Friday, April 18, 2014

toys we love: basic wood blocks

Nothing beats a set (or two) of  basic, wood blocks.  When Ella was little, I ordered a bag of basic blocks from a seller on eBay who now has his own website, Bag O' Blocks.  I was initially inspired to make her a set of dominoes with them but, before I could tackle the project, she pulled the back out of a bin in my office and started playing with them.  And she continued to do so many an afternoon as I worked in my office.

A few months ago I pulled out a hand-me-down set of counting blocks from my Great Aunt Roberta, who was an elementary school teacher.  It's been awesome to see Ella build towers, make beds, create meals, and incorporate the blocks into other toys we have in the house.

It's so amazing to see that, despite the technology within her reach or the battery-powered toys in her cabinet, she is happy to play with blocks of wood!  And I especially love to hear her say, "I'm building my ideas."  I hope she never stops.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

the hoop chair challenge

I picked up this child-size metal hoop chair from a local antique market over a year ago.  I removed the awful, reupholstered seat and back cushions soon after bringing it home, but I've been a little stuck on what to do with it now that it's been stripped down to it's beautiful frame.  I originally thought I would create a new seat and back cushion and upholster them in some vintage teal fabric I saved from my Great Aunt's house.  But, the more I looked at the empty frame, I decided that the chair would be most comfy if I could utilize the entire hoop to create a new seat.

These woven wicker hoop chairs are a mid-century classic.  I love how the entire hoop is used to create an all encompassing seat.  Unfortunately, my hoop chair frame does not have the same structure as these chairs.  It is missing what I am now calling the smile bar that all of the wicker material connects back to in order to create the seat pocket.  But I am almost positive that I can come up with a way to weave material in and around the components of the frame I do have and create a seat that's just as comfy.  So I've been experimenting.

I tried using some sisal rope first.  It's not at all stretchy and so holds it's weave nicely.  The thickness of the material also lends itself to stacking without slipping back down over itself.  But it it so scratchy!  I'm not sure I'd enjoy sitting on it and my texture sensitive two-year-old most likely won't go near it so I'm on to other options.  I also tried using some cotton rope I dyed teal, mixed with a bright white bleached cotton rope.  The cotton material is just too stretchy to use as a seat but it's a lot softer and would allow me to play with color in the overall composition.  I think a nice mix of materials would be pretty great.  Something like in this chair from Urban Outfitters.

I hope I can come up with something and get this little chair finished before our move.  I'd love to unpack it and get it settled in Ella's room right away - a small moving surprise for her new room.   
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