Friday, 29 November 2013
It always happens, the year starts to close in and my creative time becomes limited by social, work and christmas commitments. Suddenly I am inspired, I have a million ideas and not enough time to do any of them.
Occasionally I cheat, I carve out some time to just make, and I always feel better for it. I've been known to bottle apricot jam when I'm meant to be wrapping presents, I've been known to be print out knitting patterns while everyone sits in the car ready to go on holiday and I am guilty of booking into a free workshop next week when I'm meant to be doing anything but!
This pink printing was inspired by a recent meetup, with a blogger I have known online for hmmm, I think we decided five years. Someone who has been a virtual friend all this time but became an IRL (in real life) friend over dinner on Thursday night.
I wanted to give Cam a present, and I thought about sewing her a cushion with my field print in blue. You know what though, Cam isn't a blue person. She's pink, orange, purple, red. And so I quickly got out my screen and whipped up a batch of pink fields, and dug out my new purple hemp (and seriously, how nice is hemp, my new favourite fabric!) and sewed her a cushion.
I didn't stop there and if you are keen for some pink yourself then the shop has pink tea towels, pink cushion covers and even pink fabric, in case you have a bit of 'I should be packing' crafting to do of your own!
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
I love the idea of a destash… in theory. Truth is I am very bad at letting go of things. Just ask my husband. Or better yet don’t draw attention to it! He’ll tell you I’m always saving things for a rainy day, trying to hold on to stuff I might never use.
If something needs a simple repair I often hold on to it, in the spirit of make do and mend. Sadly it often stays in the repair pile for a long time, comes out to be re-sorted and goes back there for a spell. Items bought new and never used or gifted and unloved make me feel equally bad and those go in the cupboard for the same routine. They are total storage hogs.
Which is a pity because one thing we could use more of round here is storage. Sound familiar?!
Its ironic because I also love the feeling of destashing, clearing out my home till there are only essentials. I love the William Morris quote:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
I’m not quite at hoarder level though, I regularly go through the kids clothes and thin out the ones they’ve grown out of or never wear (I need to do the same with my wardrobe that is full of 'one day' outfits!)
I love passing on good stuff to Op shops or family friends. I love the recent resurgence of Vinnies and Salvos stores. And we love great hand me downs or recycled fashion here so its nice to return the favour. Actually Miss A has been volunteering at our local Vinnies and the manager tells she is great at hanging clothes and sorting shoes. I was surprised! (They must be hidden talents those.)
Its Council throw out day here this week. In our suburb it is like an unofficial swap meet. In the days leading up to it the roads and pavements are full of browsers picking the best of the piles and leaving only the truly broken and useless behind, which turns out isn’t much!
What to do with excess craft stuff though? Most of it is new and unused or vintage and precious. I know some of it could be perfect for someone else’s project. I know the investment and running around that goes into buying all these materials so I want it to go to the right home.
Recently I found out that, unlike some other auction sites Quicksales.com.au has free selling. Which suits me, that way I can put items up for sale and not pay if they don’t sell.
So I decided to sort and photograph and sell my excess. To give me room in the craft room and get back my storage, to tame my overwhelming stash.
It will be nice to let some of it find a new home with someone who will appreciate it. (And perhaps I might find some bargains over there while I’m listing too!!)
It took a week to get organised but it was so cathartic. For a few days I just sorted like with like. And then I labelled. The wool was collected up with the needles and hooks and knitting stuff. The embroidery threads and needles and hoops were put together in one place, and the fabric, OMG the fabric. Well lets just say it has never been this organised, ever. The quilting fabrics are in one place, the handprinted in another, the blank fabrics and the vintage all have their own boxes. It feels so good! And having only the good stuff, not cluttered with things I know I'll never use, well it makes the stash more precious.
It seems to me that the run up to Christmas is a great time to organise and destash. What better way to fund the buying sprees of Christmas than to virtuously get rid of all the clutter that you aren’t going to use and make some cash. (It might be the place for any those unwanted Christmas gifts too!)
This post brought to you by Quicksales.com.au
Saturday, 23 November 2013
I've talked before about the wonderful ABCD meetups we Sydney bloggers are lucky enough to enjoy. It is so much fun to break out from behind the computer and meet all the delightful bloggers this city is blessed with and a great chance to talk shop and share ideas with other makers and bloggers.
ABCD is the brainchild of the lovely Steph Bond-Hutkin and so when she put out the call for help with her 10th Blog Birthday Charity Auction it is not surprising that she was showered with fabulous donations from a who's who of creative peeps. A lot of our ABCD friends are represented.
The auctions are running on Ebay and now is the time to bid to get some awesome bargains and give to a fantastic cause, The Children's Cancer Institute Australia. But hurry, most auctions finish in about a day and a half, early Monday morning.
I have donated the popular Tomato Filigree Linen Tea Towel and an A4 size Ruby Slippers print with a combined value of $35 and with free postage to anywhere.
Last time I looked at the auction you could pick these up for about $20 posted. Just think you could have two Christmas presents crossed off your list and support a great cause at the same time! That's of course if you can bring yourself to give them away.
There are some beautiful art, homewares, clothes, toys, accessories and jewellery. I have bids on a few things and will be checking back soon. Go and have a look!
Friday, 22 November 2013
You probably have an opinion about sponsorship on blogs. I do.
Actually I’ve found my opinion evolving each year as the blogging landscape changes. These days I’m much more tolerant of its appearance in my reader. I always respect the decision of individual bloggers as I know that there will have been much soul searching in the choice. In a way I’m grateful for the emergence of sponsorship in the evolution of blogs as I know it has kept some of my favourite bloggers in the craft, and strengthened the commitment of others, let them keep doing this thing they love. I’m always bereft when a favourite blogger shuts up shop or fades quietly away so I’m happy to accept the trade off.
Blogs are a lot of work, a labour of love in most cases whether sponsored or not.
And giveaways, blog hops, book reviews, blogging awards, sponsored posts, banner ads and featured sellers are all just different shades of promotion. Even bloggers who ostensibly don’t advertise often derive income from their blog through advertising their own projects be they courses, workshops, books, products, ebooks, gift guides, product ambassadorship, commissioned or guest posts.
Just recently I have added banner ads. You many not have even noticed if you look at my blog in a reader.*
It feels like the right time. After six years and 736 posts (!) I’ve decided to take on a bit more sponsorship, in a few different forms. Not too much I hope, but I wanted to give you a heads up. I felt I had to share this next step with all of you as you are such an important part of my blog. I was so touched by all the lovely comments left on my sixth birthday post. Thank you x
I feel good about it. It won’t change the personal nature of my blog, but I hope it will bring a new commitment to blogging for me and a new energy. It will mean I can justify the time I spend here, one of my favourite places. I hope it even means more time to produce detailed tutorials and content. (In fact I have a crafty tutorial in the works now!)
Thank you for your understanding.
p.s. I couldn't write a post without photos so this is my recent making of semi-dried tomatoes from homegrown cherry tomatoes. The recipe and tute comes from my clever friend Kate over here. I was going to use them on a pizza but when i looked in the fridge they had disappeared. Funny about that. Might have to make another batch!
* If you are interested in advertising I've put some information on my new sponsor page and I'm hoping to add some smaller rotating spots for smaller businesses soon.
Thursday, 21 November 2013
After many dry weeks Sydney finally got rain last week, lots of it! It didn't take us long to start complaining about the drenching though, but I saw one suburb got 150mls in 24 hours so it was a lot! And there was lightning, thunder, wind and hail in some places to add dramatic affect.
This week the sun came out and the sea breezes blew onshore. It is perfect Sydney spring weather, one of our finest accomplishments, days that are so beautiful it puts a spring in your step.
I can hear the garden growing today. The plants are taking that drenching, mixing it with the bright sun and warm soil and reaching for the sky.
So it seems apt that all my recent photos seem to be green!
The garden is full of happy discoveries, I'm very excited that the Thompson seedless grape which I planted along the fence five years ago is finally happy and covered in grapes! The new fig in a pot has little figlets too and the lime which has been stingy with its harvest since we planted it is covered with a mass of baby limes. Add to that a new lemon tree and ripening blueberry crops and it almost counts as a mini urban food forest.
Down the side hydrangea cuttings gleaned from friends' gardens are heavy with fat blooms in beautiful pastel colours. I love this old garden plant and from the reaction on instagram when I posted this photo, I'm not alone. A couple more favourites of mine are the echinacea and zinnia plants I grew from seed, the unflowered echinacea plant which is two years old has the most wonderful architectural buds.
Yesterday I went to pick up more pots and glaze the last bisque fired pieces from my course. I have also booked in to do a nine week course next year at a closer venue. It seems ceramics is more than a fling and I'm really looking forward to learning some more.
I took the chance of being at the Uni to have lunch with my sister who works there now, it is a real luxury having her in Sydney now and not thousands of miles away in Vietnam.
This week too I have finally accepted that Christmas is round the corner and its time to get organised, I'm thinking about my shopping list, about a destash, and also about some handmade Christmas. I saw this wonderful simple idea for homemade celery salt over on Jo's blog the other day and couldn't help trying it when I found myself with a new head of celery. It's delicious. Whether it lasts long enough to be gifted I couldn't say, but in the meantime it does suit the smallest of my new handmade bowls perfectly. Not sure I can gift that either!
For another homemade gift - for the people I'm not meant to give too - I'm also eyeing off this bread and butter cucumbers recipe I saw on Louise's Garden Glut blog. Sounds like the perfect thing.
Monday, 11 November 2013
Its hard to believe but today is the sixth anniversary of my blog!
In fact my boys were in kindergarten when I started this diary and they are in Year 6 now, and about to leave primary school to start their new adventure at High School. (Cue tears!)
Each year on this anniversary I am surprised anew to find myself a blogger and still hanging out in this little patch of cyberspace!
In some ways I've changed a lot since 2007, but in most ways, well, I just have to read that first month's posts to see how exactly the same I am. Back then I was printing my designs, growing rose seeds, marvelling over the beauty of a nest, making a jack o'lantern, taking photos of flowers and visiting Sculpture by the Sea.
This month I'm printing new designs, trying to grow lettuce seeds, making soap and paneer, taking photos of flowers for Instagram and visiting Sculpture by the Sea! I am still as inspired as ever to celebrate art and nature and make my own - be it soap, or bread, or roses - as I was six years ago.
I love that this place is such a great record of my creative journey. Truth is I come here to look for instructions and recipes, or remember when I planted something, or to read my own instructions for making!
Its funny I look back now and remember feeling like a newbie and outsider when I first started blogging, not sure if I should be here. I sensed there were established friendship groups that might be hard to break into, everyone else seemed to know each other.
I shouldn't have worried, I found that bloggers are exceptional people who are invariably kind and generous with ideas, information and support. As in any part of life you are drawn to friendships with likeminded people, its just these friendships defy geographical boundaries. That said I am always delighted to find online peeps every bit as wonderful in the flesh as they are behind a keyboard when we meet at last in person.
These last years I find blogging changing. Instagram took some of the immediacy and visual impact away from blogs. They suffered in comparison. Instagram posts were up and interacting literally in minutes while those well thought out blog posts with proper camera photos often took hours to format. In our time poor days sometimes the impulse passed once the instagram pic was posted.
I found it didn't stop me reading my favourite blogs though. In many cases after seeing an image on Instagram I wanted to see larger, clearer photos and more of them, I wanted to read the tutorial, or follow the links. But most of all I wanted the story behind them, the voice of a favourite blogger telling me how it felt, what it meant, what they learnt.
We need to support our favourite blogs. We need to leave a comment every so often to tell the person we're there. That might be my new blog year resolution. And we need to keep shopping handmade and support bloggers' businesses this Christmas and beyond. They are a wonderful independent and honest voice we benefit from having in our lives.
Like many I've wavered in my commitment to blogging recently, found myself with less to say and less motivation to say it. But I think the blogging muscle is one that is strengthened by use and I have been trying to get back to a routine. To think in blog posts again.
I think that my outlook on life benefits hugely from this blog and others, in some ways it functions as a gratitude diary and helps me find and see the beauty in my everyday. I'm all for that.
Thank you readers for being here to share it with me.
Friday, 8 November 2013
Do you remember I restyled one of my tea towel product shots back here?
I loved it so much I always had it in the back of my mind that I'd do the others, styled according to their colours. The Filigree design has been with me since the first days of my Flower Press shop so it feels good to be refreshing and renewing the product photography.
Speaking of those first days, it is six years ago next week that I started my little venture!!
As with many things that happen round here it wasn't scheduled in, nor written on a to do list, but the fancy struck me the other day, the light was right, I pulled the couch out of the way and put our coffee table in the sunny spot from the window with indirect light and stood on the table to take the photos. So professional!
I'm sure I'm not alone in taking my photos in funny situtations. In fact one of my favourite spots is the kitchen bench, which has just the right light!
Which is your favourite shot? I'm a bit torn but I'm loving the green most I think :-)
Monday, 4 November 2013
I've been dying to have a try at throwing pots on the wheel for the longest time. Ceramics has been high on my crafting wish list for ages, and finally a few months ago I was inspired enough to track down some local classes. I ended up booking a four week course run at the Uni of NSW.
It's been lots of fun. I'm inspired. My efforts are certainly not earth shattering as you can see, but each week I feel some new skills start to take hold and I am dying to bring home some finished fired and glazed pots.
I have been a bit obsessed with this new infatuation, watching youtube videos of people turning pots and filling my Dishes board on pinterest with inspiration (thank you internet!).
Wednesday is my fourth and final class but I will be back to finish and glaze my work for a couple of weeks after that.
In week one we learnt to centre the clay on the wheel and turn a cylinder shape. Those two at the front are mine.
Week two we learned to finish the bottom of the pots and trim the excess clay once they were leather hard. We also learnt to pull our cylinders out into a bowl shape. I had three attempts and while the first was passable, number two was a blowout, as you can see in the photo it collapsed when I took it off the wheel. I'm keeping it to practice on though. Bowl three was a little better.
Week three we learned to turn a bowl foot and I made a couple more bowls, including a slightly bigger one. We also learnt a bit about glazing. Its exciting if a little overwhelming to learn the myriad ways you can decorate and colour ceramics.
I ran out of time at the end of the lesson and had to do my glazing after class knowing my parking was expired! I was determined though to experiment and rushed to colour three pots. I decided to try different styles so I can see which one I like most out of underglaze, glaze and coloured slip. They are rough as you can see, but will give me an idea of how each method looks after firing.
Pot one is painted with 'organic' (!) hand drawn stripes using an underglaze (which looks red here but I'm pretty sure is blue). The pot was then dipped and coated with a clear glaze.
Pot two is dipped in dark blue glaze, which looks brown here. Both these pots are the week one attempts and have been bisque fired already.
But it is pot three that I am excited about. I've painted my leather hard bowl in a green slip and then carved my flower design using a method known as Sgraffito. I'm definitely going to experiment with this style more. I love the idea of drawing my designs directly onto clay.
I can't wait to see how they turn out, stay tuned!
While I've never met a craft I didn't like, I know I'm going to try to do more of this. The whole process appeals to me, I like the meditation of throwing, I like that you learn the process with your hands as much as your head, and the endless variations when it comes to decoration. And of course, as with textiles, I like making objects to use everyday.
Have you tried clay or is it on your wish list too? Its funny, it seems everyone I've talked to about the course has said they want to try it! I'm really glad I did.