first attempt at vegetable dye

Perhaps not entirely my first attempt to dye something using natural dyes, but I’m thinking dyeing poodle ears with beetroot juice doesn’t really count…

I’ve also done heaps with tea and coffee, but again, I’ve always considered those more of a stain than a dye.

This time I got it into my head to try to make my own re-usable shopping bags out of the millions of vintage plain linen sheets I’ve been collecting from mom and my aunts. Great fabric, but not great as sheets any more cause most of them were made for shorter beds than we have now.

Anyway, I had the sheets so I cut one up and made 2 shopping bags in the most simple way I could (ie no side gusset). The whole point was to make something I could carry with me easily.

I also wanted the bags to be pretty so I needed colour – using natural dyes and stamps. Hence the Junk4Joy stamps I made. Fiddly for a first attempt at linocut in years.

I wanted to brand the bags obviously. I even added a wonky recycled logo to the name.

I did a lot of reading about natural vegetable dyes online and decided to go with purple cabbage to start with as I liked the colour. Plus I’d just made some rice paper rolls and had purple cabbage on hand.

Following the instructions, I boiled the cabbage, then strained it into a bowl. I added salt as a mordant (cause I have no idea where or how to get pot ash) and got to dyeing.

I wanted an ombre look so I wet the bags and hand dipped them a few times, then let them hang in the solution overnight.

The resulting colour is very soft. Maybe I needed more cabbage and less water, who knows. Still, its quite pretty for my first attempt.

After they dried, I ironed them then got out the fabric printing ink I’d bought with the linocut supplies and stamped on the logo. Last I added a button and some elastic so the bags can be rolled up and put in a handbag.

Pretty cute I’d say.

To be honest I’m not sure I’ll bother trying to make bags to sell… I had a long conversation with myself lately and the upshot of it was that I do too much. I spread myself too thin with all the creative projects I do. I’m better off to stick to what I’m best at and that is painting. I’m an artist AND a creative person with unlimited interests, but I am better off concentrating on the work that I’m best at in order to earn some money from it.

My pet portraits on commission and my marble and rock paintings sell. It makes sense to concentrate on that.

Making bags or critters from recycled fabric or baskets from found ropes etc are all lovely and fun. So are my art from trash dog and bust sculptures. But most of those things take a lot of time and space and so far haven’t sold. The aim is to sell stuff.

I have tried selling online a lot over the years, but postage has always been an issue. I’m not saying I won’t try ebay or my esty shop again, or even Facebook, just that it seems selling something for under 10-20e with postage of over 15e seems ridiculous.

Anyway, there’s always so much to do and so little time.

z

framed photos – small things ticked off the list

A few years ago (…quite a few years ago…) I began this photo display of my dad and his friend as youngsters, dressed up as cowboys for the carnival. I love the photo. I had a lot of old vinyl at the time and decided one of the inner sleeves would make a great mat for it. This is far as I got. (Lumpy and bumpy, I didn’t quite have decoupage under control back then.)

Today I was inspired to get a few things ticked off my arm-long to do list (and out of the way since I tend to leave things that need doing soon on every surface of my small house) so I decided to use a frame I owned and finally get it on the wall and off the bookcase. Of course I didn’t have a frame for the entire thing so had to cut it down, but I’m quite happy with it anyway. It looks nice in my tiny hall.

The frame was a cheapie I’d bought a few months ago, with a light timber look, so I gave it a single coat of chalk paint to let some of the wood show through. The white dot on the picture is a reflection.

I also had this vintage frame that belonged to my aunt. I’d given it a coat of white paint and wax while I was in Athens. I decided this would hold photos of my mom before she met dad.

I chose two photos I really liked, trimmed them to fit in the frame together and used a vintage music sheet from my collection as background.

Since I’m always rearranging things I don’t know if this is its forever home, but I love the look of it over the very chippy shelf/coat rack I was gifted.

Other than that I haven’t done a whole lot of creative stuff. I’ve been more concerned about what job I’ll find to get me through the season and how I can spread the little savings I have to achieve the things I want to achieve… It’s a challenge. I need a whole lot more money than I have to build the house and studio/workshop I dream of… sigh… And I was so excited to make that my goal this year: to start on that project. I can already see me in my new home and studio… getting there is the hard part.

z

faith necklace

Just quickly sharing a little textile necklace I made a couple of weeks ago for a friend. This was made in her favourite colours – pink and black – and the word faith which is what she wanted. She would have preferred a gold loop and cross but I had to use what I had – so I added this cute mother of pearl cross and a silver jump ring.

I used a piece of pale pink linen I had for the ‘body’ and added a scrap of vintage lace to the front and a bit black lace flower detail for a little punch.

The close up pics aren’t the best but I no longer have it to take better photos.

She loved it. That’s all that counts.

z

safety pin brooch and new shop

I forgot to share this little baby when I made it. I was putting away my crafty sewy stuff in preparation for going back home to Paros and got side-tracked – as you do.

I found a few baby safety pins I had in my collection and suddenly got the urge to make a brooch out of one of them. I’m actually really pleased with the result.

I also spent some time the last few days trialling a new shop on ecwid. You can visit it here.

I’m only on the free plan to see how it goes and that only allows 10 products at a time so I concentrated on a Valentines theme, but the paid versions promise big things like linking the shop to instagram and FB. It sounds good, but I’m reluctant to pay for a shop I dont know will do well.

I still have my etsy shop here and my CafePress shop here but neither of those are setting the world on fire. With Etsy I pay a small amount per year to have the shop opened and a percentage on sales. The CafePress shop only gives me a commission on sales. Its been a long time since I updated or added new products to either store.

Over the years I’ve successfully sold on ebay but it just got too expensive and compicated (postage has always been my downfall!) – however they do have a huge audience so I may give it another go one day. When I lived in Tasmania I also sold a lot of stuff on the local FB buy/sell pages, here I’m not sure how well that would go. Then again, in Tasmania I did the occasional market and sold things there so there was always a bit of extra $$ coming in.

My problem (I think) is that I don’t stick to one thing and dedicate myself to that. I see people who paint and who dedicate themselves to doing that and do well. I see people who make jewellery and do well. Or macrame. Or crochet. They pick something they enjoy and are good at and work hard at it.

Me, on the other hand – I do a little bit of everything. I have ADHD when it comes to creativity. I’ll be inspired to make textile jewellery and will do that for a while. Then I’ll get bored and move on to fixing up a piece of furniture. Or painting. Or sewing little zombie dolls or monster critters. Or make a curtain out of doilies. I love variety. And I love trying new things.

In the end I think markets and selling online through local channels worked for me cause the stuff I made in Tasmania was something people were into there. Here, I haven’t quite yet found my ‘niche’ creatively speaking.

Since coming to Greece I have made and sold paintings on stone and marble, spring wreaths and other decor, pet portraits on commission, textile items… so it hasn’t been a complete failure, but its not quite ‘there’ for me yet.

I wish I could afford to open a shop of my own. A place to work and sell whatever it is I get inspired to create.

Ah dream on…

z

white recycled rope basket

I don’t know why, but I love making baskets out of rope and other things I find on the beach or road. This one is made from a lot of white bits I found mostly on the road, plus some coloured bits from an unravelled rug I found that my aunt was throwing away.

When you have a brain like mine anything found is a treasure… its both a gift and a curse.

As with all my rope baskets, I collect rope pieces I find anywhere, bring them home and wash them (I bleached these bits since they were mostly white), dry them and then sort them as I sew them together. By hand of course.

This one is my favourite right now, but that changes with every basket I make. I enjoy making them and spend hours watching TV and putting them together. I have the callus on my thumb to prove it

I’m still working on the FB shop page to sell things, still looking for the right gallery to show in and still have no idea what I’m doing.

Eh. Normal for me.

z

sea rope basket

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Things have been a bit all over the place lately, which is my excuse for not posting more often. I thought I’d post while I was on Syros while Lainee had her second operation, but I just couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm for it.

Lainee is doing fine though. She was hungry one hour after waking from her surgery the vet said, and had the staff wrapped around her little paw the whole time she was there. She came out raring to go. The only thing that slows her down is the heat. She really doesn’t do well in the heat. The vet said that’s cause of her heart murmur. So I keep her out of the heat as much as possible. I’ll have to start carrying her back from work when its hot so she doesn’t become tired or overheated.

Meanwhile I started work, in a way. I only had 5 days worth of work to do, then I have to wait for more stuff to do. I hope my job becomes regular soon as I need the income naturally. Though I must admit, I love being a lady of leisure in summer.

So, taking advantage of the not working times I have been working on the tons of projects I have that need finishing (or starting!). I finished the little green cabinet I shared yesterday and have been working on the bigger cupboard I got. That should be finished and back home today if the guy who’s helping me with it can bring it.

Today I thought I’d share the latest finished sea rope basket. I wanted this one to be a bit bigger than the last ones which I made to hold smaller stuff like keys or glasses. This one I’m currently using to hold fruit on my kitchen counter.

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These baskets are easy to do, they just take a lot of time. I have a callus on my thumb to prove that. First I have to collect bits of rope from the beach (usually over winter)… most of the pieces I find are only small, between 2-5 inches long. I bring them home, wash and dry them, then put them in a bag near the couch. I pull out the bits I want as I work on a basket. I work on the couch while I watch something on Netflix. Stops me from wanting to snack all the time.

I’ve already started another one, totally different this time cause its from roadside rope. I will share that one soon as its finished. I enjoy doing them. I like having something for my hands to do.

z

a little more christmas – lockdown 2 day 31

Yesterday I was suddenly overtaken with a desire to be more Christmassy.

I’d had this little chest for a while. It was a plain brown little thing, ugly really, which came with a gift in it 2 years ago. I always thought I’d do something with it. I painted it white and planned to line it with some faux fur as a tiny jewelry box or something.

Anyway, while searching for the fairy lights I found I still had these tiny Christmas trees from last year and decided I’d use them to create a pretty ‘snowy forest in a box’.

I used hot glued the trees into the back of the lid. I cut a toilet roll to create a hill in the foreground and hot glued trees to that. I topped it all off with some ‘just add water’ snow cause the dry snow would just blow off everywhere. This should last till after Christmas… Next year I’ll upcycle it again.

I also made this little wreath. I’d already started this one day at the beach. Those trees that grow by the sea have lots of very fine roots close to the surface that sometimes stick out of the sand. They’re thin and flexible so I’d pulled up a few and wrapped them into a ring using a bit of gold wire to secure them.

On our walk yesterday I found some much finer strands of roots and brought them home, adding them to the ring I’d made, in a much looser fashion to give the wreath more bulk.

I used more gold wire to secure it and a bit of paper string for the bow. I finished it off by dribbling some glue on it and dipping it into some sparkly styrofoam balls I had from last Christmas.

Since I’m not hanging it I’m using a flower frog as its ‘stand’.

This is what my little Christmas corner looks like now.

But I still haven’t found my fairy lights…

z

mom & dad memory box – lockdown 2 day 10

I’ve had a bit of a lazy day today. Well, a lot lazy. I didn’t do much of anything at all. One thing I DID do was finish something I’ve had on my To Do list for a a long time. I finished a memory box for mom and dad. Something similar to the one I made for my grandparents.

I’d found this glass fronted display box at a second hand store last year and had always planned to use it to do this, I just never really got around to it. I did give it a coat of paint but sort then sort of got stuck…

Mainly on what to use as a background. I knew I wanted something romantic looking and about a month ago I ordered some pretty rice paper I found when shopping for art supplies online. Once I finally put the paper in the boxit was easy to sort through prints of old photos of mom and dad courting and on their wedding day and pick the ones I would use. There are so many photos it was hard to pick, and mom was so gorgeous…

You can click on the images below to see the steps and close ups of the photos I chose.

I wanted it to be romantic so I picked some lace to include, a rose and a lovely old bracelet of mom’s for a bit of bling.

It was still missing something so I found a rusty bit of wire and twisted it into a heart – perfect! Painted shabby wood, pretty paper, vintage lace, old photos, bling and rust. Can’t get better than that.

I’ve hung it by the door in my bedroom, on the same wall as the box for my grandparents and the photos of dad displayed in the old radio face.

It occurs to me I have the perfect white, lacy, shabby, romantic girly bedroom. Finally. After so many years of black furniture and dark colours. Funny isn’t it?

z

brain dead – lockdown 2 day 4

Enjoy a pretty picture of my cousin’s pink corner.

I love it. In fact I want it.

But that’s not what I planned to post about today. Today I wanted to post about being brain dead.

Seriously. My brain is stuffed. Or its leaking like a sieve… I’m not sure which. I’ve had to make calls today and I keep making mistakes. I mean, I’m not dialling wrong. I’m dialling one place and asking something unrelated to where I called. For instance I called the accountant and asked about travel to Australia. I called the council and asked details about my unemployment status. Next I’ll ask the Australian embassy about cutting down a dead tree on the road outside my place…

Brain dead. As I said.

So, having established that, here is a photo of the next two dogs I’m working on next to the rag dog I’ve already finished.

I think I’ll end it here for now. There are just too many things going on in my mind to actually make sense. And I have a few more calls to make. Hopefully the right info to the right people this time…

z

labels on cubbies

The other day I finally got around to making up some labels for the little boxes and cubblies I store odds and ends in. You may remember the hotel key box I made little drawers for, and the little boxes I bought from a bargain store in Athens. The idea being that I’d get my bits and pieces out of the suitcases in my bedroom and into spots that I could get at them easily (without having to lug suitcases out and dig through tons of stuff).

I basically wanted something similar to the cheap little cubby drawers I had in Australia. They were SO handy, so cute. Its one of the things I regret not keeping, but at the time I thought “they’re just chipboard and cardboard… why ship them to Greece?” … Well… cause you can’t get them here, that’s why! sigh…

The idea was great, till I realised I now have too many little drawers to memorise where things were. Its pretty time consuming to open every single little drawer to find what I’m looking for.

So I made up labels in an old typewriter font on my computer, printed them on plain white paper… glued the paper onto a thin sheet of cardboard, stained them with a used tea bag, then cut them into small tags. I then used a single hole punch to enable me to hang them off the drawers. I needed to be able to change tags when/if I changed contents of a drawer, but also didn’t want to hide the old magazines glued on the little cubby drawers.

I’m liking my little dangly tags. I put them on everything. Well, ok, not everything, there are still some drawers with nothing in them and some without tags cause I forgot to make a tag for that particular drawer…

But I’m getting there. That’s the take away I’m holding onto for this. I did something constructive.

Cause lord knows I needed to feel I achieved something some days. Every time I try to do something most of the time I get knocked back to square one. For instance:

I went to get money out of the bank for mom and discovered I hadn’t activated the card I got for her. Back to the start on that. A visit to the bank is necessary.

I went to pay my rates and found I need to change my PIN. All very well and thankyouverymuch greek bank for forcing people to change their pins every month… but when you can’t get it done easily on your phone using the app cause you need to go into a bank, log onto web banking (but haven’t set it up) or whatever… yep. Back to the drawing board on that too. A visit to the bank necessary.

I went to apply for a new greek passport. I need stuff I haven’t got. Still waiting on getting all that sorted.

I went to book a new ticket to Denmark (the trip that seems will never happen) cause they cancelled my flight, only to discover I needed to apply for a voucher. Did that. Got it. Now I’m not sure I’m going, or if I am, when…

Sigh.

Is it any wonder I need the occasional win?

z