Friday, May 28, 2010

Gah! I forgot about the morning tea party at kindy tomorrow!! Recipe incl.

11.30 pm and I realise that X has a morning tea party at kindy tomorrow. He needs a funny hat and a plate of something. Crap...

Given that I am the worst morning person I know (well, apart from the hubby :P) I figure I better get this done tonight.

1 funny hat needed. Yeah right, getting a clothes-minded 3 year old to wear a cool hat you spent hours on is nigh impossible. The alternative? Snag husband's old black beanie and adorn with previously cut out Ben 10 fabric swatches that already have the fusible applique interfacing attached. Woo Hoo! If he doesn't want to wear a Ben 10 hat, I'll eat the damned thing.

1 plate of something yummy needed, no eggs (thanks to allergies in the kindy). Let's go the tried and true egg free cake mix that I used for Xavier's birthday cake. It's quick, easy, needs no weird ingredients and frankly it's bloody yummy :D. Darling husband gets roped into helping so I figure we should make a third of the mix chocolate and dye it black, a third vanilla green and a third vanilla yellow. Beats the hell out of making a dozen sandwiches that are likely to go soggy and I use a minimum of low-gi sugar so the little morsels are not even bad for them.

Here is the recipe:

Makes 1 large slab cake (see Lightning McQueen) or use half the mix to make 36 mini-cupcakes like the picture

  • 4 cups of plain flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups cocoa (reduce if you make multi-coloured cakes or omit for a vanilla or flavoured cake)
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup vegetable oil - I use rice bran oil. It's light, good for you and has no flavour. I have also used olive oil, you do not taste the oil in a chocolate cake but I would avoid it for a lighter flavoured cake.
  • 3 cups water

I don't do anything fancy with this recipe:
  1. Pop all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix a little
  2. Add all the other ingredients and mix well (for multi-coloured cakes separate your mix into batches before adding the cocoa to one batch only)
  3. Put mix into cupcake liners/trays/cake pan (grease pans of course, unless you use silicone trays)
  4. Bake at 170-180 Celsius for about 30 minutes for a single slab cake, approximately 15 minutes for the cupcakes. This will vary between ovens so check your cakes periodically, cakes are cooked when the tops spring back after gently touching them.
  5. Drizzle with a little icing and away you go!
NOTE: for the multi-coloured cakes I used half this recipe. Before adding the cocoa I split the mix into 3 reasonably even amounts in seperate bowls. 1 part got about 1/2 cup of cocoa and a dash of black food colour, 1 part got a dose of leaf green gel food colour and the last part got a dose of yellow gel food colour. In each cupcake liner I put a small amount of chocolate mix, then a small amount of green mix over to one side and then yellow mix over towards the other side.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A 3rd birthday, already??

My amazing little boy is growing up. We celebrated his 3rd birthday on Wednesday with a Lightning McQueen cake (edible icing images make a time-poor mum very happy) and party at kindy and presents at home that night.

The poor little guy has been sick for the last week, first a cold and then horrible wheezy asthma that always makes me nervous. So birthday time was a relaxed family night at home where he opened his little gifts and was totally thrilled with the train/car set we got him.

I stumbled across a fantastic wooden train and car set at an op-shop complete with track, roads, vehicles, houses and boom gates. And the most amazing bit? It was five bucks. Yep, that's right. And that included the great plastic tub with wheels that it was kept in. X loves it to bits and even wanted to stay home today to play with it. Given his obsession with kindy and his desire to go every single day, that was quite a complement for the gift!

I also finished a quilt cover which you can see at the bottom of the picture. I have been meaning to make a quilt for him since he was born but I am not very experienced. I made him a quilt cover instead for a standard single doona - which will dry quicker after washing during the chilly winter - and he loves it. I will post pics asap.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

mmm... silversmithing

I finished my class for silver jewelery in April and I am so happy with the results. It was a great 3 Saturdays in a row kinda thing and I got to brush up on the skills I learned back in 2003 as well as learning new things.

We made a wedding band style ring, a linked chain bracelet and solid cuff bracelet. I also got to fix my thumb ring which had split.No fancy pre-made stuff for our class, we started from scratch with silver plate and wire and worked it into wearable jewelery.

I now have my table and tools set up so I can start making jewelery for a new store. I have some mixed media pieces designed; resin and sterling handmade cameos from my own custom sculptures and miniature prints of my artwork encased under clear resin with sterling silver frames to begin with. Once these are sculpted, moulded and made I will move onto etching metal sheet with my black and white drawings.

All of my jewelery with be based around my artwork; making it wearable, useful and beautiful. This way if you a love a piece enough to hang it on your wall, you can carry a little piece with you as a pendant, brooch or earrings. I want my art to evoke feelings in my customers, if my work reminds you of something great or makes you smile, why not take it with you so you can look at it through the day?

So, the class got me back into gear after a few months of scaring myself silly with 'what ifs'. Ok world, I'm ready.

Let's do this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A new logo for me!

I finally got around to designing myself a logo. I wanted something that represents that I am an artist (the paintbrush and pencil) and that I am predominantly influenced by whimsy, nature and myth (the floral flourish, poppy and moth silhouette).

I chose orange as it is one of the colours of my favourite little friend, the orange banded tiger moth (the silhouette shape) who often visit me at home when I am feeling conflicted or down. I paired it with green, one of my favourite colours, which makes the design a little extra nature-ish I think.


What do you think?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My latest tiny Griffon

This little griffon is a girl, I haven't named her since she is a gift for a fabulous friend who gave me a pushbike.

I have included some before-paint pics too so you can see her naked :D.

To show scale

New girly griffon meeting Griff, my first tiny griffon sculpture. Awww.
She is polymer clay (mix of Fimo and Sculpey III), wire, acrylic paint, felt, chain and a cats-eye bead. I am quite happy that I could recreate the style of my first griffon. She is definitely different though, a little chunkier for one, but try not to mention it to her face,

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to turn cheap white shoes into rockin purple skully flats

I found these cheap white Kmart shoes for $6.00 a pair. They are totally comfy but I wanted purple, NOONE has purple! Then, either by some covert Australian conspiracy or crafty fate I couldn't find purple shoe dye anywhere, *sob*.

I wanted my purple shoes dammit! And then, pondering the possibilities and reaching the conclusion that all rockin purple flats should be emblazoned by skulls, I figure I could jump in the craft cupboard and use some existing materials to reach my dream.

Acrylic paint is actually really great for faux leather and I have used it many times to antique book covers and the like. The trick is to not 'paint' but rub the colour into the fabric so it absorbs as much as possible.

I masked off some hand drawn skull pictures on each shoe and after the masking fluid had dried I mixed up some acrylic paint. One tip is to mix a colour a little darker than you want, since the white will show through a little unless you really paint it on and that leaves the shoes open to cracking and peeling. Dab on the paint with a soft cloth, covering the shoe completely and then dab off the excess with a clean cloth. You want the material to absorb the pigment and then remove the excess. It will take a couple of coats but each coat should be so thin that by the time you have finished a coat on one shoe, the second shoe will be ready for another coat.

Each coat should dry to a mild tacky finish before adding another coat. If you want a pastel colour, dampen your cloth and dab into your paint. Rub the paint into the shoe and buff off, leaving a light coloured dye.

When the shoes are completely dry, remove the masking fluid. If you are careful, you could use a sticker in place of the masking fluid.

I finished these shoes off by painting the rear seams and where the shoe meets the sole with a fine paintbrush and then touched up the skulls with a white paint pen around the edges and added my final details with a fine point permanent marker. I buffed them with a beeswax furniture polish to seal them and add a little moisture back into the fabric.

Cool huh? And reeeaaaly comfortable.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My new wheels!

My outstanding friend and co-worker Carole is going to give me her bike! Yay! I have never seen it but it's purple :D and that is all I need to know.

Now I need to make her a thank you gift, she loves my little Griff so I was thinking of a gift involving something similar.


This is an amazingly generous gift and such a great surprise. I was going to op-shop a bike but this way I get a great girly bike in a fabulous colour and I know it has been taken care of.
I can't wait to post some pics and get stuck into pimping my ride!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A loooong day

I have had a very long day, a long weekend actually, sculpting shapes for my new jewelery/art endeavor. If i can get this to work the way it looks in my mind, I will have my first shop items before you know it!

How did your weekend go? Any new crafty avenues?

Friday, February 5, 2010

A new month, a new challenge

Craftster's latest challenge is to make something tiny, no more than 2 inches in any direction. Should I or shouldn't I?

I am going to ponder my options and see iif I can come up with something super. That's the real challenge, deciding on something unique and innovative. All the artisans at Craftster are so multi-skilled that it takes something really inventive to catch their attention.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pampering body powder and powder puff - tutorial

This week's tutorial is in the spirit of Valentine's Day. Something decadent and pampering for a loved one or for yourself.

Our project is a sweet-smelling body powder made from kitchen ingredients, no fancy stuff or chemicals, just the good stuff. Plus, an adorable powder puff to make it extra special.

Approximate time for powder and puff: up to 30 minutes



  • A wide-mouthed container with secure lid
  • Fun fur in your choice of colour/pattern
  • A handful of wadding of soft fabric scraps
  • Needle and thread
  • Cornflour
  • Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) - optional, not pictured
  • Your choice of scented oil
  •  Scissors
  • On the reverse of your fabric, trace around the lid of your container twice to make two pattern pieces

  • Cut your shapes. TIP: when cutting fur fabrics, carefully snip the backing fabric only, NOT the pile. Otherwise you will end up with a fun fur haircut on your finished piece
  • Spike up the fabric so none of the pile hangs over the cut edge and pin the pieces together with right sides facing

  • Sew around your edges with a simple stitch, you could use a sewing machine for this part but it took me less than 30 minutes for this whole project including hand-sewing. Leave a small gap to turn the puff back out the right way.

  • Turn your piece right-sides out and stuff with your wadding. If you do not have wadding available, use a handful of soft fabric scraps or cotton balls.
  • Stitch the puff closed carefully. Once again, ignore the pile of the fabric and stitch only the backing fabric.

  • Grab your container, make sure it's clean :D. Half-fill with cornflour and add a teaspoon or two of baking soda if you like. Baking soda has deodorising properties and is refreshing on the skin.
  • Add a few drops of your favourite scented oil (or perfume), replace the lid on the container and shake well to combine. Check the scent and add a little more oil if you like.

  • Pop your puff in the container and seal it up.

  • Add a label or message if the powder is a gift and you're done!
TIP: if making the powder ahead of time, you can infuse your cornflour with herbs or spices. Pour cornflour into a large container with a secure lid and add your choice of scents, eg. cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, lavender or rosemary sprigs. Shake well and allow to infuse for a week.

TIP: no really, don't try regular flour. Honestly, you will end up covered in papier mache glue if you dust yourself with flour and sweat in the night. Not attractive, especially for Valentine's Day.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My offerings for the Inchie swap

I joined my first Inchie swap earlier this month and sent out to my partners last week. It was a lot of fun, though I was nervous at the beginning since I really didn't know what I was doing.

Don't know what an inchie is? Check out this link.

We were all in groups of 8, so we each made 7 sets of 7 inchies to send to each person.

I approached my inchies like tiny works of art. And really, and inch is pretty freaking tiny when you are trying to draw. I did a few sets of continuous art, broken up into squares and a few sets of individual inchies that fit together in a theme. I like continuity, I like repetition and I love how each person I swapped with now has a part of a larger piece of art, shared with like-minded people.

I am a totally sucker for customised packaging. To the point that I am considering posting a cutom packaging design service when I open my online stores.

Here are the envelopes I printed out, just a piece of heavy computer paper (210gsm).

The inside:

I cut out each little square and the inchies are stuck between the folds of paper with a little blu-tack. A custom design also gave me the opportunity to make a special frame for my little bonus, a magnet inchie to pop on the fridge.

With all of my swaps I like to send out a little extra, a practice I intend to follow into owning a store. Little surprises can be really inexpensive but leave a wonderfully happy feeling with the recipient. In a swap situation it makes you both feel happy about giving and receiving something special and in a business perspective it gives added value and leaves a really good impression in the buyer's mind.

I am pretty pleased with the results, those little pieces of art are quite addictive.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today's work in progress, bunnies for an Easter mood

I have been thinking about my upcoming tutorials and keep coming back to Easter. I thought I would try out a simple sculpting project to see if it would be suitable for a tutorial. Polymer clay and some basic sculpting tools and viola! Bunnies.

This was also my chance to try out Fimo clay, until now I have only used Sculpey III since it is the only one easily available at my craft stores. I found some Fimo a while ago at a store a little out of my way.

The Fimo was much firmer and resisted fingerprints quite well. It needs a little extra kneading time but I have found that once a blob is kneaded, it stays softer than the packaged block for the next time you use a piece. I thought it would not take sculpting impressions but was pleased to see even my softest strokes stayed on the clay.
In progress

All fired up, lol. Accented with acrylic paints in raw umber and gold, golden bunny has some metallic gold stamping ink on him too.
To show sizing

I am quite pleased with the results. I think the white bunny would be a suitable form for a tutorial, he is a carved egg shape basically.

I would appreciate your opinions. Do you think a tutorial would be good?

Bandaged hand = quiet play time

So I have spent most of this week with my hand smothered in tiger balm and wrapped up with a bandage. Probably an RSI injury but I will know more next week after some tests.

So, what do you do with a wrapped up hand and a pushy little kid?? Whip out the cars, dinosaurs and pirates. Yep pirates too. You can just see a blurry Xavier in the background with his own bandaged hand so he can me like me :D.


Apparently the little green dinosaur did something nasty enough to warrant the attention of a pirate cop. Lighting McQueen can be seen fleeing the scene of dino's escape attempt.
Fun times!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A wonderful way to start the day

This morning when we woke up my first thoughts were of a yummy breakfast. One that I don't have to cook! Since the weather has been outrageously hot over the last few days I thought a McDonalds breakfast would be great. Plus, our local restaurant has a wicked playground.

So we trooped down to McDonalds, indulged in some yummy food and then gave Xavier free reign in the playground. To my surprise it was air conditioned too so the temperature was pure bliss.I got to relax in the cool, Xavier got to explore the playground (which included kid-sized helicopters so he was in heaven) and we all got a yummy meal with no washing up.

Not bad for $20 and an hour of play.

The little things really do make a difference. Xavier was happy for the rest of the day and Stephen was thrilled he got a dose of hotcakes without having to ask!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Paper Waratah flower tutorial - Australia Day project

Happy Australia Day! Ok, well Australia Day is really tomorrow but I wanted this pattern to be available a little early. These tiny paper Waratah flowers are really easy to make and you can do the earring set in under an hour. Plus, you probably have all the materials on hand! How cool is that?

Also mentioned at

Approximate time for 2 earrings: up to 1 hour


  • 1 piece of office paper in your chosen colour, or 1 piece of decorative scrapbook paper cut to size (I used a plain piece of red copy paper. Dress up plain paper with a stamp or draw some squiggles)
  • 2 x 5cm (1 inch) head pins, any metal
  • A pinch of seed beads to complement your paper colour ( I chose red)
  • 2 x sequins, any colour you like (mine are pearl white)
  • earring findings of your choice - these earrings can also be attached to plain sleepers instead of earring hooks or studs
  • craft knife, or scissors if you prefer
  • round nosed pliers to close the loops
  • desktop printer
Start by downloading the pattern to your computer and print onto your paper.

1. Cut out each piece and stack according to size. For each flower there will be 4 x extra large pieces, 2 x large pieces, 2 x medium pieces, 2 x small pieces and 2 x base pieces.

2. Pierce a small hole in the centre of each piece using a craft knife or thumbtack.

3. Fold the flower petals up into a soft cone.

4. Gently curl the points towards the centre.

5. Mould the base pieces into shallow bowls and curl the petals back. I used a half-sphere measuring spoon for this but your fingers will do fine.

6. Thread a sequin onto the head pin. Add a base piece, followed by a seed bead.

7. Add the next base piece followed by a seed bead.

8. Thread on one of the extra large petals, followed by a seed bead.

9. Repeat this process, progressing down through the petal sizes.

10. Thread the final small petal and follow with a seed bead.

11. Push the flower gently to the base of the head pin. Grasp the petals, not the base pieces, and firmly mould the flower into a cone shape. Don't be shy here.

12. Using an index finger, hold against the side of the flower and press downwards. This flares the base a little and makes for a fat-bottomed flower. Repeat all around the flower until it is even.

13. Use your pliers and make an eye in the headpin. Secure to your earring findings.

 NOTE: You can also make a plain, upright flower. Thread the pieces from smallest to largest, followed by the base pieces. Secure with a crimp bead and give to a loved one.

If you make your own please let me know how they turn out!

Also, I do apologise for the copyrights on the pictures and the disclaimer on the pattern. I really do not mean to be rude or distrustful, but being the internet you never know when someone will swipe your tutorial and claim it as their own. This is purely to discourage unsavoury characters and to hopefully prevent others from profiting from my hard work without my permission.