Thursday, 28 February 2013

wax and wane

Tried to find a photo for today, opted for another Anish (this one is for you LG), a huge crater of red wax that I so wanted to touch, to steal a little piece of so I could stick it in a specimen jar and label it.I had to leave the room before the security guards had a reason to pounce.
It's Thursday, the last day of autumn and it's finally cooled down. We've had rain but more would be nice. I would love to curl up for a nap but I am on shopgirl duty today. I've nothing prepared to do which is a bit annoying, perhaps I can spend the day doing research on the iPad, 'research' is actually hunting down contact email addresses that I've misplaced, not very exciting sadly.
Jethro is still incredibly jumpy and scared of the hallway so I dropped in at the vet this morning and came home with an artificial feline pheromone spray. It works. He's still creeping slowly along between the stairs and the kitchen and wary in the kitchen and bathroom but he seems to be relaxing. Wish I could get a version for me! Wish he could tell me what he saw in the hallway. Zombie mice perhaps.
OK, I'm shopgirl today. Please drop in. Tomorrow I get to go to the studio and make stuff.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Did you miss me?
I've been off in Sydney, it seems like ages but was only three days. The weather was humid and hot (pretty much what I've come back to here) and as, Sydney is not my favourite place to be, all about exhausting. I stayed in the tiniest hotel room which was really amusing, had dinner at Billy Kwongs with friends (oh my, the duck and the pig!), walked my feet off at the trade shows and then managed to lose my car at the airport when I got back.
Just before I left Jethro got a Fear into him and decided that he couldn't walk through the downstairs hall, bit of a problem there as it leads to the kitchen (food) and the laundry/bathroom (litter tray). Then whilst I was away a bird flew into the big room upstairs and Dell and Adam had to deal with a cat who thought climbing furniture to hunt was OK. Solution was Jethro got locked in the shop whilst windows were left open upstairs, bird flew away, Jethro released. I'm know having to reassure Jethro that there is nothing to be afraid of downstairs, any feline re-programming hints gratefully received.
I did get to go to the Anish Kapoor exhibition.It's got to be the most instagrammed exhibition around! His play with spacial depth is incredible, I was going to write 'optical illusions' but that would cheapen what he does. The wall squares of pigment colour are trippy and mind altering.... I wanted to fall into them....
I'm sad I missed the Melbourne rain. I have a pile of stuff to sort out and sort through. I have a cat who is not himself. I have no food in the fridge. I have to be shopgirl tomorrow. I have to get my arse in gear.
Welcome home.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

bok and budgie

Saturday. Sigh. It's come around again.
I got a day in the (sweltering) studio yesterday and made up two 'chicken and egg' chemise dresses. Dell has snaffled one but the other is in the shop. The story behind this fabric is all about the importance of the role of matriarchs (the big chicken) in the African family, the children are the chicks and the eggs represent the next generation.... and men are shown as just rooster heads. The stories told in the wax prints are amazing.

I even got to have a play with a cotton textured check that has been sitting on the shelves for the last few months. We are doing a new batch of 'Harvest' smocks soon and I'll be making them in the check but also in our fabulous 4 1/2oz denim. Our supplier had stopped making this fabric but they have decided to stock it again so there is a roll of it sitting in the studio ready for a making frenzy. I'm wearing the check sample today. 

We also received a box of new stuffed budgies from our taxidermist yesterday so there was a bit of budgie silliness late in the afternoon. One of the blue ones has already been claimed to go to a new home but we have some very amazing colours in this batch of budgies. Please don't get all sniffy that we sell taxidermy birds, our taxidermist loves live birds and is an avian rescuer. All the birds we get have died naturally and come from breeders who, as you can imagine, occasionally have bird deaths (it happens people). Saturday sermon finished.
OK better head off and get the vacuuming done. Jethro and I had a bit of a play in the shop earlier skimming Fowlers Vacola seal rings across the floor like deck quoits. He likes to carry the rings around in his mouth and will fetch them. Sweet little fur person that he is.
I'll say it again, I'm sick of this heat and lack of rain. I am feeling both sweaty and desiccated.
I'll be in front of the fan in the shop if you are looking for me today. Come say 'hi'.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

shoes and chickens

Evening all.
Don't seem to have got very far this week. This damn end of Summer heat is so draining and awful. There has been rain tonight but it seems to have totally avoided this little inner city area and the plants are screaming for moisture. 
The studio is still foully hot and sweaty but there has been a bit of work done. Not nearly enough. I'm still obsessed with the wax prints and made a few dresses in this fabulous shoe print. These prints make me laugh. I'm working on some 'chicken' chemises at the moment, I had just enough with a bit of jiggery-pokery to make two dresses, two side panels have had to be cut upside down but I don't think it will be too noticeable. 
A friend and I were chatting on the phone last night about how boring retail is this time of year. It's hard to keep energy or motivation up, it's the dregs of Summer wearing us down. I'm waiting for the golden Autumn light to start and then I can get the dye-pots bubbling away with angora gloves and feel a bit more motivated. I have a mountain of emails to compose and need to get my brain fired up, bring on the change of season. 
As you can tell I am devoid of inspiration in my typing tonight. I really am keeping my sentences a bit too short. Thanks for all the new people who have dropped by via Mollie Makes (I really don't mind that you may not have bought the magazine!) and I saw this evening that they have used more of the photos on the cover of the Mollie Makes Home bookzine. Ever so slightly weird. Those photos were done so long ago it is quite disconcerting, the tapestry wall is still up but quite different and you can't see the surface of the table due to numerous piles of boxes and tools and a mountain of folded towels that have been perched on that corner for about 6 months. 
I am not good with sorting and putting things away. 
That's all you really need to know about me.
I hope you continue to visit.

Monday, 18 February 2013

on the downlow dabble

I turned the computer off over the weekend (sadly the smaller Apples were still on...) and it was quite nice. I'm having a fraught relationship with my technology lately, the emails pile up and because I often scan them on i-Ps I can be really slack about reading them properly and actually answering them and then a crushing wave of connectivity drowns me and I long for time when I am not hooked in and up and.... whatever. This online presence guff can really get me down at times.
Then of course there is the message that arrives from Ramona the Craft Publication Queen to say that I better check the new addition of Mollie Makes magazine..... I like my magazines printed on trees I must admit but downloading makes things very easy on a hot Sunday morning. I'd forgotten that I had signed the release paper about 6 months ago for the use of the photos that Lucy had organised. Happily the copy is much better than the butchering inside/out magazine did to their version. Sadly they used that really appalling photo of me that makes me look like a pin-head fat cow (yes we are all vain). Curiously the house looks much the same and very different, those photos were taken so long ago.
The amusing thing is that the photos were taken so long ago that I only vaguely remember what it is like to have a semi-clean house. I am living in amongst the most depressing chaos at the moment/still and it was very funny looking at those photos whilst sitting on the couch surrounded by work in progress and crud. I wonder whether all those houses that appear in design blogs and in magazines really look like that, I also wonder whether people who live in minimalist house start feeling a little institutionalised.....
It's going to be another scorcher today and I have to drive out to Dandenong. This might be better than facing the studio though, I don't imagine things will have improved in there since the sauna of Friday. I do have a thousand things to work on at home/shop so I might slink back and spend the afternoon with the fan and the computer (now that our relationship has improved).
I better go put the shop together as I left it in a right mess on Saturday afternoon when I closed the door. Jethro has also been rifling through the gloves again. There are newspapers behind the counter, invoice books stacked under the chair, cat fluff blowing about. Hope you don't melt today and I am definitely wishing Autumn would arrive.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


This morning has been rushed even though I started early, I seem to have caught every red light everywhere I went and now feel like I won't get everything ready for my shop day. I hate that.
The studio was absolutely foul yesterday, made worse by discovering that it was hotter in there by about 5º than it was outside. By the end of the day I was grumpy and brainfried. Last night put on a spectacular cloud show but we got no rain here sadly and today is forecast hot and humid again with maybe an afternoon storm which will probably miss us totally. At least there is a coolness in the morning now, the promise of Autumn.
So I barely survived the sauna that was the studio but I was determined to get some Lettie dresses finished. I almost gave up at one stage but I buckled under and managed to get them done along with a new batch of granny purses in metallic and lustre leathers. Then I came back to the shop and spread grumpiness and annoyance about. I chilled out after I sucked on a fruit pop for a while.
I better dash. I need to see if the Lettie dresses need pressing and the shop is a bit of a grotty mess.
We've got lovely wax print dresses and there are still some Frida dresses to get you through the warm weather we have forecast for the next few weeks and the Letties too. Sorry that the Cottage still has woolly things out but we really do still sell them on 42º days. I need to get glove dyeing too. And with tertiary school starting very soon it is time to come in and buy a satchel.
I am making no sense now.
Drivelling, dribbling and sweaty.
Please Autumn, start soon.

Friday, 15 February 2013


Hello all.
Sorry I've been incommunicado for the last week but I was feeling out of sorts and a bit blah so thought rather than bore you with my moaning I would stay quiet. I'm also going through a computer hating stage and am answering the bare minimum of emails, doing the bare minimum of banking and certainly reading the absolute minimum of blogs etc. I do seem to be lurking on instagram a bit though, I just do it for the pictures.
After a bad couple of days in the studio I slept for 10 hours on Wednesday nightand felt all the better for it yesterday. The weird thing is that I am not sleep deprived by any means but perhaps I just haven't been getting a quality kip, Wednesday night's must have been gold plated. Jethro was adamant I get up this morning and when I walked downstairs I found out why. He'd managed to get on the top of the new shelves, knock over all the anodised cups, take two clocks off the wall (??) and break an ear off (luckily) only one kangaroo. Moth chasing perhaps. He's been locked out of the shop and has spent the last half hour sucking up to me, contrite cat. He seems to think because he gave me a Valentine's Day present he has some credit up his sleeve.
I'm not enjoying this heat we have settled into. The studio hovered around 32ºC yesterday but I did get some work done. There will be new leather purses in tomorrow and depending on how well I work today there may even be some Lettie dresses ready too. I better go and get some stuff done. Stay cool.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

fickle and fiddle

Yep, another week gone. And I spent a whole five days in the studio, something that hasn't happened in quite a while and by about Tuesday afternoon I was trying to plan escape routes, I stuck at it though (just). I know, I know, after complaining for weeks about not enough time in the studio all I wanted to do was run away. Fickle.
I did get some sewing done, made some chemise dresses and spent all of Friday working on cushions. Cushion Friday is a tradition and I managed to make a pile of new vintage tea towel ones, until I ran out of zips and inserts, and even got some Welshies done from a couple of new vintage blankets that had arrived on Xmas Eve. It felt good to get the cushions under way as the top of the bunk and the trolley were looking a little bit sad. There are some stunners in this batch too, including some 1960s souvenir Australian ones.

I spent last night on the couch packaging up these fabulous vintage 'telegram' hankies. They are tacked onto a paper envelope that you fold and address and can mail. I mailed one to Dell at the shop and although the post office said that it would cost $1.20 to send I stuck on a 60 cent stamp and it got here... and the postmark had been stamped by hand, big and round and saying 'letter office', we were quite excited! You can write a message onto the hankie too. The coat of arms in the corner is kind of dinky and a bit wrong but it is really cute. They'll be in the shop today.

The other job ticked off this week is the photographing of all the vintage patchwork quilt tops. Now they are documented I can start chopping them up and making things. We also have other things planned for the images but that is for another time... stay tuned.

I'm in the shop today. I need to find a job or three to keep my hands busy in between customers and I am hoping there might be some of those today as the week has been drearily slow with the schools back and everyone's Xmas credit card bills in and the warm weather.... excuses excuses.... I hate this time of year. Anyway. Whatever. I'm wearing my new wax print chemise dress covered in giant keys and padlocks, it amuses me no end. I think I need to make more.
OK, better go sort the shop out and put my shopgirl hat on. It's not a real hat. Although a twisted turban could look quite good with my shweshwe chemise.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


I finally get 5 straight studio days and what do I want to do? Runaway! I spent most of yesterday planning escape excuses and 'important things' that I needed to go find, I stuck at it though and managed to get... nothing much done. I started this, I toyed with that, I got sidetracked and moved stuff about, ending with the grand total of nothing much achieved.
Jethro went off to the vet for his vaccinations yesterday evening. His adoption papers said he was 'gentle and loving', now sadly I have a cat with a note on his record saying 'difficult'. He was complimented on his teeth, his weight is within 10gm of his weigh-in a year ago (vet could not believe this), his heart is excellent and I have two puncture wounds on my right arm and two claw scratches on my left wrist (and this from a cat who hardly ever scratches). He is still not happy with me and is currently asleep in the wardrobe.
And that is my week so far.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

sad and sorry, creepy and dreaming

The tapestry frenzy continues in the studio. I finally busted the tapestries out of their frames late last year so that they were ready to use, the studio stockpile of the damn things had got very out of control and, once all those hideous frames were trashed, the mountain was reduced to two fairly large boxes of stitch-y goodness. I've pieced together the ever so slightly creepy 'faces' pouffé and one that has been nicknamed 'mountain to the sea' and it water themed. I'm not sure I will get to stitching the panels together in the next few days as there is a lot of other stuff to do but at least they are ready to go.
I'm still dragging my sad and sorry butt around this week and longing to pop out of the doldrums I seem to be in. It doesn't help when things are creepingly slow in the shop, I tell myself it is like this every year when the schools go back and the Xmas credit card bills come in but sometimes in irrational moments I get the 'no one loves us anymore, woe is me' feeling. Pathetic.
So it is February and I need to start thinking about dyeing gloves. That of course would mean getting all the crap int he kitchen and laundry sorted and put away, a stocktake of both gloves and dyes and lugging the new-ish dyeing copper that I was gifted from the studio and finding somewhere to put it. My old copper lives in the shower stall (I am very lucky it is a very big shower stall) but putting another one in there would mean no bathing for me and I love a good hot shower! Jen and I were talking about dream homes the other day and mine involved a huge kitchen with scullery and a dye/soapmaking room. Dreams.....

Saturday, 2 February 2013

life is a whirligig

The pouffés are well and truly stuffed. The studio has drifts of beanbag beans as I managed to grab at the open bag as I dropped it sending a geyser of balls shooting out but as it was late I just couldn't be bothered cleaning them up (first thing Monday morning I promise). Yesterday was all over the place with meetings and phone calls and skiving off to see an exhibition and running into an old friend who managed to scare the bejilliters out of me and getting stuck in everyone-is-back-at-work/school-friday-afternoon traffic.
An end to a week of heartbreak and excitement, a week that really went from one extreme to the other.
I tried to get a photo of Furrilocks and the Three Pouffés but Jethro has got his cool weather crazypants on today and is belting around the shop and house like a loon. He took off so fast across the shop floor his paw fluff couldn't get traction on the concrete and the whirling paws were like something out of a cartoon.
We are barely a month into the year and I am feeling like running away. This is not meant to kick in for at least another six months. Perhaps I am getting old and due to be put out to pasture, sit in a rocking chair on a verandah somewhere stitching bad colour by numbers tapestries that will end up in an op shop when I die....... I find this weirdly amusing, I'm not being morbid as I find it funny... and I have seen a Bollywood tapestry design that could be fun to do..... A friend of mine has been warned by her partner that he will leave if she starts doing leadlight glass projects. The craft that broke the camel's back.
Anyway I wandering off topic (if I even had one this morning), it's Saturday, I'm in the shop, it's cool out, enjoy it as the temperature is climbing again soon, come and buy a cardi. Next week I am promising myself (apart from the vacuuming bit) to catch up on lots of studio work, new Welsh blanket and tea towel cushions, planning the new range of purses, getting some clothes made, actually spending more than a day at a time at the sewing machine. January is done and, although this year is making me a bit fearful, let's get on with it!

Friday, 1 February 2013

stuff it

Morning all.
I've just nipped out to pick up a takeaway brekkie roll from Martha Ray and am now back trying to sort things before my 10.30 appointment. All go in my high powered world you know..... ha ha.
I looked at the bags under my eyes this morning in total horror, crepe-y and flabby and old and sad.... and it's only the first day of February, they shouldn't be like that until the end of August at least!

Studio day yesterday and I worked hard and got some pouffés done. I had a customer living in Britain who needed one for a gift (the gum tree one) and I needed to get it done so I buckled under and pieced it all together. As the tapestries were all out I thought I may as well make a few extra so now we have a cottage-y country one and a crazed floral one. Of course after all that hard work (making these pouffés is like a gym work-out) I ran out of filler and now we have one half filled and one totally unfilled, very disappointing!
Jethro has product tested them and they have received the tick of approval so they will be in store as soon as I pick up the filling later today.

I had a weird experience last Saturday with a young couple who asked the price on the tapestry pouffé in the window. When I told them the man got snitty and asked nastily why they were 'so expensive', I replied that they were cheaper than they should be and replaced it back in the window and walked away. Janita had some customers yesterday who she spent a lot of time with choosing cushions who then asked for a discount, when she said no they walked out. I am finding this sort of thing quite sad and depressing. Sad because we actually don't price  stock as much as we should and depressing because it's me that makes it all and it's not mass produced out of some factory employing underpaid workers (except for me), we don't factor in an 'on sale' margin or a wholesale price so that we can sell our products at a reasonable price.
Take these pouffés for instance, it takes me months/years of collecting to get enough pieces of tapestry together to start work. They are all broken out of their frames, cleaned up, pressed, stitched together, backed with heavy cotton canvas, finished and sewn together, bases attached, a bladder made and filled. Months and months of slowly getting to the point of them being ready to go on show and be sold, each one totally unique. Over the the years the prices of our recycled materials have risen sharply (totally my own fault as I create a demand and that flows on) and we rarely put our prices up to cover it- fool that I am.
In some ways you would think that with the handmade being fashionable and, in some ways, commonplace these days you'd think people would be a bit more understanding about the amount of work that goes into products but sadly no. On top of it it seems to be tempered with an 'I could do that' mentality to which we say 'go on, give it a crack (it's not as easy as it looks)' .
Friday's sermon ends here.
And if you have anything to add please have a good rant with my blessing.
Well, I'm off to meet with a lovely lady who brings in the most beautiful knitwear then I'm going to go stuff pouffés. Lordy, it's the start of February and the end of the week, how'd that happen??