Friday 26 August 2011

spring visitors

 Do you remember these garden visitors back in February. I was surprised to hear one calling again recently, it seemed much too cold for the frogs to be active again, but there they were bopping away.
Now I know why, we discovered these sparkling jewels of frog spawn in the pond on the weekend. Unremarkable to most I'm sure but of great excitement round here. Fingers crossed they'll grow to become tadpoles, it certainly is feeling more like spring round here. On a friend's advice we've moved the eggs from the pond to a bucket to keep them safe from the goldfish, at least until they're a bit larger and able to fend for themselves.

I hope you have a lovely weekend planned friends and beautiful weather like we have here :-) Thank you so much for all the visits and comments this week, for all your sweet words about Christina's Show & Tell and for our softies and cranes.
I'm away next week, going north to help my Mum move into her new house and I probably won't get a chance to blog till I'm back. I'll be blog reading though, just as soon as I can get her internet working!
(Art by Mr Flowerpress.)

Thursday 25 August 2011

my creative space - rainbow


When I saw this simple knitted softie pattern in Lamina's creative space last week I couldn't resist casting on (pattern here). I thought it looked simple enough that it would be a good easy project for the new knitters in the family too and they were all really keen. We spent lovely time knitting and chatting happily over the weekend and finished them in a couple of days. Both the boys picked up purl for the first time and I was close at hand for dropped stitches and glitches.
I was in charge of legs and ears but the design and bodies are all theirs (except for bunny, she's mine).
My boys have been making cranes at school this week too, and have learnt the story of Sadako and the 1000 cranes. Such a sweet sad story, its nice that it has come to symbolise peace and that her legacy lives on.
We made some more at home from coloured office paper with this tutorial and somehow ended up with a rainbow! I love the way it looks on my new dining room cupboard.
More projects at the clubhouse here.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Show & Tell - Christina Lowry


There's a wonderful simplicity to the photography on Christina Lowry's "a little bird told me" blog and its this simplicity which helps focus attention on the beauty of her subjects, their colour and shapes, their lines and textures.

Her beautiful jewellery is the same. The classic settings are made to celebrate and frame the unique stones and simple shapes she sources. I love that many of these pieces also have secret, intricate cutout patterns in the base, a hidden feature that is revealed when you turn them over.

Like many of us Christina is a lover of vintage and craft, of pattern and nature and form. She's also a generous bloggy friend who early on in our acquaintance worked out a crochet pattern for me to try and later was kind enough to share her skills in a special guest post tutorial which she wrote and photographed to illustrate her brooch making techniques and inspire our Brooch Swap.

At the moment Brisbane-based Christina has a couple of new and exciting projects in her sights - baby number two is due next year and she and her partner are soon to move into a new house with big renovation plans.

I always love to see Christina's new work and I really hope she finds time in her busy life to continue making her gorgeous pieces. If you haven't seen her work make sure you check out her blog and her shop soon. Thanks again Christina for being this month's Show & Teller.

Christina Lowry

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
My blog is a series of eclectic snapshots of a vintage loving, thrifty jeweller and crafter, who is mother to a toddler, sister to an identical twin and wife to my lovely husband. I work in several different mediums, from sewing to knitting, crochet to silversmithing. My jewellery focus is on original pieces with simple settings. My pieces feature unusual gemstones with hidden details. I employ textured finishes, cutouts and silhouettes. I love writing little stories about my pieces and giving them unique names like 'The Museum Curator Pendant' or 'Left Bank Portrait Artist Studs'.


2. Why blog? How did you start?
I've always been a rather compulsive journal keeper and collector. I have an antique trunk full of my old diaries, whose pages contain years of writing, photos, cuttings, pressed flowers and bus tickets. When I first started reading blogs I was pregnant and nostalgic and drawn to the journaling and documenting aspects. I blog because I want to capture little moments from my day that would be so easily forgotten, to document the making of things and be involved in the inspiring and supportive community that has developed around blogging.  

3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
My mother is an amazingly crafty lady. She is a dressmaker, quilter, embroiderer, knitter and crocheter. Growing up it was normal to play in Mum's sewing room and make our toys clothes out of little bits of fabric. Over the years Mum has taught me many of her skills and always encouraged my creativity. After school I completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts, and it was during this time that I fell in love with Silversmithing. From there I undertook a Vocation course in gold and silver smithing and began an apprenticeship as a second year jeweller. When that fell through, I worked at the bench with several jewellers until I felt comfortable going out on my own, as I am now. 
4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
We have just brought another house, so I have a new room downstairs to transform into my workshop/craft space. At our last house I had the spare room as my craft room and a garage as my workshop, but I still managed to sew at the kitchen table... I am also quite partial to couch crafts like knitting and crochet.  

5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
I don't know now. It was another idea while pregnant. 'A little bird told me' seemed like a nice old phrase that could hold many different meanings. My shop name is rather unimaginative...  


6. Favourite media to work in?
I love working with metal, gold in particular. Metal seems so hard and unforgiving, yet it can be softened and hammered, curved and worked into all manner of forms. I also love wool and fabric for being the very opposite in nature.

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
My future ambitions involve further growing my business from home and pursuing the development of my personal aesthetic. I'd also like to delve more into wax carving and casting techniques in the future. With another baby expected in March and a new house, I also see many baby and home related crafts in my future.  


8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
My bench is always clean at the start and end of a day, but varying degrees of messy in the middle. A clean bench was always drilled into us when training. I find it so much more inviting to sit down to a clean bench with my tools all in their place.  

9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you
A 'tiny happy' hand embroidered pincushion


10. Favourite food/recipe?
Singapore noodles cooked by my husband  

11. Favourite colour?

12. Star sign?
First day of Sagittarius.  


13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
The Italian countryside, the Dalmatian Coast and the beauty of Maleny in Queensland count among my favourites.  

14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
I'm lucky to have a really supportive family for whom my creativity is a normal part of life. I'm also fortunate to be a stay at home mother and I fit in my time at the bench whenever I can, whether it be Cohen's nap time, while he's at the park with Dave or after dinner. I think it's important to be flexible and organised. I write lists. I chip away at things and try not to get frustrated if I don't get to spend as long as I want on something. At the end of the day being a Mum still comes first for me.


15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
I have so many favourite artists. In particular I am always drawn to Picasso, Whitely and Schiele. I really admire jeweller Hermann Junger and crafty ladies Emily Martin, Gretchenmist, Vintage Ric Rac and Handmade Romance.   

16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
My latest project is probably always my favourite thing. I do love starting projects. My favourite jewellery piece I've made recently would be a large amber brooch, 'The Secret of the Olive Grove'.


17. Three words to describe yourself?
Creative, generous, quirky  

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Rainy days you will find me curled up with a book or watching foreign films. At the weekend I am most likely to be found dragging my family to art galleries, feeding the ducks at the park or searching gem fairs for beautiful and unusual gemstones.


Thursday 18 August 2011

my creative space - pack


I'm feeling really organised today (don't you love that!) as I've packed and wrapped about a hundred tea towels over the last couple of days. A lot of them have gone off to shops, in Sydney and a new one in Melbourne (more about that soon). But some of them are still here, giving me a lovely sense of organisation. In fact I'm always happiest when I have folded, labelled and packed tea towels in every colour sitting in the drawer like this. I'm almost sad to see them go! (They're in the shop though if you'd prefer to see them in your drawer ;-)

If I'm not back before then, don't forget that next Tuesday I'll post the August edition of Show & Tell. Another favourite blogger, this time north of here...

Monday 15 August 2011

still here

maple seed

I'm still here, just quiet, just busy. Here are some glimpses of my days; a simple maple seed print which I stole time to carve the other day and Mr J's knitting from school. His class are all making squares for wrap with love and I've been up a couple of times to help. Can you see my rows amongst his?

A weekend of spring cleaning turned up this old set of memory cards which I made years ago for Miss A. They are dog eared and scuffed but they bring back lovely memories. Its such a simple project, I cut out blanks from a large sheet of card from the newsagent and then drew outlines in thick black marker and coloured them in. Two of each card of course, and I made sure to personalise the drawings. Miss A loved fresh peas that year and I might like the occasional mug of tea!

If I made them again now I'd give the reverse sides a pattern like playing cards, in a repeat design. It would be easy to cut them from wrapping or other patterned paper. (I might make a simple pattern some time for download if people are interested, with these pictures to print out.)

We celebrated a weekend of semifinals here, lost them both, but we celebrated anyway with dinner out last night at a Vietnamese restaurant. The salt and pepper squid was my highlight and the lovely smile the waitress gave me when my kids turned on their best manners :-)

Tuesday 9 August 2011

birthday flowers

new rose tin
pam's plate
photinia flower buds
tin collection

We jumped in the car after sport on Saturday to travel out west for my beautiful niece's 21st birthday party. It seems like only the other day we did the same trip in a rush to meet her the night she was born. I remember we found out she'd arrived at a truck stop in the mountains. She's still as sweet as the day she was born but is now the lovely grown up we always knew she would become. The party was loads of fun - lots of delicious food, laughing and dancing till the early hours with our precious family and friends. Miss A was allowed to stay late for the fun and we managed not to embarass her too much!

The blossom was out in the mountains, but only just starting on the other side where I took this snap. The other photo shows our new hedge at a similar point, about to burst. The handpainted plate at my mother in law's also caught my eye, as did this tin on Ebay. While I possibly don't need more for the collection I couldn't resist it and doesn't it look fine with some of my others.

I'm collecting other tins in my vintage love pinterest board with all the other vintage treasures which is almost as much fun.

(Oh, did you notice I made some new buttons, over there on the right, what do you think? And also some special pages up the top there for Show & Tell and the Brooch Swap to make it easier to find all the posts.)

Thursday 4 August 2011

my creative space - envelope liners

envelope linersenvelope linersenvelope linersenvelope linersenvelope liners
It may seem like I haven't been making much around here, but I haven't been completely quiet on the creative front. As always I have lots of plans floating around my brain, and new/old designs being fiddled with, I'm hoping to get them sorted and share them here soon but in the meantime, here's a project I finished a while ago. Its another tutorial for Grant Studios using their beautiful papers to make personalised envelope liners.

This is such an easy quick project to fancy up your envelopes. It would be so perfect for wedding, birthday or party invitations, or thank you notes. And its simple enough for middle sized kids and up to make themselves.
This project would also be fantastic with hand-drawn inserts, or you could use photo prints, vintage wallpaper, wrapping paper, or blockprint some paper, or photocopies... the opportunities are endless to personalise this idea.

While I'm sure you can get the basic method from the photos there are a couple more steps so if you want the tutorial follow the link to the Grant site where you can download the pdf instructions.

More creative inspiration at the home of the Creative Space.

(Oh and thank you so much to Megan, Leslie, Rosalie, Kylie, Julie, Justine and Annika who all signed up to Kiva, and between them made 12 loans. You're the best!)

Tuesday 2 August 2011

free kiva loan for you!


Screen shot 2011-08-02 at 9.32.23 AM
I've told you about Kiva and how much I love it before. I love the idea of supporting other small businesses, like mine and I use my profits from flower press for the loans. To each person I lend US$25 and over time its repaid to my account to relend. These small parcels of money help people all over the world get their businesses started or more often, help them expand. I can relend the money once its repaid too, its a loan, so over time I've been able to help lots of wonderful people improve their lives.

I love that you can choose who you lend to and that you get to share some of their story. Often you are given updates at the end of the loan to hear how their business has grown with your help. I'm including a picture of one of my favourite recipients Flor, with her small son. Read her story here to get an idea of how Kiva can help.

Its also something that's great to share, I've gifted Kiva loans to my mum, my sister and my mother in law and this gift keeps giving, they can relend the money each time its paid back to help finance another person.

And now you can become a Kiva lender for free!! Kiva are offering 4000 free loans between now and the 13th. No strings. All you need to do is register to be able to lend $25 to someone who really needs a little help. I would love it if you wanted to help and its obligation free, they pay for the loan. (Oh and if five people join in I win a t-shirt, which I'll give away on the blog.)

Just follow this link to play. Come and join all of us over there, I'm sure you'll find lots of friends at Kiva, there are lots of crafty types there :-) But quick there are only 2400 1300 399 left! Kiva have responded to the great demand with 4000 more free loans so get in quick!

STOP PRESS: 7 Lovelies have made 12 loans!!! Thanks guys :-). That's enough for a t-shirt which we'll give away on the blog. BTW you can still sign up via the link but now you will have to pay for your loan (about $23AU each with today's exchange). You can relend that money over and over as its repaid.