Ninainvorm
a blog about art, craft, design and beautiful everyday life
Where to buy

Maybe you can also find my stuff in your neighbourhood! Click here to see an up-to-date list of where you can buy my products.

Wholesale

Interested in selling Ninainvorm postcards, posters, art prints or ceramics in your own shop? You can send me an email at ik_ben_nina@hotmail.com to hear about the possibilities!

It's probably the corner you've seen most often on this blog, because I've used it for photos of my posters quite often and well, also because I have kind of a soft spot for my vintage school cupboard (aka the little library, or at least the dream of it).

So throughout time this little corner of our living room has already gone through quite a few incarnations...

But as you can imagine an open cupboard like this (that's also home to some toys, children's clothes and books) can quickly turn from the cutest part of the room to the messiest part of the room. And after I wrote this I realized that I indeed really like that you can see that kids live here, but that on the other hand not every corner of our living room should have to be occupied by toys and children's stuff. 

So I decided to try and reclaim this one little corner...

Which of course wasn't all that easy: after I'd taken some stuff of the shelves to declutter them a bit, Julie immediately took her chance and thought that the now empty shelf was the perfect place where she could put her dolls to bed... So quickly I had to reclaim my little corner not just from the toys, but from a whole doll's entourage... Now try that if you have a heart! ;)

Of course not all the childish stuff had to go: I happen to be sort of a big child myself, who can really like things that are officially designed for children. So it's a bit of a balancing act not to let the toys take over from the grown-up stuff anyway ;).

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There's a new series of breakfast plates in the shop. All plates are different and they are being sold individually, but all together they mix & match perfectly! 

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They've been some very good days, these last few. Quite busy, but very manageable, which is always a good thing (and not always the case ;)). We seem to be somewhere inbetween summer and fall. I brought home some fall flowers from the market, but when I arrived home it felt like summer again in our garden. So good to soak up these last bits of summer sun!

Often I feel there's so much to do, so much to make and create, so much inspiration to be found. Do you know this feeling of your head exploding, but in a good way? It's definitely much better than to have your head exploding in a bad way, but it's still a lot of explosion. Can't say I don't like it though ;).

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Back to ceramics after spending a lot of my time on postcards and posters, it's always nice to try start working on some new ideas!

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Sometimes I get the feeling that the play area of our living room is some sort of living creature, that is slowly but surely taking over the living room. Each morning when we wake up, that nasty animal has occupied some more space, and in fact I'm fairly certain that one day it'll eat us all alive.

Oh, I know I've probably also been one of those people who, in some harsh kind of pre-kids-era, has bravely said things like 'I'm never ever going to live in a kindergarten' or 'Those kids just have to learn to value a grown-up design interior from an early age'. Well, guess what? They don't ;).

Sometimes it really drives me crazy, all those toys and all the playing everywhere. Tidying up the same silly stuff six times a day. At a certain point Helmut and I found ourselves solving those same enormous wooden puzzles every night, not because the girls loved making puzzles so much, but because they just liked to casually turn them upside down once a day. So the puzzles went up to the attic and no one has ever asked for them again ;).

Oh and then of course we still have this...

But truth is that besides the annoyance that those toys and the all-over-play sometimes bring, I actually love this play area a lot. It's so good to see how the girls really have room to play, how they come up with the funniest games, how they interact and connect with each other more and more. I love to see how they really have their own little world here.

And of course I must admit that I'm the main person who keeps adding new things, like the little school table and chairs recently. However I must say I wasn't the one who  secretly brought in a whole bucket of acorns and wettish autumn leaves the other day... (I did have to pick them up from all over the room though ;))

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Maastricht, summer 2014.

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I never really missed a garden when we didn't have one, though at the end of our apartment-period I sometimes envisioned how awesome it would be when you'd just have to open your kitchen door to be outside. Now I actually enjoy having a garden even more than I could have imagined. Even though it is just a small garden, there's such a sense of freedom in being able to step outside every once in a while (especially when there's a lot of noise and yelling inside ;)).

Recently we finally hung the vintage camper birdhouse that I bought on etsy a little while ago. Rosa, who has been obsessed with caravans since we slept in one on last year's holiday, just couldn't imagine why the birdhouse was still vacant the next morning: how was it possible that those stupid birds hadn't moved in straight away? Ah well, their loss ;).

 

 

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Oh A4, I must admit it: my love for your bigger, more impressive brother A3 took over a bit lately... But when I discovered the option to have A4-sized prints printed on the same beautiful heavy recycled paper that my postcards are made of, I didn't hesitate to give it a try. You can find the Bear asleep print here, and the Patches #1 print here.

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In general I tend to avoid showing my crappy phone pictures here (there's a good reason why I'm not on Instagram, besides the fact that I have an internet-free phone ;)), but in this case I had to abandon that rule because I just had to show you a glimpse of how amazing the Fiep Westendorp exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in Helmond is.

Months ago I read about the exhibition on Octavie's blog, and though we made plans to go visit straight away, in the end it took us a few more months before we finally paid the museum a visit. And so glad we did! First of all because this is an absolutely amazing exhibition for young kids, something you don't see very often. There was so much room for fantasy, play and discovery that our girls got slightly manic (though in a good way) the first few minutes they saw everything. Then they just started to play and enjoyed everything they saw around them. So many of Fiep Westendorp's famous illustrations really came to life in larger than life decors, and everywhere there were little corners where kids could join their favorite book scenes and play along.

I was also quite impressed myself. Here in the Netherlands we are so very used to seeing Fiep Westendorp's illustrations everywhere (not in the least on so many shelves filled with HEMA Jip & Janneke merchandise) and her style has become so familiar that we hardly notice the beauty, art and craftmanship of her work anymore. It was mainly the art aspect that struck me when I saw so many of Fiep Westendorp's original drawings. When you looked close, almost every piece was a masterpiece, and so much more than 'just a children's book illustration'.

So if you're anywhere near Helmond in the next two weeks (yes, unfortunately there are only two more weeks to go) you should definitely allow yourself and your kids the joy and inspiration to spend a few hours in Fiep Westendorp's illustrative world. I promise you won't be disappointed! (And probably you'll end up taking millions of crappy phone pictures just like me, so if you want to avoid that, do bring a proper camera! ;))

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You may have noticed that my postcard and poster collection keeps growing and growing. In fact having postcards and posters printed seems to have turned into some kind of addiction lately, along with another one: baking healthy cookies and cakes almost daily (but more about that later). However the good news is that I'm sort of rid of my sugar addiction ;).

More good news is that all those boxes with postcards and posters aren't just piling up in my studio, but that they're actually being sold in more and more nice shops, both brick and mortar shops and online ones. I thought I'd let you know where you can find them!

Brick and mortar shops

All the luck in the world, Amsterdam

Bos & Heij, Arnhem

Huiszwaluw, Ghent (Belgium)

Woonwinkel Nova, Breda

Online shops

Een nieuw avontuur

Kleine Sam

Liefs van Maantje

Mooi kamertje

Of course all the postcards will also be available in my etsy shop.

Do you have a shop and are you interested in wholesale of my postcards, posters, prints or ceramics? You can always send me an email at ik_ben_nina@hotmail.com to hear about the possibilities!

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This month a photo shoot of our home is published in Fabulous Mama magazine. Photographer Anke Leunissen and stylist Kim de Groot took the lovely pictures.

I once wrote here about how the artificial, overly styled images of perfect homes in magazines or on blogs can sometimes make you start considering your imperfect daily home as some kind of anomaly. I loved seeing how Anke and Kim styled the pictures during this photo shoot (which they of course did) without overdoing it and without losing the spirit of the house that we actually live in. In fact I think the nicest photos turned out to be the ones where Julie grabbed the grapes that were part of the styling of a picture and started eating them...

If you're curious you can find some more pictures of the shoot here.

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Just a few pictures of our plate wall, that sometimes seems a bit like one of those puzzles where you can't just change one thing, but always have to change everything because each small change shakes the balance of the whole system. Today is the first day of school in our area again, which also shakes a balance, our life's balance. Not even in a big way: none of our girls is going to school yet, the only one leaving for school today was Helmut, to start teaching again. Which of course marks the end of our summer holiday, something that leaves me feeling sort of sad. Kind of funny actually, because in a way the difference between 'normal life' and holiday has never been smaller than in these last few years.

As far as I can remember, I've always dreaded going back to normal life after the holidays. As a kid I hated going back to school again, after the freedom I experienced during the holiday. I'm sure there were also reasons to be happy to be back in school, but in general the feeling of having to return to 'the system' with its ongoing rules and routines predominated.

I'm still not very good with routines and involuntary structures, and sometimes I wonder what it'll be like when Rosa starts in school in December. I'm sure the daily school structure will change our life's slightly chaotic balance, but mainly I hope that Rosa's going to enjoy being part of the school system more than I used to do. We've chosen the Waldorf school that's only one block away from our home for her, that seems so cozy and enjoyable that even I would want to go there every day ;). I really do hope that Rosa will feel the same way.

Meanwhile I keep rearranging: I bought the pink House of Rym plate in Antwerp last month, and when I finally had everything back in position, I bought a few more that are currently waiting for their spot. Ah well, I'm sure we'll soon all find our balance again!

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One of the things that I find most difficult about running a small online art/craft/design business, is to what extent I can and want to keep up with the constant hunger for new things, new styles and changing trends that I see around me, and that I also notice in myself. Like a lot of people I'm always curious to see new designs and products and each season's new collections. Not necessarily because I feel that we should change our complete clothing style or interior with each fresh collection (not at all, in fact), but I guess it's sort of a natural thing that we're always more interested in new things to come than in what we already know. 

I also notice this when it comes to the things I sell: though I wish I could say that every little piece I make is a timeless classic, truth is that most of the things that I made a few years ago (and that some people also bought back then) don't get that much attention anymore these days. Usually I get a bit bored with them myself as well after some time, and there aren't that many things I made a few years ago that I still really like today. So from the things that I started selling about six years ago, only a few are still for sale right now, usually in a version much altered throughout time. And of course it's usually more fun to start working on new ideas than to keep repeating old ones, so then it's out with the old and in with the new. 

But sometimes it bothers me, maybe almost in a theoretical way: why is it so hard to keep liking something 'old', something you've maybe already seen many times, why do we constantly seem to be trapped in this desire for new things, for change? And then why does the new already seem old again after a few weeks? Is it simply because getting used to something means it can't surprise us anymore? Or is it all about quality and about the fact that most things turn out to be mediocre in the end, instead of timeless classics?

Maybe there's also the possibility that I just get bored too quickly... (I know quite a few people who still live in a perfect 1980s decor fairly happily, without ever complaining about feeling bored ;)) So maybe this is just me trying to turn my own quirk into some kind of universal issue.

Anyway, sometimes it can be interesting to look back at the (near) past. A while ago I quit selling some of the prints that I had made a few years earlier, but a bit to my surprise I regularly kept receiving requests for the alphabet print (the one that was featured in this great book about a year ago). So I came up with some sort of 'in with the old and in with the new' solution: the original A4-sized print is now available again as a larger poster and also as a postcard.

You can purchase the poster (and also a lot of newer, less retro ones ;)) here

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It's been a very good summer so far, both when it comes to enjoying our holiday and when it comes to work.

There'll be lots of new posters and postcards available next week...

I hope to give you an update on all of it real soon, but first we're up to some more (last) bits of enjoying our summer holiday!

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Before I had kids I never could have imagined that I would have something specific to say about playgrounds and such. But now that I'm a mother, it turns out that I do.

Really, sometimes I wonder who designs these playgrounds. They are supposed to be places where kids can have a good time, aren't they? But aren't they supposed to offer the parents of these kids at least the slightest bit of relaxation as well? My girls love playgrounds and I like going out with them as well, so by now we've seen quite a few, and it still keeps surprising me how child- and parent unfriendly these places can be. They're situated next to roads with busy traffic, with no fence or border whatsoever. They have slides meant for young kids with stairs so difficult to climb that only super gymnastic at-least-eight-year-olds can mount them by themselves. Or there's dog poop all over the place (seriously dog owners, using a playground as your dog's toilet?).

So no matter how much we like visiting playgrounds, often it's just quite a stressful experience (for me, that is ;)) with two girls running in two different directions, one towards a busy road and the other one towards a ditch. Helping one climbing the slide while the other one wants me to push her on the swing. Making sure that the youngest one isn't hit by another kid on a swing. Releasing the eldest one from a climbing rack that turned out a little too high and scary after all. And meanwhile making sure that her younger sister isn't climbing a super high construction that contrary to the young kids' slide is super easily accessible.

The thing is that actually I don't think it should be all that complex: a good playground for young kids (and their parents) should have a proper fence (with just one entrance) and some playground equipment that is designed with the possibilities of the targeted kids in mind. Water and mud are always a simple and good idea, though not in amounts that make the situation dangerous for any kid that can't yet swim.

Lucky for us we do know a place where they've understood these rather simple things. It's a children's farm with lots of animals, and even better: a big 'gnome fairytale wood'. Everyone can bring his leftover garden gnomes here for a cozy retirement in a big gnome garden where kids can play endlessly with and among the gnomes (the people who supervise the place are super relaxed about kids playing with the gnomes and moving them around). There's a playground with a lot of sand that becomes a giant mud pool after each heavy shower (which the kids love and I -after a deep breath, because they always end up as muddy little piglets- love too, because in the end there's nothing better than seeing your kids whirling in the mud enthusiastically). They have lots of children's bikes and cars and plenty of room for driving them. The play area is quite large, but since there's only one entrance, as a parent it's relatively easy to maintain overview. They even serve coffee and some (super simple) snacks.

The fun thing is that this isn't a super fancy place at all: it's freely accessible and mainly run by volunteers. It's relaxed and a bit messy in a charming way. They don't serve expensive food or drinks and it's all totally mix and match, but then really (so not the fashionable kind ;)).

And while the girls play in the mud, sometimes their mama can even spend a few lazy minutes on a bench. Now that's what I call a playground! 

Curious about this place? Here you can find it's details.

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A few weeks ago we finally moved Julie's little blue cot into Rosa's room, and now they actually share a room for the very first time (they did have a 'shared room' in our previous apartment, but they never really slept there together). To say it has proven a success so far would be a bit premature: in fact these last few weeks have been a mix of a few very good nights and a lot of terrible ones. However the terrible part didn't necessarily have that much to do with the girls sharing a room: most of the time they each had their own many seperate reasons for waking up and leaving us totally sleep-deprived (and eventually the one would also wake the other up of course, so we had quite a few nights with the two of them keeping each other awake). They do love sharing a room by the way, so the aspect of the two of them enjoying each other's company and developing their own little routines is really sweet to witness.

The room the girls share isn't a very big one, but the funny thing is that now that Julie and her bed have moved in, it seems easier to organize the space in a more efficient and playful way, without the feeling of losing that much room. A little while ago I found some vintage nursery school tables with matching chairs, and I put one of the tables in the girls' room. Now they have a little reading/drawing nook, which hardly occupies more space than the previous arrangement with only the vintage bench and doll bed.

A little while ago I stumbled upon a pinterest link that led to a post on a website about the previous shared nursery that we created in our old home. It was funny to look at those old pictures (of a planned shared nursery that never ended up being shared), but even more funny & interesting was reading the comments on the particular blog post.

When you put things on the internet you inevitably open yourself up to the possibility of getting comments and criticism, which can be positive but of course also pretty negative. In general I think the mama/craft/design blog community is rather friendly: we usually don't say it in one's 'face' when we think one's home, products, pictures or creations are a total disaster, or when their writing style is annoying us terribly. However this type of courtesy is often less visible when your pictures start travelling all over the net and end up on websites such as Apartment therapy, that ask for people's opinion on interior decoration issues. Then all of a sudden you can start reading some more honest views ;). Like this comment, about these pictures of our previous nursery:

"No. I like creative spaces. This is to much junk for a glorified walk in closet, that's pretty much what this room is, WIC. I have seen better put together rooms in a small space, this is horrid."

Ah well, of course it's never a wonderful thing when your nursery is being called horrid and 'too much junk for a glorified walk in closet'. But on the other hand it makes sense: we all have different tastes and I can perfectly well imagine that what I like may be awful in someone else's view.

But it's getting better... The next person commenting on the blog post, a certain MummyKitM, leaves no less than three comments after another.

The first:

"Those cribs actually look illegal. How far apart are the "bars"?? They look as if a baby could easily slide through and hang. And I really detest seeing pillows in a crib. The shelves are hard to get to, as are some of the clothes. What is with that chair? There's no space for it in 3 of the pictures, and yet, magically, it appears in the fourth? It looks truly uncomfortable, also. That is so insanely staged. I'm sorry, but this whole room is a "fail"."

Then the second:

"And I only just noticed: the beds *AGAINST* a heater?? With *NO* cover *OR* space?!?!?!? W.T.H?!?!?!"

And finally:

"I see that this is in the Netherlands, so I don't know their laws for cribs, but I see even more things in this room that, as a parent, raise alarm bells. Buttons? On a baby sleeper?"

The funny thing is that when pictures of our nursery appear on international (mainly American) websites, these 'OMG-so-dangerous' comments always start pouring down. It's interesting that on the one hand I often get nice emails from American readers who ask me where they can find such a nice vintage crib, while on the other hand there are always people who seem to think that here in Europe we are deliberately trying to harm our kids or something.

This online-safety-worrying is a fascinating thing: there seems to be a whole crowd of concerned moms online who are constantly checking every possible nursery picture for any kind of safety hazards. I've seen it so many times (and not only regarding my own pictures!), and if you ask me, it's a bit crazy. Don't get me wrong: like all moms (even Dutch or European ones, which may come as a surprise to some commenters ;)) I'm very much concerned for my kids' health. Also I definitely wouldn't want to ridiculize people's actual concerns for things such as SIDS, which is an awful thing. But this whole obsession with seeing enormous hazards in every possible thing? It seems quite stressful and unnecessary to me. If you want to hear my opinion, these are my two cents.

First of all about these vintage beds: I know so many people with cribs like these (and in fact whole generations grew up in them, because they're 1950s beds), and really, I've never ever witnessed anything that comes even the remotest bit close to babies getting their heads stuck between the bars of the bed. In fact I don't think it can happen (but maybe my kids just have giant heads!). Never say never, but personally I think the safety of your children has much more to do with being attentive and present as a parent than with all those laws, rules and precautions that people come up with in order to avoid any possible danger. I've always had my kids very close to me (like in a crib next to my bed for about the first year or so, or napping in a wrap during the day, or in a crib in the room next to mine) and I always check up on them when I hear them cry.

Personally I think common sense, attentiveness, intuition and staying close are key words when it comes to the safety of your baby and toddler. Of course it's wise to take some precautions, but in the end it's not laws or precautions or all kinds of ingenious technological tools that have to take care of your kid and it's safety, but you yourself.

To be honest I often think that as a mother I should be a little more nonchalant: compared to other moms I often consider myself as a bit too controlling, staying too close sometimes and not  allowing my kids enough room to take risks, make their own mistakes and sometimes get hurt. But of course that kind of thing isn't really visible on a picture with some decorative pillows in a crib ;).

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I never quite understood this whole honeycomb/pompom thing: nice for parties, but all the time, in your home? (says someone who puts buntings everywhere ;)) But during a bike ride in the city I saw a vase with a bunch of bamboo sticks with colorful honeycombs in the window of a house, and I immediately fell for it. At a certain point Rosa asked me why we kept riding back and forth through that same street over and over again... Well, because of those sticks with the colorful honeycombs of course!

I think these will be a perfect replacement for my slightly our of control fresh flower addiction (not to mention the constant work it brings to make sure that there are fresh flowers all the time instead of neglected sad-looking ones ;)). Though I can imagine that these are just way too attractive for tiny curious hands... Let's see if they'll survive their first night with the girls! 

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If I were asked to sell my soul in order to never ever have to tidy up again, I'd probably give it away for free. Seriously, me and tidying up, it's not that it just isn't a match made in heaven, it's more of a match that was never made at all. And of course this kind of thing clashes terribly with my love for beautiful things, and with my wish to enjoy those beautiful things around me instead of constantly looking at a lot of mess. It clashes with running a household with (equally messy) kids. And it clashes with a man who likes everything clean and organized (yes, I'm the one who drops her clothes on the floor here ;)).

I understand people who reach this point of minimizing their belongings perfectly well (but I must be honest: I'll probably never get there ;)). All the stuff you acquire comes with the obligation of taking care of it, managing it even. We all want bigger houses, bigger gardens, more beautiful things, but it always seems nicer to acquire those things than to actually take care of them properly. Well at least I am good at wanting to bring lots of beautiful things into the house, and then I forget to take good care of them, so often they end up on a big pile of non-descript things that I don't really know what to do with. Of course I don't think that you should take care of your belongings like they were your babies or something, but I realize that there's a certain decadence in wanting things so much and then neglecting them once you have them.

So here's plan # Ilostcount to be a bit more tidy and to enjoy the nice things we already have more by actually being able to see them properly, instead of hidden behind piles of other things! ;)

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Some days it works, some days it doesn't... Lately we've been experiencing some of these really good days, that already start early (as usual ;)) in a sunny garden, with the girls playing so nicely together, sometimes even for hours at a stretch while hardly needing any intervention from our side. Then everything seems to go so smoothly, there's room for everyone to relax and do a bit of what they like... And then I can't help but start dreaming about life always being a bit more this way.

This kind of relaxed harmony... I like it so much, but you can never really control it and it's often unexpected. I guess maybe that's part of why it is so good. Some days all the ingredients seem to be there: the sun, the garden, no plans for the day... But then for some reason or another the girls keep fighting over literally everything, someone is tired or cranky or sometimes I just can't let go of all the things that distract me and really be present...

But though I know that there's no planning of these things, I'm definitely going to try to optimalize circumstances and bring as much relaxed sunny Sunday morning as possible into the rest of our week... Now all I can hope is that the girls get what I mean and are ready to join me! ;) 

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A lot of new plates are available in the shop! Most of these are identical plates (with different illustrations of course!) that can be combined perfectly for a breakfast or diner set, and on request I can make more of each. Or different ones... a lot of possibilities! For a change I haven't worked with vintage plates this time, so it's quite a new thing for me as well, working with those large piles of identical white plates ;). Some of the plates shown here have already sold, but if you like something similar, just let me know!

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About Ninainvorm

I'm Nina, ceramics designer, art/ craft/ design lover and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about the things I make (you can find my online shop here) and the things I love (design, art, craft, interior, fashion, photography). You may have noticed a special emphasis on my two beautiful girls and everything children's design related!

There used to be a second blog on children's clothing, Coolkidsclothes, but it's currently sort of asleep and all the images have vanished temporarily, but I hope to revitalize it real soon.

Meanwhile, lovely children's clothing will be an important part of this blog here as well.

Want to get in touch? You can always send me an email through ik_ben_nina@hotmail.com.

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