Thursday, 30 July 2009

i make stuff

So you know where we'll all be tomorrow night!
Tomorrow is the opening of the Craft Cubed Festival at Craft Victoria but far more important it is also the launch of 'I Make Stuff'.
How exciting is this?!
Beck and Ramona, the ladies of Handmadelife, are unveiling their zine-that-turned-into-a-book book. So many people we know have been featured. I'm even in it -although I feel like my 'stuff' isn't up to the amazing standard of the other makers!
We are all very proud of our lovely HML ladies. Juggling under one year old boys, family, home, life and all they have even spent the last week embroidering special limited edition dust covers. I suggested they get the BeDazzler out............

6pm Friday 31st of July Craft Victoria, come and see the stuff people make!

dell-icious, dell-ightful, dell-irious

And I forgot!
Considering how excited I am about  this too!
Look! We have a whole shelf of beautiful brooches all made by Darling Dell.

I think my fav is the heart of wood.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

ripped and shredded

I really managed to get a big pile of work done in three days. 
New cushions and tea-towel bags, we've got stock of pianola lampshades and new zip purses, I even managed to get some new bunting up outside. All good.
The bad though? (Because there always has to be some to ground one.)
Last night, while I was in the shop with some people who had dropped by to borrow some props, there was a crowd of 'kids' out the front of the shop. When I say 'kids' I mean young adults who should have known better. I noticed the magnolia tree was being shaken and attacked so I went outside to ask them to be careful. Nicely. Non-threateningly. Of course the single girl in the pack of males had to give me grief (why is this? why is always the girl who gets uppity?) and claimed that one of the guys had 'tripped over the tree'. Look, sorry, but how you could 'trip' over that tree I have no idea. The upshot is the damage has been done. Miss Magnolia's lace dress is tatty and ripped. Not to shreds but like she got drunk and ran through a hedge backwards. 
I have been thinking she needed a new frock anyway. It's been a whole year out in the wind and the rain and the searing heat. So I think I will attempt to refashion her garment a branch at a time. I'm low on doilies again after the Projection Festival. Although I may have some tablecloths I can work with. 
I feel quite sad that Miss Magnolia is standing out there in the cold, all disheveled and Miss Havisham in her tatters.

Monday, 27 July 2009

three is a collection

I've been flat out for the last two days. Busy, busy, busy.
Yesterday I was up at 6.45am (way too early for a Sunday) and off to Camberwell Market. I haven't been particularly enthused with the Market for sometime. It's got ridiculously overpriced but I did get a good haul for the first time in ages. Most of it from a lovely older couple who had good stuff at reasonable prices. 
But then I was feeling 'generous' because it was hard rubbish week in Camberwell! Two bird cages and an old-skool metal framed (mouse) aquarium. Quite pleased with that score!
Four tins (that I know the Davernator would love), some lovely 50s fabrics, a great afghan (commercial 'handmade' but really nice colours), a wonderful long wooden box, a plumb bob and a old pair of quite small bull nose pliers, a tin bucket, four carpenter's rulers and a swan print behind glass and framed....... and a tablecloth.
In between dyeing gloves yesterday and doing the washing I cleaned up a little display cabinet that's been sitting on the kitchen bench for the last few weeks. As I worked I thought about my collections of 'things'. Applying the 'one is just an object/three is a collection' rule I apparently collect old wooden and glass display cases, carpenter's rulers (I had one, I now have 5), wooden boxes and metal buckets and baskets. Of course this list doesn't include all those 'collections' of things I use in my creative life. All the fabric, tablecloths, machinery, doilies, etc. 
Today was a flurry of activity. I haven't felt quite so productive in a long time. Mind you it's the first time in ages I haven't had to be somewhere other than the studio for a whole day. So I managed to get onto making tea-towel shoppers and working on cushions that have been sitting around unfinished for weeks. And sorting doilies. I love the ones from the 30s with their wonderful slightly manky colours. Brown and teal and coral orange/pink/reds and sagey greens. Lovely. Perfect. And their abstract floral shapes. Inspiring.


Sadly I have had to send Jethro back to the Product Testing Division. 
I had to sack him for theft.
It's not that he failed to stop someone stealing, rather HE stole an earring. Yes, he can now add Cat Burglar and Jewel Thief to his CV. 
I didn't notice until Saturday afternoon that one of the pink button earring that you can see in the photo was missing. A minor panic and then I had a think. Where does everything that goes missing around here end up? That's right, under the counter! There is a section on the old Victorian counter where the pedestal is worn away and without fail balls, pens, feathers, dust bunnies all end up under there. Sure enough Jethro (aka Cary Grant, George Clooney) had delicately picked up the earring, jumped down , had a play with it, belted it a bit too hard and lost it under the desk. 
All is well. The earring wasn't damaged at all. I gave it a clean and it's back in the cabinet with the door shut. (Sorry Coconut Lu! It's in perfect condition!)
Mind you this bit of thievery is on top of Jethro attempting on Saturday to mug a customer for her take-away sushi and trying to climb in another customer's shopping bag.
Jethro, taking crime to new heights, all he needs is a hoodie and he'd be a juvenile delinquent. 

Saturday, 25 July 2009

security guard

Jethro seems to have managed to get the Product Testing Division ticking along nicely. If you have wandered past the shop over the last week you may have seen him in full work mode 'Goldilocking' from one pouffé to the next in the window.
Last night I was cleaning and moving pieces around in the 'jewellery cabinet' and walked back into the shop to find Jethro, in a self-motivated moment, taking on a new role as Security Guard. He insisted on keeping one paw outside the cabinet at all times. He really quite liked it in there. I am thinking of hiring him out to Tiffany (accessorized with a nice Tiffany blue bow of course).

Thursday, 23 July 2009

things I get roped in on

When I ran into my old friend Reg (at Bunnings when I was sourcing stuff for the window crate) he laughed at me for still, after all these years, getting roped in on crazy projects. Especially when I have enough to do anyway.
This project is for an animation. Just the first practice go.
I had to wear my glasses.

*For those who didn't realise, it's a cardigan you silly duffers!
(And sadly Miss Claude it is too small even for skinny Indi!)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


I've decided this is what we all need in our lives.
A Mossarium!

Dell dropped this on to me on Sunday. It's in one of those old Nescafé coffee jars and it's beautiful. She made it. She is great.

I need a magnifying glass to go on adventures in it.
So green. So wonderful.


Saturday, 18 July 2009

melbourne- city of design

I get quite picky about what publications the Cottage appears in. I like this one though!
I was in the last copy that came out for 2007-8 and the launch of the new edition was on Wednesday night at the SoD opening (you have to have a squizz at Lucy's Design Files for all the updates on SoD happenings- I hope she's knocking back the vitamins, she's been flat out reporting!).
This is our map (this image was actually mentioned in The Age yesterday in their review of the book!) on a coffee cup. There are other clever little maps dotted through the Guide.
As I flipped through it the other night I was happily surprised at just how many fabulously talented people I know in Old Melbourne town! It's absolutely swarming with creativity!

Friday, 17 July 2009

product testing division

I've decided Jethro needs to start pulling his weight around here.
I've put him in charge of Product Testing. 
He's first job was the new Carol Kings.
After a year of collecting I finally had enough tapestries to make new pouffés. It's probably going to take another year at least to scrounge enough to make more so first-in-etc!

sod and dmt

No, it's not a post about dirt and a pesticide, no matter what the title appears to suggest. 
This week has seen the start of the State of Design Festival (SoD) and DesignMadeTrade is on at the Exhibition Building. 
Our dear Ramona has set up her stand at DMT and it looks great! She's getting to meet her fans face to face! There are lots of other people showing DMT and DesignBoom (it's kind of like a mini design market)is on as well. It's open to the public this weekend so go and have a look and pick up some products directly from the designers/makers.

Monday, 13 July 2009

A busy day. 
Picking up fabrics, dyeing gloves, de-installing the Projection Festival installation, cleaning up the piles of mess everywhere (not finished), dragging my sorry-arse around. 
I'm not feeling totally well but also not feeling really ill. My legs ache and my throat is vaguely sore. Part of me wishes if I'm going to finally come down with a winter lurgy so that I could then just get it over with.

Fresh off the presses though....... the new Cottage Industry postcard!! 
We had a few in-store on Saturday and people were snapping them up. It's a fabulous photo from the thirties and you might remember it from when I first announced the shop was going to open. Her shirt is just amazing and I love the armfuls of Brassica.
We also have a small pile of postcards that Leanne and Mandy of Yarn Bombing have sent over. The postcards are to celebrate the launch of their book (our lovely Magnolia Doilii is in the book) and the cards have a pattern on the back. So hurry in! They are both free! 
If you aren't in Melbourne or can't make it in then drop me a line and I'll be happy to post some out to you (there are only limited YB cards so be quick!).

Saturday, 11 July 2009

mrs monet's garden

Way back in June last year I made this. It has taken me almost a year to scrounge together enough tapestries to make another one or should I say two. They are not quite finished yet as most of friday was spent patching them together and cutting them out and making calico facing panels but they will be ready next week.

As I chopped them out I fell in love with the 
backs. All knotty and fluffy and abstracted. I'm sure Mr Monet would have got to Impressionism much faster if he'd taken any notice of the back of Mrs Monets's tapestries. 

Not long 'til I head back to teaching and still a huge batch of stuff that needs to be sorted. 
I did manage this week to get the new pleated skirts finished. That was a big job. Pleated garments can feel like you are wrestling octopuses when you are working on them. All the 3 dimensions that the fabric now has from the pleating, the thing that makes them so wonderful to wear, makes for exhausting work when sewing them up. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


At last.
A batch of quince jelly I'm proud of.
Jellying this year has been very stressful. 
I think I have been preoccupied and not in the jelly-zone. 
5 jars from 3+kg of knobbly quinces (plus all the 'failures').
But those 5 jars are the colour of garnets. Dark and lush.
(This picture is not the final batch, it's the penultimate jelly.)

I have been trying to decide the perfect way to consume it.
I've toyed with the idea of scones and mascapone or clotted cream.
The taste reminded me of rose petal jelly and that made me think of the Damascus Rose from Bahla's in Brunswick. It consists of circles of filo pastry, buttery and syrupy, layered with Ashtar cream and jelly. 
This might be the Perfect Way of the Quince.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

don't forget!

The supremely talented Nikki Gabriel is having a sample sale this weekend.
If I wasn't being shopgirl I'd be there!
She's dug through the archive and is her selling some of her samples. It's a great chance to get your hands on some very beautiful garments. 
In this case, first in really is the best dressed!

(Pretty sure it will be cash only so be prepared!)

back to the studio

I've had two full days in the studio (better than last week's one hour) but I can't say I've got anywhere with all the things I need to do. 
Sometimes it can be an uphill struggle. Perhaps it's tonight's full moon. Strangely I had been in the studio today thinking that making stuff can be a bit bio-dynamic at times, the moon has to be in the right phase to get a good crop. 
I've also, strangely, been thinking about piano accordians. And that naturally lead me  to thinking about the Religious Instruction teacher who used to come around during primary school (back in the days when RI was allowed to be taught in schools). I can still see her in her sensible glasses, sensible haircut, sensible shoes, handknitted cardi, buttoned up to the neck floral shirt and box pleated beige skirt. And you knew when she strapped on that piano accordian it wouldn't be long before she would be jiving to the Holy Sound. 
So what got me thinking about piano accordians and RI? 
I was putting waistbands on black pleated skirts.

The skirts won't be finished until later in the week but new patchwork wool bags are ready and waiting in store. Made from vintage wools  each hexagon is about the size of a saucer. I've been playing with these patched pieces for the last couple of years, making skirts and other bits and pieces from the panels but I thought I'd make them up into some bags. It's the same design as the popular linen bags we had for summer. The side panels and tops are made from lovely dark grey wool flannel. They are very lovely even if I say so myself!

Monday, 6 July 2009

kill the wabbit kill the wabbit

Jethro's been having a wonderful time hanging in our installation, meeting people, watching the rabbits bounce across the screen. All we need is a cat sized Playstation to go with his cat sized 'tv'. He also likes to stretch up the doilied tree trunks to watch the owl die. Come by and you too can see the slaughter of 'fashion vermin'. Hee hee. If you can't make it check out Dell's blog and Lucy's super Design Files for great photos. 

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Really this week has been too overwhelming.

No photos to post of last night's Festival opening due to........ forgetting to get the camera out.
Barely managed to make it back from the country in time to set up. I don't think I have ever been so disorganised (and that is saying something for a Virgo let me tell you).

Jethro spent the evening lying in the window, he thinks the festival is all about him, he was exhausted by about 11pm and happily moved upstairs. I think all the attention may have been a bit much.

And a huge thank you to everyone who came. 
And a massive thank you to Dell whose brain almost exploded from all the formatting experiments she had to do. Her animations are beautiful- and strangely disturbing- just the way I like them! (Some of the comments outside the window have been priceless.)

Friday, 3 July 2009

a day in the country

gratuitous cake shot, nothing to do with subject....... 
although if we find vanilla slices at Woodend we may eat them

Mr Porcelain and I are off on a fact finding mission to the country.
I may be super stressed and busy but I am looking forward to fresh air and a different view.
Must be back in time to finish our installation and flick the switch!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

just like the myer xmas windows..... but betterer

It may be mid-winter but it's time for the 2nd Gertrude Street Projection Festival!
Opening night is tomorrow, Friday, and the lights will go on at 7pm.

Please come along -there are 22 venues, 100+ artists, 5 nighttime events, 8 nights, 6pm 'til midnight. 
And it's FREE!

So think Myer Xmas windows (you could even wear your pjs and dressing gown if you like)........... except it's a projection festival!
And you can stop off for dinner or a drink as you stroll the length of Gertrude Street.
There is heaps on over the next 8 nights so check here.
And, yes, the secret project is for the festival! 
Drop by Cottage Industry (we are #6 on the map) and you can see the installation Dell and I have been working on.

(Poor dear Dell has been swamped by technical issues and boy do I feel guilt ridden! But her animations are great! Dell is the best!)

job description

I was thinking yesterday, as I stood on top of a 6ft high pile of rocks, that if I lead one of those lives where I had to write a description of my job no-one would believe it.
The morning had started with asking the builders next door how long they intended to be hammer drilling into our wall, a one hour telephone interview, then welcoming Yem to her first day at the Cottage, running errands (which included scouring 5 piles of rocks for the most 'rock-like' perfect rocks), back for a quick photo shoot, putting on multiple pots of dye, scrubbing rocks, taking photos, fielding lots of phone calls and inquiries, going to a meeting, pressing up gloves and finally sitting on the floor sewing doilies on to those 'perfect' rocks. 
Another day. 
Even more stuff to do.
And I haven't had one day in the studio this week.
I hate that I feel guilty if I don't go to the studio even when I am working at home. Hmmmm. I must resolve that issue. Sometime. When I have a free moment perhaps.
So you may have noticed there is quite a bit of doilyitis going on at the moment. Well come back tonight and I'll tell you all about it.