Guard Animal Signs

It doesn’t take much to entertain me, so frequently the people closest to me are rewarded with my extra, ahem, ideas. So this is how I ended up making silly Guard Animal signs and posting them on the internet…

One night at dinner, some friends and I focused our conversation on a small bronze snail figurine placed between the salt and pepper shakers and the butter jar. One friend picked it up, noting its heft and pointy feelers. Another friend commented on its hidden abilities to bring an intruder to their knees if used correctly. “We should have a guard snail sign, and we should name him after Emil!” exclaimed another table member, referring to the most amicable of us in the group. DONE and DONE.

You don’t have to tell me twice to make a Guard Snail sign. At the slightest urging I’ll scuttle off and make a whole series of the most terrifying and life-threatening guard creatures ever!

The most feared of all guard animals...
The most feared of all guard animals…

Post the Guard Squirrel on your front door and acorn thiefs will hightail it lickity split. Place the Guard Goldfish on your water closet door and no guest will ever dare leave the room smelling of other than dewdrops and roses. Put the Guard Kitten in your wallet amongst your family photos and pickpockets will walk your pilfered money sleeve to the nearest precinct. GUARANTEED.

All of these Guard Animals are available for download and personal printing in the following PDF files. Each PDF contains all Guard Animals, so find your selected weapon, print the appropriate page and cut out your sign. The signs are smallish, the the impact is large.

Download English “Guard Animal” signs
Download Dansk “Her Vogter Jeg” skilte

guard snail english danish
The classic English caution sign and the original “her vogter jeg” sign inspired by the small but lethal bronze table ornament “Emil the vagt snegl”.

Royal Copenhagen Cat

Walking around Nørrebro in Copenhagen there are many Asian shops, all of which boast a brigade of little waving cat figurines – also known as Maneki-neko. They seem so omnipresent that I suspect they are part of a Secret Danish Surveillance System – one that makes sure you only cross the street on green and pay your taxes promptly.

These felines are the exact opposite of everything “Danish Design” is reported to be, and if I had to name a Danish counterpart to a Maneki-neko it would be Kay Bojesen’s teak monkey (nearly every Danish home has one).

I like unlikely pairings – or perhaps my subconscious does – because one day as I walked past yet another window full of friendly cats, I pictured them painted with the Royal Copenhagen pattern, the quintessential floral design used on the most famous of Danish porcelain. And my brain doesn’t stop once it has had such an idea, so I had to make it real.

You didn't think a plastic cat and a porcelain plate could mate, but I've proven otherwise.

Continue reading “Royal Copenhagen Cat”

French Owls

A while back I attended the inaugural craft evening of Craftenhagen, organized by designer, blogger and fellow US-expat-in-Copenhagen Brittany Watson Jepsen who writes The House That Lars Built. The first Craftenhagen guest was Sarah Goldschadt, who is a crafter of many things and has a book coming out soon about just that. The project was to make some little stuffed owls.

Owlie craft project made by Sarah Goldschadt.

I was only able to attend half of the session, so my owls ended up being hurried and therefore lopsided. One owl looked like it had a facial tic and the other was losing stuffing from the moment I made it. But the little owls were so cute that I had to finish them in my own way – by making a picture of them.

Click image to zoom.
One French owl shouting OUI filled with patterns and textures. Oh, and kind of hovering above a branch. French owls don't actually touch branches, they just hover above them.
One owl.
A smitten French owl whispering OUI filled with patterns and textures.
Two owls.

Muppet the Hairdresser's Dog

Spanks Hairdressing in Portland, Oregon has a mascot named Muppet, a wiry haired little dog that will sit and stare at you for hours on end while you wait to get your haircut. So I stared back at him and drew this picture. He is the dog with the most organized hair I’ve ever seen, so I’m not sure why he is called Muppet.

Spanks Hairdressing in Portland Oregon has a mascot named Muppet, a wiry haired little dog that will sit and stare at you for hours on end while you wait to get your haircut. So I stared back at him and drew this picture.

Elephant Summer

This summer in Danmark elephants were everywhere. First off, I stayed with my cousin in Frederiksberg in an old Carlsberg beer silo that had been renovated into apartments. The view from the apartment looked out onto the old Carlsberg brewery, whose elephant mascots grace the entryway to the old factory as well as marketing materials and their Elephant Beer.

Welcome to Carlsberg.
What a happy elephant. Looks like he has had one too many...

One of the main art attractions while we were in Copenhagen was the Elephant Parade. Over 100 five-foot elephants were placed throughout the city, each individually designed by famous and upcoming artists. The goal was to contribute to the conservation of Asian elephants and raise general public awareness about the elephants’ dwindling numbers. As a souvenir, I bought a small figurine of Lars Pugholm’s entry.

Elephant #17: Poetry by Lars Pugholm
The Royal Copenhagen elephant out in the city. (photo from

Lastly, during a scenic drive on the east coast of Jutland we spotted a REAL, LIVE elephant outside SuperBrugsen. It was there to promote the visiting circus, which we only learned about later. In the US, this would be like seeing an elephant outside your local Safeway.

As an ode to this summer theme of pachyderms, I decided to make my own elephant portrait.

A mule by another name…

I received three figurines in the mail from my friend Sarah, who wrote that she knew I liked horses and thought I might do something fun with these half-inch tall toys. I opened the tissue paper wrapping she sent them in to find two horses…and a baby calf?

I was pretty sure that Sarah knew the difference between a calf and a foal…but what WAS the relationship of my three new charges, and did THEY know that something was off kilter? I have a feeling an uncomfortable confrontation between the baby calf and the Parental Horse Units will be happening soon.

Two parental horses decide when to tell their baby calf that things aren't as they seem.
Son, there is something we need to tell you...

Ralph Dances

As a child I desperately wanted a pet horse. If not a horse, a dog. If not a dog, a goat. All of my spare time not spent reading Walter Farley books was spent plotting on how I could turn my backyard into a pasture. My birthday wish lists consisted of listing every animal I could think of and rating them with stars and check marks depending on how much I desired them. I think a horse was worth 17 stars and a rabbit garnered 2 stars. How times have changed.

Instead of equines or canines, my parents decided that pet rats were the ticket for their 8-year-old daughter. Small, easily caged, and with lifespans lasting about 2 years, they were low commitment pets. So ensued my doting upon Ratty, Rocky, Rufus, Rex, Ralph, Rascal & Peaches. Later I did own a horse and several dogs, but the rats will always hold a special place in my heart.

So, I drew a little rat and who likes to sing and dance.

Paper Ponies

Recently I submitted some 3D paper ponies to Portland Paper City, a collaborative art show. All around Portland there are old hitching rings in the sidewalks from days gone by. Tied to some of the hitching rings are toy horses and ponies, thanks to The Horse Project. Whenever I see them they make me smile, so when I was asked to contribute something “Portland” to the show it didn’t take me long to decide on these little curbside ponies. It didn’t hurt that between ages 6 and 16 I spent 98% of my waking hours drawing horses, thinking about horses, and riding horses. Yep, I’m a horse girl.

(click on the images to zoom)

Did you know that there are two classification of Paint horses, or Pintos? Overo and Tobiano. Now you can surely use this information to win at trivia night sometime!
I think this one is on steroids. I hope he didn't get them from Snoopy.

Being a horse girl, you can bet that I researched this thoroughly. There is a great Flickr set called “All The Tiny Horses” from which I picked my charges. I hope to draw some more of the horses later, because frankly, I spent wayyyyy too many hours as a child developing my equine drawing skills to let it go to waste. Yes, and after that I’ll re-read all of Walter Farley’s books!

I had a few of these fuzzy horses as a kid. Apparently this one got stolen from its ring shortly after being put out to pasture.
I thought it was a little too morbid to recreate the decapitation scene.

The process of putting my pony drawings into 3D was a challenge. After some prototypes and a short stint of being sidetracked by origami, I decided to put the ponies on display using an open-air type diorama with a built in stand. Below are the dioramas without the stand.

Here is a shot of Charging Steed mounted to the wall at the show.