Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart ~ William Wordsworth
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart ~ William Wordsworth
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there!
With Mother’s Day getting closer, I’ve had many customers shopping for gifts for their Mum.
Last weekend, I had a lovely gentleman come in to buy a notebook for his mother. He told me she was 92 years old and still quite active, walking 5km every morning as well as riding an exercise bike and lifting small weights at home! He spoke of her so fondly and it was such a lovely and inspiring story to hear. She sounds like an amazing woman.
Then there was the little girl who told me how much her mother liked to draw and sketch, and then shooed her mother out of my stall so she could pick out a notebook to give to her on Mother’s Day!
It’s stories like these that are the reason I love my work so much. It’s not about the books themselves, but about how they’ll be used, and the way they help to connect people.
Last year, at the Green Heart Fair in Brisbane, one of my market stall customers asked if I had any dot grid notebooks for sale. Sadly, I had to tell her I did not, and until that day, I had not even heard of such a thing. I spent the rest of the day wondering exactly what a dot grid notebook was, and what you would use one for. Well, that evening, I asked Mr Google those exact questions and suddenly it was as if a whole new world was opened up to me! Dot grid notebooks have quickly become … Continue reading →
I was so pleased to debut my new market stall this weekend! It has been such a huge project the past few weeks, but I just love the result and I think it was worth all the effort. It seems my customers agree too as it was a huge hit at Davies Park market on Saturday. Now that it is done, I am looking forward to getting back to creating books! … Continue reading →
It hasn’t all just been about making books in the studio this month. I have also been busy with another huge project – a brand new market stall setup! My current setup is fine, and I get a lot of very positive comments about how great it always looks, but after many years, the old table setup is starting to bore me a bit. It lacks that real “wow” factor I feel. Not only that, but it always feels a bit awkward to me being behind my table serving customers, and having that barrier between us. I’ve … Continue reading →
Well folks, for two years you’ve been asking me to bring back the DIY stationery section of the online store and now I’m granting your wish! Since I made the decision a couple of years ago to stop selling handmade paper sheets, envelopes and other DIY stationery supplies, I continue to get enquires and comments about them. It seems that it can be quite hard to find the full colour range of elephant dung paper in Australia, and many of you appreciated being able to purchase individual sheets of the different colours from me instead of having to buy large packs and … Continue reading →
Recycled paper is becoming more popular as people strive to minimise their impact on our precious Earth. But with so many different labels and terms used to describe paper, how do we know if what we’re buying really is as good as it seems? In this post, I explain what the different certifications and labels used on recycled paper packaging actually mean, and hopefully make it easier for you to make an informed decision when you next go shopping for recycled paper. It’s hard to imagine life without paper. Millions of tonnes of paper are produced worldwide every year. We use … Continue reading →
Great news this month for West End market lovers! I’ve been granted a fantastic permanent spot at Davies Park market so now you can easily find my stall every week! I’m located right in front of the Leagues Club, near the path to the ATM, under the shade of the beautiful big trees in the middle of the market. You can find me there every Saturday with the full range of Little Deer Studio goodies, so if you’re in the area, come and say hello! I love this West End market! It’s an eclectic mix of fresh fruit and veg, … Continue reading →
There has been a lot on social media recently about what a horrible year 2016 was. I’ve tried not to buy into any of it.
Yes, some horrible things happened, but there were also a lot of good and positive things too.
For me, personally, 2016 was a wonderful year. I had some challenges, sure, but it was the most successful year ever for Little Deer Studio and I have much to be grateful for. This is what I choose to focus on.
This year marked a turning point in my business and I will forever remember 2016 fondly for that.
Tonight when you celebrate the new year, don’t just kick 2016 heartlessly to the ground. Remember the good things that happened to.
I want to thank each and every one of you who have helped Little Deer grow this year and I hope that 2017 brings you many joys and things to be grateful for.
A handmade book may look beautiful on the outside but it’s the stories that fill its pages within that really give it a soul.
The words don’t need to impress, the drawings don’t need to be perfect.
What matters is that you write the words, that you sketch those drawings. What matters is that you are creating. Expressing yourself. Recording your story. Giving life to your dreams. It doesn’t have to be for anyone else. It can be just for you. And then it is honest and unique. It has a soul all its own.
What will be your next story?
YOU guys are my support!
Each and every one of you who read my blog, who follow me on social media, who like my posts, who subscribe to my newsletter, who browse through my market stall, who buy my stuff – YOU are the ones who lift my spirits and keep me going.
You are AWESOME!
This photo of me was taken back in August 2008.
I was setting up for my first ever market stall. This was before I quit medicine. Before I had any notions of starting a business. Before I made the commitment to myself to only use recycled and tree-free papers in my craft.
I sold handmade greeting cards made from ordinary scrapbooking paper and embellishments.
This is the only photo I have from that day. I really had no idea what I was doing and I was nervous as hell but I just wanted to give it a go.
I did pretty well that day and I think that was when the little spark inside me was lit.
I keep this photo pinned to the noticeboard in my studio as a reminder of that first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and of how far I have come since then.
A little peek at how I make some of my handmade paper
A snapshot of my products out in the world at this weekend’s market stall
The past 5 years have been one huge learning curve for me, learning about the zillion things you need to know to run a business. When I look back over that time, I’m proud of the fact that I taught myself how to do so much. But I think the thing I am most proud of is how I learned to use Filemaker Pro to create my own database program to manage my business.
It was certainly a challenge, but I now have an awesome program that lets me keep track of product inventory, manage my orders, email invoices, record expenses etc as well as generate reports that let me track how my business is going. It works so well and I’m pretty pleased with myself for creating it.
I always wear my protective eye shield when I’m glueing or sealing my books as I tend to be a bit messy and splash stuff around a bit.
Glue in the eyes is not a fun thing!
I love that more and more properties in my neighbourhood are displaying these signs now, with protective covenants against future development in place.
This is something I would love to do someday if I am fortunate enough to get my own piece of land.
There are many reasons why I do what I do. Why I make what I make. Why I gave up my old life to start my own business. But this is the core of it.
I value these things above all else.
I want the freedom to live life the way I choose. To be my own boss. To spend the short time I have on this Earth doing something I love. I want to earn a living doing something meaningful and enjoyable. To combine my love of creating with my love for the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. To connect with people who share the same values. To inspire and encourage others to reconnect with the things that are most important to them and to make a positive impact on the world around me.
This is my why.
I have many goals when it comes to my business – some big, some small. I’m working out the parameters for another goal today – getting the list of items I need to get made in the next few months to stock my market stall in the lead-up to Christmas.
Some of these numbers are a bit scary! Meeting this goal will be a challenge that’s for sure!
This is how I spend my Sunday mornings – manning my market stall at Northey Street Organic Market.
It’s a bit chilly this morning so I might need more than one cup of coffee to warm up before the customers start arriving!
I recently did a custom order for a lady who requested one of my Keepsake Journals in earthy browns and yellows.
I loved this colour combo so much that I decided to make another one – and here it is, finally finished!
These are the tools I use to create my Keepsake Journals.
I am so grateful and thankful for all my customers and I love it when they take the time to give me feedback.
This particular piece of customer feedback, from a young girl who had bought one of my bead-making kits, was delivered to my stall at the Woodford Folk Festival in 2015, and it still makes me smile.
This is my trusty DSLR that I’ve had for almost 12 years now!
It has travelled to some amazing places with me, from the Amazon to Antarctica, and has survived some pretty rough handling. It is basically enjoying retired life now, since I tend to use my iPhone for most pics these days, but it gets called back to service when I need to take product shots for my shop.
So this is the view from the side window of my studio today – our resident male scrub turkey is scratching the leaves off the roof of the shed next door. He’s making quite a racket on the tin, but I’m not complaining because it saves one of us having to do it!
Today’s prompt is rather appropriate as Monday is my day off. I do markets every Saturday and Sunday now which both involve 3am starts, so I’m usually pretty tired when Monday comes round. It’s not always easy having a day away from the studio as there is usually something I want to be working on, but I force myself to do it because I know how important it is to rest and take care of yourself.
And on my rest day, this is usually where you can find me – in my veggie garden.
And even though I’m “working” – pulling weeds, making compost and planting, it’s a completely different kind of work from the work I do for my business, and I really enjoy it.
I love being out in Nature, getting soil under my fingernails, watching the bees and the little skinks and the birds that come to eat grubs. It is immensely satisfying eating food that you have grown yourself and I find that I am always most at peace in my garden.
By the way, if you want to see more pics of my veggie garden, you can follow me on my other Instagram account @littledeerdyani
A special little corner of my studio
6 years on and I still miss my pooch 🙁
Most of the time, when I venture out to my local post office, it’s to send off customer orders.
But it was around this time, four years ago, that I sent off something else quite significant.
That was the day I cancelled my registration with the Australian Medical Board. The day I officially stopped being a doctor. My business was only a year old at the time, and I had no idea whether it would survive another year, let alone four, but I knew this was the life I wanted and that I would never want to go back to medicine.
And I have not once regretted that decision.
This is my favourite part of the studio, and one of my favourite things about my work. It’s the place where I store all my paper scraps and all the used paper that folks have given me, before I turn it into new handmade paper.
It makes me happy to think that I can turn what other people see as waste, into something beautiful and functional. Sure, I could put it in the council recycle bin, but it would probably just end up as toilet paper or paper towel. These scraps are destined for a much grander reincarnation!
And yes, the wall is painted purple – it’s my favourite colour!
I don’t have any human assistants. Everything at Little Deer Studio is designed, created, photographed, packaged and shipped by me!
But I could not run my business without my trusty Mac.
I spend literally hours on my computer every day, processing emails, updating websites, editing product photos, using social media, book-keeping, completing market applications and so much more. This little machine is almost 7 years old now and pretty much runs 24/7 but has never once let me down. Some days I think it works harder than I do!
I LOVE COLOUR!
But you probably already guessed that right?
Images taken from my Pinterest boards
This is me 🙂
(taken at my market stall at Northey St City Farm)
I like to think of my work as being a bit like a little deer – beautiful, natural and treading lightly on the Earth, and I hope that is how others will see it too.
My packaging is still a work in progress as I try to find the balance between protecting my journals en route to their new homes, and minimising the amount of materials I use.
I try to stick to materials that are recycled and biodegradable and all my parcels come tied with natural hemp twine and a handmade paper thank you gift tag.
Just finished making this one today.
I can’t get enough of these beautiful Nepalese papers. Such rich colours and wonderful to work with!
All handmade from sustainably-harvested lokta fibres and other recycled materials.
I always welcome custom orders, and I’ve had the privilege of being asked to do some awesome things over the years, from photo CD cases for a Brisbane-based photographer, to the menu folders for the cafe at Redlands Indigiscapes Centre. I thought I’d share with you all a recent custom order I did. One of my lovely customers, Trini, decided to base her wedding invitations on my bookmarks. She asked me to make some of my Bohemian style bookmarks in turquoise blue, green and black, but requested a slightly more earthy look with the addition of natural beige elephant dung … Continue reading →
Stitching up some more bookmarks
My hands aren’t pretty. Long, perfectly manicured nails wouldn’t last long in studio (or in the veggie garden!) and I don’t really go in for that sort of thing anyway. And I’m starting to get arthritis which makes stitching books a bit hard sometimes, especially in Winter, but keeping them warm while I’m working seems to help.
But I don’t mind how my hands look, because they work just fine and I couldn’t do what I do without them so I am grateful for them every day.
This is where the magic happens!
Do you follow me on Instagram?
Fellow Brisbane creative Jess Van Den from Create and Thrive is running her “Month in the Life” Instagram photo challenge this month and I thought I would join in the fun.
The daily prompts relate to different aspects of an artist’s life and there are lots of folks all over the world taking part so if you want to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like for everyday folks running a creative business, be sure to follow the hashtag #ctmonthinthelife
I use natural hemp twine to bind all of my handmade journals. Not only is it beautiful and very strong, making it perfect for use in my books, but it is also very eco-friendly! This modest little plant has the potential to change the world, if only people would change their perception of it. So what’s the big deal about hemp? Why is it so good? Well read on and find out! Hemp is quite possibly the world’s most versatile and eco-friendly renewable resource! It has been cultivated for centuries, and today it provides the raw material for thousands of different … Continue reading →
I have some big news to share with you today friends. To some folks it may not seem so big but it sure is a big deal to me. Because the news I have to share relates to something I have thought about doing and wanted to do for quite some time. It represents a significant step forward for me in terms of the kind of life I want to live and the kind of business I want Little Deer Studio to be. You all know how much I care about our beautiful Earth and how passionate I am about preserving … Continue reading →
Have you tried gratitude journalling? Lots of folks are getting into it and finding that it really does help reduce stress and shift your overall mindset to a more positive way of thinking. [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I have had several customers tell me they have been amazed at how much more content they feel generally when they’ve been using this technique for a while. The idea is that you regularly write down the things that you are grateful or thankful for. You might choose to write just one thing every day, or 5 things each week. Make a little ritual out of it … Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago, I set up a little workspace in my stall at Northey Street City Farm, and demonstrated how I stitch up my Little Books of Smiles. It generated a bit of interest amongst visitors and I enjoyed chatting and answering questions about my work. It was quite chilly that morning and took a while for the old hands to warm up! It was all going very well until I snapped my needle. Oops! I might try to bring along some other work to demonstrate on market days, but even if I’m not actually making, I’m always happy … Continue reading →
Did you know I have a donation basket on my market stall at Northey Street City Farm where you can leave your unwanted paper scraps? I am always on the hunt for scraps to turn into new sheets of handmade paper, or even into paper beads, so if you’re in the area and you want to see your waste paper turned into something beautiful, then bring it along to the market and drop it in the basket! Examples of scraps I can use to make my handmade paper any office-type paper (not glossy or waxed) – printed is fine, coloured … Continue reading →
Although I make a lot of my own handmade paper, I also use other handmade papers in my work. One of my favourites is the beautiful range of Maximus Elephant Dung Paper. Yes it really is made from elephant dung! The paper is produced by an environmentally and socially-responsible company called Maximus, which is based in Kegalle, in Sri Lanka. photo: www.ecomaximus.com Maximus began with just 7 employees, and was originally set up to make recycled paper from office waste, as well as rice-paddy stubble and banana plants. However, the paper-making centre happened to be located near an elephant sanctuary, … Continue reading →
Normally, I would not be keen to leave the cosy warmth of my bed and venture out into the dark to head to work at 3:30am, but I now have an excellent reason to do just that every Sunday, because I have a new regular gig at the fabulous Northey Street City Farm Organic Market! If you are passionate about organic food, sustainable living and ethical shopping, and you don’t already know about this wonderful market, you really should come and check it out! Northey Street City Farm is located in Windsor, on the banks of Breakfast Creek. It’s a little … Continue reading →
I’m very pleased to announce that The Story Tree cafe in Boonah is now stocking a range of Little Deer goodies. The Story Tree is a wonderful little cafe / bookshop in the heart of Boonah. It has a reputation for having the best coffee in town, which is well deserved. It also offers up delicious food (including vegan and gluten-free options) and while you’re waiting to tuck in, you can browse the nooks and crannies full of books and handmade gifts. It has a lovely cosy, quirky atmosphere and is the perfect place to stop and rest awhile. … Continue reading →
I am really excited to be telling you about these little beauties! As many of you know, I’ve been selling handmade elephant dung paper noteboxes for several years, and they are one of my most popular items, especially at this time of year because they make such wonderful gifts. In the past, I purchased the blank boxes already made, from a fair-trade certified organisation in Sri Lanka. I then designed and created the decorative covers on the lids. Due to problems with the quality of supply and limitations regarding colours, I have been wanting to do away with this process … Continue reading →
I am so excited to announce that Cobb and Co Museum in Toowoomba have chosen me to be their featured artisan this month! I had a busy day yesterday setting up the display in the museum gift shop, where my work will be showcased from today until 19th June. Plus, I’ll be popping along on Saturday 6th June to give a demonstration of coptic bookbinding so come along between 11am and 2pm if you want to see how I make some of my books, if you want to ask about papermaking, or just want to have a chat! … Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe that six weeks have passed since the Woodford Folk Festival. It was so wonderful to take Little Deer Studio back again for the 2014-15 festival, and I am already suffering from Woodford withdrawal! So many amazing sights and sounds and smells. But to me, the most magical thing about Woodfordia is it’s people. The beautiful, gentle, peaceful souls who come from all over to share the experience. I love chatting with all the folks who visit my stall and hearing their stories. One lady I particularly remember, told me she was buying one of my notebooks … Continue reading →
Learn how to turn junk mail and other scrap paper into beautiful, unique hand-rolled paper beads! In this 2 hour class I will teach the basic bead-rolling technique and demonstrate how to adapt it to create beads in different shapes and sizes. You’ll have the opportunity to practice bead rolling using different kinds of paper to achieve different effects. You’ll also learn what to look for when selecting papers for bead making, as well as some techniques to make your beads water-resistant. When: Tuesday 1st April 10am – 12non Where: Two Create, Shop 2/6732 Cunningham Hwy ARATULA Cost: $30 per … Continue reading →
I’m very pleased to announce that you can now purchase a selection of Little Deer goodies at these wonderful stores: Two Create – handmade elegant bliss Shop 2 / 6732 Cunningham Hwy, ARATULA QLD The Collective Store 104 Bay Tce, WYNNUM QLD … Continue reading →
It’s certainly been a busy month here at Little Deer HQ, with all the behind-the-scenes work on the new website etc, some brand new stockists (more on that later!) and being involved with the BrisAsia Festival Art Bites Program. I did the last of my workshops this afternoon. Both the Chinese paper cutting and the paper fans workshops were heaps of fun and all the folks who came along really seemed to enjoy them. It was great to see each participant put their own spin on the things we were creating, and there were some fantastic designs that came out … Continue reading →
Today’s Brisstyle Indie Market in City Hall was my last market appearance as Little Deer Creations. Now that I have my new name and almost finalised my new logo, I’m ready to move on but Little Deer Creations has been my baby for the last 2 years and I couldn’t let it go without giving it one last final hurrah – a huge 40% off sale! I had a fantastic day and a lot of folks picked up notebooks and other goodies at bargain prices. It was a little sad looking up at my stall banner and realising that it … Continue reading →
For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about changing my business name. I’ve never been 100% happy with the “Creations” part on the end. It seemed OK in the beginning, but as my business has grown, it now feels a bit too cutesy and naff. perhaps that is just my impression, but it just doesn’t feel quite right anymore. I actually considered changing the name last year, but wasn’t sure exactly which way to go and ended up putting it in the too-hard basket. But now that it’s a new year, it feels like the right time to … Continue reading →
Happy Year of the Horse! To coincide with Chinese New Year, there is a wonderful program of FREE workshops happening around Brisbane over the next 5 weeks. The Brisbane City Council’s Art Bites program is linking in with the BrisAsia Festival to offer Brisbanites the chance to learn a range of Asian-inspired crafts, from traditional Indian kantha embroidery, to origami. I am excited to announce that I’ll be involved in this program and will be teaching workshops in Chinese paper Cutting as well as doing a great workshop for the kids (and young at heart!) making paper fans. The workshops … Continue reading →
Last week, I took Little Deer Creations to the Woodford Folk Festival! I had been before as a patron, but this was my first time there as a stallholder. I was so excited to have been accepted, but also quite nervous, as this event was so much bigger than any other market I’ve ever attended. Due to an unexpected family tragedy, my stall-helper was unable to attend so I had to man my stall on my own for the entire week! Thankfully, a wonderful friend of mine – the beautiful Rebecca from edward and lilly was also there doing workshops and … Continue reading →
I received the most wonderful news earlier this week – a much anticipated email to say my application to be a stallholder at this year’s Woodford Folk Festival had been successful – I was in!!! The Woodford Folk Festival is a huge annual event held in the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland. The event runs for 6 days, between Christmas and New Year, and it’s venues are jam-packed with awesome music from all kinds of genres and corners of the globe, fabulous food, wondrous acts from circus performers, street artists, magicians, thesbians, and merchants and artists selling beautiful exotic … Continue reading →
A month ago, I wrote about a challenge I was taking part in over on Instagram. The idea behind the #committobeingcreative challenge was to spend at least 10 minutes every day for the month of June doing something creative and to post a picture of it. On the face of it, this shouldn’t have been hard for me, given that my entire life now centres around my handmade business, so I am pretty much spending all day every day in some sort of creative pursuit. But I wanted to use this challenge as motivation to take the time to do … Continue reading →
Today is World Environment Day and this year, the United Nations has chosen to focus on the environmental impact of our global food production and consumption, with the theme “Think. Eat.Save” According to the UNEP, humans waste a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year! It seems ludicrous that while folks in developed countries are throwing away tonnes of food, millions of people elsewhere in the world are dying of starvation. But you know, it isn’t just the piles of food scraps going into landfill that are the problem – think about the enormous amount of resources which go … Continue reading →
Challenges come up all the time on Instagram – you know the sort – take a photo a day for a whole month, and each photo has to relate to a different theme etc etc. I don’t normally do them, mostly because I know I would struggle to stick to it. It’s a bit like making a plan to post a blog entry twice a week. I always start off with good intentions, and then life just kinda gets in the way, I get sidetracked doing other things, and it all becomes too hard. And taking photos for the sake … Continue reading →
Today is a significant day for me. October 1st 2012. Today I am officially no longer a doctor. If you followed my original blog from the start you will know that I quit my job as a doctor back in February 2011, and embarked on a whole new life, chasing my creative dreams. What you may not have known, is that I still kept my registration with the Medical Board. I’m not really sure why. I guess when you’ve lived one kind of life for so long, it is hard to let go, and part of me wasn’t quite ready … Continue reading →
Yesterday I attended one of my favourite markets of the year – the Picnic in the Park market held on the final day of the Jumpers & Jazz festival in Warwick. This fabulous festival is held over 10 days every year in July, when the town comes alive with colour, and there are jazz performances, art exhibitions, a street parade and craft workshops galore. So far, I’ve only made it for the market day, but one year soon, I really must make a real trip out of it and stay a few days to savour all the delights and really … Continue reading →
So I now have a shiny new gazebo to replace the one that self-destructed on the weekend. (note to self: take better care of this one and never ever leave it up overnight in the rain again, no matter how quickly you have to rush off somewhere, and how tired you are when you get home) So naturally, the first thing I did after putting it up to make sure it was all in working order, was to go and drill some holes in it! No, I’m not crazy – the holes are for the weights I use to hold … Continue reading →