The crafted object : Nepinka {beading}

In Ukranian, there is no such word as ‘Nepinka’. Olya Mytsko chose the name just because it sounded interesting.


nepinka - vintage rose - neckpiece

nepinka – vintage rose – neckpiece


Olya is pretty interesting herself. She is fascinated by the nexus between old and new, preferring to keep  her eyes open to the road in front, and her hands in the past. Traditional forms of beading are reinterpreted as both visceral, and glitteringly pretty.

She takes hearts and flowers to a whole new level.


nepinka - large heart with flowers

nepinka – large heart with flowers


nepinka - big ear earrings

nepinka – big ear earrings


Originally creating fabric jewellery, she soon realised that the durability of the materials was an issue for her, and started searching for something else. “And beads came up. I’ve come a long way from basic techniques and cheap beads to complicated techniques and high quality beads. It’s not a great business: to create an item takes days, sometimes weeks and even months… because it doesn’t come out of an assembly line. But I love what I’m doing.”


nepinka - veins - earrings

nepinka – veins – earrings


nepinka - tiny heart - neckpiece

nepinka – tiny heart – neckpiece


Olya lives in a very old house near Stanislavyv, Ukraine that she inherited, and plans to renovate it in her own way. It will become “my own fortress; an island of freedom. In spring I’ll start to grow a plant fence, ivy for the walls and vegetables in the orchard.” She loves to walk, and relishes that it takes her 45 minutes to walk into town, and 30 to walk to the forest.


nepinka - packaging

nepinka’s packaging for  heart with flowers


She loves the slowness of it all, both of her chosen lifestyle, and of her craft. “In the old times, craftsmen created true art pieces, and the processing time could last for years.  That’s why I chose beading, where every tiny bead is stitched or knitted to the next one, and so on for hundreds and thousands of times. A rather meditative and long process.”

“I did not want it to be easy and fast. Easy and fast is a task for machines. My task is to make individual products and pay to it as much attention as possible.”


nepinka - van gogh series - bracelet 1

nepinka – van gogh series – bracelet 1


Olya’s Van Gogh series came from a chance email she received from young Ukranian fashion designer Lara Quint. “She just wrote me an e-mail, explaining that I’m the only person who can do exactly what she needed. I still don’t know where she found me. It was a great experience; I was free to do whatever I wanted and the way I saw it.” Lara’s work, including Nepinka beaded accessories, have since been featured in such fabulous places as Vogue.


nepinka - van gogh beard

nepinka – van gogh beard



nepinka - workbench

at the workbench


You can find more of Olya’s wonderful work in her Etsy shop, Nepinka.


nepinka's kitchen

Olya’s kitchen


The crafted object : Susana Teixeira {jewellery}

I was first drawn to Susana Teixeira’s jewellery for the little pods of colour in her rings and pendants. Inspired by sponges and corals from the sea, they are tactile and intriguing. And of course, who am I to ignore rich, vibrant colour when I see it?


susana teixeira - red coral pendant

susana teixeira – red coral pendant


susana teixeira - red coral ring

susana teixeira – red coral ring


susana teixeira - black sponge ring

susana teixeira – black sponge ring


Investigating the her work a bit more revealed a few other threads to her work. Originally from Portugal, she has utilised a traditional form of filigree, but made it her own through modern shapes and interpretations – birds, bows, crowns and clouds all make an appearance.

Originally training and working as a Maths teacher, this history finds its way into her work too. Crystalline forms  in her ‘Meteor’ series convey the idea of precision with their crisp edges and asymmetrical geometry.


“I have always been drawn to details; geometry, symmetry, asymmetry, proportions. All these elements were and are present in my life as both a mathematician and jewelery designer.”


Susana started on Etsy about 3 years ago, although she had already been working as a jeweller for a little while before that.  “I have a degree in Mathematics and I worked as a Math teacher for 10 years in my home country of Portugal. While working as a teacher, I felt that I needed learn something more practical and manual, and so I decided to undertake study in the techniques of jewelry. Since then I started to exhibit my work in Portugal. This professional course took me 3 years and was a fabulous occupation that let me relax from the stress of my day-to-day work.”


susana teixeira -silver cloud necklace

susana teixeira -silver cloud necklace


susana teixeira - filigree pendant

susana teixeira – filigree pendant


“Then three years ago, my life changed completely. My personal life brought me to the north of Italy, and here I am between the Alps and making jewelry as my principal occupation. Having the time to dedicate to make jewelry is the best thing that happened to me.”

“In the last two years I’ve been working essentially in filigree and lost wax casting. The filigree is an amazing technique that is part of the traditional costume from‘Viana do Castelo’, a city in the north of Portugal. I learned it in Portugal and I have been working with this technique for 3 years. I’m continuously learning and trying to adapt this ancestral technique in my contemporary works. The lost wax casting process allows me to make organic forms, which is a challenge for me since my mathematical view makes me tend to produce geometric pieces.”


susana teixeira - signet ring

susana teixeira – signet ring


She constantly listens to music while working, and says that it is definitely one of her biggest influences. “Almost every piece I make has a musical background. If I had to choose one thing, I would choose indie electronic duo High Places.”


susana teixeira - the big crash meteor ring

susana teixeira – the big crash meteor ring


Ironically perhaps for a Mathematician, Susana says her workspace is chaos 90% of the time. “Is it possible to have an organized jewelry work place?”

Her best piece of advice comes from a friend:

“You will never know if it works until you try it and there is always something exciting in the things you can’t control.”



susana teixeira - workspace

susana teixeira – workspace


You can find more of Susana’s jewellery in her Etsy shop, SusanaTeixeiraJewels.


Meet the Sponsors – November

It’s November, and seriously, Xmas is just around the corner. Are you ready? I’m not! However, my lovely sponsors this month will definitely help you pull it all together!


An enormous welcome to brand new sponsor Olenka! Olenka is a jeweller thoroughly inspired by  the beaded ornamentations of far-off places like Morocco and Africa, and loves vibrant colour everywhere. I bought a neckpiece from her recently that included lots of gemstones such as turquoise, coral, malachite and more, and I absolutely love it to bits! It gets worn heaps. You can find Olenka on her website

olenka fj - earrings

olenka fj – earrings



Welcome again to *bespoke* magazine. You need to get your hands on the lastest issue – how pretty are the colours in that cover?! There are heaps of crafty biz tips, new recipes, interviews with artists, a gift-wraping guide… (YES you need it!), snippets of wisdom, how-tos and heaps more. Read the blog, and purchase the mag in either digital or print copies. Check it out here –

bespoke : summer 2013

bespoke : summer 2013


Welcome back to Fiona Parry-Jones, an interior colour consultant working out of Melbourne. As part of her services, she holds regular workshops for people wanting to explore colour in their homes. These workshops are aimed at getting you exactly the colour result you’re looking for.  You can find out more details on her website,

von haus design studio

von haus design studio



Welcome back to my good friend Jemima from My Liefie. Jemima bush-dyes her easy-wear leggings, tops and skirts, all in wonderful natural fabrics such as silk, and silky merino. The dyeing process uses a variety of native plants with shibori techniques, resulting a wide range of earthy colours in wonderful patterns. You can find her in her Etsy shop, MyLiefie.

My Liefie - bush-dyed clothing

My Liefie – bush-dyed clothing



Welcome back to Ruthie, from The Silver Forge! Ruthie makes a wide range of beautiful rings, pendants and earrings, and she’s got a fab collection of gemstones to choose from  if you want something that is special and totally one of a kind. You can find Ruthie at

the silver forge - pendant

the silver forge – pendant



Welome to brand new sponsor Rachel from RMD Jewellery! Rachel uses a range of techniques in her jewellery – embossing, etching, enamelling and resin to add lots of colour and texture to the clean lines of her jewellery. Working out of her studio in Sydney, you can find her online at

rmd jewellery - tiny embossed studs

rmd jewellery – tiny embossed studs



SO excited to reintroduce you to Libby from Crimson Pear! You already know she can do all sorts of techy stuff with html and css to make your site look great AND easy to use, and makes WordPress themes, social media icons and more.

Libby has helped me overhaul this little blog of mine. Do you like it? OK, so it only looks a tiny bit different on the front end, but there a bunch of extra clever little details on how it all fits together and works that make it a treat! So much better than I had before. You can find Libby at

crimson pear - wordpress themes

crimson pear – wordpress themes


Once again, thank you to all tractorgirl’s beautiful sponsors for your support, I appreciate it so much! And to all you readers out there, it’s your turn to show your appreciation for them – go on, click and visit. 🙂


Cheers, Julie x


The crafted object : pipapiep {jewellery}


Esty Gertzman {aka Pipapiep} manages to straddle that line between bright and fun, and seriously, elegantly good. Bulbous beads of painted wood in bright colours combine with fluffy pompoms in pieces that are both amusing and beautiful. They are eclectic and quirky, but their easy appearance  belies the that fact that every element  is very carefully considered – form is important, space is important; size is important; colour is very important.

pipapiep - collection

pipapiep – collection

Pipapiep is not Esty’s only outlet – she is also a graphic artist and illustrator, makes videos and animations, constructs felted dioramas, and sculptures in wood and metal.  And there are often sweet and quirky creatures populating her landscapes. “One of my monsters got famous by starring in a commercial for the biggest supermarket chain in Holland. The whole experience of being part of the project and to see it on national television was all very exciting!”
pipapiep - collection

pipapiep – collection


Nature, and plants in particular, are a constant source of inspiration. “Nature in all its variety of forms and colors keeps surprising me every day.”


pipapiep - neckpiece

pipapiep – neckpiece


Connections to the outdoor world flow throughout her life. One of her earliest memories of being surprised at her own skills was a drawing she made of a hoe, a rake and a shovel in kindergarten. “Later, me and my friends used to have a small corner in the garden that we used to decorate and rearrange every Thursday afternoon, it was an exercise in styling and design.”


pipapiep - collection

pipapiep – collection


She studied sculpture at the Art Academy in Amsterdam and was always curious about different media and materials, exploring not only traditional sculpture materials like wood, metal and clay but also video and illustration. She spent a few years working as an artist and exhibiting, and was exploring new ways to sell her work when she discovered Etsy. “I really liked the community, and because of the international connections I soon came in contact with a much broader group of people who are working in the same field between art and crafts.” Pipapiep  (pronouced as peepapeep) was born, derived from the names of her son’s two russian dwarf hamsters called Pipa and Piep.

Favourite artists include the photographer Francesca Woodman, the wire sculptures of Ruth Asawa, and the paintings of Giorgio Morandi.


pipapiep - neckpiece

pipapiep – neckpiece


I asked her what she would make with a cardboard box, a marker pen and a knife. She said, “I’ll cut out Godzilla, give him a pair of eyes and let him loose on the world.”


pipapiep - workspace

pipapiep – workspace


Her best piece of advice?  “Be true to yourself and dare to make mistakes.”


You can find more of Esty’s jewellery in her Pipapiep shop on Etsy, plushies, felted works and sculptures on Behance, and a broader range of illustration and video on her own website,


Opinion : handcraft and community ~ it’s not as good as you think

sewing circle - photographer unknown

sewing circle – photographer unknown


There’s something quite lovely about getting together with a friend and making stuff. Sewing, knitting, cutting, filing. Your hands are busy, and your mind has space to enjoy the peace and conversation. And there is the added bonus of a fresh set of eyes and ears to toss ideas around with. Share tips and tricks. Learn from each other. Offer suggestions for improvement. And there is the opportunity to pass on skills (like mother to daughter, but to a broader group).

There should be more of it.

We used to do this much more often before the middle of the 20th century, before the consumer age really kicked in. Before we became ‘self-sufficient’ and self-focused. Craft groups are having a small revival, but it is still small. With the resurgence in handcrafts around the world, are our lives that busy that we can’t meet up?  It seems to me that we are too easily lulled into a false sense of ‘connectedness’, and instead we are insulated by the internet. Youtubes and e-courses have their place, but there’s nothing quite like the tactile, one-on-one experience.


Because other people’s opinions are valuable, and
because not everything you make is wonderful.


True, some crafts are more suited to this than others; embroidery, knitting and crochet are highly mobile; jewellery and ceramics might be a bit trickier. But there are always aspects of every craft that are mobile. Could you set up a co-op to cater for jewellery, woodworking, or participate in an existing open access workshop? Instead of saying “my craft (sewing/jewellery/woodwork/ceramics/whatever) is not portable enough”, try and figure out ways to make it work. Or just invite a friend over to your workspace.

Watch and do, immediate feedback – what better way to learn a craft is there?


Go on, it’ll be fun.



grrlandog - vaucluse house guerilla knit

grrlandog – vaucluse house guerilla knit

{grrlandog via here}