A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
When I partnered with Vinnies for the last retail campaign they asked me to donate my time to the Vinnies ‘Shop in Style’ competition. One lucky winner would receive $500 worth of vouchers to spend in any store, along with a days’ shopping with yours truly. As you can imagine, $500 goes a long way in Vinnies but I was game.
Last Friday I met the winner – council worker Kirrily Welsh of Wagga Wagga – to deck her out in a whole new winter wardrobe.
We had such a brilliant time.
Kirrily came prepared with two empty suitcases and her best friend Rebecca Hillis, an artist & milliner. Together we scoured the racks of Vinnies Waverley looking for anything fun, anything flattering and anything eighties for these two party girls.
Both of them were so adventurous. Often when I go op-shopping with friends they’re less likely to try on the more outrageous styles (that’s up to me), but Kirrily and Rebecca gave pretty much every item I handed them a go – with some brilliant results. They were such individual, creative women. Kirrily’s a sewer and mad collector with a home full of cool vintage LPs, cassettes and eighties clothes, and Rebecca’s hats have been worn by the likes of Natasha Stott Despoja and seem to travel all over. She makes them from a range of recycled materials such as old Vinnies frocks and flyscreen. Truly inspirational.
My favourite finds of the day were two figure-hugging black frocks for Kirrily and a lamé-threaded Vivienne Westwood-style jacket Rebecca picked up, along with stacks of useful sweater dresses and a pair of fab tan leather seventies boots. Plus a few pieces for myself, of course (I couldn’t resist).
I popped into Calico & Ivy recently to source goodies for the event at Surry Hills Library on Monday (which went so well, btw – I had a ball!) and chat with the lovely Sarah Wheatley, my Girl Friday at the demonstration table for the evening. That’s where I found Designer Beci Orpin’s book, Find & Keep.
Now, I’m a little dyslexic when it comes to reading certain craft patterns but Beci’s book is a dream - totally gorgeous and inspiring and simple enough to undertake with kids. And yet the projects are all stylish enough for adults to be proud of, too. It’s easy to follow, with ideas for inspiration rather than prescriptive, tricky projects I would never bother attempting. Goodness, I just love this book.
Have a look at some of these projects. I’ve already made the mobile below (twice – one for us, and one for a friend who’s having a baby), Tiny Town, the succulent garden and Beci’s confetti. Olive and I spent almost the entire weekend crafting, and James even got in on the act chopping out bits & pieces for Tiny Town.
Her style is just so fresh and clean… did I mention how much I love it?
Grab yourself a copy post-haste, I’m sure you’ll adore it as much as I do.
And the good news is Ms. Orpin has a new one due out at the end of the year. Can’t. Wait.
I’m having one of those weeks where I feel full to the point of bursting with passion for what I do. Yesterday I sat down at 8am and just wrote and wrote and wrote until a whole chapter was done, and I could write no more. But still, I went to pick up Olive from crèche and we went out for an early dinner together around 5 o’clock (James was out with friends) and then I put her to bed, before sitting down to find I still needed to write more. I love my characters. I love this novel I’m working on. And I feel extremely lucky to have the space and the energy to explore them.
A couple of nights ago I visited the Anish Kapoor exhibition with my friend Kristy, followed by dinner and drinks at the MCA art bar. God, I heart it there – a band was playing haunting covers of The House of the Rising Sun and Something for Emma, the sun was setting, and we drank a smashing rosé to views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Recently I went to see the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Art Gallery as well and was so moved by some of his pieces – particularly the earlier, darker works from the 50s. They were visceral and twisted and had the feeling of nightmares transferred to canvas. By comparison, Kapoor’s installations were just as affecting but in a completely different way. Rather than feeling on the edge of a dark precipice like I had with Bacon, all of Kapoor’s pieces were playing with my sense of space and grip on reality, making me wonder where the universe ends.
Whereas Bacon made one feel deep and full, Kapoor conveyed that speck-of-dust insignificance of being human through the creation of gaping spaces, trick-of-the-eye convex and concave shapes, and depth of colour – so much more than mere optical illusions.
Just seeing these exhibitions inspired a whole new set of characters for my novel that I’m now familiarising myself with. They’re almost like living, breathing people inhabiting my world – I dreamt about one the other night, and we had a whole conversation. She was riffing on her life, telling me about herself. Trippy, I know, but true. I’m still getting to know her, even as I sleep.
Three hours to go before the crowd-funding campaign ends to produce talented stylist Pia Jane Bijkerk’s new book, Little Treasures: Made by Hand and she’s smashed it. Sign up to help out and follow her journey. I’m so inspired by this.
This is such a glorious book. It’s all about the joys of being a girl; indulging in fashion, celebrating our special rituals, traditions and friendships and what makes us unique, with recipes for making simple, delicious food and craft projects galore. Maggie’s What’s Happening to Our Girls? came out a few years ago and it was a sobering read, sharing in-depth research about the effect mass consumerism and the sexualisation of children has on our teens. Secret Girls’ Business is the antidote.
Why Maggie wrote Secret Girls’ Business:
“Life’s pretty complex for teen girls right now. While they have more choices, they’re way more anxious about their looks, possessions, and bodies. This generation of girls also has less confidence and creativity, few friendships across the generations and life experiences. Most of their spare time is spent on packaged entertainment or shopping. And their preoccupation with celebrities means often they know little about their own story. We need to encourage girls in fun ways that give them a new sense of what they’re capable of.”
And it does. I love this book – if you’re a teen girl or you have one in your life, buy it now.
I’m on a bit of a cool-clothes-for-girls buying jag at the moment. This is because a) Olive has stopped growing so very much that she needs an entirely new wardrobe every 5 seconds and b) I’m slightly embarrassed by the state of her in public. I realised everything she owned was either holey or too short or just plain trashed, so have been investing in some new pieces and repairing what I can. I’m also in the process of making her a dress from an old seventies pillowcase I’ve put aside, similar to the one in The Crafty Kid.
My girl has strict requirements: it must be colourful (preferably bright pink, urgh), long, and have no sleeves. Olive hates sleeves. Loathes them. And shoes, jumpers, jackets and anything apart from flowing sleeveless frocks. She’s a hippy at heart.
I’ll make a rock chick of her yet – check out the great Americana-inspired pieces at Dandy Star (handprinted in Cornwall, UK). Maybe if I chop the arms off the star dress she’ll allow me to wrestle her into it?
My dear friend Olivier Dupon, author of The New Artisans and cool, edgy design blog Dossier37 has done it again…
Featuring 108 independent jewelry designers from 19 countries – from the edgiest to the most luxurious, and classic with a twist to totally conceptual – The New Jewelers hits stores on 24 September and it is set to be a feast!
About the book
“Jewelry has long been an accessory attributed with talismanic power and significance, and its appeal crosses all boundaries of culture, age and gender. In this beautiful new book, Olivier Dupon introduces over 100 of the finest modern jewelers practicing today. Both up-and-coming and established designers are featured, and the sheer variety of their work is amazing. Showcasing fine jewelry, fashion jewelry, luxury jewelry, conceptual jewelry and more, hundreds of color photographs display the work with portraits of designers at work in their studios, workshops, and boutiques.
Every type of jewelry — earrings and rings, brooches and bracelets, headpieces and necklaces — is represented. Rough stones appear with exquisitely faceted gems; organic forms vie with geometric structures; feathers and leather take their place next to platinum and diamonds. The range of designers is global, and for most of them this is the first time their work is appearing in book form.”
Get ready to start lusting after some of these amazingly unique pieces.
For more information and to Like Olivier’s Facebook page, click here.
A while back I received an email asking me to style a photo shoot for Vinnies. My first thought was ‘aargh, no time’ because it was the first day shooting my next book, and I couldn’t wrap my head around anything else. Then it occurred to me I was being presented with one of the best opportunities I’ve had since starting up The Crafty Minx.
I am so proud to be a newly-appointed brand ambassador for Vinnies. Vinnies, how I love thee – let me count the ways:
1) You cemented my love of fashion. When I was 12, I visited you with a bunch of tear sheets from Dolly and The Face and nary a clue on how to dress myself. Before long I was reading up on the 60s and 70s, and performing my best impression of a bygone rock star, much to my parents’ dismay (Janis Joplin is not a suitable role model for a teenage girl). Vintage fashion and a history lesson to boot – bonus.
2) You do good and help me do good, in a way I can contribute. Your charity keeps people off the streets with food in their bellies and access to your significant network of resources beyond government organisations. I am in awe of the work you do, and who knew the good I could do just by donating my well-kept but pre-loved clothes? Think: warm and fuzzy.
3) Your stores have soul, and a whole heap of buried treasure ripe for discovery, if one knows how to look. The thrill of finding a mint-condition Sonia Rykiel jumper for $8 can’t be beat. It just can’t. Or that naughty secretary look I rocked for years, thanks to your proliferation of eighties power suits and silk pussy-bow blouses. I heart you Vinnies, big time.
In a few short weeks I will be helping Vinnies produce a new retail campaign to draw people to its stores. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for sneak peeks at the shoot and my finds, and stay tuned for pics of our real-life models sporting Vinnies from head to toe, including yours truly.
I have quite a few friends who work in retail or own stores and by all accounts, it’s a tough time to be trading. On the upside, it means successful businesses have to be super canny about stocking unique items which work for their customers, providing a special experience for shoppers and excellent, above-par service. I have such respect for those who seem to be making it work without sacrificing on quality or staff. That’s why I think Calico & Ivy is the best haberdashery in Australia. It’s just a joy to pop in there for a visit whether you’re purchasing or not (and of course it’s so lovely, you always will) and see the latest range of Liberty prints or manager Sarah’s quirky market finds. Duck Egg Blue is another special store you don’t find everywhere, and Jodie McGregor Florist is excellent for flowers, candles and other select homewares. The staff are always gorgeous and helpful, and won’t freeze you out even if you’re only keen to browse.
Another favourite store is My Messy Room in Summer Hill. Predominantly stocking kids’ clothes, owner Stav also has an impeccable eye for cute craft items, books and accessories. And they sell the new-season range of Paper Wings, my favourite brand of girls’ clothing on the market. Oh how I wish I could buy every piece for Olive! I was in there briefly and they’d constructed the most beautiful window display with pompoms and a neon spray-painted cane armchair. Pop in if you have a chance – my bet is you’ll find excuses to head back there as often as possible if you do.
The talented duo at MillaMia have done it again with their new knitting pattern book, Little Rascals. These are fun, funky, cute and supremely stylish knits for wee ones, out soon. Now I’ve learned to knit (thanks to The Corner Shop and the class I took a few months back) I’m going to attempt one of these. Catering for ages from newborn to seven, the variety of patterns spans dresses, cardigans, onesies, jumpers and accessories including blankets, scarves and hats. With 19 to choose from, there’s something for every level of knitter to try.
For a chance to win a copy, tell me: what does your favourite knit look like and why do you love it so? Entries close Friday 31 August.
Mine’s a pale pink cashmere cardigan from Brora. I’ve worn her every winter for the past decade and she still looks new, without a sign of pilling. That’s what I was wearing the weekend James proposed, on the top of a mountain in Scotland just outside Inverness. We were holing up at our pal Katie’s sister’s rural bolthole, and spent most of the long weekend drinking red wine and playing cards by the open fire. James confessed he would have asked earlier if I hadn’t been so crochety in the preceding weeks – there’s nothing like cashmere to make you act like a lady. Good times.
Tell me, who’s your best woolly friend and what scintillating adventures have you shared?