Friday, 19 September 2014

Christmas 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at kaetoo.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Today I was alone.

I wasn't actually really alone. There were people everywhere.

I had an appointment in the city and so took myself to it on the train and then met up with husband and the children for lunch in the city afterwards. The appointment ended up only taking half an hour of the expected 90 minutes and overall I spent over three hours alone. This is unusual because I have two small children and the youngest is breastfed, I can't go too far from him. And when I do go out alone I have an agenda, a plan, things to get done.

It was weird.

I talked about myself. To an adult. Without being interrupted.
I wandered aimlessly.
I strolled into shops just because they looked interesting.
I browsed. I observed. I thought.
I realised they way that people in the city dress is not the way that people in the suburbs dress.

It's funny how a kind of isolation can sneak up on you. Not that I don't get out much, on the contrary, I use my free weekdays to socialise with a lot of friends who have a day off, or just a lunch break off. Sometimes I feel as if I'm flat out. But I always have at least one child in tow and my brain is in mum mode.

It was an interesting morning. Not in a good way, not in a bad way, just in an interesting way.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Materials and Techniques: Jewel Divas

Every fortnight, I chat to another designer about the materials and techniques that go into the creation of their handmade pieces. This is a great way to meet new artists, learn new skills and get some hand hints about the handmade business. Today I am talking to Tiara who runs a jewellery business, Jewel Divas, in South Australia.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Tiara King and my business is Jewel Divas. I have a style blog called Jewel Divas Style which is the second tier to the Jewel Divas brand. I began making jewellery way back in 1990 when I was 16 but never thought about selling it or starting a business. I did some short WEA (in Adelaide) courses on silver jewellery making and how to set up a business, and so started Jewel Divas in 2008, going live on my own website in 2009. Since I care for my mother, times have gotten tough over the years and after some advice I moved my store to Madeit in 2013.

I am a jewellery, accessory and fashion designer, creator, collector and consultant as well as a wardrobe stylist after doing style courses last year. I’m also a self-published author, having written and self-published four novels and two e-books under my nom de plume since 2011, and now two e-books under my own name.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I do it all by hand using jewellery pliers and lay it all out beforehand to get a general idea of how each piece will look. And then it could completely change when I make it. I’m willing to use any material and don’t have a favourite (although Swarovskis and semi-precious stones are gorgeous) but it all depends on the ideas I have for a collection. When I come up with an idea for a collection I think about what I want and decide how it will be.

An older collection, “African Safari”, featured semi-precious stones, resin and glass beads in orange, yellow, brown, black, white, gold and silver, all colours to represent the African desert.

The small four piece collection I released back in March, “Walk like an Egyptian”, consisted of two bracelet stacks and two bracelet stack and earring sets, full of semi-precious, glass beads and rhinestone encrusted snake bracelets.

My latest collection, “Opulence Royale”, based on the French Royal court of centuries gone by, features 61 pieces of jewellery smothered in Swarovski pearls and crystals with cameo lockets and pendants, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, fleur de lis and fans. Each piece has a royal title and name.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

In making and creating there have been no major issues; it’s all been in the business side of things.

  • Decide if you want a hobby or business. You may prefer to start as a hobby and see how it grows. I started looking at my business as a business, yet with all the stress of caring for my mother, my own health issues, and not having as many opportunities to sell my goods lat markets or stores, it never really got off the ground. It was a struggle to do it all on my own with no support in any way, shape or form.
  • Really nut out whether you have that support to start a business, otherwise start off selling as a hobby and give it a year or two to see if (1) you can give it enough time and energy, and (2) if it becomes successful then turn it into a business.
  •  Make sure you can afford the start-up costs as they can be brutal. In fact, all of the business stuff can be brutal. 
  • Also, if you get an ABN and business name then make sure you put in tax returns even if you don’t make any money. I didn’t have any business advice and no one to turn to for help and so I stuffed this bit up royally.

What drives you to create?

I think it’s just a matter of the right idea coming at the right time. Like in 2013, I had no plans for a new collection but I’d been buying some beads for myself and was thinking how pretty they were and they’d make great bracelets. I raided my jewellery stock for all the jewellery I had sitting around and turned it into the “Golden Age of Hollywood” collection. That idea simply came from looking at some glamorous beads.

As for what drives me, I love jewellery, I love making it for myself, I love making things no one else has, I love looking at it, buying it, wearing it. I’m so completely obsessed with jewellery and I have no idea where it comes from.

What is coming up next?

Another collection next year. More jewellery is planned for this year. My priority is getting my e-book, “How To Be A Jewel Diva: Tips and Tricks to Buying, Wearing and Caring for your Costume Jewellery” formatted for Kindle and getting it into paperback. It’s already available for sale in my Madeit store as a PDF, so there will be more formats and sale venues by the end of the year. I also sell my other book, “Carers Need Help and Support Too”, and two e-books I wrote under my nom de plume of Lady Jewels Diva for a limited time only. But that’s a long story in itself.

Jewel Divas Madeit Store
Jewel Divas Facebook
Jewel Divas Pinterest

Jewel Divas Style Facebook
Jewel Divas Style Twitter
Jewel Divas Style Instagram
Jewel Divas Style Pinterest
Jewel Divas Style Tumblr
Jewel Divas Style Google+
Jewel Divas Style YouTube

Would you like to share your creative process? Leave a comment below.
Browse through the archive of materials and techniques interviews to learn more creative skills.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Baby Play - Keep On Playing

At eight months old, my son has become a little person ready to play with his big sister. Although he's not quite up to chasing her around yet, he's definitely trying to get involved. Here are 10 ways to play with a little one who's very nearly mobile.

Make Music

Babies this age love to bang. Give your little one a wooden spoon and saucepan or metal tin and let them play you the "drums".

Play Ball

Hold baby in front of you and support them. Place a ball in front of their feet and help them to kick the ball around. A great way to build up those muscles for crawling. Alternatively, babies this age can roll the ball back and forth to a friend with a little assistance.

Basket of Toys 

Fill a tub, basket or washing basket with toys or kitchen utensils. Baby will love sitting by the basket and removing the contents to explore at their leisure.

Balloon On A String

A balloon on a string is great fun for a baby to hit and shake. Just make sure that you closely supervise the play to ensure that baby doesn't get tangled in the string or swallow bits of popped balloon plastic. 


Dredge up all of those old nursery rhymes and songs from the depths of your brain and sing with your little one. It doesn't matter if you're good at singing or not, baby will love your voice.


Get an old empty tissue box and fill it with light weight scarves or large cloth napkins. Baby will love pulling these out of the box. They can also make a fun game of peek-a-boo.

Get Outside

Take baby outside to feel (and taste) the grass. Roll in the grass with them. Pop to the local park ~ at this age they can gently go on swings with a belt, ride down the slide on a lap, ride on a bouncer, or explore the tan bark.

Shake It

Noises are fascinating. Fill a clean empty jar with glitter or rice and nuts from the kitchen. Screw the lid on tightly and you have an instant shaker. 


Look in a mirror with your baby. They will love their reflection and enjoy making faces.


And you knew I was going to say this one! Read them a story or ten.

What other fun activities do you enjoy with your little one? Catch up on more ideas for playing with children.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Handmade Cooperative

As you may know, I am currently the editor over at Handmade Cooperative, a select group of handmade businesses who work together to bring you the latest products for children in the handcraft marketplace.

As well as promoting handmade, Handmade Cooperative members work together to support one another and to help one another read a wider customer base. Currently, we are in the middle of our annual membership drive, where applications for new members are accepted to get the numbers back up to 70 again.

If you are an Australian designer who handmakes beautiful items for kids, do consider putting in an application for membership and coming to join me.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Preschooler Play: The Lying Cake Test

I've been experimenting on my three year old daughter, inspired by the Life series on ABC about how to give your child the best chance in life.

Lying is an important part of growing up, as is resisting temptation by self-regulation. In this experiment, Miss 3 was given cupcakes to decorate with cream and lollies whilst I left the room. She wasn't meant to eat anything, just to decorate the cakes.

Could she do it?

I'm going to give her a pass for this experiment. Whilst I was out of the room, she carefully decorated all of the cakes and at the very end, licked her fingers clean (I know, I videoed her). She didn't sneak any of the lollies. When I asked her, she said that she didn't eat anything (a tiny lie there, I guess). Pretty amazing, I'm sure I snuck a lolly when I was decorating...!

More activities for children.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Materials and Techniques: Kathryn's Creations

Oh what a lot of talented people there are out there in the world. Each fortnight I talk to another creator about what they make and the way that they make it. Today I am talking to Kathryn from Queensland who makes clothing in her store Kathryn's Creations.

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Kathryn from Kathryn's Creations. I am a mum to 3 young boys, Jack, Mason and Harry. I am married to a wonderful man who works as a nurse in aged care, a very special profession I feel. I love being able to go to school and kindy and help in the classrooms each week, having my own little business allows me this privilege. I not only love to sew, but I love to bake as well. Makes me sound very domesticated, however I don't like to clean! I'd much rather be sewing or cooking -  just ask my hubby!

I make baby and children's clothing and have just started a range of maternity wear. I love being able to create beautiful but affordable clothing for people on all budgets. I sell online and also love heading out to local markets to meet and chat to customers in person.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

My most commonly used fabrics are cottons, they are so lovely and easy to sew and for customers to care for. The choice is just unending! I also enjoy adding tulle ruffles or lace and other trimmings to add that little something extra to my items. I do a lot of appliques on singlets, t-shirts and overalls and dresses. I love how a plain piece of fabric can be made alive with a colourful caterpillar or other little applique. You will find lots of little bows on my items for girls, I just think they add that little extra touch to a special outfit. As for techniques, I do a lot of rolled hems on my ruffle nappy covers, so my overlocker gets lots of work! I have also just discovered the joys of a ruffle foot - my goodness it saves me a lot of time!

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

My biggest challenge has been when I've wanted to expand my range so that it reaches more than people just with babies in their lives. Gradually I've been adding to my sizes, so I now make up to size 4, although my most popular sizes are 0000 - 2. I've also added some maternity clothes after discussions with friends and customers about the lack of pretty maternity clothes that don't cost a fortune. This will be expanding into feeding tops as well in the near future.  I would say, it's a bit of trial and error. I tried making baby blankets, cloth wipes and bibs, but found that I don't enjoy making them as much as clothing, and I also don't sell them as much or as easily as I do my clothing range. So I have decided to stick with clothing, but expand sizes and the maternity range. Try to think outside the box sometimes, and don't hesitate to ask your customers or friends what they think or what they would like you to do. It doesn't mean you have to do what they say, but it gives you some ideas.

What drives you to create?
I just love to sew! I love looking at fabric and thinking about what I could make with that particular piece. I also love when people look at my stuff at markets and comment on how lovely it is and how talented I am, it does give me a little boost of confidence. My inspiration is the fact that I have 3 boys and we have a very tight budget, so I want to make pretty and unique things for people so that pretty much everyone can afford them. I do have some jackets on the pricier end, but my singlets start at $5, making them a cheap but pretty little gift for someone.

What is coming up next?
Well, at this point in time, our family is preparing to move from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for a short time to live with my mum and grandparents - 4 generations under one roof! We are saving for our own house, which is daunting and exciting! But, my mum is a dressmaker, so I will have her on hand during my busy Christmas period, which will be wonderful! Once we are at the coast, I'd like to look into having some of my items in a little boutique store that are scattered around the coast, just another way of getting my name out there. 
Kathryn's Creations Madeit
Kathryn's Creations Facebook
Kathryn's Creations Instagram
Kathryn's Creations Pinterest
Kathyrn's Creations Twitter

All images provided by Kathryn of Kathryn's Creations.

So many more materials and techniques interviews to read. Want to share your story? Get in contact.