Thursday, 18 April 2013

These caught my eye, & I’ll tell you why: the Jollyboy Sailor dolls

Or, an introduction to some some enduringly happy faces.

These little fellows sit happily in a row as a decorative item in Sylvie’s bedroom.  My mother gave me two when I was small, the others I have purchased as an adult from eBay over some time.  I confess I can’t now remember which ones were Mum’s and which were the newcomers.  I played with Mum’s two as a child; they always had a place at the table in my doll’s house.  They have the most delightful little faces, the definition of cheery.  They are for the most part, showing their age, but they seem happy to still be around keeping us all company.

They were manufactured as souvenirs to be sold aboard ocean liners, in some of my examples you will be able to discern the name of the ship or the ocean liner company name on the ribbons of their caps.  I love that each face has been hand-painted making each doll an absolute individual.  They look like a group of giggly school boys lining up for assembly, you get the feeling one of them will be mischievous in the next moment...

I think they are quite iconic, and collectible.  They were known as the Jollyboy Sailors and from what I can gather were manufactured in Britain between 1929 until the factory was closed in 1959.  I’m in love with their merry countenance and they never fail to make me smile.

Happy days!
Lara Jane.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sending a 'hug' to Russia

Or, a thankyou to our Russian friends

If you wanted to travel to Russia, you would need to set aside almost 48 hours of your life from the moment you left Australia to the moment you unzipped your bag in the hotel room in Russia.  Or something close to 2 days of your life would be spent in transit.  Australia is a long, long way away from Russia and you’ll be passing the time waiting for connecting flights in several airports across the world before you reach your destination.

I’m keen to visit Russia.  My father is Russian and came to Australia when he was 10 years old, he can still speak Russian although he claims he is rusty.  I regret that I do not speak the language.  I love to hear the sounds, the fluidity, the different consonants and vowel pronunciations. 

I have a Russian friend, Yuliya.  She lives in Australia now.  I love to hear her speak in Russian.  I had never heard my father speak in Russian until Yuliya’s mother visited from Russia.  My father spoke Russian!  How odd, my mother is a native French speaker; to a point where I explain to people that she speaks “Franglais” or “Fringlish”. Once she feels you are ‘family’ she drops her guard and begins a sentence in one language, and finishes it in another.  I’m accustomed to Mum flip-flopping from French to English, but for me; all my life, my Dad spoke only English.

Yuliya’s mother, Svetlana, visited Australia and came to lunch with our family.  She brought a jumper as a gift for Sylvie knitted by her friend Lena.  It has pink, orange and cream stripes.  It is beautiful.  Sylvie loves it.  Luckily it was a tad too large at the time and so this jumper has been a cold weather friend for a number of winters now.  The knitting is even, the tension perfect.  This lady can really KNIT! 

I would like to send a special thankyou to Lena for taking the time and love to send Sylvie a jumper that she has worn, and treasured.  And a special thankyou to Svetlana for packing the jumper in her suitcase and bringing it across the oceans to her little Australian friend.  What a journey, and such a kind gesture. 

A thankyou also to my friend Yuliya, who has agreed to translate this little note into Russian. 

We will mail this “hug” to Svetlana this week from our little postbox in our village.  I wonder how long it will take before she receives it?

Best wishes to our Russian friends,
Kind regards,
Lara Jane.

Here is the 'hug' in a mailing tube, with lots of stamps, ready to go to Russia!

Шлём "обнимашку" в благодарность нашим русским друзьям.

Если вам захочется съездить в Россию, будьте готовы к тому, что распаковывать чемоданы в своем гостиничном номере в России вы будете только спустя 48 часов с момента вашего отбытия из Австралии. Около двух дней уйдет на перелет, ведь Россия находится так далеко от Австралии. И прежде чем вы доберетесь, немало времени пройдет в ожидании стыковочных рейсов в нескольких странах мира.

Я бы очень хотела побывать в России. Мой отец - русский. Он приехал в Австралию, когда ему было 10 лет. Он все еще может разговаривать по-русски, хоть и говорит, что память немного "заржавела". Я очень жалею, что не знаю русского языка. Мне так приятны его быстрое звучание и необычное произношение гласных и согласных.

У меня есть русская подруга Юлия, которая теперь живет в Австралии. Мне очень нравится слушать ее родную речь. Ведь я ни разу не слышала, как мой отец говорит по-русски. А тут к нам приехала Светлана (мама Юлии), и мой отец заговорил по-русски! Примечательно, что у моей мамы родной язык - французский. Мне иногда приходится объяснять людям, что она говорит на гибриде французского и английского - "фрэнглиша". Как только вы входите в круг "семьи", она забывается и начинает предложение на одном языке, а заканчивает на другом. К маминому перескакиванию с одного языка на другой я уже привыкла. А вот отец на протяжении всей моей жизни говорил только по-английски.

Когда Светлана приехала в Австралию, мы пригласили ее на обед. Она привезла с собой в подарок для Силви свитер, который связала ее подруга Лена. Это очень красивый свитер, в розовую, оранжевую и бежевую полоску, и Силви нравится его носить. К счастью, свитер тогда был немного великоват, так что он нам верно служит уже не одну холодную зиму. Связан свитер очень ровно, с идеальным натягом нити. Лена ПРЕВОСХОДНО вяжет! 

Большое спасибо Лене за ее время и любовь, потраченные на вязание этого свитера. Силви носит его бережно и с удовольствием. Большое спасибо Светлане за то, что привезла его в своем чемодане, пересекая океаны, для ее маленького друга в Австралии. Вот это путешествие! И какой знак внимания!

Также спасибо Юлие, которая согласилась перевести на русский язык это небольшое послание.

Мы отправим нашу "обнимашку" по почте на этой неделе. Интересно, как долго она будет добираться из нашей небольшой деревушки до Светланы?

Нашим русским друзьям с наилучшими пожеланиями!

С уважением,

Лара Джейн.
Sylvie wearing the jumper Easter 2011.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Things to thrill Sylvie (Part 2 of 2)

Or, as promised, more excellent children’s holiday activities inspired by Pinterest

I love that Sylvie has included the cute gap in her bottom teeth in her drawing!

Here are 3 more ideas inspired by my Pinterest board, Things to thrill Sylvie.  Take a look at Part 1 of this blog to read about why I think Pinterest is a wonderful resource for children and if you haven't already had a look, why Pinterest is a modern wonder, that you need to treat yourself to.

Send someone a hug

I love this idea, such a sweet sentiment and so simple to facilitate for your child.

Next time you visit Ikea, make sure you pick up a Mala paper roll (or two).

So useful, Ikea's paper rolls.

You can find them in the children’s section at Ikea.  Those of us who annually have a quick browse through the newly released Ikea catalogue will be familiar with this Ikea staple item, but may have overlooked its’ usefulness.  The paper is quite strong and smooth and has a good key for drawing and is thick enough to absorb paint without disintegrating before drying.  It’s good to cut up for papier mache and is strong enough to make good folded paper hats that are able to withstand a few hours of play.

To help out with the “hug”, I’ll trace Sylvie’s body outline (with outstretched arms) and ask her to illustrate the interior so it resembles her.

I've used a pencil to trace out Sylvie's outline.

We’ll roll it up and mail it in a cardboard roll with a note explaining it’s a special “hug”.  Good for relatives and loved ones who live or work far away.  You could go as far as videoing your child colouring in the shape and emailing the hug recipient with the video attached, explaining that:
‘a “hug” is in the mail on its’ way to you, you’ll have it soon so keep an eye out for the postman!’

Sylvie's favourite jumper, her box of pastels and her completed self portrait or 'hug'.

The other brilliant thing about the paper roll is…

Paper roll drawings.

Sylvie is positively mad for them and has drawn city scapes; scenes from the zoo, underwater scenes and, in her latest paper roll drawings, a whole series of dinosaur species.

At 4 metres long, it is difficult to photograph!  Here it is stretched out on the deck outside.

You will need:
Ikea roll of paper
Masking tape
I recommend pastels to draw with for younger children

Find a spot in your house where the flooring is a hard, flat surface with a reasonable amount of space.  Tape the two corners of the paper to the floor or use a heavy book to hold down the edge.  Roll out the paper to the length desired and… ready, set, go…. draw!

Smaller children delight in lying on the paper whilst you draw their body’s outline.  They leap up happily to see ‘how big they are’.  You can then ask them to draw their clothes and faces, works a treat every time.

And if you haven't don’t forget for more drawing fun to have a look at my post:

Papier mache hot air balloon

Sylvie's hot air balloon, complete with Mr Mouse as passenger.

Blow up a balloon, papier mache one layer, let dry, add a cut off end of a toilet paper roll to the lower end of the balloon with a little masking tape, and cover the balloon in a second layer of papier mache.  Let dry.  Give the balloon a third layer of papier mache if you judge it is required.  Let dry.

Paint the entire balloon white and let dry.

Let your child go wild decorating the balloon.  You might want to Google ‘hot air balloons’ for some decorating inspiration to help your child decide how they want to paint their balloon.

Grab your hot glue gun and some kitchen twine.  Two long lengths of twine (and one extra length for hanging tied in the centre) glued at the top of the balloon and then strung down to secure any old container to form the hot air balloon’s basket.  Find a special toy and take it for a hot air balloon ride!

PS.  After play, looks charming hung near a window.

Googly eyes alien mask

The googly eyes alien mask with scary black mouth.

As an adult, I can’t ascertain the allure of the googly eye, but I know children find them highly amusing.  Is it the gentle rattle they make?  Is it the simple representation of an eyeball?  Is it the plain bold black and white graphic element? 

The Things to thrill Sylvie Pinterest board features a number of googly eye projects, that have literally, caught Sylvie’s eye.

A googly eye alien mask is my twist on the googly eye picture frame from Pinterest and one that I know will be a winner for Sylvie.  Yes, it defines silly, but I think that is part of the appeal.

Ask your child to draw a crazy alien mask shape on the back of some metallic card (even found in most newsagencies) and cut out the shape.  You can add coloured paper glued on the back to fill in large cut out areas (in this case, the mouth).  (Sylvie settled for black in the end).

Googly eyes can be found at 'Spotlight' stores in Australia.

Use a brush to dob on a small glob of PVA glue and then add a googly eye and keep going.  This can be in a random fashion, or going from small to large, it’s up to the child.  The glue needs to dry completely before making holes on either side and adding elastic. Silly googly eyes mask games will then begin.  Guaranteed.

Happy school holidays!

The googly alien mask with pink jaws.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

“Star, Cloud and Crystal Lake”

Or, a sneak peek at a brand-new painting finished just yesterday.

"Star, Cloud and Crystal Lake"
Graeme Townsend
Acrylic on canvas, 91 cm x 1700 cm

For your enjoyment, "Star, Cloud and Crystal Lake". 

GT finished this painting yesterday afternoon and it is now being transported to Sydney to the Christopher Day Gallery. 

Click here to visit the Christopher Day Gallery site

The birds are Purple Swamphens; they are waterbirds and live predominantly where they can access low-lying waters.  Their feathers really do have that fabulous blue hue and super red beak.  They are a little larger than a Bantam and a little smaller than a chicken.  Their long legs and toes are for picking their way through vegetation.  So very elegant and noble, and a favourite bird of Graeme’s, he has featured many of these Purple Swamphens in his paintings over the years.

Before the Internet was around (Graeme has been painting for over 30 years), GT relied on his huge collection of books for source material.  One book that was a star performer, and remains a “go-to” for information is “The Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds”.

Dusty and paint smeared, the cover of GT's copy of The Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds.

GT’s copy has a paint-smeared cover, and is suffering from the effects of overspray from the airbrush he uses (rendering most items in the studio a sheer matte grey with a dusty-feeling finish, including the books stacked in shelves), the back cover has, from over-use, been wrenched from the spine and many pages are, naturally, complete with artist’s doodles.

You can read more about the Purple Swamphen in the scan I took from the book, and note well, yes, the doodles… (hint, the feet)...

Click on the image if you want to see it in a larger size

Before you leave this post, take a moment to look carefully at the painting again and notice the beautiful reflection of the cloud and star in the water.  So serene and peaceful.

Wishing you, the reader, a beautiful, serene and peaceful day.

Lara Jane.