Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hand printed pure linen tea towels

It's finally here... the moment I start to emerge from behind-the-scenes and begin to slowly unveil all that I have been working on. The past day or so I've been busy updating my flickr photostream and just finished sharing over on my facebook page... but it will take a while for me to get through it all so stay tuned because there's lots more to come.

I'm starting today with my tea towel range:

'firewheel' design in Darah Red on White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen.
'firewheel' design in Burnt Orange on White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen.
Above: Some of you will already be familiar with this design as I debuted it in October last year. It is currently only available in the tea towels but will one day appear as a repeat pattern on fabric meterage / yardage as well as limited production off-the-shelf homewares and gift ware. This design was inspired by the stunning 'firewheel' flower I found in my mum's garden.

'flower of life' in Aqua on White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen.
Above: This design is also available as fabric meterage / yardage and limited production off-the-shelf homewares. The repeat design is printed on the beautiful 9oz hemp / organic cotton that I have used previously but this time the base cloth is Silver Ash... a lovely light silvery colour (I'll be sharing the yardage here later on). This design was inspired by ancient sun symbols... and I gave you a little insight into the design process back here.

'grevillea' in yellow on White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen
Above: This design was inspired by a beautiful Grevillea Moonlight growing in my back garden. Admittedly I already shared this design back here and spoke of the possibility of a grevillea design even further back, here and then more recently again here. It is currently only available in the tea towel design but will eventually make its way onto meterage / yardage as a repeat pattern and then onto limited production off-the-shelf homewares and gift ware.

'honeycomb' in Sumadra blue on White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen.
Above: The 'honeycomb' design was inspired by the plight of the honey bee as a result of the Varroa destructor mite that is causing bee colonies around the world to collapse. Australia was the last frontier for healthy bees but I believe it hit our shores c2009 as seen in the documentary Honey Bee Blues: This design is available in the tea towels (pictured) as well as fabric meterage / yardage and limited production off-the-shelf homewares.

'wattle' in Charcoal on White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen.
Above" The 'wattle' design was inspired by a beautiful coastal wattle growing in my front garden, in the early stages of bloom. This design is currently only available in the tea towels (pictured) and an eco-friendly greeting card but will debut one day as a repeat pattern for fabric meterage / yardage.

'wattle bird in the bottle brush' in White, Oatmeal and Natural pure linen.
Above: Last but not least in this round of tea towel posts is the 'wattle bird in the bottle brush' design. This design was inspired by one of my all time favourite birds that lived in my garden and used to play dive-bomb and chasing games with my beautiful little cat Max. This design is available in the tea towels (pictured) as well as fabric meterage / yardage and limited production off-the-shelf homewares and gift ware.

All the tea towels are now available to purchase through my Bluecaravan store and I'm working hard to get the other products listed and available so stay tuned :)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Turning skills into economic opportunity

I've never been to the United States but I know I will get there one day... so I don't know much about it and in particular about Ilinois... but when I came across this mini-documentary on Etsy I was quite excited and had to share.

'Rockford is a city of 150,000 people, located two hours west of Chicago. Formerly a manufacturing hub, its keystone employers have left the city, ushering in a wave of high unemployment. One of the benefits of having a strong manufacturing history, however, is that many residents already have skills in the arts (such as watchmaking and furniture making) that were once the backbone of the local economy. Mayor Morrissey is an enthusiastic advocate of giving Rockford residents the tools that they need to turn these skills into economic opportunity and we’re eager to support this vision.'

Isn't it a great story! Thank you Mayor Larry Morrissey for your insight and for initiating this and I only hope other Mayors and community leaders will follow your example. Thank you Etsy for seeing the opportunity and running with it.

My favourite human-interest stories are those when the human spirit triumphs over hardship... or more so when people find solutions to problems instead of being victims and waiting for someone to rescue them... because we should all be like this and more so now that the global economy is in the state it is in... and that we are facing Peak Oil and really need to start changing the way we do things (we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels which in turn are what enabled industrial growth on an epic scale in both industry and agriculture). So when people find innovative ways to resurrect economies I'm all ears. We need to stop waiting for the government to find solutions as often these solutions are the result of being 'in bed' with all the wrong people...

I love that Mayor Morrissey made that connection between what Illinois used to be and what it could be again, that he recognised what the economy was once based on and even though he didn't think it could be like that again he gave it a shot, saying "it was also a great chance to teach entrepreneurship to a city like ours that had been, in so many respects, waiting for someone else to save us... and my deep belief is that we've got to save ourselves. It's not going to be the State or the Federal Government, it's got to be what we can do as a community."

This really feeds into my overall theory, the one I shared at length here recently... and also loosely fits into my own journey with this business of mine. By this I mean that I can see the difference of starting a creative business now compared to say around 2007 when the whole handmade thing was still very new to the www. A great little video I saw yesterday, an interview with Heather Moore of Skinny laMinx, proved this as she said she was fortunate to have started very early on in the piece when blogging, in the creative sector, was still quite new and meant that landscape wasn't as populated as it is today. Today it is really hard to be seen, to stand out because the handmade community just went 'boom'... platforms like Etsy have fostered that growth and I really see this big shift by countless people around the world to move back towards a simpler life - hopefully one where the planet, humans and animals are all carefully considered and treated with respect.

Seeing Mayors like Larry Morrissey embrace this is proof that this handmade economy is not one to dismiss. I said in my own post how the success of projects and initiatives like Renew Newcastle and all the others that have since started up are also proof that this is something that is not going to go away but instead will only get stronger. Especially since, here in Australia, we also have local councils and now even developers working alongside organisations such as Renew Newcastle as they want to breathe life into empty shops and deserted shopping villages and centres which in turn revives local communities and has many other benefits that feed off this.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Chair love and stumbling blocks...

LOVE this chair in the latest issue of Vogue Living Australia. It's from Hermon & Hermon but I can't find any details about it on their website and there is no reference in the magazine ad...

Although I'm not overly taken with the shape I'm loving how the fabric is pieced together, the use of different fabrics and I simply adore velvet! Perhaps I like it because it has a reference to what I've been busy with:

This is my 'corduroy pathway' design (mixed in with my 'flower of life' design), paired with a beautiful aqua cotton velvet. (The H&H chair is actually more aqua in the magazine but didn't translate so well with the scan).

You will be seeing this image and many more very soon as part of what I have been keeping myself busy with behind-the-scenes.

I could write many posts about the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, frustrations of starting a business from the ground-up. I have shared some insights along the way... but I will be very honest here and say how completely lost I have been on more than one occasion with many aspects of this.

The truth is I had three new designs printed last year, around the same time as my surgery and I had all these plans about promoting them... I blogged about the process here and thought that during my recuperation period I would make and share but it never happened. I guess I was also busy with both my courses so I shouldn't be too hard on myself. Then towards the end of the year I did the Young Blood market at the Powerhouse Museum which turned out to be a huge disappointment on many levels and it threw everything into question yet again... even to the point of 'why am I doing this?' in the grand scheme of things... but more so about 'how do I get my stuff out there?'

I'm always reading blogs and anything I can find to try and get an insight into how other people do it and most people do markets, markets, markets.... well, if you can even get into a market these days this is actually not the path I want to go down and so I have been looking at other ways to market and promote my business and products. I even wrote a post about this here last year.

So if you have wondered where I've been and what I've been up to, the fact of the matter is I got terribly lost and confused... I pulled right back and only then was I able to figure out how I wanted to do things and so for the past little while I've been working to make that happen but it all takes longer than you think and I want it all to be just right as there are a few avenues that feed in and out of it... it's multi-layered you could say and I want it all to be set up before I share but as I see it all coming together I am getting excited again and looking forward to when I can share it all. I'm really hoping as the momentum picks up, as I put the plans in place there will be less and less time spent lost and confused and more time moving forward and making progress.