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Christmas creativity for adults!

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We love it when we hear from you, our beautiful readers and creative-hearts, and we especially love it when you give us feedback and ideas.

So in response to interest in adult workshops, we’ve set aside a Christmas workshop at Riverbend Books and Cafe just for adults!

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We love the Christmas projects we have created this year and we think you will too!  In this workshop you will work with beautiful, sumptuous leather – not something many of us get to do very often – and create either a set of three leather star decorations OR a wire and fabric wreath with leather leaves.  Both projects are a beautifully natural take on Christmas decorations, and part of their beauty is they transcend Christmas and would look stunning displayed all year.

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This workshop is on Friday 12 December from 6.30-8.00pm at Riverbend Books and Cafe in Bulimba.  Oh we know this is a super busy time of year, but we’re hoping that if you have that night free you can sneak out and join us in what will be a wonderfully relaxed evening of creating.  Gather some friends and make it a lovely night.  Riverbend’s Cafe will be open so you can grab something to eat, and maybe browse their gorgeous books and find a few Christmas presents!

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Find out more about this class here [ scroll down to the heading Riverbend Christmas (adult creativity class) ].

Oh we so look forward to some Christmas creativity with you!

it’s a wrap [with a free printable!]

 

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The Japanese have contributed in many ways to our global community and made their mark with simple and functional design.

As so today we’d like to introduce you to one of our favourite Japanese artforms – Furoshiki.

Furoshiki is one of the gems of Japan’s ancient traditions which combines the elegant art of gift wrapping with a modern sensibility of sustainability and recycling.  Furoshiki – items wrapped in cloth – has been practiced for centuries, rendering both the gift and the wrap useable and purposeful.  The word ‘furoshiki’ means bath spread.  It’s origins were as garment holders in traditional public baths, a way to wrap up your clothing while you were bathing to prevent it being mixed up with other bathers’ items.  It then continued it’s functional evolution and was utilised by traders to wrap and protect their wares.  The plastic bag put a dent in the popularity of furoshiki’s functionality, however it is having a resurgence as a beautiful and purposeful way to wrap, protect and gift items.

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We love furoshiki on a number of different levels.  Our handwoven cotton’s lovely texture lends itself to this minimalist wrapping approach and it appeals to our desire to be environmentally responsible and reduce waste.  My creative side also loves the blank canvas a piece of fabric wrap provides, and as a recipient of fabric wrapped gifts my mind immediately wanders and dreams about other uses and purposes for the fabric.

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So when we were working with our lengths of lovely cotton, designing and dreaming, responding and planning, we were inspired by the art of furoshiki.  We cut and folded, tied and knotted, undid and redid, played and experimented.  And so, to help you too practice some furoshiki, we have put together a guide of the wraps we have found most useful, with step by step instructions.

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Click for your free printable of our WEAVE+WONDER fabric wrap instructions.  We hope you’ll be inspired to try some furoshiki and have fun wrapping gifts in fabric this Christmas!

EASY tote

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I’ve become a bit of a bag lady of late.  I’ve started to notice bags, observe them as they walk past on shoulders, study them as they hang quietly at waists.  And for a bag to get a mental tick from me it must be simple but well designed for function and practicality.  Something that’s lovely to look at but isn’t fussy.  A bag that is confident, performs its function admirably and doesn’t pretend to be the bag for every situation.

So it was with these things in mind that Melissa and I developed our EASY TOTE concept.  Inspired once again by our gorgeous handwoven, naturally dyed fabrics and lovely straps of natural leather, we played and experimented, trialled and modified.  This organic process led to our wonderfully organic tote – a carry bag which you too can play with, experiment with, modify and make your own.

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We’ve taken a large square of our gorgeous charcoal handwoven cotton fabric and teamed it with a hand punched leather strap.  The concept is simple – thread the corners of your fabric through the strap holes and tie.  And the lovely loop of fabric hanging from your strap is a beautiful vessel for carrying market finds or daily necessities or creative collections.  Sling it over your shoulder, dangle it from your elbow, or hold it by your side, and when you’re not using it it folds up neat + compact or hangs beautifully on a door handle or hook.

It’s a little bit of lovely, don’t you think?

We love this bag not only for what it is, but also for what it can become.  Our ethos of simplicity and sustainability informs our appreciation for things that are bigger than themselves and components that are functional/beautiful in numerous ways.  Part of the EASY TOTE’s appeal in our design process was the flurry of ideas we had for other uses that simply created function and form for the fabric and leather elements – no extra, or very little, modifying required!  A bag that can be an apron that can be a wall hanging that can be a curtain that can be a cushion cover that can be a tablecloth.  Next week we’ll show you how , but for now we hope you enjoy meeting our EASY TOTE  [it’s over in our shop if you want to pop in!]

Happy weekending beautiful friends!

weaving the habit of creativity

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Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.

[Horace Mann]

Our days are full of habits and the habits we choose become our days, our months, our years, our lives.  I often ponder habits – those default activities, behaviours and thought patterns I have as an individual, as a wife, as a mother and as part of a family, and wonder whether we are choosing to nurture good habits, or whether we’re hoping that our ideal habits will somehow miraculously form.  And it’s good to ponder this I think, because habits are more than actions.  They inform our character development, our thinking skills, our creative processes, and they have the capacity to nurture or stifle.

This is your life.  Are you who you want to be?

[ switchfoot ]

Melissa and I are both passionate about nurturing creativity – in ourselves, in our children, in our families, and in others.  And the best way we’ve found to nurture creativity?  Form time, space and opportunity habits which allow inspiration to flow, encourage trial-and-error, and do not demand a response or interaction.

Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.

[ Twyla Tharp ]

This week as we launched our Weaving 3-Ways Workshop we chatted about past weavings.  I especially love Melissa’s family weaving project – an unstructured collaboration of all family members who over a few months, in fits and spurts, created a wall weaving.  It is beautiful.  But that really wasn’t the point.

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The point was to create a space which invited all family members to create and contribute in their own individual way.  A simple loom of two sticks and string, hanging on a wall in their family living area, and baskets of wool and yarns was the perfect way to invite weaving wonder and experimentation, both individually or together.

A beautifully simple way to nurture creative habits. 

So you may not be a weaver, but are you wanting to kick-start some new creative habits?  Here are a few quick and easy ideas:

  • Put a jar or tin of freshly sharpened pencils on a pile of paper on the dining table. (There really is something delicious and inviting about freshly sharpened pencils, isn’t there, so remember to keep them sharpened if you want this pop-up-drawing-studio to remain inspiring!)
  • Leave some scissors in a basket or small box by the door to inspire some nature collecting and gathering.
  • Recycle some jars and display this empty collection prominently, inviting them to be filled with finds and creations (and curate this collection often so they don’t just become odds-and-ends jars!)
  • Gather picture-filled books from the library or second-hand shop for creative inspiration and stack them in your living space where people will see them.
  • Run a long piece of paper down a hallway and create a family picture+word mural
  • Each week or month look through cookbooks or online recipe sites for some food-goodness and try make something you’ve never cooked before
  • Divide a big batch of cookie dough or plain muffin mix between some friends or family and invite everyone to choose their own add-ins

What do you think, lovely friends?  We’d love you to share your own ideas and suggestions on weaving the habit of creativity.

hello school holidays!

Our two-week September school holidays are about to launch and we are extra-excited about weaving creativity into these slowed-down days.  This week past we’ve hardly had time to look ahead and think about how we want to engage with our children these holidays, so today we’ve stopped the WEAVE+WONDER machine and taken a wander through the sweet memories of holidays past.

We’ve re-inspired ourselves and we thought we’d share some of our favourites with you and spread the spark of ideas.  We hope you enjoy the little stories below and maybe you’d like to print out the printable at the end and let your family pick and choose and get excited about the days ahead!

 

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NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY—have fun gathering nature in your yard, park, beach, or forest. Bring your treasures home and set up a piece of white paper or cloth as a photography background (your white background works best if it’s big enough to lay on the floor or table and also run up the wall behind).

Experiment with different groupings of objects and different layouts of the same objects.  Try taking photos from above and from the side, zoom in and zoom out.  Play around with some photo editing software (this one is my favourite free online photo editing option) and even print out your favourites.  Set up a photo gallery and invite people to your opening event!

 

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ALL DAY BREAKFAST—stay in your pyjamas and enjoy a slow day at home! Try out some new breakfast recipes, and make breakfast for lunch and dinner as well! Feel like pancakes* for lunch? French toast for dinner? Try toasting muesli or have a go at making hollandaise sauce to go on your bacon and eggs. Make a menu, set up a café and invite your family to enjoy your cooking!

*Pancakes for Sunday breakfast is one of our family’s traditions, and over the years we have experimented with paper thin crepes, fluffy fat pancakes, and disastrously rubbery pancake-frisbees.  We love fluffy pancakes, and if you do too, here’s our best tip for getting your pancakes nice and light.  Start with your usual pancake recipe which includes eggs, but don’t add them in whole.  Separate your eggs, add the yolks to the flour and other dry ingredients, and then add the milk as usual.  Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until stiff, then gently fold them into the batter.  Pour and flip your pancakes, and this time they should be just that little bit higher, a little bit lighter, and lovely and fluffy.  Mmmm!

 

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GRASS SLIDING—Grab a large cardboard box from home or ask for one at your local shops and repurpose it into a grass sliding machine! Find a grassy hill at your local park and experiment with the best slope, the best size of cardboard and the best way to slide—maybe it’s riding it like a surfboard, maybe it’s on your knees or tummy, or maybe it’s being towed by your dog or parent! Persevere with your experimenting – it might take a while to create the best sliding solution – but you will find it’s a perfect way to slide away a day.

Once you’ve worked out your technique, get artistic with your cardboard – decorate, colour, and add accessories – and make grass sliding a holiday-filling activity!

 

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ART GALLERY / MUSEUM TREASURE HUNT – We love visiting our local art gallery and museum and appreciate their school holiday activities.  But if these are a bit too busy, head to the quieter parts of the gallery and have a treasure hunt.  This should not be a race (you don’t want to encourage your children to run around the gallery!) but a tool to encourage thoughtful, observant and responsive wandering around your local artistic space.  Most importantly, pack an attitude of fun discovery – you don’t want this to feel like a chore to be endured!  Give each child a clipboard or hard surface to write/lean on, some paper, a small collection of pencils and an eraser, and a list of treasures to find – here are some of our suggestions you can pick and choose from or add your own:

  • find a painting which includes your favourite colour and sketch some/all of it
  • write down the name of a painting by an artist who was born in the 1800s, and pick three words to describe the painting
  • find an artwork by someone whose name starts with S (or any other letter)
  • draw the most fanciful frame you can find
  • find a piece of art you like the most and sketch it
  • can you find an artist with the same first name as you?
  • sketch a wall of the gallery
  • can you find an artwork that includes an apple/car/dog/book?
  • can you find a painting of a lady wearing a hat?
  • find a painting of a house you’d like to live in and draw that house
  • list as many different types of artwork that you see (eg painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph etc)
  • take a photo of a painting which has a tree you’d like to climb or flowers you’d like to pick
  • how many artworks can you find that include clouds?
  • choose an artwork you would like to hang in your bedroom
  • pick an artist’s name which sounds interesting to you, and look at their artwork.  Use this information to draw a portrait of what you think this artist looks like.  (and when you get home maybe take a look on the internet to see what they really look like!)

Encourage your children to collect their ‘treasures’ and include some time at the end of the visit or once you get home to share their findings and maybe even reward their hunting efforts.

 

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YOUR AVERAGE GARDEN STICK! – In our home, countless varieties of these walk in and out of our door on a daily basis! Gathered for a myriad of purposes from walking stick to sword, a treasure mobile or ‘just because’, every shape and thickness of branch has opportunity to rest awhile here, on the whim of one of my children’s vivid imaginings. At some stage on our ‘branch journey’ over the years we decided that a simple way to celebrate these forms could be to yarn-wrap in rainbow colours and designs. Whenever we have scraps of wool leftover from projects, I can often find one or other of my children quietly embellishing a branch with a burst of colour + pattern in soft texture.

Perhaps this is a simple way for you to gather from nature on your next bush walk or backyard forage and create a unique work of art. Gather your sculptural branches together in a robust vase or lean quietly in a corner. Lay them against a solid background and have fun making initials or words. And of course, who wouldn’t love to be wielding a boldly coloured walking stick or sword on their next adventure!

We’ve created an A4 printable of these ideas for you so you can stick it on a wall to remind you of holiday creativity.  We’ll share some more ideas next week, but for now, linger over these ideas friends and let the creativity spark and shine!  And we’d love for you to share with us and others some of your creative ideas for the school holidays…

 

sept 2014 school holiday printable

 

friday five

School holidays are hiding just around the corner, ready to burst with fun and creativity!  We love meandering through the slowed-down days, allowing time and space to ignite a multitude of creative thoughts and activities.

For this week’s Friday Five we’ve compiled some creative kick-starters to inspire you and your children.

 

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But before we start, put your hand up if the small people in your home are in the habit of lamenting ‘I’m bored!’ during school holidays.  I’ve been reading a few articles lately about the benefits of boredom and the valuable role it can play in flexing and strengthening creative muscles.  This article by Bunmi Laditan is a good place to start if the announcement of boredom leaves you scrambling for an entertaining time-filler.

 

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Photography is a medium much more readily accessible to our children than it was to us growing up.  I remember our family’s cameras I used as a child – the large, leather encased SLR with the separate hand-held light meter, and the point and shoot with the wind-on film rolls and the viewfinder positioned left of the lens so you always chopped someone off the edge of a group photo.  Our children have the opportunity to experiment with photos and video and instantly view, edit and manipulate images, so think up some creative photo project ideas, such as this ‘A Day in the Life of’ photography exercise, and you are sure to encourage and stimulate some creative image-capturing.

 

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Slowly savour the pages of the latest BIG Kids Magazine, a contemporary creative arts bi-annual which features the work of children and artists side by side.  This Australian publication is filled with creative prompts and the spacious pages invite you to contribute your own artistic responses.  And make some backyard fun using what you have around the house.  Try this idea, or use it as a launching pad and develop your very own homemade game!

 

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The sky is the limit with this fun array of building and construction ideas which will get your children’s design brain cells working and keep their hands busy.

Happy Friday friends, and have fun preparing for the holidays.  We be back next week with some more ideas and creative inspiration for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

just sit with creativity awhile

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Just sit with creativity a while….
Offer her a cup of steaming tea in a quiet house, cloistered away from the surprising buffet of the winds out in the streaming September sunshine.
Sit and let thoughts + ideas brew between you.
Rising and falling, steeping in the silence.
And when at last you drink deep you exhale the warmth of collaboration, of something that fills and satisfies, comforts and awakens all in one mouthful.
Resist the urge to leap up to action, sit a while longer, let the warming brew do its work and become you.
Just to sit awhile with creativity is to remember who you are and what is genuinely your centre.

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There is a repeat pattern in my life that I have long avoided acknowledging. For my externally-processing, collaborative, energy-buzzing self struggled to own it.
I have my most inspiring, authentic creative moments in complete solitude – in a lennngthy period of quiet contemplation, often sitting still, letting my mind and senses wander to inspiration.
As my personality has consistently failed to own the power in these moments, the pattern that seems to have emerged, I am ashamed to say, is that I have my most creative moments when struck down sick.
Not the deathly-sick, can’t move in agony sick, but the worn down, often allergy induced heavy-head-cold sick that eventually marches me to bed ‘or else!’ for some restoration.
Yesterday was one of those days.
Alone cozied in my home with my thoughts + cups of tea, muscles bound by aches to the bed, the inspiration slowly filters through its proper percolation process: of threads grabbed from here + there, ideas pondered and either discarded or woven in. And some new work is born….well, tentatively conceived shall we say. And rather than bounce this fragile seed among creative peers, I want to quietly nurture it until it develops some maturity, some bold confidence to go out into the world.
It’s a new process for me, one that I have oft discarded as a melancholy lack of productivity.
But it has happened too often for me to deny that a new way of working is slowly longing to take the place of old patterns.
The new way of working must embrace solitude as a conduit for genuine creativity.
My challenge is to make room for this new way of working, and not wait until sickness strikes me down to relent and embrace!

Do you find that creativity flows in the quiet, alone moments? Do you allow yourself these? We’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment and chat with us awhile…….

creativity in the everyday

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Life is full of practicalities, to-do lists and everyday tasks.  And sometimes these can wear and grate and steal time, leaving you feeling dry and brittle and making you wishful for just a little bit of space to connect with creativity.

My days have been alot like this lately, full and overflowing with moving house and visitors from faraway lands and burst solar panel pipes and runaway chickens.  And since our new home has a fireplace, another task has been added to the list – gathering firewood from the hills that gently roll around us.

And as I gathered, I realised there was creativity in this simple task.  I wasn’t arranging the sticks and leaves artfully, I wasn’t being selective about what pieces I picked up.  I’m not talking about that kind of creativity.  Creativity was the gathering and filling, the connecting with the task and appreciating that while my hands were busy my mind had space to wander and dream and hope.

Creativity was choosing to see the beauty in an everyday task.

 

weekday weave

Some beautiful images came in this week of our knitting class last Saturday! I love the joining of the two pieces of knitting – mother + child into one lovely vase!

:: lots of smiles and giggles and extreemely talented knitters… and only a little frustration!

I have been attempting to see this week ‘slowly’…giving myself permission to take in new inspiration and to create. Of course this doesn’t always go to plan with the ‘bounce’ of a 3yr old by my side but we try….!

:: the flowers from Saturday’s class are opening gracefully to the light

:: Some painting and indecision…

:: then some stitching and indecision…

:: and all the while the watercolour’s and that georgous brush-grip keep drawing us together.

:: when she is not offering me ‘whip-balm’ that is! Nothing better on these chilly days.

And when the chill indoors is greater than the warm rays of the sun outdoors, we make a pretend campfire beside the tee pee…

with the vege garden at arms length for some ‘tending’ and neighbour-children to chatter with…

and we watch the Australian flag flutter gently in the winter breeze to remind us of current events and we are oh so grateful for seasons of warm, slow blessing and creativity!