Beach yourself : Fish


I’m on holidays at the beach with my family, camping in a beautiful spot, surrounded by lakes, bush, sand dunes, and sea. So while I’m away, here’s a selection of works themed around some of my favourite beachy things.

One thing we love to do is go fishing. My 8yo girl is a better fisher than I, but I love the peace of the surrounding bush landscape amd the gentle flow of the river at the edge of the ocean. And freshly caught fish is pretty damn delicious.

Julie x

{unknown – via pinterest}


helen musselwhite – fish


andrew ludick – bowls


Kate Jenkins – red mullet & chips

Meet the sponsors for January


Aaaah, January. A fresh new year, with fresh new plans. There’s always something quite joyous about January, isn’t there? And I’m so happy to face a new year together with old friends and new.

Old friends I’d like to welcome back are Janine of Middlemost Clothing, Sophie from Shine Little Light, and Jemima from My Liefie. These gals are my real-life friends, they make me laugh, they make me think, and I love them all for the wonderful and very different things they each have to offer.


My Liefie

Jemima’s work currently revolves around bush dyeing on natural fibres, especially milky merino – wool mixed with milk protein to give a gorgeously un-itchy silkiness, which is then knitted into beautiful, drapey jerseys. Jemima uses shibori techniques with leaves to produce wonderful patterning on simple and elegant Japanese-inspired clothing. You can contact her through Facebook here.


Sophie – Shine Little Light

Sophie’s blog is always a trick to describe – it’s about great vego recipes, life as a wife, her (sometimes cheeky) dog Lola, about moving house from the city to the country, about living through a devastating flood with chest-height water that washed through their house a bare two months after they’d moved in, and their trials of rebuilding. The blog, Shine Little Light, is here.


middlemost – shop girl

I so love Janine’s funny and slightly subversive accessories, with their wonderful packaging. She also makes a mean line of clothing in some absolutely fabulous vintage fabrics, You can find her shop here.


PlanetTreasures – many treasures necklace

And onto some newer friends – I’ve known Tess online for quite a while, and she’s friends with another real-life friend of mine, so I guess in the scheme of things, that makes it more betterer ;). Not one to shy away from colour, Tess uses beautifully large semi-precious stones and Czech glass in her jewellery. You can find Tess’s Etsy shop, PlanetTreasures here.

Country & Co’s Damien Ford – coolibah burl

Holly, a country gal like me, is based in Cowra, NSW, and is the face behind Country & Co, a collective and online marketplace for artisans in rural Australia and beyond. One of the amazing people she is showcasing is the work of woodturner Damien Ford, who is only 15 years old. Astonishing for his skills, and for his focus and drive in getting his work out there at such a young age.  You can find Damien’s work as well as other treasures through Country & Co’s website here.


chulabird – paisley

Irina from Chulabird makes totally vivid and luscious designs, folk-art inspired and a little bit 70s. I first met Irina via Spoonflower, when I found her work and decided to interview her. You can find out more about Irina in the interview here, or you can find all her great designs in her Spoonflower shop here.


plushkacraft – the enchanted forest collection

A hearty welcome back to Katia and her lovely crafty blog PlushkaCraft, chock full of DIYs, craft and sewing tips, and business tips. 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. You can find PlushkaCraft here.


mardi nowak – gaga

And a heart-felt welcome to brand new sponsor, Mardi Nowak. Mardi is a textile artist based in Melbourne, Australia.  She works predominately in woven tapestry, investigating aspects of celebrity, fashion, shopping theory and the phenomena of fan-dom. Her latest group of works include pieces on Gaga and Kylie, and she will be having an exhibition of them at the Hand Held Gallery in Melbourne. The exhibition, titled Sampler, will be opening on 24th January, running through to the 16th February. You can find more about Mardi and the exhibition on her website here.


I am always grateful for the support of these lovely people. Go show them a little love!

Julie x

{And if you’d like to join them, and get your good shop/blog/website featured on tractorgirl, you can find out more about Sponsorship here. I’d love to meet you!}


Surface design : Laura Mysak

Yes, yes! My hand is up – I adore flowers too. When I look at Laura Mysak’s work, I can feel that same admiration for these beautiful and delicate things; her floral-filled surface designs are heady with gorgeousness. Big roses, tulips and irises are transformed through watercolour into soft, rich wallpaper and fabric designs to envelop yourself in.


lauram – fifties rose


Laura says she draws inspiration from historical sources and traditional botanical illustration. She always starts with a handpainting, and finishes her work digitally: “Sometimes the design can stay quite close to the original handpainting and sometimes I work into it on screen adding and subtracting, picking out the strongest elements.”


lauram – spring blossom


lauram – spring tulip


lauram – pink roses


Although she only started freelancing her own designs less than 12 months ago, this is not Laura’s first encounter with surface design. In 2002 she graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design with a First Class Honours in Printed Textiles, then went on to complete an Masters in Textiles at Winchester School of Art. Then, after almost a decade of industry experience working in CAD design studios for the British fashion market, she decided “it was about time I tried something for myself.”


laura mysak – multi poppy


laura mysak – peony


laura mysak – orchids


“I have always been excited about creating original surface pattern designs. Since college I’ve worked on honing my style, and I’ve come to realise what I’m good at, what I should stay away from and where I’d like to see my work progressing. Having worked in commercial design studios producing work that fits current trends I was itching to create my own unique look, something which makes me proud of the journey I’ve taken to get here.”

Her journey continues. I first came across her work on Spoonflower, with beautiful, sketchy and stylised designs shown above, such as Fifties Rose; her recent work, like Multi Poppy, demonstrates a shift to more botanically accurate images, yet the whole is overlaid with a linear detail, giving it a contemporary edge while retaining its essential femininity.


laura mysak – (from her sketchbook) – hellebores


You can find more of Laura’s work on Spoonflower here, on her blog here, and on her own website,

From here to there and a best of 2012


It’s been a big year for me folks! And that’s for several reasons – first and foremost is that my youngest children, my twin boys, started school this year – which left me with a few hours spare during the day to pursue tractorgirl stuff with a bit more focus. And this in turn has meant getting the blog to its present state. I have really learnt a lot, but most of all, how much more I need to learn. >_<

This blog. Wow! what fabulous stuff I have had the privilege of seeing, what wonderful, intriguing people I have met along the way, to share their stories with you and to show you what they are capable of has been an absolute honour.  So here are some of my highlight picks for the year (and let me tell you, it has been a HARD choice). Enjoy.


Kat Selvocki, pie-baking, yoga-teaching, photograph-taking world traveller took off from the U.S. late last year, visited numerous places en route to Australia, and returned home just before Xmas. She shared a wonderful series of images of Morocco, and you can find some more of them here.

Kat Selvocki – Morocco 2


Elin Thomas, the daughter of an organic chemist, became fascinated by the lichens and molds seen under her father’s microscope. Her micro-crochet has also meant a struggle with RSI. You can find more about Elin and her work here.

ElinArt – moldy madness 3 – brooch


Jonathon McCabe, by his own admission, is a computer geek. His stunning computer-generated surface designs are made using algorithms that mimic the processes used by the skins of animals in forming spots and stripes. He’s got some videos showing these processes in action – it’s completely fascinating to watch. You can find more about him here.

Jonathon McCabe – origami butterfly 0060 – surface design


Sandra Darling uses layered and enhanced photographic images to produce her sumptuous large scale surface designs. What I love about these is the possibilities of placement when using these beautiful fabrics for clothing and furniture. You can find Sandra and her work here.

Sandra Darling – Aquaplume (detail)


When I first contacted Melitina Balabin, she was staying on a tiny Estonian island, and had to travel 45kms for internet. It reminded me that despite technology, it’s still a big, big world out there. There’s more of Melitina and her gorgeous jewellery here.

Melitina Balabin – floreat – brooch


Walter Helena Photography is only part of Nadine Boyd, who more frequently works as an industrial designer. Her images are dense and rich, dreamlike and spare, much like her writing. You can find more about her here.

Walter Helena Photography – Turquoise 011


Mirjam Hiller’s jewellery pieces are technically amazing, as well as very beautiful. Each piece is hand-cut from a single sheet of metal, before being twisted and assembled into their final form. More of Mirjam here.

mirjam hiller – bovenas pink – brooch


Third Half Studios. Well of course they do great surface design, witty and fresh – but Sarah’s was one of the stories that touched me the most – of spending your adolescent years caring for your Alzheimers-ridden grandmother, of living on the street and being plucked from obscurity to work as artist’s assistant in an established studio. You can read more about Sarah & Lori here. 

Third Half Studios – putting a point on it (turquoise lime)


And SO much more fabulousness… These few are by no means my definitive list of loves. There is much more, so much more beauty in the world. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Julie x


Surface design : Jiah Harrison


Did you ever get bored as a child? Jiah Harrison says she never was, but always had an endless amount of energy for drawing and painting. “My mother is really artistic and I always felt very nurtured and encouraged to pursue my creativity. I went to a screen printing workshop with her when I was about five and I loved it. I’ve never considered pursuing anything other than art or design since.”

Jiah’s prints are fresh and clean, with a palette of citrus and mint, put together with a light touch.


jiah – botanical


Jiah creates surface pattern designs using digital media but always starts with a hand-drawn image. She sketches and paints whenever she can. “I try not to be too precious about what I create initially because I’m not aiming for a finished piece of art but rather a series of ideas that I can use to layer and create my pattern designs.”

She is an avid design blog reader, and credits them as an important influence in her work. “I have a small list that I read daily. They’re all wonderful but a special mention would have to go to Holly Becker of Decor8 for her beautiful taste and open heart and also to Lucy Feagins of Australian blog The Design Files. She has introduced me to so many wonderful designers, artists and crafters and her interviews have been such an inspiration. I love reading real life success stories about people who are running creative businesses. Marimekko is a constant inspiration to me, not just for their colourful, graphic designs but also for their longevity and amazing re-invention in recent times.”


jiah harrison – fanfare


She continued building her portfolio of textile designs  while working in the furniture and interior design industry since graduating from uni two years ago.  Now she is due to have a baby in February, she has become more serious about the business, as she wants to be able to stay at home and still have a career.

Not always a surface designer, Jiah has learnt much through her previous occupations. “I feel like everything that I’ve done for the past seven or so years has lead me to this point. Firstly I had a children’s fashion label which taught me a lot about running a small business and product design. A lot of the lessons that I learnt were hard ones though and I realised I wasn’t quite ready so I went back to study. While I was studying I worked as an interior designer and in furniture sales and that has taught me a lot too.

“When I launched my first business years ago I went in blindly. The business started by accident. I was making clothes for my nieces and before I knew it I was selling these gorgeous little embellished singlets and dresses all over the place. I had jumped in without a business plan and with the false notion that just because you make something that people want to buy you will make money. I was so naive. I worked myself into the ground and became a slave to the business. I realised that I still had so much to learn so I gave it up and went back to study.


jiah – blossoming (flame)


jiah – elkie (multi)


Based in Canberra, Jiah says she has grown to love her city. Originally picturing herself with a great design job in one of the bigger cities when she graduated, she stayed because of her husband’s business. Now, she feels quite passionate about the place; “It has grown so much in the last decade and I’m proud to call it home.”

For Jiah, the icing on the cake has been to see her prints on fabric. “I worked for a little furniture company with a great boss who was really encouraging and helped me to approach a number of furniture companies about featuring my fabric designs on their furniture. I had such an amazing response and seeing my fabrics come to life like that was amazing.”

Her best piece of advice? “If you wait for everything to be perfect then you’ll be waiting forever.”


Jiah Harrison – tea towels (for elephant and rose)


Jiah has recently joined forces with Stella Zamora to create, offering a collection of beautiful homewares and gifts featuring both vintage textiles and Jiah’s prints. They also have a Facebook page and blog.

You can find more of Jiah’s prints in her Spoonflower shop.