A piece a week – A little Amigurimi friend for my little buddy and a very busy week!

This week was a busy one indeed with a lot of dramas back home in Australia and living the day to day of live here! So I have become extra crafty and channeling my worries into challenging crafting projects. This little Panda is for a friend’s birthday. The whole panda is made up of little bits and pieces of crochet and then sewn to life. The process is excellent and I am very happy to have finished him and he is ready to be given to his new owner. 
A Koanda Bear for my little friend – A Koala cross between a Panda

The weekend went by in a flash as I was volunteering at FabMo on Saturday morning (after a nice sleep in I must add). I volunteer as a greeter and it is always a good time to see what people find and talk about what people make with their finds. I found this fantastic stretch fabric from a screen printer that I am going to reverse applique and make a skirt – the inspiration is from the Alabama Stitch book. The hand stitching in the pieces throughout this book is just incredible and has been something I have been wanting to try since a friend introduced the book to me years ago!
Saturday afternoon the SF Etsy South Bay team had a Meet-up at Empire Vintage Clothing in Downtown Mountain View. The owner Tiffany has this amazing pop up space for hire that indie makers need to take advantage of! Tiffany introduced herself to us with a presentation on sales and marketing, which was super helpful for all of us – especially those of us who do shows! How to lure a customer, “it’s just like fishing,” she says. We had a really great turnout and people wandering by were checking it out wondering what’s going on there? This space has so much potential and makers with a decent size inventory can come in and take advantage of this super central space with lots of walk by traffic. 
Outside the pop up space and Empire Vintage, Mountain View

The makers who came by to Empire – inspired for a pop up opportunity

Saturday evening my son had a retro games night as a silent auction prize and here is Frogger in all it’s glory played on the Atari 2600. I have one of these machines back home in Australia and used to play it all the time when I was his age 😉 I have to reveal to him that it is OK to spend hours in front of computer games!!

Later on I had a cheap wine tasting evening with some ladies from school till the wee hours at night. Most of the wine I tried I threw back as it was full of sulfites and quite awful. Being from Australia I do like a good wine and next time I think the plan will be to take our favorite wine under $20 and enjoy drinking! By this I mean I can buy a great Australian Shiraz here for less than $10 – sometimes BevMo have it on sale and that is when I buy the lot. There are some excellent imports of wine here from Barossa and McLaren Vale, South Australia that are under $20 and are generally guaranteed to be a good drop. Though with summer coming up it is time to fill my dungeon with my favorite Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand!

Frogger and the Atari 2600

Sunday it was time to chill out for the morning and do some yoga and come back and catch up on a few chores like potting some succulents in the pots I have made fresh from the kiln. This velvety succulent is called the chocolate soldier – it reminded me of chocolate and feels lovely so it now lives in this crochet textured square planter that I made.

Deeper green and chocolate leaves on top of the white glazed planter

And to wrap up the weekend Missy had high tea with her Kindergarten teachers as another Auction prize. There were scones, jam and cream and cucumber sandwiches paired with Cherry/Berry Tea. The teachers read some stories about New Zealand (Missy’s teacher is from there) and chatted while dropping sugar cubes into their tea! So fun, thank you Ms Terri and Ms Bonnie for your time with the kiddos!!

Ready for tea lovelies?

A piece a Week – Tote Bags for lots of stuff… and some tasty vegan ice cream!

A sneak peek of what I will be showing at the FabMo Textile Art Boutique coming up on October 25th. In production mode I finished a small park tote and 3 patchwork large tote bags, perfect for picnics or your camera (they are quilted with a lining and pockets on the inside, so super soft). I found a couple of unfinished quilt tops at FabMo one distribution that had so much work put into them that I saw that they needed to be reworked into to something to be used and appreciated for its quirky beauty. Plus I really did like a lot of the fabrics quilted throughout. 
Small X body park tote

Large patchwork tote bag with ribbon detail – repurposed from FabMo fabric

Very subtle design on this quilt with a martial arts belt as a handle

For those who like checks with their flowers – quirky is the key here!

This week just flew by and last week was a doozy! The beginning of the week was cruising along until I got myself a flat tyre – boo! Fine and dandy and AAA came and saved my distress and then I had to drive to San Jose to take my car in to get a new tyre. The tyre was not in stock so I got to drive around in an SUV for a couple of days – the kiddos really loved the sunroof! And yes, secretly I did enjoy driving around in it too – the environmental activist inside me does not agree!! Anyway while waiting to go to my appointment I had time to whip up some strawberry and fig ice cream, just the thing to get your day on the right track. It was a vegan vanilla ice cream found on Food52 – I am so happy that I can eat ice cream and it does not mess with my insides like dairy ice cream. I think the picture below is straight out of the ice cream maker in a soft serve form with macerated strawberry juice on top – delicious.
Macerated Fig and Strawberry Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream – fun with my ice cream maker

My wheels for a couple of days – the Subaru Forrester!

 Oh and this week Mr Ash took up Martial Arts – here he is in his little outfit! I love it and watching the class and the kids in action is wonderful. I just need to get him to practice everyday which isn’t too hard as it is really good exercise for him after a day at school. I am hoping that he sticks with it and enjoys the benefits of martial arts.

The next Bruce Lee

Thursday night I went to the SF Etsy Meet and Make with the San Francisco Etsy team at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design. We made super cute gold dipped geode jewelry. My friend Cristiana from Pebble and Fire made a necklace and I made a ring. It was a fun class using the supplies found on this Pinterest page from Katy Atchison who taught the us this fun craft. The gold liquid gilding mix was intense (keep the lid on as it stinks like chemicals) but looks so good! Any jewelry you have just sitting around can be jazzed up with this stuff and it goes a long way!!

At the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco – needle in a haystack!

Sunday I made more ice cream as the end of another weekend was upon us! I had a couple of mangos from my CSA box and they were so tasty (not as good as Bowen Mangos from Queensland), still these were California grown and local – yay!!

Vegan Mango Ice Cream

For this amazing mango ice cream with a base of coconut milk – here is the recipe, an adaptation from a recipe for vanilla ice cream I found on Food52 and another Vegan Mango Ice Cream recipe.

2 cans coconut milk (I used one light and one full cream)
2 cups mango chunks – cut 1/2 inch square or smaller
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1/2 cup agave sweetner
1 tablespoon vodka
1. Mix 1/4 cup of the coconut milk with the arrowroot starch and keep aside. 
2. Puree half the mango chunks. 
3. Combine the pureed mango, remaining coconut milk, agave and lime together in a saucepan and bring gently to a boil, take off the heat immediately and stir in the arrowroot mixture. This should cause the mixture to thicken slightly. 
4. Whisk through the 1 tablespoon vodka (alcohol does not freeze and this is added to keep the ice cream smooth and creamy).
5. Let the mixture cool and keep in the fridge overnight – it will be nice and custardy the next day. 
6. Once cold and thick, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufcturers directions. My Cuinsinart ice cream maker takes less than 20 mins to get this going and it is so good straight from the ice cream maker! Eat straight away if you like a soft serve type texture.
7. Alternatively put the ice cream in a loaf tin and freeze for 2 hours or more with parchment and a rubber band to keep it sealed in the freezer. 
8. Serve covered in mango – this was fresh mango from my CSA and it was amazing once it was ripe!!

We all scream for ice cream – Enjoy!!!

A piece a Week – A Bag Design for Rickshaw Bags Design Contest in collaboration with SF Etsy

Yet another week that flew by with many things to do and the completion of the year book for my son’s class I had been working on. That was a huge task but I was thankful that we had a lot of pictures to choose from! It was just like the old days working as a graphic designer to a deadline and sending my work to print – thank goodness for the experience to complete projects and make the deadline.

The cover of the 40 page yearbook – green is a popular colour with the Stingray mascot

I had my ceramics class on Wednesday to have some time to play and with a bit of luck I do hope my planters come out as I planned – ceramics is a very tricky medium and I know that a lot of experience is needed to get things right. A lot of keeping track of what works will add to the success of a piece – experimentation is fun though random! This week it was a lot of hand building and seeing what I could do without slab building and using moulds – I will post some pieces once they are fired and glazed.

The big event this week was the Maker Faire all day on Saturday, starting at 6am! I decided I would volunteer this year for something different and an opportunity through the SF Etsy team to volunteer with Swap O-Rama-Rama came my way. I worked over 5 hours on my shift and it was a very long day but so much fun. There was never too much idle time as there are people coming through the tent all the time – it was very inspiring to see what people were making with discarded clothes. I had read about Swap O-Rama-Rama ages ago in a sewing book and thought ooh it would be fun to be involved and little did I know I could get a gig to be part of it!

I love the Bubble Guy!!
In action at the Swap O-Rama-Rama tent

Sunday was a day of a couple of kids parties with some resting in between. My plans for my next projects are in the works and I found some fabric from FabMo to upcycle into a design for the Rickshaw Bags Design Competition for SF Etsy members. The brief is to design a bag flap for their range of the zero messenger bags – I have seen them on a couple of etsy buddies of mine and they are the perfect size messenger bag. My idea was to do the rail quilt design that I saw recently at a volunteer gig with my hula teacher – she is super crafty and makes loads of toys and quilts for people in need. So I sliced up some fabric at 2.5″ each slice and then pieced it together to see what I could come up with and voila a diamond shape pattern known as on point in the quilting world – who knew that this idea of quilting would translate so well with these fabrics! I am very happy with the design and the look on the bag is certainly very stylish, if I do say so myself 😉

The rail quilt design on point using some stunning FabMo fabric
The Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag mockup

An interview with a fellow SF Etsy Member meet Usha from UshaDesigns

As part of a fun team member project we were assigned fellow SF Etsy team members to work with for this online meet another creative person Q&A. I met the wonderfully talented Usha from UshaDesigns – Handcrafted Accessories made in San Francisco. I just love the embroidery work, Usha does an absolutely wonderful job! Enjoy this interview – we had a lot of fun emails along the way to make this happen…
Embroidered henna inspired notecard – find them here
1. When did you first pick up your craft?
My first memories of sewing & crafts are from when I was 4 or 5 years old. I had one of those plastic square loop-weaving looms (yes, it was the ‘70s!) where I could weave potholders. I also distinctly remember making a bubble-gum pink half apron (all hand-sewing) from some scraps of fabric my mom’s friend had.  And I used to make necklaces by stringing berries using a needle & thread from a shrub in the front yard.  When I was 7 years old, a neighbor started giving me sewing lessons at home.  I’d go to the fabric store with her and my mom and select a pattern, read all of the yardage & notions guidelines, and select fabrics.  By the time I was in 4th grade, I remember making my own outfits to wear to school!  I ended up taking home economics in middle school, and advanced sewing in high school.  By the time I was in college, I took a pattern-making class, a costume design class, and started working in the costume shop in our theatre department.  That turned into working summers at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in their costume shop, and eventually working for several theatre companies in San Jose.
Beautiful freehand embroidery experiement
2. Following on so when did you decide that you wanted to be an artist or a creative person?
I don’t think I ever “decided” to be creative.  I was actually a studio art major in college, primarily doing abstract oil painting.  But working professionally in the theatre made me realize that I missed being creative for the sake of being creative.  I would spend 40 hours (or more) per week sewing for work, which left little mental or physical energy to work on my own projects.  I definitely remember moving to San Francisco in the mid-‘90s and conscientiously deciding to NOT work in the theatre.  Ironically, my first job was working at a clothing boutique on Haight Street where I was hired to do on-site production and alterations.  But I also remember realizing that I got much more enjoyment from working on things for myself or for my friends than working on other people’s ideas.
Floral appliqued fleece hat to keep you nice and toasty
3. We all have that product that people always ask for and we’ve made a few of them – what do people ask you for? Also, what product would you wish more people would “show some love”?
I don’t get too many requests, and I want to encourage my customers to ask for something specific if they don’t see exactly what they want in my shop!  Last year, my main focus was on machine-embroidered coasters and fleece beanie hats.  I did get a couple of custom orders for specific flower (accent) colors on the hats, and I worked with one customer on a batch of custom fleece scarves that she wanted to give as holiday gifts.  But I wish more people would check out my coasters – I think they’re really cute and make perfect gifts (for yourself or for a friend).  And I’d love to get requests for different color embroidery – sometimes changing the color can make the design look really different, and I love discovering the endless looks one technique can produce.
Embroidered coasters make perfect gifts
4. What drives you to continue to work with textiles and sew?
Wow, I thought this would be an easy question to answer! I’m a really tactile person – I get really excited about fabric.  But I think there are a few things that drive me: I have endless ideas for projects I want to make, and so many techniques I read about and want to incorporate in a unique way in my own items.  There are so many creative people out there who write blogs and create tutorials, and there are so many projects that look like tons of fun to make.  I’m always really careful to find out whether those tutorials are for personal use only or if they can be used for commercial production – the ones for personal use are the ones I love to make as a special gift for a family member or friend (of course, I still blog about it and give creative credit where it’s due!).  My newest motivation is that I’m about to become a mom, and I am just bursting with joy about the prospect of me making things for my little one!
Tote bag created from upcycled curtains – love it!
5. Any new items coming out in your collection soon?
I’ve been talking for a while about creating a line of iPad placemats.  I got the idea when I took a beginning quilting class.  Our project was the perfect size for me to carry around with my iPad and use it as a mat on a café table.  One of the best things about an iPad is that you can take it anywhere with you.  But the tables at coffee shops are usually a bit dirty.  I found myself always grabbing 2 napkins – one to wipe down the table, and one to open up and use as a barrier between the table and my iPad.  I hope to make a couple of those and put them in my shop soon.  
I also have a lot of material I was using years ago to make tote bags (before taking your own bag to a store was fashionable!) but I got tired of making those bags.  Recently, I was playing with some ideas of how to use that material for placemats, so hopefully those will be in my shop soon, too.
Another line I’ve been working on for the past few years is upcycling vintage Indian clothing (mostly embellished silks) into beautiful decorative pillows.  Each pillow/set is one-of-a-kind, and I plan to put those items in my shop later this year.
For more information and beautifully made products you can find Usha at the following:

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ushadesigns/

A field trip with SF Etsy… to the Zoo!

For a fantastic day out – the SF Etsy team leaders organised to meet up with some of the team at the San Francisco Zoo. We were invited back to the ARC (Animal Resource Centre) at the zoo to get close and personal with some of the animals I have some pictures here. For the trip we all had to do an art project on an animal that inspired us. I saw some wonderful animals at the zoo that day but the animal that I was truly fascinated by was the Great Horned Owl. I had only seen a Great Horned Owl as a puppet or in a diorama at State Parks and the Natural History Museum, so to see him in real life took my breath away.

So, I created my art piece inspired the Archimedes the Great Horned Owl. I wanted include fabric that was woven as a connection to the story in my art piece. I loved the owl’s feather pattern and with fabric patterns are woven or even designed. So I scanned a piece of woven silk and used that as a backdrop. I enjoy working with fabric therefore using this in my digital art was important – I wanted to make the owl look powerful against the background so I painted his feathers with colours that are in contrast. Usually owls have the perfect camouflage but as I wanted him to look strong I emphasised his coat of feathers with bright highlights. The idea of this piece is that nature and animals are woven within the threads of our being – so enjoy… Archimedes the Great Horned Owl.

And if you want your own copy go to this site here

My submission art piece for the SF Etsy Zoo Field Trip