05 September, 2013


I came across this beautiful book recently, from Jessica, of the popular Miniature Rhino blog.

Although I didn't manage to take it with me, it gave me some inspiration for a project I could fit into my suitcase for an island holiday. We just returned from 9 days of blissful relaxation in Vanuatu. It was a technology holiday for all of us, and the kids spent time swimming, drawing, swimming and more drawing. These are the spaceships my 4 and a half year old son is obsessed with at the moment.

I'm a complete beginner when it comes to embroidery, so don't look too closely! I just used a simple backstitch for the outline. Now something fancier might be in order for filling in the colours. Back to the book for inspiration and some instructions!

06 August, 2013


I seem to have headed down a sewing rabbit hole the past few months. It's strangely addictive. You'd think that making a few garments badly would put one off, but it has made me all the more determined to make a few successful things to show for all the effort. Actually my persistence is probably more to do with all the sewing blogs I read, and seeing the amazing things that other people create.

Anyway - I've been shy about taking photos of myself and posting them on here, which is why most of what I'm making doesn't make it onto the blog. That's my excuse for such infrequent posts! And I'm sticking to it. For the moment. Actually, although I've been sewing since I was very young, I have really only picked it up regularly in the last couple of years. In the past most of my creative energy has gone into other things... bookbinding, drawing, painting, printmaking, jewellery making, etc. I've been getting the urge to get back into some creative things other than sewing. Mark making of some kind.

So I have been pulling out a few old etchings, hoping to get inspired to do some more. I love etching, the quality of the mark that you can get by drawing into plastic with a needle (as in drypoint) or the irregular marks that are made by acid biting into the plate. And the ink getting pulled into the paper. There's the apprehension when you pull back the paper after it has gone through the press, and seeing what emerges. It frustratingly hit and miss. And addictive.

05 August, 2013

Taking Stock

Playing Along with Pip, here.

Making: someone happy
Cooking: raspberry ripple. Yum!
Drinking: tea, tea and more tea
Reading: The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham
Wanting: My Colette Anise pattern to arrive in the mail
Looking: for inspiration
Playing: Willbee the Bumblebee
Wasting: away. Not!
Sewing: the Valerie top
Wishing: for Green and Black 85%
Enjoying: The Good Wife
Waiting: for a winter break
Liking: kinas
Wondering: whether Alicia and Will will get together at the end of season 4
Loving: that extra half hour of daylight
Hoping: that they will!
Marvelling: screen prints
Needing: miles under my belt
Smelling: winter sea breezes
Wearing: ugg boots. They're an investment!
Following: friends
Noticing: stone cold tea
Knowing: that if you do fun things every day, the universe re-configures around you
Thinking: about red highlights
Feeling: like bed
Bookmarking: healthy treats
Opening: packages
Giggling: with little people
Feeling: finished.

18 July, 2013

Letterpress workshop

A few months ago I attended a one day class to learn the basics of letterpress printing at GTO Printers in Auckland.  It was a small class, only three of us in total, which worked out perfectly.  It was so much fun, the day just flew by.  We started by working with a little Adana press (hope I've got that right), setting metal type into an alphabet.  Getting all the letters set correctly, left to right (or was it right to left???) and the right way up really messed with my head.  There were a few back to front, upside down mishaps to start with.  And if you get it wrong, you have to pull the whole row out and start again.   Then we designed a postcard to print, also in metal type.

By the end of the day we progressed to using the wood type.  We were running short of time, so did a collaborative print on the proofing press.  I loved using the wood type.  The objects themselves, with all of the different shapes and colours left from previous print jobs make just as nice an image as the final print, don't you think?

17 July, 2013


I have been collecting items for our dress up box, and when I came across something similar in a shop recently, I thought it might be fun to have a go at making my own.   This is my second attempt.  The first was a more 'boy-like' version with lightening bolts and crosses.  I couldn't get a photo of my little miss in this version (she will happily pose for any photo except the one you want!), so her brother was happy to oblige.

16 July, 2013

Linen Teddy

Last month I was lucky enough to get a whole weekend to myself to attend Handmade in Wellington.   There was so much inspiration, from fun classes on handmade cosmetics and jewellery making, to wandering around the shops and cafes in Wellington, and actually being able to browse for as long as I wanted!  One of the highlights was meeting the lovely Melissa Wastney from Tiny Happy.  When I got home, I ordered a copy of her book Sweet & Simple Handmade.  It's a really beautiful book, with so many lovely projects to make for kids.   This is the first one I've made - the linen teddy.  It was a really easy project to start with and I enjoyed making it, with a bit of input on fabric choices from the kids.  I added the dress (which isn't in the pattern), just because I could :)   It's for a little friend of ours who just turned one.

22 March, 2013

My Creative Space

Hi.  Over at My Creative Space again this week with lots of lovely crafty people.  I've actually been doing a bit of sewing this week, attempting to make Tessuti's Valerie top, which looks pretty straightforward except that I have used this beautiful satin fabric (kind of Japanese looking) which is slipping around like a fish all over the place and is so far a dismal failure.  I have pulled a thread right across the front of it, so badly that I think I'm going to have to get more fabric and cut another front.  So I'm a bit bummed about that, and too chicken to post any photos just yet!

But I've also been doing a bit of bookbinding, making some more blank books / sketchbooks out of some lovely thick blank paper, covered with old maps and pieces of paper I have collected over the years.  Sometimes they are just slivers of paper bags from my favorite bookshops, so small you would hardly notice, but it is enough to make me daydream for a while when I look at them.  The one I used this time was from Berkelouw Books in Eumundi.  Sigh.... if only I had a magic wand.  Anyway, not quite sure what I'm going to do with all of these blank books.  I guess one can never have too many sketchbooks, right?

12 March, 2013

Home Grown

We got all enthusiastic about our vege garden this year, after moving into our new house.  It has been such a beautiful sunny summer this year.  Almost no rain for months.  The rest of the garden has really suffered but we were a bit more careful with this little patch .  The best thing has been the telegraph cucumbers, which started out as one tiny little seedling and has now crawled all the way off the garden bed and down the path, producing at least twenty huge cucumbers.

What do you think of the purple capsicum?  Looks better than it tasted unfortunately. It was an interesting texture, but quite dry and not very fleshy on the inside.  It has inspired me to see what interesting varieties I can grow from seed next year though.

08 March, 2013


We've just returned from a two week camping trip to Great Barrier Island.  A four and a half hour ferry ride from Auckland, this has to be one of the most beautiful, unspoilt places in the country.  Days spent reading, swimming, exploring and traipsing backwards and forwards to the beach.

Our twice daily commute to the beach.

Heading home

It feels a bit strange to be back in the city, with so many things to do and so little time to do them.

I took a couple of projects along with me, but only managed to get stuck into one. Too much reading, dreaming and making plans!

This shirt started out as a purchase from the menswear section from a local opshop. A couple of hours later, and here it is as a tank. A super easy Wiksten Tank. I must start remembering to take 'before' photos!

22 February, 2013

Best Bread Ever

I'm not much of a baker, especially bread.  And I'm pretty happy with my Vogels toast with Vegemite and a poached egg on top.  Yum.   But when I discovered this recipe on my favourite foodie website My New Roots the other day, I couldn't resist.  I am converted.  I dare you to try it!  The Life Changing Loaf of Bread

21 February, 2013

Intaglio etching

We've all been laid up with bugs in my house this week, so there hasn't been much new creative stuff going on.  Nothing serious, just nasty colds.  I'm dying to have that clear headed feeling again that comes with recovering from a bout of illness, where you're full of ideas and have the energy to get into them.

Anyway, I thought I'd post something I made a while ago, in a printmaking class I took.  The first is an etching, made with the skeleton of a day lily from my garden.  We used a zinc plate, painted with a waxy substance (called asphaltum) with the lily sitting on top, which is then run through a high pressure printing press.  The lily is peeled off, leaving an image on the plate, which is then dipped into a bath of acid and the image is etched into the plate.  Ink is applied to the plate and run through the press again with some paper.

It's such an incredibly fiddly process to get right.  If you run the plate through the press at the wrong pressure you can buckle the plate, if you leave the acid in the bath for too long you can bite too hard into the plate and lose the detail in the image, you can put your inky fingers all over the plate, soak the paper too little or for too long.... the list is endless, and I did all of these things and more.  It was so incredibly frustrating!  However there's a moment after you run the plate through the press, when you're holding your breath as you peel the paper up to have a look.  And when you get it right, it's just magic.  The results are worth all the effort.  It's quite an addictive process.  Each time I printed, I thought, maybe if I just ink it up and run it though again I can get something better.

The second print was a bit more straightforward.  It is a drypoint etching, which is a drawing scratched with a needle into plastic, inked up and run through the printing press.   The image on the bottom left is a printed photo of some refrigerated shipping containers.

I'm quite addicted to printmaking.  Unfortunately it's not the kind of thing you can do on your own at home without considerable setup and lots of dangerous ingredients.  But also, there's so much to learn, I think it's best done in the company of someone very experienced.  Maybe I will go and look at the class timetable for next term...

14 February, 2013

My Creative Space

Another chair done (the one on the right), eight to go.  I spent hours pulling out staples from the old upholstery and it took about five minutes to re-cover it.  Now just have to find some more fabric for the rest!

Check out these awesome crafty folk over at My Creative Space.

26 January, 2013


I have been admiring the beautiful hydrangeas all around our neighbourhood this week.  Unfortunately this is the only flower on all ten or so of our plants this year, possibly due to my over-enthusiasm with the secateurs! Live and learn.... Hopefully they'll come back better than ever next year.

25 January, 2013

My Creative Space

I bought these oak dining chairs a while ago, and have been waiting for inspiration to strike, or the right fabric to come along.  I have 10 chairs to spruce up and re-cover, all with different fabric (although the right fabric has yet to come along for the rest of them).  The one I re-covered is on the right.  Unfortunately the previous owner went to town with the staple gun when upholstering the chair last time so it was a bit of a mission to get the old fabric off.  1 down, 3 more of those to go.  I'm quite pleased with the result though... looking forward to getting started on the next one now.  Maybe an offcut of a Designers Guild fabric?

Check out these crafty folks over at My Creative Space.  Lots of inspiration to be had!

18 January, 2013

Lotions and Potions

I bought some ingredients a few months ago, thinking I might make some yummy homemade potions for Christmas presents but December flew by without me even opening the box.  In a fit of procrastination the other day, I  was inspired to try a few of the recipes in this fabulous magazine Action Pack Family Apothecary.  

Here are the few I tried:  Lavender lip balm, Rose and Geranium whipped body butter and a lavender solid body bar.  The lip balm is delish and super easy to make.  And it's quite nice to know that the only thing I'm smearing on my lips is olive oil, beeswax and lavender oil.  The body butter is a concoction of shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil and beeswax.  It's a lovely thick cream that feels a little oily when applied but soaks into the skin quite quickly and made a big difference to my dry summer feet.  I haven't tried the solid bar yet, but it feels quite nice when rubbed on the skin.  I also made a deodorant, from cornflour, bicarb soda, coconut oil and lavender oil.  It makes quite a thick paste that you rub on.  I wish I'd read the instructions right through to the end before I started (always my downfall) that says you can substitute shea butter for the coconut oil.  But, I have been wearing it all day and I don't think I smell like I've been at the beach.  Maybe I'll have to get a second opinion on that though.

You might think I'm a bit obsessed with lavender (true), but when I looked at my stash of essential oils it was full of things like tea tree, clove, peppermint, clary sage, rosemary and lemongrass oils, none of which I thought would be particularly nice in body products.  Think I might have to expand my store if I continue with this.  Always an excuse.... I heard this referred to as a shopportunity the other day.  Hmm...not sure I can bring myself to say that out loud.