The poetry of stars


It’s almost christmas, and I know from experience it can be a bit frantic. Enjoy your loved ones. Take the time to breathe, and contemplate the peace of stars.


The Peace of Wild Things


When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


missquitecontrary – “stars above and cloud below” – photograph


applesmodernart – star ornaments – vintage & craft paper


harrietdamave – “north star” – delftware


photographybykarina – star anise – photograph


colettebream – star – soft cotton pillow

{all images are linked to their source}

Book review : Surrealism for Kids


surrealism for kids

Do you have kids? What a cute book this is! It’s a bunch of fun activities for kids from age 4 up, based on some of the Surrealist’s most famous methods of creating art. It also gives a brief introduction to some of the most well-known Surrealist artists, such as Dali, Breton, Ernst and Tzara.

Now I have tested this book out on my own kids – an 8 year old girl, and twin 6 year old boys – and I can say the very most fun one was the Decalcomania – turning inkblots into images by drawing onto and around them (you can see a couple of examples on the bookcover image above). Dogs, tractors, fairies, witches houses and scary monsters all featured!

The kids loved it. We haven’t tried all the activities, but I think most of them are suitable for most ages. However, I do think some would be enjoyed more by children older than mine, especially the text-based ones.

Overall, some great games to play, easy to organise and easy to do, and good to remember for years – frottage and Exquisite Corpse will never lose their freshness.

Highly recommended.


Published by the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Children’s Art Centre. ISBN 9781921503344

Meet the sponsors for September


Welcome to a new month, and some beautiful new sponsors!

First up is MadeByRori, who has gorgeous journals and notebooks with handprinted covers. They are all pretty cute – makes for a hard choice! You can find her shop here –


You might remember Kat Selvocki’s fabulous images of Morocco that I featured on the blog earlier in the year, they were gorgeous, weren’t they!? She has travelled extensively, and has some truly stunning photography from around the world, which you can find here –


Jennifer Skelly from Red Parka is an illustrator, crafter and blogger. You can check her blog full of goodness on everything from illustration through to small biz tips and tricks on  The Red Parka Diaries at


Madeline from Creatz Couture makes colourful accessories, and you can find her here


A big welcome back to Nicole Bloch from Erra Creations! She repurposes all sorts of bits that didn’t work in the world anymore as they were. She is a keen cyclist, so expect  unexpected and useful ideas for bicycle parts!


And welcome back to Katia, of the wonderful blog Plushka Craft. Katia has a Russian heritage which has given her a love for traditional embroidery and hand embellishments, which she uses in making soft toys and homewares. She shares all of this on her blog, as well as heaps of great business tips, and craft tutorials.


Welcome back too, to Janine from Middlemost Clothing. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably already know about Janine’s gorgeous clothing and accessories from  vintage fabrics. And believe me, you should really check out the packaging for her accessories – so fun, it’s all part of the deal!


Lastly, welcome back to participants in the first Blog Banner Swap – Annaig’s Gem Studio,   Earth Apple JaneSpincushionsJiniku Clothing and King Billy – all wonderful makers, and all Australian too! So go have a read of their blogs, you might just learn a bit more about what makes these intriguing people tick.


An enormous thank you to all my sponsors & bloggy friends – I truly appreciate your support.

Julie x


The crafted object : Gill Pyke – origami


Origami has been Gill Pyke’s passion since childhood.

By day, Gill (aka Catamation) works in the digital world as an illustrator, animator and designer, and at night she has a not-so-secret life as an analogue artist, making miniature insects, flowers and plants in origami. “Brisbane has such an awesome variety of insect life and tropical plants that’s it’s a constant source of inspiration for my drawing, printmaking and origami pieces.”


catamation – ishihara 8 – atlas beetle pin (the ‘ishihara test’ is a test for colour-blindness)


Not surprisingly, another of her loves are Issey Miyake Vogue dress patterns. She says of them ,”They are like sewing an origami project. I have a maths/science background as well [from studying Industrial Design], so I’m fascinated by mathematical concepts such as the ‘golden ratio’. And I use a lot of mathematics and geometry in designing new origami folds.”

A brief browse through her pieces will reveal that not all of them are made from plain paper – many are printed with patterns and text that are utilised to enhance the work. She explains that all of the paper stocks she uses are made with a high percentage of recycled content. “I also like to experiment with what I find in second-hand stores and flea markets [but] no books are harmed in my process – I only use books that can no longer be used as books.”


catamation – selection of origami hairclips, including a flamingo and butterflies


catamation – ladybug earrings


Gill remembers a childhood that was filled with drawing and painting, along with a large variety of other creative activities.

“Everyone in my family has a hobby or a craft. We weren’t allowed to watch much television when I was little so I’ve always been doing something. I got my first sewing machine (battery operated) when I was about 4. Mum used to buy large rolls of paper from the newspaper company and I would make paper clothes, colour them in with crayons then staple my younger sister in to them. When I got my first car I decorated it with paisley shapes cut out from book covering contact. I’ve painted sneakers and had the whole house smell yucky from hot rubber while I heat set the fabric paint by baking them in the oven. I’ve bought old plain dresses from the op-shop and screenprinted or hand drawn designs on them.”

In fact, there were so many activities in Gill’s family home, that when her parents  wanted to renovate the kitchen, she felt a bit melancholy and sentimental about it. “The saddest part of this was replacing the old bench top. It has drill holes, burn marks, cut marks and lots of other memories and scars from all of the crafty projects we’ve done over the years.”

Other family members have been influential too. “My nana taught me to cross stitch/embroider, crochet and knit when I was quite young. My dad was always working out in his shed with wood and metal (I helped when he made a wooden boat/yacht or two, as well as making a few electronic projects like an electronic piano). Mum was always sewing, and did some leatherwork and macramé. And we did a bit of origami on rainy days, amongst tie dyeing and all sorts of other things.”


catamation – voodoo and skull – brooches


But she never mastered felting. She laughs, “All the attempts I’ve made to felt have ended in disaster. Didn’t really solve the problem – just set the project/s aside” – along with a whole bunch of other stuff! She admits her biggest problem is “storage. I have so many craft supplies and half finished projects.” [Me too, Gill, me too.]

Such a busy life of ideas and making is reflected in her current workspace, which she  describes as “A very large desk with all sorts of shelves and drawers and jars stacked up in a corner. A large bookshelf to the right with a heap of art books, paper supplies etc. A cluttered wall space to the left covered in postcards, photographs, drawings etc (my wonderwall). And a window directly in front of me, that overlooks the neighbour’s tropical garden.” Sounds gloriously full!


catamation – yoda – brooch pin


Gill exhibits regularly, and sells most of her work through galleries in Australia and USA.  If you are lucky enough to live in Brisbane, she also has a stall at the craft markets there. If you can’t get to Brissy, she has a small selection of work available through Etsy here. You can also find her on Facebook.

And in case you’re wondering, all her pieces are coated with epoxy varnish to ensure durability. And I really can’t get over how precisely perfect they are.


With thanks to Gill for sharing her words & images here.


Design how-to : Repetition


Welcome to the next instalment in my series on the Elements and Principles of Design (you can find the rest of the series here) – and welcome to the first Principle that we’re covering – Repetition!

Repetition is a fabulous thing. You can use just about anything in your design – the oddest colours, the whackiest shapes,  – if you tie it all together through repeating elements. It gives your composition deliberateness, which is a key to making something appear cohesive.

Lets have a look at an example that uses repetition in a simple way to great effect. This ring by Nora Rochel is covered in multiple beads of silver, slightly varying in size. What a fabulously tactile result! Not only does it create a visually unified surface, but when a something is covered in similarly-sized and shaped elements (or pattern), the overall effect is one of texture.


nora rochel – ring, 925 silver


Repetition does not have to be just using the same shapes – if the colour and material are the same/similar throughout a piece it can look incredibly effective too. Love this work from paper artist Sabrina Transiskus.


Sabrina Transiskus {via uponafold}


This wonderful collection of African spoons further demonstrates that items do not even have to be the same colour, shape or material. Placement is important here – they are all placed vertically, and are spaced evenly over the whole of the image. And of course what also works here is that the collection is based around a single concept – they are all spoons, with a bowl and a handle.

a collection of African spoons {from the exhibition ‘1002 spoons’ by Jurgen Lehl, via}


If you think about what Repetition is, then you can play with the idea to create points of interest in your work. For instance, if you have number of repeated elements, using one very different element can provide an intriguing point of interest, as in the ball-shaped bead on this ring by Liisa Hashimoto. Of course, the largest wheel-shaped bead draws your attention too, simply because it is the biggest, and this adds to the intrigue.


liisa hashimoto – koro koro ring, 925 silver


Sometimes you come across a piece which looks wild and chaotic, and it makes you wonder a bit why it still works. The illustrations of Yellena are often such a wild collection of colours and shapes, it’s a little hard to know where to start. You need to step back a bit and have a more considered look. Firstly, the palette of colours is not as wild as you think, and are based around only four – orange-red, turquoise, and ochre, with an overlay of black. The space is also dominated by many organic round shapes, most of which have a similar substantial turquoise spot in the centre; and many have some kind of stripes radiating out from the centre. There is also a series of these shapes which all have a similar size, running in a fairly simple band across the bottom third of the image, and these provide a good balance to the larger shape at the top of the page.


yellena – ‘amble’ – pen and ink on paper


Yellena skilfully uses repetition of the Elements of line, shape, colour, and size to give a gorgeously vibrant result – there is plenty to look at, without getting lost in the territory of overwhelm.

Now just a caveat here – like all Elements and Principles, Repetition is a magic thing that can be used for good or evil. By that I mean if it is overused, it can look quite ugly, or worse, it can simply look boring. So be careful how you wield its power. It is only one technique (Principle) that you can use with the tools (Elements) in your Design toolbox.

Have fun experimenting! Next up in this series is using CONTRAST – stay tuned.


And if you’ve got a project that you’re proud of, that uses any of these Elements and Principles, I would LOVE to hear about it! If you’ve got a pic of it up online somewhere, please add a link in the comments below, so you can show it off!! :)

Seeya, Julie xx