A tiny spirograph embroidery of mine got featured in Homespun magazine’s October 2013 issue!

Oh, and I love the spin they put on my Valentine’s Day story about the Spirograph, too.
featured in Homespun magazine!

cropped HSP1410 Pin Interest
featured in Homespun magazine!

My thanks to Janai Velez and the rest of her team at Complete Craft: Homespun  and Universal Magazines.

embroidery and textiles

cameo in Homespun 10/13!

bookbinding, stuff i've made

Light an old flame…

Spark something

1. Untitled, 2. City of Light (907), 3. Gorgons Head, 2003, 4. Twist and Shout, 2007-, 5. Royal Purple journal, 6. book 910 – 5, 7. Buggery: Beetles on books, 8. Sailing the night ocean, 9. postcards from the archipelago : sea monster attacks black ship…, 10. Untitled, 11. Cup o’ Lovin’, 12. Pterynotus bednalli miniature book(1 inch x 1 inch), 13. Miniature book (Simplified Codex), 14. the finished book…, 15. NON-PAREIL I, 2003, 16. “Gladiolus Rag” (Book 885), 17. Fauve Sunset, 18. Spider Lily (detail of embroidery), 19. Langstich und kettenstich, 20. Recent journals 1, 21. SCALLOP Amulet Book, 2004, 22. Closeup of a recent journal I made, 23. Only the Pure of Heart…, 24. Sorceress of Serendip, 25. 891, 26. Crazy Circus Chair, 27. heart shaped doily doodle…, 28. Lagooned in Gold, 29. Pilar’s Journal, 30. 895, 31. headbands, 32. Moroccan Diamonds, 33. caramel (no.906), 34. puff (no. 908), 35. Relax: Robyn’s Journal, 36. 904 : : Pink hippies

I feel pretty lousy for neglecting bookbinding. Well, that’s not the only activity I pretty much dropped when I became obsessed with learning to paint…I haven’t embroidered anything for ages, either! I’ve got to find a balance between this new painting bug, and everything else.

In an attempt to rekindle my bookbinding flame I was looking at my Flickr bookbinding set this evening. Seeing all these very different journal and book covers—particularly the old ones that I’d forgotten about—made me happy and sad. Most of these books are with other people, now, and it’s a bit like looking at a photo album of children who grew up and moved away. On impulse I made a mosaic of a few of them—fd’s flickr toys only allows 36 thumbnails so I’ve had to choose from among so many journals, and probably chose older ones simply because I haven’t seen them in so long, it’s like they’re new to me again.

I’ve got one day left to stay home and do something creative…what do you think I should work on: embroidery? Bookbinding? :)

blogging, DIY, projects

DIY : : Bunny & Cow Romper Babies

Bunny & Cow Romper Babies DIY

Jacksons Drawing Supplies in Darwin has a new staff blog!

Our first offering, anticipating Easter, is a little DIY for these cute Bunny & Cow Romper Babies…there are photos and a PDF for the pattern pieces. You may remember that I made one of these for my goddaughter some time ago. This time I took photos and re-drew the pattern pieces. Naturally, it uses materials sourced from Jacksons Drawing Supplies. We work there, after all, and what’s good for the shop is good for us. :)

The shop has been at #7 Parap Place for over 20 years, and still we get locals coming in to tell us that they never knew we were there. No wonder the business is struggling! So, in an attempt to drag the one and only proper art and technical drawing shop in Darwin into the 21st Century, we’ve decided to start a blog.

There’s not a lot on there yet; it’s hard to find the time and coordinate with each other—we can’t do this stuff on the job (that’s why it’s called “the unofficial staff blog”) we do our blogging at home, photographing the steps and projects on the weekends, using our own cameras, laptops, and internet connections.

But that’s okay, we really want to do this…we’re all creatives and, as the main art shop in town, we know so many of the local artists. We’d like this blog to serve as an outlet for our own creations and projects, to feature profiles of Darwin’s artists and art organizations, to keep track of local art events, and to even maybe answer of the many, many Frequently Asked Questions that we get about paints, mediums, materials, techniques, and so forth.

I hope you’ll take a minute to check it out, maybe download and give the Easter project a go, and even subscribe to the post feed so that you’ll know when the next few goodies come up!

blogs and sites, craftiness, Inspirations, made with paper

Mini-eco’s pixel pop-up Valentine’s cards

'woodburned' valentine card

By far the cutest idea I have come across for a paper-engineered Valentine’s Day card has come from the blog minieco.co.uk by a clever lady named Kate. This 8-bit pixel heart pop-up reminds me of more than just old computer graphics…I can see counted-thread cross-stitch charts, lego, and kids’ wooden building blocks being used to decorate the basic heart shape.

mini-eco's popup pixel valentine's card

Mini-eco is choc-full of gorgeous paper projects like these pop-up Valentine’s Day cards. Each and every one is a must-do for someone who loves playing with paper and sharp objects! ;)
Photo: Kate from mini-eco.co.uk

I made a couple of plain versions, first, using the same sort of brightly colored card used in the original post, just to get the hang of all the cutting and scoring. The first one wouldn’t pop-up properly and, upon closer inspection of how the pop-up thing ‘works’, I found that there was a small error in the cutting and scoring template provided with the tutorial. If you just keep in mind that each vertical cut in the top-half of the heart has to extend down to meet the horizontal scoring line of the previous ‘step’, you will solve the pop-up problem. Another way to think of it is that each vertical line in the top-half of the heart should be three pixels long, not just two (as it’s shown in Kate’s cutting/scoring guide) and that you will have to extend the two-pixel-long cut downward by the length one more pixel…till it meets a horizontal cutting line.

Starting out with Kate’s basic tutorial for the pixel heart, I used a really fabulous Japanese paper that mimics pale wood…it’s so realistic that at first I thought it was just very thinly shaved wood veneer! It even has the fine, hairline streaks of silvery film, like you find in the grain of real wood.

I cut the heart, but didn’t do any folding until after I’d decorated it. I used a dark brown felt-tip marker to do a design that sort of reminded me of wood burning and folk art. I tried to use dots and hatching to give the design some contrast. Then I gently went over some parts with a colored pencil to mimic the slight smoldering that forms around the dark design areas when you use an actual burning tool.

Cut a slightly larger piece of dark burgundy card for the backing, and glued the pop-up card in place. And that was it…easy, and such a pretty card to look at…I have been staring at mine for hours, enjoying its chunky dimensionality and the illusion, from certain angles, of a burned Valentine made from a solid piece of wood. :)
'woodburned' valentine

blogs and sites, DIY, stuff i've made

Cut Out + Keep

Pleated Paper Flowers
Cool cool! Am Featured member on Cut Out + Keep today. There’s an interview, some pics (you’ve probably seen before, here or on Flickr), plus a few of the more popular projects I’ve posted on CO+K over the years.

Thanks ever so much, Cat Morley and the rest of the folks who make CO+K such a great site for every DIY project you can imagine!

art + design, bookbinding, classes + workshops, Creative Travel Journal, projects, stuff i've made

Week 4 of Designing a Creative Travel Journal

10 journal concepts

I quickly revised my problem from last week, and drew 10 new concepts for this week’s homework, submitted yesterday. In them, I’ve re-focused on the journal, with most of the storage space for things like postcards, ephemera, trinkets, pressed flowers, and all the other little bits and pieces that one collects along the way when moving through an unfamiliar place. Some of the books still have a little storage built in for things like a small tin of watercolours or pencils, pens, but I stopped thinking in terms of an entire bag dedicated to rolls of tape, glue sticks, and big fat tubes of acrylic paints or whatever else a person uses to artfully fill his/her journal.

I had to do these concepts the same week that I was actually supposed to be building prototypes. It took forever to make the leap from a concept, on paper, to actually making something. I dawdled ever so much! I think I was scared of finding out that my concepts were impossible to make in the 24 hours I had left before submission deadline. I’d done so well, so far, that I hated the idea of slipping behind, now that things were really getting interesting. My two chosen concepts involved techniques I didn’t have much practice in. Much of what I thought I knew was theoretical…like I figured it couldn’t be too hard to stitch a zipper on a pouch! But I’d never really tried, before. Finally stopped faffing around yesterday and put concept D together in three hours. Amazing how much theory and preparation you can do without once you stop overthinking and just do it.

Concept D: Journal and Jacket

prototype D

It’s VERY ROUGH, but the gist of the idea is there. A flexible wraparound cover jacket, with pockets and pouches on every available surface,
prototype D

and a leather strap that hooks into the book, through the little hollow between cover and text block that all my hand-bound books have, and snaps down on the cover to hold it in place.

prototype D
prototype D

This snap was a serendipitous find. I didn’t have any snaps, nor a snap setter, but as I was rummaging through an old toiletries pouch of buttons and buckles for something else to use, I saw that the pouch itself had a snap. Took a utility knife to that pouch in a flash, and stitched it on with rough and impatient abandon.
prototype D

Concept C is almost identical to Concept D; the only difference is that the book pages are bound to the cover in C. This sort of binding (a limp, or longstitch/linkstitch binding) would allow me to space the signatures out a bit more, accommodating the things to be added in by the user. But the idea of the re-usable jacket and journal refills seemed, on the whole, a more considerate and practical solution. I can work out how to space the pages in the journal itself later, I hope!
 prototype D

Concept I: Dos a Dos book and box


I used two books, bought at the second-hand bookstore years ago, intending to use them in altered book projects I never started. They’re very faux elegant, pretentious things…fancy goldstamping on some horrible ‘leather-look’ textured paper, and only one edge of the pages is gilded: the top edge, which visitors are sure to see when this deep red set of Australia’s Great Books sits on a bookshelf. The other three sides of the text block are left plain.

I took the text block out of Adam Lindsay Gordon, and replaced it with clamshell box ‘jaws’. They’re uncovered, in these pictures, because I had to submit photographs an hour later, but I went and covered them afterwards. Then I simply glued the two books together, back-to-back and topsy-turvy, to resemble the binding format known as dos a dos (two to two).
prototype I

Some letters, photos, and trinkets in the clamshell box, to heighten that feeling of travel treasures…

And the completely indigestible, utterly boring pages of that great Australian classic—that nobody I’ve met seems to have read, but of whom everyone here speaks in hushed and reverent tones—We of The Never-Never on the other side. I read three chapters. I am thinking it’s time to do that altered book project now, and paint or draw on these pages.
prototype I

So, which one do you like better, D or I? And if you had to buy a travel journal, would you consider buying one of these (provided it was made properly, not out of placemats or old books)? I’m only asking to test how successful the designs were, but would love to hear what you think!

blogging, DIY, paints and pens, stuff i've made

The Cheap & Nasty Sketchbook Makeover, on ilovegifting.me

The Cheap & Nasty Sketchbook Makeover

Last weekend I put together a guest DIY post over on Sarita’s blog,  i love gifting that you might want to go over and look at; it comes out some time today.

In it, I’ve taken one of those generic cheap & nasty sketchbooks (must be hardbound, though; I got mine from Jackson’s Drawing Supplies for AU$12.00) and added a little bit of reinforcing to the binding (so that it is a little bit stronger than the factory-made version, which used something for the mull that really resembled thick loo paper). I replaced the plain white endpapers with caramel-colored Canson Mi-Teintes, and then performed a series of quick techniques with acrylic paints to make the cover colorful, quirky, and very unique.
finished spread

It’s not a bad project for young people, and those of you who don’t want to get into the fiddly process of actually learning to bind books from scratch. Make a dozen for the holidays and give them to people who like to doodle, or compose poetry, or collect quotes, or to your friend who has a very bad case of list-making syndrome. It’s not an heirloom-grade book, the paper will probably disintegrate in 20 years, but not everything we need blank pages for will end up in the Victoria & Albert Museum. This book is for those other things.

This song came on when I was about to start painting the covers of the book, and I just let it take over. A little bit of 80s nostalgia, anyone?

aboard the M/V sonofagun, embroidery and textiles, life

All in green my love went riding…

icelandic horse

…All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.

Four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
my heart fell dead before.

—from All in green went my love riding by e.e.cummings


Finally settled on a design for the journal I am making my friend Miri.

It’s based on the Icelandic horse (Miri has one of these chunky Nordic horses, herself, and loves to ride) and her favorite color. In keeping with the Nordic theme, the horse is a simple, solid silhouette of greens, overstitched in a counted-thread geometric pattern, worked on a rough linen-like fabric…I just love this stuff! Crazily, this is synthetic upholstery fabric, left over from a curtain job I did nearly a year ago. I took a closer look at it and saw that it’s an even-weave fabric (about 18-ct., which I love to work with, as it makes for fine stitching); sure wish I had more of it! It’s lined with a dense cotton on the back, making it thick and very stable to stitch. I love serendipitous craft discoveries like this.

green horse

First, I cut a paper stencil of the horse and attached it to the fabric with re-positionable spray adhesive. Then I brushed undiluted acrylic paints on with a stencil brush. I outlined the shape in dark brown embroidery floss, using backstitch.

Now I’ve filled in the horse shape using two strands of DMC floss and an allover blackwork pattern, with little cross-stitched squares in iridescent thread. I tried to farm some of the work out to cheap labor, but that didn’t work out—he kept trying to eat the thread spool.

I hope to finish the book covering today. I’ll be adding a mane and tail in fine running stitch lines. Haven’t decided what to do on the spine or back of the book, yet, but I’ll be keeping it spare and simple…clean lines, trying to emulate Scandinavian fabric designs, and using a palette of only neutral colors from hereon.

Miri’s last journal, which I also made, is nearly full, she tells me—she needs her new tagebuch, stat! Hope she likes this new one; it’s very different from “Postcards from The Archipelago”.

So back to work, despite the disgruntled worker’s labor strike and disruptive tactics.