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Easter

Wow, how great is the Easter holiday break? Getting four days off in a row is just the best - you can wind down, relax but you also have time to get stuff done. And I did sooo much - I baked (non-religious) buns (super old recipe from me here) and a pavlova, hung out with friends and family, enjoyed the autumn sunshine, went to a (city) beach, did some house painting and weeding AND did lots of sewing - some more work on a quilt pattern I'm developing, and I made two tunics from Lotta Jansdotta's Everyday Style book, which I bought ages ago - they're so comfortable, can't wait to make more (though excuse the dodgy phone/mirror selfie!) And I got heaps of sleep, so I now feel totally relaxed. Happy Tuesday :)

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Two-colour Sharpie patterns

When I get in a creative rut I like to try something new, to keep myself happy and push myself in other directions. Trying out a different technique of drawing/painting/colouring/whatever is usually a good way of doing this - just do something, anything, right now, as quickly as you can.

So when I felt in a funk yesterday I took time to draw a heap of patterns with a Sharpie, then scanned them and turned them into a handful of minimal two-colour patterns (my favourite). Happy Wednesday to you.

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Pysanky Easter egg decorating

How is it possible that I've only just discovered the art of pysanky, ie: the decoration of eggs with fun patterns, using beeswax?! I do vaguely remember doing some basic egg decorating as a child, maybe using a fern and a stocking and some dye. But being able to 'draw' really detailed patterns onto an egg using a fine tipped wax pen, called a kistka, is so much more fun.

If you're at a loose end over Easter and you can get your hands on a kistka, some wax and dye this week (hello, online shopping!) I'd highly recommend giving it a shot yourself. Below is a really basic tutorial, with the method my friend and I used - it really is so simple!

PYSANKY EGG DECORATING

TOOLS

  • Eggs (free range of course!) - try a range of shell colours and sizes
  • A pin
  • A small screwdriver
  • A kistka hot wax tool
  • Beeswax
  • Dye
  • Hairdryer
  • Paper towel

METHOD

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly. You want to remove any natural or other oil from your skin, to make sure you don't transfer this to the eggs - it will stop the dye from penetrating the shell.
  2. Hollow out your eggs. Prick a hole at each end using a pin and then use a small screwdriver to make a slightly bigger hole, being careful not to crack the egg. Blow the eggwhite and yolk into a bowl and use in baking, or make some scrambled eggs for lunch.
  3. Light a candle and hold the kistka tip in the flame to warm it up. Scoop the tool through the beeswax to fill the well with hot wax.
  4. Decorate your egg using the kistka. You can transfer a pattern onto the egg using a pencil, then trace it with the tool. Or go freehand and decorate however you want. If you need some inspiration, hello Google!
  5. Mix up some dye and submerge the wax-decorated egg for at least 15 minutes. You can buy natural egg dye or try making your own, using beetroot or onion skin or eucalypt leaves or whatever else you can dream up.
  6. You can now do some further decorating and then dye in additional colours, or you can stop at one colour. 
  7. To remove the wax, heat the egg using a hairdryer. Be careful not to burn yourself or blow the egg out of your hands (tricky!) As the wax heats up, use some paper towel to wipe off the wax. And that's it! Admire your handy work.

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Hanging around home, part II (and I love photography)

I take photos all the time. So many photos that I need terabytes of external storage and have recently signed up for one year of cloud backup, but am realising it will take about a year just to upload all the data.

I got my first point and shoot camera in primary school and was hooked, taking little snapshots all the time and then eagerly awaiting the collection of prints from the chemist (maybe 24 frames, more likely 36 and always double copies!) Most of these photos were terrible - it was a very basic camera. But I still took it overseas with me when I was 23 and when it mysteriously disappeared a few weeks into the trip I was a little crushed. 

Before that, at university, I took some photography electives and learnt about 'real', ie: manual photography. This was pre-digital, so we developed our own black and white film and enlarged and printed our own work. We started out with the standard 35mm SLR camera, moved onto medium format and even experimented with large format (ie: cameras so heavy you can barely lift them and negatives almost the size of an A4 piece of paper). At this time I mainly used my Dad's 1960s SLR but also tested out his first ever camera, a box brownie, and his dad's camera, which had bellows in order to zoom. I guess it's possible that an addiction to photography is in the blood.

20 years later and I'm still addicted, still taking photos all the time, always learning about what works and what doesn't. And if a few days go by and I haven't taken any photos, I get a bit antsy. So following on from the other day's post, where I shared some photos of my home, here are some shots I took walking around my neighbourhood. They've got nothing to do with screenprinting or textiles but the images fuel my imagination for colour, pattern, shape and form, so maybe I'll share more of these kind of photos in the future. Happy Thursday.

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New fabric and quilt WIP

I've had a busy few weeks screenprinting a big new batch of fabric, which has just been added to the shop. This process started out with me figuring which of my designs go with which ink colour and onto which basecloth. I also tested each of my custom-mixed ink colours on each basecloth (you can see the swatches below). That was the fun part! Then came trying to Tetris all the printing in my small studio (see image further below!)

Next is to start working on another quilt, to add to my WIP collection (why finish one when you can start another, right). Maybe I should aim small (like the last photo below) - a practical lap quilt that takes about three pieces of fabric and not too long to make. I've also been planning on making a quilt pattern and *big* fabric packs, so watch this space.

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Hanging around home, part I

I've been hanging my house A LOT this year. Like all day, every day. I'm working full-time from home at the moment, which is new for me but I'm kind of loving it (except when I hate it, because I miss non-dog company.) And having a home-based studio suits me for now - although it's sometimes a bit squishy, I like being able to sit in the backyard, in the sun to eat lunch or work really early or really late and not have to worry about commuting in the dark.

Because I'm addicted to photography and haven't had time for any fun projects, yesterday I took some quick snaps around the place in the lovely afternoon light. Funnily enough, there is a plant in (or just out of) every frame!

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West Elm Local

Last week I was honoured to be the featured maker at West Elm Chadstone, for West Elm Local. This is a monthly pop-up event where West Elm stores feature a local maker, who's in store selling their wares for a few days. I'd heard about the concept a while back, as some of my favourite designers/makers in the US had been featured makers, and was pretty chuffed when West Elm contacted me about being involved. And as I've previously taken part in an Etsy Pop-up at West Elm Chapel St, I knew I was in for a fun few days.

It was lovely to chat with all the customers and get lots of great feedback (apparently my work is 'cute'!) I had lots of new things to sell, including shiny ceramic crockery sets and art prints, some of which are slowly being listed in the shop. And thanks so much to Sophia and Julia and the rest of the staff for making me feel sooo welcome - by the end of the four days I felt like I worked at the shop and was sad to be leaving. My feet, however, were happy for the rest - it's been a long time since I've worked in retail,  (which I did all through school and uni) and I'd forgotten how hard it is standing up all day long. 

Here are some photos I took (with my phone, hence not such great quality!)

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Recipe: Happy banana hair

The other day I was reading an article in Frankie magazine about bananas and how they're good for all sorts of things beyond eating, like cleaning houseplant leaves (using banana skin), getting splinters out of your skin - who knew - and as a hair masque. Yep, apparently it's a thing. So today I thought I'd test it out, as I'd much rather rub fruit in my dry hair than use horrible chemicals or weird smelling hair oils. And the verdict? My hair's softer and smoother and feels a lot better. Give it a try if you dare!

BANANA HAIR MASQUE

(Recipe from Frankie Issue 76)

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe banana, peeled

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon coconut oil

METHOD

Blend the banana, honey and coconut oil in until smooth. You might want to melt the honey and coconut oil if they've solidified. Wet your hair and, starting at the roots, massage the mixture into your hair, making sure it's covering all of your locks. Squeeze out any excess mixture and lightly wrap your hair in a towel, to remove any excess liquid. Then cover your head in a shower cap and leave for 15-30 mins. Rinse your hair thoroughly and style as normal, then admire your glowing locks.

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Dawn Tan Workshop

I've been a fan of Melbourne-based illustrator and all-round creative Dawn Tan for such a long time and first remember hearing about her work back when she was a student, making human sized mashmallow and Ritz packets. Now Dawn's work regularly appears all over the place, including Frankie magazine, and she sells art prints, cards, does custom drawings and makes gorgeous soap. She's also a teacher and last year my 6-year-old niece attended a regular after-school art class with Dawn, where she produced amazing work. My sister was very impressed, so I decided to give her a Dawn Tan workshop voucher for Christmas - that way we could do a class together and get back to our crafty roots.

The class we booked is a newie - a wonton drawing and cooking workshop - and it was on Saturday. I learnt heaps - from how paint is made to how to clean and store your brushes, as well as different watercolour techniques such as layering and outlining. And we also learnt how to make an amazing wonton soup, which we then got to eat! I highly recommend attending one of Dawn's workshops and now can't wait to hear more about her latest adventure, Little Art Yurt. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the class.

Drawing and painting the ingredients that were to become our lunch.

Drawing and painting the ingredients that were to become our lunch.

Our classmates brought along fresh berries they'd picked from their yard!

Our classmates brought along fresh berries they'd picked from their yard!

Dawn's art is in the frame and our work dried underneath.

Dawn's art is in the frame and our work dried underneath.

The wonton soup we made for lunch! So good.

The wonton soup we made for lunch! So good.

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Pattern February

UM, HAPPY 2017. Glad we've got that over and done with, especially as it's mid-February already. 

My year has gone way too quickly but has been pretty great - it's summer, I've been swimming in pools and the bay and the ocean and eating lots of amazing fruit - two of my favourite summer things.

Last week, five days into February, I decided to set myself a challenge of spending an hour each weekday in Feb working on new patterns. IE: the one thing I really want to do but never seem to have time for. I'm so used to thinking about pattern and design in terms of screens and colour separations (for screenprinting) but for this project I've set no limitations. GO NUTS! The aim is to just create, starting on paper and then digitising. So far I've used tools I haven't used before or haven't used in a while - thick Sharpie pens, potato stamps, new paint brushes with India ink and a range of black felt pens I got in Japan. Here is a selection of what I've come up with.

Happy Tuesday!

Flowers © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Flowers © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Melbourne © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Melbourne © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Nature © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Nature © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Fish © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Fish © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Staples © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

Staples © Spin Spin | Susan Fitzgerald

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