It’s a girl!
First of all, let me start by announcing the birth of my 2nd child, Freya. She was born on a Friday (jay! I hoped she would!), on the 12th of October 2012 (pretty date, huh?). Labour went well, my recovery also. Now we’re trying to get a routine going again, and find a way to handle 2 kids at once.
Tobias, now aged 18+ months (he’s from 8th of April 2011), ofcourse has to get used to the new situation. If that isn’t enough, he’s starting to get into the “terrible two’s” phase. He can’t talk yet (though does say a few words and is practicing), so he expresses his feelings physically. He ofcourse feels frustrated about not being able to express himself clearly, and probably also some anger about the changed situation, he isn’t the only one in the house who gets attention from mom and dad now. So he hits, bites, pinches, scratches us and the new baby. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very sweet boy, loves to help with things, gives kisses to anyone who stays behind when he goes out (like when his dad brings him to the daycare, both me and Freya gets a kiss) or when he goes to bed he gives us all kisses. He does touch Freya, wants to pretend play a bit with her – when he has a spoon he tries to give it to her too – but it soon evolves into hitting or scratching. He does know it’s not allowed, but he can’t place himself into someone elses shoes yet, so he doesn’t understand it hurts. I’ve searched a bit on the internet and it’s a phase kids (can) go through. Let’s hope it doesn’t last too long (hmm, some claim it never stops – hitting/fighting with a younger sibling that is!)
Now back to the birthannouncementcard.
A card with a story
Besides crafting a lovely sweet daughter in my belly, I’ve made the birthannouncement card.
A few things that I drew inspiration from:
- The comic “Thorgal” (see also http://www.thorgal.com)
- Her name
- The season she would be born in (fall) – No super girly cutesy pink kind of theme
First, the comic. I have several comics of the serie Thorgal, and I love the drawings and the kind of Scandinavian mythology. I love the website. That is where I got the idea of having these kind of layers: a nature background, then a cutout layer on top of it with shapes of leaves in it (the fall theme), and then a silhouette of something to do with the baby.
The name Freya
From the wiki page:
In Norse mythology, Freyja (Old Norse the “Lady“) is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, owns the boar Hildisvíni, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord“), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Frejya, Freyia, Frøya, Frøjya, and Freia.
And if you search for images, you find many images of her on her chariot, being pulled by two cats.
So that would be the silhouette: Freya being pulled by two cats. But this is a sweet baby Freya, not a godess going to war or something, so it’s two cats pulling a baby carriage.
The season is fall. Fall with it’s beautifull shapes, the leaves, with the playfull wind blowing them all around, and with the fresh rain that washes the sweat from the summer away. The leaves were allready incorporated through the Thorgal theme. Fall with it’s beautifull warm colours, the greens, browns, yellow, reds and gold. Only, the first few choices I made as colours made the image quite dark. As it is custom printed, it was not possible to add gold accents to the card. Or maybe it is but then it would cost lots more money I suppose. My other objection to gold colours was that it might look like an announcement of death, isn’t that often with a gold line around the card? So after some searching for colours I finally found some I was quite ok with. Yellow and green.
Coïncidentally, the colours of The Hague are yellow and green as well (though a brighter shade).
You can also see some rough sketches of the carriage and the cats, and different backgrounds. More on the cats later.
Further design and assembly
With these things in mind I set out to make the card. I did use a screenshot of the Thorgal page as template, enlarged it, traced around it, cut away, filled in etc. I searched for a background image. Wouldn’t it be fun if it was made from a real photograph? So I went out an made pictures of trees and parks in the area. I didn’t want them to look like photo’s, I wanted them to look like drawings, in the Thorgal style. So lots of trial and error before I was happy with the result.
Original image on the left, edited image (with an insert of Tobias) on the right.
This is the source of the insert of Tobias. His face isn’t in focus but you don’t notice on the card as it’s quite small there. The legs you see are from my partner, ofcourse I didn’t let Tobias climb up there without someone standing near!
A tiny bit of the wall around the property Huis Ten Bosch of the Dutch Queen is visible in the background.
So that was the background and the colours. On to the carriage and cats!
Carriage and cats
No interesting story about the carriage, first I hand-drew a carriage and cats, then scanned it and used it for layout purposes (see the colourtesting for my terrible drawings). After that I used the scan as a template to make the drawing better. Oh, and all of this I did in Paint.Net (a free photoshop like editing program). For the cats I searched high and low on teh internetz. It’s hard to find an image of a running cat!
So I finally found images of running cats. I edited them a bit. Decided a silhouette wouldn’t work, neither with the carriage, it would be just a black (or white) blob. So it would be some sort of false silhouettes, with some lines in them to make the carriage and cats clearer. After lots of hard work, I was done. But then I wasn’t. It just didn’t feel right – Tobias on the left, smiling, while the baby carriage is pulled away by cats? No no no, she’s arriving, not leaving! (I didn’t want to tempt fate by adding a golden (mourning) lining or inserting cats that run away with my baby… call me crazy, but hey, she wasn’t born yet, and although I had no reason to worry, babies do die sometimes during labour, and mom’s sometimes too, so I always say: First, the baby and me have to survive labour, and then we’ll see from there.)
So away with running cats. I didn’t want to use internet images as I had gotten them from sites that actually require you to pay for the image. So what now?
Well, we have a cat. An old one, he’s Charlie and he’s 23. He has a tumor by the way, he will probably die within a few months. We’ll miss him a lot, but he has had a long and good life. He is not in pain right now, or at least, we don’t think he’s in much pain. Cats are tough animals, it’s hard to tell when they’re in pain. But he still eats well, goes to the litterbox and enjoys the heater and attention from us (not from Tobias) a lot! At night, when Freya is finally sleeping, he comes up (I always say, and here is baby number 3 wanting attention!) and wants me to pet him. He miauws loudly. He has a bad breath. And he likes to meouw right next to my face or turns around to look at something, meanwhile almost putting his behind on my face. As he’s old and his hips are stiff and he can’t maintain himself easily, I am very scared of his behind. On several occasions it wasn’t clean. So there goes my sleepiness. If it isn’t his behind, it’s his tail under my nose. He has very effective ways of me betraying to him that I am not sleeping. (The breath is also a very good one!)
Charlie with his laser eyes
Not entirely in focus, but hey, it’s for a silhouette. And here he finally looked up.
So, Charlie is my model. It does show he’s old, with his fur not being that smooth and the curve in his back being high, but I kind of like that. The old cat brings the young baby. Charlie used to have an older brother, Fred, but he was put to sleep about 4 years ago. He had diabetes and kidney problems, and we found out too late, he was in pain allready. Charlie and his shadow, pulling the carriage. Not pulling, but resting after having pulled the carriage.
That’s the front of the card. It took me lots of hours, trial and error, but I’m pleased with it. Not everyone will like it, and without explanation the card has lots less meaning (like the picture in het Haagse Bos where we regularly walk, Tobias laughing at the new arrival, the fact that the cats aren ot running but resting, the Thorgal theme and lots more that fits with her name). It’s a unique card, and I hope she will like it when she is older.
Next post: the inside of the card and the backside!