Friday 29 March 2013

pattern friday - cut peonies

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Whoops, I nearly forgot my new resolution today to join in with Melissa's pattern friday. Too busy making another bee hotel for my garden I was.

I have been working today on patterns though, to make into screens with my new sun exposure techniques, and thus revisiting a few old favourites. There are a few to choose from.

This is an old design which I first blogged way back here in 2008! Its always been a favourite but one that wasn't drawn well enough to reproduce.

I've just spent some time redrawing it and making it into a proper repeat, easy to do in illustrator, and very satisfying.

I've kept the old colours, I remember these were some of my favourite colours back then, red and turquoise blue! I've also made it in some new colours. So fun to see how it changes with the hue.

Its a simple repeat, a simple pattern, but there's something I love about the simple ones! Which is your favourite colour? I like that smoky mushroom grey and the way the flowers stand out like cutouts!

Thursday 28 March 2013

my creative space - busy bee

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Before Mr F left on his annual fishing trip with his brother and brothers in law last week (five days on the hawkesbury lucky duck) I got him to help me finish this project I've been dreaming of for a while. I've wanted to make one since seeing some online. This funny little house of home grown bamboo and recycled wood is actually a bee house!

If you are interested in the whys behind this idea there is a lovely pdf I found here (the 'attract bees' one). Its full of great information and tells you everything you wanted to know about our native bees, including the solitary bees. These natives are actually important pollinators of native flora, garden and agricultural crops so the perfect residents for an organic garden.

Some of the solitary native bees we have already in our garden are leaf cutter bees (top above, see their handiwork here), blue banded bees (the second bee pic) and teddy bear bees (as cute as their name suggests!). Each year about this time the blue banded bees start searching out the loose mortar between our bricks and the teddy bear bees start buzzing the clay at the base of our house looking for nesting sites. The occasional one gets lost on the way and ends up buzzing round the house while I try to herd them out the door again. The bee population has grown with our garden and we want to keep them happy, hence the nesting house.

The idea behind the house is to provide solitary native bees somewhere to lay their eggs. This one is mostly set up for leaf cutters. The others prefer different types which we intend to make this weekend, by drilling holes in blocks of wood and making clay bricks.

The bee house is a quick easy project but it makes me smile every time I see it, and I'm just crossing my fingers that someone will want to call it home!

I am as always, joining in my creative space over here.

Happy Easter to everyone, I for one can't think of anything nicer than four quiet days at home, pootling in the garden making bee homes and planting my autumn crops!

Tuesday 26 March 2013

show & tell - ellie beck


I'm so pleased to have another north coast nsw blogger this week for you in Show & Tell. I've known Ellie Beck who writes as petalplum for a few years now, in fact looking back, ever since she won a giveaway on flowerpress way back in 2009!

Over the years we've continued to cross paths on the interwebs and these days she is also one of my favourite instagrammers. I love her tranquil still life photos and covet the crocheted stones she makes, so I was delighted to see her open a new shop recently selling these stones along with her beautiful screenprinted fabrics.

There is a lot of talk online about living simply. While not making a big deal about it, since a tree change a few years ago Ellie lives in a small 6 x 4m house with her partner and two children, but without electricity! They are slowly and carefully building their new house and studio themselves. And yet those restrictions are never what I remember after reading her posts or seeing her photos. Rather it is her delight in her surroundings and her love of creativity, the art and beauty of the everyday.

Ellie is also a community minded artist who helps promote art and craft in her local area, she recently helped set up the Hey Maker collective which reinvigorated empty shops around her local town with art and craft and workshops. She also runs a local craft market at the wonderful Tweed River gallery.

While choosing photos for the post I was again taken with with all the beautiful images on Ellie's blog. If you haven't seen them, or don't follow her instagram stream, do go and spend some time with her in her simple, but beautiful and creative life. You will be inspired.

Ellie Beck
Crystal Creek, in the rainforest outside of Murwillumbah

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work.
My blog is about my daily life, my family, the things I do and things that catch my fancy along the way. It's ever evolving, but always somehow me. My style is personal and quiet and thoughtful. I like handcrafted pieces that have mistakes, and a story, and meaning; an impression of the maker. Also, very experimental.


2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started my blog many years ago, I think 2006 or so. When my kids were little.

At the start it was about connecting with other young mothers, and having an outlet for showing/sharing my creativeness. The connections are the best part, and why I still blog today. And having a record of things I've done, and occasionally remembering to write about milestones in my children's growing up!

I also like the accountability of having a blog - wanting to keep my blog updated with new things, and things that I've made/making. I know I'm not the only one who'll make and then photograph something for my blog; I sometimes wonder if some things wouldn't get finished if it weren't for my blog.

3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
Oh, family taught and self-trained. I grew up in a very creative and nurturing family; everybody was always making something or doing something in a creative way. I was very lucky to go to a Steiner school for primary, where being creative was part of every day schooling. I also had excellent high school art and drama teachers.

Apart from a short time at TAFE a million years ago ("graphic design" then was not what it is now), everything I currently do/make is an experimental journey. Continual practice and persistence and enjoying the process - it's still about the process for me. {Also, blogs and the plethora of crafty books available have helped me to learn little skills along the way!}


4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
Mainly kitchen table. Anywhere really. Crochet and embroidery are so portable (at the creek, at a party, in the car). Screen printing on the kitchen table around life. (Wet fabric hanging everywhere waiting for the prints to dry!). We are currently building our home, and studio - so one day I'll have a real printing table. Oh, I can't wait!!

5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
My blog name, Petalplum, comes from the name my mama used to call us when we were children. One day I heard my Grandma call my nephew Petalplum, and it made my heart sing!


6. Favourite media/style/medium to work in?
I love fabric and texture. Screen printing will always be a favourite, and important to me. I love the fact that all the dirty ink and rambling of my image/design making produces something so crisp and clear. Seeing your own design printed onto fabric is really just one of the best feelings. I also love thread - stitch work, simple lines along textural fabrics, embroidery.

Over the past few years  I've come back to crochet (my mama taught me when I was young), and I'm loving it so much. Small projects normally, that are quick and easy to finish.


I'm also really loving the experiments of natural plant dyeing. Unlike the crisp marks of the screen printing, this produces unexpected, often glorious results - shapes and colours and patterns that really make my heart sing. It's a bit magic, a bit witch like (bubbling pots and such), and also a connection to past skills and crafts; a remembering of how things used to be. Enjoying the ephemeral marks of life.

I'd let to get back into drawing and watercolouring again more this year.

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects you'd like to try?
At the moment finishing building our house, and having a studio space are big in my life. I'd love to host workshops and gatherings at my home, one day down the track.

Connecting people is important in my life at the moment. Getting together with like-minded creatives; even just for a cup of tea and some inspiration, but making things together is wonderful too. Sharing skills and learning (or relearning) new skills. I have a few big projects in mind for this year that relate to this making, and being creative, and connecting together.


Also, continuing on with my natural plant dyeing experiments is exciting. And a new online shop has giving me a creative burst to fill it with things that represent me, things that make me happy, and bring me joy to create.

8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Just plain messy. As much as I try (and as much as my husband wishes) for the neatness it never happens. At present we are living in a teeny 6m x 4m teahouse/shack with the four of us; so storage and space for spreading out my creative wips and thinking space is super tight. We're all four (my two children and my husband) building creative piles on any spare surface! Thankfully my husband mostly puts up with it, and eventually cleans it all up.


9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
Two things. The tea cup that my mama made, that I am lucky to own. I remember her making it / painting it. It makes me happy to use it. The other thing is a little felt needle case my 8yr old son made me, with the sweetest stitches. He made it to swap with something I'd made that he wanted.

10. Favourite food/recipe?
We make subzi a lot in our family. Subzi (or subji) is the Hindi word for vegetable. So, really it's the meal that most Australian's would call curry. I grew up eating it most every night, and despite whinging as a child, we make now make it at home, and I love my dad making it when we visit him.

We make our own spice mixture, rather than using a bottle thing. Also chai is being drunk a bit around here lately - I gave up coffee a while ago, so needed a replacement (I love green tea, but it's not the same as a milky drink). I never ever use syrup, only ever make our own mixture up.
I'm also getting into raw chocolate - somehow I feel like it's better for me, so we can eat a bit more. Only ever dark chocolate. 

11. Favourite colour?
I think a deep indigo inky blue. Something that might come out of a dye pot (but I also have a screen printing ink colour I mix up that's pretty close). The golden sparkling yellow I dyed this week onto vintage Kimono silk, using turmeric powder is also very amazing!

12. Star sign?
Gemini - hence the fact that I'm so indecisive.


13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I think here where I live. It's pretty magical - in the forest, amongst ancient trees and moss and ferns.
I haven't done a lot of traveling in my life - New Zealand was quite magical. I'd like to visit Morocco.
Actually - standing on the headland at Fingal Head at sunrise is a favourite place.

14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Oh, I'm not excellent at this - some days are easy and lots gets happily achieved. On other days, when I see I'm not going to get my own making happening, it's best for me to stop having those expectations. To give into the joy of being in the moment with my children, rather than be annoyed that I can't do what I want. It's better that way as I'm more peaceful, and more connected with them.


We often all end up crafting/painting/making together. If I sit down to stitch or crochet one or the other of them wants to join in. Having little projects to pick up whenever I can (a stitch here or there) is a good technique too.
I do stay up later than everyone, in that quiet time of night where I can think and be and make (or blog - which is creative too). And other times I simply skip off from duties and have a half day of being with other creatives.
My house isn't tidy, though I try to do whatever little bits I can around other things. Multi-tasking.

15. Favourite designers/artists/crafters/writers etc?
Again with the choosing favourites thing... Writers: Lily Brett makes me laugh, Helen Garner makes me nostalgic for a time I didn't even live through, Roald Dahl... Artists: Joseph Cornell, Eva Hesse, Georgia O'Keeffe, Fred Williams, Frank Lloyd Wright. UK stylist Twig Hutchinson (she does all the Toast styling). Photographer Tim Walker. Fabric designer Nani Iro (Naomi Ito).
Crafters / makers - I endlessly love the Ink & Spindle girls for more than their designs. The quilts and little dolls and artwork of Tiel Sievl-Keevers (tsktsk). Everything that my friend, Jo Olive (of Olive and the Volcano) makes. The fine delicate work of (local to me) ceramicist Pinky & Maurice. Kate of Greedy for Colour blog, and Kate of Foxs Lane blog are injections of colour and beauty into my life.
I'll stop there!


16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
A simple tiny painting I made when I was young. It's a purple iris - it's perfect. Still now all these years later it's pinned to the wall in my dad's house upstairs. Also, I'm pretty proud of this skirt that I made a couple of years ago using all the scraps of my screen printed fabric. I loved wearing it, and got so many wonderful comments.

17. Three words to describe yourself?
Muchness, impulsive, dedicated

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Reading - curled up in bed quietly. Standing in my yard dreaming and talking to the birds. Planning new crazy ideas. Wishing my garden looked beautiful again. Cooking (which is a different sort of creative). Playing at the beach with my family, and my sisters and their children. (and let's be honest here - instagram....)


Friday 22 March 2013

pattern friday - weave


Thanks to all you lovelies who commented yesterday and wished me well in my new craft workshops. How lucky I am to have all of you to cheer me on! Very lucky.

I was reading Melissa's tiny happy blog today and she posted a beautiful pattern, I do love her work! And she intends to post one each week for 'pattern friday'.

What lovely inspiration to make and share more patterns. I'm inspired and I'm going to try playing along. I have quite a few patterns tucked away that I've been working on and haven't done anything with yet. I see patterns everywhere and often sketch them up while they're still fresh in my mind. I'm going to share some of those here. And the new ones that come to me too, in fact I was making one just today!

And I'm going to share some colour inspiration with them too.

To start with here's one I prepared earlier! I call it Weave. I have such a fascination with simple geometric repeats and tiled patterns, and while this is a simple one I love how graphic it is. It's a design I made intending one day to print it using the stencil screenprint technique I shared in this tutorial. In fact it would be a good one for Leslie's handprinted swap.

Are you swapping? This is my third time and while its alway a challenge I find it so inspiring!

Happy Weekend everyone, I hope you have a good one planned. Mine will be quiet, and I can't wait! And next week there's a new Show & Tell on Tuesday so I'll see you back here then.

Thursday 21 March 2013

my creative space - teach


There's a secret I've been keeping for a little while now, a plan I've been hatching with my new friend Melissa. I've been dying to share it but I wanted to wait until it was all organised and unveiled.

Melissa Tan opened her new craft classroom space and shop SewMakeCreate at the end of last year in Sydney's Inner West, my part of town! SewMakeCreate is a wonderful little crafting and sewing space and shop close to Broadway Shopping Centre, tucked away down a closed off leafy street in Chippendale.

Melissa has come to her new venture from the fashion world. She's a maker too and has an Etsy shop. Introduced by mutual friend Sue (my first friend on Etsy) we hit it off at our first meeting and bonded over a love of craft and sewing and our desire to share that with others.

I also fell in love with her too cute sidekick Pepper above (a 'puginese') who helps her run her creative space. What a sweetie!

I'm very excited that I'm going to be part of  SewMakeCreate, hosting my first ever craft classes at SewMakeCreate next month! The class I'll be teaching is a two part workshop on something dear to my heart, Eraser Carving for Paper and Fabric printing. (Other classes include crochet, sewing, watercolour painting.)

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you'll know that block printing is one of my favourite things. I love the simplicity and speed of the process. I love the way you can experiment easily and make unlimited different designs with just a few stamps. How you can print or combine those stamps in many different ways to make new designs. Or the many and varied applications, from envelopes to bags that you can print with them.

And you don't need to be a great artist, some of the most beautiful designs are made with simple shapes.

I can't wait to share this style of printing with others. I've loved the recent workshops I've been part of, there's something really inspiring about being part of a group learning and crafting together. So it will be great to host my own.

If that sounds like fun to you head over to the SewMakeCreate website and see more details about the two part workshop.  All materials will be supplied, you just have to show up. Part one deals with carving your block and printing on all sorts of paper. Part two will see us printing on fabric, and in particular a tea towel and a tote bag. I'm going to bring some of my stamps to play with too.

The best thing about this simple and inexpensive craft is that you can take your stamps and what you've learnt and keep experimenting with it at home. Once you learn to stamp there are so many ways you can use the prints in your life.

p.s. I'm still weighing up options for an alternative to Google Reader, but I know a lot of you have moved across already to Bloglovin. If so you can follow my blog with Bloglovin here.


Thursday 14 March 2013

my creative space - field


As promised some photos of my new textile print Field. I really love it printed and can't wait to sew with it. The artwork for this screen was done in a rush for my exposure workshop and I want to tweak it before I list it in the shop but it will be there soon.

What colours to print though? Here's an early design doodle with some colour ideas. I like them all, but what do you think? Opinions welcome.

Other creative things happening around here - a custom version of my Ruby Slippers in someone else's colours, orange and pink, you guessed it its the Curly Pops edition! To celebrate Cam's big adventure. I printed this one for Cam but I might just do a small edition for the shop some time.

I've also started cutting squares for a baby quilt for a new girl round here, who arrived a couple of weeks ago. I realised when I was posting them that the colours are similar to my field colours. I really do love aqua blue with pink, yellow, white and limey green as you can see. There is something very clean and soft about that combination. The nice thing is I think my field print would slip into that quilt quite happily. Which makes me very happy :-)

Its nice to be posting for My Creative Space this week. I have so many ideas bubbling that its good to have something to show for some of them!

(By the way, I logged into my Google Reader today only to read they are discontinuing it in July. Wah! I found this article on CNet which speaks of alternatives but I need someone clever to come along and tell me which I should choose. Any ideas? Do you use another service?)

Tuesday 12 March 2013



I'm feeling pretty blessed this week. Lots of great things happening round here. Well actually I must qualify that by saying I had a shocker yesterday! but overall there's been some really great stuff to overshadow that.

Wednesday I had my photo taken. That was exciting if a bit nerve wracking. Hopefully when it appears some of you might see it and I will post about it here.

Later in the day we went to the big school open night and saw our girl and her friends in all their wonderfulness, and felt our boys start to get excited about their journey to high school next year.

Then on Saturday I spent the day at Peter Leis, a local screenprinting workshop run by brother and sister combo Shivaun and Amon Leis. The siblings grew up learning the trade from their dad Peter Leis, a legend of screenprinting in these parts. I didn't know it but Shivaun mentioned on Saturday that Peter worked with Florence Broadhurst amongst others!

Lamina and I, along with fellow student Sam, learned from Shivaun how to prepare and expose our own screens using the sun, so we can make our own screens at home. It was lots of fun and we learnt so much! Thanks again Lamina for signing me up, and for your photo of me coating the screen.

I'm so excited I'll be able to prepare my own screens. I'm hoping it will mean more of my designs making it onto fabric, and into the shop. On Saturday we each brought a design to expose. You can see my screen in the photos above. I chose to expose a new textile design with the working name Field. (I just checked and this design has been brewing since way back in August 2011! So its great to see it finally in print.)

Sunday I did just that, had a morning of printing with my new screen. I posted some pics on instagram (@flowerpress) and thanks to everyone for the lovely feedback there. I plan to show pics of it on fabric on the blog later this week, on Thursday for 'my creative space'.

To finish this wonderful week, and while I was still covered in ink, Mr F found out we'd been given last minute comps for the Neil Finn and Paul Kelly concert at the Opera House!! Like many we tried to buy tickets for this when they came out but missed out, so we were over the moon!

The concert was amazing, we had such a wonderful night seeing these two amazing singer songwriters together, singing some of their beautiful songs. I must admit to a tear or two at the start, it was so beautiful. If you missed out I just read they are streaming the last concert on Monday March 18, 9pm on YouTube.