Thursday, 28 February 2013

kids' wallpaper

One of the great things about kids rooms is that many people are less inhibited when it comes to decorating the space and far more bold in choosing colour, print, pattern and lots of whimsical touches. In many ways kids rooms are little wonderlands where anything goes, floor to ceiling owl wallpaper, animal mobiles and decals, furniture painted in a rainbow of colours and don't get me started on super cute toys, I'll post a few of my favourites tomorrow. Below is my round-up of some wonderful kids' wallpaper  - not too garish or cartoony, the colours are beautiful, the prints have a timeless quality and create a backdrop for a lovely space which is playful and stylish.

 Super cute prints from Ferm Living 

Mr Perswall Hide and Seek Collection 

Kids collection from Studio Ditte 
 - I LOVE the bird houses.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

profile scott snella - berkshire bowls.

scott snella of berkshire bowls

This week for something a little different, I thought I would turn my attention on design for little people (which is also very aesthetically pleasing to big people too).It was while leisurely browsing deep within an album on pininterest, followed by a bit of detective linking, that I discovered the work of US based artisan Scott Snella of Berkshire Bowls. Initially starting out making wood turned bowls three years ago, the purchase of a new piece of machinery prompted Scott to try more intricate creations and ever since his puzzles have been a labour of fun and a wonderful creative outlet. Beautifully made from wood, with a lovely handmade touch,it's the details which are perhaps most charming. I love the little smile of the whale above, and the penguin's slightly cranky expression. Checkout the entire collection here. Although the US postage is a little steep, it's value can't be compared to something plastic and disposable from a department store. Think of it as a long term investment in an wooden artisan piece you'll love forever- that's what I was thinking when I clicked 'buy'!

How would you describe yourself?
Creative, funny, kind, artistic and logical.

What was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream was to become a baseball player.

What led you down your current path?
I started the sports game website had worked on it for several years and was looking for a change. I bought my lathe, made a few things and got word of some of the craft selling sites online.  After I taught high school for a year (2009-2010) I spend the summer in Florida thinking about what I wanted to do. That’s when I decided to launch Berkshire Bowls.

What do you love most about what you do?
I like the creativity of making new puzzles and the challenge of fulfilling all the stages of the business cycle, like keeping inventory at a healthy level, working with customers to get just the right piece, etc.

Where do feel most inspired?
I probably feel most inspired in the woods. I would really love a home that was in the middle of them so I could be inspired 24-7.

Who do you admire?
I admire a number of people.  My parents (of course), artisans who create wonderful things from scratch, and people who have created successful businesses from nothing, are just a few.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
I think with respect to Berkshire bowls, there have been a few challenges. First, designing something that people want.  When I started, I was making bowls and boxes.  While customers liked them and bought them, it wasn’t until I started making puzzles that the business started picking up. 

Second, making sure your business name is out there. Marketing is a full time job in and of itself. Although I am a marketing major, there are realities that you need to learn.  One of the big ones was that marketing doesn’t just mean selling. It means creating awareness and driving people to your online store.

Finally, there is the challenge of capital. When you start out, you have to build a customer base. Finding money to live on and grow the business is always tough.  Luckily I have owned and operated a sports simulation game website, Simgalaxy for several years. That income helps to allow me to grow Berkshire Bowls through time.

What do you enjoy about working with timber?
What is there not to enjoy? The smell, the feel, it is great. It is an easy material to manipulate if you know how. It is no wonder our ancestors used it to build just about everything.

Do you have a favourite creation?
It is funny, my favourite is just about whatever puzzle I created last. Pretty much every time I create a puzzle, I take a look at it and say, wow, this one is fantastic design, I love it!  After you make about 20 of them, that wears off, but, each one holds a special place in my heart.

For example, I thought the Koala puzzle was really cute when I made him.  I got the idea when I found that there were a healthy number of customers in Australia.  When I realized this, I started thinking of Australian animals.  I just couldn’t come up with something that stood on its own (I don’t think I have seen a picture of a Koala NOT in a tree). It wasn’t until I decided to just include the tree that the idea started coming together.  I have also found that it takes a while for something to catch on.  If I want a piece to be popular by Christmas, it needs to be in the store by July.  That way people can see it and like it.

What's been a 'pinch yourself' moment?
There have been a couple ‘pinch yourself’ moments.  I think one of the biggest ones was when my first brick and mortar store approached me about carrying my things.It is just a great feeling to know that someone thinks enough of your creation to place it on their shelves.

Another would be my first sale.  Anyone can take some photos, pay an online retail site $X to open a shop and set up a Paypal account.  It isn’t until someone in the world thinks enough of your creation to order one and place it on their table, shelf or in their playroom. It is really humbling.

What are your top creative resources?
1.  The internet – I use the net like people use to use encyclopedias. I often use it to look-up photos of animals and other objects that I decide to do puzzles of. 
2.  Friends – I make my friends and family sit down and brainstorm about good ideas for puzzles all the time. I write them down, then revisit them when I feel like drawing.
3.  Stores – Just walking down the isles of my local department store gives me ideas. It also lets me know what’s out there that is popular.
4.  Videos (Internet and TV) – No question that videos give me creative ideas.  They are less about specific subject matter and more about a new type of item or a new technique, though.

What is your idea of happiness?
I guess happiness would be being able to create great things in my shop and walking out the front barn door to a 75 degree day.  Having my friends and family there to enjoy it and having enough resources to continue doing that, day after day at my pace.

What's next?
I wish I knew. That’s the great thing, this is a journey.  If you asked me when I started what my top selling product would be in 2 years, I would not have said puzzles. In fact, I wouldn’t have even said I would be doing them.  So, what’s next?  I would like to continue to develop new puzzles, but, I would also like to branch out into toys.  I do think that as there are more and more plastic toys out there, there is also a bigger market for toys and games that are made from natural resources.

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Read – I read a little, but, mostly before bed.
Watch- I am a Moonshiners and Gold Rush guy (Discovery Channel)
Cook- Not so much, I do, but, am not a gourmet.
Create- Creating never stops. Always thinking of new wood items.
Listen to- I like rock and roll, so, yes, I often will turn it on.
Dream about- The next adventure waiting to happen.
Look forward to- The new day.

Monday, 25 February 2013

a beautiful garden.

This is the stunning garden belonging to green thumb and all round landscaping guru Paula Herbert. You can read all about it in the current March edition of Home Beautiful. After this shoot I was inspired to add some rusty barb wire to my garden too, now I just need a suitably rusty bird.

Friday, 22 February 2013

nurturing natives.

When we bought our house there wasn't a plant on the block, so over past few years I've been cultivating and establishing gardens filled with natives. I am not great with plant names, yet in effort to seek out the plants I love, I've learn't a few varieties and thought I better catalogue them in case I forget. I took the photos below in my garden and along the coastline.

With a love of natives it was with great delight I had the opportunity to visit and write about one of the most incredible gardens I've had the pleasure of visiting. The owner Paula has a passion for landscape design and has completely transformed her acre block into a sea of beautiful greenery and texture dotted with sculptures. You can read about it in the current March edition of Home Beautiful, but I will post a sneak peak of it net week. Happy Gardening!

coastal rosemary +  isolipsis nodosa

big leaf and small leaf banksia - I lost the tags!

baeckea mount tozer + banksia serrata

ozothamnus radiance + lomandra blue ridge

two I want! scholtzia + an unknown
I took the photo on the left in the Barrenjoey National Park in NSW and I would love to know what it is because I love it and want to add it to my garden. If anyone knows its name please let me know.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

sheets on the line.

I recently had the pleasure working with new bedding company Sheets on the Line and got to spend the day making beds in picturesque parklands and gardens. Slipping into one of these beds under the canopy of beautiful big trees is definitely my idea of sleeping under the stars. No sleeping bag for me.

Playing around with the beautiful organic cotton sheets, quilt covers, coverlets, linen throws and cushions I became very skilled at bed making, however the ease in which I mastered the fine art was largely due to the incredible quality of the fabrics and a few simple yet effective devices. The fitted sheets have a top and bottom tag, so thankfully I didn't need to wrestle with the sheets only to find I'd fitted it to the wrong corner! Also the doona's have special corner clips which attach to the inside corners of the quilt covers which makes fitting the two together a breeze.

The colourways for the entire Sheets on the Line collection is also divine, think moss, seafoam, mineral, cloud, sky, shell and storm. I know neons are very 'now', but for me these nature inspired hues are timeless, easy on the eye and make for a stunning bed. I love the lot!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

profile artist - renee treml.

artist renee treml photo bevan tessendorf
You can tell artist Renee Treml adores animals. After moving to Australia from the USA six years ago it was while volunteering at a wildlife hospital that Renee fell in love with our native critters and birds and ever since she has captured their form and frivolity using a method called scratchboard. Using a board coated with a thin layer of white clay, overlaid with black, she carefully carves fine lines to create intricate details which depict her favourite wildlife, from wombats and twany frog mouth owls, to bilbies and barn owls. Indescribably cute, you can't help falling in love with each and everyone of Renee's works, as the expressions she captures just makes the animals seem so real.
Also turning her talents to beautiful children's books, One Very Tired Wombat was published by Random House last year, and her second book Colour for Curlews is due out later this year. I can't express just how much I love Renee's work, as she truly captures the beauty, charm and personality of Australian wildlife. If you can't have a wombat or an owl in your backyard I think one of Renee's artworks is surely the next best thing!
You can find Renee's work at a range of stockists including Udessi who kindly supplied all the lovely photos.

How would you describe yourself?
observant, caring, creative, kind, clever.

What was your childhood dream?
Well, I had lots of dreams, but the longest held ones were to be a veterinarian and an artist.  Luckily I realized early on that I didn’t have the people-skills to deal with difficult pet owners.

What led you down your current path?
I spent several years going down a career path that I *didn’t love* and it led me to re-examine my life and start exploring ways to make a living doing what I love.

What do you love most about what you do?
I love it when a new idea becomes a tangible body of work.  I have lots of little sketches and bits of story ideas lying around that haven’t matured or developed into something cohesive yet.  I love that “ah ha” moment when everything comes into place and the artwork or story becomes alive. 

Where do feel most inspired?
Outside: sometimes just a long walk around the neighborhood or a visit to the zoo or forest can spark new ideas. Lately I have been finding inspiration for new stories when I am creating quirky explanations to answer my almost-3-yo-son’s relentless use of the question “why?”.

How do you manage to capture expressions so well when you illustrate animals?
When I volunteered for a wildlife hospital in the States, I was floored by how sassy or sweet or goofy little birds and owls and turtles could be. I guess I always just assumed those strong personalities we assigned animals only applied to domesticated ones. Ever since then, I have been trying to capture that personality on paper.

Who do you admire?
I really admire those who have found harmony being both a creative and a mom – it’s a tough balance. 

What challenges have you had to overcome?
Moving overseas, having a son in a new country away from our family, and recovering from the treatment for breast cancer.

What's been a 'pinch yourself' moment?
Definitely getting *the call* in 2011 from Random House that they were interested in publishing One Very Tired Wombat.  And that they are publishing my second book, Colour for Curlews. Oh, and now I have an awesome agent in the States who is representing my work to international publishers.  All great ‘pinch me’ moments and all were happening right on the tail end of my breast cancer treatment, so the timing was brilliant for getting me moving again.

How did the collaboration with ceramicist Kim Wallace come about?
Kim and I first met because of our art, so it makes perfect sense for us to create artwork together now that we are friends.  I think Kim has the most brilliant eye for design and I love working with her to create our new pieces.(That said, she is doing all the hard bits with the ceramics and experimenting with new techniques. I just do the illustrations and offer opinions when needed.)

What are your top creative resources?
I am very guilty of spending way too much time browsing and reading the selection of children’s picture books at the library and bookstore (and at anyone’s house).  The artwork is so incredible and varied – so inspirational.  I am also a big public radio fan (local and international) – I have been introduced to lots of new music I would have never found on my own.

What is your idea of happiness?
A healthy balance between my family and doing what I love, and living in a city where know I can put down roots.

What's next?
My second picture book, Colour for Curlews, will be released in September 2013.  Fingers crossed I can get a contract for my next book so I can keep on creating pictures books – I just love working on them.  I will continue participating in design markets and filling wholesale orders, hopefully create some new eco-inspired artwork this year.

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Read – Peppermint Mag and fiction novels, as long as they aren’t about death or dying. Vampire or apocalypse caused fatalities are just fine.
Watch- A sci-fi movie or re-runs of Lost.
Cook- Mexican-themed vegetarian on the grill.
Create- Anything with my son,food, crafts, games.
Listen to- The Be Good Tanyas, Mumford and Sons, Neko Case.
Dream about- The house we’ll someday own with a native garden and perfect studio space.
Look forward to- Spending time with my husband and son.