Monday 29 November 2010


extra curricular
extra curricular
My copy of Extra Curricular landed in the letterbox today at last. What a lovely magazine it is, I'm so happy to be part of it, thanks Ellie!

Extra Curricular is full of lots of really interesting articles about creative people - why they make, what they make and lots of great information about how they make it. Its really fresh and honest and wonderfully inspiring whether you are a maker already or just wanting to start. The mag is available through the big cartel shop or via some other stockists listed on Ellie's blog. (I've seen it at Lark and Little Jane Street.)

I was lucky enough to be interviewed for Extra Curricular by fellow Sydneysider Ike Levick who arrived on the appointed day with takeway coffees in one hand and some Prints Charming embroidery in the other (she'd just been to a workshop). Needless to say we spent the whole time talking and came away great friends. Thank you Ike for the lovely piece and for your great enthusiasm and kindness. I was a bit anxious about being interviewed but you made it lots of fun!

The article tells a lot about how I came to be doing what I'm doing, how I do it and why. All the kids' names are in the article and some of their art appears on my pinboard, so they are enjoying the fame too :-) And while I've managed to keep my face out of this blog for three years, here I am at last in living colour (!?), photo by Mr Flowerpress.

Thursday 25 November 2010

my creative space - ginger beer

ginger beer
I'm cheating again this week, borrowing some creativity, this time I'm stealing Miss A's ginger beer production for my creative space. I did make her though, so I think it still counts ;-)

I love this old clipping of the recipe we are using which comes from my mother in law and still talks in pints. Miss A's never heard of them and calls them pin-ts as in pins! Ginger beer uses a yeasty plant that you have to make and feed for a week before you use it. You keep the plant and just drain off the liquid so you can make batch after batch. We are onto our second batch as the first disappeared in a couple of days.

Its quite simple but fascinating and I am completely amazed at how the bottles of ginger beer are all bubbly and delicious when you open them. We use plastic soda bottles and don't fill them completely to allow for expansion. The perfect summer holiday project.

Edited to add: For anyone trying this at home here is a clearer version of the recipe on Flickr:

A big thank you to everyone that came and read and commented on my Show & Tell. It was a bit nerve wracking doing it myself but lots of fun too. Thanks for supporting the series. It will be back bright and shiny next year with lots of wonderful bloggers to read about.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

show & tell - susie stubbs

chrysanthemums in blue
Hello and welcome to this month's Show & Tell.

What's that? I don't look like Susie? Well that's because I'm not Susie. I'm Kate from Foxs Lane and I've hijacked Susie's gorgeous Flower Press blog today. I thought who better to be the interviewee for the last Show & Tell of the year than the hostess herself.

I love Susie's Show & Tell. I love discovering new bloggers and more about the bloggers that I already know. I love how the same questions lead to so many varied and interesting answers and I love how inspired I feel after reading them each month.

I also love Susie's blog. I first came across it earlier in the year when I was sorting out partners for a pin cushion swap. I had a rather high profile blogger to find a partner for and after one look at Flower Press I knew that Susie and her gorgeous style would be the perfect fit.

Since then I have fallen in love with Susie's style. I love the crispness of her screen prints and how gorgeous her images look on denim and linen and paper. I love her obvious obsession with all things botanical, and reading her photo tutorials has completely changed the way I take, edit and upload my photos. She is generous with her knowledge and so quick to answer questions and help out. Susie is one of the few bloggers whom, despite the fact that we have never met in person, I can still call a friend.

So are you excited to hear how our usual hostess answers her own questions? I know I am. So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to this month's Show and Tell guest, Susie.

Susie Stubbs
Sydney, Australia
blog (of course!)

Short description of your blog/style/work
When Kate first emailled me about being a Show and Teller I was a bit daunted, those questions look much harder from the other side of the table! I am delighted though to join the amazing group of people who have shared themselves with us this year, and the good news is that its actually quite fun. Show & Tell will definitely be back next year and I have an overflowing list of potential victims, I mean candidates, in mind already. But back to the questions!

I'm a designer working in printmaking and textiles and my blog reflects my work, and everything else that interests me - making, gardening, botanics and the natural world, sea shells, buttons, vintage fabric and books. Food and eating, family life, travel, different cultures and art. I love photography and take photos everyday, the best ones turn up here. And I love great blogs, which is why I started Show & Tell in the first place.

collecting nature

1. Why blog? How did you start?
In mid 2007 I was googling for a knitting pattern and came across an Australian knitter's blog, with a link to her Etsy shop. Through Etsy I discovered Gocco printing, Flickr and more craft/design blogs. I'd heard about blogging before but didn't really understand why you would do it. That quickly changed and I was inspired to start my own. My twins had just started school and I finally had time to rediscover my creative side. My first post was three years ago this month and while I started quite slowly and self-consciously it soon became a joy.

Blogging feeds my creativity and has helped me develop as a maker. I often find myself thinking in blog posts and that helps me see things more clearly and more carefully. It helps me finish projects but also sees me starting way too many.

The community of blogging is a whole other part of why I blog. I've found lots of like minds online and I'm often moved to tears or laughter by their words. From the first I found the blogging community really supportive and inspiring.

doily pillows
2. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
I have a degree in graphic design and worked as a book and web designer before I had children. So I have a background in print, web, design, type and image making. In 2008 I did a short course in textile printing. I also have certificate two and nearly three in horticulture which I studied when my twins were little through distance TAFE. As Kate says I am mad about botanics. I especially loved the propogation and garden design subjects.

The wonderful internet has taught me everything else from kitchener stitch to bread making!


3. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
Last year Mr Flowerpress built me a little space in the attic, its great for storage and I can sew up there without sticky fingers helping out. I still print on the dining room table though and generally manage to spread myself around the house. The drawback is I lose things all the time. But I can do that sitting still!

4. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
The day I signed up for Etsy I sat down with a bit of paper and tried to think of a user name. Flower Press came up about tenth in the list, and I knew straight away it was perfect. The flower part describes my interest in the garden world, and the press is both a nod to my years as a book designer and to my love of different printmaking styles.

5. Favourite medium to work in?
I think if I could only choose one discipline it would be drawing but printmaking and textile and pattern design are intertwined with that now.

6. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I'm always seeing something new I'd like to try and I've tried my hand at many different crafts in my time even before the internet!
I would love to print some letterpress, that's number one, though lately I've been thinking about ceramics too, I'd like to make little bowls and cups and paint them in blue and white designs.
I'd also like to learn to sew better, and embroidery is on the list too…

pincushion swap

7. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
While I'd like to think I have some neat in me, and I do like perfect clean every so often, my loved ones would definitely say messy.

8. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own, not necessarily by you?
I love handmade and I buy it all the time. I think my favourite things are those made by people I know. Each time I use them I think of the person who made them and I love that, I'm very sentimental! Some of my favourite things are drawings from the kids, newborn jumpers my mother in law knitted for my babies, my handcarved printing blocks, swaps and presents and prints I've bought from friends. Anything with a story.


9. Favourite food/recipe/drink?
If I had to narrow it down I'd say Vietnamese, Yum Cha and Italian. I also like seafood like fresh crab, oysters and fresh tuna. And Miss A enjoys baking so we are slowly working our way through the sweet side of life.

10. Favourite colour?
Until a few years ago I would have said purple and before that maybe green.
I'm quite fickle though, recently it swings between red, aqua and chartreuse. Also black and mushroom grey. And somehow this post ended up in shades of blue!

11. Star sign?
Sagittarian. Enthusiastic and likely to put foot in mouth any moment.


12. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
My parents live on land in northern NSW and its truly magical. That's their house on top of the hill. That's one of my favourite places. I also enjoy exploring new places. There's nothing like a good road trip with stops along the way. I love to stay in funny old holiday houses and eat in new places every night.

My sister lives in Vietnam and my brother and I and families visited her a couple of years ago, its gorgeous. We had two weeks together and it was fantastic, the food, the people the sights. I also want to take the kids to Italy, which I love, get a house for a month and pootle around the countryside.

13. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Lists, late nights, a supportive partner and lots of patience. I am the ultimate multitasker, though I'm not sure that helps me finish anything. For example I might be cooking dinner and look out into the garden and see the light changing and so I'll slip out and take some photos while the rice cooks, end up weeding a bed or moving a plant. Or I might be paying bills and get up to find a pen and ten minutes later find myself knitting on the couch while I help someone do their homework.

finished quilt
14. Favourite artists?
I love Australian women artists like Clarice Beckett, Margaret Olley, Rosalie Gascoigne. My favourite garden designers are Beth Chatto and Piet Oudolf. I like famous painters like Van Gogh, Picasso, Rothko, Degas, Modigliani. I love textile design from the 50s. I love good graphic design and great photography.

15. Favourite blog post/thing you've made/photo? 
Perhaps the quilt I made last year. I really made it as a sewing challenge, but it gets used all the time, its very cosy and the perfect size to snuggle under. There are quite a few photos I've taken that I'm really happy with.

My Ruby Slippers print is something I'm very proud of, it lives with many people around the world now, and my Filigree design tea towels too.

16. Three words to describe you?
OK, hardest question. I'm going with creative, busy, enthusiastic. (I've edited out the bad stuff!)

17. What do you like to do besides creating?
I have to garden, its my meditation. I enjoy cooking. I read the paper every day and a book every night.

One of my favourite things is road trips with my little family exploring new places. I like to play games with my beautiful boys and make stuff with my darling girl. I love to meet up with my bloke during the week for lunch or a swim at the beach. I like christmas holidays with family - talking for hours over food or a glass of wine, watching the kids little concerts. Camping with the other side of the family. Or lunch with a friend or two catching up on all the news.

Monday 22 November 2010

Mailing List & Gift Certificates

gift certificate
For the last couple of years I've had a mailing list to update interested people on new work, special offers and news from flower press. Its been quite sporadic, to say the least, and I've never shared it here on my blog.

I love the idea of keeping in touch with my lovely customers though and even more to reward them occasionally with discounts and offers. So with that in mind I've finally automated the process with an online list manager. Now its even easier to subscribe. Just click here to subscribe or on the button on the blog (just there above the followers widget) and you will be directed to a form to add your email address. You'll get a confirmation email to check you really want to hear from me and away you go. And equally if you get sick of my emails and want to unsubscribe that process is quick and automated and anonymous, just one click.

Now I'm telling you all this for a reason! Remember that holiday sale I've been promising? Well I've decided to keep it for mailing list peeps only. The good news is that I won't be mailing out details till Wednesday. So if you want to join up for the sale code click now and subscribe. Also new to the shop are Gift Certificates. Great for Christmas, housewarming, last minute presents. Can be customised for currency or amount. I can send a hard copy or electronically to you or your giftee.

Don't forget tomorrow is Show & Tell day! This will be the last interview for the year and its going to be really... well you have to tune in to see!
Show & Tell will definitely be back early next year and I have a long list of people I'm dying to feature, can't wait.

Sunday 21 November 2010


 Extra Curricular is a journal about folks who get creative with their spare time.

With cover art by Jessica Hills, this issue includes a printmaking 'featurette', an article about getting crafty in the kitchen along with a recipe for summer berry jam, interviews with creative geniuses and more. It comes with a bonus too - 'the little holiday activity book', to keep you occupied with things to make over the holidays.

Extra Curricular is printed in full colour with vegetable based inks on recycled stock.
72 pages
200mm x 148mm

Have you seen Extra Curricular magazine? Launched last year by the talented Ellie this beautiful little magazine is published three times a year. Its about people who make part time. My lovely friend Melissa from tinyhappy was featured in the first issue, last year and I remember thinking how beautiful it looked when I saw it on her blog. So I was more than delighted when Ellie asked me to be part of this edition, devoted to printmaking. This is the fourth issue and its out tomorrow! I don't have my copy yet but I can't wait. Its exciting enough seeing my name there on the cover!

I promise to show you and tell you more about the making of it as soon as I have it in my hot little hands. And for those of you who can't wait, and want to know more about why and how I do what I do, you can pre-order here.

Thursday 18 November 2010

not my creative space

myrtle & eunice
myrtle & eunice
myrtle & eunice

The parcel guy came through the rain on Monday with a beautiful brown paper parcel present for me. Not only was it beautifully stamped with my name, it was full to the brim with beautiful work from a talented friend of mine.

So I'm cheating today, my creative space today is a peek at someone else's wonderful creativity. I am now the lucky owner of a T towel, from Mrs T, some beautiful cards, some wonderful tags, the perfect bit of fabric and oh, I think there was some chocolate in there, but that's long gone now!

Thanks Tania for your lovely, generous presents, which helped clear some of the grey skies round here. I love them all!

Oh and best wishes to Ms Stick Insect and all her babies, sounds like she needs it.

Monday 15 November 2010

daylily babies

new daylily
new daylily
new daylily
new daylily
new daylily
daylily seeds

One of my first plant crushes was with daylilies. I was intrigued when I first came across them to find that each daylily baby is a new plant, a new face. As with roses the genes come together differently in each seed and lead to an infinite number of unique new plants.

To make seed you simply brush pollen from the large anthers (boy bits) of one plant onto the stigma (girl bit) of another . Most times especially in the early cooler part of the season, around now, a pod forms full of plump black seeds. Once planted it can take the plant a couple of years to flower, but if you sow a few each year you can have new faces each season.

When I first got my hands on some named daylilies I got a little obsessed with breeding the perfect flower, I recorded each cross and waited impatiently to collect seeds which then went into labelled bags. Quite quickly though plants were moved, seeds were mixed, labels fell off, we moved house. I'm not really made for that level of organisation, I prefer to randomly cross the ones I like that are open at the same time, collect a bunch of seeds and sow them all in a large flat once a year. Any that survive the tough love round here get squeezed into a pocket of free space. Its taken a while but the last three years I have had new seedlings flowering. The anticipation of watching a unflowered bud grow and bloom is wonderful, though a couple have budded up for the first time only to be beheaded by a soccer ball at the last moment. Which means waiting a whole extra year - so its not a pastime for the impatient.

Here are some pictures of a couple of recent babies. Daylilies have just started flowering for the year and this first, pale one opened its first bloom yesterday. I love the way it has colour coded itself with the surrounding plants. No sign of buds on my rose babies yet, but I have ten tiny plants so fingers crossed.

p.s. Show & Tell will be posted Tuesday week and I can't wait. As usual its a secret but I can tell you that the blogger was suggested by one of my past interviewees...

Thursday 11 November 2010

my creative space - making, packaging


Not so creative over here, but I do like the meditation of packaging up Flower Press wares. Sewing on labels, folding the towels, printing bands and putting the whole thing in a cellophane bag. And they look so nice together. A pity I always seem to be behind so the nice folded ones fly off to their new owners and I have to start again!
And some overlocking for those who were wondering how I was going with the new machine. A moment of worry when my rethreading didn't work, but I found the tricky thread hole that was missing and as you can see there's been no looking back. I love it!

Lots more interesting things, as usual, at lovely Kirsty's.

Wednesday 10 November 2010


rosa mutabilis
walking iris

Freelensing is just what it sounds like - shooting photos with the lens removed and held in position in front of the camera body. It might sound strange but can give some interesting effects, distorting colour, focus, and light, in a way that's sometimes reminiscent of vintage cameras. These are just a few early experiments but I'm having fun with it. Make sure to hold open the aperture on the lens, I've been using blue tack to hold the little pin which opens it.
I read about this photographic technique on SwissMiss which is full of amazing stuff, and about how to modify the lens on Flickr, where there are lots of great examples.

Thanks to all for your lovely feedback on the last instalment of the photo posting tute. If you look in the comments section of that post you will find the link to the Flickr Uploadr app which will make your Flickr uploading much quicker and help organise your pics.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

live this

live this
live this
doily pillows

Flower Press has another new stockist, and this one is particularly special because not only is it local, its run by a lovely friend of mine, Carla who renovated and reopened the shop last month. I was there this afternoon delivering more stock and its filled it with such beautiful things, great homewares, clothes, jewellery, candles and prints. And now some more Flower Press cushions and tea towels! I think Live This would be the perfect place for gift buying, though they would all be the type that you can't bear to part with! Live This is on Norton Street in Leichhardt.
I'm also happy to announce that the new overlocker has been put to good use and my doily cushion on denim is finally for sale in both the Etsy and Madeit shops.

Friday 5 November 2010

photo posting - three

gleditzia flower
from flickr
uploaded directly to blogger and enlarged to 500 pixel width
uploaded to blogger, 400 pixel width

Here at last is the promised photo posting post. Apologies its taken so long. If you haven't seen the other instalments I talked here about what equipment I use and here about the simple editing I do to improve my photos. The last step is putting those photos online and I have a couple of tips. (And sorry I'm using Blogger and can't help with other formats.)

I think the best way to improve the look of your photos is to upload photos to Flickr first and then link from there. I find it quicker and easier too.  When you upload photos straight to Blogger they are stored in Picasa. For some reason I always find the directly uploaded pics are muted and slightly fuzzy and that used to really bug me (you can see the difference in the examples above) . Then I read about uploading through Flickr  and switched to that method. The difference is quite noticeable I think you'll agree, and with the recent changes to Flickr its now even easier to do.

First upload your pics to your Flickr account (you can get one of these free and they are a great way of sharing your photos, joining swaps, joining groups, seeing other great photos). Once uploaded go to the relevant photo page and click on the 'Share This' tab. Then click on the Grab the HTML/BBCode and you will be given a snippet of code to copy (I choose medium format here usually because my blog has a 500 pixel central column). Copy it and then go back and paste it into your blog post, in position. Importantly, make sure you are in the Edit HTML panel first.

posting from flickr
As I said my blog layout is modified. The central column is 500 pixels wide and I like my pics full width, so most often a medium format fits perfectly for me. There are seven other sizes to choose from in the menu so you most probably find one you like.

Occasionally I need to enlarge or reduce the scaling to fit exactly, especially those pictures in portrait format. But this can be done with some simple changes. They might seem complicated the first time you try it but are quite easy once you get your head around it.

Look at the html you've pasted in, say the width was only 400 pixels and you wanted it larger (see original code first followed by modified code in the example below). You can type a different width value straight into the code, but don't forget you have to change the height proportionally as well, or the image will be distorted. To find the right height work out your enlargement percentage by dividing the final size (500) by the initial size (400). In this example you get 125%. Look at the html and see the original height size (285). Multiply that by 125% and as you can see in the code below, 258 becomes 356 pixels. You can do this the other way round and start with the height and then calculate the width. If you are making a radical size change use a larger size photo to begin with, or it will end up fuzzy.

I really hope this isn't too confusing. There is nothing to lose though, any mistakes can be deleted before you post. Or like me, get a second layout blog specially to mess around in. If you have any questions please leave them below and I'm happy to try and answer them.

* Download Flickr Uploadr app here:
see comments for info.

Screen shot 2010-11-05 at 2.57.08 PM

Thursday 4 November 2010

my creative space - learning to overlock

my lock 134D
Janome overlocker

Did you guess what my Ebay purchase was - yes, an overlocker! I've been looking for a while for a secondhand machine and recently found this Janome Ezy Lock 134D for less than $200. It arrived while I was away so yesterday was my first chance to really try it out. Its exciting to have a new machine, especially one as foreign as this. I've never even used one before so its going to be a real adventure learning all its functions.

Luckily the woman who sold it to me sent it all threaded up because from what I read, threading is the one real hurdle for the novice overlocker/serger user. I did rethread the last bit of one looper (lower) thread and didn't think it was too hard (but I'm touching wood while I say that!) Its threaded with black thread though, so I'm going to have to bite the bullet soon. I think I can tie the white to the black and pull it through but maybe I should spend some time mastering the threading.

So far I've only sewn around the edges of some scrap material but I'm already sold on the wonder of overlocking! It will be great for cushion sewing and save me lots of time zigzagging around the fabric edges. And I can't wait to try sewing jersey.

The seller included an old Janome magazine which lists all the wonderful thing their sergers can do, there's no date on it but it has photos of a delightful quilted jacket and includes patterns for a dress with shoulder pads! It talks about pintucks, gathering, blind hems, beading attachments, piping and faggoting. I'd like to think I can master at least a couple of those, or work out exactly what they are at least. As always, all advice very welcome!

For more creative spaces visit Kirsty's place.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

home again

louisiana iris
aqueligia pods
honeysuckle pods
mackaya bella
euphorbia flower
I'm home again as you can see, wandering around our little garden which has grown and flourished in my absence thanks to loads of rain. My little family met me at the airport last night - its always a treat to walk off the plane and see them after time away. They seem especially beautiful and their hugs are always savoured.

My dad ended up having a partial hip replacement on Sunday, poor thing he fell and broke his shoulder and his hip ten days ago but a doctor missed the hip fracture and it took a second xray to bring it to light. All this is complicated by the effects of the major stroke he suffered a couple of years ago. So it was a difficult time and I felt blessed that I could be there to hold Mum's hand (and her mine) through the uncertainties of the operation. Luckily he came out as hale and hearty as he went in, with his sense of humour and great courage in tact.

Thank you to everyone who commented or emailled or texted me. I was really touched by each message.

I'm slowly getting back up to speed and I will be back to share my latest Ebay purchase in my Creative Space tomorrow! It arrived while I was away and I can't wait to go and experiment :-)