Tuesday, 31 May 2011



I try not to be too political here on my blog (unlike in real life!) but I think this cause is one that everyone can embrace. Last night Four Corners showed graphic footage of Australian cattle being terribly mistreated in Indonesian abbatoirs. I couldn't watch it because I find even the thought too distressing, but I've heard that it showed the practices found there to be inhumane and some of them akin to torture. I think we all have a responsibility to change that.
GetUp!, an Australian lobbying group are presenting a petition to parliament tomorrow to end live export immediately to Indonesia and later to the rest of the world. If you feel like me that something must be done please take two minutes to sign the petition with your email address here:
Or at least learn more about the issue.
(It was at 48,000 when I went there, what was it up to when you signed?)

I've been voiceless too this week, croaking my way through laryngitis. A bowl of pho with friends in Marrickville yesterday nearly did the trick but I'm still froggy.

Thanks to all who've left their links below, I've been really enjoying seeing all the amazing work coming out of the Brooch Swap, there's still plenty of time to add your link, its open for a couple more days.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Brooch Swap Linky list

Its two weeks today since I sent out partner details for the Brooch Swap and some wonderful people have already made and sent their brooches, gold stars to them! Not me, I wish I was that organised but I must admit I need a bit of deadline pressure to get my creative energies flowing. No need to panic though we still have three and a bit weeks to last post on June 21st.

Whatever stage your brooch making is at - drawing board, cutting mat, packaging - we'd love you to share it here. Blog about your progress and process and use the link list to share. Don't be shy, join the fun and post about your making, or even the lack of it. Then visit some of the other swappers and see the what they've been up to.

Also if you're one of the lucky ones who have already received your brooch blog about it and add a blog link here. Post some photos of it pinned to your favourite outfit, or nestled in your jewellery box.

Of course don't forget to add all your brooch pictures to the Flickr set. And come and see the amazing work that's already there.

Links (below) are open for a week and can be added until then, so keep checking back to see how the other swappers are going.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Guest Post - Christina Lowry Brooch Tutorial

As a jeweller, brooches are my favourite vehicle for creative expression. There really are no rules when it comes to brooches. Like a small canvas or sculpture, brooches offer an almost unlimited array of possibilities. With my brooch for the swap, I was interested in experimenting with mixed media, by creating my own cabochon using air dry clay and resin. I don't think it's giving away too much to say that my swap partner loves sewing and occasionally gardening. I started designing with this in mind.

pic 1. (above) I start with a leaf skeleton impression, rolled in air dry clay, covered in a layer of resin for a glassy finish.

pic 2. Making the silver setting - a sewing machine silhouette hand cut from the base plate.

pic 3. Cutting away the excess metal from the base plate.

 pic 4. Soldering a piece of wire to the back of the plate to make the brooch pin.

pic 5. The brooch pin shaped and finished.

pic 6. Beginning setting the clay in the silver bezel - pushing the silver over the stone at alternating points.

pic 7. The completed brooch back.

pic 8. And the completed brooch front. I've left the tool marks around the bezel as a feature.

I do hope my partner likes her brooch. Many thanks to Susie for organising such a wonderful swap!

p.s. Thank you so much Christina, for the tutorial and also for the wonderful brooch you've made for the Brooch Swap. I'm sure your partner is going to just adore it and treasure it forever! If you haven't seen Christina's beautiful work before make sure to check out her blog and shop. Her wares are at the top of my wish list, if only I could decide which piece is my favourite!
Its getting very exciting, I'm noticing a few blog posts around the place and some pictures being added to the Flickr group showing people's finished brooches. I might put up a linky post on Friday for people to link to any posts they've made about the swap. Has anyone got their brooch yet?  I'd love to hear.

Monday, 23 May 2011


Back to the real world today, I can't believe the weekend went so fast!

My lovely friends and I had such a nice time away and we managed to fit quite a bit in despite the short trip. Melbourne was looking beautiful in all its autumn colour, the weather played nice and we stayed in what turned out to be the perfect spot, at the very top of Exhibition street with a view of Carlton Gardens from our balcony. That meant we could walk everywhere or take the free city circle tram.

Our first afternoon we visited Federation Square and came back via the graffiti lanes and Chinatown. Our night out started with champagne near our hotel at Trunk (which I loved for its retro industrial recycled feel) then dinner at lovely middle eastern restaurant Maha tucked away in a cosy basement in Bond Street. Our five course tasting menu was a real treat. On the way home we had lots of fun window shopping in the dark up little Collins Street.

Saturday after a big cafe breakfast we walked through Carlton Gardens to Brunswick Street where we shopped up one side and then down the other. It was a real highlight, lots to see. Lunch was at Little Creatures Dining Hall, another wonderful revamped industrial space with a great family vibe and great chips.

On the way home we squeezed in a trip to the Melbourne Museum to see the 'blockbuster' Tutankhamen exhibition before rushing home to change for dinner and cocktails at Gingerboy in Chinatown.

Sunday we headed out by tram to St Kilda to get a cake fix then squeezed in another shopping trip to Little Collins street, this time in daylight, and then it was off to the airport again.

I lived in Melbourne for a few years after uni, had my first job here as a book designer, and I have a real soft spot for this lovely town but hadn't been for ten years! There are lots of memories for me here and I remembered all the things I love about this town which is quite different to its flashy speedy sister Sydney. I know it won't be another ten years till I get back there.

(p.s. Shopping credits, french botanic poster from Zetta Florence, Samantha Robinson cup from Douglas and Hope, Dress from Princess Highway, Paper garland from little paper shop, all in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Stoneware jug from Bison in Little Collins street and long sleeved top from Claude d'Alban of Paris (via China) in St Kilda!

While I've been away the wonderful Christina Lowry has made the most wonderful tutorial for all of us, which I'm going to feature in a guest post tomorrow! Make sure you come and see how she makes her wonderful pieces.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

my creative space - ribbons and rickrack

ribbon and rickrack
ribbon and rickrack

Lots of different projects and ideas in my head at the moment, including this one which I hinted about last week. I hope to share it soon.
I'm also trying to get organised as I leave on Friday for a weekend trip with three friends. Just us girls for once. A nice hotel, a restaurant or two, some shopping and a gallery visit. Hope you have a nice weekend planned too!

More creative stuff in its new home here.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

show & tell - carly schwerdt

Carly Schwerdt is a woman of many talents and enthusiasms. Not only is she one half of fabric design duo Umbrella Prints (with the lovely Amy Prior), Carly also owns and runs Nest Studio in her home town of Adelaide. Nest is both a shop to showcase indie art and craft and also an art studio where her art classes help little people discover and enjoy their creative sides. Carly is also a published designer. Her softie designs were featured in Penguin Books' popular Softies series.

I'm a big believer in giving kids confidence in their own creating, I've always tried to do exactly that with my own kids, so I really loved and related to this post of Carly's where she delights in her daughter Lily's recent work. I'm sure many of you feel the same way.

In the same vein this month sees Carly publish her own book through Penguin about exactly that - Little Artists Handmade shows "fun art projects for children, and over 30 crafty things for you to make from their masterpieces." Carly shares a project from the book below, in the cushion that combines her own and also daughter Lily's screenprinted fabrics. What a lovely idea, I can't wait to see the whole book.

So please enjoy our interview with Carly, visit her blog, and put her book on your wish list now :-)

Carly Schwerdt
Facebook pages

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
My blog Moopy & Me is literally a diary, an online journal to keep a fun happy record of my family and my creative work. It's definitely my happy place, I don't like to grumble over at Moopy & me too much... I like to think of it as an inspiring place, a place for sharing and connection.
I like to think of my style as something that reflects that attitude of fun & generosity... and one that proves you really can do anything if you simply give it ago ...

2. Why blog? How did you start?
My blog Moopy & Me started way back in 2004 when I was a fresh young mum.... I was excited to learn of the mummy community online (such bloggers as Loobylu & Lori Joy Smith) so to join in the conversation I started my own blog about my family and crafting adventures. AND Boy! what an adventure it has been! Though my life has changed quite dramatically since those humble beginnings I still like to keep to the origins & heart of my blog... the subject of family & creativity... I love looking back on what is now a diary of sorts (the original purpose of blogs! -- web log).

3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
My background is primarily in visual communication (graphic design... the good old days when computers were simply the tool you used at the very end of the creative process) and I am also a qualified primary school teacher... so many years were spent studying at university before I started blogging. However all my crafting adventures have been one big trial and error experience... which I love.

4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I am fortunate enough (and I worked my tush off) to have created a very inspiring studio (Nest Studio) to work from, but I do some of my best work on the lounge room floor and kitchen table!!!


5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
Moopy & Me (which should now really read Moopy & Olive & Me) is simply the nickname for my eldest daughter Lily ... she used to have the most awesome moopy cheeks... (big round yet slightly droopy... and very edible) So that's pretty simple.
Nest Studio was a name I came up with, with a friend many moons ago way back when Nest Studio started in 2003... it was always going to be a nurturing homely type of design studio so Nest was the natural choice.

6. Favourite media to work in?
I love fabric & ink... hence my other business with fellow artist Amy Prior, Umbrella Prints, we print our pattern designs by hand onto organic hemp/cotton and also we have a new range of quilters quality cotton which we are super excited about... yes I love getting my hands dirty with ink.

lily drawing at home3

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
Well I am just about to have my first solo book published with Penguin! Wowsers! My book is called Little Artists Handmade. It's such a beautiful book, really accessible and full to the brim with 240 pages of inspiration. Little Artists Handmade begins with some authentic art activities you can do at home with your children (or by yourself!) and is followed with over 30 craft projects including screenprinting, that you can create using your child's designs.

My life long ambition is to open up a beautiful art centre for children and... maybe tinker around with some book ideas and maybe practice making pretty ceramics... one day.

8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Lets just be honest here and say I long to be organised ... LONG for it... but the truth is I am hopelessly messy. I probably wouldn't be so creative if I spent half my time worrying about the mess... so it's just as well then.

Little Artists Handmade and Nest Studio
9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
Oooh I have a few...  I love my Oma's West German vase that sits in my living room, my little collection of Japanese Kokeshi dolls, my Amy Prior screen print that was hand cut for her Lady exhibition... as well as a huge vintage Marimekko that was once my Auntie's, that now hangs in the studio.

10. Favourite food/recipe?
All of my Oma's cooking... my husband also cooks delicious home style favourites like lasagna, lemon garlic chicken, minestrone & apple cake... And I love Japanese food.

11. Favourite colour?
Something Amy and I spend too much time on in the studio is the choosing of colours we will use in our Umbrella Prints collections... we can very easily be swept away for an entire day with two simple words... which colour? I am inspired by the simple things... a berry on a tree, a traditional Japanese ceramic... sometimes being open to really see your environment and really looking at colour can be overwhelming... umm I just don't think I can answer this one... it would be terribly unfair to all the other colours... maybe it's green but then it could be red... or orange... I have been looking at a lot of blue lately though... oh dear?

bird pattern by Carly for UP

12. Star sign?

13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I love the beach and the bush equally, they are both stunning and relaxing. South Australia is home to some of the worlds most breathtaking scenery.

14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, who said you had to do it that way? do what works for you. If you don't ask, you don't get and if you don't just go and do it already, it doesn't happen.

15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
There is an ocean of deliciousness out there.. especialy in blogland.. I could never put my finger on just a few.... However I of course love Amy Prior, Khai Liew, VanGogh, Lily & Olive Brice, The Children at Nest Studio, Mina Perhonen, Klimt & Henry Moore to name a few.

16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
I love the satisfaction I get from making anything by hand.. in which case everything is my favourite at the time... but something that has stayed with me for quite sometime and I still like it... would have to be my Circle series of creatures (most seen would be the Elephant which is featured on Umbrella Prints fabric)

17. Three words to describe yourself?
Passionate, generous & creative

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
I love working with children (spending time with my own too, of course), reading picture books  & catching up with friends with a good bottle of red.
My view from the Nest counter

Monday, 16 May 2011

museum visit

chrystal structure
bird of paradise head dress
stars and urchins
Some pretty pictures from our recent visit to the Museum including a headdress from the Bird of Paradise exhibition, wow.

Thanks to Miss A's help and moral support on Friday night I eventually got all those Brooch Swap emails sent (contact me if you didn't get yours). Thanks for all the nice feedback about your partners and your excitement for the swap! I can't wait to see the brooches start appearing, I know lots of you have started already.

Its Show & Tell time again this week and this month's interview will be posted tomorrow. I'm laying it out now, and adding the photos and I know you'll love it! A hint, its from a part of Australia I haven't featured before...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

my creative space - floral

My creative space today is a bit of a secret, so instead I'm sharing some recent rough sketches, emphasis on the rough! Inspired by seventies florals this pattern started as a doodle and ended up in Illustrator where I can play with lines and colours. I like the way its going so I'll go back soon and draw it again, with cleaner lines and more idea about the different parts, how the repeat fits together. And I'd like to see if I can make it work in one colour.
For today I'm playing around with trims and ribbons, and yarn, lots of fun. Hopefully I'll be able to share where that's going soon. And no, its not a brooch!
Thanks as always to Kirsty for creating and hosting our creative space which this week has grown up and moved out of home!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Brooch Swap Inspiration

Brooch Swap Inspiration
Sign ups for the brooch swap are now closed, WOW, thanks everyone! There's been an amazing response and there are a whopping 86 Brooch swappers joining in for our swap.We have sign ups from around the world too so this is truly an international swap. Its going to be great!

You will receive your swap partner details this week, just as soon as I can get my head around it all, and send out 86 individual emails! The swap is a secret swap which means you will send to one person, and receive a brooch from another.

In the meantime please come and join our Flower Press Brooch Swap Flickr Group. Thank you to the  people who have already uploaded inspiration mosaics. These are full of inspiring handmade brooches and other inspiration pics. Mosaics are a great way to share your tastes and likes with your swapper and to kick start your making. They are simple to make too with the Big Huge Labs online mosaic maker. There is also a discussion thread within our group to share ideas and resources. Flickr also has a dedicated Brooches group which makes interesting browsing.

I found the brooches above with a quick search through Flickr using the tags brooch and handmade. Click on the photo to see the credits. You could also take a picture of your favourite brooches to share.

For those of you who don't have a Flickr account why not take the plunge. You don't have to share all your photos and a basic account is free. Flickr is a great way to share your interests and get feedback on your work.

Monday, 9 May 2011

mothers day

mothers day
mothers daymothers day
mothers day
I had a lovely Mothers day yesterday, with beautiful handmade cards from all my lovelies, including this flower canvas from Mr J, optical illusion card from Mr D and tulip cutout from Miss A. Aren't they amazing. I love those three so very much and I really feel blessed to have them in my life (cue tears).

Apart from breakfast in bed, I got these lovely Glasshouse candles, some Belle Fleur chocs (see mothers day 2010!) and some design magazines. Miss A is doing a cafe design for her Food Tech assignment and the theme she's chosen is Alice in Wonderland. For dinner she practiced her Red Queen Risotto recipe on me, complete with beetroot heart.

Brooch Swap sign ups close tomorrow. Thanks you all for your wonderful enthusiasm - we have over 70 participants from around the world joining in! There are a few people who haven't given me their address details. Please check your email, in most cases I've emailled or left comments on your blogs but some people have left no contact details at all.  I don't want to leave people out and I've done as much as I can to make contact. Please check in so I can add you to the list, tomorrow is the last day. If you can't access my email details above leave your email address in the comments for me and I'll be in touch.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Guest Post - Kylie Hunt's brooch tutorial

Hello there :) My name’s Kylie and I have a blog called 3 Sheets. I’ve just finished making my swap piece for the Great Flower Press Brooch Swap (I know, I’m sorry! But I’d already three-quarters finished it when Susie announced the swap.)

Anyway, Susie’s enacted appropriate girly-swot punishment for finishing so quickly and asked for a tutorial on how to make an embroidered brooch. I’m a self-taught embroiderer so there will be no technical terms I’m afraid… when in doubt refer to photo and I’m sure you’ll work it out ;)

1. Embroider your chosen design or choose a favourite fabric motif and embroider this in your colours of choice. If you’re using a patterned fabric, make sure you embroider a border around the motif so that it stands out from the background.

2. Remove your embroidered design from the hoop and cut around the fabric, allowing a generous border of at least 2cms. Turn the design over to the wrong side and cut out some thick felt vaguely in the shape of the motif. This need not be exact to the shape – it’s just for structural integrity ;)

3. If you have a circle motif, you can simply thread cotton in a loose long-stitch and draw-string the fabric border tightly around your motif. If your motif shape is irregular (like this one) tack the fabric in and sew to the felt shape. I usually start by folding in the corners and tidying up the loose bits as best I can after that. When done, the front of your embroidery should show none of the fabric.

4. Next, prepare your brooch backing by cutting out the shape in felt. Do this by cutting from the front where you can see every curve, bend and angle – it needs to be exactly right. Once you have the shape, you might need to trim a couple of millimetres around the circumference so that it is exactly the same as the front piece in size and shape.

5. Attach your backing fabric in the same way as Step 3. I always use invisible thread for this part so that if I do thread through to the fabric it’s not the end of the world ;) Once this is done, attach the brooch clasp.

6. The last step is to sew the front piece to your backing. I tend to use invisible thread for this too, again, to avoid dodgy stitchery exposure.

Finished Brooch Swap

And this is the finished brooch. Hope this all makes sense. Thanks again, Susie, for hosting this brooch swap – fabulous idea :)

p.s. Thank you so much Kylie! Kylie was one of the first people I interviewed for my Show and Tell series. I fell in love with her wonderful brooches back then and featured this image showing a collection of her pieces. In fact they hleped inspire this swap! Check out more of Kylie's beautiful work on her 3Sheets blog and in her shop.


Thursday, 5 May 2011

my creative space - swapping!

half way

Apologies, more knitting. Its that weather here! And with the excitement of the Brooch Swap and some other busy bits its the only creative action happening around here. This is my tea leaves cardigan again.

There is something so satisfying about having a project on the needles, watching it slowly grow. I love how you don't have to think about it, there are no decisions left to make, I can pick it up and put it down whenever I have a moment. I'm already thinking that I need to make sure my next project is ready to go when I finish this.

Thank you so much to all the lovely people who have joined up for the Brooch Swap. Its very exciting, the list includes some of my very favourite crafty types (thanks guys!), and lots of lovely new faces. And if you are interested in joining the swap, there is still time, sign ups stay open till next Tuesday. And if you haven't emailled me your name and address yet please do that.

Make sure you come back tomorrow because I have a special treat for you!! Lovely Kylie Hunt has written and photographed a guest post with a tutorial for her amazing embroidered brooch, which some incredibly lucky swapper is going to receive in the swap! I love Kylie's brooches and I'll share some of her others with you tomorrow. I'm sure they'll help inspire your making if you are joining us for the swap.
kylies brooch
More clever types at Kirsty's.