Thursday, 30 September 2010

Fruity Finds

I found this week's fruit-themed Madeit creations because I have been thinking about my church's women's retreat which I am attending in mid-October.  The theme for our retreat is the "fruit of the Spirit", which aren't really "fruit" but are good personal qualities one should "grow" in one's life, but it hasn't stopped the organisers from using fruit pictures in their advertising and flyers, LOL.
Hope you enjoy this week's delicious finds!

Felt food fruit pack by Life's a Stitch

Fruity hair clips by KJP Designs

Fruit tart ring by Candy Hand

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Seven Things

Sweet Anastasia of the beautiful blog Anastasia Drawing and Dreaming recently tagged me to share seven things about myself.

I'm not sure how many random facts my readers want to know about me, but here are seven of them, he he.
1. I occasionally break out in song, musical/opera style, when conversing with people.  But only usually those with whom I feel really comfortable.
2. I loooove dance music, the kind of music which has a strong beat that I can bop to while working on housework or anything boring (like my taxes).
3. I have a special place in my heart for special needs individuals, especially children.   I am not sure why, maybe it's because I believe that God made each of us and that we are all worth something because of that.  Or it could be because they are looked down upon in so many societies and cultures, including our own.  It's probably a mix of the two reasons.
4. I have always wanted to learn the cello, but my parents didn't think paying for yet another instrument (my sister and I learned 5 different instruments between the two of us) was a wise idea.  I guess I could try learning the cello now, but I don't think I have the time to devote to practising.
5. I don't like to live in constant mess and chaos (which I quite frequently do, unfortunately), but I also don't like spending all of my time tidying and cleaning...I think there is a dichotomy here...
6. My favourite season is Spring, when the weather is generally warm, but not too hot.  I would be very happy if I could find somewhere to live where it was permanently Spring.
7. I really like doilies, but I don't use them as doilies.  I use doilies as photo props, embellishments on sewing projects and I sometimes include paper ones in my gift wrapping.

To continue the fun, I want to tag:
- Samara of Maddabling
- Dannielle of
- Amanda of Calico and Co.

Hope you all had fun reading my seven random facts!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Happy Birthday Miss Cheeky Monkey Number One!

Well, if it was hard for me to believe that my youngest baby is now three, it is even harder for me to fully comprehend that my oldest cheeky monkey is five years old and getting ready for school next year!  We have had a manic weekend celebrating the birthday of our cheeky monkey #1 (she shares her birthday with her Pa, so there is usually a lot of partying at this time of year, along with watching the AFL grand final).

Born: 10:43pm
Weight and length: 7lb 11 oz, 3.5 kg, 50.5 cm long
Current: Approximately 22kg, 115cm

Friday, 24 September 2010

Swarovskis, Sequins and More!

Many of you will know that things have been busy in Two Cheeky Monkeys world as I work on pieces for stockists (more about that in another post!), prepare for the oldest cheeky monkey's birthday and recover from a bad Spring cold.  But, do not fear, I have been slowly working on some new creations for my Etsy and Madeit stores.  And here are some sneak peeks of a few items which will be hitting my stores very soon.

The Xylona ring, which features a peridot and emerald green Swarovski flower

A new vintage art print featuring a tailor's dress form (currently sans photo mat)

The Jasminder headband, a funky combination of a vintage beaded applique and ribbon

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Two Cheeky Monkeys Packaging - What Do You Think?

Today I want to ask all of my readers a question about packaging.  It is something which I have been thinking about for some time now, because I believe that packaging of jewellery and accessories can be important to some, if not many, customers.  It is also a question of practicality, expense and time management, as I was reminded in an email article by Jess of Epheriell Designs.

A sample of the upcycled envelopes I make.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of upcycling old and unloved books into new and amazing creations.  So it only seemed natural for me to upcycle vintage book pages into cute little envelopes with which to wrap my jewellery pieces.  I package most of my products in these envelopes before wrapping in bubble wrap and placing them in a (usually padded) mailing envelope.  Some of my items, however, are too large or bulky to be wrapped in this way, such as my headbands and cuffs.  For these, and for pieces I know are being bought by or for a bride, I generally wrap in tissue paper and bubble wrap before packaging the item in a box or large padded envelope.  My reason for using my current packaging materials is that I think they accentuate the vintage-style look of my creations and, they are economical, meaning that my customers don't pay exorbitant shipping fees.

So this is where I ask for your advice.  What kind of packaging do you like to see when you open up your new jewellery or accessories purchase?  Do you like the upcycled envelopes I use, or do you find this kind of packaging a bit too kitsch for your liking?  Would you prefer your purchases to be wrapped in tissue or specialty paper?  Or are you the kind of buyer who is happy to pay extra for all out wrapping in a jewellery box complete with lots of tissue paper and a ribbon?
You can vote for your preference in the survey box in my sidebar.  If your preferred packaging method isn't included in my voting box, or you would like to expand on your vote, please feel free to leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Made in Melbourne - Madeit Finds

In the fourteen months I have been selling my handmade creations online, I have met a whole slew of amazing craftspeople, some of whom happen to live in Melbourne like I do!  Therefore, today's post highlights some of the lovely creations by just a handful of my amazing fellow Melbourne crafters and creators.

Owl and Blossom Framed Art by Dandelion Design

Tiny Sticker Set by Mich Art Photography

Fancy Dress Paper Doll Clothes by Amaria's Paper Work

Ladybugs Bib by The Cabbage Patch

Friday, 17 September 2010

Feature Friday and Special Offer - with2ns Designs

This week's featured artist has been an online friend and fellow DUST member for quite some time now.  She has a beautiful range of creations but I especially love the cute coin purses she makes!  So, without further ado, let me introduce to you Dannielle of with2ns Designs.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Dannielle Cresp and I’m 24 years old. I live on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, about an hour south of Melbourne. I am a full time creator, after completing uni last year I was able to get into the NEIS program that assists Australians wanting to start their own business both financially and with business help. It has been a fantastic help so far.

Describe yourself in five words.
Determined. Shy. Friendly. Fun-loving. Designer.

When and how did you first start crafting and creating?
I started crafting as a child. I think I was 5 or 6 when my Grandmother taught me to use her sewing machine. I continued well into my teens but stopped as school got busier. I started up again around 2009 after I found my sewing machine that was a 21st birthday gift and decided to try to make a bag from a pattern in my head. I’m not all that great at other crafts but I do enjoy the sewing machine.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I started creating bags and accessories and have now moved into wall panels as well. With the bags my favourite materials are quilting weight cotton and the magnetic snap catches. To me the magnetic snaps make bags so much easier to use in day to day situations, much better than those pesky zips!
With the wall panels, I enjoy creating them in Photoshop but I think my favourite part is the construction phase and using the electric staple gun to make the frame and mount the canvas.

When and how did you start selling online?
I started selling online on Etsy in March of 2009.  I did it to try and make a little cash whilst in my final year of uni and after I had lost my job. I enjoyed it so much I turned it into a business.

Describe your store in five words.
Bright. Eclectic. Bold. Fun. Inviting.

Who or what are the influences behind your creations?
I am influenced by the springtime; by bright and bold colours; by pop culture and by everyday life. I find the regular everyday things can be interesting if you look at them in a different way.

Where can we find you online?

SPECIAL OFFER: Dannielle is offering all Two Cheeky Monkeys readers 10% OFF until the end of October.  Please enter the code CHEEKYMONKEYS at checkout to receive your discount.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Spring Madeit Finds

I am loving that it is Spring in the southern hemisphere (even if Melbourne's weather this weeks suggests otherwise)!  So here are some beautiful spring-inspired creations on Madeit in celebration of warmer weather and gorgeous spring flowers!

Orange Bloom Fascinator by Red Zebra Designs

"Waiting" Print by Toni M Photography

Jade Garden Dress by Sweet Miss Mini

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Sewing Knots and Tails

This is the second post in my "tips and tricks" series and I have a fantastic (I think) trick to show you!  Actually, this is not my special trick, it is one I found when I stumbled on Bella Dia's great blog about a year ago.
As many of you know, I like to try my hand at sewing every now and then.  However, I have always wondered how to hide those pesky "tails" of thread you get when you knot your thread at the beginning and end of your sewing.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find THIS FANTASTIC TUTORIAL showing not only how to hide your knots when you tie off your sewing, but how to start your hand sewing or embroidery without having to tie a knot!
I have used this great trick for almost all of my sewing projects, including the "I spy" bags pictured above.  Being able to hide those tails of thread really does make a difference to the "look" of a finished project!  So tell me, have you been using this trick (or a variation of it) in your sewing projects?  Or will this trick make you feel a little more confident about trying out that sewing project you have been a bit too nervous to attempt?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Operation Christmas Child is on again!

Some of you may remember my post about the softies (plushies) I made for Operation Christmas Child ast year.  Well, today I wanted to tell my readers that OCC is up and running again in preparation for Christmas 2010.  For those of you wondering what OCC is, it is a program run each Christmas by Samaritan's Purse to provide some much-needed gifts and a smile to children living in underprivileged situations.  OCC participants are asked to fill a shoe box with brand new gifts (according to the provided guidelines) suitable for a boy or a girl within set age ranges.  These boxes are collected and then distributed to various villages in needy areas (usually those in which Samaritan's Purse have already been working to provide other basic needs such as water filters or educational improvements).

It may seem a very simple and short-term project to undertake, but I think it is a wonderful first step towards helping out those in need in other ways (such as through child sponsorship or supporting a larger project run by groups such as World Vision and TEAR).  And I have also found this to be a great project for teaching my children to count their blessings and to show generosity to others since they help me to choose gifts and pack the OCC boxes every year.
For those of my readers who are interested in participating, you can follow my link above to find more details.  Those of you who live outside of the Australia/NZ area will need to look up the OCC site for your region (I know there are US and UK OCC sites).  If you are a talented crafter, you might like to make some of the items which will be going into your box!  My only note is to be aware of which areas your OCC box may be sent.  Boxes from Australia and NZ are usually sent to countries in Asia, so I would recommend against packing items such as woollen gloves, ha ha.  This year the Australia/NZ OCC site has an exciting option for you to track the progress of your box.
If you would like to participate and cannot find the information you are looking for, please leave me a comment and I will see if I have the links you need.  And if you are participating this year, feel free to tell me about it - I get excited hearing about what others are doing!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Blue - the New Purple?

Today's post is just a short one showing off two of my newest creations.  Some of you may know that my favourite colour is purple.  I don't know what it is about purple, but I have loved that hue since I was ten years old.  But, I am noticing that a lot of my creations, especially recent ones, have featured a lot of blue beads or cabochons!  True, blue is one of the components of purple, so that could explain my penchant for creating pieces in this colour.  So let me show off two new necklaces which will be introduced to my stores soon!

A sapphire blue variation of the Water Lily necklace

A variation of the Blue Skies necklace

Neither of these necklaces have names as yet so feel free to add your suggestions to the comments below!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Bags and Purses For All Seasons

I have a penchant for bags and purses in all shapes and sizes, which led to my family referring to me as "the bag lady" when I was in my teens and twenties.  So, today I couldn't resist sharing with you some lovely bag and purse creations, all of which can be found on the Aussie handmade site, Madeit.

image selvage eco coin purse
Selvage Coin Purse by Seventh Sphere

image floral messenger bag

image nellie clutch
Nellie Clutch by som and tooby

image upstyled canvas army bag
Upstyled Canvas Army Bag by kerrishangups

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Blu Tack

Today's post is the first in what I hope will be a series of blog posts sharing tips and tricks of the trade for your various crafty endeavours.  Some of them will be my tips, others will be those I have found on other blogs and eventually I hope to have guest bloggers sharing their tips of the trade.
Now those of you who have read the post title are probably wondering how Blu Tack could possibly have any use in jewellery making (or have I been living in the dark ages and everyone already does this?)  Well, let me tell you that it has come in very handy for designing my more intricate cabochon pieces!

While I can easily mentally visualise how many of my designs will look before I put the required supplies together, I find that pieces which contain a lot of different parts or colours are far too difficult for me to "imagine".  For those pieces, I like to lay out my beads, cabochons or other supplies in a rough semblance of the final product before I give myself the "go ahead" to create a piece.  And this is where my trusty Blu Tack comes in!
Pieces, such as the Hanako brooch above, which are composed of lots of small cabochons are pretty fiddly to put together and the slightest bump can lead to tears and hair pulling when you have disrupted your nascent design for the tenth time in as many minutes.  So I like to use Blu Tack to hold my cabs in place while I am planning my design layout, allowing me to easily change placement of any element without the risk of knocking off other elements.  Blu Tack is also handy for simpler pieces, such as the Elysia cuff (below) and Vivienne necklace, which by their shape make it impossible to balance loose cabs while I decide which design works best.
I hope this funny little tip helps you in your creations.  Or do you already use this cheap and handy item in your creating?  If you do, please feel free to share your Blu Tack tips with all the Two Cheeky Monkeys readers!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Tutorial Fun - Teacup Candles

image candle in porcelain bowl teacup candle

After hearing about all the teacups Jess of Epheriell bought at a jumble sale for her succulent garden, I was inspired (actually, challenged, he he) to blog about gorgeous, and practical, teacup candles.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I am going to share the tutorials which inspired me to create my own teacup candles.

image teacup candle vanilla

For my candles I used a mix of orphan teacups and small porcelain bowls which I found at my local op shops.  And rather than going out and buying a whole candlemaking kit, I re-melted vanilla candles which I had stored in my "blackout" kit.  So, if you have any beautiful orphan teacups that are feeling a little unloved, why not try one of these tutorials?  I made a bunch of these teacup candles last year and found them to be great for small Christmas presents and teacher appreciation gifts!

image teacup candles design sponge tutorial

image teacup lights candles martha stewart tutorial

Friday, 3 September 2010

Feature Friday and Special Deal - Jewels by Trish

This week's featured artist is Trish who is the creative force behind the beautiful store, Jewels by Trish.  I "met" Trish through the Etsy CAST team and I think she uses such beautiful beads in her  pretty creations!  So let's see some of her lovely work and find out a little about her life and inspirations.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am married with two beautiful children.  My daughter is 13 & my son is 5.  I teach 1st grade at a private school where both my children attend.  I love teaching - first graders are amazing!! I also love being able to be home on all the holidays and all summer with my babies!   It’s the best!
Some of my hobbies are reading, riding horses, occasionally scrapbooking, and of course collecting beads and gems and turning them into beautiful creations!  I am also a proud member of the HHU Team~Hearts and Hands United and the CAST Team~Christian Artists Street Team!!

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Loyal, compassionate, hard working, kind, strong willed.

When and how did you first start crafting/creating? Oh wow, I feel like I have been crafting or creating since I was little.  My mom and my grandmother both loved to make things with their hands.  My grandmother made Christmas ornaments with beads, sequins, cloth, etc.  My mom sewed and cross stitched.  I started off in 5th grade making latch hook rugs.  I then moved on to sewing in high school and cross stitching.  I cross stitched for years and then went several years without crafting anything.
I started making jewelry about 2 years ago.  My husband bought me a ridiculously expensive pearl necklace for my birthday.  A friend of mine, who was already making jewelry, told me that I could have made the same necklace at a fraction of the cost!  I bought an el cheapo kit to see if I liked it and fell head over heals in love with the work!!

What do you create and what are your favorite materials with which to work? I make handmade bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. I love working with crystals, pearls, Swarovski, sterling silver and gemstones. 

When and how did you start selling online?
I started selling on Etsy in December of 2009.  I was already participating in a jewelry making forum where people share ideas on techniques and marketing.  Several of the people had successful Etsy studios so I decided to take the plunge!  I have met some really great friends here on Etsy!!!

Describe your store in 5 words.
Classy, modern, unique, bold, affordable.

Who or what are the influences behind your creations?
The beads actually inspire my creations.  I usually see something I just have to touch and feel, and then I start pulling components to go with it.  I keep playing with the design until it speaks to me, “Ohhhh!!! Ahhh!! Now that’s pretty!”

My favourite - the Amethyst Scroll Ring

Where can we find you online?

Deal alert!!!
Trish is generously offering a 30% discount to all Two Cheeky Monkeys readers.  That's right - 30%!  Simply mention the code “blogcheeky30” to receive your discount.  But hurry, because this offer is valid for two weeks only - until the 17th of September.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Pretty Finds - Butterflies

Both my girls are big fans of butterflies, especially Miss 3, so today's blog post is full of sweet butterfly creations I found while browsing Madeit.  Enjoy!

image butterfly sleep mask eye mask

image butterfly tee t-shirt wide wing

image beautiful butterflies card roses

image paper butterfly hanging mobile

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Two Cheeky Monkeys News!

Things have been pretty busy here in Two Cheeky Monkeys world (otherwise known as Melbourne, LOL) and there are a few reasons why...
As you may remember, in a previous post I alluded to some opportunities for me to see Two Cheeky Monkeys creations sold in stores other than my own.  So today I am announcing two new stockists!

image of gretel ring flower cabochon on brass filigree
Gretel ring

The first stockist is the online store named Robin Street Market.  They are a Melbourne-based company who stock beautiful handmade creations from artists based all over the world.  There are amazing creations from Europe, Asia, North America and Oceania - wow!  And now, they are stocking jewellery and hair accessories created by me!

image of sewing machine art print vintage dictionary
Vintage sewing machine art print

The second stockist is a bricks and mortar store in north Queensland named Fabric Fusion, which is run by a friend I met online through the Etsy DUST team.  As the name implies, Fabric Fusion sells gorgeous fabrics and sewing supplies.  You can also find some gorgeous handmade soaps and stationery in their store and now you will also be able to find sewing-themed vintage art prints created by me!  If you can't get all the way to northern Queensland for your fabric and sewing needs, you can also find Fabric Fusion online and my vintage art prints in both of my online stores.

image of chantal earrings glass pearls rhinestones
Chantal earrings

And finally, one more piece of exciting (for me at least) news to share with you all.  I was recently commissioned to create a bracelet to match the Chantal earrings pictured above.  They had been purchased by an Irish bride-to-be for her bridesmaid and she wanted a matching bracelet too.  I had fun creating the Chantal bracelet, a new style for me.  I can't wait to hear back from the bride-to-be (she is getting married at the end of September) and see her gorgeous wedding photos!  In the mean time, I am debating whether I should make this style of bracelet a permanent fixture in my stores.  What do you think?

image chantal bracelet montana blue pearls rhinestones