Saturday, 10 June 2017

good stuff and bad stuff....

Heres some items I've finally got around to listing in my Etsy shop...and a photo of another pile of stuff which is about half of the other things I haven't gotten around to listing.

These new pieces show images arising from my usual interest in the female figurative. They are all taken from early to mid European paintings (C15 - 16th) I'm really enjoying cutting, fabricating and patinating the brass and copper metal parts of the pendants.

If you want to see other views and prices of any of these necklaces click on the Etsy shop
icon in the right hand side bar.

Some of the numerous pieces that haven't been listed in the Etsy shop
A postscript moan....
I get really frustrated that by the time each item is photographed, the pictures downloaded and edited, then a detailed description written and all the information uploaded to the internet store it adds at least an hour to the making time for each item. For a low price item, like earrings priced at $20 or less, this makes it ridiculously un-economic to list them.....
.....then I start to beat myself up about how I can only lead this life where I have the privilege of not having to do a "work activity" that brings in sufficient income to pay for my living expenses because this happy life artmaking in the studio is only facilitated by a generous and supportive husband. Sometimes I can just count my blessings that this is the fortunate situation I'm in but when there are long spells of not making any sales from my studio or Etsy shop I get feeling anxious and guilty about this dependence.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Castaway to Couture

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a blog and heard about an intriguing competition. It sparked my interest because the brief was to recreate a new wearable garment by recycling 1,2 or 3 second hand garments. As an enthusiastic supporter of my local St Vincent de Paul I often buy interesting used clothes to re-make. During this Winter I'd collected a 100% wool mans jumper with a great ethnic abstract pattern and and put it aside just for this purpose.

I only heard about the "Castaway to Couture"competition 4 days before it was due to close so I had to work fast. Here are pictures of the jacket I made from the mans jumper plus 2 knit t-shirts.

You can go to the Australian Sewing Guild website and see the other entrants and vote for your favourite up-cycle at this link

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Going to San Francisco....!

Congratulations to Nicky Elliot, who heard a few days ago that the short film she made about me last year has been selected as a finalist to be shown at the San Francisco Documentary Fest in June.

Well done and Yay for Nicky and cameraman Pete Delahunty!

And here is the link to the film....

Monday, 1 May 2017

Our garden lately

The garden at Murrurundi. Various pictures from the beginning of this year.

...and I'm wishing I was there rather than day 5 in hospital. Doc says I can go home tomorrow, yay!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Marama Jacket

Last month I was all enthused with the "Rings of Saturn" dress and did a whole lot of work on beginning to digitise the design for publication. ever....I got side tracked by the excitement of creating a new pattern and whipped up a shirt, then a jacket. The Jacket was so good I decided to rearrange the publishing schedule to do the jacket first, then the shirt and finally, go back to complete the Rings of Saturn. That lot should keep me occupied until the end of June or long as I can keep disciplined enough to stop myself wanting to do something new....

I don't have a jacket or coat in my catalogue of designs, so I used that argument to justify abandoning Rings of Saturn. A lot of my blog readers are in the northern hemisphere and may not realise we are at the beginning of Winter in Australia so my thoughts are turning to cosy wear and the need to stock my little atelier with clothes more suitable for cold weather.

These are the first samples for the Marama Jacket

the print on the left and right side fronts is one of my original designs and available at Spoonflower. For this jacket it is printed on linen. The fabric is called "Green dress, red roses" and this is the link to it in my Spoonflower shop -

reversible Ponte knit,  stripe one side, spot the other

The Jacket will have options for button closures or these arty ties

Marama at the back has 4 outside darts that make lovely shapeliness to the back

Marama Jacket in an ethnic referenced  heavy woven cotton  

The design is heavily influenced by my love of Asian style, with its asymetric hemline and crossover front. On the left side front there will be options for 1, 2 or no pockets. The picture doesn't show it well but the black and white Ponte jacket is a 2 pockets version. The pockets are huge, overlaid on each other and the top openings slant upwards diagonally.

I've found this design very gratifying to work on at a creative level and look forward to publishing it to see how other makers will interpret.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

astral journeys

Heres pictures of the first sample garment for what will be my next pattern.

Due to the surface applique of spots and rings it's called "Rings of Saturn"

first sample garment for "Rings of Saturn"

The electric colours of this version make it rather theatrical so the next samples will be toned down! For the next combination I'll use a lovely dark plum background with black appliques, and after that I'm thinking white on beige and grey on black....

Of course the design doesn't have to be made with the applique embellishment. It has 3 panels across the back and 5 across the front which makes it wonderfully fitting around the upper torso and flared below the waist. I did make another prototype before this with printed fabric in the middle and plain black at the sides. However as I then finessed the pattern to improve the fit it isn't quite exactly the same as this second sample.

side view of Rings of Saturn

back view of Rings of Saturn

When I publish the pattern, hopefully around the end of April, there'll be 3 Views to choose from. View 1 will have straight flared sides, View 2 has the curved out sides, as in this garment and View 3 will be how to make either version with a tutorial on doing the applique surface embellishment.

Today I really should have started on making that plum and black version of Saturn but I got pleasurably side tracked making the textile necklace shown with the dress.

textile necklace for Rings of Saturn

The necklace is a melange of knitting, crotcheting, machine embroidery, hand stitching and stenciled fabric with #6 green beads and black lava beads dangling along the bottom. It took me all day to make and costs a mere $75 if you want to buy this fabulous one of a kind piece of textile art!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Art workshop for chooks

Early tomorrow morning I'll be heading off to the lovely town of Merriwa to teach some art workshops. Like most artists I need to supplement my income with any sort of teaching work that comes my way. This one will be lots of fun as I have 2 groups of senior citizens for a couple of short workshops of 2 and 3 hours.

Inspired by our pet rooster, Roger the KFC, it occurred to me to create an art lesson based on drawing/painting a chook. For many elderly people keeping a flock of hens in the backyard to provide eggs and meat was something they did themselves or grew up with. In the 8 months since Roger chose our back yard as his territory I've learned what charming and delightful pets chooks can be. I can completely relate to why people who've kept domesticated chickens are so fond of them. We've found Roger to be a lovely and entertaining fellow, his only downside being his operatic ambitions that he wants to start exercising from 4am in the morning. Reluctantly, after the neighbours organised a lynch mob, I had to apply a permanent velcro collar to his neck. The consequence being he can only make very sad spluttering squawks of acceptably low decibels.

This is the type of chicken  picture I'll be guiding the students to make in class
the real KFC Roger, at home in our back yard

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Australia and New Zealand back on the map, please

This morning I had a notification from Etsy that they are about to launch a new selling platform called “Etsy Studio”. Its designed specifically for sellers of craft supplies and tutorials. As a seller of patterns I had a look at the 23 minute promotional video.

This blog post isn’t about my opinions of Etsy Studio. I want to make a more expansive point about how political leadership of a nation can set a tone within international relations that is so resonant it trickles right down to the grassroots of radicalising the little insignificant blog of a female artist in Australia.

About 3.30 seconds into the video Etsy showed a map of the world, presumably to underline how inclusive and world wide their platform is. I had to do a double take and call my husband to confirm I wasn’t (not) seeing things. The whole continent of Australia doesn’t appear on the map, including New Zealand. I was born in New Zealand and lived there till I was 26, my son was born there and I still have a lot of family there, including my father. New Zealand is a small country with a population of barely 4 million.

Australia is an island continent. I find it astounding how a huge organisation like Etsy can present this “map of the world” and nobody notices Australia/NZ are missing. How can I have confidence in an organisation like that? How can I have confidence that America likes and respects Australia when President Trump had a phone call with our Prime Minister in which he responded in ways that were crass, impatient, dismissive and cut short the conversation which was supposed to be an hour after 20 minutes. To his advisors (Bannon and somebody else) across the other side of the presidential desk he described this as the “worst” phone call he’d had with a world leader. A few days later White House spokesman Sean Spicer was trying to justify things and referred to our Prime Minister as Mr Trumble, twice….It is Mr Turnbull. It makes for a very unconvincing apology when you can’t remember the right name of the person you are trying to be sorry to.

President Trump wants to ban people of 7 countries to be able to enter the USA. I live in a very small community of less than 1000 people where we have a fantastic doctor who is Syrian. His sister lives in the USA and is married to an American. I met her when she visited her brother here in Murrurundi last year. She wouldn’t be able to leave America now for fear of the possibility of not being able to get back in again. Nor can her brother visit America because despite being a permanent resident of Australia, and an important and respected member of our town, he has a Syrian passport. He and his sister were born in Syria and their parents still lived in Aleppo until a couple of years ago (our doctor moved them to safety in another middle eastern country as they are aged in their 70s. They did not want to leave to live in either Australia or America)

So this is a story about how the attitudes and decisions of the people at the pinnacle of political power ripple down to effect all citizens of the global village. I think a month ago I would have interpreted Etsys blunder as just the dumb mistake of some underling…..but with the climate in international relations going all topsy turvy and with the way President Trump is playing out his declaration “America First”, you really have to wonder if that implies the rest of the nations the world are going to be allocated, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, etc……according to how President Trump and his cronies rate them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

to model or not...?

This morning Annette posted a comment on my last blog about the release the Two Pegs pattern and I started writing a response to her, then realised it was an interesting question and wanted to share this with my other blog readers...and I welcome opinions anyone else has to offer

this is Annettes comment
I love the new dress pattern. It is going on my wishlist for when I finish up a few of my works in progress. It would be great to see the dress modelled by someone :-)

This is my response - which I want to open to all who might want to give feedback

I've numbered some of my points if people want to address specific statements

Hi Annette,
thanks for your positive response. I often feel ambivalent about showing garments on real models, I wax and wane about some of the pros and cons, such as....
1) personally I seldom select a pattern based on seeing it worn by someone else. This means I'm likely extrapolating my own behaviour onto what I think others would do.

2) I'm only an amateur photographer and a one woman enterprise - so lack confidence in how well I can do the pictures.

Due to my extremely insular personality (ASD - Aspergers) I have huge anxieties about approaching any woman and asking her to model. On a philosophical level I think this should be paid work too, not a personal favour.

I couldn't afford to have pictures done by a professional photographer and that involves other tangential issues such as hiring/paying models, studio or other locations/props, copyright releases et al...

Can't help but be aware in this business many independent design companies who are profitable do use professional photographers, studios and models and one of my problems with it is wondering how "realistic" these pictures are. On beautiful, slender, tall women, posing with perfect lighting (is that dress pinned in at the back? is that collar starched rigid to sit like that...?)...are you really getting what you see? I know on a philosophical level that the advertising industry relies on trying to sell us dreams and aspirations. It would be absurdly counterproductive that they ever showed an unattractive view of the product to be marketed.

3) This last point is the one I will probably get some feedback on....!!! Please be gentle with me!

The majority of tiny independent pattern businesses rely on a model of using a stable of pattern testers who trial the pattern and instructions before they get published. When the designer releases the pattern there is the fantastic benefit of having a group of people who will endorse the design, blog about and provide pictures of themselves modelling the garment.

This is a fantastic model and virtually all small independent designers I know of use it. There are big Facebook groups who have been set up to support the model and provide groups of willing volunteers.

REVELATION....I don't get my patterns tested using this model. I am the only one who sews all the samples, checks, double checks and triple checks the instructions. Consequently, I don't have access to photos that tester groups provide.

Three years ago when I started out I did get my first 3 patterns tested in a group I set up. Regrettably I found the whole process enormously stressful. I don't do interactions with people (I'm crying with stress just writing this, because I know few will understand)

I get crippled with anxiety, I will spend hours, days, weeks consumed with nausea and gut aches because I can't figure out what people mean. I become paranoid, paralysed and catatonic with fear.

Why would I want to put myself in that place? That is why 2 years ago I decided to take the risk of just doing it all by myself. Fortunately I have only had feedback twice about minor issues with pattern instructions. Distaste for interacting with people is a downside of Aspergers, but extreme, obsessive dedication to detail is an upside.

It would be interesting to hear what others think, but please don't be disparaging to me in regard to the way my head works!

.....If anyone wants to volunteer to coordinate and handle a tester group for me I will mint you a medal, or at least barter such services in exchange for art?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Everything is hot, hot, hot.....

The Two Pegs PDF pattern is available to buy in my etsy shop - use link in the right side bar if you want to check it out.

The Two Pegs pattern cover
I haven't opened my shop or worked in the studio for the last 2 days as I'm cowering at home and trying to keep cool as a catastrophic heatwave is engulfing New South Wales. Theres no air conditioning in my shop/studio - or at home either. But at home I can run a cold shower to get under if things get too oppressive. It's 2.30 pm and just hitting on 40 celsius at the moment (105 fahrenheit) so maybe a little hotter to go yet. Or highest ever recorded temperature here was February 2016 at 41.8C. At present some places further inland are 45C now and may get to!!!

I'm trying to keep my mind off the torrents of sweat dripping off my chin and down my back by keeping busy. Yesterday I bought home a bag of adornments from the studio that have never been in the Etsy shop and have been photographing and uploading them.

Jade cuff

Penelope necklace

Mughal cuff

Nippon postcard cuff

Brass Butterfly cuff

All these can be found in my Etsy shop right now, if you want to see other views and prices.

More stuff to add if I don't drop dead from heat exhaustion in the next few days....(my husband is a retained Fireman with Fire Rescue NSW so I'm also desperately hoping he won't get a call out to some raging inferno!)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Boho Banjo shop and studio

Last week my wonderful husband built a new clothing display rack in my shop and its looks so good!

I live in the very small rural town of Murrurundi, in New South Wales, Australia. Murrurundi is a very old town historically as it was settled in the 1840s (heh, that is "old" in the Australian definition that arises from beginning when white people arrived in ships in 1789 - the indigenous have been here 50,000 years...) and has a population of less than 1,000.

Murrurundi is located on the New England Highway(A15), between Scone (42km south) and Tamworth (90km north) at the very top of the Upper Hunter Valley. It is nestled into the foothills just below the Great Dividing Range. Leaving town at the northern end you drive upwards for 610m through Nowlands Pass to the top of Mt Helen and see spread before you the tablelands rolling out on the way to Willow Tree and Tamworth.

I have lived here for 9 years and adore this little town. City living is not for me! The incessant activity of cities sends my ASD sensitivities into hyper drive and I alternate between irritability and zombie like glazedness. Too many people, too much activity = brain overload, meltdowns....

My husband has supported me to work in my own little enterprise for the last 2 years so that I don't have to go to workplaces and work with people around me. Being in workplaces has been a situation enormously stressful for me personally all my life and is for many Aspergers people.

I'm so lucky and want to express my gratitude that his support, understanding and actions have made my life so much happier than it has ever been.

Meantime, now all of you are getting a tour of my shop and studio....

...starting with the entrance foyer, please step in from the street, the shop is through the doorway to the right. The change room is behind the curtain.

entrance to Boho Banjo shop

This is the retail area. The new rack Rodney built is along the length of the back wall. Stacked on the shelf above are some of my older artworks....cloth dolls, mixed media canvas, digital images

Boho Banjo shop 31/01/2017

Glancing behind you, back into the foyer, the the left is a glass display cabinet that I put necklaces/various adornments into. The the right is an old victorian timber mantel that was altered into a display cabinet. The edge of the doorway to the far right is the entrance to my workshop.

A sample of the "Loopholes" dress, my latest published PDF sewing pattern, on a model display, along with a textile necklace I made.

The display cabinet for adornments. Bought this at a garage sale for $15. Rodney put the chicken wire in the back, where there was probably a mirror once.

A close up of items in the cabinet, all designed and made by me

oh dear....then all that lovely tidiness ends as you walk into my workshop...I'm sitting at that little table with my laptop and writing this blog right now

Hope you enjoyed the tour and please call into to look around and say hello if ever passing through Murrurundi

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Two Pegs

These are the line drawings for "Two Pegs" the new PDF pattern I'm working on and hope to have ready to publish in a week. Its called Two Pegs because there are 2 versions, the one with the curved panels is called "Round Peg" and the one with the squared off panels is "Square Peg"

This is the description -

Two Pegs is a womens pull over dress with square neck and bell shape silhouette. The Front dress is divided into 3 panels and there are 2 options for making the panels either curved or with right angles. The curved panels version is referred to as “Round Peg” and is VIEW 1. The right angled panels version is called “Square Peg” and is VIEW 2. Optional inset pockets in the side seams.
Sleeves have the option be made either short or 1/2 length. The back dress has a centre seam and kick pleat at the hemline. The neckline edge is neatened with internal yoke facings that are sewed to the sleeve head seam so that the neck line will always stay neat, sharp edged and never roll.

Two Pegs, line diagrams in the PDF pattern
This design has great potential for colour blocking or mixing prints. I'll publish some pictures of the sample garments on a model in the next few days. It has a wonderful silhouette, the bell shape is quite narrow at the lower calf hemline but the kick pleat at the centre back allows for unrestricted ease of movement when walking and sitting.

I was very chuffed to get this feedback from Kelly a few days ago, who bought and made the Judith dress

" Extremely happy with it, I would have to say it's the most comfortable dress I've ever worn! The pattern was so detailed, everything was easy Peasy! Going to make another 3 now, different fabrics! Thankyou for a great, comfortable, affordable pattern 👍🏻😉

thanks Kelly!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

grab a Loophole

"A couple of Loopholes" PDF pattern is now up for sale in my Etsy and Shopify shops....buttons to the right side of this blog.

This is a fabulous dress by itself or worn over long or short sleeves