Monthly Archives: November 2012

Featured Artist: Michelle Merle Pace

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I stumbled upon this amazing photographer through her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MerlePaceArts

In her own words: ”I have been taking photographs and making all kinds of art since I was a little girl. Photography is magic to me and my love of Fairy Tales, Folklore, History as well as the Pre-Raphaelite Arts are the big themes through out my work.”

I fell in love with her work straight away through this amazing photograph depicting a Selkie woman-

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I love absolutely everything about it, the dark ocean palette, the mystical and slightly dark feel.  It portrays everything about the folklore I grew up with that fuels my creative energy and is the inspiration behind my shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheSelkieFolk .

Here are some more of her original photographs that I absolutely adore.  This one in particular really stood out to me and reminds me of a drawing I love by one of my favourite artists Brian Froud.

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Just beaaaautiful and so inspiring!
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I grew up with the Pre-Raphaelite paintings of Waterhouse on the folky walls of mine and many of my friends houses, damsels and maidens swooning around my teenage self.  Its beautiful to see a modern take on these beautiful works of art, real life goddesses creating amazing magical art.

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And here are a couple of Pre-Raphaelite paintings I grew up with and love dearly just to show the connection. 

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Such an amazing photographer and I’m so happy I happened to stumble upon her amazing creations! Here is another amazing photograph by Michelle Merle Pace just to finish of this Featured Artist post.  It is titled ‘Water Nymph’ ❤

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Once again, check out her amazing photography and purchase yourself a print at http://www.etsy.com/shop/MerlePaceArts

 

I hope you are suitably inspired! I know I am!! ❤

Bex

 

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Calling all Jane Austin Enthusiasts

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I recieved a lovely email recently from a lady who had commissioned one of my green velvet ‘Earth Maiden’ cropped jackets back in winter for her american winter wedding.  Well the wedding just passes and she sent these photos through with a lovely little note, so I thought I would share them with y’all!

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Doesnt she look so beautiful! Think ‘Emma’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and you’d be right on track.  I loved recieving the photos as my shop is still very small and I often don’t recieve any feedback from my customers after recieving their parcels.  There’s something so nice about knowing that she was wearing one of my creations on her wedding day too =) and that these photos will become family heirlooms in the future.  Lovely!

Seeing the photos made me realise just how important it is for me to work on my photography and to use models too, not that I want my products to be all modelled on waifs or anything, just that I actually really dont enjoy being in front of the camera and would love to be able to stand back and create a scene instead of fake smiling at the camera!

So much to think about!

If you are at all interested in one of these beautiful jackets for your wedding day, or just ANY day, then here is the link to the last custom order I have available for the green velvet version pictured above: https://www.etsy.com/listing/111085441/sale-custom-made-earth-maiden-cropped

They are currently on offer at 30% off as well as Free Shipping.

Much love,

Bex

Letting Go

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“She Let Go”

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read
a book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.”

Ernest Holmes or Rev. Safire Rose

Mr Postman, wo wo wo Mr Postman!

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Yesterday was spent almost completely on an ongoing mission to get all my visa extension forms filled, money orders made, parcels sent, everything signed…. it was a Wednesday filled with beaurocratic nonsense, made much lighter and happier by the final send of of visa forms and the arrival of my bigger-then-expected box of goodies from Dharma Trading! 6 days to get from their California warehouse to the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia- Good work huh!

I bought: 5 x 225g/8oz tubs of Fibre Reactive Dyes for Natural Fibres (doesnt work on man made or wool) and a 32oz bottle of Eco friendly Textiles Detergent for pre washing material.  It all came to $71.79 + $58.85 shipping costs = $131.64 Total.  (Ahhh hefty shipping costs- one of the joys of living in Australia!)

So my evening was spent happily deconstructing things to use as recycled material, and pre-washing large quantities of fabric.  As you know if you read this blog Im in the process of moving my handmade clothing line over to being as ethically concious and environmentally aware as I am able, with all my material being Fairtrade/Organic, or Recycled.  And it’s all looking very possible and all my hours and hours of researching is starting to pay off!  I’ve found a lovely interim supplier of affordable Indian grown and handwoven Organic cotton (plain for dying but also blockprinted naturally dyed material too) until I can source a company selling affordable Australian organic cotton, Ive found an amazing brand of dyes that are available in amazing vibrant colours and are completely fade resistant and baby friendly….and I’ve switched all my packaging over to being all recycled! So far so good!

I attempted my first dye bath last night, just a small one to experiment with first off, using the ‘Kingfisher Blue’ Procion MX Fibre Reactive Dye.  The whole process of Dyeing took around 2 hours + the time to pre wash material and clean up.   I can see why people like to do larger batches!  I dyed about  600 grams of material, a peice of thick cotton which was part of a recycled duvet cover I bought, and a small peice that was an opened out pillow case.  For all that material I used 25 grams of my dye (I bought 225 g dye pots for each colour), 2 cups of non iodized salt (it said I should use 3 cups for that amount but I didnt have enough) and 1/3 cup of Washing Soda(also known as Soda Ash).   First I dissolved the dye powder in warm water and added it into the sink, then I added 3 gallons of warm water and added the salt, stirring until everything is dissolved and mixed well.  Then I added the material and stirred every couple of mins for 20 minutes.  After that I mixed the Washing Soda with a little hottish water until it was dissolved and in 3 intervals of 5 mins I added in the soda ash and stirred (15 mins total).  Then for 50 mins I stirred the fabric in 10 min intervals.

Because we are living with Tom’s parents here, and it is all organic and they have a septic tank, I ladled out all of the unused dye into a seperate bucket (after moving the fabric into the other sink) and then Tom and I chucked it over the boundary fence! Naughty, but next door is a disused school and they spray all their boundary with a multitude of pesticides so its all dead and chemically there anyway…. fingers crossed all the grass wont be blue when I look today!  A mission to say the least but the dyes are still chemical based and its not an option to put them through the septic system as all the grey water gets put onto the reed section on the boundaries and it may contaminate the native borders.

So here is my first finished dyebatch! The colours on each peice of fabric are REALLY great and not streaky, and its amazing just how vivid the colours are too!  The smaller peice of material has actually come out a lighter shade, I think because I added it in as an after thought so the larger peice had another 5-10mins of dye time, but I actually really love it a lighter shade so I think I may add a little less dye powder next time to try and get the batch closer to the lighter shade.  But im so happy with the results and I love that this fabric is now completely clean and ready to iron and use, as well as having been thoroughly washed as it is recycled and pre-shrunk!

The first photo below was the fabric wet straight from the machine last night, and the second is the fabric all dry and folded this morning…. the shade lightenend a little once it was dried but not too much.  yum!  These dyes really are the bees knees 😉 Now I just wish that they could be COMPLETELY chemical free!

Im planning on doing another small batch today (as I still dont have much Salt), I think this time with my Dusty Rose colour, with the intention of creating a large amount of dyed fabric stockpiled before I start using it.  Tom wants me to get through all of my store bought material before I start sewing with this Eco-stuff, but I dont know if I can resist for that long! I only have a small amount of store bought material left, as I stopped buying it a good few months ago now, and I might use it all up on family christmas prezzies.  Ill take photos of the process with the Dusty Rose colour too so you can see how the end result compares to the dye bath colour.

So much FUN! I love fabric, lalala.
SO I am still having my big 20% Clothing SALE on my online store  http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheSelkieFolk   and the sooner I sell my beautiful old stock, the sooner I can start adding new recycled and organic garments on too!
Think CHRISTMAS PREZZIES ❤
Anyway, much love to you all(if anyone is reading!)

Bex xx

Shifting perspectives

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Today has been an emotional one, Ive been feeling it all for the whole world.  The miriad of emotions and tears could be labelled in so many ways- homesickness, fearfulness, frustration- but it seems a shame to label things that are so fluid and could in fact be also compassion, appreciation, love or just energy.

I read a post from my dear friend Lizzie this morning who has been in and out of hospital for too many years in her young life battling a multitude of bodily issues that have left her sometimes completely stuck in hospital beds for months at a time craving meadows and trees and nature.  I cant imagine how it is to be stuck in hospital beds when all you want is sunshine on your back and grass under your toes.  When she is out of hospital she can be found nimbly climbing trees or wizzing around festivals on her crutches or wheelchair.  Its days like today when reading Lizzie’s posts about what her days are like and the big health decisions she is facing, that my mind which is full of emotion and my body full of snakey wriggly sadness gets sharply put into perspective.  Despite what we pretend, our bodies are constantly changing…aging….cells dying and being recreated.  We are fluid, beautiful, unique but we are NOT everlasting and my rather healthy bodily cannot support me as wonderfully as it does forever.  Anything can happen, and everything does!  So I have spent this evening thinking of Lizzie, and thinking of both of our bodies and sending hers healing energy through the small movements of my own….the small movements being my creation of a healing talisman bracelet that I am going to send to her in hospital in London.  And this is it so far:  made from Lapis Lasuli, a powerful healing stone.

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Lapis is a stone of protection which is said to release stress, bringing deep peace.  It brings harmony and deep inner self-knowledge, encourages self-awareness, allows self-expression and reveals inner truth, providing qualities of honesty, compassion and morality to the personality.  It is also said to stimulate objectivity, clarity and encourages creativity.  Lapis Lazuli assists to confront and speak one’s truth and inspires confidence.  It bonds relationships, aiding in expression of feelings and emotions.  Lapis Lazuli also boosts the immune system, purifies blood, lowers blood pressure, cooling and soothing areas of inflammation.  It alleviates insomnia and vertigo, and overcomes depression.  Lapis Lazuli benefits the respiratory and nervous systems.

I remember when I was younger my mother giving me a simple Lapis pendent as a healing and protecting talisman….I can still remember holding it in my hand and looking into the deep space blue with its star dust gold sparkles.

So this is for you Lizzie. A reminder to us both of what we REALLY are….that we are more then just our constantly changing bodies, that we all are made of midnight blue never ending sky and golden star dust.

Sending out healing love across the oceans,
to all those who feel they need it.

Love

Bex xxx

p.s- (17/11/12) Here is the finished peice which is soaring its way to Lizzie as I type this:

Macrame Workshop: How to Cradle a Stone/How to extend from a Cradle.

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These workshop *how to’s* are in responce to a tutorial request from the wonderful lady at CosmicNomad after she saw this Fire-Pheonix Bloodstone, Brass and Macrame handpeice for sale on my Etsy shop   —> https://www.etsy.com/listing/100379727/fire-phoenix-macrame-and-bloodstone

Here is a video tutorial I created a couple of weeks ago showing how to cradle/wrap a stone using the Macrame technique I was taught by my friend Gabby in India (on a 3 day train journey so dont expect to get it perfect straight away!).  The link to this part of the process is here:      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LCq-0j32sc&feature=plcp

* HOW TO EXTEND FROM A CRADLED STONE *

What you’ll need:  A gemstone, Waxed Polyester Thread, Embroidery Needle, Scissors, Lighter

Cut (lots) of pieces of string approx 3/4 arm span long. For the stone I used this time I started off with 29 strings at the 3/4 arm span length.  Cut one more peice of string this time much longer then all the rest, I usually use approx 1 ½ arm spans long….from now on I will call this string the ‘Long’ string, and the other ones the ‘Short’ strings.

Using an embroidery needle start threading the strings piece by piece through the loops in the edges of the cradle.  I tend to use the loop that lies on the edge of the stone, but it doesnt really matter.

To start with thread a string through every other loop (eg. missing one in between). You will soon know if they are too crowded once you start knotting as the macrame will bunch. You can always add the odd string in here or there if it needs more later or take some out, but I find that the spacing shown below seems to work for me.

By the end it should look something like this!

To finish of the threading, thread through the long string at the top of the oval or circle (or wherever you want your spiral of knots to start). Thread the long thread through so that one side is the same length as the other strings and the other is a lot longer. The long half will be where you begin your knots.  In the picture below im showing the placement of my long thread.

At this point, just so as to stop too much tangling, I loosly knot little sections so as to keep them out of the way of the first section I will be knotting. If you think of your stone as a clock, then approximately I leave 1-3 open and 4-12 tied off into little sections.

Tie a spare piece of thread around your leg tightly and secure the stone to your leg by putting it underneath the string, leaving the top section accessible that we will be knotting first. This leaves our hands free to start knotting!

Now- my long string is going to be knotted around by all the smaller strings so that it will in fact spiral around and around the stone, creating the design. I will be knotting in a clockwise direction around the stone using this basic macrame knot- Holding the long thread between my left index finger and thumb, and holding the first short string (picked up from the left of the long string) in the thumb and index finger of my right hand, I am now going to bring the short thread over the top of the long thread, round the back of it and underneath, then over itself creating this loop shown in this little diagram. I do this knot TWICE with each of the small threads in a clockwise direction around the stone.  The picture below shows the knot as does the photo below that:

And this is what the knots should look like when 2 have been done per thread:

So once you’ve got that knot down you are pretty much away! Just keep on knotting twice on each small thread in a clockwise direction around the stone as shown in the photos below.  I found that I had to add another 3 strings in along the way, making my total of strings to be 32.  I did that by simply cutting 3 more short threads and using the needle just threading them into the cradle at any spaces where there was too big a gab between threads.  You can tell if you have too many threads because the row of knots will stary to wave up and down instead of sitting flat, or if you have too few as it will start pushing up like a bowl instead of laying flat.

Once you get to your beginning spot, you just keep on going round in a spiral, and knot onto that first thread you started on.

And just keep on going round and round until you are happy with the width of your wrapped stone! Ive got this far so far with mine, but I will show you another tutorial on how to create shapes onto the wrap by adding and burning off threads when I get to that myself.

So if you fancy you can just finish here (I would recommend finishing at the same spot as where your spiral began) and you will end up with a beautiful oval shaped pendant.  I will quickly explain how you would complete here, but I will go into more detail on finishing off in my next tutorial.    To finish here what you need to do is cut ALL of the threads around 2mm from your last row of knots (I know it feels drastic but all will be well).  Now with a lighter, carefully burn the cut of edges of thread and press down the edges towards the back of the pendant so they arnt obvious from the front (they only need a little heat to melt the wax so dont let the threads catch on fire…if they do just wet your finger and place it over the burning thread).  And you are done!

I will be back soon with more photos and directions on how to continue from here, and some photos of the finishing of process, so until next time! ❤

Bex xx

My pretend Autumn.

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Its getting into serious Summer territory here….dusty roads with snoozing brown snakes, our first festival, and little lime green strawberry buds popping up under their white flowers.  But somehow when it comes to my recent sewing projects, EVERYTHING is Autumn.  I think my body is still refusing to believe that it can be November and still be spring….its just not RIGHT! ❤

I’ve just got back from a wonderful weekend of Folk Festivalling with my fine fellow at Molden Folk Festival here in Victoria (a seperate post soon on that) but the 2 days prior I was busy enjoying a little taste of freedom having finished my Wwoofing farm work and inbetween jobs (we start cherry sorting on 14th Nov until the middle of Jan so making the most of having some sewing time while I can!).  I tried out two patterns, the first is a front zip halter neck dress with wacky inlayed pockets and the second is a men’s shirt pattern. 

Here is the Dress I made, with photos mid process and me wearing the final peice:

ImageIm pretty happy with the results, though it still needs some tweeking, and the zip does pucker a little as it sits against the belly.  I might try this pattern out with the zip at the back and without the front seam as see how that looks.  I also ended up having to add little poppers to the inside of the pockets so that they would sit flush instead of standing out (they are at hip level so NOT flattering when they were poofing out!).  This dress is made of a mixture of recycled thick cotton material and my new handblocked organic cotton which is dyed with natural plant dyes and woven on antique looms.

My next project is starting my adventures into Men’s clothing…the intention being to start up a mini collection of men’s organic clothing too soon.  I have never made a shirt before and this one worked out beaaaauuuutifully.  Its made out of thick cotton and the same Organic blockprinted cotton as in the dress above.  It was a present to Tom and looks super lovely on him.  Its still waiting for some buttons before it is completed and there will soon be photos up of Tom modelling it once its complete.  I added little bits of colour on the turn up cuffs and also on the inside of the collar, nothing too out there but nice little touches of colour.  This shirt can also come with short sleeves, and pockets.

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It was so lovely to get all productive again on the sewing, after having had a few quiet weeks busy working in the garden, and soooo nice to sneakily delve into my new pile of Organic fabrics.  Im waiting for my delivery of Dharma Fibre Reactive Dyes before I really start cracking on producing some more beauties, and Ive got a nice collection of Organic and Recycled materials just waiting for some beautiful colour! ❤

Much love,

Bex