Friday, 25 July 2014

Month In The Life

Create and Thrive is a really helpful Blog with tips about turning your handmade hobby into a thriving business, written by those who have already done so. In August, they are running a photo a day challenge for makers, artists and other creatives, featuring a daily photo from behind the scenes your creative life and work.

I'm going to give it a go.

Follow along via the kaetoo Facebook and Pinterest and check out all the others joining in on Instagram as well via #CTMonthInTheLife.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Preschooler Trip To The Zoo

We went to the zoo recently, armed with a camera as always. But this time, Miss 3 and her cousin, Master W, were in charge of the photography.

The collage above is a collection of Miss 3's unedited photographs from the day. She was especially fond of the reptile house and took a series of lovely shots over the day, mostly in focus. I was really impressed and interested to see her perspective of the adventure. My particular favourite is the photograph of the lizard scales.

Next time you go on an outing, try giving your small child the camera and seeing what they come up with. Miss 3.5's father did a similar thing with her on one of his photo walks last year and she generated some great photos.

Read through some more activities for children.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Materials and Techniques: Dainty and Divine and Cheeky Moose Co.

The materials and techniques series is a fortnightly collection of interviews with artists who talk about the ins and outs of their creation process. Today I am talking to Melanie who makes christening and wedding accessories for her two labels, Dainty and Divine and Cheeky Moose Co. Melanie is based in Melbourne, Victoria.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Melanie, I live in Melbourne with my husband and two young children and am the designer behind the Cheeky Moose Co. label and the new christening e-boutique Dainty and Divine. The creative force behind the hand crafted heirloom quality accessories comes from a rich tradition of design, pattern making and bridal couture creation across three generations. A career break after the birth of my second daughter afforded me the time to further develop my millinery skills and to work full time on designing and hand crafting special occasion accessories. Originally Cheeky Moose Co., was born out of the interest that I was receiving for the hand crafted hair clips and head bands that I was making my two daughters, I began to take orders, many wanting bespoke pieces to match particular outfits for special occasions such as weddings and christening.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I love working with dupion silk, satin and lace most of all. I mostly create for christenings and bridal so I mainly work in white and ivory tones although I think that I stock every colour of satin in the rainbow. I hand craft each flower myself starting with quality fabric. Each petal is hand cut and shaped and meticulously hand sewn together and hand beaded using pearls and swarovski crystals.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

When I started out with Cheeky Moose Co. I found that I was getting lost in the saturated category of hair accessories. I needed to find my point of difference and sell that to my customer. For me my point of difference was that I make my own fabric flowers from scratch and therefore could create bespoke pieces for special occasions in any colour, design or size. My advise to others is to sit down and think about what makes you, your product or process unique and the find ways to show the customer why that is the reason that they should choose you.

What drives you to create?

My creative process begins with the fabric, It allows me to have full control of my pieces. I am a bit of a fabric hoarder, when I see a fabric that I love I NEED to buy it. My hand crafted flowers are inspired by nature, each piece is my creative interpretation and artistic representation of flora whether it be a poppy, a carnation, hydrangea or peony. Most of my new designs come from a customer request, it allows me to truly use my imagination and come up with something that is unique that will serve as a memento from a special occasion in a persons life be it a wedding, christening or babies first birthday.

What is coming up next?

My future plans include re-branding my Cheeky Moose Co. label to tie in with Dainty and Divine and expand into bridal accessories, I am currently working on a range of ring bearer pillows, garters and guest books. My plans also include expanding the Dainty and Divine e- boutique to make it a one stop shop for everything christening related. Exciting times ahead!

All images provided by Melanie of Dainty and Divine and Cheeky Moose Co. Photography by Katherine Gabrielle Photography.

Read up on more materials and techniques interviews. Want to share your story? Let me know.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Preschooler Cooking: Sweetened Lemon Juice

Have lemons, will make lemon juice!

If you have a lemon tree, you probably find yourself with an abundance of lemons at certain times of the year. One of the easiest things to do with lemons is make them into juice.

Start with room temperature lemons (they will give more juice). I set Misses 3 and 3.5 to juicing them.

Pour the liquid into a heat-proof jug and add about double the volume of boiling water. Then stir in sugar (how much you add depends on your taste, I like mine quite sour) until it dissolves. Dilute the juice with water.

And then the secret? Add a dash of almond essence.
Go on, try it, it's yum.

And that's it - easy sweetened lemon juice.

What easy-peasy-oh-so-tasty recipes do you enjoy? Investigate more activities for children.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Preschooler Cooking: Food Exploration

As you may have noticed, we bake a lot. It's funny that before having children, I couldn't cook a sweet dish to save myself. But when Miss arrived, I started trying to actually follow a recipe and voilà! Sweet food success.

The preschoolers love baking, mostly because they get to lick the beaters and then eat the cake. I decided that they should also start to learn the difference between all of the (mostly) white powders that go into a cake. I sense an activity!

I put out our commonly used baking ingredients on spoons and wrote next to them what each one was (so I wouldn't forget). Sugar. Salt. Caster sugar. Cocoa. Raw sugar. Self-raising flour. Flour. Corn flour. Brown sugar. Icing sugar. We looked at the differences in colour. We smelled each one. We felt and compared the textures of the grains of sugar and salt and the smoothness of the flour. We did a taste test of a pinch of each one.

(It happened to be Miss 3.5's day to visit. Hello Miss 3.5! She liked the icing sugar.)

What a great way to explore the kitchen. Sugar, was of course, the best. I was surprised that they thought that the plain cocoa tasted nice (I thought it would be bitter). Salt was a big shock to them.

Do you do taste tests in the kitchen? Read more activities for children.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Materials and Techinques - 'Glass Rainbows'

Fortnightly, I talk to another artist about the materials and techniques that they use in the creatioin of their pieces. I've been interviewing people overseas a lot lately, but today I am back in Australia talking to Denise from Brisbane, Queensland. Denise makes dichroic glass, resin, beaded polymer clay and sterling silver jewellery for her store, Glass Rainbows.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Denise O'Callaghan and I am originally from England. I came over to Australia backpacking in 2005 and didn't want to leave! I now have three beautiful boys and live with my husband in Brisbane. I have been a stay at home mum for about seven years and started jewellery making as my creative outlet. I started with making fusible glass jewellery and have since branched out into beading, polymer clay, resin work and I most recently did a course in sterling silver jewellery making. And this is how my little handmade business, Glass Rainbows, has come about.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I change my projects often, switching from one media to another and I sometimes have a few projects on the go at the same time as a lot of my ideas take a lot of planning from the start to the final piece. I have recently been working on a brand new design of resin pendants, called my teardrop design. Keeping the business completely in the family I have my resin moulds custom made by my Dad who sends them all the way from England!

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

I often have many challenges when I create something new, it takes A LOT of trial and error to get it right and frustratingly lots mistakes are made and lots of pieces get thrown away/ recycled on the path to getting them exactly how I would like them. I get inspiration from all sorts of things from nature, or a pattern I have seen, a day trip to the beach or even something my eldest son has found like a shell (he also likes to create). I have some new ideas for another pendant range which is currently in the planning stages and is inspired by the weather and the sky.

What drives you to create?

I have always enjoyed creating even as a child, I love the proud feeling of achievement I get when I have finally finished a brand new project which has been on the go for so long. Jewellery making has definitely become my way to express myself and I am hoping to instil creating and the enjoyment it brings to my children.

All images provided by Denise of Glass Rainbows.

I've got a great archive of Materials and Techniques interviews for you to browse through. Contact me if you would like to contribute your story.