Friday, January 31, 2014


photo by Keri Bevan

Today I travel to Boston to hop a flight to LA tomorrow morning. I have not been home since Christmas 2012, and it is about time. 60-70 degree temps here I come!

The shop will be open during my trip, and all orders placed while I am away will ship during the week of Feb. 11-14 when I return. I will also be holding a 45% off sale on Valentine's Day, so stay tuned for that. Take care everyone :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Behind the Scenes with oh, albatross

A handful of shops on Etsy have completely captured my imagination, keeping me coming back week after week just to check in and see what's new. Today I am so honored to share a behind the scenes look into one such Etsy favorite, oh, albatross.

For those of you who have yet to discover this gem of a shop, you are in for a treat today. In addition to stocking her shop with impeccably curated vintage treasures, owner Regina Groleau produces a line of the most perfect soft sculpture animals, each one unique and made by hand from vintage fabrics, needle, and thread. From birds and foxes, to owls and polar bears, Regina is somehow able to give each creation its own unique personality.

A little while back I got in touch with Regina to see if she would share the details of her process and a peek into her work space. Below is the interview along with a few shots from Regina's beautiful, light filled work space in her swoon-worthy brand new house that she and her husband just finished building and moved into earlier this month.

Little Dog: When did you start making soft sculpture animals and how did the first one come about?

oh, albatross: Some time back in 2008 or so, I had the strangest urge to sew an animal. I had no pattern or planning process, just a strong desire to see what would happen with a needle, thread and a few scraps of fabric. I made a tiny green mouse. I named him Henri. He was nothing short of a disaster. A few days later, I tried again.

Little Dog: Can you talk a little bit about the creative process for making a new animal? Where does your inspiration come from?

oh, albatross: Stories, fables, folklore and myths are a huge source of inspiration for me. Both solemn and sweet, they are threads woven into our everyday experience. Strong cultural totems like Zuni fetishes are a great source on how we view animals and imbue them with certain traits. And classic illustrations seem to stick with me for years, and I’m slowly coming to understand how often they provide an archetype for how I view different kinds of animals. I do keep a list of descriptions of animals to work to or feelings to express. (For instance, I had a strong need to make a fox who found a spiderweb. It was a piece I loved dearly and an idea I may have to revisit soon.)

Little Dog: Do you create patterns or prototypes for animals, or just start from scratch and keep going until the animal feels right?

oh, albatross: Both, really. I very often prototype, but I find that the shapes change quite a bit with each different fabric. The direction of the fabric and the amount of stretch in a fabric can create very different shapes, even from the same patterns. I’ve learned to embrace those changes and work with them. I love to see how the stances change or the heads twist…it’s a very nice way to meet a new animal.

Little Dog: Where do your materials come from?

oh, albatross: I love working with vintage fabrics (though I can never pass up a good linen remnant at the fabric store). In my vintage collecting forays I’m always keeping an eye out for fabric. Estate sales, private collections and vintage clothing have been wonderful sources. It sometimes kills me to cut up a perfectly good wool skirt, but when it’s the exact right color for a fox, I get over it in the end. (On the flip side, I’ve been known to rescue almost destroyed linen shirts, or moth-holed knits, because that worn texture is truly lovely and impossible to recreate.) 

Little Dog: There is a wonderful likeness-without-being-too-literal that your animals have. Is this an intuition that flows easily through your fingers, or do you spend a lot of time experimenting and tweaking to get the expressions and proportions just right?

oh, albatross: I’m always drawn to simplified art that indicates a movement or expression rather than hammers you over the head with an overly detailed rendition. Particularly when sewing facial expressions, I find less is much more. It doesn’t take more than one thread in the wrong place to make an animal look angry or startled. I always liken it to a slow form of people watching, every stitch creates a whole new expression.

Little Dog: On average, how long does it take you to make each animal?

oh, albatross: Oh, goodness... hours and hours, really. It’s a question I’ve never been able to pin down an answer to as I tend to have several animals in the works at once. The nice part about a rotating menagerie is that if I’m unsure how I want to detail a fox or a rabbit, I can let them sit there au natural until I’ve figured exactly who they want to be.

Little Dog: What's next for Oh, Albatross handmade? You had a One King's Lane sale this year. Any fun projects or collaborations scheduled for the future?

oh, albatross: 2013 was a year full of experimentation for me and I hope 2014 will bring some of the same interesting opportunities! I did a cover project for Mollie Makes magazine that came out in January, and I’ve been working with selling via different websites or providing collections for small brick and mortar stores. I’ve also been designing pieces for Christmas collections…but it’s so hard to think about next winter already! Right now I’m settling into new studio space, digging through piles of fabrics, and enjoying working on both old favorites and some new pieces too!

If you'd like to see more from Oh Albatross, head on over to her shop or check out her beautiful and thoughtful blog. Thanks for giving us a small look into your world, Regina, and best of luck in 2014!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A New Trail

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past weeks, guys. Truth be told, nothing particularly exciting has been happening around here. We're taking a break from house projects, focusing on getting back to work. Josh opened an office to see chiropractic and nutritional patients in town, and I've been spending a lot of time in the barn, stoking the stove to stay warm and tackling my huge pile of half-finished projects. Fear not, though, we've got a long list of outdoor gardening and earthworks projects lined up for the spring, including creating a tiered landscape along our entire hillside, digging a pond, and a million other ideas.

The snow keeps a'coming, and Josh has been taking lots of walks through the woods with Fern. This week he checked out the new trail cleared by our neighbors that connects our road to the barn on their property. The barn houses a zebra (yes, you read that right), cat, pony, and a number of other barn animals I have heard about but not seen. Once over the summer the zebra and his posse got free and came over to our yard. We weren't around at the time and they were rounded up before we returned home, so I was pretty confused about how a pony sized dump ended up on our driveway until I heard about the "jail break." Country problems :) Anyway, the trail is nice and wide with a gentle grade perfect for walks, cross country skiing, and four wheeling (a popular pastime around here). Riley and I joined this morning and I snapped a few phone shots along the way. The landscape is bleak this time of year, but I love the rusty red color of the bare branches jutting out out of the fresh snow. There's a real beauty to it all.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Polar Vortex, Etc.

As you all know by now, this polar vortex weather system has been a real doozy. Temps here are ranging from the negative double digits to the low 20s. This winter we are heating the house with wood, so stoking and monitoring the stove in the basement has become a most important activity. On the very cold days (teens and below) the stove needs to blast all day if we want any hope of a hot shower and a warm house. On warmer (20s and up) days we can get away with stoking it just a few times a day and closing the door for a low, slow burn.

The gauge on the top of the stove lets us know how we are doing, and I am constantly monitoring the dial. When both hands are in the red, we get a hot shower :)

Little Riley stays in the house all day following the sun as it moves across the floor.

Fern is unfazed by the temps and hangs out with me in the barn while I package and photograph items for the shop.

I've also set a goal for myself to get through my growing pile of rehab projects over the winter while thrifting opportunities are more limited. Does anyone else have a problem with hoarding things that need to be fixed? I have at least a dozen lamps that need reworking and rewiring, a wood drawer box that needs a new top, a mid century plant stand that needs a new piece of wood, an apothecary drawer refinishing project, metal boxes that need stripping, two stools that need refinishing and reupholstering, an old typewriter that needs a thorough cleaning, and probably a dozen other random updates.  This is a small section of the "need to rework" pile:

It will be a good day when that counter is clear, not because I've moved the pile to another section of the shop, but because everything has been fixed and sold!

Josh has been busy setting up a new office space in town. The original plan was to see patients exclusively at the house, but we recently discovered that office space in the center of town is incredibly affordable, so he sprang on a prime location office. It's a pretty sweet little spot on the the main drag in town up one floor from the street. It was really fun spending last week cleaning and painting the space and setting it up with new furniture and all of his supplies. I enjoyed looking out the window and seeing the hustle and bustle on the street, hearing the sound of voices and cars moving by. Just that little bit of activity means so much to me these days.

Tomorrow I head down to Amherst, MA to do some thrifting and help a friend build a portfolio website for his artwork. Looking forward to a little road trip and a slight break from these temps. The forecast is calling for 55 degrees in Amherst on Saturday. Wahoo!

Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Make it Yours via Etsy

Today's Make It Yours via Etsy inspiration photo comes from the interior design eye-candy mecca that is the Blood and Champagne blog. If you like browsing photos of interiors and haven't stumbled upon this gem yet, do yourself a favor and head on over. The cozy Pendleton-esque bed blanket drew me to this photo, what with our temps in the negative double digits in Vermont this week. The rest of the details -- a rustic side table, modern sconce lamp with Edison bulb, and ombre pillow -- were easy finds on Etsy. Enjoy!

Handwoven Mexican Blanket, Vdingy White Oak Sconce Lamp, Worley's Lighting
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Timber Side Table, Real Woodworks 1 Hand Dyed Pillow Cover, Nonpareil Home

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Little Dog on The Nice Niche

Happy new year! I feel honored to be kicking off the year with a feature on the Nice Niche, a site run by designer Ryan Salinetti dedicated to showcasing the unique stories and work of artists, crafters, and small businesses. The article covers our move to Vermont and a bit about my vintage shop. Head on over to The Nice Niche to check out the full article.

Thank you Ryan!