Sewing corner for the birthday girl

So Hannah turned ten last week. She always prepares a diverse and interesting birthday list. This year it included a sewing machine and a desk like mum's.
My initial thoughts were 'no way'. Then I took a quick look at sewing machines at Spotlight, Usually when friends or their husbands ask me for advice on purchasing a sewing machine, I recommend a basic model Bernina, new or second-hand, if they can afford it. My basic Bernina Activa 140 still does virtually everything I need it to (the only reason we purchased a 710 model as well was for the extra space for quilting my larger artworks). I have both sewing machines set up in my studio, and at some point Hannah will be able to use my Activa 140. However, I was a bit reluctant to let her start on it already now. And then I saw that Spotlight had a Brother machine on sale for $89, from $249. I don't have personal experience with Brother machines, but at that price, I'm happy if it functions as a starter machine for Hannah. In a few years she will be well and truly competent with it, and I will be happy for her to use the Bernina if required.
So to cut a long story short, she got her sewing machine! And then, going with my theory that having an appropriate workspace is a big part of being creative, I figured it would be worth setting up a corner of the studio for her sewing machine and craft supplies. (I know myself well – if I don't have a dedicated spot for that machine, I will always feel like it's in the way, or l'd be saying things like 'not here, not now').
Hannah is over the moon with her sewing corner (“better than Mum's desk”). I bought a few homewares from Kmart which I personalised with paint and fabric – a little lamp (which needs some work – look at the wonky shade), some crates (inspired by Bec), a 'house' display box (I lined the back with fabric and painted the front edges), and a jewellery stand for hanging things like scissors. I also topped a few Mason jars with pincushions, and painted some cork tiles from Bunnings to serve as a pinup board.
We had the spare chair in storage – I painted it her favourite colour and added a good size chair pad so that Hannah will be able to sit high enough at the sewing machine. The chest of drawers comes from Officeworks – I've been waiting for the perfect reason to get one of these :) .
Oh, and the bunting is by Bec. Amazingly, I had everything prepared except bunting. It was the next day's task. But then I was browsing Bec's shop and found this one – perfect colours!
Oh, and we had birthday cake too, of course. Sharing this because the kids reckon it was the best one ever.
Store-bought sponge cake.
Store-bought jam.
Store-bought caramel sauce.
Loaded with store-bought cream and lollies.

So simple, so sweet, but so good!


The Great Big Bed Shuffle

I'm starting to notice a bit of a post-exhibition pattern in my life – the urge to redecorate following the busy months of preparing for and showing an exhibition. (Don't tell Phil – he'll never let me have another exhibition :) ). I think it's part of finding a new normal again, a bit like the need to tidy up the studio upon completing a new quilt, but on a bigger scale.

And this time, there was a very good reason to turn the house upside-down – the need to make room for baby.

We are spoilt for space in this house, and have always had the attic as a back-up bedroom. So we fitted that out for two children. Aaron has moved in there already, and eventually (like in a few years time) one of the other boys will move there too. We bought and set up furniture for two already. A little premature, maybe, but a spare bed never goes astray and it means the room is nicely finished off.

We looked at built in furniture to make good use of the awkwardly shaped room, but found that IKEA had a range that we liked, and for a price at which it wasn't worth trying to make something ourselves.

With Aaron moving in to the attic, the other three boys have all shuffled up one bed. Daniel loves sleeping upstairs with Caleb, or maybe I should say he loves running riot upstairs with Caleb. Some serious training to do on that front!

Marcus moved into Daniel's big bed, so that we could pack up the cot and set up the cradle. He likes to tell everyone about 'bubby bed'.

We all love a good house re-organise! Do you too?


In My Portfolio: Eucalyptus Colour Study 2

Eucalyptus Colour Study 2
© Ruth de Vos

73cm high by 70cm wide

Natural linen fabric, hand-dyed cotton fabric, cotton batting.
Hand-dyed, machine-pieced, hand- and machine-quilted.

This artworks has a sleeve stitched onto the back for hanging purposes, and can be hung using a gallery-style hanging system, or with two screws in the wall. More info including pictures here:

Available for purchase here.

You can view more of my artwork on my website, or see those which are for sale in my shop.

Create: another small childhood quilt in progress

I've been working on some small (40cm) childhood artworks again. This size fits so nicely in the frames I like to use. It's also a great size for tackling within a week, all being well. The current work-in-progress required some screen-printing. That screen has been sitting outside too long – I found a little friend on it part way through the printing process!

People often ask 'how do you find the time?' Or 'where do you get the energy?' To be perfectly honest, I have had to push myself a bit to start working on new art quilts. I didn't really feel like sewing – yes, that happens more often than you think:), and I don't have any deadlines to work towards. But working on my art is good for my head. Too much sitting around resting is not so good for my head :) . It's OK, though – these are small pieces and I'm working on them at a slow pace. I promise!


Draw: Sketchbook Peek

I've enjoyed making a more regular practice of drawing again. I'd like to be doing this daily, but am trying not to put too much pressure on myself, so it's more like 'most days'.

Drawing regularly has been so valuable for getting back into good routines and finding my feet again after the busy weeks leading up to and including my time at Aspects of Kings Park.



Thankful for…

I am thankful that, by God’s grace, my children appear to be developing and growing up well in spite if my many failings as a parent. In my experience, nothing compares to parenthood for bringing me face to face with my own sins and shortcomings!

We have so many things to work on as a family and as individuals, but in spite of this, I am blessed to see my children adjusting well socially, looking after each other, and taking on age-appropriate responsibilities.

I am thankful that Aaron and Hannah showed great maturity in pointing out that there was blasphemy and an inappropriate tone in the movie they were watching the other day, suggesting that they turn it off. I’m thankful that Caleb is coming out of shell, even if it means he starts to show more boisterous behaviour than before. I am thankful that Daniel has adjusted well at school and has made many friends. I am thankful that Marcus has been thriving on new social situations and meeting new people.

I am thankful for the older siblings who do so much to teach and help with the younger children.

And I am thankful for a family full of book lovers!

More thankfulness over at Little Bit of Thyme

Today in Ten

How was your day today? Our kids went back to school after two weeks off. Having spent everyday at the swimming pool for their swimming lessons, I would have gladly had a few more days of holidays! It's been a while since I did a 'Today in Ten' post, so I thought I'd give it a go again today. Rather boring, but at least it shows that life at our house also involves much that is mundane and normal, much like everyone elses!

(peak hour in the mud room as they all collect their school bags from their lockers – job number two, after getting dressed – Daniel hasn't quite got the routine sorted yet…)

(there's usually time for some reading – and nose-picking – before school)

Marcus and I started the school day with a trip to Bunnings. As cute as those little trolleys are, I so wish that they did not exist! They make for such a very slow trip through the store. And Marcus is emphatic about choosing one without the tall flag/handle, so that I won't help him. Here he is busy rearranging everything nice and neatly in the trolley. Oh, and every time we stop, he lines up all four wheels in the right direction. I can't convince him that all he has to do is start pushing and they'll line up by themselves… Stubborn two year old!

Pretty much right after arriving home, I developed a nasty stitch/cramp in my tummy, which stayed around for the rest of the day, so that forced things to happen at a very slow pace!

I've been working on a secret crafty project for a certain young lady who will soon turn 10. So far it has involved mason jars, fabric scraps, stuffing, assorted paints, cork and more. I look forward to sharing more eventually, but these photos show some of the progress made today:

Oh, and in between the stitching we enjoyed coffee time together. It's always good when there is some cake left over from Sunday!

Marcus occupied himself by wearing all of Hannah's hair lackies.

There was an after school doctor's visit for 4cm diameter blister. I've never dealt with doctors and hospitals very well, but having given birth to five children I though I might have grown up. Unfortunately taking my daughter to the doctor to sort out her blister still makes me very-nearly faint away!

And right at the end of the afternoon, in the last half hour before chores/bath/dinner, I stole some quiet drawing time. Yesterday Marcus had some fun with a large balloon/ball, while I snapped away. I took at least 100 photos. The photos are not brilliant, but they are the perfect raw material for many future drawings. So many fun poses and expressions. I made a start with them this afternoon.


In My Portfolio: Weeyawww, weeyawww!

Weeyawww, Weeyawww!
(to say it, just imagine a small boy racing around with his little fire engines and police cars, and make sure its full volume )
© Ruth de Vos 2009

Size: 119cm high by 117 cm wide
Materials: procion fabric dye, cotton homespun, cotton batting
Techniques: hand-dyed, machine pieced, machine quilted

Available for purchase here.

As a mother I am privileged to catch glimpses into that special world children enjoy, somewhere between fantasy and reality.

 (originally published August 24, 2012)

Thankful for…

Do you like my new desk? I received it for my birthday last month, and I am so thankful for it! We bought it second-hand, Phil sanded it right back for me, and I whitewashed and varnished it. It lives in our lounge (the desk part folds up to hide everything inside).

(Thank you to Leanne of poppystreet for the beautiful crocheted jars! I love them!)

I love having my own little space right in the living area. Yes, I have a studio, but family life precludes me getting up there half as often as I would like. This little desk is where I start the day with Bible reading and prayer. It’s where I try to fit in some daily drawing time early in the morning. It’s stocked with blank cards and notepapers to help my try to stay on top of correspondence. And it has all my drawing-relating supplies in one compact place.

Yes, I am spoilt! Sometimes I think that half the ‘work’ in being creative is setting up a conducive workspace. I am aware that my stitching time is going to be greatly reduced as this pregnancy advances (getting up the stairs to the studio is going to be tough) and while the baby is still in the newborn stages, so I’m so I am so thankful that I have this little space all ready for lot’s of drawing. Sketching doesn’t require much mess or time or space, and I find it so important to maintaining and generating new ideas for my future art quilts!

More thankf.