Ninainvorm
a blog about art, craft, design and beautiful everyday life
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Almost a year ago, after our moving house adventure had slowed down a little, all of a sudden I found myself working on posters instead of (mainly) ceramics... From one came the other, and posters also became postcards.

Right now I love working on paper designs, there's something kind of attractive about doing some (okay: usually a lot of) work on a few sheets of paper and on your computer and then receiving large boxes of your 'finished product'. It's so different from ceramics, where you put quite some time into just one piece without even being sure if it survives the firing in the kiln properly.

But in a way what attracts me sometimes also feels like the downside of it. To produce or to make?

It's hard to describe and it might sound a bit whiny, but for a while I've been feeling that the art/craft community that I've felt part of for such a long time has started to change, or maybe it has already been changing for a long time. It's kind of difficult to put this into words because in a way it's just a vague feeling, and maybe it's just a natural evolution or the coming of age of a movement. But when I look at places like etsy, but also at blogs and other media and art/craft shops, it seems like the focus is changing from original, handmade and one of a kind pieces towards 'production' and making more of the same. Also I often feel that the independent art/craft movement and the big brands/shops are growing closer towards each other, which I think is a mix of mutual inspiration on the one hand but sometimes also blatant copying on the other hand.

I guess the independent art/craft/design movement grew big and popular because there was a real demand for new original, creative and handmade items, that weren't mainstream and easy to find for a long time. Then a whole subculture with blogs, shops, magazines and books grew around it. Artists and bloggers started to collaborate with big media, big shops and big brands, and some of the artists and indie designers also became real brands themselves. Handmade became quite a hype, the supply of 'unique, original handmade items' became larger (including the DIY copying) and maybe that hype has just more or less reached it's end, like all hypes sooner or later do. I think this interesting article by Design Sponge's Grace Bonney describes some of these developments very accurately, but then more focused on the specific (but related) world of the (interior) design blogs.

When I look back at all these years of online art/craft/design, I think for a large part it has sort of 'grown up'.  Almost everyone seems to be able to take the most beautiful pictures these days, the styling of pictures has become much more important and probably the items people make have also improved and become more professional. Maybe in a way the artists and crafters have become a bit more mainstream and less 'cutesy-crafty', while the big brands and shops have become a bit more inspired to try new things that are a bit more daring and artistic.

So is it a win-win situation? Sometimes I think yes, when I'm able to buy some really nice, well-designed stuff for little money at the department stores that used to sell only boring, basic stuff a few years ago. Sometimes I think no, when I see that those department stores are simply copying beautiful designs by small/independent designers and selling them for much less money.

For myself, I really want to keep finding the balance between enjoying a bit of production and enjoying the experiment and inspiration of one of a kind, handmade pieces. Though of course I sometimes also have ambitions to take certain things to a higer (efficiency/productivity/sales) level, somehow I still feel very comfortable just making small amounts of things with my own hands.

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Just a small visual diary of what I'm working on and what I see around me these days, to keep track of some very busy weeks! Oh, and I guess the word of the week is swan ;).

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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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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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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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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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And so weeks flew by without a single post on this blog... Wish I could say I've been working on a real big project or something, but I haven't ;). Been working on lots of small ones though, like many custom orders and some new designs. And there was a nice photoshoot, that required lots and lots of tidying up, in particular in my studio. So everything looked organized again here, at least for a day or two.

But mainly I've been focusing on stuff away from the computer, like reading lots of books in bath, spending as much time as possible in the garden, and on creating some new healthy food habits. So now I spend half of my time in the kitchen preparing all kinds of good food... But please don't expect this blog to turn into some sort of food blog, there are already so many good ones and I've never been particularly good at nor interested in taking pictures of what I cook (I just always find it so hard to imagine that people can find the time and energy to style and take pictures of their meals, I always just want to eat them immediately ;)).

Also I've been writing some guest posts on the Kleine Sam blog (in Dutch), you can find them here and here.

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About Ninainvorm

My name is Nina, I'm a ceramics and paperwares designer and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about making, living, liking, loving and so much more!

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

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