explainin loooosy

WELCOME to the Forest Flaw.
If you are here to check out my portrait work, please click HERE!
If you would like to see my Pet portraits, please click HERE!
If you would like to see my Forest Flaw babies, see HERE!
If you would like to follow me on facebook, click HERE

You can see by my blog that I have many interests, including sewing, drawing and writing about various crafty art related things.
Custom orders are available, just message me.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Jingle Blog

There are new things afoot in the forest! 
Busy capturing them before unveiling in January - but beware - These guys aren't so fluffy!!

After night has fallen, the leaves all rustle round. 
A hoot sounds in the distance as the fires wither down.
A knocking at the window - could be just a tree,
But why then, do I feel an unknown creature watches me?

Foxes scatter to their dens, 
the owls stick to their limbs.
As floating in on misty tides the new kids settle in.

Old as time immortal, 
foretold by tv land.
These creatures have been dramatised by actors and by man...

To find out what these critters are - stay tuned to this blog station. They are the new found offerings from my imagination.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Super Me vs Evil Sewing Machine

In a world where Evil lives in a machine, only one girl can thwart it.
Well - it isn't me.

I tried.
Last week - before my holiday, Super Husband bought some shelves so I could organise my sewing mess. It is brilliant. I have bags and baskets and boxes and by jingoes it is all neat and tidy.
'Why don't I bring out the sewing machine and make a home for it?!' I thought.
My memory it seems is a short one. I had visions of sewing clothes and cushions and drapes and even a dapper smoking jacket for my cat if I felt so inclined. I could sew the world - nay, the Universe.

I cut up a dress that needed altering. I cut out material for cutsie pie pillow covers. I imagined sunny afternoons sewing covers for everything and shopping for materials I could wear. So I sat down and against my usual inclinations to just turn it on and figure it out as I go, I took out the manual.

I read how thread goes through arm A, spools past 7 into 23b up and around Y and lastly loops through BX5.
I read how the tension must be no greater than the axis of the planet spinning through Gemini on a leap year. I adjusted accordingly the foot direction to match that of the ancient Incan burial rites during the reign of Xicconiqu.
Gingerly I pressed the foot pedal. the needle went down, the needle came up with no thread on it.

'That's ok,' I said to myself. 'I must have not divided the Sanskrit by Pythagoras' theorem. I'll try again'.
Thread through A...blah blah BX5 ok.
I got out the iron. I hate the iron also. I made flat hems while the iron deposited white crud all over my material. Undeterred however I pressed on (haha, ironing joke).
Back to sewing machine, I pressed the foot pedal. The needle went down, the needle came up. the needle went   down, the needle got stuck. Ok, that's ok. I'll just reverse. The needle went up, the needle went down, the material bunched up.
After I had wrenched my material out and un-picked the mess it had made, I tried again. Reread the mathematical theories of sewing machineness again.

Lets just skip to the part where I start singing the "i'm going to throw you in the bin, put dog turds on top and then set fire to you" song. It went rather well.
The sewing machine, I have decided, is cursed. Probably because I cursed it - alot.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

and the winner is...

Congratulations to Miranda Rauert for winning the Little Red Riding Hood!
I want to say a big thank you to everyone for getting The Forest Flaw to 120 likes and still showing no signs of slowing down :)

I have been very fortunate of late to be featured in a number of publications, and I could think of no better way of celebrating what seems to be the month of The Forest! 
I am also very glad that fate provided a winner with a little girl with seemingly a birthday coming up - so little red could not have found a better home!

Don't forget to check out the other designs too though - my most popular and most obscure can be found at both:

Down that little lane and madeit.com

recent publications:
Bendigo Magazine
Bendigo Weekly
Bendigo Advertiser - getting the 2nd most wanted locally made xmas pressie this year!!

And bring on Christmas so I can sew the entire NEW range of goodies I have cooking in my head in the new year!!


Sunday, 27 November 2011

*first GIVE AWAY*


So excited to see my Little Red Riding Hood in the local paper as number 2 on Bendigo's Local xmas wish list - that I wanted to celebrate
So I am having my first GIVE AWAY!

Help me reach 120 to 'like' my  facebook page and WIN a little Red Riding Hood.

I will post it to you where ever you live too.
Winner will be randomly selected by computer program from ALL my likers when I reach 120!!

Red Riding hood has lost her way!
The wolf has eaten granny and now she is wandering the forest in search of the woodsman - stunned and shocked!
Red riding hood has a beautiful velvet cloak with removable hood. She wears black leather boots and carries a picnic basket .
Made from quality socks, faux velvet, faux leather and cotton and lace, stuffed with Pure New Zealand wool.
She measures 28cm x 17cm wide.
[Remember, these items are all handstitched collectables. Although they are sewn very tightly they are not made for active play. ]

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Free to good home

Not many things in life are free. And certainly not the things that are on my xmas list.

But recently I have found that getting the free things can come at a cost - if you can swing them at all. In fact, they can be the HARDEST thing to get at sometimes.

Let me take you on a tour *cue squiggly lines and theruman music*
It all started a couple of weeks ago...

Starting a business requires a few things.
First: a product.
Second: all the other horrible admin crap that takes up every waking moment of your life until you can no longer look at your computer screen without wanting to rip your (or someone else's) eyeballs out.
Third: patience.

Example 1; 
Product: I filled an order for a beautiful shop Milt and Joe in my home town.
Admin: I began the process of registering my business name so I could get an ABN and invoice for goods. This is the admin part that makes you deal with the tax department and state government and requires you learn some ridiculous jargon and acronyms that have no bearing on what you need to do at all. It also jammed up for an entire day and almost made husband never want to talk to me again. Perhaps that was my fault - but I am blaming the government.
Patience: I had to wait two days before someone could get back to me and sort the whole thing out.

So you see the things that should be easy are not. Other free things I would like but find increasingly hard to swing are:
*   An entire day at home without having to sew
*   To eat a packet of salt and vinegar chips, or fish and chips, or any potato cooked in oil product without feeling the need to walk the circumference of the earth afterwards to burn it off
*   Good hair day on a day where it counts
*   Patience
*   Ability to see into the future
*   A magic elf to do all the work for me as I sleep
See, not too much to ask, but incredibly hard to get.

This entire process was compounded by another free conundrum:
Example 2:
Product: Free Golden retriever to good home
Admin: Rang husband. Tried nonchalant behaviour, begging, pleading, pouting, appealing to his squishy side and listing attributes of a dog I had never met, including it's penchant for wanting endless cuddles and it's ability to obey his every command. Answer no. Outcome - never allowed to read livestock section of paper again.
Patience: Bide my time...yes...bide my time...*maniacal hand rubbing*

So free does not necessarily mean easy. Free to me now just means a lot of effort. Free makes my hair stand on end and question what the catch is. Free means "not costing money - but perhaps a crap load of time, patience, begging, crying in frustration and eventually throwing a tantrum".

This is what I have learned. So take heed reader next time you see "free to good home", check what it will cost you first!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Clotted cream or Angel's wing?

Love crisp, clean lines? How about sharp fonts and squared off edges? Dettol handwash in your purse?
Then I bet you painted your house in 'eggshell' and agonised over the difference between 'Dove white' and 'Abominable Snowman'?

I am boycotting whites.
More importantly (or to the point), I am boycotting the trend of photographing and displaying all handmade items on a crisp white background with professional lighting. It's everywhere you look, and if you don't conform then you miss out on precious advertising and online space.
I understand the need to have products speak for themselves, and to display them in neutral tones to give the buyer a better understanding of the product. But surely that gives us more of a playing field than white on white with white lighting?!

The whole point of buying, making and enjoying handmade items is the fact that they are NOT massed produced, NOT all the same and do generally do NOT get purchased by people who enjoy homes painted throughout entirely in tones of a snowfield in a blizzard.
The whole handmade movement to me represents quality, quirky, squishy, delicious products that come straight from someone with creative talent's mind. 
This also extends to seeing the product in the way the creator best sees fit to sell it. Sometimes that may be on a rustic log with a big blue sky in the background (extending the idea that it is natural, organic and fresh). Other times it might be sitting on a lush green lawn, interacting with a mushroom (telling me it is fun and warm and hardy). If it is clothing - I want to see it ON!

As long as the images are high quality, because in this day and age it is easy to get hold of a 10 megapixel camera, then why not allow the creativity to extend to the merchandising? I want to buy a feeling, the whole package, allow the maker to show me the world the product belongs in.

But then, I have always loved the darker things in life. Forest moss, toadstool red, studded leather, golden light streaming through a sash window, dappled shadows, autumn leaves...

Perhaps that wouldn't appeal to everyone, but let's just say I prefer rich, dark chocolate to plain milk.

What is your preferred way to see handmade goods advertised?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Just the meaning of life...no biggie

I've been reading about quantum physics again.

Couple this with the ABC news post that the planet has reached 7 billion people and it really makes you wonder - what is the point of it all?

Also, what drives people to create? Why the driving need to make more? We are constantly making more people, so in turn we need more clothes, more food, more housing more ... stuff.
When you start to read and watch and think about the big picture (as we do now in the 'global community' we live in) it makes you start to spread out, think about the big problems and it can really weigh you down.

I've been giving this a lot of thought lately and I think I have found a solution.
Yes, I have solved the world's problems.
Well, actually, it's a boring old adage that has just become like so much background noise "think globally, act locally". This always conveyed to me that if I thought really hard about the rain forests when I took my little green bag to the supermarket that it somehow saved a green tree frog somewhere in Brazil.
But no. I think I get it. I think we are TOO global. We have forgotten about our own little nucleus. Our own little havens. It's easy to lose sight of the big picture when you don't see any change. It's a little like losing weight - if you don't see the pounds sloughing off after resisting one chocolate bar then what's the point?

The point is making small changes in your own life can have a wide spreading effect. I'm talking less environmental, more focus on the mental.
Taking stock of what's important to you can lead to some pretty big changes. If you are a creative person, try putting that high on your priorities, you never know where it will lead you. 
If family time is what floats your boat, then more of that. If sitting on green grass sipping iced tea for 3 hours a day makes you feel fulfilled, make it a must do. It's when we feel like our needs are being met that we can have the mental energy to do everything else. In fact, everything else feels like a breeze.

We can't affect everything, but we can change our own little cluster of life. And change begets change, and if you believe in string theory - everything's connected, so nothing happens without consequence (*note- do not reference my string theory quote - loosely transcribed by my brain from a book I do not understand in the least).

So I'm taking my own advice, I'm taking a leap and going to make being creative a priority. I will only be going out to work for a couple days a week and spending more time and energy making the Forest Flaw a really happening concern.
This should make a big impact on my little nucleus - I will be happier, more fulfilled and hopefully more relaxed. That is until Husband comes home tonight and I inform him of my new and improved 'act locally' plan. That's when it could have the potential to become global...

Friday, 28 October 2011

a-tishoo a tissue

So among the spoiled wastes of tissues I lay, sprawled in a sea of crumpled white paper like virgin roses shrouding me in my coffin. A cough, a splutter, I am gone now...alas... *puts palm to forehead in dramatic style*

I hate being sick.

So, burning the candle at both ends, as it turns out, is not as economical as it seems. I am sick. And as I am sick, I have decided to be completely self indulgent and wallow in my martyrdom for a moment.
For the last 8 weeks or so, I have been working 12 hour days. I have not had weekends off, or even the occasional day at my leisure.
Sure, I only go out to work for the 'man' for 2 1/2 days a week (thank you lovely 'man' for paying me :) ), but every other spare minute, I am at home sewing, cutting patterns, taking care of admin or cleaning the house (haha, that last one was a lie).
As it is almost Halloween, here is my horror story: you can be extra terrified by knowing that it is TRUE! mwuhaha...

I felt it creeping up my back like the hand of doom last week.
Hunched over a patch of candy apple felt with needle in hand, a sharp twinge in my spine was the first signal that the pox was upon me. Complaining to my husband that my back was aching with unusual intensity, I was rebuffed with taunts of 'stop being an old lady'. I went back to my sewing, trying to be as youthful as possible, seeing that this was the only advice given to ward off a sore back.
However, the next day dawned with an evil portent in the sky. The thunder clouds roiled and broiled on the distant horizon as I felt a tickle in my throat. I again complained to my husband, with which I was rebuffed once more with 'did you brush your teeth last night?' I had to admit he was right. But still, something was wrong, more than just furry teeth could attest to.

It wasn't until later that day, my back sore and my throat raspy, that I walked in on a horrific sight. Husband was reaching to the very top of the pantry. I quickly ducked behind the fridge where I wouldn't be seen. He rummaged around for a while, pulling out ear medication and laxatives (don't know whose those are?) until I saw it. The bright orange wrapper gave his game away and I leapt out to confront him in his nefarious deed.
"Haha!" I said "sore throat husband?!"
I had caught him. It was always the way.

Where I might bring home flowers or homeless kittens, Husband brought home colds and flu's. 
The Vicks vapo-drop, butter menthol flavoured wrapper fell to the floor. It was all over, the truth was out. I was sick and the harbinger of illness had bought it upon me.
Cue thunder and lightning.

Hope you are all doing better than me. I will retire now to my bed and sup upon warm tea. *uhuhm-uhuhm*  no no, I'll be fine, really.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A stitch too far

How do you know where the line is?

You know, that invisible line we all subconsciously draw in the sand when we head down a particular path.
I envy those who are single minded, solidly focused on the end goal like a horse with blinkers on. But, as they say, it is about the journey, not the destination.

If you are of a creative bent like me, you will feel an affinity with the point I am ambling towards here.
Simply put: I get distracted. I stop to smell the roses, notice a bumble bee, follow it to the next garden, find a picnic, have a bite to eat, lie down for a nap, wake up and forget where I was heading in the first place. It's a little bit like fridge-itis (fridge-itis: where you are standing in front of an open fridge with no idea how you got there or what you wanted in the first place).

I started the forest flaw with the idea of making all the foresty woodland creatures I could stitch, but it has since evolved to incorporate camels, robots and even recently pelicans! But I love it. I love that people can see what I'm doing and find other potentials for it. I love that I can be sent down rabbit holes that I never would have ventured in to and come out with more ideas than I went in with. It's all part of that journey I guess. You are not always in the drivers seat, and it is the same with business, craft, art or anything you put out into the world where others can see.
Others have the power shape your world as much as you do.
Kapow. Self help moment but it's true. This is why I have learnt that I need to make a map of where I want to go. A loose map, like one of those pirate maps with dotted lines that snake all over the page.  But written on it are directions like:

  • keep left of those who will distract you. 
  • Dodge the ones who want you to succeed on their terms. 
  • Turn down at the offers that might seem good at the time but will ultimately make you feel like you sold your soul. 

All the while leaving huge gaps for the things I can not foresee but adhere to my general life plan - even if it might take me longer to get to end point. So that's what I will be thinking about this week. My end point. Is it when I have quit my job to sew full time? Is it when I have sold a certain amount of creatures? Or have regular orders for stores - or even just being able to play in my own garden and sew occasionally? I don't know yet, but I will start making my own pirate map. Even if only for the opportunity to wear a patch over my eye for a week or so.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to business registers and tax invoices and...eh...

It's funny to look back now and imagine the ideas I had of nurturing this craft, my notions of tenderly encouraging it along to one day grow up to be a fully fledged hobby.
Not to complain, but I just wasn't ready for the things that crop up along the way.What started as a happily lumbering, moss covered stone, has since been picked up and hurtled into the near future and now it is my job to run after behind it, arms flailing - paperwork and calculators falling from pockets.
I have learnt that with every silver lining, comes a cloud that needs to be tended to rather swiftly.
Being wonderfully inundated with orders and watching my items sell is seriously satisfying and heartwarming stuff. But with each sale comes a quarry of questions and conundrums.
First off: design the product.
If it is a custom order, then I need to conceptualize the shape and materials used.
Second: time frame. Does this need to have precedence over other creations? Do I need to stay up a few nights to complete this? Will the cranky tired factor vs the getting things done value equal out?
Thirdly: pricing. I have read so much material on this and taken equal amounts of advice. But ultimately it is my call, and I must do disgusting maths (eh) to work out how much I will be making an hour on a project and if it is going to be comparable to a real job (eh) or if I will be making someone's day and eating green potatoes and home made baked beans for the week.

All well and good. We're coasting along now and have some sort of formula to work these things out. But wait, another amazing opportunity arises - time to get the umbrella out.
A large order for a shop "send me the invoice". Brilliant, I am doing my happy dance and feel all smug and cushy inside.
However, firstly: I need to work out rate of cost. How do I do this? how do I work out what will be worth my time and materials vs marking down for an amazing opportunity?
Secondly: I need an ABN to create a tax invoice properly. How do I create a tax invoice? What about Me? What happened to my TAB- no time for that now*

Ok, working all these things out, I am approached by a couple of retail /gallery owners who sell based on commission.
Woot! Happy joy joy, get out the bucket though - because now the roof is leaking.
Firstly: How much commission?! is it worth having my items in your space for exposure vs what you will be taking from all my hard work?
Secondly: exclusivity. Now the tricky problem of who has what in which shop and where? Also Who Hung Woo Where What Why When? Keep it together, more problems that need addressing yet.
Thirdly: Wholesaling. Do I still offer these items online? I must make sure that I am not undercutting these people by having customers come to me and bypassing the shops all together.

So I have learnt that I must be aware that for every positive there seems to be a tangled knot that needs working out.

I know that people have been doing this for centuries, but I can understand why for many people it is just so much easier to put on a uniform, clock on to work, catch those chickens, crunch those numbers, sell those ice-creams and come home and do it all over again again again...

Eh. Think I'll just get out my calculator thanks.

*wild Simpson's reference.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Claw foot or Monkey hand?

I don't have kids.
I have an ageing cat who brings me mice, and a neurotic German Shepherd who is terrified of everything and a husband who is mostly at work when I am at home. I only work at a 'real job' 2-3 days a week, a sweet little garden to play in on my own, and yet I still have no time and feel mostly harassed by life.

Most of the time not dedicated to the above I am sewing. Or admin-ing. Or some similar 'Forest Flaw' based activity. But I wonder lately if my state of hurried-ness and harangue-ment stems from just two simple things:
A) I do not have a bath.
This may seem like I am oversimplifying things here - I am not dear reader!
If you take note of people who do have said item in household (and get to use it) you will note their general calm demeanor. They are capable of taking greater stress because they can simply soak their worries away! Bye bye back ache, see-ya strain, ta taa tension. Down the drain with you. I am exceedingly jealous of those who get to go to bed without a monkey claw for a hand and a hunched back to make Quasimodo look like he was just bending over to look for his lost contact.

B) Procrastination
I am reigning queen supreme.
Never has the house been so clean, the garden so tidy, the cat so thoroughly brushed as when something is about due and the clock is ticking away.
(n.b. house is not clean atm - I am procrastinating doing that also)
I am not the sort of person who gets up in the morning, eats, cheerily showers, dresses and is ready to take on the world - aka any women's cereal advert.
I am the type of person who:

  •  gets up after accidentally turning alarm off instead of snoozing it. 
  • fumbles into kitchen with eyes shut to make coffee
  • sits with coffee for leisurely 20 minutes until it is cold
  • races to get dressed, fed, hair and makeup done in remaining 10 minutes and runs out the door forgetting lunch and with skirt tucked into pants.
So I must learn to organise myself better. Take the right amount of time to complete tasks. Check the mirror   for clothing catastrophes and begin a practical regime of living. 
I'll do it later.

Meanwhile, I'll dream about a bath, while I sit here with my coffee...let my mind go for a little nap. 
Then I'll cook tea, sew my orders, feed the pets, water the garden and pick up husband in the remaining 10 minutes of my night.

This one's for you S.M - the leisurely lady of the hour long bath.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Template for life

A template for life. Sounds religious doesn't it? Or like something you would find in a 'women's temperance' pamphlet.

It's just that I've been creating them lately. (Not women's temperance pamphlets)
As I've been sewing each creature again, I have been taking the time to translate the shapes onto a piece of thin card. Time consuming, but at least next time I sew the same shape, all the bits that are relevant will be easily and quickly referenced. So instead of assessing each cut by eye and feel, my previous actions can be re-lived, re-cut and reproduced.

This, however has become a new obsession of late. It's got me thinking why we don't prescribe to this way of thinking for all things?
It would be helpful to every element of my life, from the smallest incidences to the big things. For instance: why is it that I always bang my knee on the bedpost near the door? If I mentally make a template of the path I should take, use that every time I walk through in the room, then voila! No more banged knee!
When placing full carton of milk in the fridge door - push extra hard. Do this every time and no longer will I walk past half an hour later and notice the two inch gap where all the cold and light are spilling out onto the kitchen floor.

But mainly it's the big things that I've been thinking about. For instance, why can't I make a template for dealing with heartache? Cut one giant piece of me into the shape that can handle rejection. take when needed.
Or make a template for dealing with difficult people: cut one shape for poise, one shape for patience and the tricky shape of standing up for myself and finish with dignity.

So, how many times do we need to do the same thing over and over again before we make a mental template? Presumably it happens, or we would never progress: I would still be trying to make a trampoline out of leaves on the front lawn. Or trying to make a cake out of desiccated coconut, or going out with the same egotistical selfish loser again and again until I made a template of how to avoid it (ok, that one I did take a few bashes at).

Taking the time and extra care on these templates has also made me produce more quality work. If it is going to be used over and over, then it had better be the best version of that that I can do. It all comes down to planning in the end. I thought I was terrible at that, but it turns out it's something I can do - and do well. And slowing down to put some thought into what I'm doing, because it is what I will be doing again and again and again -
If I'm lucky ;)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Technology Apocalypse

What kind of hero takes on hyperlinks and htmls? Who in their right mind succeeds with spreadsheets?
What does application virtualisation mean?! 
No, I am not 80 years old.

In fact, I grew up with computers. We had a commodore 64. On it, you could play hangman and spend a whole day inputting binary 01011110010101 to make a coloured block (representing a hot air balloon) sail gracefully across the pixelated screen. It was a far cry from the video machines that thrillingly allowed a stick hit a ball from one side of the screen to another. For one thing, it had a keyboard.

I was up with the Amiga. I could draw pumpkins and print out reels and reels of perforated paper to create banners I didn't need. "WELCOME HOME FROM WORK DAD" with accompanying pictures would take about 20 pages.
"HOW ABOUT A CUP OF TEA WITH A BISCUIT _ I'VE GOT CHOCOLATE" would take probably about 35 pages. And about 35 minutes to print.

When we got our first IBM, I could play games that used text, scrolling screen and colour. Breakthrough! I could print out reams of paper at about one third of the speed (and about equal usefulness).

I kept up with technology. I worked in admin, I can word process, de-frag my computer, download (legally...) upload, learn any computer program. But DAMNED if I can drive Facebook!

I boycotted facebook since it first appeared.
I said "ugh, who wants to be on that?" I also said "you will never find me on that ego-centric, networking, meat market web site."

You can find me at http://www.facebook.com/TheForestFlaw  

Since beginning the Forest Flaw I have been 'Facebooking' because it is the MOST valuable networking tool I can find. Everybody who wants to know what I'm up to can get instant feeds. Even my blog feeds into my page (eventually, but another story).
However, as au fait as I am with the computer world, I can not get my head around invites. Or personal pages vs business pages, events, notes, links, wallpapers, info and rss feeds. Status, photos, links videos and questions.

So if you follow me on facebook, I apologise. You may get things three times, you may see things you shouldn't and you will probably get things you may not understand.

I think it's Facebook revenge, had I joined from the start, I would probably be the Emperor of Faceook by now. That's how it works right?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Constructive vs Critisism

I do not take criticism well.

I don't know what it is, perhaps my ego is too big. Perhaps my ego is too fragile. Either way, I'm sure it's ego related.

Years ago I painted.
I took a year or two off to study this. I learnt illustrating, ceramics, etching, linocuts, sculpture, you name it. I did well (for a young girl with no attention span at all), except for when I had to work in a group.

Now, art and I are old friends. We drew on the pavements with chalk and arranged objects into aesthetic positions and cut up dad's paper (before he read it) way back when I was a tyke. We would dress up the dog and make elaborate houses for the cats and draw doorways for the ghost that lived in the bungalow back when I was a wee lass.
Which was fine, because I did this all on my own. I could spend all day on my own - still can - and not get lonely, because art and my imagination always kept me company. It was when I had to work with others that the problems occurred.

I know what you're thinking, but no, I'm not an only child. Neither am I selfish with my things, I shared toys, it's just that no-one seemed to have enough imagination to play with me.
I remember being told off by friends when playing dolls (ugh, dolls), because Barbie did not walk 5 feet off the floor, nor could horses speak or werewolves live at Ken's house.

It was somewhat similar when I signed up for a professional writing course. I aced the assignments (shyeah!), ruled the editing room (woo!), and flew through creative writing (you know it baby!). However, I was DISMAL in group assignments (boo!). And why? Because no-one had enough imagination to play (I mean work) with me! I couldn't (possibly wouldn't) listen because I don't like linear rules or having a group of people question my methods.

It is the same now. I get to play with all my toys (that I create) all by myself. I can make up background stories for them and decide what they're doing all on my own. It works, but not as well as it works when I push my ego down and gulp on my pride and get a second opinion from my quality control (AKA husband). He will tell me things I already know but was perfectly happy to ignore because it would mean another hour of work. He suggests things that, although I don't want to do, have to concede that make my creations really pop.

I don't envy his job. I have a good throwing arm. And I can mumble obscenities on a competition level.
Not sure It will improve, but I'm learning to take it better. Today, I was constructively told my Lion needed teeth and once again he was right (I swore a bit).

So here's to constructive criticism. May it always be dodged when followed by a heavy projectile.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Finding Room in Outer Space

A peacock balances gracefully on the tip of a wire dome bird cage.

The wire birdcage sits empty next to a beautiful fairy house, whitewashed and roofed with baby's tears moss. The fairy house is sandwiched next to a wire cake rack, inside sits a hand blown glass cake stand. The cake stand and above mentioned items are perched atop a dark wood display cabinet, holding a selection of black toile crockery, pewter coffee sets and empty vases.

This takes up approximately 1.5 metres across x 3 metres high. Times this by 30 and this is how my house is packed. PACKED.

Anyone who lives in a hundred something year old townhouse would know what I'm talking about. But anyone who CRAFTS would REALLY know what I'm talking about!

When I started sewing for this venture, I naively thought it would be a nice little creative outlet that wouldn't take up much space. Something I could do to while away the hours and keep my hands busy.
I could go back in time and slap myself.
Where as before, I had to wend my way around clothes and furniture to get to bed, now I am re-locating bags of stuffing, wayward creatures, and re-purposed cloth.
When once I would simply slide into a chair at the kitchen table, now I have to scoot over cotton, move half sewn blobs and re-position precariously towering objet d'crap.

I have simply no room to have a room to my self. No space to create a work-space and no area for hysteria.

Meantime, I have to put up or shut up (shop). Who can afford to move? who can afford the time to move?
I will just have to console myself that there are dozens, hundreds, possibly thousands who are in the same craft-dilemma as me.

However, it is not the end of the world as we know, merely a small, centrally located craftastrophe.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-live

It would have been a strange sight to look in my kitchen window the other night.

On the floor surrounded by buttons, buckles and various cogs, tears streamed down my face. Were they tears of sadness? frustration? anger? No. They were tears of remembrance.

Now, since beginning The Forest Flaw, many strange things have flooded back to me. The first creatures (owls) required blanket stitching. This stitch was taught to me by my Gang Gang (or Grandma to you lay-people). Gang Gang would diligently sew back on ears and eyes from much loved stuffed toys. She would happily fashion new arms and darn patches and re-fashion bits of cats and pandas.

But another revelation was in the materials she used. My Gang Gang was handy with the material box.
My much loved sausage dog had his floppy ear replaced with a flannelette face-washer. And I thought that was grand.
My cat's eyes would be replaced with a button taken from a worn out cardigan. And I thought that was wonderous.
My smurf had the tip of his hat replaced with a bit of pillowcase. And I thought that was strange - but loved it none-the less.

Gang Gang sewed and told me stories. Stories about the old days, how she would walk to town with no shoes and see a movie for a penny. She sewed and told me tales about her childhood. But the main thing I remember is that she sewed (and knitted itchy jumpers, but that's another story).

So perhaps without knowing it she has influenced me in my creative pursuits. I sew creatures using socks and tea towels. I stitch creations using jumpers and tops.

Recently I was given the most precious gift to my business endeavor yet. The large Pablo coffee jar with yellow lid that Gang Gang would save all her buttons and gismos into. She would dip into this jar to mend my cat's face's, my bears noses, and even the jumpers I wore.

So It was this jar that I sprawled out on the floor to rummage through. I picked up buttons from dresses she wore, buckles from the belts she saved, and remembered all the nifty things she created and crafted with them.
So thanks Gang Gang, you've influenced me more than I had realised, and now each creature I send out into the world is just that little bit more special.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The gorgeous price of success

Who would have expected positive feedback could be overwhelming?

You would imagine that being heaped with praise could be a never ending thing, something to take in your stride and put in your pocket. Be a little smug over later, in private.

Well, I just had my first market and it was fantastic, enjoyed it much more than expected. Not only for the sales that piled up - but for the feedback.
Face sore from smiling at prospective customers, I began to take compliments. "gorgeous" being the word of the day.
"gorgeous" they would say.
"thank you" I would say.

Ha ha, I began to think to myself, aren't I clever.
The people beside me with markets of their own heaped me with praise, "gorgeous", "thank you", and then sell to them too.
Then the same customers would come back, with friends.
"thank you".

But it was when store owners approached me with "listen, gorgeous" that I began to take it on board. "Please place said gorgeous things in my shop" they said. "thank you" I said.

Now, maybe it was the praise going to my head, but I think that too many "gorgeouses" may have got me and my ego in trouble. "listen, gorgeous, " they said, "I'll do it!" I said.
Now, hours later, cat on lap, tables packed away, money counted, face recovered, smugness worn off (a little) - that I smugly look at my diary.
20 creatures to make by next month for shop. 4 personal orders. 20 Orders for another shop by November. another 20 for another shop. 10 for window display for yet another in December.
ahh...it is now I wonder how long the power of praise will keep me going?
Will the mere memory of all those
"thank you"
transactions keep me going when my eyes are failing at 2am? Will the memory of delighted faces keep me from crying when I break needles and am sick of embroidering for three hours straight?
Must remember to be gorgeous. Can not let quality slip. At all times, keep creatures gorgeous. because I don't think "nice" is going to cut it.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Doing your business in the Forest

Bleary eyed and puffy faced, I answered the door this morning to a professional photographer. 

Already long gone are the days of sitting at the table, mind racing with ideas - cotton, felt, fur strewn across the surface - mug of cold tea and me, in my pajamas, sewing with wild abandon.

The early beginnings of this micro business were just that; me filling that empty space of my creative void by tinkering with foxes and owls. Soon I had a few too many and wondered what to do with them. It was then a family member suggested putting them online and pointed me to handmade stores on the internet. AMAzINg! I never knew there was this outlet for people like me; It was like being handed the keys to a new kingdom and being told "go forth and create". All of a sudden there was a medium for me to enjoy - a community of buyers and sellers who supported each other no matter what the product - good, bad or fluffy.

Soon I made my first sale, then another and another. Some were to people I worked with, others were complete strangers from across the country. I needed networking tools - I started a Facebook account (damn you Facebook! damn you and your usefulness!) Much to my chagrin, began to get addicted to my 'likes' and comments'. Now I had feedback!

I received emails and phone calls and custom orders. I was approached to have an exhibition (hooray for Cafe El Gordo!) I took photos of all my new creations and put them on Facebook and sold them - almost instantly! I was discovering the most obvious business rule -
The more I put in to merchandising - the more my return!
Last week I had an email to request an interview and photo shoot for the Bendigo magazine. The lovely lady who is giving me my first exhibition wants to do an artists profile on me.
Hence the photographer.
 My creatures to be in a glossy magazine - me- in a glossy magazine!
Sure, it isn't vogue, modeling h'aute couture, but something I can be proud of - something handmade and hand designed - by me, in my pajamas, at my kitchen table with my mug of cold tea.

Cafe El Gordo                                           
Bendigo Magazine

Monday, 12 September 2011


It was on the movie Spaceballs that I heard it put best. 

The intrepid travellers arrive at the guru's home planet, looking for guidance and some kind of powerful,  life altering 'strength to go on' message. 
After being shown through a humbly furnished cave, they ask the wizened little yoda rip off how he managed to live the calm, serene life of a hermit on a planet far far away.
It was then he pulled back a curtain to reveal a brightly lit cave full of yoda dolls, plaquards, stickers, posters; you name it. 
The answer, he told them, was "Merchandising!"

This, I am finding, is the clockwork; cog turning machinery behind any home based business. 
All week I have been facebooking, organising business cards, creating catalogues and generally plastering my face all over the internet for the upcoming market.
I have done approximately 2 hours of sewing. That's it, no designing, no 'just playing around with material' or scaring the dog with new creations (she really is horrified by them!) 
Before the day is out, I will mock up my market stall in my dining room, take some new pictures and do some more plastering of my self on the info-web. 

All this so that I can sell the image of the calm, crafty, homebased sewing business just bursting with serenity and loveliness and fun. Which I admit it sometimes is...on a Sunday afternoon when I have no visitors and the cat is snoozing on the windowsill...See! I just can't quit!

Wednesday I have a photographer visiting for a shoot, all my mess and cards and paper and  materials will be crammed into my bedroom. 
Then when they ask how I manage such a lovely, laid back, creative existence, I can open the door and tell him...

Saturday, 10 September 2011

To market, to market

Day three.
Have drunk (drank? drinken? drinked?) all the tea. There are a few mint slices still haunting my memory in the fridge, but alas I must work on.
The led spotlights are harsh, I have forgotten my name.
My fingers and eyes burn like some kind of red monstered - demon thing, yet I push on. Onwards to the market.
I have traversed the Microsoft Word dunes and sloughed through the jpeg fens, the internet fjords and facebook quicksands to get here.
I have navigated the thread forest, crawled through the needle swamps, even sailed the treacherous embroidery seas.

Who would have thought that preparing for the first market would have been such a slog?
Perhaps it wouldn't have been had I just simply decided to turn up on the day like a normal mortal - but 'NO!' my brain said - 'You must create a catalogue of items!' it said.
'You must sew one of each creature and create new flyers and business cards and bunting and banners and SIGNS!' it said.
I said 'you're mad brain, it can't be done!' then realised I was talking to my own brain but by then it was too late. My brain had it's way. Ooh it's a tricksy beast.

So this one's for you brain. I'm quitting the computer for tonight - going to lay on the couch, do nothing...ha ha, I can do that...I can do that...
let me just check the image size on that last page isn't encroaching the margins and that my pricing is correct.
Then I will quickly mock up the flyer template and prepare the felt for the letters on my bunting.
After that I will bask in the sunshine, lay on that couch, eat ALL the mint slices, read a book, hell, even blink.
Ahh blinking, akin to sleep. How I miss you.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Furry Flurrie Bunnies

There is a flurry of activity in the Forest at the moment.

I am sewing like a mad woman, designing like a crazy person and organising my life like that guy who lives at the end of the street and stops you to make sure your bins are back behind your gates first thing Thursday morning.
So: must stop and prioritise. prioritise prioriti...cheese, need cheese and milk and more felt...
ahh...let me take the mouse off the wheel for a while and break this down into edible chunks:

(please read below for shameless self promotion and calender of events)

FIRST: sew like monkey (and promote) for the SQUARE market; tick
SECOND: market said market - 17th September - Bendigo Town Hall, come one come all!
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Square-Bendigos-Handmade-Market/146792158670515; tick
THIRD: Ask extremely talented co-worker / graphic artist to style up some business cards and flyers
http://benblenner.com/; tick
FOURTH: have photoshoot with BENDIGO MAGAZINE for artist profile (thank you El Gordo and Megan Spencer!! CAFE EL GORDO _ Chancery lane Bendigo_ home of the fat one!)
FIFTH: then sew like monkey again for exhibition in above mentioned artsy cool cafe! October - will post dates...
SIX: holiday? quit day job? become super famous and rich? tick?

Early beginnings

So I feel like an early settler, traversing the plains of Blogdom until I find that perfect layout - the ultimate font - the difinitive 'vibe' so that I can unload my wagon and sort out my gear.
I can almost feel the wind in my virtual hair as this country is wide and vast and incredibly intimidating. At least I am talking to myself here until I grow and nurture a community of listeners to stop at my campsite and be regaled with tales of my new creations and how they came to be.
I pledge not to be too boring - too preachy - too academic or too abstract.
I vow to be entertaining - inspirational (tabs on self!) and whimsically amusing (can only aspire anyway).

However, I think I can see the Forest on the horizon - bear with me as I navigate the micro-roads to get there, I hope it doesn't take too long :)