Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring out the old, Ring in the new

Photo of my son, airborne at the bike park. 
I've come to realize that BMX biking isn't only speed or tricks for the lads, it's poetry in motion, "with hope in their hearts and wings on their heels". Not a bad way to start the new year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas Day 2012
Here is the tree assembled, 24 Advent windows plus a few trimmings.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twenty-fourth day of Advent - Away in a Manger

Day 24 of Advent 
(Child in the Manger from Grandmother's Tree)
"The Child in the manger looks up through the sparkling branches..."
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Twenty-second Day of Advent - Anticipation

Day 22 of Advent
 (Teddy and Dolly Darlings, Grandmother's Tree)
These very dolls are on my tree, three of Hasbro's "Dolly Darlings" that were manufactured from 1965-68.  Every little girl in the neighbourhood seemed to have at least one.  We sometimes took them along to school, safely tucked in a coat pocket.  As in Grandmother's Tree, they have been roused from their year-long slumber to take their place with the other ornaments.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twenty-first day of Advent - Fear Not

Day 21 of Advent
(One of a series of self-published Christmas card designs)
"Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven's all gracious King.."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twentieth Day of Advent - Angels We Have Heard on High

Day 20 of Advent
(Angels  from Grandmother's Tree)
A chorus of angels for the tree, which is getting pretty full.

Cross-stitched Advent calendar, from Grandmother's Tree
The Advent calendar that was weighted with sweets just three weeks ago is lighter now, and the Holy family is getting closer to the stable, as are the figures of the wise men and the shepherds.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nineteenth Day of Advent - Getting There

Day 19 of Advent
("Here Comes Santa Claus" card)
Originally painted for Carlton Cards in 1987, the moose-riding Santa card surely gets around.  At last night's Christmas concert by the Orpheus Choir of Toronto this image was projected onto a large screen as part of the slide show that complemented the beautiful music and readings. 
Wishing you all safe travels, whether by land, air or flying moose.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eighteenth Day of Advent - Style and Grace

Day 18 of Advent
(Fan rondels from Woodland Nutcracker)
More incidental pretties from Woodland Nutcracker, this time painted-silk  fans to complement the Spanish Dance scene.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seventeenth Day of Advent - Worlds within Worlds

Day 17 of Advent
(Mother Bear's plates,  rondels from Woodland Nutcracker)
Stories within  stories - illustrators create a whole world for the characters they portray.  In the background of any scene are photos on the wall, views through the window, books on a shelf.  We can't help it, it goes with the territory.   The Bear family of the Woodland books have a cottage, which would naturally have Mother Bear's pretty things in it, hence these two Watteau-inspired plate-rondels with summer scenes of carefree bears revelling in nature's gentler mood.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sixteenth Day of Advent - Cake and Kindness

 Day 16 of Advent
(Mouse rondel from Woodland Nutcracker)
The mice have barely a page about themselves in the Nutcracker story and yet they play a pivotal role, for  without them how would Clara have her magical adventure?
So they deserve their cake, and a bit of kindness too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fifteenth Day of Advent - Christmas Past and Present

Day 15 of Advent
(Swiss dolls from Grandmother's Tree)
"The tree is, as it is every year, more beautiful than they remembered."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fourteenth Day of Advent - Under the tree

Day 14 of Advent
(Family cat from Grandmother's Tree)
I am setting up and decorating the tree this week, a long job because of all the pretty and special ornaments that have come my way over the years.  The tree also has been with us for many years, "an artificial tree .... part of the family Christmas for so long that it is beginning to feel quite real."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thirteenth Day of Advent - Gifts from the sea

Day 13 of Advent
(Mermaid branch from Grandmother's Tree)
" A charming little plaster mermaid swims from a lower branch that is also hung with real shells and paper fish with candy foil wings." 
Paper crafting has long been a  part of our Christmas, with snowflakes, Santas and little paper birds and fishes with their wings and fins made of fan-folded decorative papers or even candy wrappers, as depicted above.  We put two of our patterns for paper ornaments in Grandmother's Tree and one of them is available as a free download here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Twelfth Day of Advent - Glad Tidings

Day 12 of Advent
(Swallow dibs from The Huron Carol)
Glad tidings - the Huron Carol exhibit at the museum at St. Marie Among the Hurons, installed 5 years ago, will be extended for another 5 years commencing January 1.  It is truly an honour.
More music here, an epiphany - in Advent yet!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Eleventh Day of Advent - Jack Frost

Day 11 of Advent
(Jack Frost, from The Illustrated Fairy Gazette, Winter Edition)
Another fairy for the tree,  with a dash of frost and sparkle. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tenth Day of Advent - Teddy Bears Christmas

Day 10 of Advent
What is on your tree?  Along with all the proper ornaments I also have dolls from my childhood, chandelier prisms, favorite cards, silk roses and a number of paper ornaments that my child and I have made together over the years, never to be thrown away!  (In Grandmother's Tree Avril wrote about a particular paper Santa that had been in a family for many years, "the wisest and oldest inhabitant of the tree".)

The Santa Bear kit has now joined the Etsy shop.
Happy Advent - 10 days already!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ninth Day of Advent - A fairy for the top of the tree

Day 9 of Advent
(paper novelty from The Illustrated Fairy Gazette, A Christmas Celebration)
 Here's a little fairy for the top of the tree,
and here is how that tree is getting on,

with joyful traditions, trifling indulgences, happy anticipations, music and merriment, hearth and home, sparkle and fairy dust - and all of it on Santa's shoulders.  No wonder he needs helpers.
(And not to forget, the giveaway)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eighth Day of Advent - Fun and Games

Day 8 of Advent
(Mother Ginger and Cubs, from Woodland Nutcracker)
"A huge grizzly bear skated to the foot of the thrones and curtsied.  She blew six times upon a whistle and from beneath her great red and white skirt emerged six cubs with hockey sticks. With Mother Grizzly as referee, the cubs skated a mock practice session.   They chased one another, misbehaved, and two were even sent to the penalty box.""
(© Avril Tyrrell 1999)

(This one was a coin toss: Tchaikovsky or the Hockey Night in Canada theme music,  both being well-loved and traditional! )

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Seventh Day of Advent - Visiting

Day 7 of Advent
(The Bears Cottage, Woodland Nutcracker)
"Long ago, far away from highways and city lights, where bright stars touched the tree tops and forest roots touched the edges of frozen lakes, a woodland family welcomed relatives and friends to a Christmas Eve party in their cosy island home.
 Softly falling snowflakes drifted into the cottage as the guests arrived."
(© Avril Tyrrell 1999)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sixth Day of Advent - Letters to Santa

Day 6 of Advent
(Santa's Helpers, from The Illustrated Fairy Gazette - A Christmas Celebration)
What do you want for Christmas?  Something that would fit in a stocking or a box under the tree, or one of those presents that only the heart knows? 
I remember being read A.A. Milne's "King John's Christmas" as a child (and where else would a youngster learn the marvelous phrase "supercilious stare"?).  We were caught up in sympathy and optimism as King John's list got longer and longer, and  fading hope as it dwindled to only "a bright red India-rubber ball" - which he did get, after all.  A sigh of relief from us children.  Thank you Santa (and A.A.Milne).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fifth Day of Advent - Between friends

Day 5 of Advent

 In watercolour classes I demonstrate ways of creating  frosty effects in snowy landscapes.  A sprinkling of salt on a wet wash is one method, as in the background pictured above.
The cardinal's bright pop of colour makes him a perfect foil for winter's greys and browns. And the fairy? She just flitted into the picture for a neighbourly chat with the Christmas letter carrier.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fourth Day of Advent - Unto us a child is born

Day 4 of Advent
A certain Royal announcement changed my plans for today's Advent window!   Here is a little something to celebrate all  babies and parents-in-waiting - my Stork ornaments from the "Baby's First Christmas" collection that I designed for Silver Tree last year.  The product samples are very pretty. I like the finishing touches of opalescence and sparkle on the wings. 

There is still time for the office elves here to mail out Fairy Gazettes before Christmas.  All five of the original   size, miniature, fairy-to-fairy editions, hand-stitched with rainbow thread, are up on my Etsy shop.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Third Day of Advent - "Sing and be merry"

Day 3 of Advent
From our Illustrated Fairy Gazettes, here is a detail from the scene "The Sleepyhead Feast".   Avril wrote that  "...the fairies prepare a feast and party just before the first frost"  for the creatures who migrate or hibernate for the winter.
 "After the feasting and gift-giving at the Sleepyhead Feast, the animals and birds entertain their hosts with music...always the old carols sung over generations.  The sweet notes of the birds harmonise with the piping descant of the mice, the deep voices of the frogs and the little reed flutes played by the hedgehogs."
© Avril Tyrrell 2007)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Second Day of Advent - Something Sweet

Day 2 of Advent
Something sweet from my Woodland Nutcracker book - Laura Secord, Canada's own well-loved chocolatiers,  used these decorative elements from the book for Christmas packaging in 2000.  A chocolate a day must keep something away!