallery of other artist’s work.

.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6542

Her last book, Creative Cloth Explorations has a similar presentation to the previous two books, but dives headlong into the fairy world, a perfect venue for indulging in extreme creativity!

The first chapter on basic techniques and supplies for fibre arts is a bit longer and more comprehensive than its counterpart in the other books and covers: the basic sewing kit; the basic beading kit; the basic embellishing kit; making stencils; using silk rods, waste and cocoons; stabilizers; photo transfer; threads, needles and presser feet; colour; embellishments and embroidery and beading stitches.

There are some wonderful projects: an Art Nouveau Fairy themed journal with fairy pages and a book mark and a fairy fan, as well as gallery pages showcasing the inspiring work of other artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6540

Making Creative Cloth Dolls by Marthe Le Van 2002

My final book with some wonderful totemic and abstract spirit dolls!

Basic materials and techniques are covered in the first chapter by Barbara Carleton Evans with some useful notes on design, journaling, conceptualizing and proportion and movement.

Marthe then presents a series of Blank Canvas projects, based on basic forms: Clarity; Energy and Strength for the reader to make, then decorate and embellish creatively.

She also asked four other doll artists to decorate them as well as a platform for showing different techniques and the huge potential and versatility of the craft. She also invited ten talented designers to create unique patterns to showcase more inspirational ideas.

Along the way, she also discusses the use of doll making for personal growth; art therapy and healing; and past historical and cultural associations, including health insurance, good luck, fertility, magic, the supernatural world and sacrifice.

There are a number of contemporary photo galleries for further inspiration: a Gallery of Mystics;  a Gallery of Storytellers;  a Gallery of Angels and Demons; a Gallery of Legends; and a Gallery of Body Language.

This is a particularly good book for beginners and people with limited experience, as it promotes creativity and imagination without overwhelming the reader!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6543

Other sources of inspiration include doll making groups, like Western Dollmakers, in Western Australia ( http://westerndollmakers.com/), magazines like Art Doll Quarterly http://www.artdollquarterly.com/ and https://stampington.com/blog/ and commercial patterns.

There are so many talented artists in the cloth doll world. Some of my favourites include:

Julie McCullough of Magic Threads: https://www.magicthreads.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/mccullough.html, as well as designers like: Elise Peeples; Jo Maxwell; Bev Bradford; Ann Clemens; Priscilla McDonald; Maxine Gallagher and  Sally Lampi eg The Weather Vane in the photo below.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7211Many of their patterns can be sourced on websites like: https://dollmakersjourney.com and http://dollmakersjourney.net/ and Pinterest is also a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas.

Next week, I will be looking at books about sewing with and for children. Until then, Happy Creating!

Books about Toymaking

Last week, I shared my toymaking journey with you. Here are some of the books in my craft library for the aspiring toymakers amongst you!

Sewing Sculpture by Charleen Kinser 1977

One of my very first books on soft sculpture and still a favourite for its originality, its notes on design and its patterns.

The first two chapters discuss the inherent qualities of the craft; developing visual awareness and clarifying your perception; and recognizing symbols and form.

The next chapter takes a comprehensive look at the nature of different materials:

Fibres: Cotton, linen, wool, silk, acrylic, nylon and polyester;

Fabrics: Woven, knitted and felted fabrics;

Other materials: Leathers, fur, fleece and vinyls;

Threads and Yarns, both utilitarian and decorative: Mercerized cotton, linen, silk, nylon and polyester; and

Fillers: Cotton or polyester batting; down; foam rubber and polyurethane foam; styrofoam pellets, dried straw and grasses; excelsior; wood shavings and sawdust; sand and pebbles; sewing and knitting scraps; and aromatic dried herbs and flowers.

It also discusses the workplace and the tools of the trade: Sewing machine; shears; needles; pressing aids and stuffing aids.

Design is a major part of sewn sculpture and is covered in two chapters with notes on:

Idea and concept;

Elements of surface design elements: Colour; pattern and texture; theme; contrast and comparisons; transitions; variation and repetition;

Elements of drama: Proportion; composition; and staging;

Seams and darts: Placement and type;

Borrowing shapes from objects and patterns; and

Materials as a point of departure.

The thoosing fabrics; pattern and fabric preparation; stitching and types of seams; stuffing; special considerations for working with leather, fake fur and knits; surface ornamentation and batik; and making geometric forms (box, cone, tube, opposing triangles and squares, softball, closed doughnut, spiral and globe) are all discussed in the next two chapters before presenting a variety of wonderful patterns:

Floor cushions and nest chairs; scallop and marble cone pillows; pillow dolls; tiny witches and life-size grannies; floral toads and huge grizzly bears and seal sliders; some wonderful ogres and an orphan Annie doll; an Art Nouveau plant form and a beautiful leather gentle beast; and finally, a set of soft sculpture heads.

This book is full of wonderfully creative ideas and possibilities and is a terrific book for toymakers wanting to design their own original patterns!

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Toys For Your Delight by Winsome Douglass 1962

Another excellent old book, written by embroidery expert Winsome Douglass, which has a similarly broad scope, allowing for plenty of creativity and personal self-expression. The introduction covers the basics:

Tools and equipment;

Materials and the use of paper mounts with fraying materials;

Surface decoration: embroidery, appliqué, beads and sequins;

Embroidery stitches; and

Stuffing.

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The majority of the book is devoted to patterns, but the instructions are general and allow for lots of variations. The simplest form of toy is a ball, with patterns given for four-sectioned, six-sectioned and eight-sectioned balls.BlogSoftToys2015-04-22 08.58.14The chapter on animals starts with notes on wiring, manes and tails, ears and eyes, horns, decorated heads and moveable legs before describing a variety of separate animals: a dachshund, reindeer, cow, horses and deer, a sitting cat and a tiger, a lizard and toad, and a magical griffin.

The chapter on birds starts with notes on beaks, heads and crests, tails, wings, and feet, legs and stands with patterns for sitting ducks and hens, small birds on conical stands and cockerels on cotton reels,  and two standing birds, all magnificently embroidered.

Insects and fish are also covered with notes on insect wings, legs and feelers and hints on design and patterns for wasps, flies, ladybirds, butterflies, fish and sea-serpents. More complex creatures include a rocking bird, a tortoise, a pig, a camel, a donkey and cart, a French poodle, an elephant, an alligator and dragonflies.

Papier-maché toys, Christmas decorations and dolls and their toys are also covered in depth. Below are a few photos of Christmas decorations I have made using this book: BlogSoftToys2015-10-13 14.34.34BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7226While many of the toys shown in the colour plates look a little dated now, the use of modern materials and bright colours would totally revolutionize their appearance and I love the bold black-and-white designs in this book. It allows for plenty of individuality and creativity in the execution of its patterns.

However, if you would prefer more detailed precise patterns, so you can reproduce exactly the same toy described, then the next suite of books are perfect for you!

Titmouse Cottage Designs by Christine Brooke 1992 is an Australian book, based on an original range of woodland characters for her shop Titmouse Cottage: Mr and Mrs Nibble, Amelia, Miss Poppet, Rosebud and Missy Mouse. Patterns and step-by-step instructions for making and dressing these delightful little felt mice make it easy to reproduce them.

The author also gives introductory notes on equipment, materials, working with felt, stuffing, attaching beads and lace and general instructions for making ears, paws, heads, noses and eyes, whiskers, tails, glasses, mob caps and sleeves with patterns and pattern layouts in the back of the book. Each specific pattern details the mouse’s size and personality, materials used and method, including black-and white sketches and colour plates. They are very sweet little characters, which I would love to try making one day, especially Rosebud and seamstress, Miss Poppet!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6556

Little Grey Rabbit’s Pattern Book by Pamela Peake 1988 is based on the world of Little Grey Rabbit, created by much-loved British children’s author Alison Uttley with patterns and clothes for five characters: Little Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Old Hedgehog, Weasel and Hare.

General directions include notes on patterns, fur fabric choice, layouts, cutting, seams, ladder stitching, stuffing, safety eyes, whiskers and tape hinges for limbs. They are lovely patterns, though those in the next book are even more attractive.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6557

Sue Dolman’s Book of Animal Toys by Sue Dolman 1994 also features mainly British animals, the exception being Kenny the Koala! General notes are provided on fabrics and furs, equipment, patterns, cutting out, trimming fur, stitching, trimming seams, turning, filling and the assembly of body parts.

Characters include: Freddie and Freda Fox, Brewster and Bertha Bear, Kenny Koala, Reggie and Rosie Rabbit, Bertie Badger and the entire mouse family: Mrs Maisie Mouse, Baby Mouse, Miss Molly Mouse and Master Monty Mouse.

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Each project includes actual-size patterns, notes on materials, step-by-step instructions and drawings and clothing. I used the pattern for baby mouse to create these cute felt mice in the photo below and could easily make up some of the other patterns, especially Bertha Bear and Baby Mouse’s mother, Mrs Maisie Mouse.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7236Countryside Softies by Amy Adams 2011 is another favourite toymaking book with 28 very cute and whimsical woollen creatures made out of recycled felted old jumpers or blankets, though I prefer to use ordinary felt, having had to do a major clean-out of my severely-clogged front-loading washing machine after trying to felt an old jumper. I think having an old top-loader expressly for felting would be ideal!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6559

Tools and equipment, materials and notions, embroidery stitches and detailed notes on felting wool and making weighted bodies; tummy and chest patches; snouts and beaks; eyes, mouths and ears; wings, feet, claws and arms; tails; whiskers; and insect legs and antennae are all discussed in the introduction, before presenting groupings of patterns according to their home environment:

In the Hedgerow: Fox; rabbit; hedgehog; robin; bumblebee; and butterfly;

Amongst the Woodlands: Squirrel; badger; owl; mouse; and toadstool; and

Along the Riverbank: Otter; swan; duck; kingfisher; and dragonfly.

There are patterns for baby versions, as well as related plant materials and props like bulrushes, carrots, chestnuts, fish and eggs, and notes on making mobiles and finger puppets. Each project details requirements and assembly instructions, while the patterns are in the back of the book, along with a list of resources. You can see more of her work at: http://www.lucykatecrafts.co.uk/ and http://lucykatecrafts.blogspot.com/.

I just adore her style, the mixture of felt/ wool with floral patches; her recycling ethics; and her patterns. They are seriously cute! I have made her Baby Rabbit for my daughter for Easter one year, but am keen to try my hand at her Fox; Robin; Badger; Owl; Mouse; Toadstool; Duck and Kingfisher.

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I have mentioned the next book briefly in my post on Fabulous Felting Books: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/, which also describes a few other books on toymaking, as does my post on Knitting Books: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/06/26/books-for-winter-knitting-part-two/.

Sew Soft Toys: Using Natural Fibres by Karin Neuschütz 2007

A lovely book from our Steiner years using cotton, drill, flannel, towelling, wool gabardine, wool felt, fur and dupion silk to make dogs and cats; mice and bunnies; horses, donkeys and zebras; cows, sheep and pigs; seals and penguins; red and polar foxes; brown bears and polar bears; weasels; and elephants, camels and giraffes, all with baby equivalents and notes on variations (eg transforming the bunny into a squirrel)!  I used this book to make Jen a camel and Caro an embroidered piglet.BlogCreativity120%ReszdEarly march 2013 014BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7232 There are introductory notes on fabrics and stuffing materials; washing instructions and storage; and sewing and stuffing with detailed notes on materials; patterns and step-by-step instructions for assembling and stuffing each project.BlogSoftToys2017-08-28 18.04.20 They are lovely patterns and I am keen to make more, especially the mice (little grey mouse in photo above); the donkey; and the African elephant.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6560

It will be a very useful book for pcreating my Noah’s Ark Christmas ornaments!BlogFeltBooks2515-10-13 15.06.45Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Soft Friends From Cast-Off Socks and Gloves by Miyako Kanamori  2005

This book also appealed to my recycling and thrifty instincts, as well as being exceedingly cute!

Written from the point of view of the characters created, it is a charming book, which introduces all the sock creatures first and tells their stories, before getting down to the details of their assembly in the back of the book with detailed notes and sketches. Gloves were used to make Billy the Dog and the rabbit, bear, pig and panda, while mittens were used to make the mouse and bonus fish. Marcus the Monkey and the dog, cat, sheep, bird, fish, elephant, zebra and girl were all made from old socks.

I just loved Billy the Dog, who features on the front cover and whose face can be portrayed in so many different ways, changing his character totally. I also loved the sheep, the mouse, the sock fish, the bear, the elephant and the zebra. Clothing patterns are also provided to dress the characters.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6561

Steampunk Softies: Scientifically Minded Dolls From a Past That Never Was by Sarah Skeate and Nicola Tedman 2011

And now, for something completely different…! I just love the originality and creativity of steam punk and the fact that anything goes!! Materials and accessories; cutting out; gluing; and ageing fabrics with wax, toothpaste, chalk, scratching and bleaching to give that essential timeworn appearance and ‘authenticity’ are all discussed in the introduction, followed by detailed notes on each project’s personality; materials and equipment; and assembly and construction.

Characters include: the mysterious illusionist and teleporter, Tompion Zeitgeist; the deep sea diver, Fathomless Tilt *; the Steam Punk Lady, Marveletta O’Houlihan; the mining prospector, Geronimo Bore; the intrepid explorer, Floyd Fastknight *; the aviatrix, Charity Storm; the lady detective, Minerva Dupine* and the steam punk doctor, Ferris Scapula.  They are all delightful characters, with my favourites highlighted with an asterix *.

It’s a wonderful way to use up all those obscure bits and pieces in your hoard and letting your creativity run wild!BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6562

Finally, a book on top dollmakers and the secrets of their trade:

We Make Dolls: Top Doll Makers Share Their Secrets and Patterns by Jenny Doh 2012

After a brief section by Jenny Doh, in which she discusses templates, seam allowances, doll making tools, embroidery and hand stitches and tips and techniques, including clipping and notching curves, turning and stuffing, raw-edge applique and rotating joints, the doll makers themselves are introduced, complete with websites; notes on their dollmaking journeys; tips and secrets; and patterns with finished sizes, materials, preparation and step-by-step construction notes.

I particularly liked the style and work of Mimi Kirchner (http://mimikirchner.com/blog/) and Denise Ferragamo (http://deniseferragamo.blogspot.com/). I particularly liked Denises’s Matryoshka dolls, which can be seen on: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/374784000213602208/?lp=true and https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/864409722201944266/. It is also well worth exploring Mimi’s blog with links to other useful and inspiring craft and art blogs.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6563

Next week, I will be sharing some of my favourite dollmaking books.

My Soft Toy Making Journey

I have always enjoyed soft toy sculpture, whether it be toy animals or dolls, due to the infinite opportunities this medium affords for creativity, originality and self-expression, as well as the way that the further the project develops, the more it takes on a life of its own!

My soft toy journey started with Edward and Rosie, two bears I made for my young daughters at a workshop in Hobart.

A stint at the Steiner school introduced me to Steiner dolls, felt and wool fairies and animals and hobby horses.

When the children were older, I attended another weekend workshop in Armidale with Helen Gould, where I made a classic country rag doll, Country Sally. My 8 year old daughter had to join me on the Saturday afternoon, as her Dad was busy and the other participants and Caroline were so enamoured with each other that they made her a mini doll for her to dress and decorate on the Sunday (white-haired doll on the right).BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7206 It resulted in a further Mother-and-Daughter workshop for Mothers Day, where my two daughters and I made three delightful dolls based on Helen’s pattern Petal and Flower Bud. Jen made a green doll, Caro a blue doll and mine is in the middle!

After that experience, there was no stopping them. Ten year old Jenny went on to make me another doll for my birthday (the remaining doll in the Country Sally photo) and the two girls enjoyed crafting Christmas angels on the kitchen table.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - CopyBlogSoftToys2015-10-13 14.31.53In late August 2000, I treated myself with a good friend to Millenium Madness, the first Doll-O-Rama Cloth Doll Symposium at Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, in Brisbane, Queensland. It was wonderfully stimulating and creative! See if you can find me!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6547 We were given a showbag of goodies, including a cute sun badge, each one unique. BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6549

We had to take along a small brooch for a pin doll swap on registration. I replaced my Wollomombi Wock Wallaby (a play on the rock wallabies, who lived in the nearby Wollomombi Gorge, NSW) with a beaded totem doll made by well-known dollmaker Lynne Butcher (http://members.tripod.com/lynne_butcher/index.html).

There were fabulous displays, competitions, shopping bazaars with all manner of wonderful doll making paraphernalia and a huge variety of workshops. I enjoyed three totally different courses. My first workshop was a Felting Madness with Ann Maullin (http://gumnutdolliesnewcastle.blogspot.com/2009/07/ann-maullin-oriental-dance.html and http://annmaullin.blogspot.com/), who had beautiful dolls in sea colours and a lovely manner. Here is a photo of my friend and I on the right with Ann Maullin (yellow tshirt) and two other students.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6548Geraldene Just was next with her highly creative Shellyback Bogles, mythical creatures who arrived from Scotland as stowaways in the convict ships’ ballast and went on to colonise the drains and sewers of Brisbane. Because they lived in dark places, their colours were dull and neutral, their character relying more on textures and feel.

It was a full-on fast workshop with no time for cutting threads or tidying up ends, as Geraldine was keen for us to go home with a finished sculpture, plus the requirements list had been a bit sparse, so a few of us found the whole process slightly stressful, but after being given some of the missing materials required and getting to the decorating stage, I relaxed and got lost in the wonderful world of imagination! I had taken in an old broken metal steamer, which came in very handy as a metal collar for my warrior of the drains, who cleaned old bird nests off the sewer walls with an old toothbrush.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7218

Another concern Geraldine had was the fact that all the bogles might look the same, but she need not have worried. All took on different appearances and personas, depending on the materials used and their makers’ different personalities. I have noticed this trait time and time again when doing workshops with other participants. See how different they all are!

I enjoyed making this creature so much that I made him a bride when I returned home.

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My final workshop, Amazing Annie, was with the bubbly, energetic and enthusiastic Jane Coughlan (http://clothdollpatterns.com/patterns2/id32.htm and https://dollmakersjourney.com/coughlan.html) with her humorous dolls, which shared their designer’s happiness and joy. However, I was exhausted by this stage, so never finished this doll. It certainly was a memorable experience and a great way to celebrate the first year of the new millennium!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7222Another very happy and joyful dollmaker, who shares my love of colour, is another American dollmaker, Patti Medaris Culea (http://www.pmcdesigns.com/). My daughters and I met her at a Craft Show in Sydney in February 2002 (photo above) and I own a number of her books.

Jodie Carleton (http://vintagericrac.blogspot.com/) of Ric Rac taught me to make her toy elephants Parsley and Beet at a workshop in Ballarat (see photo below) and I also attended a weekend workshop in 2011 with Melly and Me (https://www.mellyandme.com/) and other textile artists at Peppers, Hepburn Springs, Daylesford.BlogSoftToys2515-03-23 18.13.53

I also booked in for a workshop with the highly imaginative and creative American doll artist, Akira Blount, at the Geelong Fibre Forum 2011, but unfortunately had to cancel, much to my everlasting regret, as I have since found out she died in 2013. Here is her obituary: http://www.923wnpc.com/cgi-bin/newspost/viewnews.cgi?category=1&id=1375876604.

She really created some amazing  and original artworks, which you can see in her gallery: https://www.akirastudios.com. I particularly loved her work from 2001 to 2004. Below is a selection of toys I have made over the years…

I really enjoy toymaking and while I get many of my patterns online or commercially, I also own a number of books in my craft library.

So, the next three book posts will cover felt toys and animals; soft toy dolls; and finally, sewing with children.