The star

It is December 24th, and I will let my darling nephew take care of this post.

My sister made this fantastic advent calendar. I just love it - and I am so impressed.
She has the patience for the embroidery and trimming a piece of burlap with fine gingham fabric,
sewing on the dozens of little hooks, and all that.
That is so admirable.

I am more of the quick-quick-results-results-NOW-please kind of DIY'er, but I wish I had more
stamina. Maybe in time, who knows. Anyway, I love this kind of advent calendar, where you put
on a little ornament every day - and the finishing touch is the star, of course.

With that, I wish you all a very merry christmas.


Window dressing

Better late than never, I say. Our window is now inhabited by a sort of global peace and harmony picnic.
Zebras, christmas elves and penguins are joyfully singing along.

I made the tree backdrop the other day, not thinking that the cone trees were enough.
So if you are up to a bit of last minute christmas landscaping in the window, I give you  
a row of suitable trees right here. Print them on heavy paper, 120 g. or more, if you have it.

The little clay boy next to the zebra is piece of artwork, by Morten Jacobsen, my brother-in-law.
He made these crude clay castings of fine porcelain figurines from his childhood home in his  
Memorabilia project, and I was very thrilled to find a small wolly hat for him.
So right now he is a part of another art installation, of sorts. Very mixed media.
He will be released again after christmas.


The tree

Well, okay, not that tree. But one of my favourite seasonal ones. It is on Gustav Adolfs Torg in Malmö,
where I spent most of the day, and this particular light installation has adorned it in december for some
years. I love it, and I wish I had come up with the idea. You see so many clever ways of using light and
color this time of year, but I think this one is particularly charming.

My himmeli

Here it is - and it was such fun making it!
I have made a long boring explanation somewhere else, should any of you like to give it a try.
It's right here. Now I'll just go to bed, and consider my days work done.


Crazy project? Well, we'll see.

I have decided to make myself a himmeli...!

Not being able to get hold of proper straw in the middle of winter (and, frankly not quite sure which
kind to use, is it supposed to be wheat or rye..? It is not that obvious, when you read about them, but
I'll find out later!) - so I found myself a couple of bags of narrow plastic straws. Now, even these were
not that easy to find, since all supermarkets seem only to carry the rather large, wide ones.
But in a specialty party shop I found some okay white ones, with mixed pastel stripes. These will do
for now, and I will make this a practise workshop, and get back to the proper material next year.

If you are not as determined to drive yourself nuts as I sometimes am, there are modern versions of
himmeli to be purchased, for instance in the Etsy shop AM RADIO. And they are beautiful!

Right now I have little bits of plastic straw all over the place. I made a kind of a loose sketch, and am
now cutting all the dozens and dozens of fairly accurately measured little tubes, and found some thin,
strong and red cotton thread, I think will be suitable.

I am very exited about the project, and hope to post a grrreat plastic himmeli tomorrow. Perhaps?

So you must imagine something like this... Well, sort of like this.


Ombré Schlombré

It has been impossible to miss this trend, if you like to browse the fashion blogs every now
and then, like I do. I had never heard this slightly pretentious word before - ombré, oh la la -
but in fact it just means 'shaded', as far as my rather poor French will take me.
Or something in that neighbourhood, I guess.

But this effect is something I have always been very fascinated by, and I remember home dyeing
sessions where my friend and I ruined yards of silk chiffon, trying to make something like this.
It ended up just looking slighty blotchy.

Whether you call it ombré or something entirely different, it is quite yummy, and I have been
bookmarking things all summer, and never buying any of them, of course. Here are some....

Vintage kimono, Zara suede bag, Stine Goya t-shirt, Ann Demeulemeester sneakers

Patent leather Prada mules I saw on eBay. Sigh. I would never wear these, but arent they just desserty?
See, I just made up a word there, 'desserty' - but that is exactly what they are. Desserty.

And another Stine Goya dress, from 2010 (she sure was on to something there...)

Last, but not least, is a really useful thing that I think Santa is going to bring my son in a few days.
Lucky him....

'Kebnekaise' bean bag from Little Red Stuga

But I was getting to something entirely different. I have been doing some backgrounds for some
designs, very inspired by this relentless trend. There is a tool in Adobe Illustrator called 'gradient',
that enables you to make such color effects really easily, but it has its limitations, and is a rather
crude tool, in my opinion. So I have been working with simple geometric patterns, and making
up to forty layers in a design, in order to isolate them and be able to gradually adjust the fill color.

This I would call nerdy digital dip dyeing.

As a byproduct I have been using some of these for some of my christmas stuff, and today I just
wanted to give you some plain sheets of these, to wrap small gifts in, or to use for paper crafting.
If you have access to A3 printing, just scale them to fit, but the ones you see here are A4.

The sheets come in a dotty pattern, and one with triangles. Use as you like!

Here are the dotty ones.                 
And here are the triangle pattern ones.


Flaky windows for the very lazy

The snowflake window, which I shared with you the other day here, and showed you last year here, demands that you put in some serious hours. But I found some alternative solutions for the lazy.
And it is so very, very okay to be lazy.

The first quick fix is from a Danish magazine, Alt For Damerne, using paper doilies.
The one in the middle is from Dutch sticker company Studio Haikje.
Tha last one I borrowed from the Danish blog Piger i Provinsen - the one with the masking tape.
I have seen this star in many versions around town, and I have seen fantastic, entire windows done
up in the most stylish way - very islamic architecture, very clever! See for yourself, here...

Making a quick christmas window is easy peasy. Nothing to it, as you can see.
I could easily see this tape idea developed a bit, with the zigzag scissors from the sewing drawer,
or simply cropping the ends diagonally, which would make the design even more starry or flaky.

And then I stumbled upon the Swiss designer Claudia Caviezel, a lady who has taken this media
to a completely new level.

She designed these patterns for room dividers in the Zürich airport business lounge.
And they are - masking tape stuck directly on enormous, layered glass panels! Cool.

Straw mobiles

Back in december 2005 I took this picture of a beautifully laid christmas table at Skansen in
Stockholm, in the museum village. It was the first time I noticed this kind of straw decoration -
a sort of cubic straw construction forming a lovely, fragile mobile, moving and twirling by the slightest
draft from the door, or in the heat from the candles. As you can see, it was trimmed with small, red
woolen tassles - and I found it just lovely.

Later on I did some research, and found that these decorations are found in variations in most of
Scandinavia, though I personally have never seen them in Denmark. Straw was always
a symbol of a lot of different magical and religious aspects - many to do with harvest, fertility, and 
wealth of course, but straw is also said to represent the struggle against dark forces. 
In various parts of Scandinavia, some bundles of the very first or the very last (both seem to be 
particularly auspicious) corn to be harvested, were kept in the house, and sometimes twisted to form 
a kind of doll, that would keep the household safe from the devil.

We also know of straw animals, wreaths, and such - and they seem to have become especially connected
to christmas, even though they were originally to do with winter, darkness and the winter solstice.

These fantastic mobiles are made of long straw stems, soaked in water for strenght and carefully
dried - and strung on thin thread in all these wonderful prismatic diamond shapes. They are sometimes 
done up with paper roses, metal tinsel, dried berries, strips of fabric or, as above, wool tassels.

In Finland, they are called Himmeli - derived from the word 'himmel' that means 'heaven' in both 
German and the Scandinavian languages. My research leads me to the conclusion that they tend to
be more undadorned in Finland, more basic - and that I find especially charming, I think. 
In Finland, they also seem to be a christmas thing only (nowadays), whereas I find that they are made
for many occations in Sweden (and please tell me if I am wrong, as I am only an amateur
historian, and I would always love to know more about such things!).

Let me show you some stunning Himmeli:

Top: By Flickr user 'sjwhidden'
Middle: modern Himmeli from www.mums.fi
Last: source unknown, but I believe this one is from Norway.

In Sweden I have seen many variations of these Halmkronor or Oro, as the Swedes call them.
They are made for weddings, baptisms, easter, and - of course - christmas.
Some look a lot like the Himmeli, but others are very romatic and baroque - and also fantastic!

This particular man, Per-Åke Backman, from Leksand in northern Sweden, is a bit of a straw 
crafting legend. His website is here - and below a series of mobiles, all made by him. 

All five above: mobiles by Per-Åke Backmann (photo: Lennart Edvardsson)


My favourite window

Late yesterday afternoon I took my small camera with me out jogging, in order to document
if my favourite window in the local neighbourhood has gone into christmas mode. I have been
following it patiently, but missed it the last week or so - but I was not dissapointed yesterday.

And I love that they have added red and purple this year, that looks great, usually it's all white.
Really grainy and poor photos, but daylight is almost non existant here in Cph at the moment.

So, as I wrote last year, they do this every year - and it is a seasonal installation that gets completely refreshed every year, so you must imagine that all these exquisite tissue flakes simply gets scrubbed
down some time after New Year in a frenzy of window cleaning.
I like that, somehow. It adds to the elegance of the whole thing.

And since I had my camera with me, I tried to take some evening pictures of all the lights in the
windows - all the stars and fairylights people put up, here in the gloomy Scandinavian winter.
It proved almost impossible, with the small camera, and they got really blurry. But I kind of decided
that I liked that, since it was the greyest of foggy days, so I exaggerated a bit and ended up with these....

They captured the day perfectly.


Candy Garland

It may sound like the stage name of some burlesque showgirl, but is actually a quite fun little project
for a sunday afternoon (and to those who prefer burlesque showdancing this sunday afternoon -  I feel convinced that other blogs cover this topic quite extensively).

There seems to be a certain 3D aspect to all the things I have posted this year, and these little
peppermint candies are no exception. They are very easy to make, and of course they don't
necessarily need to go on a garland, but could be hung individually. I used this very long needle
I have, to string them. It is called a 'dolls needle' in danish, since apparently you need very
long needles for doll making. I have never made a doll in my life, but use this looooong needle for
all sorts of things, so get yourself one of those, if you are a crafty kind of person. Very handy.

Get the peppermint candy PDF thingy right here


'Pappersrader' - Swedish finery

They are called 'pappersrader' - as I mentioned yesterday - and for that I have no intelligent translation,
but it means something like rows of made of paper.
I find them adorable, and have bought several over the years, in museum shops and bookshops.
They even come with easter motifs - and they are used for celebrating graduation as well,
where the table is sometimes decorated with the little folksy dancers (kids in sweden graduating from
high school, sometimes wear their regional festive attire, for the celebrations).

Well, I like the christmassy ones. A couple of them, and some candles, and you are all set.

I have found a couple of good web shops that sell them:



1001 night paper ornaments

You make these pretty things with a little bit of patience and quite a lot of glue (and it is actually quite important that you use the quick drying, water based kind). There is a bit of fiddling around involved in these, but they are worth the effort, I think - and actually very simple.

I made it as easy as I could for you - four different designs on individual sheets to print - any number you prefer, and remember to print both sides! Each decoration (in my photos) is made with eight cutout shapes, folded down center. And basically stuck on a string....

It is perfectly possible to assemble them in simpler ways - for example, stack a couple (but no more than a couple, I think) of the shapes, with a precise line of glue down the middle, and then fold up after they are dry - or use a small stapler (open it up - you know the trick) and staple down the middle, with an old newspaper or something like that underneath (close the staples afterwards).

But I fold each shape, and glue them 1 + 1, and then 2 + 2 and so on. I let them dry in between.
They become more precise, that way. That's nice.

Aren't they just lovely? Get links for the sheets in the end of the post.

1001 night ornament: big grey one
1001 night ornament: big pink patterned one
1001 night ornament: smaller burgundy one
1001 night ornament: smaller black/white patterned one

It's Lucia today

Here are my little cardboard Lucias - they are a Swedish pappersrad ('paper row'...?), and these
are a particular Swedish christmas thing (as is Lucia), I have never seen them of Danish origin.
They are zig zag folded little paper tableaus, to put in your window, perhaps,  or as a centerpiece
on your christmas table - and very sweet. I will get back to you on those later....

Do you know the story...? That, and the recipe for saffron Lucia buns, you can find right here.

They had a Lucia procession in my sons kindergarten yesterday. They didn't remember all the words
of the song, and didn't march very much in time, but the holy Lucia herself must have heard them.