Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is there such a thing as too much Marimekko?

Outfit post!

Can a person ever have too much Marimekko or wear too much of it?  I often think of that when I'm throwing on something to wear for the day!  This is what I wore yesterday.  The colours and patterns were making me feel super happy, the sun was out and I was having an awesome day with my friend David, looking at shops, having coffee and generally feeling pretty fabulous!

Although I'm not wearing a tonne of Marimekko in this outfit, I often find myself with 3 to 4 items which includes bag and maybe an umbrella.  I always thought people were crazy to wear a 'whole look' from a range but the beautiful and fun thing about Marimekko is they often keep their classics and re-introduce prints that were first used up to 30 years ago.  In that way, I find them timeless and yes, I do enjoy a bit of pattern and colour clashing!

A bit of a break down of what I wore yesterday:
Top left corner:  A beautiful brooch from Brazilian label Sobral.  I adore this brooch and when I saw it in New York, I had to have it!  I actually bought a necklace from the same range as well.  It always gets comments.

Bottom left corner:  Mustard coloured tights from Sussans.  I am all about mustard tights.  I got what I thought was mustard coloured ones from Urban Outfitters but they are more yellow than this.  These are super comfy too!  The bag!  This Marimekko bag is from this seasons range and balances colour with practicality.  I love the pockets and they fit all my needs.

Right hand:  Marimekko dress, I got this on sale a while back.  It's a little jersey number that is very billowy, great for Summer but teamed with a cardigan and tights it is also great for the cooler weather.  It actually was more black and white, however I accidentally washed it with something that ran and it is a little more grey and white now.  I'm also sporting my Ugglebo clogs, they are soooo comfortable!  You should check out their newest range that has some cute hippy prints too!

So when I look at it, I only wore two Marimekko things yesterday!  That's clearly not enough!!!  Is that an excuse to get more?  Maybe!  But look at the countries covered!  Australia, Sweden, Finland and Brazil... probably something was made in China too.  Bless globalization!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mastering the circle...

Knitting in the round

Although I have been knitting for many, many years, I have really only dabbled in circular knitting.  When I have dipped my toe into the circular waters it has been in very simple ways with sock tubes and cowls.  I am getting a little bit better with the whole circular knitting thing but don't think that I am anywhere close to contemplating knitting a whole sweater in the round! I am so amazed when I see other knitters on Ravelry knitting away in the round with ease.  Yes, I am totally jealous!

I'm kinda excited as this arrived in my letterbox yesterday! Circular knitting ago! #knitgeek

To try and master the 'in the round' skills I invested in the book above 'Circular Knitting Workshop' by Margaret Radcliffe.  You can find it on Amazon and if you are looking for a one stop shop book on how to, then this is for you!  What I am loving about this book is the photographs, there are so many great shots of what your knitting should look like, but also importantly, what it shouldn't look like!  I know for myself that when you are knitting alone, you often do things then wonder if you have done it right, these photos really help.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A New Way of Working?

Finished tapestry
Woven tapestry by Mardi Nowak, 'Let Me Know If You're Lonely Baby' (2012)

I've been working on a new series of works over the last month, though I've only just completed the first actual tapestry from the series.   The variety of imagery are screen shots from music videos found on YouTube that I have played on my iphone.  The random screenshots are then cropped into a square or rectangular format and printed out larger.  This increase in size from their low resolution forms creates unusual pixelation and colour combinations that can work brilliantly or look like a blur!

Video crop: roisin
One of the screenshots that inspired the tapestry.

Creating and manipulating imagery viewed on iphones and other mobile devices is really interesting for a tapestry weaver.  The interplay between the now and technology with something very old and traditional is something that I want to explore more.  It shouldn't surprise me that I have moved this way for source material as previously I was using magazines that were very 'now' as a source.  The notion of weaving something that is 'in fashion' and by the time the tapestry is completed, it may not be in fashion, creates a challenging and unique language.

Video crop: roisin
Another screenshot, it's from Roisin Murphy's video 'Let Me Know'.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting Chatty with Eels Jewellery...

Some examples of Eels Jewellery.

I approached the lovely Tenille awhile ago to talk about her amazing scrimshaw works under the label Eels Jewellery.  Being a tapestry artist, I love talking to other makers/designers and artists who are using very old school and traditional skills to create new and contemporary works.  I adore seeing these skills stay alive and not be forgotten by a new and younger generation.  A huge shout out and thanks to Tenille (and apologies for not getting this lovely interview up sooner!) Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
I am originally from Lithgow, in the Blue Mountains. My parents own a wildlife sanctuary there. I have lived in the Inner West of Sydney for 9 years.

2. What do you do and make? What is your label?
My main production label is called Eels Jewellery. It is a handmade collection of limited edition and one-off contemporary jewellery featuring the traditional technique of scrimshaw. I make my pieces from recycled organic materials like buffalo horn and bone and combine these with sterling silver and other metal findings. In addition to this scrimshaw range I also regularly exhibit other contemporary jewellery, objects and sculpture work.

3. What brought you to scrimshaw? How did you learn it?
In 2007, in my final year studying Jewellery and Object Design at the Design Centre Enmore I had a subject called Traditional Processes in Contemporary Practice. It was more of a theory based subject, involving the investigation of a traditional jewellery process and essay writing with a small amount of technical experimentation and sampling. More conventional topics for this subject would have been things like enamelling, filigree, inlay and stone carving.

The choice of specialising in scrimshaw was kind of driven by my love of the vintage nautical aesthetic, Antiques Roadshow and old-school sailor tattoos. Although not traditionally a jewellery technique, it is similar in process to etching and engraving. I basically taught myself through research, experimentation, sampling, trial and *lots of* error.

4. Where can people find your amazing work?
I have a little Etsy store that I keep a few pieces listed on. although most of the work I get through online sources is commission based. People will see something they like and then email me for a custom piece. I actually really love making custom work. As each piece is handmade and the materials are organic, no two pieces will ever be alike anyway. In addition to this, I have made a small range of exclusive pieces for the new Melbourne store, Edition X which also has an online gallery and store. In Sydney, my only stockist is Collect at Object Gallery in Surry Hills. I also have a few pieces in The Curious Oyster Shoppe in Thornbury and Polly Put the Kettle On in Geelong.

Scrimshaw necklaces.

5. What are the preconceptions of your medium? Are there any weird and wonderful comments that you get because it is unusual?
My work invites a lot of story-telling. Which I love! Scrimshaw really is a form of pictorial story-telling in itself. My own carved illustrations often contain the suggestion of a history, journey and a story. I get a lot of interest from older people who have a direct experience of its history to share. I hear lots of stories about great-grandfathers who were whalers, antique Sperm Whale teeth that have lived on mantel pieces for generations and tales of other personal, family and cultural links to this technique. People are usually quite excited to see scrimshaw still being practiced. Those that haven’t seen it before usually love to hear about it, though I do receive quite a few negative reactions to the horn and bone products I use. Generally though, once I explain my preference to use recycled, ethically sourced organic materials over petro-chemical based plastics, most people are ok with it. I also get some comments about how I can be a vegetarian and still use these products in my work.

Tenille hard at work!

6. Where do you create? Are you a studio gal or at home?
I am currently working from home, though I have a small studio space and bench set up there. I would love to have a separate studio again! I used to be so much more productive when I had that luxury. But I also run another business and have a toddler to take care of, so I make do at home.

7. Is there a soundtrack to your making? What do you listen to?
I tend to put country music on when I’m making jewellery; oldies like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline as well as contemporary bluesy country style artists like CW Stoneking, Cat Power, Band of Horses, Gillian Welch, Grizzly Bear and The National. Saying that though, that soundtrack is always peppered with laughter, squeals, crashes, bangs and plenty of crying from my little boy. And is occasionally replaced by the theme from ‘In the Night Garden’ or something by Justine Clarke.

8. Describe a ‘usual day’ for you and Eels Jewellery?
I spend half of the week at my house in Sydney and half of the week in the Blue Mountains, where I run my family’s restaurant. So that means that generally, my Eels work is all done between Monday and Wednesday. With some exceptions when I have an event or exhibition. I have my son Cash at home with me on those days too so this often means getting my ‘dirty’ jobs, like cutting, sanding, drilling and polishing done during my son’s nap-time and then doing final polishing and scrimshandering at the kitchen table. I also do a lot of my carving work late at night after he has gone to bed. I get all my emailing, marketing, designing, drawing, ordering and packing done while he’s playing or eating or running around in the yard. It’s amazing how easy it is to multitask when you have a smart phone and a laptop! I also make trips to the post office via baby gym or the park. This year I have tried to outsource more of the initial material cutting and tried to source pieces of horn and bone that didn’t need as much preparation work so I can focus on the actual scrimshaw aspect.

9. What are 3 words that you would use to describe your work?
Unique, nautical, narrative.

The lovely Tenille and her little boy!

10. What is your dream for Eels Jewellery? Where do you hope to be in 5 to 10 years?
I am not really interested in being stocked in a whole range of stores, or even making and selling more work in terms of quantity. I am interested in perfecting my craft and making my work more and more valuable. Basically, having a more exclusive range at a higher price. Pricing appropriately is always something that has been troublesome for me as an artist. Pricing your work for its true value is difficult. But I know undervaluing your work does a disservice to all craftspeople and the designer/maker industry. I would love to be able to make a full time living out of commission work. I would also love to create some more conceptually in-depth scrimshaw pieces for exhibition. The thought of possibly doing workshops or teaching has also crossed my mind. In addition to my Eels work, I want to do more group exhibition work and possibly even open and run a creative space of my own.

Check out Eels Jewellery on the web, on Facebook and definitely drool over items in the store!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Preparing for Knit Geekery...

Two new books from Cleckheaton Australia.

The weird thing about being a knitter in Australia is that it appears that most of us only pick up the needles in Winter, or when the weather starts to get a bit cooler.  I know that there are some true knit geeks out there who knit all year round (you know who you are!) but to most Aussie knitters, it's all about warm Winter wear.

sweater from Cleckheaton in wool mohair 12 ply, 2012.

This means that new pattern books and yarns don't really start coming out until Autumn and often the selections are pretty slim.  Really, for a country that has a lot of sheep, we don't seem to be that excited by it! Over the years the two main players of yarn and knitting in Australia for the mainstream have been Patons and Cleckheaton.  In the past, their patterns have been pretty dull to say the least and not very fashion savvy, let alone fashion forward.  Things have been making a bit of a shift over the last couple of years and maybe with a resurgence of younger folk picking up the needles (men included!) we are seeing some great patterns that you would actually want to wear!

I picked up these two Cleckheaton pattern books a few weeks ago (still waiting to see the appropriate yarn in the stores) and there are loads of patterns that I can't wait to start.  The over sized colour blocked mohair sweater looks like it will be a great quick knit as well as a great Winter staple for my wardrobe.

Cardigan from the Cleckheaton Merino Angora Silk book, 2012.

The other book has some more slightly traditional patterns that have a twist, such as the multi-coloured cardigan with leather buttons and also some awesome sweaters and cardigans for men too.

Whoever is designing for Cleckheaton, they are doing a fabulous job!  I hope that it inspires others to pick up the needles and get knitting too as there is nothing as special as a hand knitted sweater!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter May Be Gone But I Still Want Eggs!

My beautiful #marimekko Easter fabric arrived from @kiitosmarimekko ! I know it's not Easter but it's so cute!!!

I couldn't resist this fun Easter egg print from Marimekko!  I guess it brings the kid out in me and reminds me of Easter bonnets and decorating eggs and cards.  Above is a detail of the Rairai  fabric designed for Spring 2012 by Maija Louekari.  The eggs are huge!  I am thinking of making egg shaped cushions for our couch with these babies!

And more #marimekko goodness! What to make?!

I also grabbed some of the Ryijy fabric (also by the same designer) which complements the eggs.  It features crazy wild patterned stripes and scallops and I'm planning on turning this in to a dress, though I'm sure that I will have fun with the scraps too!

Yes, quite possibly I may look like a giant Easter egg but doesn't everyone love Easter eggs?!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sock it to Me!

Sock love
My Sundae sock - still completing the other one!  Wool from Knit Picks.

Any knitter knows the satisfaction of making your own hand-knitted socks.  I know the joy that I had when I had completed my first pair, although they were too small for me but at least I had achieved the great sock!

I guess that I really wanted to become a sock master because they are a small project but also a very practical project.  You can have loads of pairs of socks to wear but it seems a bit crazy to have millions of sweaters.  Since making socks for myself, I love the feeling of wearing handmade socks.  They are so cozy, soft and naturally fit very well.  I am still learning and making my way through the mysteries of socks but I am doing it with the help of some social media friends!

Sock love
signing up for Craftsy classes.

I have been making socks from the cuff down, which is quite a traditional way I think.  Everyone had been saying to me that the only way to go was to knit from the toe up, especially if you have bigger than average feet, which is what I am knitting for!  I had been looking at some YouTube clips on knitting from the toe up and then decided to take the plunge and sign up for one of the Craftsy Classes on-line.  OMG!  What a wonderful world of learning from the internet!  I have subscribed for two classes on socks by the amazing Donna Druchunas.  The best bit is that lovely Donna has been giving me lots of tips and encouragement via twitter as well (follow her at @druchunas)

I'm often amazed at the knitter/sewer world on social media and how supportive everyone is.  Gone are the days where you may have your mother or grandmother nearby to assist you when you have a problem, or dropped a stitch!  Many of the yarn stores have 'help out sessions' but sometimes you just want the answer straight away or you are looking for a particular pattern.  My 'gang' of knitters and seamstress' are so great at pointing me in the right direction and giving me support.  The land of the internet has really kept these skills alive and there is much sharing going across the globe.

Sock love
I love wearing handknitted socks!

If you are a knitty person too, some of my favourite folk to follow on twitter are:

I'm still plodding along making my socks, trying to learn new ways to make a perfect sock but with the support of the internet crafty world, I'm getting so much better at it!
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