Owl was my first word. Or at least that’s what my parents tell me. I am sure I was just making ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ noises and someone thought it sounded like ‘owl’. Either way, I’ve received many owl presents throughout the years. So it was very exciting when owls started showing up in the fashion, home and craft scenes a few years back. I thought it was a trend that would die out, but instead it seems to be stronger than ever. An Etsy search for owl gives you over 30,000 results. There is even an entire blog – a pretty amazing blog, actually – dedicated to owl design and art: My Owl Barn.
I was little worried about creating a owl graphic for Old World Hungary. It seemed relevant because it showed up in the craft of all three countries we visited, it was even on the Romanian postage stamp. But how would I compete with all the amazing owl designs that were already out there? Many other clothing lines already had owl graphic tees. How could I make one that was more special?
top row: Marc by Marc, Misha Lulu, POL Clothing
2nd row: , Kate Garey, Alice Melvin, Soft Gallery
3rd row: Delias, Lucky Wang, Babylon Baby
After our inspiration trip to the library, I had a photocopy of this one embroidery that I loved. Every which way I looked at it I kept seeing an owl in it. Not a entire owl, just an owl wing or eye, and all I could think was what a cute owl graphic it would make. Since it came to me instead of me creating it – I figured it was a sign that I had to go ahead and make the owl graphic. I hope you like it!
For the final graphic I put him in a little tree that was inspired by traditional wood carving of the region.
Transylvania is a region in central Romania, nestled next the the Carpathian mountain range to the East and South. Dating back to the Roman empire, Transylvania has a rich history of battles, monarchies, and occupations. Despite its colorful past, in the USA Transylvania is known best for the myths of vampires, werewolves, and spirits that supposedly reside there.
In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a book he called Dracula. While stories of vampires had existed before the release of Dracula, the popularity of the novel pushed them into the mainstream through books, theater, and movies. But how based in fact are these stories of the world’s most famous vampire?
The name “Dracula” is rumored to have originated from Vlad the Impaler’s full name – Vlad III Dracula. Vlad III is heralded by Romanians as a hero for fighting off the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 13th century, but unfortunately killed thousands of civilians in the process. Bram Stoker came across stories of Vlad when researching Romania for his novel, and borrowed the name Dracula for his main character.
What about Dracula’s castle? Transylvania has many old castles, and there are three in debate as to which is “Dracula’s” castle – Poenari Castle, Hunyad Castle, and Bran Castle. Bran Castle is marketed as the most credible, partly due to the fact that Vlad the Impaler (Dracula’s namesake) used to use the castle as a base during battles. Wanting to experience some of the legend, many tourists visit Bran Castle in search of the story of Dracula.
I always find it interesting to find out there is a little bit of truth, however tangential, in famous legends, particularly those of the spooky variety. Have a safe, fun, and happy Halloween!
In the spirit of celebrating Etsy artists from the region of Old World Hungary, here is another new favorite. Eszter Schall is a Hungarian painter, graphic designer, and illustrator. I love her bold use of colors and her use of squares.
Feeling lucky? The blog Pika Land is doing a giveaway of one of Schalle’s pieces on their site here.
While exploring Etsy the other day I came across the fabulous creations of Judit Wild (Vadjutka). Born in Hungary, she lives in Budapest and is a jewelry maker, a photographer, blog writer, and sociologist who focuses on media research. In her words “Almost 20 years after the turn of the system in Eastern-Europe, arts and crafts business started to flourish – as well as civic society…. giving an inspiring atmosphere to work in.”
I find her jewelry fun and unusual, and I keep going back and forth about which piece I want. Although she’s in Hungary she does ship to the USA, and if you live in Budapest you can even have them hand delivered to your home!
Every once in a while I come across a story that I find so amazing and inspiring that I can’t stop thinking about it. This morning in the NYTimes I discovered the Kopila Valley School in Surkhet, Nepal. Kopila Vally is a home for orphans and abandoned children in Nepal, as well as a school for children from surrounding villages. It was founded by Maggie Doyne, a native of New Jersey who moved to Nepal when she was 19. She used $5000 that she had saved up from babysitting to lay the foundations for the organization.
The school started small with just a handful of students, but due in part to a grant from DoSomething.org, has expanded quickly over the past few years. It now has a library and an auditorium, and is working its way up to being able to accommodate high-school age kids. Along with providing education, the school houses the children, offers them food and health care, and teaches them vocational skills like repairing bicycles and raising livestock.
To learn more about Maggie’s story and how she started the school, click here. For more information on the Kopila Valley Children’s Home, as well as video clips, and to donate, visit their website. To read about Maggie on the NYTimes and learn about the philanthropic work of other women abroad, check out their article on The D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution.