Friday, 30 July 2010

Feature Friday - Incalesco

 This week's featured artist is Erika who owns the amazing online store, Incaleso.  I have admired Erika's beautiful work ever since I "met" her through the Etsy DUST team.  I hope you will all show Erika some extra blog love since I discovered that this is the very first time she has been featured in a blog!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a wife, Mum, IT nerd and silversmith/jewellery designer and manufacturer. I grew up in Albury but for the past 10 years have lived in the inner south east of Melbourne. I have been married for a bit over 5 years and we have two beautiful children aged almost 3 and 5 months. My day job is as an SQL Server "Technical Specialist", or "The SQL Queen" as we like to call me. There are two ways of doing things, my way or my way... Resistance IS Futile ;)  That doesn't leave much time for my most neglected role of silversmith/jeweller. I only get to do that on weekends, and only if the kids are sleeping or being entertained by Dad. It means I have to plan my time well ahead but also not be too hard on myself about self-imposed deadlines.

What are five words which describe you?
Perfectionist, cheerful, funny (well I like to think so anyway), tenacious, tired

When and how did you first start creating/crafting?
I have always enjoyed creating and making things.  I did textiles and design for my HSC (Edit: high school certificate for the final year of high school, for the non-Aussie readers), and while I love to sew and make myself clothes, it is not something that I do that often these days.  My sister bought me a necklace on tigertail a number of years ago, and I was inspired by that to try and make my own beaded jewellery. Then on a holiday in Darwin and Broome in 2003 I fell in love with South Sea Pearls.  I was in a jewellery store consulting with a sales person about having a pearl pendant made, after leaving the store my hubby said "I reckon you could do that".  So as soon as we got back to our hotel I was on the laptop looking up jewellery courses.  I did a short course the next term, and then enrolled in a 4 year part time advanced diploma which I started the following year.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I make precious metal jewellery, predominantly silver, but that is mainly because gold is cost prohibitive.  I did make our weddings rings which are both 18ct yellow gold and set with stones, and am slowly working away at my own eternity ring!  I love colour and love to introduce it into my work with stones, enamel, other metals like copper and brass and patinas like verdigris.  I have also made a range of jewellery with fabric set within the silver.

When and how did you start selling online?
I read about Etsy in "The Age" newspaper and after checking it out decided to setup my own store in late 2008. I have never tried any other online venues, but I have had my jewellery in some bricks and mortar shops.

Describe your store in five words.
Modern, eclectic, unique, sophisticated, elegant.

Who or what are the influences behind your creations
A very obvious influence is nature, I love spending time outside in the garden with my family. I am also a bit of a bower bird (a trait inherited from my Mum) and love buying stones and have quite a collection of loose stones amassed just waiting to be made into something wearable. For the stone pieces a lot of the inspiration is from the stone itself, the size and cut of the stone and allowing it to tell it's own story. I also like asymmetry and repetition and this is apparent in a lot of my works. I have a real soft spot for Art Deco too and you can see that occasionally come through in my work. I find it hard to describe my style as I think it is constantly evolving. In fact I often joke about my evolutionary design process as I start out to make one thing and it evolves into something else.

Where can we find you online?

*** Bonus: Erika is kindly offering a 15% discount to Two Cheeky Monkeys readers for ONE WEEK.  To receive your discount, enter the code "BLOG_FEAT" at checkout.  Valid until 6 August 2010. ***

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

I love making headbands!

Today I have a confession to make.  Yes, I know that many of you won't be surprised by my revelation.  But I think that it is time that I admit how much I LOVE making hair accessories, especially headbands!  I love making headbands so much that I have devoted today's entire post to my recent efforts, he he.

A rose cabochon and filigree headband created for Miss almost 5

Many of you will recognise the style of the first few headbands since they are similar to many I stock in my Etsy store.  When my girls saw me creating headbands for the store, they were so taken by them that they asked me if I would pleeeeaaassse make them one each too.

 Miss 3's rose cabochon and diamond filigree combination

Unsurprisingly, Miss almost 5 asked me to make her a headband with a red flower (her favourite colour) and a round filigree (she has a very strong sense of balance and shape matching).  Miss 3 chose a headband which was originally destined to be sold on Etsy, but she loves anything pink, so this headband went to her instead.

My headband with an oval filigree and a sweet vintage rose cabochon

Because I have a rather odd-shaped head (if I were to shave my head, you would probably find that it is not nice and round, but only semi-spherical with bumpy bits), I resisted the idea of making myself a headband for quite a while.  But, constantly seeing my girls wearing their headbands persuaded me to make one for myself.  I was unsure if it was a fashion faux pas for thirty-something mothers to dress like their pre-school aged children (LOL), so I made myself a headband with a smaller filigree and cabochon combination.  I like to think that this combination is a gorgeously subtle accent in my hair, although no one has commented on it when I wear it!

Fabric yo-yo's and buttons make for great headband embellishments

Of course I haven't just restricted myself to creating metal headbands, but have been slowly sewing some fun fabric and elastic headbands too.  If you read my post about my attempts at making fabric yo-yo's, you will know that I am enamoured of making these sweet little embellishments.  So, I just had to make a few more yo-yo's which I attached to hat elastic.  These were really quick to make, although I strongly recommend finding a way of keeping your child still while measuring her head to avoid much frustration when the final product doesn't fit properly!

This felt and button flower makes for a cute headband/fascinator for big and little girls!

My last headband (I promise this is the last one I am showing off!) was inspired by a felt flower tutorial on the eighteen twenty-five blog and is going to one of my nieces as part of her birthday present.  I used a combination of hand sewing and hot glue to put this cute flower together and opted for an elastic headband, although a metal or fabric covered headband would have been equally suitable bases for the flower.
If you made it all the way to the end of this post, congratulations and thank you for sticking with me!  For those of you who also love making headbands, I would love to hear about your creations or tips and techniques.  And if anyone would like to purchase any of my filigree and cab headbands in AUD, please drop me a line too, as I am wanting to know if there is enough interest to warrant listing headbands in my Madeit store.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Happy Birthday Cheeky Monkey Number Two!

It is hard for me to believe, but it has been three years since cheeky monkey #2 was born!  I am definitely not ready for her to grow up yet, though she is desperate to catch up to her big sister.  Below is a montage of her special day with some of Miss 3's vital statistics.  Happy birthday sweet little one!

Born: 3:56am
Weight and length: 9lb 4oz, 4.125kg, 51cm
Current: Approximately 16kg, 95cm

Friday, 23 July 2010

Feature Friday - Baruch's Lullaby

This week's featured artist is Shannon of Baruch's Lullaby.  Shannon has many sweet creations for adults and little ones (and a most gorgeous model for her photos!) and is a fellow member of CAST.  So let's find out a bit about Shannon and Baruch's Lullaby (and find something special at the end of the post).

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a lifelong Alaskan and currently live in beautiful Wasilla with my amazing husband and our four kiddos. Homeschooling them and raising them to be world-changers is my full-time job. We are also in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia!

felted baby mittens knitted image

Can you describe yourself in five words?
Five words...let's see. Passionate. Creative. I love to read and laugh, but not necessarily at the same time. I love Jesus. That was more than five words...but I was never very good at following rules. Sorry.  [Edit: He he.  That's okay Shannon!]

How and when did you start crafting/creating?
I was a crafty kid, always writing stories, playing with yarn or fabric, or making things out of paper, staples, and tape.  As an adult when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter (and confined to the couch for quite a while) I re-taught myself how to knit, and eventually started making my own designs and patterns.

knitted earflap hat baby image

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I knit and crochet accessories for children and women, mostly babies and toddlers.  I knit hats with kitty ears, hats with earflaps, striped beanies, scarves for all ages, felted baby booties, thick felted mittens, and thumbless baby mitts, among other things. Often my hats and other items are used by photographers as photo props. I use only natural fibers, mostly wool and cotton, because I am a shameless yarn snob and synthetic fibers give me the heebie-jeebies.  *grin*

Who or what are the influences behind your creations?
My children (and our Alaskan climate!) are the influences behind my work. Most of my designs came from something I originally made for one of our kids for winter play, or as a baby shower gift for a friend.

When did you start selling online?
I started Baruch's Lullaby in 2007 and I started selling online (on Etsy) in September of 2008.

lace scarf crocheted image

What are five words which describe your store?
My store in five words - clean, sweet, bright, warm, and soft.

Where can we find you online?

Shannon is generously offering readers a 10% discount through till August 15th!!!  Put "two cheeky monkeys discount" in the message to seller box when you make a purchase and she will refund you through Paypal!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

My Very Simple Banana Cake Recipe

I have been getting so many positive comments about my banana cake that I thought I would share it with everyone on my blog (and maybe I won't need to email or print out copies for people any more, he he).  Technically, this is not my recipe, it is a recipe my mum passed to me and I have no idea who she got it from.  As usual, I have tinkered with the recipe a little; you can find my alternatives in the "tips".  I do promise you that whether you use my extra tips or just follow the original recipe, this banana cake is very yummy, very versatile and very easy to make.  The mini cupcakes below were made for miss 2's "birthday party" at playgroup and were very happily received by both small people and their mums!

cake image cupcake banana birthday

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
2-3 large bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice

1.  Preheat your oven to 180C/356F (lower if you are using a fan forced oven).  Grease and line a cake tin.
2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  If you find the cake mix a little too thick, add a little milk or water to improve the consistency.
3. Pour your cake mix into your prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes (this will depend on your oven).
4. When cake is cooked, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
5. Ice the cake if you wish, but it is usually half eaten by this time at my place!

1. I like to add 1/2-1 cup of sultanas (raisins) to the mix since my kids love them so much.
2. I also normally add 1 tsp of vanilla essence to the cake mix.
3. If you do not have mixed spice, or do not like it, you can leave this ingredient out.  You could also substitute with a little cinnamon, clove or nutmeg powder (or a combination of the above).
4. If you want to get a little more fibre into your children without their knowledge, you could add a little wholemeal flour to this cake.  I sometimes add a 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of wholemeal flour and reduce the amount of white flour respectively.
5. As you can see in my photo, this cake recipe is also great for making muffins/cupcakes.  Simply pour your cake mix into prepared muffin tins and bake for a shorter period of time.
6. One final adjustment, you can add less sugar and oil to the mix if you are wanting to watch your health (I would not reduce the amount of either ingredient by more than 1/3 of a cup).  If you add less oil, you might need to add some milk or water at the end to adjust the consistency of the cake mix.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Get Ready for *bespoke*!

Today I want to tell you about an exciting new zine in the works with the beautiful name of *bespoke*!  *bespoke* is the brain child of the ever busy Jess of Epheriell Designs and has the sweet tagline of "By hand; with heart"...aww.

bespoke zine magazine image craft art

I am pretty excited about this new zine since Jess, and quite a few of the contributors, are part of my online circle of crafting friends!  If you want to find out more about this brand new zine or think you would like to try your hand at a submission, Jess is still looking for articles and artists.  So head on over to the *bespoke* site or Facebook page to find out more!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday Fun - Fabric Flower Tutorials

I have been wanting to make myself a fun flower headband for some time but have been unable to decide on a design (or find time in between making headbands, jewellery and art for others!) for my new hair accessory.
I thought I would share with you some of the beautiful tutorials I have found in my search for floral inspiration.  My own floral headband will probably be based on one of these shown in the following tutorials.  In fact, I have already made hair clips for miss 4 and miss 2 using the first tutorial.  I hope you are just as inspired as I am!  If you have tried any of these tutorials (or know of any more), please let me know, I would love to hear what you think of the results and the whole creative process.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Time

Ceramic Clock by Collette Peters' Pottery

Driftwood Clock by Tick Tocklers

Cuckoo Clock by Decoylab

Heart Blackboard Clock by Jolyon Yates

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Vintage Art Card Giveaway Winner

The winner of my vintage art greetings card giveaway is Laura of Moags and Smeet!  I am afraid I didn't get a screen shot from (sorry, got distracted editing photos for my previous blog post).

I will be contacting Laura very shortly.  Thank you so much to everyone who entered and blogged, Tweeted or promoted my giveaway in one form or another!

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Art/Craft Exchange Project

I was recently invited to join an art and craft exchange by a fellow DUST member and was really taken by the idea because I love to create and tailor items specifically for a person and because it is fun sending gifts to people!  The surprises I have received in the mail so far are gorgeous and will definitely be getting lots of use.

Robyn of River Gum Jewellery created this amazing long necklace for me.  My photo really doesn't do it any justice and my attempts at a self-portrait while wearing the necklace were abysmal.  It has an eye-catching focal lampwork bead and pretty amethyst and jade beads, both of which are among my favourite gemstones!

Nelly of Paisley Pathways sent me a cute little pouch made from lovely red, black and white floral fabric (how did she know that red is one of my favourite colours?)  This pouch is a great size for carrying cosmetics or hair accessories and will be very useful when I travel (travelling with two daughters makes for lots of lip gloss, hair clips and hair ties to be packed).
For those of you who are wondering what I created, you can find some photos of my creations on the lovely Helena's blog.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Feature Friday - Joie de Tea

image joiedetea tea etsy
This week's featured artist is Verity of the cutely-named store Joie de Tea.  Verity is a fellow Melburnian and DUST member and has a whole range of deliciously tempting creations.  I have also discovered that she is a mad keen Lord of the Rings fan!  So let us find out a little about Joie de Tea.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in East Melbourne with my husband, baby boy and a senile poodle & moody cat. I'm mostly a full-time mum and part time tea blender. In the past I've done a variety of different things including working for the Federal Government, editing an academic journal, being a naturopath in a health food store and an in-home carer to quadriplegic clients.

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Tea obsessed.

image outback sunset tea mint lemon herbal tea Etsy joiedetea

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I fell in love with herbal teas in my late teens and have been playing around with mixing them together ever since.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I create tea blends - herbal, black, green and rooibos mixtures. My favorite materials are, obviously, herbs and spices - most of what I use is organic as well. I love trying to come up with really creative, unusual blends that you're not likely to find anywhere else.

image tea star anise basic black joiedetea

When and how did you start selling online?
I can't remember how I first came across Etsy - I think it must have been on a blog that I was reading - but it struck me then that it might be an opportunity for me to get some of my tea blends to market. I've been selling on Etsy since late July 2009, nearly a whole year! I've been thrilled with the response to my teas - people really seem to love them which is great. Tea is such a wonderful beverage, there is something for everyone!

Describe your store in 5 words.

image tea joiedetea relax calm de-stress spearmint lemon balm stevia

Where can we find you online?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wednesday Wonderfuls - Chainmaille

I have always been rather fascinated by chainmaille jewellery and its creation, and even more so now that I have discovered a multitude of chainmaille items which are not jewellery (nor armour, for that matter)!  Here are just some of the fun and beautiful items I found for sale on Etsy.

image romanov chainmaille bracelet red shazzabeth etsy

Monday, 5 July 2010

Facebook Stocktake Sale

vintage earring stud set leaf flower cabs by two cheeky monkeys sale image

As you all know, we are now into the new financial year (yes, there is a hint of panic in my voice as I have yet to fully organise all my paperwork for tax time).  So I am having a stocktake sale on Facebook.  I am selling off my creations which are not currently listed in any of my stores.

So if you are looking for a bargain and some exclusive and one of a kind items, visit my "Sale" photo album and grab yourself some bargains!  Thank you to those of you who have already visited my sale album - I really appreciate your support!

Details and sale items can be found on my Facebook fanpage.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Celebrating One Year on Etsy!

Today's post marks one year for me on Etsy!  It has been a rollercoaster of a ride and a steep learning curve, a curve which I am still on.  My range of creations have changed and expanded over the year and I have met so many lovely artists, crafters and handmade afficionados online in the process.
So to thank all of my supporters and to celebrate one year of intense craftiness, I am having a little giveaway!  Up for grabs is a prototype vintage art greetings card similar to the one pictured below.
You won't be receiving the pictured card, but will be able to design one to your specifications!  That's right, you can choose the colour of your card (white, light pink or light blue) and the illustration to be printed.  The backing paper will be a vintage book page, although you can have the vintage sheet music if you choose an instrument illustration.

vintage art card image two cheeky monkeys music french horn

How do you enter?  There are a few ways...

EDIT: This giveaway is now closed! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Mandatory entry:
1. Look through my store and tell me which illustration you would choose for your card and to whom you would give the card.  (Or suggest a print you would like if you don't find what you are looking for).

Extra entries:
2. Tell me which is your favourite vintage art print in my store or suggest some illustrations you would like to see instore.  
3. Publicly follow my blog.
4. Follow me on Twitter.
5. Tweet, FB or blog about this giveaway and leave me a link. 
6. Purchase anything from my store during the giveaway period and leave me a link to your transaction.

PLEASE leave each entry as a SEPARATE comment.
This giveaway is open worldwide and will run until midnight, 10th of July 2010 (Australian Eastern Standard Time) and the winner will be chosen by

Feature Friday - Hundreds of Buttons

This week's featured artist is Liz of Hundreds of Buttons.  Liz is a fellow Aussie and DUST member who, as you will soon see, creates some very colourful and cute works!  The photo is of Liz (in the middle) with two other lovely DUST members, Del (of Delicious Designz and Get SPOONED) and Samara (of Maddabling) at a recent get together.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Echuca, Victoria, a pleasant tourist destination on the Murray River.  I have recently finished full time primary school teaching and now work "on call" between trips and holidays!

Describe yourself in 5 words.
5 words which have been used to describe me are: calm, thoughtful, frugal, level headed.

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
About 2 years ago friends had a go at making a button necklace, and on a weekend away, showed how it was done.  I just kept on fiddling with buttons as something to keep me occupied while football or cricket were on TV.  It's surprising how many bracelets can be made during a test match!  Button necklaces filled the lounge so to clear them I set up my online etsy and madeit shops.  Button flowers began as a sideline and they have been quite popular sellers I resist using anything other than buttons but occasionally I will add materials for effect.

And since you have managed to answer my next two questions as well, he he, let's move on to five words which describe your store.
Buttons, intriguing, surprising, handmade, fun.

Where can we find you online?
You can also find Hundreds of Buttons on Flickr and Picasa.

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