28 October 2010

A Conversation with Christine from My2Monsters

Vibrant colours, handknitted originals, how could you go past Christines handmade pieces. Her life is full with mothering, work, organising Hokitika's first Craft market and she has been featured in "Good" magazine. She's inspiring with her passion, and loves designing each piece. AND to celebrate her little monster turning 2 she is having a draw and giving a lucky recipient one of her beautiful handknitted sets. Just let her know the set and size you would like in the comments section and in the draw you go. its that easy..
Lets meet Christine ... Carol 
Who is My2Monsters?
Christine Laughton Fleming (I know..weird middle name, it was my great grandmothers!). My 2 Monsters after my 2 little monsters aka children.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
I love knitting, sewing as well as all sorts of fun crafts I like to do with my little monsters.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
2 wheat bags, a baby monitor, lamp, The Vintners Luck, The Italian Wedding & my hops pillow.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
My Nan taught me to knit & my kids inspire me as well as the country around me.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Crafts, gardening, cooking, kids.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
Craft 2.0, A Craft Affair….these are such awesome events!

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
I like to do my crafts at night & when my son sleeps in the afternoon….I also work 2 mornings a week (& in the weekend sometimes)….I’ve got a great partner who is very supportive.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
A cute knitted necklace that turned out the opposite of what I had planned but super cute!

Kitchen table or studio?
Kitchen table, couch wherever suits as long as I have my trusty knitting bag!

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
A fully renovated house! It’s about halfway…but good things take time!
More sleep would be good
And most of all a craft room!

Christine can be found at her website, Felt, Facebook  and Etsy

26 October 2010

The Warmth of Early Summer

The Spring blossom has all but blown from the trees
The soils warming up, ready for early summer planting
I have noticed that a lot of Handmade creative artists have gardens
This must be something that comes with being full of creative energy
It overflows into our surroundings, and we delight in beauty around us
I know for me personally that it is an important factor in my artistic life,
This beauty that surrounds me
The colors of early summer are tinged with a stronger palette 

Cheers Marie, from Softearth's World

21 October 2010

A Conversation with Pam from Fantail Digital Art

With THAT time of the year coming I am more inclined to wander through Felt and Etsy looking for unique handmade cards to send to friends and family. I especially love the Aroha image from Pam's range. I also discovered in my Fantail Digital Art wanderings wedding invitations, removable graphic wall art (minimalist black word art - nice!), posters and star charts for the kids. They have a distinctive New Zealand feel. And you know, its so easy to do the Christmas shopping here? Come and meet Pam, she's a work at home parent and the wonder woman of this collection of creativeness. Carol 

Who is Fantail Digital Art?
I am a qualified Nursery Nurse, but have always had an interest in photography, graphic design, typography and art as a hobby, reading everything I could and taking online classes. In 2009 I made the decision to work full time in design and Fantail was born.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
Typography and imagery really inspire me, working digitally with my own photographs enables me to combine these to create prints, cards invitations and customised designs for clients. My latest venture is sticky vinyl wall graphics which have been a lot of fun to create. I also run Photoshop Elements classes along with an artist friend.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
My alarm clock, bedside lamp, 2 pens, a necklace, a scrap of paper with ideas jotted down on it, and a little fluffy toy Vole my sister gave me.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
I love the work of David Carson, whenever I lose the creative vibe I browse his work to get me excited and inspired again. I also try to get my hands on a copy of Photoshop Creative magazine whenever I can, and have several graphic design books which I have been known to use as bedtime reading. If I have music playing while I am working it will most often be something like The Great New Zealand Song book cd, or an oldie pulled out of the cupboard like Dire Straits or, dare I say it, even Neil Diamond!

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Graphic design, photography, travel, planning holidays.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
I would love to go craft events and markets in other areas of the country, and any photography or graphic design events where I would have the opportunity to discuss work and ideas with others.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
I try to design during the week, and keep weekends and evenings free for family time, but that doesn't always happen, especially if I am in the middle of an exciting project! I am lucky in that my 'creative tools' are mostly all contained in my laptop, so I can work anywhere anytime.
I have designed in the dance school waiting room, under a tree at the beach, and even on a plane before now. My daughter enjoys her own crafts so we often work side by side sharing ideas.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
Any really hideous screw-ups get fixed with the 'delete' button, so no one ever has to know about them!
I often have happy accidents and come out with something totally different to the original idea. My Aroha print, is a good example, it started as a test page for me to decide on some fonts to use for my wall graphics, but once I had a whole heap of them on the page the idea to add the word love and alternate the size etc just happened and so I went with the flow! I love unexpected results which are a 'mistake' but then take me in another direction!

Kitchen table or studio?
I recently turned our spare room into a dedicated classroom/office and love that I can go in there to work now, I seem to get far more done than I ever did sat at the kitchen table or on the sofa! If I am working in an evening I sit in the lounge with my family.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
In my creative/work life top of the list would have to be an upgrade to Photoshop CS5 and a DSLR camera! I would love to take a graphic design course at university.
In my personal life it would be fun to take off in a camper van and tour the South Island, particularly the west coast.

You can explore and wander through Fantail Digital Art and Felt shop by clicking on the names. Enjoy ...

18 October 2010

We're all going south...

Yesterday evening was the opening of my exhibition 'We're all going south'... it is always a nerve wracking time putting your heart and soul up on the walls for people to see.  But I am pleased to say it went well, so now I can sit back and relax for a bit.

It will be open for the next two weeks so if you are in the Hastings area feel free to pop in and take a look.

Hastings Community Arts Center,
106 Russell Street, Hastings.
The exhibition will be showing from 18 - 30 October.

A few pieces that were featured in the exhibition

after I finished putting up the work

just after we opened the doors

Latecia Christie pointing out her favourites

14 October 2010

Do What You Can With What You Have And Let That Be Enough

Sitting chatting with Jo and Jess from Fruit Bowl Craft Jam its all go. Children are reading, Jo's just taken a call, coffee orders are being sorted, Katherine from Sleep and her Sisters arrives and we have half an hour before Opera Kitchen closes to get to know each other and chat about Craft Jam. Too easy ... we all love Handmade and away we go.

There's a congruency in their speaking of what inspires Jo and Jess, why they are putting themselves out there and asking others to join in with them. And it really isn't about a new fad but is deeply inspired from their mothers and grandmothers way of life. There is an honest reclamation of the spirit of handmade as it applies to the everyday and beyond into art and craft. Re-purposed, recycled, patched, thrifted lifestyles, lengthened, made to last are the memories from the days of our mothers and grandmothers. Re-visioned for 2010 and beyond, our honest endeavours are a creative statement against mass production and materialism as well as creative expression.

What travels with this notion is a passionate commitment to a lifestyle that is swerving away from this mass production and towards bringing home pieces that tell a story. Memory keepers for traditions, collectibles and family heirlooms. Pieces that are made from found and discarded materials, or created using vintage patterns and idea's. Jess and Jo's passion for sustainable craft feels like a precious guardianship of the old values. A lineage they share together and are taking out beyond themselves.

This is where Fruit Bowl Craft Jam comes in. The market is a curated opportunity for Handmade to become even more visible in the Hawkes Bay community. Its an invitation to all (and people are responding from all around the country) to come and participate, for stall holders to chat with people about their inspirations, to tell the story and hand on the traditions as well as sell beautifully made one off pieces. Their vision extends beyond the market place, with Craft Busking, and a Craft Jam stall holders and support people get together.

I'm pretty excited by the possibilities this team are opening up for Handmade maven's in the Hawkes Bay. We all shared the notion that arts and crafts in the Hawkes Bay is still a little subterranean. Well I think that's about to change. What really struck me, was that when we all get together with a common purpose how easy it is to make more happen. Their motto "Do What You Can With What You Have And Let That Be Enough" is tee-shirt material. Welcome to saving the planet from this viewpoint.

New Zealand Handmade and Fruit Bowl Craft Jam are spreading Handmade love all around, come and join us ... Carol 

Dates to note:

Fruit Bowl Craft Jam - Makers Market - 4 & 5 December at Hawkes Bay Opera House, Hastings. Only a few stall spaces left now, if you have applied and haven't heard back, PLEASE make contact again. There was a wee problem with their application form.

Stall holders and support evening - 10th November venue to be confirmed. Check here

Craft Busking - Hastings Square - weekend 20th November

Places to find Fruit Bowl Craft Jam

12 October 2010

Happy Halloween

Halloween is a widely celebrated holiday in the Northern hemisphere. It ties into the fall or autumn season with its colours of black and orange which symbolise the darkness of night and the colour of fire, autumn leaves and pumpkins.

The name of the holiday seems to have evolved over time from All Hallows Evening – meaning the night before All Hallows Day (All Saints Day) which falls on November 1st.

Jack-o-lanterns were originally carved from turnips. The carved faces were placed in windows to ward off evil spirits. The carving of pumpkins for Halloween startedt in North America where pumpkins were more available and much larger– making them easier to carve than turnips. Other elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows are also common and homes are often decorated with these around Halloween.

Children dress up in costume and go from house to house trick or treating. Mostly treats are given but when it is not, it is customary for a trick to be played on the home owner or their property.
In New Zealand we enter spring at this time of the year. The association with Halloween is not as strong as it is in other countries. The main celebration of Halloween in New Zealand are costume parties.
At New Zealand Handmade we wanted to join the celebration and so have put together a few Halloween items from our Etsy shops. Click on any of them to go straight to the pages.

Happy Halloween everyone.
PS Don't forget to take a look at our Handmade Christmas Ornament Swap and join in the fun here

10 October 2010

New Zealand Handmade Christmas Ornament Swap

Swap is now closed ~ Swap is now closed ~ Swap is now closed

At this time of the year it is very easy to become overloaded! That is why we have made this swap as easy as possible for this time of the year! It’s a very small swap.. so small in fact, that it’s made to hang from a Christmas tree… and one could be on your Christmas tree if you’d like to join us!!

The swap is open to all those with a blog in New Zealand and overseas.

To participate you must be willing to mail overseas and honour your swap commitment.

The details: All players will be allocated one (only) swap partner. You will send directly to your partner and she will send directly to you.

You will make and send one only gorgeous handcrafted Christmas tree ornament and one lovely Christmas Card for your partner . The ornament should be made to hang on a Christmas tree and should be handmade by you with love and care. Make something special that you would love to receive yourself. Please do not cut out a paper star and send it to your partner.)

All ornaments must be mailed by the 1st December and should be suitable to send in the mail. Postage to overseas will need to be sent by Airmail, so our partners receive their gifts by Christmas day to hang on their tree.

New Zealand Handmade will post links to more ornaments and some tutorials over the next few weeks and some finished ideas just in case you need some extra inspiration. Once you start receiving your swaps we will add them to a flickr album for all to see!

So…. if you would like a small tree ornament handmade especially for you by another friendly blogger sign up now!

Please take the button from the sidebar (or at the top of this post) to add to your blog and let’s have some fun making our Christmas trees the best ever this Christmas!

Sign ups will take place here until 23rd October.

To sign up please leave a comment on this post to say that you want to join our swap. **Be sure of this before you commit**

Please also send an email to lovelythings4u at windowslive dot com with your

Real Name, Mailing address (in English), Email address, Blog URL and Blog name.

**Please make sure you email me this info to be entered into the swap.**

Partners will be allocated after sign-ups have closed. Sign ups are open now!

Happy Creating!


07 October 2010

A Conversation with Greta from Topography

How personal could a hand crafted baby and toddler tee-shirt get? Well Greta from Topography can answer that easily with "P" for passion. Driven by a desire for something better for her own children, she's sharing the tee-shirt love with the rest of us. Her well crafted images are hand cut and lovingly sewn onto cute cotton tee-shirts. With a strong kiwi influence, the discerning baby around town would have no problem pulling such unique designs off ... and like all mum's, Greta knows how to make it work. Lets meet Greta ... Carol 

Who is Topography?
I design, cut and sew my own appliques on to quality cotton shirts to make a practical and precious baby gift. I am obsessed with personalised products (I think it comes from having an uncommon name!) so I particularly love using alphabet letters to make something that will become a keepsake after baby has grown out of it.

What’s your “handmade groove ?
I like working on a really small scale so I can see results quickly and I only need a small amount of gorgeous fabric to make something with impact. My other products are even smaller than my tiny shirts – things like bag tags and brooches.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
A baby monitor, a Vanity Fair magazine I am re-reading for the third time, a book I have been meaning to start for 3 months (I find it hard to commit to a book these days!)

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
I admire anyone who is making their own designs and putting their work out there for the public to see – it is hard! My inspirations are in my everyday family life, like interests that my daughter has, children’s books we read or things in nature we come across during the day. I am also addicted to quilting fabric, there are so many amazing designs, so sometimes I start with fabric and have to figure out a way to use it that will look young and fresh.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
It has always been movies, but lately it has definitely become crafting… I have to watch that I’m not trying to talk about it with people that are not as interested as I am!

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
I would love to see some of the markets and events out of Auckland to see what other crafters are working on – A Craft Affair in Christchurch sounded great.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
The kids are so little that I have to do most of it while they are asleep, which is really difficult, but luckily I have always been a night owl…

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
Cutting things from fabric back-to-front. Often.

Kitchen table or studio?
I am supposed to have two shelves and half a desk in our spare room, but my fabrics and stencils have exploded all over the room and I can’t figure out how to condense them again.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
My obsession with personalising things extends to jewellery and I have been browsing silver pendants for months to figure out what I can get made that will relate to my children. I would also love the new black and white lily pad seat liner from my blog buddy lily pad designs (hint, hint!)

Have a great week everyone ... and if you want to be a friend of New Zealand Handmade click on this We would love to interview you.

05 October 2010

Creative Gathering - 'Made It Here'

We thought we’d share with you, an event that happens every month here in Hawkes Bay – a gathering of creative people who come together to share great coffee/food, inspiring conversation, ideas, knowledge and friendship. We call ourselves ‘Made It Here’ and usually meet on the last Sunday of each Month at Bay Espresso ½ way between Clive and Hastings.

Bay Espresso - Karamu Road

Their corn fritters - YUMMY!
It’s an open event for all creative types whether selling on-line, at markets, to friends or are just thinking about it. We also welcome all types of arts/crafts genres.

As a matter of interest - It was from the original group of 9 attendees of ‘Made It Here’ that we came up with the idea of New Zealand Handmade - a place to network with artisans from all around the country and promote members wares to the world. We now treat NZHM as a separate entity so that we can give equal attention to both – but it just goes to show great things can come from small beginnings.

We would encourage other creative types around New Zealand to start up similar gatherings in your neck of the woods – there are already two well known established groups – Crafty Business in Christchurch and the Auckland Craft Collective in Auckland – do get in touch with them if you’re in those areas to find out more. But if you’re further afield how about initiating your own? Sometimes it’s just brilliant to be able to share local tips on suppliers/events, show others your latest creation and seek their feedback, organise a local group exhibition, or know other stall-holders at a market that you can get to mind your stall while you grab food or a comfort stop!!
I like this banner - says it all!
One of the best ways to initiate a meet-up can be through on-line sales sites – Katherine from Sleep and her Sisters started our group by contacting Etsy sellers in Hawkes Bay, you could do the same, or post on the Felt forum, contact organizations such as ‘Creative Taranaki’ (example), even use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get the word out, find a great venue and take it from there.

And do let us know if you already have a group or start a new one so we can put you on the NZHM radar :)

Mel x

03 October 2010

Spring is in the Air

As Katherine mentioned a few weeks ago, we've entered Spring Fair season here in New Zealand.  Though I didn't have enough stock to have my own stall, I happily dragged my family along with me to the Porangahau Spring Fair last week to support my fellow New Zealand Handmakers.

Three of our member were there to start with:
Joy of Kazzalblue

and Katherine of Sleep and Her Sisters.

The weather was meant to be fine, but it ended up being a little bit overcast and a lot bit windy.  Really really windy.  Joy had to pack up and leave before I even got there because her items kept blowing away!  Mel and Katherine stuck it out, but needed to hold down their tables, literally.

But it was still a good day, my kids had lots of fun.  And it's great to be able to browse through all the wonderful handmade goodness in person for once, rather than clicking through online.  In the end I couldn't resist, and bought my two lovely girls their own lovely necklaces.  Nyssa picked this gorgeous Wildflower Designs piece,
and Boudicca loved this Sleep and Her Sisters pendant: