Friday, February 18, 2011

Behind the Scenes: "Tooth Fairy Keepsake" & "Stories for Bedtime"



For quite sometime I've been anticipating the publication of two children's book projects I've been working on with Chronicle Books — Stories for Bedtime and Tooth Fairy Keepsake — and their April 2011 release date is now right around the corner!

I first wrote about these books back in June 2010, which seems like ages ago, but even then we were quite far along in the process. In a time where technology so easily grants us instant gratification, it's easy to forget how much time and energy it takes to make a book. Even my close friends were shocked to learn that these were projects I'd started well over a year ago, and so I thought I'd share some more insight into how these books came to be.


BRAINSTORMING & RESEARCH

I began both projects by researching — which meant lots of trips to the library. For Tooth Fairy Keepsake I did a lot of digging into the history the tooth fairy and the traditions that center around it. Children often use tooth fairy pillows to store a newly lost tooth, which are then placed on their bed before going to sleep—in hopes that the tooth fairy will come claim it during the night, leaving a small gift in exchange.

Wanting to create a new variation on that — and needing to keep within constraints of a book project — I thought a lot about what both a parent and child would want to record about losing teeth, and how to honor that in a way that was meaningful to both. I decided that creating a felt pocket that could not only hold the tooth, but also a record keeping book, would be a meaningful way to remember such a milestone in a child's development.


The idea of a felt pocket as container carried across into Stories for Bedtime, which is a felt pocket containing cards with bedtime-related stories on them. In choosing these stories I read a lot of old poetry written for children, reading very critically and slowly, giving me the opportunity to make connections to my own childhood with my daughter's.


As I read and re-read the stories and poems, I set aside those that were both unique and meaningful, jotting down ideas about ways to make the act of bedtime story reading an engaging pastime — especially for children who are not yet old enough to read on their own. As a result each of the story cards has a list of questions to ask the child to help them think about the story they just heard, as well as a place to record the answers.


IN THE MAKING

Once the ideas and text were settled on, it was time to pull out the pencils, paper, scissors, felt and thread and begin to create. My creative hand was truly in this: mixing paint, cutting shapes (in paper and felt), drawing with a fine pointed black pen, and stitching together felt and adding little touches with thread. I took photographs of my progress, and it's comforting for me to have this visual record — the final product looks so polished and perfect that even I forget that this step of the process started with using water color paint and cutting out irregular yellow stars from paper.



[ABOVE] Early sketches and mock-ups for Stories for Bedtime.

I enjoyed the process every step of the way, from the initial idea and hours spent with my nose in books to making rough sketches (on white paper with a sharp #2 pencil) and then later the final adjustments (slightly tweaking facial expressions, and little stitch changes — lots of little stitch changes).

I'll share more about these books as April draws closer. In the meantime you can pre-order Tooth Fairy Keepsake and Stories for Bedtime through Chronicle Books, where you can also sign up to get notified via email when they become available on shelves.


~ Kata Golda


UPCOMING SEWING WORKSHOPS WITH KATA GOLDA
Seattle — 3/16/2011
Stuffed Bunny Companion (6 pm – 9 pm) :: Learn how to make a plush bunny toy from felt with artist and author Kata Golda at Marigold & Mint. Register by calling (206) 682-3111.

Portland — 4/9/2011
Easter Egg Basket & Chick (10 am – 1:30 pm)
:: Learn how to make an Easter basket and a wee egg-shaped chick from felt with artist and author Kata Golda at Modern Domestic. Register for class.

Stuffed Bunny Companion (2:30 pm – 6 pm) :: Learn how to make a plush bunny toy from felt with artist and author Kata Golda at Modern Domestic. Register for class.


TWEET: twitter.com/katagolda
SHOP:
KataGolda.com and Etsy

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chocolate Leaves

I am the one in my household who, when a new bar is put in the soap dish, reaches for the small old bits of soap before grabbing the new one. I gather all of the little scraps from various soap dishes in the house and make one small bar by wetting the pieces of soap and pushing them together. This newly formed soap bar is then only used by me.

I was reminded of my hodge-podge soap bar this past weekend when I was preparing to make chocolate covered leaves with some organic (and expensive) dark chocolate chips from the co-op. I love organic dark chocolate, and I'll often have three to five different kinds stashed in my fridge at any given time, which I nibble whenever my sweet tooth gets a craving.

As a result I have a growing collection of random chocolate pieces, wrapped up tightly in their individual wrappers. Why not apply the same line of thinking to the chocolate as I did the soap? So I put the dark chocolate chips away for another day, and pulled out my collection of chocolate bar bits instead. The chocolate leaves I made from them were delicious and easy to make.

CHOCOLATE LEAVES
  • chips or broken bits of the chocolate of your choice
  • double boiler or pot to melt chocolate in
  • a candy brush, for painting on the chocolate
  • Salal leaves, to paint the chocolate onto
  1. I started by collecting Salal leaves. They are hardy and plentiful here in the Pacific Northwest, and their thickness and stiffness make them ideal canvas upon which to paint thick layers of chocolate. I washed them gently and dried them with a towel. If using bits of chocolate (instead of chips), break them into small pieces.


  2. Next I heated up the bits of chocolate over low heat. You can use a double broiler, but there's no need to get fancy — just be sure to keep stirring to smooth out the lumps and prevent the chocolate from getting burned.

  3. Using a clean candy brush, paint the melted chocolate on one side of a leaf (the back or front side of leaf works equally well). Cover the leaf thoroughly and apply the chocolate fairly thick. There's no exact measuring here, but I found that if the layer was about 1/8" thick that I was less likely to crack the chocolate in Step 5, when peeling away the leaf.


  4. After the leaves are painted, place them flat on a tray (chocolate side up). Once all the leaves are done, move the tray into your freezer and leave it there for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the tray from your freezer and peel the leaf away from the chocolate. Serve on top of red raspberry sorbet for Valentine's Day, or enjoy on them own.


This would also be a good recipe to try with mint leaves, something I'll have to remember this summer when my garden is overflowing with it.


~ Kata Golda


VALENTINE's DAY ORDERING DEADLINES
2/10/2011: Last day to place orders & receive by 2/14/11 via UPS Next-day Air Shipping.


KATA GOLDA SUPPORTS SPOON FOUNDATION
From now through 2/10/2011, 50% of profits from all Valentine items purchased on KataGolda.com will benefit Spoon's mission to improve the health of international orphans and adoptees. To learn more, visit SpoonFoundation.org.


TWEET: twitter.com/katagolda
SHOP:
KataGolda.com and Etsy

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bringing Color Indoors

I'm thinking a lot about red in these days leading up to Valentine's Day. It's pretty hard not to. So when I was looking through my photos from last summer's adventures, I was particularly struck by this thimble berry's bold red color. The snapshot was taken on a hike late last summer in the Olympic mountains — just moments before I gobbled it up.


Longtime readers of this blog know that my work is highly influenced by the colors I find in nature. But now, as I look outside my window at the endless threat of gray and raindrops, I see very little color. It's that time of year when all of the color that inspires me is now indoors — I've painted my walls brightly, small bud vases of flowers perch on window sills, and snapshots like the one above hang in my studio as inspiration. In the spirit of Valentine's day, I even stitched together a felt heart banner to hang in the kitchen — the social focal point of my home.

[ABOVE] The hearts and letters on the Kata Golda Valentine banners are cut from wool felt and hand-stitched to a cotton twill ribbon, which extends 20" from each side of the banner. Available on Etsy in "love" or "xoxoxo". View additional designs.


In other words, my house is decorated with love.

~ Kata Golda


VALENTINE's DAY ORDERING DEADLINES
2/6/2011: Last day to place orders & receive by 2/14/11 via UPS Ground Shipping. 2/7/2011: Last day to place orders & receive by 2/14/11 via UPS 2-Day Air Shipping. 2/10/2011: Last day to place orders & receive by 2/14/11 via UPS Next-day Air Shipping.

KATA GOLDA SUPPORTS SPOON FOUNDATION
From now through 2/10/2011, 50% of profits from all Valentine items purchased on KataGolda.com will benefit Spoon's mission to improve the health of international orphans and adoptees. To learn more, visit SpoonFoundation.org.


TWEET: twitter.com/katagolda
SHOP:
KataGolda.com and Etsy