I'm very excited to announce that 'Kingdom of Rooms' written by M. J. Gibbs and Jenny Catalano (and illustrated by myself) has just been published, and is availabe to purchase via the author's website.
With the theme of 'royal palaces' and 'collecting', this fun-to-read-aloud book is full of poems that children will enjoy.
I loved spending time researching and drawing the kinds of things that I think would be in a palace full of interesting bits and pieces - coats of armour, statues, Victorian toys, books and rocking horses... and soooo many peacock feathers!
And luckily for me, I had my boys to help me with ideas when I got stuck like, "The boy on the cover should be roller skating and wearing a knight's helmet". Brilliant!
I created the illustrations using watercolour, pen and ink on paper and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have!
I'm finally creating a downloadable sewing pattern for my snail soft sculpture!
There are snail prototypes all over the place here, and not just on my desk (pictured below). I have made so many snails, after first creating my design back in 2013, but offering it as a sewing pattern means I now have to make a proper template! So I'm tweaking and perfecting the shape, size and design.
I'm at the last stage of sewing pattern production, which is photographing the steps, so my snail sewing pattern will be available via my online store by early March. I'll notify via my email newsletter and social media as soon as it's ready to download.
*EDIT - my snail sewing pattern is now available to download via my online store *
I took the photo above, years ago, upon discovering this little drawing on my work table. My family and I are fascinated by snails and have a very large (and growing) collection of huge snail shells. We live in a sub-tropical region of Australia, with rainforests nearby - where we regularly find the giant panda snail.
I decided that my doll house needed a Christmas tree... because, why not?
My boys made the presents under the tree by wrapping some little cardboard shapes with patterned washi tape. I found the tiny battery-powered fairy lights at my local dollar store and the 'holly' on the stairs was picked from my garden (it's not holly, it's a native Australian shrub with these tiny holly-like leaves).
This tiny pretend lounge room is permanently set up like this (minus the Christmas things) and includes a crocheted granny square as a rug (made by me) and a vintage green velvet sofa (found second-hand), that I would absolutely put in my own house, with a doily draped over the back. I made the round velvet cushions.
Also, if you own a dollshouse, you'll know that the best part is looking through the tiny windows to see the miniature world inside :)
If you like, you can see more blog posts featuring my dollshouse by clicking on ' dollhouse' in my blog categories.
I hope you all have a happy and safe holdiday this year and a terrific New Year.
I've just restocked my little illustrated holiday greeting card packs. The cards feature three of my watercolour illustrations - all pine tree / Christmas tree themed of course!
They're available to purchase via my online store, are ready to post straight away and are sustainably packaged.
Obviously there are quite significant postal delays right now, due to the pandemic, so holiday mail will have to go out a lot sooner than usual, to arrive by Christmas.
The estimated delivery time for these cards to reach you is up to ten business days within Australia, and up to four weeks outside of Australia. Plenty of time!
I've shared photos of my sewing table here so many times but I don't think I've ever really shown you where I spend the other part of my working life... this desk on the other side of my work room / studio.
This is where I draw and paint - mostly with watercolour but sometimes with oils or acrylic paint. It looks out into our garden and holds all my precious bits and pieces for illustrating or designing. I found the old desk second-hand and I absolutely love it... lots of drawers and cupboards underneath and it even has a secret compartment (don't tell my kids).
Author Marg Gibbs and I were recently interviewed by the lovely Romi Sharp for the Just Write for Kids blog, about the making of our new book 'Goose at the Gate'.
You can read the interview here and watch a short video trailer all about this fun book of poetry for kids. Enjoy!
I've been working on a new group of dolls over the past few weeks, and they are almost finished. They will be available to purchase via my online store from 10 am Tuesday 22 September - Sydney time (AEST - Australian Eastern Standard Time).
*The doll pictured in the bottom row will not be for sale.
All three dolls are handmade (by me) from reclaimed fabrics and stuffed with wool. They're not intended as a toy for small children due to delicate hand-stitching, but rather a little art piece to display. Each doll is around 25 cm tall and is priced from AU$400 + shipping (worldwide).
My dolls sometimes sell out fast so be sure to move through the checkout process quickly, as I don't have a reserved cart on my website. Again, they will be available in my online store from 10 am (AEST) Tuesday 22 September.
I hope you like them.
My Covid lockdown period earlier this year was spent creating illustrations for a new children's poetry book by author Margaret Gibbs (and home-schooling my kids and designing elephant dolls), This is the kind of thing I've been wanting to do FOREVER and I had so much fun illustrating Margaret's gorgeous poems.
'Goose at the Gate' includes 40 poems for kids, along with a collection of my watercolour illustrations and Margaret's own bright and colourful collages. And it's out now!
'Goose at the Gate' is available to purchase here.
I'm having fun designing new elephant dolls (which are now available as a sewing pattern). Right now I'm trying to perfect their elephant heads by sewing prototype after prototype... using the fabric from an old bed sheet.
This is my favourite stage of soft toy design - looking at pictures of baby elephants, trying out different shapes, testing the scale of the trunk / ears etc... trunk up or trunk down (I've decided to include an option for both). Lots of fun and also a bit of a brain strain, and I'm happy to report that they're coming along nicely.
These guys will be similar to my other animal dolls that can be downloaded as sewing patterns. I also have patterns to sew their little overalls, dresses and coats.
* Edit / update... the digital sewing pattern for my elephant soft toys is now available to download and print. Happy sewing!
As most of us are staying at home right now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought I'd offer this soft sculpture / embroidery tutorial as a *free download ... in case you're looking for something to do.
(*Free for a limited time only)
It's also a great beginner sewing project for school children - for those of you at home with kids (me included). You can sew these using the sewing machine or by hand, and then decorate them with some simple embroidery stitches.
The pattern includes instructions for stuffed fabric star, tree and round ornaments which are easy to sew, make great presents and look lovely hung on a garland or mobile (or anywhere really). I've put together some simple instructions, photos, an illustrated embroidery stitch library and templates. You can download the PDF sewing pattern here, for free*, ready for you to print at home.
I hope you enjoy making these. You'll find more Willowynn sewing patterns available to download here.
*Hanging ornament digital sewing pattern is free until end of August 2020.
My boys and I found an old dollhouse at our local tip shop a while ago. It was in pretty poor shape so we took it apart, cleaned it up, painted it and made tiny floor boards out of paddle-pop sticks (more about that here).
We've (I've) had so much fun collecting the odd bit of dollhouse furniture from op shops (thrift stores), making our own furniture and adding bits and pieces here and there - like my old watch for a wall clock, postage stamp pictures, corks for chairs etc. Last weekend I made some new bedclothes for the bed, cushions for the couch and little curtains... and spent a weekend blissfully arranging everything in the little house... all the while imagining how much I would have loved this as a child. I've even installed little lights...
Now I just have to make a tiny version of my dolls to live in it :)
I'll have a group of three new dolls available to purchase via my online store from 10 am, Friday 28th February (Australian Eastern Daylight time - AEDT).
All three dolls are handmade (by me) from reclaimed fabrics and stuffed with wool. They're not intended as a toy for small children due to delicate hand-stitching, but rather a little art piece to display. Each doll is around 25 cm tall and is priced from AU$380 + shipping.
My dolls sometimes sell out fast so be sure to move through the checkout process quickly! Again, they will be available in my online store from 10 am (AEDT) Friday 28th February at 10 am.
I hope you like them.
I've been looking for a more eco-friendly / plastic-free way to package my sets of greeting cards, postcards and art prints. Up until now I've used the standard resealable 'cello sleeve' to protect my card sets and prints when posting out to customers, thinking that these were cellophane and made of cellulose (plants). A couple of weeks ago, I ran out so went to order some more and found that, here in Australia, the resealable 'cello sleeves' are mostly not cellulose at all, but plastic. In fact, I read that (correct me if I'm wrong) if they are resealable (in Australia), they are almost certainly plastic.
As I'm trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use, I had to find a new way to package my cards for mailing to customers. So I did a bit of research and here's what I discovered...
Compostable, cellophane bags
These are made from biodegradable cellulose, which is a product made from plant fiber. Just make sure they are not plastic and that they are definitely made from cellulose (plants). The bags come in a range of sizes, look and feel like plastic but can be home composted. I couldn't find any that self-seal here in Australia (lots overseas but I'm trying to shop local) so ordered some open cellophane bags at Buy Eco Green. I just use my logo sticker (paper) to seal the bag, and I think they look great. You could even use a bit of washi tape (made from paper, see below) or tie some twine or cotton string around the whole thing.
Glassine paper envelopes
Glassine is a specially pressed, smooth, shiny and transparent paper that is apparently water, air and grease proof. Much stronger than tissue paper and doesn't tear easily. It's also acid free and PH neutral so is perfect for storing precious artworks, photographs and collectible stamps.
You can buy it in sheets for wrapping, or as envelopes or bags. I ordered small glassine envelopes for packaging my card sets. I think they look really sweet and I love that they're completely compostable and recyclable - I'd love them even more if they were made from recycled paper.
Plastic sticky tape has always made me feel uncomfortable. Every Christmas morning as a child, I would try to take the sticky tape off all of the used wrapping paper strewn across the living room floor, before either carefully smoothing and folding the paper, or putting the un-salvageable paper in the recycling bin (a big job in a family with five kids). But what do you do with the sticky tape??? I guess you could put it in with the soft plastics recycling at your supermarket (if you have that in your area) but even that concerns me. What did we do before sticky tape?
Some alternatives to plastic sticky tape:
Mailing bags and envelopes
Tough paper or rigid cardboard mailers and envelopes are great as they can be composted or recycled (as long as there's no plastic tape). You can even go one step further by re-using old mailers. I keep my my used cardboard mailers (and my local post office holds on to their used mailers for me). I'm a bit over particular about how things look so I've started turning mine inside-out and making new tough envelopes for mailing my card sets to customers (see pics below). I find it fun :)
Of course, larger items can be mailed in used cardboard boxes, but I'll be trying to avoid the plastic tape from now on (see above). And, while I'm on the topic of larger items, I'm always torn as to whether or not I should use the plastic bubble wrap that I've been hoarding from parcels I've received in the mail. I do use it to protect some of my soft sculptures when posting, hoping that the recipient will then re-use it and that it will be used over and over in this way. Maybe that's wishful thinking. I guess I could put it in with the soft plastics recycling... and find an alternative.
Anyway, these are my thoughts on the packaging I'll now use for my cards (and other things) and I hope it's been helpful. Maybe you'd like to share some ideas that I haven't thought of, or correct me if I've got anything wrong! I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.
This year I've spent spare moments here and there, creating watercolour paintings that represent the Christmas of my childhood imagination. I've just had them made into holiday cards which you can purchase in sets of three or six, via my online store.
Ironically, Christmas here in Australia does not look like the Christmas of my childhood imagination (or these cards). I guess all of the Christmas stories, movies and images I enjoyed as a child were set in the northern hemisphere - hence the snow, pine forests and foxes in my illustrations.
I promise next year, I will paint wallabies and wombats gazing at a decorated Eucalyptus tree... and probably no snow :)
The Forest issue of the beautiful Making magazine is out this month. It's more like a book than a magazine and is full of amazing knitting, sewing and craft projects. And I'm extra excited for this issue as I've contributed a sewing pattern for a simplified version of my fabric mushrooms! These mushrooms / toadstools have velvet or linen tops and feature embroidered gills (rather than the more advanced pleated gills in my other mushroom sewing pattern). They're very easy to sew and I hope you love making them.
To get your copy of the Forest issue of Making magazine, go to www.makingzine.com to subscribe, order online or find a stockist near you.
*Edit* - As this issue of Making Magazine is no longer available, you can now access this mushroom sewing pattern in my online store.
I've been happily working away on a commission for vegetable drawings this month, which will be used to illustrate recipes. Such a satisfying job and so nice to have a little break from sewing. Here is a selection of the images I've finished using pen and water colour.
I'm making the finishing touches to my latest group of tiny dolls this week. They will be available to purchase via my online store Friday 23 August, from 10 am (Sydney time - AEST).
These ladies have taken me almost two months to complete. I think I'm getting slower! I have been working on some other things in that time though, so I guess that's ok. I wish I could make a lot more each year, than I seem to be able to manage...
Each doll measures around 20 cm and is handmade from carefully salvaged second-hand and vintage fabric and firmly stuffed with wool. Bearing a small 'Willowynn' logo hand-drawn onto the inside of one leg, each doll comes with a small signed, dated and letter-pressed certificate of authenticity, in a recycled cardboard gift box made my myself.
Please be aware that my dolls are intended for display only and are not suitable as a toy for young children; due to delicate hand stitching, hair and small buttons.
They are priced from AU$380 each + shipping from Australia. I should also point out that I (regrettably) don't have a reserved cart in my online store. So you'll need to move quickly through the checkout process!
I designed a simple barn owl stuffed toy years ago which has been one of my most popular soft toys. I think I've made hundreds of them and have even adapted it to create a larger, more sculptural clawed barn owl that also has wings - which I still make today.
Anyway, I've decided that it's time to offer my little barn owl softie as a digital sewing pattern, so that you can enjoy making them for your little ones. Their cute Babushka-like shape reminds me of the shape of a chubby penguin, so my sewing pattern also includes templates and instructions for making penguins!
I've spent the past couple of months designing the penguin soft toy and putting together a new sewing pattern for both of them. It is now available to download via my online store.
Of all the embroidery and hand-stitches, ladder stitch is the one I use the most. It's how I close up all of my soft toys, dolls and soft sculpture, sew on extremities like ears and tails and attach tiny sleeves to doll dresses.
I recommend ladder stitch in all of my soft toy sewing patterns and, as I am often asked how to sew a ladder stitch, I thought it was time I filmed a little demonstration for you.
Please excuse the poor quality, my less than lovely gardening nails and the sound of macadamia nuts being harvested on the farm across the road!
If the seam turns out a little puckered (as it has in my demo), you can go back over it with a second row of ladder stitch to smooth it out, or just make your stitches a bit closer together.
I also drew a diagram (below)...
I hope that helps!
To celebrate International Womens day this year (March 8) I decided to make a collection of cloth dolls inspired by the suffragettes of the early 1900's who campaigned and fought for the right for women to vote.
They are wearing Edwardian-style clothing and 'Votes for Women' sashes, in the suffragette colours.
All three dolls will be available to purchase via my online store from 8 pm Monday 11th March (Australian eastern daylight time - AEDT). Each doll is between 20cm - 25cm tall and costs AU$380 + shipping from Australia.
Here are some recent pictures of my work table this past month or so... doll making can be a messy business but also provides me with some surprisingly funny little scenes, when I walk into my sewing room / cabin of a morning.
The art prints of my paintings 'The fox and the Crow' (inspired by the Aesop fable) are now available to purchase in my online store. Hooray! I'm so happy with the way they turned out. They are professionally printed on the most beautiful art paper and are available in two sizes.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas. I hope that the new year brings you peace and maybe something exciting.
I made this little painting of a fox and owl enjoying a Christmas tree in a snowy forest, as a card for my children. We are in Australia so Christmas doesn't look like this for us, but this is the Christmas I dreamed of as a child. Next year it will be a wombat and wallaby gazing at a decorated gum tree :)
A free afternoon for a little bit of painting. I'd like to be hanging out in the shade under that tree right now :)
This painting is now available to purchase as an art print.
After a few requests, I thought I'd demonstrate an easy technique for turning out very narrow sewn shapes for stuffing, with a short video demonstration (below), If you have ever tried to sew and stuff really tiny doll legs, arms or the stalks in my mushroom sewing pattern, you will know how tricky and seemingly impossible it is.
I've found a brilliant technique for doing this with ease, using a drinking straw and something long, small and pointy - like a small crochet / knitting needle or skewer.
Hello and welcome...
My name is Margeaux Davis and I make cloth dolls, soft sculptures and sewing patterns. I also dabble in the odd bit of illustration.