December 2015 - Baby Tula Blog

December 2015 Archive

Let’s Celebrate with Tula “Dancey Dolls”
Baby Tula's new woven, Dancey Dolls is an instant party!

Baby Tula’s new woven, “Dancey Dolls” is an instant party!

 

Certain things never cease to intrigue us like seeing the first snowfall; hearing your favorite song; or riding on a swing. There seems to be a place in our hearts where memory and joy play and all of us, young and old, can appreciate the feelings we experience. For our newest Tula woven design, we wanted to explore those feelings and celebrate fantasy. We know that imagination, artistic details, and whimsical fun not only appeal to a child’s eyes but excite all of us. We asked friend and artist, Michelle Housel, of Dancey Pants Disco, to reinterpret her signature hooded dolls into a woven wrap design that blended these elements. Michelle created a fanciful party scene of disco balls, confetti, and dancing dolls that we fell head over heels for! As we prepare for the release of ‘Dancey Dolls’, we wanted to introduce you to the artist behind its design and learn more about her creative process. We asked Michelle some questions and here is what she had to share:

Baby Tula: Can you share a little bit about yourself and how you began creating the work that you do?

Michelle Housel: As a little girl first learning to read, the Babysitter’s Club was a favorite. I remember being about seven years old and reading the words on the front cover of the one I had just bought from our school’s book fair. I was in the back seat of our Astro Van and my mama was driving me home from school. I read the word “illustrator” and paused to ask her what it meant. She described it and I remember being so giddy that making art was actually a career path. I decided then that I was going to be an illustrator at that moment and the dream never really escaped my mind. When I was applying for colleges, there was only one that I really wanted to attend- Ringling College of Art. When I was accepted, I knew immediately that my major would be illustration. While there I played around a lot with my style and technique and learned that I really enjoyed making tiny worlds and making things that can be held and played with. My senior thesis was a paper toy world with a little circus, cloud children, a discotheque, and an underwater mermaid world. I’m now making rag dolls and other little toys in addition to planning my children’s book.

Baby Tula: Your artistic expression spans a variety of mediums: photography, sewing, and illustrations. What do you think is the connecting thread throughout these various mediums?

Michelle Housel: Whimsy. In my everyday life, I try to find the magic in the ordinary. It’s too easy for life to become routine or mundane and I’ve always sworn I wouldn’t let that happen. We always try to imagine stories when we go on our walks about gnomes that live in the nooks of trees and the squirrels that become their friends. Or when the dust flies into the air when cleaning in the early morning and the sun bounces off each speck, making them look like fairies. I like to catch those moments and recreate that same wonder or magic in my work.

Past designs and illustrations by Michelle Housel , for Baby Tula.

Past designs and illustrations by Michelle Housel , for Baby Tula: the Lorelei woven wrap; a babywearing illustration featured on our totes; and the Naida woven wrap.

Baby Tula: You have worked with Baby Tula before. Can you share how your relationship with Tula began?

Michelle Housel: The first time Ula and I worked together was with the babywearing illustration on the canvas totes. I had been making babywearing illustrations for some time and I think Ula found me through those. It was part of the release of the woven wraps in the beginning of Tula Woven and I was so giddy to be a part of it. Soon after we planned to make a couple mermaid wraps, so we made Naida and Lorelei. I have loved working with Tula and seeing my art turn into some of my favorite carriers. After making custom babywearing portraits for over a year I was excited to start something a little different, while still being a part of the babywearing world.

Baby Tula: Baby Tula’s new design is inspired by the lovely dolls that you make. Can you chat about how you began making dolls and what inspires you to make them?

Michelle Housel: I made my first rag doll when I was a young teenager. She was made from a sock and her name was Alice. I really enjoyed making her and made a few others for friends, but my passions quickly turned to making doll dresses. I got into the ball-jointed doll scene and started making little dresses for those types of dolls which sold really well. It inspired me to create my own html website at 16 and advertise my work. I think that time of my life was when I learned most about sewing. I still have a ton to learn and probably need to relearn a lot of what I’ve taught myself incorrectly, but it’s been a wonderful process and something I find a lot of joy in. I started making the hooded rag doll that I’m currently making in college about eight years ago. The pattern has evolved but overall they have been very much the same!

Michelle creates whimsical dolls by hand that inspired her "Dancey Dolls" design.

Michelle creates whimsical dolls by hand that inspired her “Dancey Dolls” design.

Baby Tula: Can you chat about how you approached the idea of taking your illustrations and doll creations and translating them into a woven wrap design?

Michelle Housel: Ula and I had been talking for awhile about collaborating this way. I’ve made dolls for her lovely kiddos and as a fan of Tula it seemed like it was bound to happen! I’m excited it finally did and am so happy with how it turned out. Seeing my little hooded dolls dancing on a Tula has been a little dream of mine for years.

Baby Tula: Why were you interested in creating a design/designs for a woven wraps?

Michelle Housel: I still have a lot to learn about creating work for woven fabrics. It’s an entirely different type of design and I love challenging my brain making things I’m not used to. As a huge advocate for babywearing, I’m happy to be able to combine my two passions. When applying for college, I had a very hard time trying to choose between art and early child development and I think it’s a dream to be able to combine them both.

Baby Tula: Your work lends itself to imaginative stories, do you find yourself developing a narrative while you are creating?

Michelle Housel: All the time! I love creating stories for my dolls and often imagine their backgrounds while creating them. Even with the DPD + Tula wrap, I imagined them having the best dance party and all of the characters being the very best of friends. Nothing makes me happier than having some quality time to work on a project and being able to make little details that help tell a character’s story.

Michelle lives and works in Nantucket island, with her son Odin and fiancé Zak.

Michelle lives and works in Nantucket island, with her son Odin and fiancé Zak. She draws inspiration from nature and imagined stories she shares with her son.

Baby Tula: Most of your work is done at home with your son Odin present. Can you share how you feel your environment influences how or what you do? Can you briefly describe a day in the “studio” for you?

Michelle Housel: Studio time and everyday time tends to blend. I usually wake up before Odin and try to get some planning done for the day. Then we will go for a walk in the morning, I find inspiration in nature so taking Odin for a walk is also helpful for me. Then lunch and errands, followed by some quiet time which looks a little different every day. Usually it means Odin is in his room or beside me in the studio painting and drawing while I sew. On warmer days, I bring a basket of work outside so that Odin can play while I embroider or stick up doll limbs. Most of my work tends to happen later in the evening though. My fiancé Zak is a huge motivation to me and he is always so willing to help me out or take over when I need to get work done. He puts Odin to bed around 7 and then I head into the studio to work, once he’s asleep, Zak joins me to help stuff limbs and cut patterns until we go to sleep. I joke that he’s my unpaid intern!

Baby Tula: We know that babywearing has been something you have enjoyed. If Odin (your son) would cooperate for a ride in “Dancey Dolls”, where and what would you like to do?

Michelle Housel: It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to talk Odin into letting me wear him! He’s only three but he’s already over 45 pounds and very independent (don’t believe people when they tell you your babe will never walk if you carry them!), but if he would let me, we would probably head out to his new favorite place. We’d dance around the Bamboo Forest and look for treasure in the taller branches together.

Let's celebrate! "Dancey Dolls" will be available as wrap conversion carriers, woven wraps, and ring slings in four different colors.

Let’s celebrate! “Dancey Dolls” will be available as wrap conversion carriers, woven wraps, and ring slings in four different colors.

We are so excited for  the release of “Dancey Dolls”! Release details will soon be shared on our Facebook page. To learn more about Michelle Housel and her various projects visit: Dancey Pants Disco!

Inspired by Memories of Poland, Past and Present
Our Tula woven, Lalka, was inspired by intricate adornments seen throughout Poland.

Our Tula woven, Lalka, was inspired by intricate adornments seen throughout Poland.

Traveling to new and exciting places has always been a special interest of Ula’s, but a connection to the landscape and culture of Poland, where Ula was born, is truly close to her heart. Baby Tula was founded in Poland and it is still a production headquarter, with a close-knit team of employees, for the company. More importantly, Poland is a second home and a place that Ula and her family visit regularly. A portion of their visits are focused on connecting with our Poland team, but the time spent there also serves as inspiration for future designs and projects. For some of our upcoming Baby Tula Woven Wraps, Ula shared items and photos that inspired their designs which speak to the beauty of Poland.

The process of creating a woven wrap, from idea to completed wrap, requires a lot of time and focused energy. We have previously shared the process of creating a Tula woven wrap, but with the upcoming releases of ‘Lalka’, ‘Lubniki’, and ‘Kaleidoscope’ we wanted to share a bit of how the idea of these wraps were born. Each of these designs were an evolution of memories from Poland, new and old, shared with our creative team while Ula visited and remembered her native country.

While enjoying time in Poland, Ula snapped photos and shared stories with our creative team that would later be interpreted into designs. Looking at old photos or just enjoying a cup of coffee became instances for inspiration. Below are some of the photos she snapped; beloved items that provided inspiration, and samples of the designs in process.

The city of Lubniki is a place where Ula remembers fondly from her childhood. Color samples are compared to what will become 'Lubniki Lake'. And snapshots of textures and shapes that were sent to our creative team.

The city of Lubniki (pictured above) is where Ula’s grandfather once lived. She remembers it fondly and often returns to visit. Also seen here are color samples compared to what will become ‘Lubniki Lake’ as well as snapshots of textures, shapes, and patterns that were shared with our creative team and inspired upcoming wovens.

 Stronger geometric lines achieved by the jacquard weaving process and the lively colors, make 'Kaleidoscope' a modern interpretation of traditional Polish blankets that Ula remembers from her childhood.

Stronger geometric lines achieved by the jacquard weaving process and lively colors make ‘Kaleidoscope’ a modern interpretation of traditional Polish blankets that Ula remembers from her childhood.

Three gorgeous Tula woven designs that celebrate Poland memories, past and present.

Three gorgeous Tula woven designs that celebrate Poland memories, past and present.

A Winter Wonderland of Tula WC carrier Drawings!

Happy Holidays! We have selected these Baby Tula Wrap Conversion Carriers because they remind us of a few of our favorite wintery things. These Tula carriers are made with quality woven wraps that have a higher retail value. These carriers have the added appeal of unique designs and an extra soft fabric. If you are looking for a readily available Tula carrier, with the same comfort and structure as a wrap conversion, our canvas Tula Baby Carriers begin at $149 and are available at tulababycarriers.com!

Drawings will end on Tuesday, December 15th, at 12:00AM PST. Winners will be notified by email and have 24 hours to purchase the wrap conversion carrier they have been selected for. Winner is responsible for retail cost plus applicable taxes and shipping. Enter the random drawings, at the link below:

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