Monday, March 31, 2014

Tips On Working From Home With Children

Threading beads while Emerson snacks on crackers and plays with shells

As a stay at home Mother with a small business, by far, the question I get asked most often is how I manage to work from home with children. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I feel that I am really lucky to be able to combine family, home and work. It's a juggling act that requires motivation, discipline, organisation, patience and flexibility for sure. But it can be done, and it can be incredibly gratifying to be able to find a balance between your work and family life that suits your family. I think it all depends upon having realistic expectations. For instance, you can't realistically work full time hours, uninterrupted, if you are working from home and are the primary care giver. Your work or your children will suffer, or both. You can work for yourself though, or work part time for an employer who is supportive of work and family balance. Your routines and available time will vary depending on the ages and number of your children.

My experience is of working for myself as a jeweller and blogger with an online store and two children, so I will speak to that. We've chosen not to use childcare for either of our children, five year old Cohen and two year old Emerson (and we have another one on the way) and have very little family assistance. Instead, I have been the primary carer while my husband works full time. I love being a stay at home Mum and I love spending these precious first years with my babes, but I am also a creative person at heart who needs to be making with her hands and challenging herself. Slowly I began to realise that I could combine mothering and silver smithing in a balanced way and grow my business as my children grew.

Thanks to the internet and platforms like blogger, bigcartel, facebook and instagram, I am able to not only run an online shop from my home, but also connect with a community of my peers and customers on a daily basis, which has helped diminish the isolation often felt by stay at home Mothers and those that work from home alone. We all have the same amount of hours in our days and what we achieve is more often than not dependent on how we spend those hours. After five years as a stay at home Mother, and four years as a small business owner, I'd love to share my tips in order to help and inspire those who are currently, or are hoping to, follow a similar path.

Be realistic - I know I will be able to achieve more in my days when the children are all in school, so I try to be as realistic as possible in setting short and long term goals for myself and not judging myself too harshly if I don't reach those goals when I had anticipated. But by setting those goals and chipping away at them, I am achieving the things I want to achieve. Little steps are all it takes. Chipping away gets things done.

Be flexible and patient - Children get sick, supplies don't arrive when expected, the phone will always ring at the wrong time! It takes time to really learn how to be flexible, particularly if you have worked outside the home for a long time and are used to being able to work fairly uninterrupted at something. Expect to be interrupted. I often lay down my tools in order to drink an imaginary cup of tea, or change a nappy, or set up an activity for my youngest. Have a back up plan. Have several jobs on teh go, so if you can't work on one you can work on another. Call in help when you need it. Some days a lot gets done, some days nothing gets done, and both are ok. When you find yourself getting frustrated, and believe me it will happen at least once a day, remind yourself why you are here, what your priorities are. For me, I remind myself that Emerson is the reason I am at home and that my first priority is to respond to her needs.

Find Balance - This will be different for everyone, but I look for ways to find balance in my day and in my week. On a daily basis I figure on being able to work for a maximum of forty five minutes while my daughter plays or 'works' alongside me, and then stopping and giving her my attention for fifteen minutes. (While still being flexible and allowing for interruptions in that time.) Each Wednesday morning Emerson and I go to Playgroup and that is our time together to play and craft. On Sunday we have 'family day', as Dave works most Saturdays and I often work Saturdays and nights. Sundays mean no work and doing something together as a family - going to the beach, visiting a museum, planning a picnic. I find it is a really lovely way to finish one week and begin the next one. It might sound terrible to have to schedule family time during your day and week, but it's so important and so easily overlooked.

Plan and Priortise - Set goals for yourself. Write down your dreams. Download the 'Everest' App on your phone and take one little step each day towards your personal Everest (no really, it's really great.) Write lists and cross things off with satisfaction. As I mentioned earlier, my daughter is my first priority, followed by custom orders and sold pieces, new stock etc.

Be organised - The smoother my house runs, the smoother my days run and the more I achieve. I'm a bit of a neat freak and hate having a messy house. I have developed a rhythm to our days so that I have all the house work done before walking my son to school and am able to come home and work for the day, and then down tools at school pick up time and start the chores again. While my husband baths the children of an evening I make dinner, pack lunchboxes, pack Cohen's school bag and make overnight oats for breakfast. After dinner Dave will take care of the dishes while I put on a load of clothes and then read to the children. Once they are in bed I get to sit down after hanging out the laundry - I typically use this time to write blog posts, thread beads or knit on the couch next to my husband. In the morning after breakfast I will unload the dishwasher, wash up any dishes left to do by hand, vacuum the floor, make beds, put laundry away etc. get showered and dressed and walk Cohen to school. (It helps that my children are early risers.) Meal planning, Sunday baking for the week and cooking double batches in order to freeze left overs are other ways I save time by being organised.

Nap time is work time - If your little ones still nap, use nap time wisely. First, have a quiet cup of tea, you will have earned it! Then, plan to make phone calls during nap times. This is also the time when I do the things I like to do uninterrupted, from writing emails, newsletters, or blog posts, to setting stones and polishing finished jewellery. There is also bedtime. I will quite often head down to the studio at night after spending some time with my husband, and leave him to watch a movie I don't mind missing.

Keep them interested - Nothing worse than a bored child while Mama tries to work. I keep Emerson involved and interested with puzzles, crayons, play dough, jars of buttons, toy food, books, blocks etc. and I take time to get down to her level and play with her too, show her new things, praise her accomplishments and describe the things she is doing. She also like to examine my tools, sit at my bench and mimic me. And sometimes, just sometimes, she plays an animal noises app on my phone or watches tv.

Stay motivated - This is so much easier when you love what you do. Make note of the things that motivate you. For me it's new gems, new designs, custom pieces, a clean bench, a visit to a gallery, a great podcast like 'After the Jump'. Give yourself days off to help you stay motivated. Fill your cup, get a massage, see a movie, catch up with a friend for coffee and talk about your business. I also have what I like to call my 'craft brains trust', three creative business owners who I catch up with once a month to discuss business, craft, life, the universe and everything. We often bring a show and tell and receive feedback. I find these conversations incredibly motivating and am full of ideas and drive for days afterwards. Sharing progress photos on Instagram is another way to get feedback and stay motivated.

These are some of the things I have learnt from being a stay at home/ work from home Mother these past four years. I know it isn't for everyone, but for me, I can't think of a better way to spend time with my babies, while being rewarded creatively and financially.

Do you work from home with children?
Do you have any other tips you would add?


Originally shared on Bespoke zine blog, I wanted to share it with my readers here too, for now and in the future.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Introducing the 'Beryl' Collection in Wood

Laser cut 'Beryl' Necklaces
Laser cut 'Beryl' Necklaces

It's been a wonderful rainy week here in Brisbane, and Didi and I have been busy at work in the studio crafting stock for Mother's Day and Finders Keepers, with a cat and a toddler for company. I have also been putting the finishing touches on a new collection of laser cut wooden pendants that I am pleased to announce I have just released in to the shop

This is something new and different for me, so there are limited numbers of each piece while I test the waters. I would love to hear what you think of them, and whether it's something you would like to see more of in the future. Starting at $25, it's a lower price point than I am able to offer in my silver collections, and I think they would make great gifts or pieces of fun, everyday-wear jewellery.

Pop over and have a look and leave a comment here to let me know your thoughts.

Thanks as always for your support and feedback.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Etsy, Madeit or Bigcartel?


It's a question I have been asked several times recently by crafters interested in opening their own online stores. As you probably know, I have a Bigcartel shop. What you may not know is that I also have an Etsy and Madeit shop too, as part of an experiment I have been doing. Several makers I know keep more than one shop. Others commit to one and have had great success with whichever marketplace or platform they sell from. The following are my thoughts and experiences on the matter, and hopefully they will be of use to other creatives making a decision about how to host their online store. These are my opinions and I don't wish to disparage any of these platforms; these are, as I said, my thoughts and experiences. (This is not a sponsored post.)

There are so many online marketplaces now. My experience as an Australian maker who has been blogging for over five years now is with Etsy, Madeit and Bigcartel. The reasons I chose Bigcartel as my main shop are many. Firstly, it's just a personal thing, but I think it looks more professional to have an independent shop in your chosen name. Secondly, it is just one flat fee each month. You don't pay to list each item and they don't take a percentage of your sale. I like knowing what my business costs to run each month - Bigcartel fee, oxygen bottle fee, consumables etc = my monthly running costs. No surprises.

I don't like that there are so many re-sellers on the more popular handmade market places now. People who buy cheap items off overseas websites, then resell them claiming they made them. I have come across this personally several times. No one can compete with this sort of thing and it isn't fair business practice and I don't want to be associated with it. With bigger platforms you are a very very small fish in a HUGE pond. There are sooooo many items, the chances of anyone finding your item seem pretty slim, unless you keep listing or re-listing items - paying each time. The chances of them buying it seem slimmer. Unless you have sent them to your site from your blog. Then they know your designs, know your story, feel a connection to you and are more likely to purchase. But if I am solely responsible for directing traffic to my site, I want to send that traffic just to my shop, rather than risk having a potential customer searching the rest of the site for a similar item and buying something similar but cheaper, or a re-sale. I have also found that there is more freedom with how you want your shop to look. There are no rules to breach. And I have found it a lot less time consuming than trying to compete in the bigger marketplaces. You can also choose to keep five items in your store without any fees at all, which is great for those starting out and testing the water, or for when you go off and have a baby... :)

But, curious as to whether I had made the right decision by choosing Bigcartel, I embarked upon an experiment and opened a Madeit and Etsy shop, while I had my Bigcartel shop running too. I wanted to see if my products alone and the selling power and advertising power of these sites would be enough to sell my items, without telling my audience. So I didn't tell anyone. I just quietly opened the shops and didn't direct any traffic to them. I can tell you, of the two months that I actively did all the things you are supposed to do on Etsy - list or re-list a new item each day to stay in the first few pages, pay for advertising, etc. - I did not make a single sale. In the same time period I did the same on Madeit and I sold one piece. Meanwhile, I just did my normal blog posts and posted pics to instagram and I had two of my best months on my Bigcartel shop. So that pretty much cemented it for me, which is why I have decided to close the other two stores when the listings expire, focusing all my energy on my Bigcartel shop instead.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the matter, or how you as a customer think about the online shops you purchase from? I know I find some of the bigger sites frustrating and overwhelming.
If you do have an online shop, please leave us a link in the comments so we can check it out!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~ Ginny

Knitting companion
1. A new project, 2. The colours, 3. March 8th 2012

I cast on for a simple garter stitched, striped baby blanket for my dear little bump. With nine weeks to go I figured I best make a start. I'd love to have this blanket ready and waiting in my hospital bag, unlike Emerson's blanket, which I finished after she came home, as I recovered from a cesarean. I found the photo above, which is just over two years old now, and have been looking back through some of my posts of the early days with two children. Wondering about and imagining the reality of becoming a family of five, and the early days with three little ones.

I've been flicking my way through a few magazines lately - Frankie, Yen and Country Style. Yen is new to me, and I am enjoying their 'Creative Issue'. While 'Country Style' is an old favourite and always makes me want to pack up and run away to the mountains, renovate a run down country homestead, and scour flea markets for overlooked treasures. If only in my dreams.

What are you making and reading lately?


Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Right Now

Feeling grateful for naps. This parenting business is hard work, particularly after a sleepless night, three days of pregnancy sinus and two early rising children tormenting each other since 5am. Yes, thankful for naps indeed. #wholeheartedjournal
Feeling so inspired by Jennie's beautiful, organised creative space, after catching up with my 'creative brains trust' at her gorgeous house today! @alittlevintagedoll @paravent @yardagedesign I'm part way through overhauling my studio and I can't wait to
A cat, two kids and a packet of modeling clay = enough time to cast on a baby blanket. :) #happyweekend
Home in time for the courier today! Which means all orders should be up to date and ready to be posted on Monday. :) #castings #silversmith #instasmithy #instajewelrygroup #thesentimentalcollection
Home alone with two sleeping children; time to knit and drink peppermint tea. Indeed. #knitting
I've spent a lovely, quiet evening with my sketchbook, gemstones and pearls, after visiting the trade Jewellery Fair on the Gold Coast this morning with my intern Didi. I brought a beautiful black Tahitian pearl, which you can expect to see made up in to
1. Oh, the beauty of a napping child. 2. A peek at Jennie's inspiring studio.
3. Modelling clay for the win - sort of. 4. More orders and stock for my shop.
5. The bliss of tea and knitting. 6.Designing new pieces.

Knitting: Working on my scarf and the newly cast on baby blanket, which I will share on Wednesday.

Pleased: To have my lovely husband home after four days of solo parenting. While he explored Sydney with his father and took in the baseball, I discovered that easy meals, long bath times with lots of toys, and simple crafts, were the best way for a pregnant Mama to manage a five and two year old on her own.

30 Weeks Pregnant: After a thyroid and tertiary scan, I can tell you that all is well. This little one seems especially strong! If you see me double over in surprise, you can bet it's from a swift internal kick or punch from my little boxer. After 9 pound 4, and 8 pound 11 babies, the sonographer confirmed that this will be another big baby. Though my bump already feels huge, I know that the next ten weeks is going to make an even bigger difference!

Learning: That while modelling clay will entertain and amuse a five year old for longer than expected, despite several warnings a two year old is still likely to taste a little/ a lot, as soon as your back is turned. Said modelling clay will not digest in the two year olds tummy, and will instead come out again, along with the rest of the contents of their tummy. 

Listening: Still enjoying picking my way through the back catalogue of the 'Stuff You Missed in History Class' podcast. Frida Kahlo! Sei Shonnagon! The Fitzgeralds!

Awed: To have held a $750,000, award winning, pink diamond ring at the JAA Jewellery Fair. It was absolutely stunning. The design. The workmanship. The rare stones. Still, the mind boggles.

Excited: By my lesser priced, but so beautiful purchase from the Fair, a 12 mm Baroque black Tahitian Pearl.

Inspired: By the pearl and the Fair to pull out my collection of gemstones and pearls and spend a quite evening sketching designs and writing up job packets for future pieces of jewellery. 

Happy: To have found a nice balance at the moment, between work, family, and little moments to myself to knit and blog.

Grateful: Every day for my beautiful, healthy, happy children, family and friends. One can't be reminded often enough to be grateful for such things.

Wishing: I could magically weed and turn the soil in my veggie patch, so I could plant out a Winter crop. But this dear bump of mine will not allow the physical labor necessary to achieve such a thing, and I am yet to convince my husband...

Wondering: If you caught my week of guest blog posts over on the Bespoke zine blog.

Doubly excited: To introduce a new series of 'Meet the Maker' interviews I've been working on, on my blog soon. Stay tuned for a lovely selection of Australian makers, from textile designers to fine artists, ceramicists to print makers, doll makers to knitters. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Top Ten Small Business Tips

Originally shared on the Bespoke zine blog, I wanted to post these here for you too, my lovely readers.

I couldn't wait to get some ideas down on paper! The children played around me as I drew, and Emerson contributed a Vegemite handprint. Feeling grateful once more for getting my sketchbook back. :) #instasmithy #instajewelrygroup #handmadejewellery

Oh, the many things I have learnt since I first opened my bigcartel store four years ago and started selling my pieces of jewellery. While there are all the nitty gritty things to learn about business, like keeping books, applying for an ABN and invoices that you will learn as you go, the following are ten tips, drawn from my experience as a jeweller with an online store, that I think will make your business better. Whether you are just starting or have been in business a long time, these ten areas are worth consideration and energy.

Write down your goals
Know why you are doing what you are doing and what your goals are. Write it down. Talk about it to friends and family until it is clear to you. It's easy to go off track, be asked to do something you're not sure you are comfortable with, or be offered an opportunity that you aren't sure fits. Go back to the reason you started the business, what your goals were, then see if it fits with them. Trust your gut and stay true to yourself. Anyone can run a business, but no one can run your business the way you can.

Share your story
People prefer to buy off someone they feel they 'know' or have a connection with, than a faceless company with mass produced items. Share your story at every opportunity - your About page, your blog posts, little by little in Facebook and Instagram updates. Let them know who you are, what inspires you, what you are doing, how you do it. Your story is unique, don't be afraid to tell it.

Brand, brand, brand
Don't underestimate the power of your brand. Research branding. Hire a graphic designer to pull it all together. Keep it cohesive across all your social media, packaging, stationary etc. Be recognisable. Ensure your packaging and logo reflect your product.

Know your market
You may think you know who you are selling to, I thought I did, until I actually sat down with pen and paper and tried to describe them. This is crucial. If your target audience is reading certain things, going to certain places and wanting certain things, you need to know what they are and pick up on those influences, advertise in those places and talk about those things with your audience. Get a pen now and ask yourself - who is my target audience, how old are they, where do they shop, what is their budget, what can I do for them, what need can I fulfill. If your audience mainly reads craft blogs and zines, there is no point advertising in the Sunday newspaper for instance.

Your budget is not their budget
It took me awhile to learn this. What I think of as 'expensive' isn't necessarily expensive to someone else. And while I may have a set budget that I would spend on say my husband or sister for special occasions, other peoples budgets may be many times that. Don't assume. Offer a range of prices and prepare to be surprised by what other people spend.

Ask for what you want
I've heard this a lot recently and I can really relate. No one knows what you want unless you ask for it. It seems simple, but so many of us are reluctant to really ask for what we want. Like our budget not being everyone's budget, what we feel may be too much to ask may be a simple matter to someone else. Always ask for what you want. Better not to get it than to get something you don't want. There will be more opportunities.

Grow without debt
This was a big one for me. I wanted to be able to grow my businesses without going in to debt. This meant growing it slowly, and reinvesting the profit from each sale back in to the business in order to buy new tools, pay for packaging, invest in advertising etc. Though frustrating at times because things had to wait, not being able to impulse purchase has it's advantages. And not having debt is certainly less stressful.

Today's project: working on more 'Nature's Play' pendants with these interesting octahedral Fluorite gems. Apparently they fluoresce under ultraviolet light, and gave their name to the phenomenon of fluorescence. #gemstones #rocknerd #fluorite #instajewel

Love your clients
One of the first things I learnt working in a jewellery shop, and that has been proven to me time and time again is that it is easier to sell to someone you have already sold to than to find new clients. Yes, be working on expanding your client list for sure, but your previous clients should always come first. Give them great customer service, beautiful quality products, prompt replies to inquiries, personal follow up emails, and you will create life long customers who love what you do. What more could you want?! Offer them special discounts, keep them up to date with your collections, stay in their mind with a regular email newsletter, facebook posts or blog updates. Love your clients and they will love you.

Word of Mouth
It's an oldie but a goodie. In today's day and age, word of mouth means social media. When you send a thank you email after a purchase don't be afraid to ask your client to share photos of their purchases on their facebook page or instagram account and let them know that their word of mouth is the best advertising you have. If they are happy with your product and your service, they will be only to happy to share your details with friends and family.

Find a support network and a mentor
Your family and friends will get sick of hearing about your business. It's true. But if you can find yourself a support network of other small business owners who are at a similar stage to you, it is infinitely rewarding for all involved. Not only can you trade business tips and advice, you will have someone to bounce ideas off, show new products to and share in your successes. A mentor is one way of learning by example. You need not even know your mentor, it could be someone else in the same industry, someone you have read about or seen on tv. But it is a great idea to have someone to look up to, who inspires and encourages you to keep moving forward and aiming higher in your business.
I have three lovely friends that I call my 'craft brains trust.' While all of our businesses are completely different, we face similar situations and support and inspire one another through monthly catch ups, group emails and comments on Instagram.

Back in stock, 'Nature's Play.' A uniquely beautiful uncut octahedral Fluorite in a handmade sterling silver eight claw setting on a solid sterling silver cable link chain. :) #naturesplay #handmadejewellery #rocknerd #fluorite #instasmithy #instajewelryg

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yarn Along

Yarn Along

The recent hints of Autumn vanished with the heat and humidity of the past few days. However, I have been holding on to the promise of Autumn with my knitting; while sitting in an air-conditioned room. And while I have been knitting, I have been making my way through the back catalogue of the wonderful free podcast, 'Stuff You Missed In History Class.' Clicking on the titles that appeal and settling in, those talented ladies have been keeping me entertained and filling my head with such fascinating facts as I knit. I'm much the wiser on such a diverse range of topics now, from the Hope Diamond, to the Domestication of the Cat. From Jane Austen to Frida Kahlo. From Mount Everest to Laura Ingalls Wilder. There is such a wealth of knowledge, my inner history geek is thrilled.

If you're new to the world of podcasts, and you have an iphone as I do, it's a simple matter of downloading the 'Podcast' app and typing the podcast title in to the search bar. Click on the podcast's logo, and choose from the list of episodes.

While speaking of technology, I have been converted, just a little, to the idea of reading a book on my phone. I don't own an eReader or the like. How I railed against the very thought of it! Until I couldn't get a library copy, or find an inexpensive copy, of our latest book club book, Walking on Trampolines. Instead I begrudgingly downloaded it though the iTunes store on my laptop, downloaded the iBook app, and proceeded to read it on my phone. And, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. It meant I always had a book with me wherever I went, as I always tend to have my phone. This was handy as I rushed to Doctor and hospital appointments. Once I was used to it, I even curled up in bed with my phone and read during the children's nap times on the weekend. 

When I finished that book, I had in mind to read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's most recent book, The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes, thanks to Ginny's glowing recommendation. When I could not find it at my local library, and didn't want to wait to get is shipped to Australia, I went ahead and downloaded it too. (She's such a gem, that Yarn Harlot, isn't she?) While I still prefer a 'real' book, with real pages you can turn and crease. A real spine to bend and crack. A real and beautiful object on my bedside table, or thrown in to my handbag. I must now admit that there may just be room for the occasional downloaded book too...

Have you been converted too? 
Or are you a paper back and hard back lover all the way?


Joining in with Ginny.

PS. Don't forget, you can find me guest posting at the Bespoke zine blog all this week. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm in! Brisbane Finders Keepers

I am so incredibly pleased to announce that my application to the Brisbane Finders Keepers Market in July has been successful! I'm so excited. There really is no other market in Brisbane as wonderful as the two days on offer at The Old Museum. The crafty goodness, delicious food, the gorgeous flowers and the talented musicians - I'm wrapped that I get to be a part of it again.
For a small handmade business like mine, this is such a big deal. It's such a great sales opportunity for sure, but it is also so wonderful to be able to get to meet and chat with the lovely people that buy my pieces and really feel a part of a bigger community of crafters and business owners. I learnt so much at the last market, and it really pushed me to aim high and take my business forward.
This time you will find me inside, with a bigger table, new display, new packaging, a new collection I've been working on especially for the market, as well as several new one of a kind pieces. Giving you lots of reasons to come and visit. I will also most likely have a five week old baby asleep in a sling on my chest too! Thankfully Didi, my talented intern, will also be joining me.
I really want to thank you for all your encouragement and support. I promise to keep you up to date with our progress and I hope to see you there!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Project Life: Weeks 1 - 9

Project life
My supplies - stickers, date stamp, stamp pad, Midnight Edition Core Kit, journaling cards, scissors, pen, corner rounder and Heritage Edition cloth album.

Week 1
1 - 5 January 2014

Week 2
6 - 12 January 2014
Week 3
13 - 19 January 2014

Week 4
20 - 26 January 2014

Week 5
27 January - 2 February 2014

Week 6
 27 January 2014 / 3 - 9 January 2014

Week 7
10 - 16 February 2014

Week 8
17 - 23 February 2014

Week 9
24 February - 2 March 2014

I've been meaning to share my Project Life album with you since I first began it at the start of the year, but until yesterday, I still didn't have an actual album to put my pages in. My local craft shop has finally restocked their albums, and now my pages have a home.

I have gotten in to a rhythm each Sunday evening of going over the photos from the week, editing them and uploading them to an online printing site (I use Harvey Norman because it is convenient to me). I pick them up from the shop on our way to the weekly family dinner, to save on postage, and eagerly cut them up and slip them in their places once we get home again. 

To make the smaller images, I use and this tutorial to print two 3 x 4 images on a normal 4 x 6 print. I also use collage to put the white bars beside the instagram images. I draw a little map of where the images will go and tuck them in to an empty page while I wait for the photos to be printed, and often write the journaling cards and stamp the dates on one of the printed cards at the same time. I keep a note in my diary of what has happened each day, or funny things the kids have said, that I want to record in the album.

When I started I decided on a week to an opening, which has been working well for all but one spread of the nine. This worked out anyway, as I had enough photos for three pages for week 5, but only enough photos for one page for week 6. 

Already I am enjoying being able to flick back over the year and see all these little, wonderful snippets from our everyday life. I was a bit worried about whether I could make the commitment, but I'm less worried now, as I am enjoying how simple it is. I've realised I just like to keep the pages simple and not use many embellishments, but include things like the Valentine's card and paper flower Cohen made us. I wanted it to be less 'scrapbooky', more photo album with notes, where the layout of the photos helps tell the story. 

I love how it reminds me to document our everyday, to stop and take notice of all that happened in the week past.


I'm guest posting all this week at the Bespokezine blog. I'll be talking about all things jewellery, inspiration and small business. Do pop over and say hi!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yarn Along

Yarn Along
My beautiful 'stash market bag from Yardage Design, filled with woolly goodness.

It's been quite a while since I joined in with Yarn Along, as I seem to have hit a black hole with both the projects I was working on. No matter how many rows I did, they just didn't seem to be growing at all, they were just sucked in to a knitting black hole instead. Despite the guilt I felt at abandoning them, I decided to give them both a rest and allow myself a spot of yarn shopping. I have since been working on a simple stripey scarf, and I have the makings of a baby blanket to go on with once the scarf is complete. 

Yesterday, my 28 week bump and I had to spend two hours at Pathology doing a Glucose Tolerance test for pregnancy. I was secretly a little excited about this. Two whole hours of knitting and reading with only a couple of interruptions?! Even if those interruptions were three blood tests, I could manage that. One learns to accept blood tests when you have Graves disease. So, while my dear parents took Cohen to school and kept the little Miss amused, I read the beginnings of Walking on Trampolines for my book club, and knitted away on a Cleckheaton scarf pattern I've long admired. 

It feels good to be knitting again.

And you dear reader, what are you making or reading?
It's so quite out there in blog land these days, feel free to leave a comment. :)


Joining in with Ginny.

Monday, March 10, 2014

'Designing Craft/ Crafting Design'

The Moon, 2012
Peter Walker

Midnight and Midday and Midnight Neckpieces, 2012
Midnight and Midday and Midnight brooches, 2013
Leslie Matthews

Flotsam and Jetsam, 2012
Lisa Farrant

Still Life with Bosc and Strange Fruit, 2012
Nick Mount

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining, 2012
Honor Freeman

Oil Can and Tea Can, 2012
Kirsten Coelho

De Qi - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, 2012
Belinda Newick

Holey light 1 and 2, 2012

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott

Tools from the studio of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott

Still life with two cups, 2005
Gwyn Hanssen Pigott

'Still life with 2 cups, is an example of the style of work for which Hanssen Pigott has now been acclaimed for decades. Simple, but in a refined modernist rather than rustic sense, the beautifully executed wood-fired vessels pay homage to the sensory domestic pleasures offered by the perfect teapot or cup.'

Bright Shadow, 2011
Gwyn Hanssen Pigott

My little artists, pleased as can be to be playing with clay.

I've often heard mention of The Jam Factory in books and magazines, however yesterday was my first opportunity to see a collection of work from an institution which has spanned forty years. The Ipswich Art Gallery hosts a diverse array of exhibitions, events and children's workshops, and while I wandered slowly from plinth to plinth on the lower level, my dear husband took the children to Create with Clay on the upper level.

I am always drawn to exhibitions that delve in to the world and skill of craft, while crossing the divide usually noticeable between craft and art. Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, a renowned ceramicist, is known for bridging this gap with her work. But I felt the same could be said of any of the artists in the exhibition. I found the exhibitions title apt at addressing the dual nature of such skilled crafters and artists. From glass to metal, ceramics to wood, lighting to furniture, the diversity was as wide as it was inspiring; as you can see by the images I have shared above.

I was quite taken with the work of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. Her elegant pieces, behind their glass boxes, made me want to touch them all the more. That last line from the didactic panel alongside Still life with two cups lingered with me all afternoon - 'pay homage to the sensory domestic pleasures offered by the perfect teapot or cup.' The sensory domestic pleasures offered by the perfect teapot or cup. So simple, so poetic, so profound. Do we not all have a tea cup that we always reach for first? Do we not appreciate the beauty in, say, a hand cut crystal candle holder as opposed to a variety store $2 version of the same. Do not beautiful objects bring beauty to our day and to our lives?

I took my musings with me as I joined my husband and watched my children so perfectly engaged with their own creative pursuits. A Picasso quote came back to me, 'Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.'

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Right Now

I went to the craft shop intending to buy wool for a baby blanket and brought wool for a scarf too. It WAS on sale though... :) #knitting #oneverybigbagofwool

Stashing: Sale wool for a simple striped baby blanket and a scarf (40% off at Spotlight)

Knitting: A Cleckheaton Country Style Stripe scarf. It feels good to be knitting again.

Pet Sitting: The class guinea pig, Cuddles, for the weekend. (Poor wee thing, the life of a class pet can't be easy.)

Excited: About seeing the Designing Craft/ Crafting Design Exhibition on at Ipswich Art Gallery. 40 years of Jam Factory, here I come.

Doubly Excited: There's also a kids clay workshop running at the same time, which I am sure Cohen will love.

28 Weeks Pregnant: And starting to feel more tired and uncomfortable. I'm listening to my body and slowing down; trading nights at the jewellery bench for nights knitting on the couch.

Listening: To the 'Stuff you missed in History class' Podcast - how utterly fantastic. My new go to Podcast while working or knitting.

Writing: A weeks worth of blog posts for the lovely Bespoke blog. I'll be guest posting over there from March 17th - 23rd.

Nesting: I'm overhauling my studio at the moment. I've done away with an old rickety bookcase that will be replaced, I'm upgrading my desk and culling through way too many craft supplies. It''s all a messy pile of boxes awaiting decluttering at the moment. Hope to share some before and afters with you soon!

Reading: Wholehearted a journal, honey & jam, Fast Company

Anticipating: The arrival of a custom ordered logo stamp from a local Brisbane company. Love me some customised stationary!

Smiling: Each time I see the bunch of lipstick pink roses on my dining table. Life is too short not to buy flowers (even if only occasionally.)

Missing: The package delivery driver three days straight, because I have been at the post office each time picking up a package!

Hoping: You are having a lovely weekend!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Autumn Inspiration

There is a loveliness about Autumn to which the other seasons can not compare. The cool mornings, warm days, dappled sunshine, cozy blanketed nights. The allure to read, knit, write, walk. The warm tones of fallen leaves, tweed, yarn and baked goods. I couldn't resist putting together a collection of images to inspire me these coming months. After a particularly hot Summer, I am welcoming each small sign of the change of season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New in the Shop - Cabinet of Wonders

Cabinet of Wonders
Cabinet of Wonders
Cabinet of Wonders

Finished this afternoon and in the shop now, a unique and unusual large Quartz pendant. There's a dorky photo on Instagram of me wearing it, to give you an idea of the scale.


One of the things that draws me to stones is the way they gesture to other things in nature. They are so solid, and yet seem so earthy, the inclusions in quartz can mimic organic forms. This stone reminds me of a terrarium, a glass cabinet filled with little plants; a microcosm of life. The setting has been designed to present this cabinet of wonders without detracting from the natural beauty of the quartz.

Wear this gorgeous necklace to work, while you’re visiting your local nursery, or to the botanical gardens. This unusual piece will bring a natural warmth to any outfit.

This one of a kind pendant was handmade from Sterling Silver by Christina Lowry. It features a 28 x 15 mm Emerald cut Quartz with natural green-ish coloured inclusions. The gem is set in a four claw setting with a large bail, which will accommodate a variety of chains.

In the shop now.
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