Tuesday, 30 March 2010

My Latest Op Shop Find (aka My Love of Vintage Books)

I mentioned in my last blog post that I love to go op shopping (that's thrift shopping for the non-Aussies) and that I love to find vintage books.  So today's post is all about my latest find and some of the uses I have for vintage books.

Miss 4's kindergarten is closely situated to a small shopping precinct and I am constantly there for extra groceries when I pick her up from kinder.  There are also two op shops in this area, both of which I love to visit.  On my most recent kindergarten pick up, I spotted this amazing encyclopaedia in one of the shops.

I browsed through the pages and fell in love!  I bought it, of course, and took it home for further inspection.  It was published in early 1939 and is entitled The Modern Reference Encyclopaedia: Illustrated (the "modern" bit gave my husband and I a little laugh).


It has over 1000 pages of information, fantastic illustrations on almost every page and 51 sepia-coloured photos of prominent people and places at the time (sorry, I forgot to get a scan of one of these).  It even has a short dictionary of Aboriginal words and their meanings and areas of use, a printed world clock telling one the time around the world when it is midday in Melbourne and Sydney, information on world currencies and monetary conversion rates and a short survey of Australia's population numbers (just under 6.9 million at the time of printing; it's now just over 22 million, yikes).  Oh, and for all the cricket fans out there, let's not forget the three pages chronicling the results of Australia vs. England in Test match cricket between 1876 and 1938!

One of the many beautiful illustrations in the encyclopaedia.

So why do I purchase vintage books (besides the fact that they are beautiful and fun to look through)?  Firstly, I have found them to be very handy photography props for my product photos on Etsy, although I probably don't utilise them enough for this purpose.  I have also found them to be great for upcycling in my craft work, but I do double check that I am not cutting up a world heritage tome of renown first!  One of the things I love to create with pages from vintage books is vintage-look wall art inspired by blogger Mrs Limestone.  My somewhat boring main toilet is now a little more interesting after the addition of two such works to the walls (I used vintage illustrations of seashells for these).  I also recently made one to give to my husband's great aunt as part of her 90th birthday present (see below).  Edit: I gave in to all your positive comments and have started selling my vintage wall art creations in my Etsy store too!
Vintage illustration of tulips printed on a dictionary page defining the word "tulip".

Recent customers to my store will also notice that I am now using pages of vintage books as part of my packaging.  I use pages to make small envelopes for the jewellery pieces I sell and I like to stamp or print vintage or vintage-style illustrations onto them as well.  And finally, I find that shapes cut from vintage pages add great interest to my paper craft creations when teamed with plain or handmade coloured paper.

I hope my rather long and rambling post hasn't bored you to tears, but hopefully this will help my readers to see just why I love finding old and vintage books so much.  Do you love vintage books too?  If you do, I would love to hear about how you use them in your craft, or if you simply admire them and use them to beautify your bookshelf.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Circle of Friends Award

I recently received a "The Circle of Friends Award" from my fellow Aussie and jeweller, Jules, of Black Heart Jewellery.  I "met" Jules through my participation in DUST, an Australian Etsy team.  The necklace below is my favourite piece in her store!

Now, for the ‘rules’ for accepting this award:

Create the circle by sharing 5 things I love to do!
Here are 5 random things I love to do:
1. I love to go op shopping (thrift shopping) and hunt for crockery, vintage books, lace, doilies and fabric to upcycle.
2. I love to play the computer games that come with my computer.  Yes, I know, I'm very sad, ha ha ha.
3. I love to sit in my garden and read or make jewellery while my children run around and work off their energy.
4. I love to bake.  Simple cakes, muffins and biscuits are what I make most often as my girls love these treats and can "help" me out (they are pretty good with cookie cutters thanks to their playdough exploits).
5. I love to sing!  I often sing along to the radio or whichever CD is playing and, rather embarrassingly, I sometimes sing conversations to people (mostly my children, LOL).  I also love to sing at church, it's like being in a huge choir (I miss being in a choir). 

Pass the award on to 5 bloggers whom I would love to learn more about!
Julie from julieblanchette

Autumn from The Paper Couturiere 

Shannon from Baruch's Lullaby

Sasha from Sasha Sews

Friday, 26 March 2010

Feature Friday - Melanie Cook

My very first feature Friday is of an artist whom I "met" through the Australian Etsy team, DUST.  In fact, Melanie, who runs the cheekily-named store wiccked (which is full of an eclectic mix of beautiful work), is one of our DUST team administrators.  I adore Melanie's paintings, they are so colourful and so detailed!  Here is what she had to say about herself and her Etsy store:

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Alexandra Hills, a bayside suburb South East of Brisbane, in the Redlands, with a husband, two dogs, three cats, numerous birds and numerous fish.  Bayside, unfortunately, doesn't mean that I live near the sea.  Our bay - Redland Bay - is fringed with mudflats.
I haven't had a day job for almost 7 years, and in the two years prior to that I did work briefly, part time.  I worked in IT.  Computers are still a big part of my life, and I'm always messing around with geek stuff, as well as all of the other art stuff I do.  Even though I don't have a day job, I wouldn't say I'm a full time artist either - I should be, but I'm not that disciplined! 

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Creative, honest, optimistic, earthish, me.
When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I've been doing it all my life!  When I was little I used to scrounge anything at all to draw or paint on - including the cardboard from the inside of a new shirt when my Dad got one!  And the medium has never mattered.  I've always been quite happy to create with anything, pencil, paint, shells, rubbish, fabric, clay.... anything at all.
What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I create all sorts of things, from jewellery, paintings and quilts, to hand bound books.  I love to work with gemstones, silverclay, water colours, fabrics and fibres - I'm a colour and texture junkie.  I'm not really big on knitting, yet I have quite a yarn stash.  I can't resist those gorgeous colours and textures!

When and how did you start selling online?
I think I probably started selling online around three years ago.  I started off with my own website, selling hand made soap, lip balms, cards... and expanded to jewellery, dropped the soaps and balms, kept the cards, jewellery and hand stitched tarot bags.  My daughter and a friend used to sell their work through my online shop too.  It became very hard to keep going with a shop that got very little traffic, then I had a problem with my site that I couldn't fix, so I started selling on Etsy, and gradually moved all of my stuff over there and closed down my own site.

Describe your store in 5 words
Eclectic.  Bright.  Fun.  Inspired by nature. Wiccked  (how could I not say that?!)

Where can we find you online? 

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Wishlist Wednesday With a Difference...

Every Christmas and on birthdays my family and I like to joke about who is going to receive a pig or a goat that year.  No, we don't live on farms and we're not into "alternative" pets, the joke stems from the way my dad advertised a charitable cause at church one Christmas.
While I LOVE to receive presents for my birthday, at Christmas time and generally all year round (and who doesn't?), I often need to be reminded that, living in Australia, I am very blessed with so many material possessions.  Therefore, this week's Wishlist Wednesday highlights some charitable "gifts" people can purchase which help those in need in areas dear to my heart.

Piglet from World Vision (I couldn't resist, he he)

Sewing Machine from Compassion Australia

Village Health Worker from Tear Australia

Monday, 22 March 2010

On the hunt for a craft table...

Anyone who has been to my house will attest to the fact that my poor dining table is rarely used for eating/entertaining because it is usually covered in craft supplies of all sorts and various works in progress!  The spare room/computer room is also scattered with my craft supplies and after tripping over my boxes one too many times, my dear husband declared that enough was enough, I had to go and buy a craft table and cupboard.

At the time, those were sweet words to my ears, but after just one day of table hunting, I'm not so sure any more.  Finding a table that is a) within our budget, b) large enough for my sewing machine and my beading accoutrements but doesn't take over the room and c) has the requisite number of drawers and storage areas is turning out to be no mean feat!

I'm currently considering the first two desks which aren't gorgeous but are functional and affordable, and dreaming about the last desk which is not affordable and probably not very functional as a craft table.

Chicago Desk from Officeworks

Metropolis Desk from Officeworks
Chippendale Desk from Cottage and Manor

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Sneak Peeks and Works in Progress

I have been toying with the idea of making a line of girls' jewellery and accessories due to the number of positive comments I receive when people see the pieces I have created for my own daughters.  Because my girls love matryoshkas and dolls of all kinds, I thought I would kick off this new line with some matryoshka-themed pieces.

A sneak peek of the charms I'll be using in my children's line of jewellery

A completed "Birdie Babushka Bracelet" to be seen soon in my Etsy store.

I plan to focus on bracelets and necklaces to begin with, but I hope to eventually create a line of hair accessories too (although many of my current hair accessories are suitable for children and teens).

As for my jewellery aimed at "big girls", I have been experimenting with large acrylic flower cabochons (as seen in the Rosita Necklace I made in my February craft swap).  I love the idea of a corsage-style bracelet and wanted to feature a large pink rose cabochon as the centrepiece of such a bracelet.

Partially completed corsage bracelet

As you can see in the picture, I decided to team the pale pink rose cabochon with peridot green Czech glass beads.  I threw in some Czech leaf beads too but I don't think this combination works.  My current thought is to remove the leaf beads and just go with all peridot-coloured round beads.
What do you think?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Wishlist Wednesday

My husband had a minor panic attack the other night about not having any present ideas for my  birthday (in May) and then freaked out even more when he remembered that Mother's day is just two weeks prior to my birthday.
So I thought I would give him some hints by creating my first ever Wishlist Wednesday!  I have gone with a peacock theme as I am partial to peacocks and their beautiful feathers.  Enjoy!

Peacock feather tattoo stockings/tights by Post.

And a Peacock hang tag by Petite Paperie Shoppe as a gift card!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Fabric Cuffs - Kid's Style

In December last year I won the funky Coco fabric cuff from Leanne of Folk and have enjoyed wearing it ever since.  My girls were pretty excited about the win too since they consider my jewellery, shoes and hair accessories as fair game for them to borrow.  And they "borrow" the Coco cuff quite frequently for dress ups too!

So when I suggested to them that we spend Friday crafting, I wasn't surprised that they asked to make fabric bracelets.  Now let me stress that when my kids ask to make anything which involves sewing, I am the one who ends up doing the crafting while they design the project for me to make, ha ha.

I let the budding designers rifle through my stash of fabric, buttons and trims and this is what we ended up creating:


 The top bracelet/cuff is Miss 2's design (pink and blue are her favourite colours) and the bottom cuff is miss 4's (she has a fondness for lace and ruffles).
Unlike the gorgeous cuffs Leanne makes, the girls asked for their cuffs to be fitted with a velcro fastener because buttons were deemed to be too hard to get on and off.

Miss 2 loves her cuff so much she even wore it to church on Sunday, hee hee.  Here are the bracelets in action (please excuse the photos, it's hard to get two small children to hold still):


They may not be as elaborate as Leanne's beautiful creations, but the girls are happy with their cuffs and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

10 Facts About Me

I have enjoyed reading facts about people on their blogs so I thought I would join in the fun!  Admittedly, some of you may know some of these facts but I'm fairly sure most people don't know all of them.

1. I am a Christian and I attend Donvale Presbyterian (which is in Melbourne, obviously).
2. I have a PhD in Pathology but am really a geneticist or molecular biologist (maybe I should say "was" since I no longer work in the field).
3. My friends and family often refer to me as a "banana" because I am yellow (Chinese) on the outside and white (Western) on the inside, LOL.
4. My family moved to Australia, from Singapore, when I was 7 years old.
5. I am the biggest scaredy cat around.  ET, The Incredible Hulk and Bambi all made me cry as a child.
6. Related to point 5, I am afraid of heights.  Even sitting on a ferris wheel freaks me out.
7. At 157cm tall, I am no giant. Miss 2 is more than half my height and miss 4 reaches up to my chest; they refer to me as the "little mummy".
8. I love music and used to take piano, flute and singing lessons.  I also took trumpet lessons for a year but that was a complete mistake!
9. My all time favourite book and movie since childhood is CS Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
10. My favourite colours are purple and red.

I hope you have found it interesting learning a bit more about me.

Friday, 12 March 2010

DUST February Craft Swap

You may have noticed on my blog sidebar a small badge bearing the acronym "DUST".  For those of you who don't know, DUST is the Down Under Street Team, an all Australian team of wonderful Etsy sellers.  I have really enjoyed being a part of what is essentially a virtual craft and sellers group (although I have met some of the Melbourne team members in person)!  One of the benefits of being a part of this team is the bi-monthly craft swap organised by our team leader Julie-Ann.

I decided to participate in the January/February craft swap and was teamed up with the lovely Sash of Indigo Elephant.  Here are the lovely surprises she sent to me:

Gorgeous flower bobby pins (I have been wanting some of these for months and was wondering if I could make some for myself without burning the house down).

Beautiful beads for my stash (hee hee).

And the cutest half apron which will be well-loved and used frequently!

For those of you who are interested, here is what I sent to Sash:

Rosita Necklace

Rock Candy Necklace

I also sent some fabric fat quarters which will hopefully be useful for her creative work.
I am loving my craft swap surprises and look forward to using them - thanks so much Sash!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Hello and welcome!

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog! Yes, I have finally joined the blogging world after many prompts to do so.

As my bio states, I used to be a research scientist but am now a stay-at-home mum to my two little girls. I spend a lot of my time crafting instead of doing housework (hee hee) so I will probably post quite frequently about works in progress or crafts my girls and I have tried out.

I plan to post about anything and everything which catches my fancy so I hope there will always be something to interest the varied tastes of my readers (few though there may be at the moment).

Thanks for embarking on this journey with me!
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