Makings: Ceramic Mobiles

I had this idea yonks ago to make some mobiles, using hand painted porcelain pieces strung from wood with linen string. Like most ideas I have, it sat at the back of my brain and perpetually near the bottom of my ever growing to-do list. But the other week I finally had some time to play around with making the pieces, and it was super fun - I made some different shapes and used colours I don't usually use. 

Then after the usual waiting, waiting, waiting for ceramics (for the clay to dry, then to sand it, paint it, then get it to a kiln and fire it and refire it!) the pieces were finally finished and ready to go last week, so I got to bring them to life. And I'm kind of in love and now I can't wait to make some more. The first batch are in the shop, I hope you like 'em too. 

Shop Visit: Fibresmith

Today I *finally* visited Fibresmith, an amazing new cloth and yarn shop in Yarraville, and had my mind blown with loveliness. It's run by Leslie, of Maze and Vale, with the help of lovely staff Alison and Kara. The shop's a great edit of yardage and fabric pieces, yarn, buttons, mags, supplies and more and I highly recommend a visit if you're in the area and into such things. It's also the only place you can buy Leslie's amazing screen printed fabric and hand dyed yarn, which is worth travelling for. And of course I couldn't resist taking some snaps. Prepare to SWOON. 

If you're interested in seeing more of Leslie's work, she was actually the very first person I visited for my side project Studio Space, when she worked out of West Footscray (she now has a studio in West Melbourne).

New papergoods

It's nearly September...what?! To celebrate entering the ninth month of the year, all September orders will receive a little Hei Hey Hallo Hi! screen printed postcard. Cute! I'm also working on a little card idea using some multi-coloured designs I've created lately.

Also coming soon - some more art prints, on the best textured paper ever. It's taken me years to find a stock that I like and this is it (below). Hope you like too. Watch this space.

X Susan

(Non-) Tutorial: Felt Pillowcases

If you are looking for a fun craft project or you have a kid's birthday coming up, I highly recommend making a felt pillowcase. So easy, so fun and they make a great personalised gift. In place of a pillowcase you could use a tea towel, T-shirt, a piece of fabric (then frame or use as part of a quilt) - so many options! I was thinking of making a tutorial but it's pretty straightforward, I don't think you need one - just use iron-on interfacing on the back of the felt, cut into shapes/letters and use a sewing machine to sew on (around the edges). Here are some that I've gifted lately. And if you make one, I'd love to see it so remember to share!

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Stockist: Paradise Structures

Just a little heads up for local Melbourne folk that Spin Spin goods are now stocked in the amazing Paradise Structures in Footscray. The shop is run by sisters Alana and Annabelle, with help from their trusty tiny pooches Harvey and Charlie and features jewellery, clothing and records and tapes from local makers and musicians. Yay! When I dropped the goodies off I couldn't help but also take a couple of snaps of the space, which is so sweet AND has the best afternoon light. I usually don't have much time for wholesaling my products but it's nice to be able to work on this recently. More shop reveals soon!

If you're in the area tomorrow, Saturday 19 August, Paradise Structures will be hosting a live recording of the fab Wowee Podcast (by Esther Sandler of Togetherness Design and Penny Min Ferguson from Min Pin, from 2:00-5:00pm. 61 Victoria St, Footscray.

Oh, and check out this amazing drawing by Alana and Annabelle, which appeared in Esther's Bloomin' Beauties exhibition at BSIDE Gallery in Fitzroy earlier this month.

 

Mid-winter cooking

I've been doing lots of cooking lately, because it's mid-winter here in Melbourne and I'm in dire need of warming foodstuffs (and the occasional scoop of icecream). I've mainly been into making hearty winter vegetable dishes and some 'healthy' sweet snacks and I thought I'd share links to some of the recipes, in case you need some foodspiration.

Lunch Lady's quinoa brittle is a pretty great sweet treat. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Lunch Lady's quinoa brittle is a pretty great sweet treat. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

It might be winter but that doesn't stop me making matcha ice-cream. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

It might be winter but that doesn't stop me making matcha ice-cream. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Lunch Lady's Walnut, Oat and Beetroot Tart. The one recipe I can't find online, sorry! But it's in Issue 6, which is a great read. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Lunch Lady's Walnut, Oat and Beetroot Tart. The one recipe I can't find online, sorry! But it's in Issue 6, which is a great read. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Lunch Lady's quinoa brittle, just out of the oven. I'm looking forward to trying some other recipes next - this quinoa crunch, these quinoa snack bars and peanut butter quinoa crunch. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Lunch Lady's quinoa brittle, just out of the oven. I'm looking forward to trying some other recipes next - this quinoa crunch, these quinoa snack bars and peanut butter quinoa crunchPhoto by Susan Fitzgerald.

This pumpkin, lentil and kale bake with cauliflower cheese from My Darling Lemon Thyme is sooo delicious.

This rich carrot soup recipe from The Guardian is simple and so amazingly vibrant in colour.

This roasted pumpkin soup with chickpea migas, also from My Darling Lemon Thyme, is hearty and filling and you'll have to stop yourself from eating all the crouton-like migas in one sitting.

This Persian red lentil soup with tahini, beetroot and fried mint from Gourmet Traveller is flavoursome, hearty and tastes even better the next day.

Cauliflower rice - is it the best thing ever!? It's so easy to cook and is tasty, healthy and filling. You just grate or food process raw cauliflower and fry up with whatever you've got on hand -  some spices, olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Now I'm off to pretend I'm warm and on holidays in the sun.

Hand Painted Pillowcase

I've been working on lots of new ideas lately, but was getting frustrated with having nothing to show for it. What I needed was a quick crafty project that produced a real-life thing that day, not next week or next month. So I dug up a blank pillowcase from the pile I've got in my studio, pulled out all my favourite custom-mixed screenprinting inks and painted directly onto the pillowcase and here's what I came up with. It's kind of full-on in terms of pattern/colour craziness but was so so fun and took no time at all. And I kind of like the fact that some of the ink colours bled a bit at the edges, to give a gradient of colour. 

Happy Monday to you.

Combs

I'm having a very drawing-y week, trying to get some recent and super old ideas refined. And I should clarify, when I say 'refined' I mean more like how I see them in my head, rather than more polished or professional looking. Because I like my work to be raw and real and sometimes sketchy, just like my favourite music and my favourite people :) This afternoon's task was redrawing (as in with pens) and scanning and recolouring a picture I did a while ago - all the combs of my childhood. So many memories in a comb! I think I used to study them and the shapes of some of them are etched in my mind. Here they are, and maybe one day soon they'll be an art print.

Happy Thursday!

30% OFF SALE NOW ON!

Yep, the biggest sale ever - 30% OFF* Use code: JUNE30.

Available in both shops - spinspin.com & spinspin.etsy.com. Lots of one-off things and once they're gone, that's it. Oh, and there's slightly different stock in each shop!

*Excludes gift vouchers. Available until 11:59pm AEST Tuesday 13/06/17.

Tutorial: Fabric Covered Buttons

I always have so many scraps of fabric, leftover from sewing projects and whatnot. These bits might be small but they're full of colour and texture and personality - little snippets of designs I dreamt up in a notebook and turned into a real-life thing. And the texture of the fabric really shines when you've got little itty bits - the raw roughness of flax linen, the supersoft and pure white of quilting cotton and the body and texture of organic hemp.

Yonks ago I made a heap of buttons and did a little tute (hello, old blog!) Back then I started out with a process that was a lot more complicated (involving sewing the fabric edges and gathering it, eek) but there's a much easier way and all it involves is buying a couple of really cheap tools, so I figured it's about time I did an updated tute. It takes no time at all to whip up a bunch of buttons yourself once you're set up, so get onto it!

TUTORIAL: FABRIC COVERED BUTTONS

TOOLS

  • Fabric scissors
  • Fabric scraps (preferable of different prints and textures, but that work together)
  • Metal self-covered buttons - shells (the front) and backs (shanks). I use the 23mm size, 7/8", which is US size 36).
  • Self covered button assembly tool, to match your button size
  • A circle template to match your button size (you can get fancy ones with an inner circle cut out, so you can see how much of the fabric will show on the finished button, but I like the surprise of not quite knowing!)

METHOD

STEP 1: Use the circle template the cut a bunch of fabric scraps to the right size.

STEP 2: Place the fabric, right side down, on top of the tool base. Then place the button, right side down, on top of the fabric, along with the blue presser tool.

STEP 3: Press the button and fabric into the base. You may need to apply a bit of pressure and sometimes it's easier to turn it upside down, as per step 6.

STEP 4: Smooth out any kinks in the fabric using your fingernail. 

STEP 4: Smooth out any kinks in the fabric at the button edge. 

STEP 5: Position the button back on top of the neatened fabric.

STEP 5: Position the button back/shank on top of the neatened fabric.

STEP 6: Place the blue presser tool on top of the button back (hollow side down) and turn upside down. Press the tool base. You'll hear a click when the back is locked in place.

STEP 6: Place the blue presser tool on top of the button back (hollow side down) and turn upside down. Press the tool base. You'll feel it click when the back is locked in place.

STEP 7: Admire your handiwork!

STEP 7: Admire your handiwork!

That's it! Sooo simple. Once you start making some buttons, you'll get addicted and want to make a heap. What do you do with them? I've put them on clothes, cushions, used them as decorations on gifts, used them tied into hair elastics - the possibilities are many. Or get flat backs and glue a magnet on the back and put them on your fridge. Happy crafting! 

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Seven Panel Quilt with a painted back

I'm working on my first quilt pattern, which is pretty exciting. It will be super simple to put together, using just seven pieces of fabric, and will look similar to the quilt below, which I made recently. I'm so into easy sewing projects that you can finish off in one or two sittings.

Oh, and the best thing about making the below quilt? The back is hand painted using the same coloured ink as the quilt front. It took about 10 minutes to go crazy with the ink and a paintbrush on a blank piece of organic quilting fabric, and was so much fun. I've been thinking of selling little pots of paint, so you can paint your own fabric, so watch this space for that. In the meantime, wish me luck with the Tetris-like project of creating a quilt pattern that actually works. Fingers crossed.

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Spin Spin x Dawn Tan soap + dish packs

I'm excited to finally share a little collab - Spin Spin x Dawn Tan soap + dish packs.

Dawn Tan is an illustrator, teacher and soap maker extraordinaire. Her soaps are all handmade using the finest ingredients, and when I heard her explain that they need to drain freely (ie: not sit in water), I dreamt up the idea of making some simple yet functional ceramic soap dishes. It took a bit of prototyping to get the drainage holes right, and to get the clay and glaze combinations right, but they're finally here. There are two types of dishes. The first is made from white raku with a matt glaze, and the second is a porcelain blend clay with a lovely glossy glaze. And you can choose from five (UPDATE: four! Sorry, Rose has sold out.) soap varieties. Happy Monday to you.

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Fabric fabric fabric, buttons buttons buttons

Every now and then I reach *peak fabric*, ie: I end up swimming in a sea of the sceenprinted goods. This week was one of those times, so I promptly made up a whole bunch of colour-coordinated fabric packs, which are available as of today. And if you want to be the first to hear about such things in the future, make sure you sign up for the (infrequent) mailing list and get first dibs.

Oh, and I also went crazy making fabric covered buttons, so all orders received in May will get some buttons thrown in, for good measure. I hope you love buttons as much as I do.

Happy Friday!

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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 :)

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.

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.

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.