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


  1. This was such a great interview! Carly has been such an inspiration to me and it was great to hear in her own words how she does it all!

  2. I reckon Carly pretty much oozes that X-factor stuff...

  3. What an inspiring lady and so great to find out more about her! Fabulous post Susie, thanks.


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