Wednesday, 30 September 2009

A Trip to the Library

At the moment, I am wanting to improve my drawing skills — essentially get back to basics. So last week I took a stroll down to my local library and picked up the following books:

I highly recommend these books to anyone wanting to teach themselves to draw, or even to  understand the basics of graphic design.

Something Nice

Thanks to
Her Name Was Lola, I have come across a lovely site known as Operation Nice.

Operation Nice was set up by Melissa Morris Ivone, as a motivational platform for us all to take the time to be, quite simply — nice!

Being nice is such a simple thing, but living in a busy age it is easy to forget to slow down to smell the posies. Making the effort to be nice can come in the form of smiling at someone, asking about their day, patience to learner drivers, offering a seat to a pregnant woman, and so forth. And the rewards of being nice are great, because you walk away from these situations feeling happier yourself. So just imagine how euphoric you would feel at the end of the day, it you did one nice thing after another. Then of course if you believe in karma, well you know how that all goes. Think about it.

So now I am going to follow Operation Nice, because I know how easy it can be to forget even these words. But with Operation Nice not far from my thoughts I will remember to make an effort, and be nice.

Follow this link to see where Operation Nice began.

To find out more about Melissa Morris Ivone, you can visit her crafty, graphic design website —

What's Hot + What's Not

This is a response to Claire's Hot + Not list.

When it is hot:
  1. We have been having lovely weather in Victoria the past few days. A combination of rain and sunshine. Perfect.
  2. Pip organising a doll collection for Mirabel. And yes, I have already made a donation.
  3. Meeting Gemma Jones at her photo exhibition last week. She is a darling lady.
  4. Thinking about future craft projects... I want to make Dad a panda doll. Also a friend is about to do her final year 12 exams, so am going to prepare for her a treat — chocolate and a homemade 'something'.
  5. Seeing my garlic beginning to sprout after planting.

When it is not:
  1. The hurricane that has affected the Philipines. Never good news when natural disasters hit town.
  2. Poor baby Gwen having trouble sleeping during the day, possibly from teething.
  3. Getting a roast chicken for dinner and discovering that it is so small it'll only last one night.
  4. Sitting down on the toilet and then discovering someone hasn't replaced the toilet paper.
  5. Still waiting for all the other seeds that I have planted to sprout. It is a long wait.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Something Funny

Last Friday evening I began reading an art book titled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. That night I managed to read a few chapters, and even read aloud some passages to my husband as he played his computer games. I also managed to fit in some of the drawing tutorials from the book. With all this drawing related stimulation in my head, and reading about both hemispheres of my brain, it was no surprise what happened next...

It was late by the time I went to bed, but when I drifted off to sleep, my mind was still whirling about all this right brain-left brain material. So when at midnight, my husband got up to take care of something, I sat bolt upright like a vampire and declared that 'the right brain is better than the left brain'. I am told that I looked precisely like The Doctor (David Tennant of Dr Who) at that moment. I then hit the pillow and was asleep straight away.

The next morning, I had a feeling that something interesting happened in my sleep, so I asked my husband about it. And that is when I learnt what happened.

Drawing On

This past weekend I have been practicing my drawing and perception skills. By following the tutorials in a book titled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I have been able to turn off the left hemisphere in my brain, and let the right side (the non-verbal) take control of my artwork. This then results in a much better visual outcome. 

Thursday, 24 September 2009

My Creative Space...

This week I finished crafting finger puppets for baby Gwen. Which came out better than I had anticipated.

This week I also did some gardening. Well actually, when I say 'some' I really mean 'a whole lot of it'. My back courtyard had turned into something out of A Secret Garden. So to not put the book to shame I am saving it - cleaning up the leaves, and replanting. I'll take a photo when satisfied with the work.

The next few days I intend to really focus on my drawing, so I shall take a mini break from the sewing.

To see other fab creative spaces visit Kootoyoo via this link.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

It's a Girl

It is nice for a change to read positive celebrity news...

One of my favorite it couples Sarah Michelle and Freddie Prinze Jr now have a baby girl. Sarah Michelle gave birth to Charlotte Grace Saturday 19th September.

Hip-Hip-Hooray for the Prinze family!!!

I Went to the Circus

Well actually, it was Arthur's Circus, a quaint, nostalgic shop in North Melbourne. I went to the opening night of an art exhibit titled Milkbar's, Laundromats & Urban Beauty, which was co-curated by Gemma Jones and Natalie Jeffcott.

The exhibit explores faded memories of the past as they appear in the urban environment. So between the shop itself and the exhibit there was no doubt of the nostalgia I felt, when walking around looking at everything. I recall the milkbars of my childhood with fondness, because if you were really lucky, you would walk out with a little paper bag filled with sweet candy. On truly hot days you could have a paddle pop icecream - my favourite was rainbow flavour. And when you were in need of a fast snack, it was a can of orange soft drink and a sausage roll.

Another noticeable name included in the exhibit was Eamo whose polaroid work was on display. As well as being a photographer, he is foremost an Illustrator, whose style is nostalgic for the Australia that we knew in the 80s. You can visit his blog here.

I spoke with the lovely Gemma Jones, for a bit. Her photographic work was on floor tiles. For the past year or so this has been her photographic passion. 

Baby Gwen, came with me to the exhibit and also enjoyed herself. She got to look at lots of vintage toys, and new homemade, and knitted toys. There was a toy tree house that was just so. Why don't toy companies make product like that anymore?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Grace Gichuhi & Teresia Ndikaru Muturi

This year I became a first time mother of a darling baby girl. And my perspective of the world has greatly changed because of Gwen. When I hear about injustice done to other females, and by their own 'flesh & blood', I cannot fathom the heartlessness of people, who would treat their daughters like cattle. 

Today I read a blog entry over at Pocket Carnival written by Penny Eager, which drew my attention to a news article about two Kenyan girls (Grace Gichuhi & Teresia Ndikaru Muturi) trying, with no success, to achieve refugee status in Australia. If sent back to Kenya these two girls face forced genital mutilation.

When a single voice joins a collective we are more likely to be heard. You can send the following message to both Senator Chris Evans (Minister for Immigration & Citizenship) and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:

Dear Senator Evans/Prime Minister,
I have just heard of the case of Grace Gichuhi & Teresia Ndikaru Muturi, two women from Kenya who have been denied status as refugees.
I believe that the torturous practise of genital mutilation is abhorrent, and that to deny these women refugee visas is to take a weak stance on this issue.
I urge you to intervene in this case, not only to help these women, but also to send a clear message to Kenya that Australia does not condone these practises.
[insert your name]

Monday, 21 September 2009

Busy, Not Forgotten

No! I am not neglecting my blog. I have just been super occupied by other things.

  • I am still trying to finish making finger puppets. I only have two to go. I will show a group photo when completed.
  • Today I decided to clean up the back court yard. It is starting to look like the forest that grows in Max's bedroom (Where the Wild Things Are). And while this is a good look for a picture book, not so in a real life courtyard that already has finite space. I plan to pretty it up in the coming weeks. If it goes well I'll take a photo. But if it doesn't work out I will probably just not mention it again, and pretend the back space doesn't exist. ;)

Friday, 18 September 2009

International Women's Development Agency

Let me tell you a little known fact about myself...

In 1996 I participated in a production of an Australian Community Service Announcement. The CSA was for a non-profit organisation known as International Women's Development Agency (aka IWDA)

I was only 16 years of age when the CSA was filmed, (half my current age) and I remember that afternoon so clearly. That was the day I came down with the flu. It was also the day that I was involved in something important and also had the fit of the giggles for the most of the filming process. The only evidence I have left of that day is a letter of thanks from IWDA plus a screenshot of the televised CSA.

That is me, on the LHS (stage right).

Now, you might well be asking, 'what is it that the IWDA does?' Good question, now the IWDA already have a good answer:
International Women's Development Agency (IWDA) is an Australian non-profit organisation that creates positive change for women and their communities.*

Next question. So why does the IWDA support women? Simply put, the world is not always a balanced equal opportunity place. And often, in environments where education can be lacking there is a high degree of injustice directed at females. IWDA carefully  prepares programs for international women living in impoverished conditions, providing them with skills and a means to pass on their abilities and knowledge to help the rest of the community.

Looking at the IWDA website, I can see there are a number of different ways that Australian's can be involved in supporting these programs, whether it be through volunteer work, hosting a charity event or even bequesting, just to name a few possibilities. 

To find out more about IWDA you can visit their website:

* Quote referenced from the IWDA website - Home page.

Have Sewing Machine... Will Sew

When life throws you a mean curve ball, just pull out the old sewing machine, make yourself the sexiest outfit you can, then show the world whose in control.

Don't ya just love Selina Kyle's apartment. I love Tim Burton's visually imaginative films, and this scene is so theatrical.

This Little Piggy

Finger puppet project in progress: This is the second finger puppet, just completed. And it is a... yep, you guessed it - a little piggy.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

My Creative Space...

The weather here in Melbourne is Suddenly Spring. It was only a week ago that I was freezing my toes off. Now I've got to trade my sweats for slightly cooler garments. Which means I'll need to make myself some shorts.

On Tuesday I began making a finger puppet collection, for my baby Gwen. Follow this link to see my first creation.

Also I received word from Katharine, of Woolly Wotnots, that she had received the Japanese doll collection I had crafted as a Pay It Forward project. Follow this link to see Katharine's blog entry on the topic.

Earlier this week I delivered to Meet Me At Mike's my contribution to "Softies for Mirabel". I designed and had the doll made in just under a week. Not a bad effort, I think. The doll is named Genevieve, and to find out more about her creation, simply follow this link.

Piper the cat is asleep (not so creative I guess).

I am currently reading "New Moon" for the second time. Now that is a hard read because I will be feeling Bella's anguish all over again. But I can't help myself. No, I can't stop myself. I am head over heels caught up in the world of the Cullens family.

Shimmy on over to Kootoyoo to see other great creative spaces.

I ♥ Japan

Today I have the warm fuzzies. You know that lovely feeling in the pit of stomach, when you've eaten something lovely or someone has said something nice about you? Well, in this instance it is because I received a lovely email from Katharine of Woolly Wotnots fame...

Dear Melissa,
Today, I received a most wonderful surprise. I couldn't believe it. Your very generous and most amazing pay it forward parcel arrived today.
Thank you so so much.
I was absolutely overwhelmed by what you had made me. You are so kind. So much work and care.
I love love love the Japanese dolls.
How did you know I like so much, Japanese things? :)
I've really been interested in Japan culture, ever since reading Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Holden. Have you read the book? I recommend it as a top read.
The presentation with the compartments is so sweet and I love the little carpet they sit on and all the individual hair styles. They look fantastic.
I will treasure your gift forever.
It is so unique and special.
Thank you also for the zine and the little cute notebook.
I have enjoyed reading your zine and I'm going to think of something special for the notebook - perhaps some special poems.
Thank you again.
You're so lovely and kind.

Katharine, I am so please that you like the pay it forward gift. May the rest of your day be as lovely.

The First Puppet

Following yesterday's project entry... Meet the first finger puppet, which I had designed and sewn yesterday afternoon (as modeled in the above photo).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Finger Puppet Project

This week I am going to make some finger puppets to entertain my baby Gwen. And the above sketch is a loose concept board of the sort of finger puppets I plan to make.

I am planning to make the puppets out of felt material and buttons.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Genevieve for Mirabel

Another Emjie production:

In response to Pip's call out for 'Softies for Mirabel', I designed a doll, named Genevieve. See below some photos of the process and the finished, final product.

My original concept sketches

A dress that wasn't used. The dress was fine, but ultimately didn't match the body.

And here are the photos of the completed Genevieve...

Now it is time for a visit to Meet Me At Mike's.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Are we eating tonight?

I am stitching away,
Not noticing time slip away,
Holy crap! Look at the time,
Do I plan to start dinner today?

Trades, Needlecraft & Stamps

As part of a trade (organised by fellow blogger, Claire of, today I received by post a massive package wrapped in brown paper (I love it when things are wrapped in brown paper... I can't explain why).  It is a 480 page book of glorious needlecrafts. This is a fantastic reference guide for me because I do want to enhance the things I sew by adding little extra decorating details.

As an added bonus, I do collect stamps. So I got to add these New Zealand stamps into my collection.

In return for this fabulous book which Claire sent me, she will be receiving one of my signature Hoo Owls.

Thank you Claire!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

My Creative Space...

Okay, so I have been recovering, first from tendonitis in the feet, which then turned into a yucky head cold. And today is the first time that I have woken feeling really, really normal. To celebrate I did an early morning gym routine.

And now what will I do next?

Well... the other day I picked up this fabric which I hope to make into a cute little skirt with.

I also got my hands on a french knitter, with which I plan to have endless fun with. I haven't had one of these since I was a little kid. I wonder what sort of things I can make with this. Does anyone have good ideas for me?

Lately I have also been doing some photo restoration work. Plus I am giving some thought into my next doll design which will be for "Softies for Mirabel".

To see other great creative spaces visit Kootoyoo via this link.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Love Letter

Here is a lovely film to watch on a rainy Spring evening - The Love Letter. It stars the delicious Kate Capshaw and hilarious Ellen DeGeneres. It is the perfect thing to watch when you have a head cold or even if you don't have a head cold. Just watch it coz you love a romantic comedy, without the cheese.

I thought this was lovely...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Gwen's Seamstress Legacy

What isn't there to like about Gwen Stefani? In person she is a well mannered girl from Orange County, who can then transform into an absolute firestorm on stage. She is a talented songbird. A mother of two who is proving that it is possible to still wear a mini skirt after the age of thirty (thank you very much). Plus she has managed to stake a claim in the fashion world (no easy task).

It can be said that Gwen's interest in fashion has been nurtured on two fronts. Most talked about of course being her collaboration with stylist Andrea Lieberman. But let's not forget Gwen's genetic legacy... her Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother were all seamstresses.

"My Great Grandma used to start on New Year's day, which was her birthday, and she would sew every person in her family a quilt and, like, flannel pajamas and then the next Christmas you'd get it."
- Gwen

So it was not uncommon for Gwen's clothes to have come straight off the domestic sewer, rather than off the rack. In fact Gwen herself was known for sewing her own costumes in the early days of No Doubt.

"Everyone knew not to walk in my room without shoes on 'cause of the pins."
- Gwen

Monday, 7 September 2009

Something Special from Moondoonie

After spending the weekend trying to recover from a nasty head cold I was well treated today when I checked the mail. I had received a lovely pair of homemade earrings from none other than Moondoonie, a jewelry maker whom hails from the US.

Moondoonie, aka Rhonda, was hosting a giveaway a little while ago, and I was a winner of her Purple Haze earrings.

Moondoonie is a talented lady with a wide variety of skills, including the making of:
  • handmade jewelry
  • original stained glass
  • hand painted furniture
  • clip-0n earrings
  • magnets
  • & pendants
To see more of her lovely designed pieces visit Moondoonie's Etsy shop over at

Alternatively you can visit Moondoonie's blog over at

And what does Moondoonie have to say about the origins of that name?... "Moondoonie" is a name that was given to me by my uncle when I was a little girl. I embrace it because it symbolizes my creative spirit and my individuality. Moondoonie Designs is my line of unique jewelry, stained glass and painted furniture. My inspiration comes from nature...

Thank you Moondoonie! I love my new earrings. ;)