Competition! Digital Fabrics ‘Botanical Extracts’

Calling ALL Australian surface designers – especially those of you who love florals as much as I do!!

Digital Fabrics is a print-on-demand business based in Sydney, which offers digital fabric printing onto a huge variety of fabrics in a range of sizes up to 1.5m wide. They  work with fashion and swimwear labels, TV and staging, the interior design industry including drapery and upholstery fabrics and a whole lot more.


digital fabrics - botanical extracts comp image

They have some exciting news! They’ve just launched their latest competition, (open to Australian residents only, sorry lovely overseas peeps :) ), which involves designing a botanical print for fashion and interiors. It’s not limited to people already involved in the industry; it’s wide open to any member of the public. If you’ve got the skills, they want to hear from you.

There are some FABULOUS prizes up for grabs.

  • First prize is $500 of credit for printing, and 2 weeks paid internship! You also get 5 m of fabric with your design printed on the fabric of your choice, your winning design will be featured in the Digital Fabrics’ Prints Collection, and you get industry exposure through Digital Fabrics.
  • The runner-up gets $200 of credit for printing, and like the winner, you also get 5 m of fabric with your design printed on the fabric of your choice, your winning design will be featured in the Digital Fabrics’ Prints Collection, and you get industry exposure through Digital Fabrics.
  • Not only that, EVERY participant will receive 15% discount off printing. How good is that?


digital fabrics - scarf prints

Digital Fabrics – scarf prints


japanese chrysanthemum -barysiuk_viktoryia flickr

{japanese chrysthemum by barysiuk_viktoryia, from here}

The only real design requirements are that it has to be botanical, contain hand drawn or painted elements, and stick to the palette they provide. There are no other stylistic limits – so the whole world is your inspiration!


eucomis comosa - dr steven murray on flickr

 {eucomis comosa, from Dr. Steven Murray, here}


seed pod - chrisjohnbeckett via flickr

  {seed pods, from Chris John Beckett, here}

To participate, you MUST have a Pinterest account or be willing to join, as they have created a special Pinterest board that you need to upload your design onto for voting. The voting starts on 30th April, SO GET ONTO IT NOW.

Last year’s competition produced some fabulous designs. Their brief was to design a 1m square scarf with with the theme “Local Produce”, and they were given three colours they had to incorporate.  If you’d like to see what some of the entries for last year looked like, you can check them out here.


digital fabrics - zebra blue primula - webrarian flickr

  {Blue Zebra primula by Webrarian, here}

So get started now. The deadline is not that far away – and you might just win those fantastic prizes.

Full details and requirements can be viewed when you register and download the PDF from Digital Fabrics here.


digital fabrics - mood board

Digital Fabrics – mood board


Best of luck everyone!

Julie X


{Disclaimer: this post was supported by Digital Fabrics. But rest assured I will only EVER promote things I truly believe in, and that I think are genuinely useful for you.}

The crafted object : Cardboard Safari

When Chris Jessee first interviewed Luis Rodrigalvarez to come on board his fledgling laser-cutting business building model kits for model train enthusiasts, Spanish-born Luis could barely speak English. Chris was dubious.

But then Luis showed Chris his portfolio, which was enormous and full of amazing things. Luis and Chris have been working together ever since.


cardboard safari - bucky

cardboard safari – bucky


Chris was always a drawer and maker from a young age, and credits his brother with urging him to draw and pushing him to work at making his drawings better and better. He continued drawing, making models and handmade gifts for friends and family, and before he’d even hit the teenage years, knew that he wanted to make a living by building things.

He studied architecture and spent several years working for architecture firms. It was while working as an architect that he realised the power of CAD and added a degree in computing to his repertoire. Then in 2003 he pulled it all together and took the big leap to starting his own business making the model kits.


carboard safari - bucky jr - modern art print

carboard safari – bucky jr – modern art print


It was  few years later later that an architect approached him to make a topography model, and so Chris in turn went to his cousin who worked for a cardboard manufacturer. The cousin was a keen deer hunter, and so the conversation pretty quickly turned to trophies… and Cardboard Safari was born.

‘Bucky’ was the first of the product line in 2006, and Cardboard Safari started on Etsy on 2009. Since then, they have developed a whole menagerie – moose, deer, lion, unicorn… ”Safari is equal parts adventure and animal observation.”


carboard safari - juliette

carboard safari – juliette


ardboard safari - eyan jr - pop art

ardboard safari – eyan jr – pop art


Based in Charlottesville, Virginia and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, they now have stockists around the world from London to Sydney. Getting Cardboard Safari to this point has been a big journey, and Chris is immensely grateful to Amy Gardner of Scarpa in Charlottesville. “She was the first retail shop to carry our products in 2007 and urged me to exhibit at gift shows, which greatly expanded our presence in retail stores such as Urban Outfitters.”


cardboard safari - jack

cardboard safari – jack


carboard safari - micro vince

carboard safari – micro vince


Each new design takes months of process. “We brainstorm about new ideas and listen to customer feedback about what new products they would like to see.  Our ideas and customer suggestions become a list and we sort and reshuffle, weighing the merits of each product to determine what we do next. Then we research through web searches of photographs and then build the model in the computer. Lastly there are many cycles or iterations to refine the design so it is visually pleasing and easy to assemble.”

Visually pleasing they are! Most designs are available in various sizes, and now they’ve added the extra option of having them cut from printed card – Pop, Mondrian-style, or pixelated camouflage – the variations are almost endless. Pink with that? Sure!


cardboard safari - rocket table

cardboard safari – rocket table


After all these years and hundreds of new designs, does Chris have a favourite? Yes; he is pretty definite on this – Bucky always holds a special place for him as the genesis of his product line.


cardboard safari - merlin jr - stars and snowflakes unicorn

cardboard safari – merlin jr – stars and snowflakes unicorn


His best piece of advice? “Life is a thinking man’s game.”

You can find more of Cardboard Safari in their Etsy shop CardboardSafari, and on their own website, {which also includes links to their stockists around the world).


Surface design : Claudia Owen

I love how Claudia Owen plays with colour. Starting with classic, elegant geometrics, she breathes new life into them with details in clashing, vibrant hues of hot pink, yellow, green and orange.


claudia owen - diamonds are forever - blue pink yellow

claudia owen – diamonds are forever


Based in Canberra, Claudia first studied graphic design (part of which was at uni in my home town of Wagga! – JG) and worked as a graphic designer for a few years. Then about 6 years ago, she sat down and put a list together of all the things she enjoyed doing. “The list was very long but every single thing I had on it revolved around the world of surface pattern design. However, at that time I had no idea that there was actually a name for what I was doing! All I knew is that I loved creating patterns and designs that could have a wide range of applications and it gave me great joy to be doing that type of work.” She says that having a background in graphic design has been helpful, as both fields complement each other.


claudia owen - green tentacles

claudia owen – green tentacles


She firmly believes in the transformative power of a good pattern; how it can change an ordinary thing into a striking work of art. “I always enjoy seeing the final product with my design on it. It doesn’t matter how many times that has happened over the years, it’s always very exciting! I like to think that my designs have put a smile on someone’s face or that it has helped someone improve the look of a room by using one of my throw pillows, fabrics or wallpapers.”

“There are many artists and designers that I admire and look up to: Jessica SwiftDaniel Moraes, Rachael Taylor, Amy Butler, Khristian A Howell, Mark Llewelyn-Bowen and many more. I love it that each one of them has been able to make a living from something that they are passionate about.”


claudia owen - iron bars - green

claudia owen – iron bars – green


While her formal training has been in graphic design, Claudia’s surface design skills have mostly been self taught.


“I think my whole journey has been full of challenges given that I was getting into a field of work that I knew nothing about. But thanks to the internet I have been able to do lots of research and I have bought books, e-books, I have done online courses and tutorials and I have also found Facebook groups of like minded people and all of these things have helped me move forward.”


claudia owen - stars - yellow green aqua

claudia owen – stars – yellow green aqua


claudia owen - diamonds and flowers

claudia owen – diamonds and flowers


“Probably the best piece of advice would have to be that hard work pays off and that you should never give up! Just the other day I read a quote by Vince Lombardi that I thought reflected this sentiment quite well: “The man on top of the mountain didn’t just fall there”.”

You can find more of Claudia’s work on her website, (with links to her work on Society6, Kekacase and many others), and her Spoonflower shop. You should also check out her cute and witty cards in her Etsy shop, venerate.

The crafted object : Your Organ Grinder (textiles)

I have long been fascinated by the curious felted viscera of Simmone Spring from Your Organ Grinder. Eyes, kidneys, teeth, brains, hearts, lungs, thyroid… Who buys them? Why?


your organ grinder - brain

your organ grinder – brain


“I get to work with a lot of people who are ill or have had surgeries or have chronic illness. It is pretty special to be invited into a persons life when they are ill. Some of the illnesses people have had are things they are probably cautious about telling anyone about and I want to make sure no one has to feel embarrassed about the things their body does. I also get to learn a lot by talking with them, and learn how the illness makes itself known, what are good signs, things like that. It is wonderful when someone gets really enthusiastic to be able explain to me what is going on with their illness, I am always really interested to know!”


your organ grinder - heart brooch

your organ grinder – heart brooch


Simmone has a diploma of applied science and a degree in literature and sociology. She contemplated working with animals (and would still love to), but also thought about writing. She ended up working in a retail position that required crafting skills, and loves it that she is always learning new things – her job is being the coordinator for - a group dedicated to teaching people new craft skills.


your organ grinder - brain stamp wrapping paper

your organ grinder – brain stamp wrapping paper


Simmone started making organs about 6 years ago after a chat with a friend about her collections of animal skeletons and exoskeletons. “I didn’t think I could manage to make animals in jars but though an eye was possible, and maybe a heart. Once I started making anatomy it was hard to stop.”

After researching the shapes and colours of each body part, she starts each new design by cutting directly into the felt, admitting that drawing is not one of her strong points. “It requires a lot of effort. If I whip out scissors and just go for it I usually get a better result, and a much faster one!  The first kidney I made was entirely free hand, and I then used what I cut to make a template. I also like to read a bit about the body part as knowing how they function can give a lot of insight into how to represent them.

“I’m not a fan of a sewing machine but I do use it every now and then. Using the sewing machine always makes me frustrated so I allocate a very small amount of sewing machine work at a time and probably only use it once a month. Consequently there is screen printed anatomy all over the place that is printed, but has got no further.”

“I know I was making stuff all the time as a child. Cutting up fabric to make barbie clothes, making little gifts for friends. When my Nana taught me to knit I made a pink cape for a barbie, it was pretty terrible, my knitting still is, but to me it was the ultimate in barbie fashion. I made fairly dodgy stuff! My mum taught me crochet when I was quite young, 9 or 10, so I was always interested in making things and entertaining myself with making things.”


your organ grinder - placenta with specimen jar

your organ grinder – placenta with specimen jar


“Usually once at every market I have someone say something very rude to me about what I create. Thankfully I’m fairly used to that kind of thing as I have liked weird stuff my whole life and always been the person that gets told I’m a weirdo, or sick, or has strange looks from people. I’m lucky to have had equally weird friends and everyone in the craft community has some bizarre interest! I still do feel paranoid about certain things I am interested in and not a lot of people know about them, but often I am surprised to learn that there is someone else I know with the same interest.”

“I think my biggest influences are actually horror movies, because they spark my interest in ideas that I go off and research and find something interesting out from them. It is not necessarily anatomy that inspires me but more colours and techniques and idea’s. I have a real interest in how people represent and portray their creativity. Seeing creativity in action inspires me. I love watching RuPaul’s Drag Race as I love how creativity is portrayed in this show.”


your organ grinder - skin hoop

your organ grinder – skin hoop


Her favourite piece at the moment is her “Skin Hoop”, showing the structure and layers of the skin. “It’s a lot of hand sewing and cutting out felt really precisely and actually kinda a pain to make and takes ages but I love it. I put on a terrible movie to watch while I work on things like that. It was originally a custom order. I loved the result and had to make another smaller version. I definitely want to make more in this style.”


Many people think Simmone’s craft is a bit strange. But it’s not as strange as knowing what actually creeps Simmone out. 


“Long fingernails, feet, anything to do with pregnancy and small babies, chicken on the bone, countless other foods. Pregnancy stuff makes me feel faint sometimes, just thinking about it. I also find doing some research can make me quite queasy and hot and clammy and feel faint. It is funny what does it!”


your organ grinder - studio

your organ grinder – studio


You can find more of Simmone’s work in her Etsy shop YourOrganGrinder, and on her own website and blog,

Meet the Sponsors : April

Hello there April! I think I’m onto you, before you slip past me like all the other months… Ha!

Welcome once again to my lovely sponsors, and thank you for April.



You all must know Libby from Crimson Pear now! Of course she can do all sorts of website techy stuff for you, from a simple tweak to a full-blown makeover. And she’s got some great responsive WordPress themes available in her shop too (the tractorgirl site runs on the “Simplified” theme!). Here’s her latest very stylish theme, “Eloise”. You can find Libby and all her goodies at

crimson pear - 'eloise' responsive wordpress theme

crimson pear – ‘eloise’ responsive wordpress theme



I love Tasha Chawner’s Weekend Photo Project - her latest topic is “Guilty Pleasures”. Chocolate, of course. And tips on how to hide it from the kids.  She also has a very nice free blog planner for you to download. And check out her series, “53 Pieces of Unsolicited Advice”. This and lots more fun things on Tasha’s blog at

tasha chawner - The weekend photo project - guilty pleasure {chocolate}

tasha chawner – The weekend photo project – guilty pleasure {chocolate}



You know I’m always a sucker for a nice bit of vintage fabric. Jennifer at A Piece Of Cloth has quite a lot! She recently completed a fabric buying trip to the US and found some very lovely things. How sweet is this swirly roses print on feedsack? Check it all out on her Facebook page, A Piece Of Cloth.

a piece of cloth - vintage fabric

a piece of cloth – vintage fabric



Katie Alleva loves birds. Which is pretty damn obvious when you visit her site – all manner of birds adorn prints, embossing, and laser-cut cherry wood brooches. I love this limited edition print – it’s gloriously large at A2 size, full of colour and life. You can find Katie at

katie alleva - 'birda' limited edition print

katie alleva – ‘birda’ limited edition print



Ever wanted to have breakfast in Paris? Yes please! Now you can dream about it every morning with this wall art from Irina of Chulart. Or you might like to try New York. There’s also some sweet flowers for you, or your children’s room. You can find them in Irina’s shop at

chulart - paris breakfast

chulart – paris breakfast



Erin of Licorice Fox has a range of hand drawn clip art for you to download and use in whatever kind of project you wish – chickens, birds, sweet flowers and patterns and much more. You can find her in her Etsy shop, LicoriceFox.

licorice fox - 'winter birds' clipart

licorice fox – ‘winter birds’ clipart



Sophie is my dear friend and keen gardener (aren’t these blooms glorious?) Recently, she had to deal with the harsh reality of miscarriage – something that is relatively common and that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. I know; that was my experience too. Much love to you S. X
Sophie is here -

shine little light - flowers from the garden

shine little light – flowers from the garden



Kellie lives at 74 lime lane, which is always full of the most interesting snippets of DIY, popular culture, printables, things to see and do and photography from around the interwebs. Check her blog at

74 Lime Lane - inspiration roundup

74 Lime Lane – inspiration roundup



As always, thank you so very much to all these wonderful folk for supporting tractorgirl. Please show your appreciation by visiting these fab indie businesses too. Go on, they’re fab!

Julie X