Something Borrowed: Zakka

zakka2I love checking out craft books. My growing collection of thrifted books is mostly from the 70s and 80s, with all the nice and not so nice things this entails (the boxy cuts. Oh wow, the boxy cuts.). But each time I go to the library I wander by the hobby shelves, scouring the boards for yet unknown treasures, and Handmade Zakka & Craft by TUESDAY – designer couple Togawa Tomo and Togawa Chiyo – was one of them.

Zakka Cover BNN
cover of the English edition via BNN

With everyday material and a little creativity, you can make fun, original, and cute objects.
This book introduces you cute and easy ideas to make everyday life more colorful!
Learn the fun of creating room ornaments from paper and thread, accessories from felt, the most exciting party items, and picture collections to enjoy with families! Children also love reading this book with you.

zakka4While none of the featured techniques were a mystery to me I enjoyed the book for its lovely ideas and the combination of really good design and simplicity. The Togawas prove that things don’t need to be complicated to look great, something a lot of other craft books either don’t mention or don’t achieve. It fits fantastically into the early Mori Kei aesthetic, calm and sweet and handmade, that I adore.

zakka6The overall design of the book is so charming, from the listing of materials in visual form to the artist features that are at the end of each chapter.

zakka5zakka1None of the materials used are really fancy in any way, nothing you wouldn’t get at the dollar store or even thrifted for a bargain on short notice, and they even make use of everyday items that are subsequently turned into indie movie-worthy art.

If you’re looking for inspiration for small, quirky projects this is the right book for you. My creativity was triggered by a house stencil skirt, I might have somewhere I want to go from there in mind, and I love it.

zakka7zakka3I’m also a big fan of just using small things, toys, tools, everything really, as jewelery so I was smitten to see something like it here!

The book has seven categories, stationary, toys and decoration among them and even a few recipes, so everyone should find something here. And the publisher is right, this would make a great book to introduce crafting to kids – but not only kids – with. With its neat design and the effortlessness of the projects that can be made in half an afternoon it’s just right to get someone into making things.

zakka8Would I read it again? Sure, and now that I browsed BNN’s craft book section I might need to make a bit more space on my craft book shelf. Yikes.

Something Borrowed is the title for my posts about books, comics and other works from the library. Libraries are amazing, please use them.

Pictures in order of appearance from the German edition (ISBN 978-3-86355-101-8):
TUESDAY T’s, p. 2 | miniature garden, p. 50 | material, p. 6 | fruit sticker art, p. 27 | googly eye cars, p. 109 | toy necklaces, p. 78 | toy pins, p. 81 | magnet fishing game, p. 111


Welcome to Plastic Free July 2018

Plastic Free July by Catfishcreative on Instagram

This lovely graphic about plastic-free options is by catfishcreative on Instagram.

It’s July, and if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a year you know what this means: The re-surfacing of my obsession to cut as much single-use plastic and plastic in general out of my life. While I’m always trying to live my most environmentally friendly life ideals tend to get thrown under the bus of everyday business and comfort. Each July I’m reminded of where I want to be with my consumption habits, be it groceries, toiletries or even the tiny things I treat myself with, and I can try again to make the world a little bit cleaner, a little bit better, and a little more friendly for humans and planet alike.

I still know what used to be my biggest challenge last year: pasta. It always comes in plastic packaging at the supermarket, and back then I didn’t have a bike to regularly go to the one place in town I know of where I can get it packaging-free. Now I don’t only have a bike but also a friend who works there, so that’s a bonus when I actually get there!
What I’m saying is that motivators are important, this might be this year’s biggest subtopic for me, too.

And of course it’s not only about plastic, it’s about aluminium, about fast fashion, about litter in general. With general crafting as a hobby it’s sometimes difficult to find alternatives and workarounds, but I’m rather positive I can still make my crafting habits less prone to cause a full bin.

One thing to always remember, though, when thinking about living a plastic-free life is that in our world it is pretty much impossible to get rid of the stuff completely. Some things won’t come without, and some of these things we need – just think of medication blister packs, your phone, your computer. There is no shame in not living the plastic-free-est life ever. There is no shame in still buying your favourite sweets even though they come wrapped in single-use plastic, especially not if they make you truly happy.

Even a tiny effort goes a long way, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Even if you get a reusable to-go cup and that’s it – that’s one person’s worth less of single use cups, one person’s worth less of trees that are felled only for a cup of coffee, one person’s worth less of lids thrown in the bin afterwards. Tiny efforts are what this is about, because a lot of tiny efforts make a couple of big ones. And you are part of that.

Also, there are a TON of cute reusable cup designs out there.

Are you participating in Plastic Free July this year? What are your main goals? I’d love to read about them in the comments!

10 Things I ♥ in June

June Favourites 2018
From Left to Right: Ni no Kuni II, Wynonna Earp, Anya’s Ghost, Everything Will Be Alright In The End and LUCE by Alice Savage, probably my favourite piece of theirs
  1. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. I once again hijacked my best friend’s PS and this one is just so so so lovely. It’s basically a playable Studio Ghibli film! The scenery is gorgeous, the Higgledies (tiny helper sprites) adorable (and they can conjure cannons!, which might be my favourite thing about them) and the Leafbook feature is hilarious. If you get the chance to play this, DO, it’s wonderful.
  2. This monologue of an Outdoorsy Dream Girl And DEFINITELY NOT A Soul-Stealing Nymph was just too good not to share it.
  3. Even though the Boyfriend stopped watching after five minutes due to special effects cringing, I actually very much enjoy Wynonna Earp. It’s fantastic to see a supernatural action/horror show for once where the girls aren’t either bait or so hardened that you couldn’t hurt them with a wrecking ball if you tried. The realistic, funny, honest and sex-positive female characters in this series give me serious hope for the genre! Also I’m hopelessly in love with Waverly.
  4. Staying with the “things I binge on Netflix” theme: *squal*, new season of Queer Eye ! I made it about ten minutes in before I started crying, and I also hooked Rusty and the Boyfriend because there’s nothing as cozy as watching a heartwarming make-better with a cup of tea and friends.
  5. Even though we apparently used up all of our Summer days in May I can’t help but love the current produce season. The farmer’s market is just brimming with new things and I think I might have eaten at least a pound of strawberries at work alone each week for the last month.
  6. Anya’s Ghost. Just like Friends With Boys Vera Brosgol’s graphic novel debut explores girls and ghosts, this time with an immigrant twist. And just like Friends With Boys the story is still unfinished when the book ends, but I actually think it’s a nice thing to have the reader ponder over the next adventures of the characters. Brosgol’s art isn’t overly dramatic at all, and it only adds to the appeal of the book as a vignette of teenage life.
  7. Everything Will Be Alright In The End (what a great name, by the way!) by Weezer might have been out for years by now but listening to only a few seconds of The British Are Coming (in a 9gag compilation of misheard lyrics, none the less!) made my fall in love with them all over again. Runner-up for my favourite song from the album would be Da Vinci, by the way, but the aforementioned completely has my heart.
  8. I really love common bindweed. While it might be a horrible pest to gardeners I adore the soft pink hue of the tiny cups that are its blossoms. One of bindweed’s folk names is Creeping Jenny which would be a great name for the Rural Punk/Southern Gothic mostly-girls band that I don’t have. Yet.
  9. Hearing the Girl in the flat above ours play the piano.
  10. The beautiful metalwork jewelery made by Alice Savage, based in Italy. Make sure to follow their Instagram for the beautiful background stories of their pieces. LUCE might be my favourite piece so far, but they are all so stunning (those skull pearls!!!).

Good-Bye, Steampunk: Closing a Subculture Chapter

Before I throw more Amsterdam pictures at you (yes, of course there’s more) I thought I might do something else for a change.

Steampunk is something that didn’t feature for quite some time on this blog. If you’ve been here for a while now you might now that this wasn’t always the case.

Steampunk Boson by Ari Baker
My illustration for the Steampunk edition of Kurz & Geek

There was a time when – had I had something like it – my Instagram or Twitter bio would have had the word STEAMPUNK as a denominator written in them quite prominently.

There was a time when I checked everything about it’s steampunky-ness, when this was my main aesthetic goal. I was so excited for every new film, music video, book that came out referencing or straight-out being Steampunk.

There was a time when I was quite active in the Steampunk community, arranging and going to meets, writing in forums, illustrating for Steampunk projects, even throwing a one-shot LARP and publishing a podcast regularly for a big German Steampunk blog.

Aetherdeck by Ari Baker
I illustrated a whole card deck with characters from Steampunk novels

There was a time but there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I have trouble saying good-bye for good to projects, concepts, people and, well, subcultures I used to feel like I belonged to.
When I got into Steampunk the genre hadn’t arrived at the mainstream yet, and I mean that in an entirely un-hipsterish way. Everything was fairly new and unprofessional back then, and it was even acceptable to just put some gears onto things and call them Steampunk. There weren’t as many shows and anime and games making use of the genre but in a way it felt far more adventurous.
But this feeling can wear thin, and stretch, and feel unflattering and bad just like a t-shirt you used to love and thought you looked great in and now you stand in front of your mirror asking yourself why you feel just plain wrong in it and how you could ever thing this was complimenting your skintone.

And that’s exactly what happened. Together with a few interpersonal problems, exhausting projects and other issues in the subculture this was what started making me detest the whole thing. As if the mention of the word alone left a stale taste in my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy the aesthetic. I do know now that what I really love about it would be closer to Clockpunk or Stitchpunk, but I still like gears and grime and industrial revolution revolutions. The things that continue to go on my nerves are best summed up in this beautiful work of art by Terrible Writing Advice:

… and the people who come with them. While there are lovely people in the German community I had my fair share of run-ins with individuals I just couldn’t click with. And that’s okay but in the end this was what made me sever my ties with the Subculture. I had a hard time admitting it at first but when someone from the blog I recorded for years ago asked me to contribute to the 10-year anniversary celebratory podcast I faced it and actually said

No. I’m not in there anymore. I’m out.

And it’s fine.

I have no clue why this was such a big step for me but now that it’s done it feels like a good break-up, as if I got rid of something that was toxic for me (and by that I really mean for me, if you are in the community, if you enjoy it, for all that is good and magical, DO!), I feel lighter and shinier and brighter for it. I wouldn’t miss the time that I really enjoyed Steampunk and it brought me joy and good things, but I’m better now without it. I decluttered my feeds, left all groups on Facebook, and it feels good.

Did you ever mentally unsubscribe from a subculture, community or something else you had been dedicated to or engaged in for a long time? How did it go for you?

Have a wonderful week, and expect more Amsterdam pictures soon.

Urban Treasures: Berlin Mauerpark Haul

Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comMauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comYou might have picked up by now that I’m a pack rat. A horder goblin. A scavenger. When we were in Berlin earlier this year my treasure hunter instincts were pleased with some of the places and sights I found but in terms of thrifting… no such luck. I must have been to seven-or-so thrift stores and while there were a few really cute pieces all I saw was fabric (I might have to rely on the locals more next time). Clothes are nice but rarely treasure, and if they are they’ll have to fit, too.

Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comOn our last full day there we were lucky, though. The Mauerpark flea market isn’t only full of lovely old things but also lined with stalls of local artists, perfect for my treasure-hungry claws.
The ashtray above was one of these treasures. I used to be very much into suit symbols – I still like them, not as much, though – and something in the shape of a club was just too perfect not to pick it up. I use it as a ring dish now, and I love the patina. Maybe someday I’ll feel the urge to polish it but for now it’s just lovely the way it is.Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comThis spinning top might count as cheating: I didn’t find it at the flea market. I have the tiny souvenir challenge for myself to try to bring home a top from each of my bigger trips. I like these toys, they don’t take up much space but are still a great source of joy and fascination for me. This one is from Levy’s Contor at the Hackesche Höfe, a lovely traditional toy shop that also deals in Judaica.Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comThis lovely skeletal bird patch is reserved for a battle vest that I’m still collecting things for. It’s from one of the artists of the Lysergic collective but they don’t seem to have this specific motif anymore, at least not online.Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comI sadly don’t remember the name of the artist I picked up the Tausche Kunst Gegen Geld (Will Art For Money) sticker at. That one’s going on my laptop.
The tiny copper cauldron is for a LARP character in the making, and the silver spoon is for my collection. I like finding handles I don’t have yet.Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comMauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comI really like old kitchenware. This pan will be perfect for boiling breakfast eggs at LARPs and make a decent piece of camp decoration. I plan on sanding off the inside again, just in case. But isn’t the texture beautifulMauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales

This metal frame was love at first sight and by that I mean it was in fact one of the first things I laid eyes on at the flea market. It’s very light-weight, perfect for our strange walls that are impossible to get through with a percussion drill at one point and only need a poke with a pencil three centimeters over.Mauerpark Haul | Hedgefairy Tales https://hedgefairy.wordpress.comAnd last but not least I found the perfect picture to put in that frame. If you’ve ever seen my Twitter or YouTube account, met me in person or been at our camp at ConQuest you’ll know I have this thing for fish-tailed hares. I even have one tattooed on my left arm. There’s more than one story behind it that I might tell one day but for now that’s probably enough reason for why I HAD to buy this print. How often do you encounter fish-rabbits (because this isn’t a hare, but never mind) by chance, eh? The print is from Berliner Babylon, and this is surely not the last motif from them that I want for my wall.
The merrabbit now hangs over my books-and-art-supplies shelf, vigilantly watching my room.

As I mentioned there are visual treasures, too, but these are reserved for another post.
Do you have any recommendations for thrift shops or indie stores I should check out when I visit Berlin next time? I’d love to read about them in the comments!

10 Things I ♥ in May

May Favourites 2018

  1. Seeing the first tiny seedlings sprouting on my balcony. I’m not even sorry for flooding my favourites with gardening right now. By now, at the end of the month, they aren’t even tiny anymore.
  2. Painnt is my current favourite app to experiment with filters. It allows you to transform your pictures into paintings by VanGogh or Kandinsky, into sketches or into something that looks like it’s been torn out of a comic book. I’m just starting to play around with apps like this so I’m really curious where they’ll take me.
  3. While it’s a horrible time sink Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is just so adorable. I’d never played any incarnation of Animal Crossing before (I never had the device for it) so this was a first for me. But being surrounded by self-absorbed technicolour wildlife while I’m decorating a campsite with random stuff ranging from Victorian sofas to pumpkin carriages? Yeah, I’m in. If you happen to play please leave a comment with your ID so I can add you as a friend!
  4. Getting to make up new worlds and things with friends. I’m currently working on something for a more post-apocalyptic setting for once and I love it (and there’s hopefully more of it to come!).
  5. The slightly bizarre and otherworldly dream sequences in The Finder. I know I’ve mentioned the series before but I just finished it (I’m really distractable, okay?) and I think that is one of my favourite things about the whole thing. Also Maddie Hasson is still gorgeous.
  6. Look at this beautiful “Hands in the Dirt” block print by Kelly Louise Judd. as someone who comes home from with dirt under their nails just to go on working on the balcony garden I might have some need for this on a shirt.
  7. Experimenting with new techniques, be it crafting or art. I’m working on my first ribbon embroidery piece right now and it’s really satisfying (and so much quicker than thread embroidery!).
  8. Look at this strange and lovely Nesting Doll here. I love what people do with 3D printing and I’m a sucker for collector’s art toys. Make sure to check out the rest of the creator’s shop, the zoetropes are so cool!
  9. This H&M Lace Shirt (here’s a backup link for when it’s gone. There is nothing more annoying than dead links in lists). It doesn’t look the part at first because of the lovely lace but it’s SO comfy! I’ve got it in blue and (by now) tea-dyed white for now and I’m seriously considering getting powder pink and black, too, because it’s such a great basic piece.
  10. I adore lebanese-french artist Jumana Medlej‘s Food Illustrations. She also draws wildlife (I’m in love with pangolins, for ever and always) and cultural artifacts. I use parts of her British Museum and Pâtisserie icon sets for my desktop and they always make me happy when I look at them.