Sunday, November 30, 2008

Here's another idea ...
Here's a tutorial on how to make your own covered cases. I love that she uses vintage kid's books, dictionary pages and is NOT technical. All you need is loads of Mod Podge (but I use PVA for everything cause it's cheaper!), time, a sharp craft knife, a suitcase or old makeup box (even tin can's), and old clothes. What fun.
NB: I think it's important to note that while we can take advantage of other crafter's tutorials and their amazing generosity for our own personal use, it is important to acknowledge where ideas originate. Secondly, when a person is making their living from their craft, do not go and undersell them in their marketplaces. This kind of sharing is part of our wonderful world of creativity and is a real blessing. Unfortunately I have read recently of people having their work copied and sold on as 'original' works in the same towns and marketplace (Etsy is rife with blatant rip-offs sometimes). I believe that's bad practice and while no art or craft work is without influence, we need to stay honest and have integrity in our practice wherever possible. The kaupapa or protocols are tricky because it's hard to copyright a lot of what we do. It's up to us to keep it 'all good'.
Personally, I think mimicry is flattering and that we all start by copying others (even if it was your mother teaching you to knit a scarf), but we also need to try and put our own twist on our own works eventually, and develop our own designs wherever possible. Also, I think truly creative people don't run out of ideas and can keep on creating. They are not threatened with sharing their learning and knowledge. I am where I am because others were not elitist and did not withold but enthusiastically shared their passion and skills with me. I also have paid out big money to spend time with other artists learning my skills and a lot of time at art school and in my own life just playing and refining my own ideas. We just need to also appreciate that many artists and craftspeople have spent years refining their practices and processes, and to respect their work by referencing them and even making contact to make sure we don't inadvertently 'step on anyones toes'.
Ok, lecture over. Have fun making this season.

Here's an idea... has a tutorial for making these fabric Xmas trees. Go there and download the pattern. I can see these in Tongan ngatu barkcloth with MOP buttons, or old wool blankets and embroidered lined up along the fireplace. I am having to think outside the square because I don't have space for a Xmas tree anymore, so I make decorations I can place around our home or from an old dried branch in a vase. Melissa at made some as have many others. Use felted jerseys, handmade felt, eco-dyed fabrics, old embroidered cloths, vintage fabrics, upholstery remnants etc. If you are like me, these will stay out all year. I love the linen cloth 'littlebirds' has used and her collection of sea treasures.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crafting ROCKS!

My coffee table next to the couch. There's a big bag of polyester stuffing and a bin beneath. This is what I do when I can do nothing else, and although I am frustrated with my limited up-and-aboutness at the moment AND uncomfortable all the time AND never feeling like I get enough sleep AND getting all excited with each Braxton Hicks contraction ... this corner is actually my wee bit of heaven. Bliss!
My trusty supply of old wool blankets and felted cardigans, laundered in eco-friendly wool wash and ready to go for my projects.
This is a clue for my swap Xmas ornaments (I don't want to give too much away. Must leave some things a surprise). My own Pacifica based design including Tongan ngatu bark cloth and raw materials. I will be posting these out this week - I promise.
Unironed but freshly laundered embroidered cloths and doilies found on our op-shop (thrifting) trips.
Ironed. I didn't realise it would take so long. Husband watching in amusement as I iron fiddly lacey cloths for ages but his shirts and kids clothes sit unfolded in laundry basket, completely ignored. He does our laundry around here. I am spoilt I tell ya.
My favourite find while out thrifting recently was this doll's leg. I know, weird, but I got so excited finding it at the bottom of the free stuff trolley at Trash Palace. It sits perfectly next to the kids creations. Again, the kids roll their eyes.
Because I love it so much, I thought I would show you it again. Lovely leg.
Some crafty goodness I made this weekend sitting on my couch and watching movies, organic gardening programs and the Food Channel. They are made from my recycled blankets and doilies stash of course! 100% handmade, embroidered, and finished with mother of pearl buttons or vintage glass ones. One of the pleasures of not having a lot of money is being able to make lovely things for myself. It forces me to get creative (not that much forcing is actually required), think outside the square and use what I have.
LemonThis heart is a gift and was created from felted jerseys by Cleo. It's just lovely, I love her craftiness. She's so organic and loose. I tend to get a bit tight and start lining things up neatly, but Cleo helps me stay loose and free in my stylings. Not easy to do but I love the 'hand' in her work. She had it wrapped up really cool with twine, brown paper, vintage wallpaper and handstamped with a tree button.

One side ... The other side.
Which inspired me to make these from what else ... my stash and some vintage buttons.
Rich reorganising our already cramped bedroom to squeeze Knuckles change table in. Another score, this time from TradeMe: $70 and it's barely been used. They retail upwards of $200-odd. This is one motivated man. Last week he made up the bassinet with sheets and wool blankets. He packed the baby's suitcase for the hospital. He bought the carseat. He reckons he is the most excited family member re: Knuckles arrival. I reckon he is too. Might have to fight him for a cuddle of OUR baby although he can have the night shift.
Xmas is coming. Summer is definitely in the air. I am having a baby very soon (two weeks to go). My mother arrives next weekend from Australia. The Whitireia Visual Arts student exhibition is showing at Pataka currently. I am crafting with friends Cleo and Cheryl, and we are established as a crafting presence here in the Bay. My boys are swimming at the beach again. The house is reasonably tidy. We shared a community hangi for dinner last night right here in Titahi Bay last night - a traditional Maori earth-oven cooked meal - it was yum. I got some sleep! My studio is organised again. I am enjoying making lots of handcrafted goodies. My husband is Mr Wonderful, looking after his little family and cossetting me. And I can see the sea from my home. It's Thanksgiving in the States but I am feeling very thankful right here in lil' ole NZ. Now all we need is Knuckles!
Some websites I viewed today: makes gorgeous animals and things from vintage fabrics. This is her old website, and it turns into I especially love those fabric mushrooms.
And ... is another website I found that has lots of crafting goodness. She makes these great collaged suitcases - I want to do that. She is also really witty, calling herself a 'crafting blogger dork'. It's true, I am one too.
Visiting other crafty blogs helps keep me inspired and it is my biggest research tool. There are so many amazing crafters and artists out there making amazing things and living great lives. Rich and I are inspired by the many folk who are creating a wholesome lifestyle right where they are without the need for a lot of paraphenalia. Appreciating the simple things in life. Time with family, handmade goodness, organic food and lifestyles, free entertainment like the beach, forests and parks, etc.
I encourage you to get out there and enjoy your environment. Pick up leaves and seed pods and display them in a bowl on the table. Make play dough. Bake a cake. Plant some flowers. Buy your presents from secondhand shops, Trade Aid or make them. Or donate to a charity in lieu of gifts and let your friends know you bought some plants for a third world family on their behalf. Most of all keep it simple and authentic. It's the love we put into what we do that makes the difference.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tagged ...

Ok, so lately I have been tagged by several bloggers (friends) and decided to lump it all together. Thanks to India at; and, Darlene at and somebody else but I can't trace it back. Sorry.
Anyway thanks all for your votes of interest. I wanted to save them up because finding random interesting things to write about oneself is a bit of a challenge.

The rules of this Tag are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write seven little known facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted

1. I love to use raw materials whenever I can in my art works.

2. I love to meet new people and share skills.

3. I'm a night owl. I love sleeping when it's daylight and working in the wee hours of the morning.

4. I have been married for 13 years which is a miracle.Two sons and a third on the way.

5. The beach is my favourite place in the world. Anywhere coastal feels like home to me. The smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves, shells/driftwood/stones for treasure gathering, gulls screaming, even stormy days. It's all music to my soul and healing for my spirit.

6. I don't like cats. They creep me out. Especially when they rub against my legs or sit and vibrate on my lap. Ergh!! Ask my kids, they all laugh at me.

7. I'm always up for a good time. A laugh. A good feed. A nice glass of wine in the evening. Some good company and conversation.

Ok, so here is where I break the rules (cos I'm good at that) ... but if you read this and feel so inclined then consider yourself 'tagged'. Respond in like by telling us seven things about yourself. You can either do this in the 'comments' section or you can pass it on via your blog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Stuff ...

Some things I have been working on ... I was supposed to have a craft stall last week but had a false labour (again!). So I set my stuff up on the dining room table so I could photograph it all and put it away in the garage in a big plastic impersonal box. Shame really cause it's quite fun being surrounded by my creatures. However there is no more room in my home. And I still have to fit a baby in!
With no flash you can see the white creatures.
With the flash, you can see the dark toys all lit up but the white one's disappear.
Up close. Here is my new favourite inspired by looking at Julie Arkell's amazing mixed media creatures.
She is really lovely to behold I think with all her stitches, old buttons, a pansy in one ear, doily detail. She is constructed from old woollen blankets.
And has "she gathers" stitched on her back. She is completely random, made intuitively, totally handstitched and freeform cut, and formed in the wee hours which makes her just a little magical.
Fellow crafter Cleo gave me a hand to put some personality into the glove creatures I made last week. I was stoked that the box of buttons I purchased from the Salvation Army Family Store had some incredible giant buttons that were perfect for these guys. Cleo knit the scarf on this wee girl bear.
I just love the bunnies. Something about those exagerated big ears.
And a bit of pink crochet detail on the back above her tail.
My infamous cupcake pincushions up close and personal.
Tea party anyone? I know I have posted photos of some of these things before, but it was neat to see everything together. BTW there was more but I got sick of taking photos. I also have some angry dolls and some Pacifica themed mixed media objects but they will stay under wrap as I am currently involved in a crafty Xmas decoration swap.
Happy crafting fellow crafters! It's the season to indulge all that crafty goodness, get stuck in and start making prezzies, cards, decorations for your home and yummy things for the baking tins. BTW, 2 weeks and 5 days to go ... not that I'm counting.

Titahi Bay at tea time ...

I think most families are eating their dinner and getting their kids ready for bed around 7pm. We however prefer to play and avoid all that responsible stuff, especially when the sun is shining and the weather is warm. Some days I cannot believe our good fortune to be living minutes from the sea. And don't ya love it when all the elements add up to some great photos.
The boys at waters edge.Sand patterns.
Sand bombs courtesy of Nemaia for launching at Marcus. Me and Knuckles.
But really, this is how I go to the beach. I drive on, sit in the car, watch the boys, stitch and drink a coffee from Aunt Daisy's.
I cannot wait until I can walk normally again. The 'waddle' has gotten old.
My little fellah, Marcus sits on his chair from Trash Palace ($1) and tries to warm up.
I have such a close connection with the sea. It is tied undoubtably to my own childhood in Ahipara and hours, days, weeks, months of playing at the beach. It is my own desire that my kids develop just such a relationship with the outdoors. They spent the last two days learning to body surf with their Dad. It is getting harder to do 'natural' things when one lives in the city. Rich and I sat up last night trying to figure how to do a vegie garden and if it works out cheaper than buying vegies from the local market on Saturday morning. If it is worth the effort which I know it is.
Anyways ... just a reminder to take photos of your family. I seem to take a lot of photos of my work which is a good habit but I forget that this lot around me are growing older and bigger. And, don't forget to take photo's of yourself. I notice that while I have a lot of photos of the boys, their dad, their friends, my city, beach, work etc - photos of myself are rare. But for the record they are important (even when one is not pleased with how one looks in photos!). Do it for your grandkids.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Add Image
Aaaaargh! What is blogspot doing? I cannot leave comments on my friend's sites because they have changed the format. So sorry guys but if you haven't heard from me, it's because I can't figure out how to do the new identity thing not 'cause I stopped caring or visiting. @#$%@#$%!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buy Handmade and support artists directly.

I love this fabric house and paper/hand-stitched bird by Cotton Bird Designs in the UK!website:
I am currently in the process of creating my own designs for Christmas decorations and a line of toys. It's the season and the fact that I am having a baby, seems to be bringing the 'mooshie' parts of me out of the closet.
Still I have a collaborative project with a friend for next year that will allow me to indulge my 'grunge' side - you know, natural fibres, dyes, lots of brown, black, muddy and dark colours.
I had a wonderful day with friend Cleo yesterday crafting and completing some things for the market next week. We are looking forward to making beautiful things for our homes, our families and ourselves next year. Spending time with our families and friends, playing shops at the various markets around the city, op shopping, creating and designing our own works etc. Fun, fun, fun!
For the best International Craft Shopping site visit: and here in Aotearoa check out Support craft and artists directly, buy handmade for Xmas.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whatchya Doing?

I tried so hard to get an early night tonight but to no avail. The twinges in my body and the baby's movements are exacerbated when I try and lie down so I am left here sitting at my 'puter or wandering around in the middle of the night by myself while I watch my family slumber peacefully. I can sleep like that, from about 4am-midday. I did the hot bath and glass of wine thing to try and get relaxed but Knuckles and my body just won't co-operate.
My studio desk at night.
A whole lot of wool blankets, doileys and bits and pieces, all waiting for me to get sewing.
Tom0rrow my big mission is to get all these clothes for Knuckles washed in my yummy Eucalyptus Eco-Wash stuff. I better pack a bag for the hospital just in case someone puts in an early appearance. We are all getting excited. Last night ( post anti-natal class) hubby gave me a hug and told me "You are so brave." Haha, like I have a choice now! But actually I am feeling brave because that anti-natal class was so positive and we have two great kids now, so I know we are capable parents, and the pain of childbirth, well, that will happen but I think I have the breathing thing sorted and my focus too. And of course, there is always that wonderful thing called an epidural if I need it.I went shopping today and checked out the new Emporium in Porirua. Not too shabby, mostly just craft stuff but good to have an alternative to Spotlight. The prices are better too. And they sell mother-of-pearl buttons and cool threads. I spotted some small corks for making my own stamps later for printing and a few other bits and pieces but nothing too exciting. I got some pink embroidery thread (50cents) and some hooks so I can hang up the tea towels in our kitchen. Like I said, nothing to write home about. And some white gardening gloves for $3.60 a pack of five pairs for some new creations I am playing around with.
I also found a few odds and ends at the Salvation Army Family Store, a few baby things. Two sunhats (20 cents each), a lemon all-in-onesie bunnykins suit ($1) and two cotton sleeping bag thingies ($2.50 each). My most exciting find ... A giant tin of vintage buttons - all sorts, some covered in fabric, some glass, some old school plastic, all old! I think it's funny they assume someone will make necklaces from these. I love old stuff, I tried to use some new buttons on my creations and they just looked wrong. Mismatched, worn and odd buttons work best I reckon.
$10 the lot. Steep price for me, a bargain hunter but honestly this tin has so much in it, I would be an idiot not to get them.What is it about a button collection? I want to start sorting them out and playing with them, but the joy of a big messy tin full of buttons is to gorgeous to tamper with.So when I can sit comfortably enough for a period, I get sewing. Here is some stuff I am getting ready for a craft fair next week. If they don't sell, guess what all the whanau are getting for Xmas ...
Take a bunch of gloves ... some from the hardware store plus a couple of pairs from my hunting around secondhand shops. I love these baby blue ones, they are soft like chenille.
I don't know if I can give this one up. Marcus (6) gave him a life. His name is Jake Bear. He is an artist and goes to art school. He makes hard and soft things. He has a big heart for a little bear.

Some arms, legs and tails to be attached.

Torsos looking slightly macabre. My kids always think my stuff is slightly dark given their expressions and opinions when they chance upon scenes like this.

A bunny awaits a face, some embroidery and a story / name courtesy of my boys.

Slowly getting stuff gathered for a stall.

A tin full of pin cushions including some yo-yo ones I made using some of that quilt fabric my friend Liz gave me and some vintage buttons. They are so old school. And of course, my bottle cap cupcake pincushions. Boy, I hope I make some money. This baby still needs a few things.

I have enjoyed surfing around, checking out different websites. Here are some that I have enjoyed ... For an amazing tutorial on making cool crayons like these ...

Check out ... I think those crayons would be a neat gift to Marcus' teacher for her new entrants class as a thank you / Xmas pressie. I saw a muffin tin today at the op shop too. I think I will use mini muffin tins, get more bang for my buck. And guess what, I found a big box of crusty crayons not long ago either.
For more crafty ideas, check out or I love all those free tutorials.
Introducing Anna Torma's work ...

Rainy Day II, Tales - 2001

Playground I - 2002

I love to stitch (although I am still too impatient) and I think it was images of Anna Torma's work that helped me connect with the idea of mark making in this fashion. Anna Torma does amazing slow work, all hand done, inspired by her kids art.

Julie Arkell creates amazing mixed media creatures complete with knitted accessories. She papier maches, sews, sculpts and makes amazing story-type scenarios for each little creature. Having felt mocked and dismissed at art school somewhat for my love of craft and things that honour handmade, I feel a deep connection to ARTISTS like these ladies who meld both conceptual work and handcrafted creations to create meaningful and moving pieces. Their work moves me without even knowing the stories behind them, unlike some fine art pieces which although well-executed (sometimes) can also be incredibly cryptic and vague unless the artist 'undresses' their work in front of you. I think that is why I love crafting, it doesn't need to be pre-th0ught out but can be intuitive and still meaningful.

This next guy in a jar gives me a great idea. I have some of the kids creations just sitting on a shelf. I think I will create little speciman jars for them and get the kids to create stories to go with each one. Definitely love the jar guy. I love Anna Torma's and Julie Arkell's work. As textile artists, they are so inspiring. Go here to see more on both artists .... ttp:// There's also an article on a knitter's wedding which looked fabulous, if I could do it again, I would definitely make it more in keeping with crafting and upcycling. And an article on Loop, an amazing wool shop that is so much more than a wool shop.

Finally has the most amazing creations. Check out her Flicker photo album. I want to be this industrious but first need to get my sewing a little stronger. Check out her kid's dress up corner. I want a corner like this for me. Next year, I am embarking on making my own wardrobe complete with clothes that I truly love and that can mix and match - all handmade.

I love her home. So much to see. I love her random cushions. At the Emporium today they were selling large cushion inserts for $10 each which gives me an idea for my own couches.

The current cushions are these frailish one's made from embroidered Indian silk remnants. With boys and handling they are not quite robust enough for pillow fights, hut building and sleeping on. I have been looking for a basic idea and like these made from, what else, vintage blankets. I am so doing this in my house. Might use old vintage flannel sheets for a softer pillow feel too, but just love these. Especially those buttoned up backsides of the cushions. And some blanket stitch. Next year I have decided to do tailoring at night school so I can learn to construct and finish things properly. I also want to do Photoshop and some photography classes for those all important 'action' shots and 'night' photos. Then if and when I return to art school, I will have a stronger skills base to work from. Of course, I am also keen to complete my counselling degree. I have my diploma and am qualified to work as a counsellor, but love the learning in this field. Plus being older now does mean I have a little more context and life experience to bring to the field. My ideal job would allow me to be creative, help others, travel and make money, as well as enhance my involvement with my family. I think crafting is the ideal vehicle for this.