This week, Mads and I made a huge decision for our family – we booked flight tickets for Christmas. And if that doesn’t sound huge to you, it’s probably because you haven’t seen the spreadsheet, we have had going, or had to ask for the 6 weeks off from your job.
This Christmas we will not have the traditional Danish Christmas that I personally had E.V.E.R.Y single Christmas of my life. Never missed one. Love it too.
But that’s only because we’re doing something awesome! We’re taking the girls to the other side of the univ… Nahhh, ok – the other side of the planet at least. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to go to New Zealand, and Mads is with me on that one, so we decided to pull out 6 weeks of Christmas and everyday life, and go.
The plan is, we’re flying out to Auckland, spending a few days there and then moving in to an autocamper, which will be our home for four weeks, while we drive around the beautiful northern and southern islands of New Zealand. That’s the frame of it all, and the ingredients that we hope to add include a lot of nature experiences, a wonderful adventure for the girls, and the luxury of spending time together as a family that reaches beyond school vacations, weekends etc. After our NZ adventure, we will fly out from Christchurch to Oarsman’s Bay Lodge in Fiji for a week of relaxation, before we head back home. Back to work and school.
It is amazing and we feel so fortunate! I cannot believe we’re actually going, and for me, it will be a dream come true.
I know I haven’t been saying much lately, but I had to share this. And I will be sharing from our travel too, that’s for sure. Right now I just love the fact that I’m already looking forward to our summer vacation on the boat, and now I know that during our summer vacation, I will have this to look forward to as well. If you know of books, web sites or anything else that I should read cover to cover, let me know. Or, if any of you guys are from New Zealand and feel like having a bunch of Danish visitors for tea to share advice on places to go, let me know.
I know, that among blog readers, I should come across many true readers. You guys visit libraries and book stores, and you curl up on the couch under a knitted blanket with a cup of tea – as you passionately consume your next novel. That is, if you’re not knitting. But some of you are bound to be more like me.
When I was young (like wayyy back…), I used to read that way too. For years now, I have found it too hard to concentrate – I have found that there are too many things to do, and too many hobbies to nourish. Always stuff going on in my head, that prevent me from clearing the way and focusing on reading. Last summer vacation when we were sailing in Sweden, I almost read a real, physical novel. Almost.
I finished it on Storytel, and that’s why I feel like sharing – the same way I would, if I had just started running, and succeeded with it – after wanting to for years.
I started reading.
I spend 2-3 hours a day in my car, going back and forth to work, and thanks to Storytel (no affiliation, pure enthusiasm), that time is now mostly spent reading novels. The dreadful traffic becomes less important, and I look forward to the drive on the motorway much more than before. Audio reading still takes getting used to, and it still requires your focus and ability to shut out random thoughts, which I think is valuable practice. I relax more driving, and sometimes when I reach the house, I even stay in the car for two more minutes to finish a chapter. This is a rediscovered world to me.
I started using the audiobook app, Storytel, when it first came out about a year ago, and to be honest it was far from perfect. However, they updated the app not too long ago, and now in terms of functionality and design, I like it a lot. New books are added to the app quickly, different lists give you ideas of what to read, their Facebook page offer inspiration, and I pretty much have the options that I need. I do have a few ideas for development (like an enclosed overview of characters and places for those of us with poor memory), and I have quickly become self-proclaimed expert of audiobook narrators. Also, imagine Spotify and Storytel merged into one service – that would be awesome!
I am in Denmark, and the version of Storytel I am using is Danish with literature in Danish and English. However, I have noticed that it seems they are expanding to more countries, so check out Storytel.com to see if they have an offer for you as well. (Still, no affiliation – just a great service.)
If you are anything like me when it comes to reading – try it out.
Some of you have seen it on my Instagram, some on my Pinterest, and some of you could also have seen it here on the blog, particularly when I have been making shrovetide costumes for the girls. I just find that it’s lots of fun being able to paint the girls and their friends, and it is kind of addictive.
First of all, as a face painter, I am a happy amateur. I try my way through the different products and knowledge sources out there, but I am no expert. Having said that, I receive so many questions about my face painting, and I have long wanted to gather it all in one blog post, and share my rookie view on it all. The stuff I can do now, I learned from the internet. A few years ago, I actually did receive a gift card for a face painting class for Christmas, but by the time I was ready to use it, the face painter no longer offered classes. If anyone knows about classes for amateurs in Denmark, I would still love to do that.
I started face painting when Ronja was around 3 years old. She was going to shrovetide as a princess, and I didn’t know how to do anything costume-wise. (That’s actually also when I started to sew.) When I was a child, we used a kind of face painting crayons that were really not very good, and with that in mind, I wanted to get water colours. I found a 6-colour water palet from Grimas and a random brush, and that got me started. I will begin by going through the products I use, and afterwards you will find my shopping links and my sources for inspiration and learning. Now, my collection of face painting products has grown considerably.
Here you see it all: I have a box for paint, glitter, etc., and one for brushes and sponges, and finally a water container which is also a brush holder for when you are painting. And that’s it really.
This is a look inside – glitter, brushes, sponges, paints. A bit of a treasure chest, right?
So, what is it all then?
Paint and glitter
As I mentioned I started out with Grimas, and that is the paint I am still using, even if I have expanded my colour-selection a bit. I have more colours than the ones you see below, but I have customized the selection I keep in my box to the ones I use the most. I mostly use these for the base of the design. For white and black details, swirls, edges, webs, teardrops etc., I find that the opacity of the paint isn’t good enough to cover the base colour, which is why I started to use Diamond FX for details, and that is just awesome. I have a few Snazaroo paints as well – mostly because I came across someone selling a pile of unused colours at a low price. I used them to make my own split cakes (because those are so expensive to buy).
Making your own split cakes is easy, but it does require you to have a selection of colours, that you are willing to cut up. I found this tutorial on how to do it, and these below are two of the ones I made. You can make great effects using split cakes – either by stroking two of the colours with a wide flat brush (known as a one stroke brush), or by using the entire cake with a sponge – f.ex. when making the base for a butterfly.
I realized that I was always using a white for blending colours, or for creating two-coloured flowers. After a while, I bought a new white one – that way I have one for blending, and one that I never use for blending.
I have a hair band in the box as well, to get all that hair away from little girls’ faces. Glitter is a must – the first glitter I used was a bit too coarse to have the right effect, so I got these three, that I have been using for a long time now. They do the job.
Ronja made me a box that says “Time for glitter”. I only recently purchased some sequins to add to face paint designs (when I was doing the Elsa-face paint) – and what more appropriate box to keep them in than that?
I keep glitter and glue for glitter tattoos in the box as well – I have been trying that out a few times. That too is a hit with the girls – check out Lisa’s video of it here.
This is one thing that I’ve definitely learned a bit about since I started painting – mainly due to lots of errors. My first brushes weren’t helpful in getting me the results I wanted, and I actually went through quite a few. I couldn’t do accurate brush strokes, they didn’t pick up the colour well and besides my obvious lack of experience and practice, I was certain that I should be able to do better. Then I found the below guides to face painting brushes, and put a set of Mark Reid signature brushes on my birthday wish list. I wish I had done that sooner – they are sooo much better than everything I have been using previously. Good brushes don’t do it for you, but they make a world of difference.
If you go on to buy good brushes, make sure you clean them well after you have finished painting. This will preserve the brushes longer, and make sure they stay well shaped. I use the Master’s Brush Cleaner for this, entirely based on recommendations found on the internet, and it works great.
Sponges are great for applying the base for the design. I use round sponges, cut in half, which works fine. My brush box is new, and I love it. It keeps the brushes well contained without bumping around and is just one of those nice things that do the job they’re meant to.
Besides these brushes, I also keep some less expensive ones in my box, for when the girls (especially Frida) want to paint me. Of course, you can use anything as a water container, I’ve been using a large glass for a long time. This one from Loew Cornell however, is great with its two water compartments, brush holder, and different solutions for easy rinsing.
It’s hard to tell someone else how to get started on face painting. For me, YouTube has been my primary source of inspiration and learning. I quickly found that the quality of the tutorials posted there was better than the quality of the ones I could find in books, and often the designs were of a higher standard as well. Also, some of the people that post tutorials on YouTube are amazingly pedagogical, and you get to see every little flick of the brush that they make while listening to their opinion on products, techniques etc. Which channels that help you most, will depend on what kind of designs you want to make – check out the list below to get closer to what your ideal should be. There is a good chance you will be able to find what you are looking for in the large selection on YouTube.
Small selection of the best face painting channels on YouTube (in my view):
Lisa Joy Young – my personal favourite – great designs, variety and product reviews
Pinterest is also a great source for inspiration, and you can pin your favourite designs to your own board, which makes it easy to save and retrieve the ones you like. I will let you do the discovering, but search for face painting and you will find lots and lots of designs. I use a lot of very specific searches, such as “face painting design green” if I need to find inspiration for a green mask.
My own face painting board on Pinterest is this one: Face Painting – I post stuff that inspires me, as well as my own designs on the girls and their friends.
Shopping for face painting supplies
I am in Denmark, and in order to avoid paying customs duty I try to shop either in Denmark or the UK, so of course my webshop preferences reflect that. That said, I have my eye on a few US shops as well. Below, I’ve just listed a few of my favourites. Many of the shops around are kind of lost in the past when it comes to webshop solutions and design. Still, if I find what I need, and the service is good, I don’t consider that disqualifying.
Dramashop.dk (DK) – this is where I purchased my Grimas paints – nice selection, quick delivery
Facepaint-UK.com (UK) – great selection in brands and products (Grimas, Diamond FX + many more)
Silly Farm (US) – totally wish I was somewhere near that shop – they seem to have everything (not Grimas though)!
Do let me know, if I left out your favorite webshops, though – I’d love to have your suggestions as well.
So what do I do with it all?
Well, the truth is, I paint because it is fun. It’s something I do in my spare time with the girls – either when they or their friends ask for it, or when I beg them to allow me. (Yes, when you have painted long enough, there will come a time, when they more or less lose interest.) It is very much like my sewing – a place to direct my creative energy. No pressure – all fun. I did paint as a volunteer at a Greenpeace-event a while ago, which is where the below photo was taken.
Face Painting. Photo: Greenpeace
I hope that at least some of this is useful to you if you ended up here – if you have additional questions or requests, do give me a shout in the comments or send me an email. And enjoy!
During Christmas break we saw the Disney movie “Frozen” with the girls, and since then the girls’ fascination with Elsa from Frozen and her magical icy powers has been rather dominant at our house.
Now, shrovetide was this past weekend, and Ronja explicitly wanted to go as Elsa. Initially I thought she could do better than choosing a Disney princess at the age of 9, but oh, well. The girls should go as what they want – and I do understand the fascination to some extend.
Fabric: I spent a lot of time searching for the right fabric. I have seen that some of you guys from the US have found fabric that look exactly like what she is wearing in the film, but I couldn’t find that in Denmark, and it was too expensive (for a costume) on eBay. (I believe you are pretty lucky to have something like Joann’s over there – unfortunately they don’t ship internationally. Bugger.) I ended up finding a lot of great stuff at the Danish webshop Stofstedet. The best find was the stretchy “shattered glass” fabric, which I first thought I’d use for the corset-like bodice, but ended up using for the skirt instead. US readers can find the same fabric here.
Skirt: I have seen many versions of the dress on the internet with a wide skirt, but Ronja didn’t want that, as it doesn’t look like that in the movie. I only got 50 cm of the fabric, but for my slim daughter, I was able to cut it in half lengthwise, measure it on her, and sew down the sides with my serger to create a skirt. Because of the stretch, I didn’t have to add elastic at the waist, it was enough to shape the skirt to fit. I made it a little wider at the bottom, using the triangles of fabric that I cut off at the waist because that part of the skirt is slimmer (get it?). I cut a slit up to above the knee – the fabric doesn’t fray at all, so no finishing necessary. To make sure it wouldn’t tear at the end of the slit, I glued on a circle of the fabric, and added a beaded snowflake sticker that I found at a craft store.
That finished the skirt.
Top: For the top, I bought a white leotard, some turquoise sequin fabric that you can find pretty much at any fabric store, small rhinestones and some glue, and sequin ribbons for details. I got soft white tulle for the cape, and found a snowflake shaped punch and some shiny foil to add snowflakes to the cape.
I sewed the bodice to the leotard after shaping it on Ronja, but making sure it wasn’t attached at the bottom, so that the skirt could go over the leotard, and under the sequin bodice. Before sewing the bodice in place on the back, I tucked the tulle under at the top edge of the bodice with lots of pleats. After that was all in place, I hand-sewed sequin ribbon to the top and bottom of the bodice, and attached loose strings of sequin ribbon to the back. I glued rhinestones to the free part of the leotard, and glued the snowflakes to the tulle. I actually had a diamond-like button to add at the center of the bodice, but Ronja didn’t want it, since the real Elsa doesn’t have one.
I think we came close enough to the ideal.
Ronja loved it all the way. Apparently, it was exactly the way she wanted it. She didn’t want to have her face painted initially (“Elsa only wears ordinary make up”), but we had a test drive, and I added a few rhinestones to the face design as well – aaaaand she changed her mind. You will have to imagine that thick braid – Ronja just doesn’t have that kind of hair. Who does? We made a french braid that went around her head and ended at one side. I actually made stud earrings for her as well – I had more of the beaded snowflakes, so I glued two of them to some studs – et voilà. The necklace is actually a “Hangaround”, made by a friend of mine. It has been decorating the curly willow branches through Christmas (and a bit longer than that), and now I just realized it had one more purpose. Finally silver shoes from H&M and that was it.
And Frida? She was happy as a clam as well. Since last year, she has wanted to wear the Indian costume that I made for Ronja, so that was settled. I only had to make new headgear for the costume, since we couldn’t find the one I made last year.
Oh yes, and Mads made her an arrow quiver, because she really wanted that.
I so enjoy making costumes, but even more than that, it makes my day seeing the girls having fun with them. The fact that they follow the process closely, and love to wear them when they are finished is worth it all.
I know. I don’t show myself much in here, and I haven’t for a while. However, life is busy and good, and we always have a million things that we want to do. So why am I here?
I made a quilt. I call it my “Blue Path Quilt” – below you can see why. I hope. Please also notice how much help Mads is being back there. The quilts may be great, but they do not actually float freely in the air.
I designed the layout myself – there isn’t that much to it, but I still needed to figure out which fabrics to cut in the various sizes.
If you wish, leave me a note with your e-mail, and I will send you the complete layout.
The last quilt I made, was such a success in the family, that I wanted to make another one. I never posted a picture of the entire quilt, so here it goes. I am still really fond of it.
The two quilts are about the same size which is 160 cm x 190 cm.
I actually had some pieces cut for the new quilt that I ended up not using, so I almost finished a smaller quilt for Frida’s bed as well. Still need to finish the quilting on that one though.
I really like making these. It’s the type of work that blends well into my days, even though I have weeks with no sewing at all. Starting the new quilt just at the beginning of the new year felt so good, because I haven’t really been sewing for a while. Nice. I will definitely be making more quilts – I may even up the stakes a bit, and try doing something a bit more complicated, but we’ll see. I made a Pinterest-board to gather pictures of quilts that inspire me.
Today I spent half the day with my good friends Julie and Christina at AOH messen – a Danish craft fair with primary focus on sewing, knitting, crocheting etc. At the same event last year, even if I had a good time there, I felt like they were not really targeting the younger audience, which I am part of in this respect, whether you can believe that or not. This year was different, though. They had made an area called the Blogosphere, with lots of crafty bloggers willing to share what they knew and help people out. Awesome idea!
Julie and I had signed up for a crocheting workshop lead by Jeanette, which was fun. I will not be an expert crocheter any time soon, but if you are, check out her free patterns (in Danish) – she has an awesome, modern crochet style, that I really like.
Later we found Christina at a stamp workshop by Puk, and we joined them in making rubber stamps. This is something I could definitely see myself doing with the girls – it was fun, only as hard as you decide to make it, and it’s quite rewarding once you get to the part where you can stamp your own design on – well, anything.
This was my first go. The carving sets were sold out at the fair, so I ordered some online tonight – this is something I will enjoy exploring a little further. Always loved the stamps made by Craftpudding – however I don’t think she’s in business anymore, so now I’ll just have to use her work as a source of inspiration.
In the afternoon, Mads, Ronja and I went to the harbour to make sure Anna was well wrapped and cosy. We are totally looking forward to spring, and getting her back into the water. In the meantime, we had a beautiful sunny afternoon, and a gorgeous sunset driving home.