Brand New Market Stall Coming Soon!

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.

Little Deer Studio Market stall      Little Deer Studio stall at Brisbane Planner Markets March 2017

I’ve been wanting to revamp my market stall setup for quite a while, and have been doing lots of brainstorming and thinking and designing for months.  Coming up with something that not only displays my products well and makes browsing and shopping easy for my customers, but also can be constructed on a limited budget and transported in my car without too much hassle, certainly proved quite the challenge!

I want to create a space that feels really welcoming, and invites people to come in for a closer look. I love the idea of a space that feels like a proper little shop, with little treasures waiting to be discovered on the shelves.

This month, I finally started putting my ideas into action. With some help from my Dad, I have spent many many hours sawing and drilling and screwing and sanding, and finally this week, have finished the painting!

getting ready to start my new market stall build drilling shelf holes in doors for my new market stall testing shelves for my new market stall painting the doors for my new market stall painting the logo sign for my new market stall

It is all coming together really well and I’m so excited to give it a real-life test run!

I still have a few bits and pieces to finish off , but fingers crossed, it will be ready for debut at Davies Park market this weekend!

I can’t wait to share the finished result with you!

DIY Stationery Supplies are back!

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 ending up with more sheets than you needed.

So, as of this week, I am pleased to announce that you can once again purchase A4 elephant dung paper sheets and envelopes in a huge range of colours!

elephant dung papers for diy stationery projects

I will also be stocking a beautiful and unique range of papers, handmade here in Australia by Creative Paper Tasmania. Starting with my favourite, the gorgeous 100% recycled denim paper

denim paper handmade in Tasmania

 

and this stunning, wonderfully textured apple paper, made from apple fibres and recycled cotton rag

handmade apple paper sheets

So if you’re keen to create your own wedding invitations or looking for some unique eco friendly papers to use in your next project, check out the DIY section of the shop – open now!

Choosing the right recycled paper

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?

how to choose recycled paper

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.

mountain of paper for recycling

 

It’s hard to imagine life without paper.

Millions of tonnes of paper are produced worldwide every year.  We use it to distribute the daily news, to communicate with distant friends, to package our goods and filter our coffee. We even wipe our butts with it!

Paper manufacturing is BIG business. Unfortunately, it’s also a big problem.

The problem with paper

Every year, over 15 million hectares of our planet’s forest are cleared, and a huge contributor to this is logging and woodchipping for paper production.

Well over half of Australia’s original native forests have been demolished since European settlement, and the small percentage of old growth forests that still exist, remain under threat of continued logging.

The resulting loss of habitat and biodiversity is not the only problem.  Forest destruction is a big contributor to increased carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and worsens global warming.
Traditional paper manufacturing processes also involve toxic chemicals such as chlorine and dioxins, which further pollute and harm the environment. In some countries, it’s not just the environment that is harmed, as indigenous people are displaced from their homes, and forests are illegally cleared for woodchipping.

Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware of these issues and the demand for environmentally-friendly and ethically manufactured paper is increasing.

The problem with paper labelling

Unfortunately, the terms and labels used on paper packaging are varied and can often be misleading, and some papers labelled as “recycled” are actually not very different from 100% virgin paper.

I thought I would give you a bit of information about the various labels you might see on the paper pack, and hopefully make it a little easier for you to make an informed choice next time you go to buy your paper.

Here are some terms commonly used to label paper products:

recycled logoRecycled

This simply means that fibres extracted from existing products are reconstituted into new paper products.  Paper labelled as “recycled” may contain any amount of recycled fibre – even less than 10%.

 

 

Recycled content may be:

Mill Broke – this is waste generated by the paper manufacturing process in the mill where woodchip is pulped to make paper.  It is sometimes classed as pre-consumer waste, but this is material that never leaves the mill, and is usually reprocessed back into the manufacturing stream.  Reprocessing this material is not technically considered recycling, although some companies try to pass it off as such.

Pre-consumer waste – this includes trimmings and offcuts produced during the manufacturing and conversion of mill paper into other products, such as office copy paper, production of paper cups, cartons etc.  Depending on the source of information, it may also include a printer’s over-runs and damaged stock which was never actually sold. Basically, it is paper scraps arising from the manufacture of paper products that haven’t yet been used by consumers.

Post-consumer waste – this is paper that has actually served a purpose, and been used by consumers.  It’s the stuff you or I put in our recycling bins at home – old newspapers, office documents, used envelopes, cardboard cartons etc. This is what most people think of when they think of paper recycling.

Benefits of Recycled Paper:

  • Manufacturing paper from recycled fibre uses 50% less energy and up to 60% less water than manufacturing paper from virgin pulp.
  • Using recycled fibre means less depletion of natural resources, and less waste going into landfill.
  • Recycling paper reduces greenhouse gas emissions – paper sent to landfill releases methane as it breaks down.  Methane gas is 20 times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming.

 

When choosing your paper, look to see if the type and percentage of recycled content is specified – obviously any recycled content is better than none, but the ideal paper is one which is 100% post-consumer-waste recycled.

 

Certification Labels

FSC logo

FSC
The Forest Stewardship Council is an internationally-recognised non-government, not-for-profit organisation that was established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the Earth’s forests. When assessing and accrediting forests, the FSC takes into account social and economic factors as well as environmental issues.  It tracks and monitors the whole process of production of wood products, from the forest, to the retail shelf, and bases it’s certification on 10 principles and criteria.

There are currently 3 types of FSC certification with respect to paper:

100% FSC – the paper must be 100% made from fibre sourced from FSC-accredited forest in an FSC mill.

Paper with this label is virgin paper with no recycled content.

 

FSC Mixed Source – the paper must contain at least 50% fibre from an FSC-certified forest, with the other 50% coming from “controlled sources”, which excludes illegally harvested wood, wood harvested from forests cleared for the purposes of starting a plantation or other non-forest use, harvesting that results in violation of people’s civil and traditional rights, and use of genetically modified organisms.
FSC Mixed Source paper may contain up to 90% recycled content, but it may also contain no recycled content at all.

 

FSC Recycled – this paper is made in an FSC-certified mill and contains at least 85% post-consumer-waste recycled content, and up to 15% pre-consumer-waste recycled content.

 

PEFC logo

PEFC
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification is a European-based organisation that acts as an umbrella for many smaller national forestry schemes (including AFC).
Although proclaiming to represent environmentally-sound, sustainably managed practices, the scheme has been shown by organisations such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund to be defective, and products carrying this logo, may actually come from forests which are not ethically or sustainably managed!


ISO 14001
This standard was developed to encourage organisations to address the environmental impacts of their activities.  It is sometimes displayed on paper packaging as “proof” of good environmental practices.
However, the problem is that it’s essentially a management-systems standard, not a performance standard.  The standard requires a company to identify operations and processes that have environmental impacts, to set objectives and targets to reduce any negative impacts, and to develop policies and a review system to monitor this, but there is no requirement for the company to actually improve its environmental performance.

Use of Chlorine

Chlorine is traditionally used as a bleach in the paper-making process.  The chemical reactions that take place when chlorine is used in this manner result in the production of compounds known as organochlorines and dioxins, which are released with waste-water from the mills.

These compounds are extremely toxic, and have been linked to the development of a range of cancers as well as reproductive and developmental disorders.

Other methods for bleaching are now widely available, such as using oxygen-based compounds, which are much less harmful.

Chlorine-free paper labelling

TCF (totally chlorine-free) – no chlorine, or any chlorine derivatives, have been used to bleach the paper.  This refers to virgin pulp, not recycled paper.

ECF (elemental chlorine free) – chlorine gas has not been used, but other compounds containing chlorine, such as chlorine dioxide have been used. This method reduces toxic by-products, but doesn’t completely eliminate them.

PCF (process chlorine free) – this refers to recycled paper and means that no chlorine was used in the recycling process (although depending on the source, the original paper may have been bleached with chlorine)

 

So, what sort of paper should we be buying?

100% post-consumer-waste recycled PCF paper is best!

If you must buy paper with virgin fibre content, look for one which has FSC certification and is TCF.

Do not buy “recycled paper” from companies that still log native forests, and use unsustainable and unethical practices to make their other kinds of paper.

The Wilderness Society currently recommends these 4 brands of white copy paper which are all available in Australia:
They are all 100% post-consumer-waste recycled and PCF.

recommended recycled papers

Unfortunately none of these white papers are made in Australia, but the carbon impact of transporting them here is still less than that produced by forest destruction, and purchasing these products encourages ongoing recycling and green business, and sends a clear message to the other guys to lift their game.

If you’re looking for genuine 100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper that is manufactured here in Australia, you can’t go past Ecocern.  Their paper is a lovely earthy grey-brown colour that is easy to print and draw on, and they also make a range of other paper products such as packaging and envelopes.

Little Deer Studio is committed to using 100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper.

The white paper I use to make my greeting card inserts is either Steinbeis Vision or Evolve 100% recycled as above.

I use Ecocern paper to make the pages for most of my spiral notebooks. The card inside my spiral book covers and bookmarks also comes from Ecocern.

notebook with recycled pages

 

West End Market News

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!

west end market stall

I love this West End market!  It’s an eclectic mix of fresh fruit and veg, plants, clothing, handmade wares and all kinds of other stuff.  Not to mention great coffee and delicious food! Plenty of on-site parking available for just $3 and dogs on leads are welcome.

Also, there is a lot of redesigning and construction happening behind the scenes at Little Deer HQ, and my market stall will be getting a whole new look over the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Davies Park Market logo

Davies Park Market West End

EVERY SATURDAY

6am – 2pm

Davies Park Market West End

Corner of Montague Rd and Jane St West End, Brisbane

Focus on the good

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.

handmade gratitude journal

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.

 

What will be your story?

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.

photo-27-11-2016-15-46-03

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?

#ctmonthinthelife Day 31 – Support

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!

Photo 31-08-2016, 08 15 49

#ctmonthinthelife Day 30 – Treasured

This photo of me was taken back in August 2008.

Photo 29-08-2016, 15 44 58

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.

#ctmonthinthelife Day 27 – Learning

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.

Photo 26-08-2016, 20 15 34

#ctmonthinthelife Day 23 – Why

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.

 

Little Deer Studio core values

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.

#ctmonthinthelife Day 22 – Goal

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!

Photo 22-08-2016, 16 57 45

#ctmonthinthelife Day 18 – Customer

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.

Little Deer Studio customer feedback at Woodford Folk Festival

#ctmonthinthelife Day 17 – Photography

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.

Canon DSLR camera

#ctmonthinthelife Day 15 – Rest

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.

Photo 15-08-2016, 15 58 06

By the way, if you want to see more pics of my veggie garden, you can follow me on my other Instagram account @littledeerdyani

#ctmonthinthelife Day 13 – Post Office

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.

Photo 13-08-2016, 07 59 31

#ctmonthinthelife Day 12 – Favourite

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!

Photo 12-08-2016, 15 28 51

#ctmonthinthelife Day 11 – Assistant

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!

Photo 11-08-2016, 10 05 10

#ctmonthinthelife Day 7 – Packaging

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.

examples of Little Deer Studio packaging

Custom Order Wedding Bookmarks

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 paper pieces to coordinate with the other colours. The colours looked fantastic together and I loved the way they turned out.

custom order eco friendly bookmarks featuring turquoise green and black handmade paper

Trini recently sent me some photographs showing how she added the invite information and details of the event on the back of the bookmarks.

bookmarks used as wedding invitations

Little Deer Studio bookmark used for wedding invitation and keepsake for guests

They look really stylish don’t you think?
I thought it was such a wonderful idea, to combine the invitations with something functional – her guests now have a keepsake of her special day, as well as a beautiful bookmark they can use in the future.

Thanks so much for sharing your pics with me Trini, and for allowing me to be part of your special day.

If you would like to place a custom order, whether it’s just for a regular product in a different colour scheme, or something totally unique and personalised, simply email me with your request and I’ll see what I can do!

 

#ctmonthinthelife Day 2 – Hands

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.

Photo 2-08-2016, 11 03 08

Create & Thrive #ctmonthinthelife Instagram Challenge

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

ct challenge prompts

What’s so good about hemp?

 

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 products, from paper and fabric, to construction materials, biodegradable plastics and even paint.  It has also been shown to have nutritional benefits, and medicinal properties as well.

Hang on, I’m talking about an illegal drug right?

No actually.  There are about 2000 different strains of the Cannabis plant, and industrial hemp is quite different from marijuana.
The psychoactive effects of marijuana are produced by a chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is contained in the plant.  Cannabis plants cultivated for marijuana contain high levels of THC – up to 20%. However, the vast majority of Cannabis varieties, including those used to produce industrial hemp, contain very little THC (less than 1.5%), and are not capable of producing the same psychological effects.

So what’s it good for?

The answer is pretty much anything!

Hemp is a fast-growing, high-yielding sustainable resource.  Just one acre of hemp can produce the same amount of usable fibre as 4 acres of trees, or up to 5 acres of cotton!  While trees can take 10 years or much longer to be ready for use, hemp can be harvested in just 3 or 4 months!  And unlike cotton, which is typically grown using vast quantities of pesticides and other nasties, hemp can be easily grown without toxic chemicals, and requires much less water than a cotton crop of similar size.

Paper made from hemp is stronger and longer-lasting than wood-pulp paper, and can be recycled almost twice as many times.

Hemp fabric is more durable than cotton, and is also more breathable.
Did you know that the very first pair of 501 jeans were made from hemp fabric?

Hemp also produces the world’s strongest natural fibre rope.

During World War II, the US government encouraged all farmers to grow hemp in order to produce rope for the navy.  Every farmer in the US was required to watch the “Hemp for Victory” film, and those who agreed to grow it were exempt from the draft.

Hemp can even be used as a fuel source in the form of fuel pellets, liquid fuel or gas.  It burns clean, unlike pretroleum-based fuels which release toxic chemicals and can cause acid rain.  And of course, the reality is that the Earth’s oil reserves are a finite commodity, and will eventually be depleted altogether.  Developing eco-friendly fuels based on renewable resources such as hemp just makes so much more sense.

 

The humble hemp plant has so much potential, it is a shame that it is so vilified and misunderstood in our society.

I’m certainly happy to be using the beautiful hemp twine to stitch my books.  I also use it in my greeting cards and gift tags and it’s part of my postage packaging too.  I have even managed to get my hands on some beautiful hemp paper, so will have to get my thinking cap on for something to create with it that will really do it justice!

stab bound gratitude journal with sustainable hemp twine binding

Taking a step forward and giving back

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 it for the benefit of all creatures.  And I am just as passionate about things like human rights and equality and the importance of racial / religious tolerance and cultural diversity.

Human beings are amazing creatures.  We have so much scope for imagination and creativity, and have the potential to achieve truly wondrous things when we put our minds to the task.  Despite our many differences, deep down we are all the same.  We all want to be happy and healthy.  We all want to feel safe and to enjoy life.  To me, we are one race – the Human race.  We could accomplish so much if we worked together, sharing ideas and experiences.  It breaks my heart to instead be surrounded by so much hate, and mistrust, so much greed and selfish exploitation.

I don’t want to be a part of that.  That isn’t the kind of human I want to be.  I want to leave this life knowing that I contributed in at least some small way to helping make this world a better place.  That I made a difference.

dalai-lama-universal-responsibility

I try to leave as light a footprint on the Earth as I can.  I recycle as much as I can.  I seek out sustainable products and try to support businesses that support the environment.  I look for fair-trade certified and ethically produced materials instead of just searching for the cheapest items.  But I want to do more.

So as of this month, I am making a commitment to do more.

From now on, Little Deer Studio will donate 10% of all profits

to help support individuals or organisations who are doing amazing work and striving to make this world a better place.

My business is still small, and it may not seem such a significant thing, but every little bit helps and for some folks, even relatively small amounts of money can be of enormous benefit.  And who knows, with your continued support, perhaps Little Deer will grow bigger and more successful and I’ll be able to give even more in the future.

My plan is to focus on just one charity each year, and the one I have chosen to kick things off for 2016/2017 is one that I feel a personal connection with and one that I am proud to be able to support in this way.

The charity is called AusNep, a not-for-profit Australian organisation that provides free surgical and dental procedures to some of the poorest people in the world, who would otherwise have no access to health care.

The founder is one of the most warm-hearted, generous, kindest people you will ever come across. Her name is Loopy Kiddle and I had the pleasure and privilege of working with her in my previous life as a doctor a few years back.  Loopy is an anaesthetic nurse, and when she is not helping to save lives in the operating theatre here in Queensland, she is working tirelessly in her spare time, raising funds and organising teams of surgeons, anaesthetists and nursing staff to travel to remote areas of Nepal where they set up their clinics and operating rooms and perform all manner of surgery and dental procedures free of charge.

In just one 5 day surgical camp, they can make a difference to hundreds of lives.

surgery 2      dental      surgery 1

In addition to the surgical camps, Ausnep has also been involved in other projects, including delivering food and medical supplies to villages affected by recent earthquakes, planting thousands of trees to revegetate earthquake-affected land, providing delivery kits to women in remote villages and other medical supplies to remote health posts, donating toothbrushes and toothpaste to local orphanages and so much more.

ausnep team

AusNep was recently awarded a Kathmandu sponsorship, and it is so wonderful to see Loopy’s work gaining the attention of big companies such as this.

As you know, a lot of the beautiful papers I use in my work are handmade in Nepal, and it seems fitting that I can now help to give something more back to the folks that have helped me to create the things I sell, to a country that has played its part in helping me to live the life I love.

To find out more about Ausnep and the wonderful work they do, visit the website: www.aus-nep.com

or follow them on Facebook @AusnepAustralia

Images and video in this post included with permission from Ausnep.ausnep logo

New gratitude journals now available

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 – choose a time when you can relax for a few minutes without being disturbed.  Pick a place to sit such as a pretty spot in the garden or your comfiest living room chair, settle in with your favourite cuppa, and write what it is you are grateful for that day.  Doing this exercise really helps you to focus on the positive things in your life, and the more often you do it, the more effective it is.

You can use any note paper or even little cards to record your entries, but I think having a dedicated journal helps keep your entries together (so you can look back over them easily) and makes it that much more special.  And a pretty book helps inspire you to write as well!

If you’re keen to try gratitude journalling, I’ve just released some new little books which would be perfect for getting you started.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3966″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://littledeerstudio.com.au/shop/gratitude-journal-green/”][vc_single_image image=”3952″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://littledeerstudio.com.au/shop/gratitude-journal-red-orange/”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3956″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://littledeerstudio.com.au/shop/gratitude-journal-yellow/”][vc_single_image image=”3972″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://littledeerstudio.com.au/shop/gratitude-journal-blue-purple/”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Each one of these is handcrafted using beautiful Nepalese handmade papers, and has 20 sheets of handmade elephant dung paper inside. The binding is done with natural hemp twine using a traditional Japanese stab binding technique, and the books are embellished with my own hand-rolled paper beads and a secondhand button.

They’re a handy size (approx 9cm x 15.5cm) for carrying in your bag or coat pocket.

I make these books to order, so as with most of my products, if you don’t see the colour you’re after in the shop, just email me and I’ll arrange a custom one just for you.

The gratitude journals are now available in the online store and from my market stall.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column]

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Demonstrating my work at Northey Street Market

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.

Photo 3-07-2016 07 33 05
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 to answer questions and chat about my work.

Next time, I’ll be sure to bring some spare needles!

making-books-at-NSCF-web

Donate your scrap paper

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!

paper-donation-web

Examples of scraps I can use to make my handmade paper

  • any office-type paper (not glossy or waxed)
    – printed is fine, coloured is great!   e.g. school notices, Brisbane City Council newsletters, office memos etc
  • envelopes
  • recycled or handmade paper
  • tissue paper  (coloured party hats like the ones found in Christmas bonbons work well)

 

Examples of other scraps I can use to make my paper beads:

  • glossy junk mail
  • wrapping paper
  • magazine pages

 

Please do not bring:

  • newspaper
  • food packaging
  • cardboard

 

If you are unsure, just ask me or bring it along to show me.  Any donated scraps that are not suitable or can’t be used, I will put into the recycling bin as usual.

Studio Snippet – Elephant Dung Paper

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!

elephant-dung-paper-colours

The paper is produced by an environmentally and socially-responsible company called Maximus, which is based in Kegalle, in Sri Lanka.

thatched roof paper making facility in Kegalle
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, and it was soon discovered that the cellulose-rich dung from the resident elephants was an excellent ingredient for making paper! Hence, Maximus Elephant Paper was born.

handmade paper sheets being pressed
photo: www.importants.com.au

 

The paper is completely handmade, using traditional paper-making techniques, with no toxic chemicals or acids used in production.  The dung is first sun-dried, then boiled to kill any bacteria.  The dung fibres make up 80% of the material used, with the remainder consisting of a mixture of post-consumer waste paper and rice-paddy stubble.  The colours are obtained by the addition of natural salt dyes.  This mixture is pulped, and then formed into sheets on a mould, before being pressed and dried in the shade.

handmade paper sheets drying in the shade
photo: www.importants.com.au

 

The result is a sheet of beatifully-coloured paper with a wonderful texture.

The success of the elephant paper line resulted in the original centre at Kegalle being expanded and a second base has now been established in Dambulla, close to the wild elephant migration trail, in an area where the elephants are under serious threat due to conflict with humans and competition for scarce land and resources.  Here, the company employs the local people to collect the wild elephant dung, which is then turned into paper.  This “Peace Paper” project aims to improve the socio-economic situation for the rural people, as well as to educate them and encourage them to value the elephants and protect them.

Proceeds from the sale of the elephant paper help to fund the Millennium Elephant Foundation, which is affiliated with the World Society for the Protection of Animals, and which, through various projects, helps to raise awareness, to improve the welfare of Sri Lanka’s working elephants, and to ensure their conservation in the wild.

herd of elephants bathing in river

Maximus was the winner of the 2006 BBC World Challenge, and was awarded Co-op America’s Green Business of the Year Leadership Award in 2008.  I am proud to be associated with this wonderful product.

 

My new regular Sunday gig

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!

NSCF-logo

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 permaculture oasis in the heart of the city, with community gardens, a nursery and a little cafe. The farm hosts workshops and events focussing on sustainable living and permaculture, and runs classes on all kinds of things from beekeeping to basket weaving.

 

Every Sunday, the farm comes alive with market stalls selling fruit and veg, spices, bread, meat, eggs and dairy, all of which are certified organic.  There are scrumptious brunch options such as buckwheat pancakes, amazing sauteed mushroom meals and homemade pies, and delicious organic coffee to wash it down!

Northey Street City Farm organic market

image courtesy of Northey Street City Farm

 

But it isn’t all just about food – the market also includes makers stalls selling unique handmade products including genuine organic beeswax candles and gorgeous handfelted items, as well as various traditional healers, henna decorating and more!

Northey Street City Farm Chai Cafe

image courtesy of Northey Street City Farm

Northey Street City Farm nursery

image courtesy of Northey Street City Farm

 

The market has such a laid-back, positive vibe and it is a wonderful place to spend a Sunday morning.

You can find me there every Sunday from 6am – 11am.  I’m on the Edgar Street side of the market, next to Peter from Happy Flame candles.

market map

stall-sign

Come and say hello!  I promise it will be worth getting up for!

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New Stockist

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 in BoonahThe 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.

It even has a huge well-stocked play area to keep the little ones entertained!

The Story Tree in Boonah The Story Tree in Boonah The Story Tree in Boonah The Story Tree in Boonah

 

The Story Tree

74 High St  BOONAH  QLD  4310

www.thestorytree.com.au

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New Noteboxes!

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 for a while now and create the boxes entirely myself.

Well, I am very pleased to say that after many hours of cutting and folding and pasting, and lots of trial and error, I now have such a design!

Meet my new range of Bohemian Soul noteboxes…

 

group of note boxes

They are a similar shape and size to the old noteboxes, but with a much neater finish and elegance about them.  They are made from 100% recycled board, covered inside and out with beautiful fair-trade Nepalese handmade papers.  Each one is filled with individual sheets of creamy-white handmade paper which has a wonderful texture but is easy to write and draw on.  The ribbon makes it easy to lift out the notepaper sheets.
yellow botanical note box     red-open      turquoise blue recycled note box

The thing I love most about these boxes is that I can make them in any colour, so you’re sure to find one to match your decor, and if you don’t see your favourite colour combination listed in the shop, just get in touch and I’ll create a custom order just for you!

To see the range of noteboxes currently available visit the online store or come along to one of my market stalls.

Cobb and Co Featured Artisan

small-me

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.

Little Deer Studio handmade books

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!

Little Deer Studio feature at Cobb and Co Museum

Woodford Memories

woodford folk festival

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 as a special gift for her daughter, who was going through her first pregnancy. She told me, with great amusement, how her daughter would call her every single day to complain about her symptoms, or express some concern, or ask her mother questions, and this lady planned to record the details of each conversation in the notebook, and then present it to her daughter when her child was born, as a unique memento of her first experience of pregnancy, so they could look back on it and laugh together.  Stories like this warm my heart and capture the real spirit of my work and the reason I love to create. The idea that my books are more than just pretty covers and blank pages – they bring life to people’s stories and help preserve their memories. They are a way of connecting, and celebrating.

I had another wonderful sort of customer feedback at the festival too – in the form of a lovely handwritten letter, delivered to my stall one morning by the Woodford postie, who managed to track me down from the “address” drawn on the envelope.  It was written by a young girl who had purchased a paper-bead making kit earlier in the week.  Her words made me smile and I was quite chuffed that she had thought to write them to me.

lovely customer letter

If you’ve never been to the festival – check out the website www.woodfordfolkfestival.com or follow them on facebook to stay up to date with all the details.  It is a truly fantastic experience and a great way to see in the new year.  Early bird season tickets will start to go on sale in a few months time.

streets of woodford folk festival

 

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Learn to Make your own Paper Beads!

beads square

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 person (includes all materials PLUS your own beautiful bamboo paper bead rolling tool to take home)

Bookings: Please contact the shop during business hours (9am – 4pm every day except Wed)
(07) 5463 8449

*this class needs a minimum of 5 people to go ahead
Bookings are essential

Workshop Fun

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 of the classes.

Here are some pics from the workshops I hosted:

BrisAsia festival Artbites paper fans workshop with Little Deer Studio

paper-cutting-Collage

I really enjoyed doing the workshops and it has certainly convinced me to forge ahead with my plans to do more in the future.

 

For Instructions on how to create some of the designs used in the workshops, visit this page.

 

Little Deer Creations’ Last Hurrah

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 was the last time it would hang above my stall, but I know that the changes I am making are better for my business and I’m excited about my new plans for this year.

Photo 8-02-14 10 25 06 AM

Time for a change

 

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 bite the bullet and go for it.

if nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies

I have plans to take my business in some new directions this year and feel that I need a name that will better suit those plans, and allow for more room to grow into the future.

The “Little Deer”  part of my name must stay.  That is who I am, and it has personal significance to me.

After tossing around so many different ideas, I have finally decided on one – Little Deer Studio.

It has a more professional, mature sound to it I think, and fits well with where I want to take the business going forward.  I surveyed the peeps on my Facebook page and it seemed to be a popular choice, so it has stuck.

Creating a new logo was my biggest challenge, and I’m sure this is something I will continue to tweak over time.  While there was consensus about the new name amongst my Facebook fans, there were a myriad of differing opinions about the logo!

I wanted something that could work on my website and shop banners, as well as for labels that I stamp or sew onto my products, and I think the one I have chosen will do the job nicely.  Time will tell I guess.

Now that I have made the decision, there comes all the tasks involved in the change-over. Who would have thought that changing just one word in the name would create so much work!  Lots of contact details to be updated, new business cards to be designed, new website to produce, new facebook page to promote, new emails to be organised…  It’s going to be a busy month!

 

 

BrisAsia Festival Art Bites Program – FREE WORKSHOPS!

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 are being produced by the Brisbane Brown Owls, and all the details about what’s on offer and how you can book a spot can be found on their website and facebook page.

Dyani Evans from Little Deer Studio preparing to host Chinese paper cutting workshops for BrisAsia festival

Woodford Folk Festival

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 was able to pop by every so often to give me a break.  It was busy and tiring, but so much fun and I had a wonderful time.

Amazing atmosphere, delicious food, so many great performers and lovely lovely people!

 

paper bead workshop in Little Deer Creations stall at Woodford Folk Festival

The paper bead making classes I ran during the festival were  big hit!

I wish I had a bigger space and someone to watch the stall so I could have taken more students.  If I get the chance to go back, I will make sure I can do more classes as they were extremely popular.

 

 

 

It was nice to have my work so well received at Woodford.  I love that many of my books were purchased by songwriters, poets and artists, who will fill their pages with wonderful words and images.

One customer who purchased a notebook had a particularly touching story.  She told me that she has a sister who lives interstate, and that they have a very strained relationship, with their conversations always ending in argument.  She wanted to start again this year and find a way to reconnect with her sister and tell her how she felt.  She planned to write what she wanted to say in the book and then mail it to her sister and invite her to do the same and send it back.  It was such a poignant story and I am honoured that she chose one of my books for such a special task.  I really hope it works out for her.

I met so many beautiful, gentle people at Woodford and I really hope I get the opportunity to take Little Deer back again in the future.

 

Little Deer Creations is heading to Woodford!


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!!!

fire dancers at Woodford Folk FestivalThe 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 wares and unique handcrafted goods.  The whole thing culminates in a glorious and spectacular fire event at the end of the closing ceremony on the final night.

 

DSCF1165Thousands of people attend every year, many of them camping for the week to fully immerse themselves in the experience.  It is a wonderful festival, that celebrates everything good and joyous about life, and I have never felt as relaxed, and happy, and invigoragted as I do when I am there.

It’s been a few years since I was last there – working in a casual job that relies heavily on school holidays for shifts, has meant that I was often working during the week of the festival and couldn’t make it.

bus-web

 

But it has long been a dream of mine to not only go back myself, but to take my business there too, and to have my own stall in the festival village.  The folks that go to Woodford are my kind of people.  I think they would really appreciate and value the kind of work I do and the eco-friendly nature of my products.

 


jug-band-webIt’s been a couple of months since I submitted my application – a long time to hold your breath and wait for something you really want.

I wasn’t sure I would be successful.  I’d never applied for an event as big as this before.  But I spent a long time working on my application, and sent a whole box full of product samples so they could see and feel what my things were like – and they loved it!

When the notification day arrived, I was nervous as hell.  I was on the edge of my seat all day, constantly checking my emails, waiting for the call.  Successful applicants were supposed to be notified by 5pm.  But when that time arrived, I had still heard nothing, and I had to resign myself to the fact that I hadn’t been successful.  But at 5:15pm , the email arrived!  I was in!!!  I tell you, I did the world’s biggest happy dance that evening, and couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the night!

Now that the reality of it has sunk in, I realise how much work I have to do in the next 3 months to get ready!

It’s about to get very very busy in the Little Deer studio – and I couldn’t be happier about it 🙂

 

The #committobeingcreative Challenge – how did I go?

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.

commitcreative

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 some slightly different things – things I’ve wanted to try but never made the time – to make some things for myself, not just for my customers!

So how did I go?

Well, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be!

After a long day working in my studio, making things to fill orders or restock my market stall, it was sometimes hard to summon the energy to do something else creative on top of all that. And on market days, when I’d get up early (often before the sun was up) to go and set up and then man a market stall all day, I was so exhausted by the time I got home and unpacked it all again, that the last thing I felt like doing was doing something more creative.

But despite that, I did actually achieve quite a lot this month, and I found that having the challenge there, was a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to give it a go, and I ended up really enjoying it.

I tried papier-mache for the first time, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.  I made  a few little bowls and dishes using different techniques, and I am keen to explore this a bit further and perhaps incorporate some papier-mache pieces into the Little Deer product range in the future.

15   first paper bowl   12

I also learned the basics of crochet, with the help of a great book my Mum gave me, and a couple of wonderful Brisbane Brown Owls meetups.  I made my first round circle motifs, and even learned how to make a crochet basket.  I still have a lot of practice to do with this, but I’m stoked that I now have the basic skills to work on.

One of the highlights for me was attending my first ever art class – an introduction to mixed media with the wonderful Chrissy Foreman-Cranitch.  Painting is not one of my strong suits, and I had never done anything like this before, so was totally out of my comfort zone.  But with Chrissy’s help and her inspiring teaching, I managed to create something that I was quite proud of, which not only lifted my spirits, but also inspired me to continue to try new things and have the courage and freedom to explore different paths.

I also found time to try some different bead-making techniques, and doodle some new designs, which I rarely take the time to do.

creative challenge june

Overall, I’m really pleased I took up this challenge.  It has reminded me how important it is to take the time to be creative for myself, as well as my business.  I may not feel like it every day, but in the future, I won’t wait so long before I spend my creative fun time!

 

World Environment Day – How big is your foodprint?

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!

world environment day theme think eat save

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 into producing our food, including available land, precious water supplies, the energy involved in harvesting, packaging and transportation of produce – all of which is also wasted if the end product is simply thrown away.

Now I’m obviously not suggesting you stop eating, but there are some things you can do to help reduce your impact:

* plan your meals and only buy the ingredients you need each week

* freeze leftovers right away so they don’t spoil before you have a chance to eat them

* become vegetarian! Aside from the awful animal cruelty that is rampant in factory farming, commercial meat production uses a lot more of our natural resources and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than vegetable crops

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.32.14 pm
* support your local producers – buying your fruit and veg at the local farmers market not only supports local business but also cuts down on transport and packaging

* buy certified organic produce wherever possible to minimise the harmful effects of chemicals on the environment and support farmers who are doing the right thing for our planet.

 

* grow your own food!  Nothing beats fresh produce straight from your own backyard!  There’s no transport costs, no need for excessive packaging, and of course, it tastes so much better! Plus, all your scraps can be composted and returned to the garden to enrich the soil and feed your next crops, instead of being wasted in landfill.

To read more about the problem of food wastage and what we can all do to help reduce it, visit the UNEP website here http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/

The Commit to Being Creative Challenge

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 of it isn’t really my cup of tea.

But last week, I saw a post about a different sort of challenge, and I decided that this is one I should actually try.

The brain behind this idea belongs to Vicki Sinclair, a wonderful woman who is passionate about supporting handmade works, and runs the In.cube8r store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

Aside from the fact that there is a free spot at In.cube8tr up for grabs (OMG I would love to win that!) I think this challenge will actually be good for me.

The concept is simple – commit to spending at least 10 minutes every day doing something creative, something you enjoy, and post a photo of it with the hashtag #committobeingcreative. Every day for the whole month of June.

commitcreative

Now, on the face of it, this shouldn’t be too hard for me to do, since my daily work involves making things (which I love doing) and being creative anyway. I could easily just post a pic of me making a notebook, or a bookmark, or some paper beads – things I do every day. But I have decided to approach this challenge from a slightly different angle.

I am often so busy making things to order, planning market stall set-ups, or working on my websites, that I don’t make time to step back and come up with new designs, new product ideas. There are so many crafty things I’d like to try, but never seem to get around to actually trying them. So this challenge seemed like the perfect motivation for me to get off my butt and MAKE the time!

I plan to do something every day, that I don’t normally do. I want to try papier mache, I want to practice the crochet skills I learned just last month. Maybe some painting. Maybe a collage. I got an awesome Wacom graphics tablet for Christmas almost six months ago and still haven’t used it!!

So I started yesterday. Day 1.

I started to make my first papier mache bowl.  I work with paper all the time, and yet for some reason, I have never tried my hand at papier-mache.  I’ve covered plenty of things in paper, but never made something stand-alone, from scratch, entirely of papier mache. I’ve always wanted to – I love the idea of making little bowls to keep my jewellery and other knick-knacks in, or little sculptures to make me smile, but just kept putting it off.

first paper bowl
So here it is – my first attempt!

Well, the first couple of layers of it anyway – need it to dry before adding more layers.

 

I’m not quite sure where it will lead, or what it will look like, but that’s the beauty of this challenge – I’m just going to play with new techniques and new ideas and see where it leads me!

 

Ten minutes each day is not a lot.

Thirty days is not that long.

I can do this.

Gulp.

 

No going back

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 to completely burn that bridge.  Just in case.

But not once in the past 17 months have I regretted my decision to quit.  Not for one second.  Sure, I’ve missed the reliable, regular pay cheques, but that is all I’ve missed.  Nothing else.

So when the time came to renew my registration again, I knew it was time to let go.  No point spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a licence I never want to use again.

So this time, I crossed the “NO” box on the form, and with a little trepidation, but a lot of determination and resolve, I posted that sucker and there was no going back.

That, as they say, was that.

So my registration expired yesterday, which means I can no longer practice in Australia.  No prescriptions, no consultations, no advice. Nothing.
If I want to be a doctor again, I have to go through the whole arduous process of applications, references, umpteen bits of paperwork, and probably some sort of exam or supervised work to prove I haven’t forgotten everything (oops! too late for that!).

And you know something?  I don’t care!  I thought this would be a hard thing for me to do, but I am surprised at how good it actually feels.  It was finally the right time for me to let go, and instead of worry and regret, I feel excitement and a huge sense of release and freedom.

Who knows where the rest of my life will lead.  My business might become a roaring success, it might fail miserably.  Maybe it’ll just do OK, and I’ll always have to have a second job to supplement my income.  Who knows where this path will lead?  All that matters to me is that it’s the path I want to be on, and I am happy to see where it takes me.

image source

 

To Market To Market – Jumpers & Jazz Festival 2012

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 soak up the atmosphere.

If you’re into yarn-bombing, then this festival is a must-see because those folks in Warwick sure take this art form to a whole new level!  Trees all over the town are adorned with vibrant colour, and a walk down the main street is a real treat. Even the buildings are not safe!

The Picnic in the Park day is certainly a highlight of the event and a wonderful way to end the festivities. It’s held in Leslie Park – a beautiful park in the heart of Warwick’s CBD. Usually a relatively peaceful place full of rose gardens and rotundas, the park is transformed on market day as hundreds of stalls line the paths, the swingin’ sounds of jazz music echo out from the main rotunda, and the crowds pour in.

The day started early for me. I live on the southwest outskirts of Brisbane, near Ipswich, which is an hour and a half’s drive from Warwick.  It was freezing cold that morning – not the coldest weather we’ve had, but cold enough. It was forecast to be one degree at home that morning, and it must have been close to that when I left at 4:30am. As I headed southwest it got colder, and I could see ice forming on the side mirrors of my car as I drove along! Long patches of frost lined the highway, and as the sun rose, the countryside was bathed in a shimmery mist. It’s beautiful country out there, with rolling farmlands stretching out for miles, and the mountains of the Great Dividing Range providing a stunning backdrop to it all. I really should have taken a photo, but there are limited places to pull over and stop on the road and I was on a mission to get there. Next year I will make more effort.

frosty grass on my stall site

Setting up a market stall is hard work at the best of times, but it’s even harder when it’s so cold your fingers are numb and don’t want to work, and you have to wipe the newly-formed icicles off your tables (that were only taken out of the car minutes before) before you can set them up! Yes it was chilly! But the thing about frosty mornings is that they usually herald the dawn of spectacular clear, sunny days, so I relished the icy start, in anticipation of a glorious day. And I wasn’t disappointed.

We’ve had some dreadful weather in Queensland of late, but Mother Nature really turned it on for us yesterday, with crystal clear blue skies and warm sunshine. It had been blowing a gale with fiercely cold winds the day before, but on market day, there was just the slightest hint of a breeze. The weather lifted everyone’s spirits immensely and it seemed as if the entire town had come out to enjoy the sunshine and make the most of it.

standing room only between the stalls

Hundreds, probably thousands, of people came out to visit the market, and I was busy all day. I would have liked the chance to get around and see all the stalls for myself – artists and crafters from all over the region come to ply their wares – but as I was on my own I just couldn’t get away. Still, I can’t complain about that as it translates into a pretty good day for me sales-wise. Although a good day for me pales in comparison to a good day for some – one fellow sold at least 50 hand-woven baskets at $35 a pop! I can only dream of making that much money from a single market. For now, I will take all I can get!

A lot of the folks who visit this market are lovers of handmade. They appreciate the skill in design and the work involved, and that makes for a very enjoyable market for me. It was lovely to see some of my customers from last year return, and to meet lots of new folks too.

There was some great jazz music on stage as well, which provided a perfect soundtrack to the market, including the fabulous guys from Scat, a Brisbane-based jazz group – man can those boys swing!

I was so busy I didn’t even remember to take a photo of my stall!  Oh well – next time!

I had a wonderful day, and despite not getting home until almost 7pm that night, I crashed into bed feeling very happy and eager to do it all again next year!

My super-duper gazebo leg weights

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 it down and stop it taking off like some gangly 4-legged spaceship at the first hint of wind.

I love my gazebo weights and they draw a lot of comments from fellow stallholders when I go to market, so I thought I’d share them with you all here.

I used to use sandbags.  Forked out the money for the Oztrail deluxe sandbags, specially designed to wrap around the poles.  They lasted 2 weeks.  No kidding.  The seams busted and I ended up with sand in my car. Twice.
I looked into other options.  Camping stores sell plastic containers that are designed to fit around the legs, and be filled with water, but they’re bulky, and if you want to put a wall up on the gazebo (which you need if it rains) they get in the way.  Some folks use plastic water containers tied on with rope, but I think they look ugly, and again, are quite bulky.

So I had these special weights made up and I got Dad to help with the fitting.

Each weight is a solid piece of steel, that has been cut to size and the edges ground off to make them smooth.  They are about 40cm high, 10cm wide and a few cms thick.  The height was kept low enough so it would be out of the way of the first height notch on the gazebo leg (I use my gazebo on the middle height setting.  If you use the lower setting, you may need the weight to be slightly lower to be clear of the height adjuster)  Each one weighs 10kg, so they meet the criteria of most markets.

Dad marked out and drilled two holes in each weight, where the bolts would go through.

We then clamped each weight in place on the leg, to align the holes and drilled right through the gazebo leg.  This doesn’t affect the strength or function of the leg in anyway.  I’m sure it would void the warranty, but the gazebos are only guaranteed for a year, and are not guaranteed at all if used for commercial purposes, so if you use your gazebo as a market stall, the warranty is not worth the paper it’s written on anyhow.

Pre-drilling the holes with the weight clamped on to get the correct alignment, and then drilling the gazebo leg hole again with a slightly larger drill bit, so the bolt will slide through easily and not get stuck
(you want the bolt to slide through easily at the start, because I noticed at the end of a long hot day, they will expand a bit and can be hard to get out when it comes time to pack up, if the holes are too small)

Attaching the weights on market day is as easy as passing a couple of bolts through the holes and screwing nuts on the other side.

I’ve been using these weights for almost a year now and they are marvellous.  I have been in some pretty windy conditions and had no problems whatsoever.  On one insanely windy market day, I watched as a fellow stallholder’s gazebo became completely airborne and blew into the fence behind it, while mine didn’t move an inch.  So they definitely work!

These weights are quite heavy, but take up almost no space in my car, and are not at all cumbersome.  The slimline design means I can put up my walls, and put my tables right up to the corners, without them getting in the way.

My next task, if we ever get enough fine weather, is to paint them all with special rust-proof primer, as after twelve months, they’re starting to get a bit rusty.

Depending on where you get the steel, and how much of the work you can do yourself, it could cost around $100 or more for 4 of these weights.  But considering I paid $40 for my crap sandbags, and the special plastic fitted ones I’ve seen for almost $50 a set, it’s not bad value.  These things will certainly outlive the gazebo, and probably me as well!