Monday, 30 May 2011

My Felt Flower "Wreath"

You might vaguely remember me mentioning back in November last year that I was going to be organised and make a Christmas wreath before Christmas (see here).  You might also have noticed that I never posted about the wreath I made.  Well...ahem...that would be because I never got round to making a Christmas wreath.  Yes, I got too caught up in the end of year madness that hits our home every year in the lead up to Christmas, made worse last year by several unexpected and stressful events in December.

image felt flower wreath Christmas in the hoop

Anyway, when the Creative Collective announced that their May project theme was "in the hoop", it was the impetus I needed to finally make my Christmas wreath!  I have long had a bit of a thing for fabric flowers and creative projects using embroidery hoops, so when I saw the Purl Bee's tutorial for a felt flower wreath, I thought I would combine the two ideas.

image back of hoop tidied up to hide stitching

As you can see, I have gone for an asymmetrical look to my flower arrangement on the hoop.  Looking at this project had me thinking that I use a lot of asymmetry in my creations (such as my asymmetrical necklaces seen here and here), but I guess that's not very surprising given that I used to wear mismatched earrings as a fashion statement when I was a teenager, ha ha ha.  And although my French knots aren't perfect, this was the first time I sewed them without somehow getting the technique wrong and then having to repair my odd-looking knot.


I am showing you the rather embarrassing back of my hoop project only because I wanted to share a great link with you.  I got the idea for backing my new wreath from a lovely little tutorial on Crafster.  This method is great for hiding all the unsightly stitching and excess fabric on the back of your hoop project.  However, if, like me, you aren't feeling up to accurate sewing and small, neat stitches, your end result won't be as pretty as the one in the tutorial.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Feature Friday - New Earth Soaps

This week's featured artist is another fellow Australian artisan and DUST member and I can personally attest to the beauty of her products.  Let me introduce Karen of New Earth Soaps.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live? 
I currently live in Bunbury, Western Australia. It's a port city with lots of busy, hard working people. My artistic side is my escape from that world. I feel I don't fit in. I know I don't belong. But I have a future coming soon, in the most beautiful town on the south coast called Denmark. It's an artists feast. I can't wait for the first day of the rest of my life.
I do have a dayjob. I work in a little health shop with the most amazing people. My boss and co-worker are both Naturopaths and I learn from them something new everyday. I can use my knowledge of healthy skincare and the dangers of many toxic commercial ingredients to help customers make more informed decisions. I feel I am doing a little bit of good each day.

Describe yourself in five words.
Relentless
Dreamer
Tree-hugger
Intuitive
Respectful

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I sewed a lot when I was a kid. We lived in this big old house that had a few out-buildings. One used to be for the generator and the other for storing the coal. We had one converted to a sewing room. It was packed full of stuff and I used to make my own toys and dolls outfits from scraps. I'd watch an old black and white movie, then go and create a dolls costume modelled on what the leading lady wore.
I once upon a time could draw too. That ability seems to be MIA right now but I plan for it to return someday soon.
 


What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I create handmade soaps and skincare items such as lip balms, creams and scrubs and I am just developing some new oil based perfumes right now. I am really enjoying that, putting my aromatherapy knowledge to use in blending my very own fragrances. It's a slow process, getting them just right, but I am loving it.
My favourite materials, well, thats a tough question. I love so many, but right now, I am enjoying using some new essential oils I have just introduced to my collection; sweet marjoram, clary sage, rosalina, rosewood and clementine. I love the healing properties of jojoba oil and rosehip oil too.
 

When and how did you start selling online?
It's been a little over 2 years ago I found etsy. It can be fun, especially since I became a part of the DUST team (www.dustteam.com.au) but I am frustrated at times that I can't give it my full and undivided attention. I need to work my day job right now, but when I move south, the story will be quite different.
Right now, my store, well my whole business really is having a bit of a transformation. A good friend is designing me a fresh new logo, something that represents new life. The overall look will be earthier, more natural. It's putting some things on hold till it's done, but it will be worth the wait. I just know it.
 


Describe your store in five words
Earthy and natural with much growing to be done. (You'll see lots of new things over winter. Watch this space!)
 

Who or what are the influences behind your creations?
I haven't really been influenced by anyone in particular recently, but in my early years of choosing a life devoid of chemicals and unnecessary additives, the great Anita Roddick of the original Body Shop was an inspiration, both in business and her pursuit of all natural and fair trade ingredients for her products.
I have always believed that a product doesn't need to be snow white or a pretty perfect pink to be beautiful and function well. It just needs to be of great quality and of a sympathetic blend to address the situation or problem. My recipes start off as a tiny idea, then I will research ingredients, looking for the best ones to use, then formulate, experiment and test, over and over till it's just right. And I know when it's just right, it just is.
 


Do you ever get "creator's block"?  And how do you get past it, if you do?
Creators block can be common, especially if you work hard at a day job too, have a lot going on in your life and sometimes your all important creative outlet which doubles as all important therapy gets left until last. I find that when I have some of that precious time and space, firstly you must look after yourself. Often I want to dive in to my soapy lab and get on with it, but I am better off taking time out and getting myself off to yoga or an afternoon exploring a beautiful beach or forest. It may feel a touch guilty at first, but creativity flows so much more after you spend some quality time in your happy place. 

Where can we find you online? (FB, Twitter, store, Flickr, blog, etc)
Website - http://www.newearthsoaps.com.au/
Web Store - http://www.newearthsoaps.com.au/shop.htm
Etsy Store - http://www.etsy.com/shop/newearthsoaps
FB - https://www.facebook.com/newearthsoaps
Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/newearthsoaps
 
SPECIAL OFFER:
Have you enjoyed reading about Karen and her beautiful soapy creations?  Karen is offering readers a discount on her soaps and body products.  She says:

"This time of the year is kinda like my end of season. My biggest soap production time is during the wet winter months, so please bear with me as my stock levels are a bit all over the place. Just use the coupon code "endofseasonsale2011" for a 15% discount off everything in my store."

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Zinnia Pea Giveaway Winner


Thank you to everyone who participated in the Zinnia Pea giveaway and had a look through Christabel's stores.  Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and that winner is:



Comment #17 which was lil' red aka Katie of Giuseppe Poli - Artist.  Congratulations Katie, I will be contacting you soon!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Birthday Wishlist

I'm the one in the middle being held by my maternal grandma, the other two children are two of my cousins.

Yes, as much as I don't want any big fanfare or fireworks, I have to admit that it is my birthday today.  I was originally thinking of hosting a super special giveaway to celebrate, but I am still battling a bit of a sinus infection and don't have the energy to do anything.  I am rather put out that I forgot to sign up for the Sew Mama Sew blog giveaway event, which is starting today, but maybe next time...
Anyway, after all of that waffling, I will leave you with a selection of items which I would most happily receive for my birthday (cheeky face).  Although, all my little annoyances pale into insignificance at the moment as currently, my biggest wish is for my beloved dad to win his health battle and get better.

Sea Urchin Cup/Bowl


Brain Hair Tie

Tearose Bracelets

Round Domed Flower Magnets

Friday, 20 May 2011

Feature Friday and Giveaway - Zinnia Pea

My featured artist this week is a fellow Aussie who creates pieces which are a little different but very funky.  Please welcome Christabel of Zinnia Pea!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I'm Christabel, the full time designer behind Zinnia Pea and I live and work in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. My house is a little converted art studio so it works very well for both living and designing. It has a tiny kitchen, a big overgrown garden and way too many books. I love it!

Describe yourself in five words.
A bookworm, nerdy, shy, creative and a history buff. That's not really in keeping with the 5 words thing so I guess you could add in rule-breaker.

Bronte Sisters Teacup Set

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
Well my mum tells me I was so "creative" when I was little that I had to wear a plastic raincoat and rubber boots whilst painting on the back verandah so I think you could safely say from an early age!

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I use porcelain inks to put quotes and little designs onto all kinds of china pieces, including teapots, teacups and coffee mugs. I love finding old ceramics in markets and op shops and deciding which quote fits. The upcycled pieces are definitely my favourites.

When and how did you start selling online?
I opened Zinnia Pea mid way through last year after inking a set of plain white plates and cups for myself. So many friends commented on them and asked for their own so I decided to open up shop and see how it went! I'm so pleased I did because it has been a wonderful adventure so far.


Pride and Prejudice Tea Pot

Describe your store in five words.
Quirky china with a literary difference. (Ok, that is more than 5 words again.. I'm definitely a rule breaker!) [Edit: You crack me up Christabel!!!]

Who or what are the influences behind your creations?
There are so many different influences behind my designs. Obviously Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and the other amazing authors whose work I ink. But also, my Grandma for her love of tea and interesting china and my Mum, simply because of her tea addiction. The smell of freshly brewed black tea always reminds me of her, in her blue dressing gown reading the paper at an insanely early hour.

Alice in Wonderland Coffee Cup

Do you ever get "creator's block"?  And how do you get past it, if you do?
I read. Since starting Zinnia Pea I can't read a classic book without grabbing my notebook and noting down quotes I want to ink!

Where can we find you online? 
Shop Etsy (including international post): http://www.etsy.com/shop/zinniapea

Special: Christabel is offering a 10% discount to Two Cheeky Monkeys readers.  Please mention that you are a blog reader at check out to receive your discount.

Giveaway!!!

Christabel is also kindly offering an amazing giveaway prize of a Jane Austen coffee mug (see above).  To be in the running to  win this fantastic prize please do one or all of the following:

1. Visit either of the Zinnia Pea stores and leave a comment with your favourite item.
2. Follow both Zinnia Pea and me on Twitter.
3. Become a follower of this blog and the Zinnia Pea blog (but only if you want to!)
4. Tweet, blog about or link to the giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment with a link to your Tweet/blog post/etc.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  This giveaway is open to my Australian readers only (sorry international peeps) and will run until 6pm, Thursday 26 May 2011 (Melbourne time).  A winner will be chosen via Random.org.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Creating For Fun - My Multistrand Bracelet

I have been a fan of multistrand stretch bracelets for some time (I was very disappointed when Miss 5 broke my favourite set in the middle of church when she was a baby) but have never actually tried making any for myself.  And to be honest, working with beading elastic kind of scares me.  I've just had too many pieces of stretch jewellery fall apart care of the two cheeky monkeys.  So while I was "resting" (not procrastinating, I promise!) and idly wondering what to make for myself as a birthday treat (it's my birthday next Monday, wink wink), I decided to woman up and make a multistrand stretch bracelet.


It took me two days to put this bracelet together because I kept changing my mind about the colour scheme.  I didn't make it any easier for myself by deciding that I really wanted to use up the various odds and ends in my bead stash, he he he.  I ended up going for a fairly "neutral" colour scheme which should match most of my outfits.  Two of the strands were put together simply by threading the same colour and style of Czech glass beads per strand.  The third strand alternates gorgeous hematite beads with cute Czech glass leaf beads and the final strand is a random mix of lampwork, glass and semiprecious stone beads chosen to complement the existing colour scheme.  And, of course, I just had to tie the strands together with a pretty organza ribbon.


So what do you think?  Do you like this style of bracelet?  I am seriously considering making a range of these for my Etsy and Madeit stores, although I will probably focus on using a combination of Czech glass beads and freshwater or glass pearls in keeping with the vintage feel of my other pieces instore.  If you are interested in a specific colour or combination for a special occasion, please contact me and I can get designing!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Doily Inspirations

It's no secret that I adore vintage doilies (both the crocheted and embroidered linen kind).  But what does one do with a large collection of doilies other than covering every available flat surface?  Well, here is a list of ideas that should keep you busily creating for some time!

Doilies are great for embellishing plain tops, totes or even a dress.

I have been having fun making fabulously feminine doily buntings for my Madeit and Etsy stores.

Making a doily bowl has been on my "to do" list for a while!  See here for a straight forward tutorial.

These doily lanterns by Glamour Grace are just GORGEOUS!

I'm not sure I'll be able to resist making my own doily scarf!!!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

My Mother's Day Haul

 

I know I'm a bit late, but I just had to post about the funny mother's day presents I received from my cheeky monkeys, some of which were handmade!  You can see in the photo above that they take this "cheeky monkey" business seriously when posing for photographs, he he.  I am disappointed that I forgot to get a photo of my mum with the monkeys and me; she has been working so hard to take care of my sick dad and I think she would have liked a photo with her crazy granddaughters.


Right, so Miss 5 year old monkey gave me the most bizarre presents of the lot!  She bought all of them by herself at the mother's day fundraising stall at school.  The first of her purchases were these psychedelic, rainbow stripey socks.  She bought them because I don't wear shoes around the house and because the rainbow socks were "much prettier" than the "boring" grey socks that were also on sale - LOL.  Admittedly, these socks do keep my feet very warm.

 

She also bought me a little pink coin purse, which I think she has already "borrowed" and a bag of sugar candy because, as she put it, "There was chocolate, but you're on a diet.  So I bought you some lollies so you could still have fun."  Her reasoning may be a little faulty, but at least she put some thought into her choices!  The card above has me thinking that I spend too much time on my handmade stores.  She said almost the same thing last year at kindergarten when they were asked to share the reason their mum was special...hmm.

 

This cute calico tote was Miss 3 year old monkey's offering to me.  She made it at kindergarten (she has also decorated the back with various stamped shapes in other colours) and seems to think that since she made it, she should get to use it whenever she pleases.  The tote is currently filled with lego and I had to search hard just to find it this morning!
My dear husband didn't forget either, he bought me Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals and the Twilight official illustrated guide...not that I'm admitting to being a Twilight fan or anything....ahem...

Friday, 6 May 2011

Friday Finds - Mother's Day

I put together today's handmade finds as a tribute to my lovely, godly mum - these are all items I think she would like.  And I want to send happy mother's day wishes to all of my readers who are mothers and my love and condolences to those who especially mourn the loss of their beloved mother at this time of year.




Monday, 2 May 2011

Ode to the Persimmon


Round, smooth and orange
Very delicious to eat
I love persimmons

I have to admit it: I am bored and procrastinating, and I just indulged in a beautifully sweet persimmon from my parents' tree.  So I just had to share this haiku with you, he he he.  If you haven't had a chance to try a persimmon yet, you don't know what you're missing out on!
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