weve moved!

Okay, so it’s not quite the huge job that moving a house on land would be, but still, this is a big change for us! From being moored right in front of the yacht club that we use as our “landbase”—with mangroves on one side, the wide open Darwin Harbour and a flat horizon in the distance on the other side—the F/V Sonofagun was towed almost to the top of Sadgroves Creek last Wednesday. We’re now one-and-a-half kilometres away from the yacht club, and the trip ashore is five times what it used to be!

Despite the huge distance I now have to go to get to work (and the nasty new outboard motor that I have had to learn how to use, because rowing ashore would take over an hour) I am loving it here. The spot is deep among the mangroves of a National Park. Sheltered from the Southerly winds and choppy water of the Top End’s “Dry Season”, I’ll be able to work in peace and quiet all through this windy time of year. The mangroves here are denser, deeper—hemming us in on both sides, and no horizon line to rest one’s gaze upon—and there are so many more birds moving through the foliage…not just the usual sea eagles, kites, terns, gulls, pelicans or cockatoos, but little passerines, small and brilliant blue kingfishers, rainbow lorikeets by the hundreds, frog mouths and maybe even night jars. There’s much more activity in the water, too…fish (and lord-knows-what-else) constantly splashing, gurgling and boiling the surface of the green, glass-smooth waters of the creek. We are also just two boats away from the floating crocodile trap that sits at the intersection of the Sadgroves’ headwaters, so I guess we’ll be seeing many more of those big lizards, now, too. Hoo boy.

The nights are darker, and we can no longer see the lights of the city—the stacked Lego towers of illuminated units or the blazing halogen lamps from the industrial wharves—nor hear the constant rumble of bulldozers and forklifts. Almost no traffic on the water where we are, as most yacht people live along the bend where the creek opens up into Francis Bay (you can see the dense lines of white boats in the satellite image)…the only dinghies that go past us are Captain Seaweed’s (he’s at the very top of the creek, and spitting distance from the croc trap) and a few weekend fishermen. It’s like we’ve moved to a sleepy little town in the mountains, after the hustle and bustle of living in Francis Bay, where a fishing ramp unloads speedboats all day, most days of the week, and the big fishing trawlers, work boats, and tugboats come and go, creating huge bow waves in their wake that used to send us rolling like a barrel.

I’ll try and get some pictures to do the place justice! I really hope to capture what it’s like to live up a quiet, green, serpentine creek…surrounded by crocodiles and miles of tangled mangroves.

aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

We’ve moved house! (boat)

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amazing people, books + poetry, Inspirations

Adiós, Gabo

Marquez

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Humanity has lost one of its brightest lights. Heartbroken, today, to hear the news of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passing. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was 17, and it set the rest of my life on fire. Both beacon and doorway, it set me off on a quest to make beauty, integrity, and the magic of the everyday world a part of my life.

cien años de soledad

You will never grow old. You will never be forgotten. We will speak your name with love and longing, always. Live forever in the dreams pursued by those whose lives you entered and altered.

“If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

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blogging

Last year I made just over a hundred dollars with WordAds…that doesn’t sound like much, but it was fine since I don’t push this blog or ram it down people’s throats via social networks, and the amount at least covered annual registration of my domain name, getting my WordPress blog to use my domain name, plus little fees here and there associated with keeping a not-terribly-businesslike blog up and running.

It’s not a source of income, this blog…if anything, it gobbles up time, energy, and internet credit (which, in Australia, is absurdly expensive…$180 for 12 GB of data). So I was grateful for the WordAds earnings…$7 here, $10 there…seemed like not a bad deal in exchange for a little square at the foot of each post with some stupid video for Carlsberg beer or Luminosity.

But these new ads suck. Things popping up in front of my own photographs is not cool. I assure you that I hate this as much as you do, the way I hate the ads popping up in front of Youtube videos.

So I’m turning the ads off completely. There are better ways to make a hundred dollars…and without compromising values, aesthetics or integrity. Please bear with me if I mention my designs for sale on Society6 more often, or promote new journals in my ETSY shop with monotonous regularity, but at least this stuff is my own, and in return for helping me make ends meet, you’ll be getting something handmade or beautiful (or both). You win, I win, and together we can keep third-party advertising and their pushy, ugly corporate interests to a minimum.

These new ads

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blogging, life, Online Shops

I’m 6! I’m 6! I’m 6 years old today!

Six years ago, completely clueless and feeling like a total dumbass, I started this blog.

Thank you for being here, for holding my hand, for commenting, and for giving me frequent thumbs-up signs to boost my confidence. I no longer feel like I am talking to myself, or into the void. The Smallest Forest has become a relaxed and welcoming place for me express myself and share things from my life with others. Do you remember the post where I marveled that I had somehow attracted 1,500 followers? In a fraction of the time that it took to reach those early readers, TSF now has 10,000+ followers. My word.

Almost as though they were sending The Smallest Forest a birthday present, Society6 has just offered us all $5 off each item plus FREE SHIPPING. Offer lasts until April 13,  2014, at midnight, Pacific Time.

Please click the button below to avail of the promotion.

April 2014 S6 promo

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Online Shops, paints and pens, stuff i've made

Craft-bottomed girls, get on your bikes and ride!

A girly retro pink bicycle, resplendent with wire baskets and crocheted doily wheels—don’t snigger, this is actually a pretty accurate representation of the bicycle I still ride…only mine’s red and named Ruby Belle—sets off (on her own, because I wasn’t confident enough to paint a rider!) to have an adventure some place exotic and fabulous!

Just posted this in my Society6 shop today.

Art is afoot…society6 has added rugs to their list of products.

The original was painted some years ago, and disappeared en route to Germany by post. Luckily, I took high-res pictures.

 

Handmade journals with this design are coming, too…no, not on Society6! I mean my own handmade and bound journals, covered in beautiful linen-cotton canvas (as soon as I get my Spoonflower fabric…I’M SO EXCITED!). Stay tuned!

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DIY, journaling + mail art

more about DIY Postcards : : customising the address side

Whatever fabulousness you end up creating on the front of your postcards for iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap, you’ll need to keep the back side reasonably clear for writing the address and attaching the necessary stamps. Addresses are being read by computers, these days, and they are programmed to search a certain part of the postcard for relevant sorting information, like zip codes and countries.

You can, of course, just write the address and attach the stamps in the usual places onto a blank back, or stick a clean label over the messy back so that computers don’t struggle with reading things that turn out to be doodles and embroidery stitches. Or you can print the backs of your postcards up with customised fields for the address, for a message, and even little “Place stamp here” squares, like on postcards back in the day (when people needed instructions on how to fill up a postcard!)

On her blog, Hanna has designed a reverse side specifically for the DIY postcards swap, and you can download the PDF template here.

Another option is to design your own postcard backside. A really easy way to do this is using Picmonkey. Here are a couple of postcard backsides that I designed using that most lovable of online photo-editing programs (incidentally, I designed these without checking the postal regulations, and so my designs violate the rules for computerised sorting…please see the template at the bottom of this post for which areas you may and may not  put your stuff…words, designs, doodles, phone numbers, etcetera…when creating a postcard) :

postcard back: valentine's day

postcard back: nautical

These were easier to make than you think. You don’t have to be a Premium Picmonkey user to make something super-special. Just pick a size for your postcard backside under “Design”(a 5 x 7 postcard printed at 150 dpi, means you set a customised canvas to 1500 x 1050 pixels, for example)

Then just have a play with all of Picmonkey’s amazing textures, effects, fonts, patterns, whatever you like. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Overlays section of the editor (the butterfly symbol) and use the lovely vintage graphics under the heading ‘Postal’ to add lovely little postcard-ey details to the design.

design your own on Picmonkey

(N.B. Do NOT use the franking stamp design, the cancellation wavy-lines design, or anything else that may confuse computer—and even human—readers into thinking your postcard has already been posted and/or cancelled. You have some creative freedom, here, but there are still rules to abide by if you want the system to work!)

If you have any questions regarding which parts of a postcard’s backside are to be reserved for official use and relevant information like names and addresses, here’s a template where the greyed-out areas indicate which parts to leave clear, and which parts you can  go wild in…

PostalGuide_5x7

I wrote about iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap here, and you can read much much more about it on her swap’s home page, here.

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events, journaling + mail art

Make a little mail art for May

iHanna's DIY postcard swap 2014

Mail art is one of my favorite things to do. The formats are compact: a great way to explore details and single ideas, to lavish your care and attention on something without having to commit a few months to the piece. Each piece has a specific recipient: this helps me focus on what I’m making and what I want to say, because I am mindful of that person waiting on the other end and the fact that a mail art exchange is like a conversation without words. Finally, that my finished piece is going to travel—sometimes to places nearby, sometimes halfway around the world—is an integral part of the art work: it encompasses ideas of an international community of artists, of a kinship with others that transcends race or boundaries, something shared and held in common with strangers…even if it is only an appreciation of art, and the joy of receiving little works of art by strangers in the mail box.

Whether you’re new to mail art, or someone who typically sends something in the post every week, iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap is a great opportunity to make ten original postcard-sized works of art in a month’s time—thanks to the little push of a deadline—for artists from around the world, and receive ten surprising, delightful, beautiful works of art in the mail from ten other artists. The swap is diligently organised, refereed, administered and documented by Hanna, herself, so that everything goes smoothly, everyone receives their mail art at *more or less* the same time, and nobody gets left out. Now in its fifth year, the number of participants has grown well past the hundred mark…that’s a decent-sized creative community to be part of, and an indication of the swap’s growing popularity.

Needless to say, I’m joining this May’s DIY Postcard Swap. I’ve got a whole month to make ten postcards…plenty of time to experiment with the very idea of a postcard, what it can encompass, and how far I can push the definitions before the post office ladies tell me “Nat, you’re going to have to send this as a parcel, love…no way is that altered license plate going as a postcard.” ;)

You can sign up for the swap until the 27th of April, 2014 (but be sure you have your actual postcards ready to mail on the 1st of May, 2014…you’ll receive your ten recipients’ addresses on the 30th of April)

To Andreas, Wherever he may be...from Where I Am

Mail art I’ve sent…

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Mail art I’ve received (L: Jason Moss R: Kristian Larsen)

I’ve got a whole set of pictures devoted to mail art on flickr, if you want to see the mail art I’ve received over time, also the sorts of things I get up to (and the heinous acts of postal service abuse that I commit) in the name of art and global community…

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