Category Archives: Recycling

Cosy Coffee Corner

So, after years of my verandah being a junk collection of assorted pots with a variety of plants in various stages of life and death (can you tell I’m not very good at gardening?), I decided to tidy up and create a cosy coffee corner for myself. 

The lucky find of a round glass-topped table for just $10 at a thrift store was my incentive to change things around.

First, I cleared the verandah of everything, so I’d have a clean slate to play with. Then, I put the glass-topped round table in one corner and rearranged some potted plants around it and on top of it, til it pleased the eye.

It was good, but it lacked something.

So I went and Manifested some garden chairs to go with it, to create a cosy corner where I could sit and read or relax or play chess with my son Jack.

When I say I Manifested some garden chairs, I mean I simply thought about getting some garden chairs, envisioned a couple of them around the glass-topped round table, and kept thinking about that vision every day, whenever I was out and about driving from one dog visit to another.

Et voila! A few days later, I decided out of the blue to return some library books. As I was driving down the road, what did I see but 3 garden chairs stacked up on someone’s verge for anyone to take. 

The Council designates dates every year for different neighbourhoods to throw out their junk for what they call “verge collection”. Once stuff hits the grassy verges outside homes, if you see it and you want it, you better be quickest to it! Some people drive their cars with trailers behind them, scouring every road in the neighbourhood for salvageable junk, which they’ll clean up, repair or give a fresh lick of paint, and then try and sell on Gumtree (Australia’s version of Craigslist) or at car boot sales.

I made a note to check out the garden chairs on my way back from the library. If they were still there, and they had indeed been thrown out, and if they weren’t too shabby or broken, I’d take them. If they fit in my car, that is.

And Thank You, Universe! Yes, they were still there on my way back! I pulled over and had a quick look at my finds. One of the chairs had really rusted front and back legs, but the other 2 were fine. They were the plastic fake-wicker type of 1960s chairs, almost black in colour. 

Into the car they went, in a jiffy. 

Perfect! The chair with the wonky legs went to the side of our pool area, but the other 2 were exactly perfect for my corner. 

But…now I need some cushions to go with them.

Manifest, manifest, manifest! On my next drive, I told myself that the perfect cushions for my 2 chairs would be at the first thrift store I went to. I visualised a botanical theme to the cushions, maybe flowers or butterflies, some greens and reds. They’d be in the section where cushions were displayed, and they’d be ridiculously cheap.

And there they were. They were even sitting next to each other. 2 fat cushions for the back of the chairs, and 2 flatter ones for the seats. The 2 fat ones had butterflies, a ladybird and the letter “B” on one, and birds, leaves and writing on the other. The 2 flat ones were a plain dark green.

Perfect again! Thank You, Universe!

I’ll need to rinse off the dirt from my verandah again, as I did some more rearranging of my flower pots and troughs to fit the table and chairs in the corner. So, please excuse the dirt on the floor…but I now present to you my new Cosy Coffee Corner.

Total cost: AU $18

Table $10

Chairs FREE

Cushions $8 ($2 each)

Now I just have to Manifest a power pressure washer to wash away the dirt from the verandah 😄!

Welcome To My Boudoir

Over the last 3 months, my bedroom has had a total transformation. Not an expensive, interior designer priced transformation, but rather a series of furniture rearrangements, lucky thrift store finds, items that I already owned being repurposed, and objects I “manifested”. 

First, the Queen-sized bed was turned 90 degrees and pushed into a corner. Originally, there were 2 bedside cabinets, one on either side of the bed. I gave one to my son Jack, and put the other one by the bedroom door. 

I had a Queen Anne dressing table in the junk room. It had been given to me by a neighbour in our previous estate, and although I’d given it a new coat of white paint, it had simply languished in the junk room of our present house. But this time, after several coats of gesso and varnish (I couldn’t find the white paint), it’s not taken up residence at the end of my newly positioned bed. And it houses my collection of Affirmation, Positive Thinking and Law of Attraction cards, as well as some books that I keep meaning to read, and some crystals.

I bought a rug to fill up the now empty space between the bed and the door. The dogs like to lie on it. It also makes a great work surface for my sewing projects.

I bought some cushions from thrift stores to place on my bed against the wall. They’re the colours of jewels – purple, teal, orange, and at the foot of my bed is a dog-themed cushion and my dog Shelagh’s 3 favourite toys – Gorilla, Tiger Tiger and Lion Lion. 

Where my bed had been before, I’d had a large romantic canvas print on the wall, flanked by 2 bird-themed canvasses. I’d found a modern abstract canvas for $20 at a thrift store. It now has pride of place on the wall.

On the smaller wall above my bedhead now (in the photo above) I have put up 2 canvasses which are actually cheats. 

The abstract on the left, with the line drawing of a woman’s face, is actually a T2 wrapping paper, from when I bought my “She Loves” limited edition teacup and saucer 2 years ago. It’s simply been Blu-Tacked and duct-taped (shock, horror! 😆) to a homemade wooden box frame. 

The canvas on the right, featuring peacocks, is actually a wallpaper sample stapled to an IKEA wooden frame. I’d bought it as such from a thrift store, for $3.25. 

For some reason I dislike hammering nails into walls, so to attach these 2 canvasses to the wall I used Command Hanging Strips (by 3M). Basically, Command Hanging Strips are a simple combination of flexible sticky tape and velcro. You can remove them from walls without leaving a trace. No need to fill in nail holes and then have to repaint the whole wall afterwards.

Here’s the rest of my “boudoir”:

The chair is a dining room chair in mock leather, picked up from a thrift store for $10. I’ve covered it simply with one of my Kantha-Boro quilted pieces. The 2 Totoro plush characters are actually sitting on top of a radiator heater, that I use in winter. The bookcase hidden under the blue cloth houses my collection of Tarot and Oracle cards. The blue canvas with the deer silhouette came from KMart, $15. And the “N O W” letters on the wall were made by me using Gelli-printed paper glued to wooden letters, then varnished.

The large romantic canvas atop this Queen Anne hall table is the one that used to grace the space above my bed. It was moved to make way for the modern abstract you now see on the main wall of my bedroom, flanked by the bird canvasses.

The Queen Anne hall table was a lucky find at a secondhand furniture store. I just love its sexy, curvy shape. Below it is my old piano stool, simply draped with another of my Kantha-Boro pieces. 

The striking turquoise artwork on the wall in the photo above, is one of my own creations. I created it on my Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phone, then uploaded it to my computer, ran it through a Print-on-Demand service, chose the format (print on wooden/MDF panel) et voila! 

The black cloth with white circles and broken lines is a remnant I picked up from IKEA, over an IKEA tall chest of drawers. I like to call this spot my “Altar”. 

Bohemian Flags

I came across these recently on Pinterest. Putting aside any patriotism or nationalism, for me these flags demonstrate the essence of a bohemian outlook on life. They embody the philosophy of recycling and reusing materials, and I love their spirit of insouciance and their hint of rebellion. 

Plus, of course, they are just so darn pretty. 

Bohemian, crafty, artisan, shabby chic, patriotic, prayer flags, banners, Ibizan flags, country, homespun, handsewn, ribbons, lace, pom poms, feathers, sequins, embroidery, beads, tassels.   

Artist Inspiration: Akiko Ike

Akiko Ike of Niigata, Japan, is a gentle, unassuming lady with immense talent in the Japanese art of Sashiko embroidery. Her technique is not strictly Sashiko, it encompasses and incorporates the principles of Boro, and the stitches she uses are identical to Indian Kantha, or running stitch. 

Akiko teaches workshops around the world and is happy to share her knowledge and expertise with a growing number of devotees. I’ve never met Akiko myself. When she was in Australia last year conducting workshops in Brisbane, I hadn’t yet discovered my love for Kantha. But I would love to meet this Master of the art someday soon, and if she ever comes to Western Australia, I’ll definitely sign up for one of her workshops.

My own embroidery technique is what I myself have termed “Kantha-Boro”. It uses scraps of fabric, in line with the Boro ethic of reusing/recycling/no waste, or “Mottainai“. Some of my pieces are patchworked in the Western sense, but most are more accurately described as simply appliqued over using running stitch, without being sewn onto the backing fabric beforehand. This is the technique Akiko Ike uses.

Maybe someday I’ll be famous, like Akiko Ike! 

Anyway, I couldn’t find a website dedicated to her, but I did find Akiko Ike’s Facebook profile. Within this are 2 blogs showcasing her work…but they are both in Japanese, and I don’t know how to read Japanese 😕.

I’ve created a Pinterest board dedicated to Akiko Ike, called “Akiko Ike – Chiku Chiku“. Chiku chiku is an onomatopoeic word coined by Akiko herself, which emulates the sound made by the yarn she uses going in and out of the cloth. You will notice that her stitches are bold and huge, and she uses thick yarn to sew her stitches. (I myself use crochet or embroidery thread, and a darning needle).

Here are just a few examples of Akiko Ike’s Chiku chiku work, taken from Pinterest:

 

Kantha + Patchwork Quilt Project

Here’s the result of my latest sewing efforts. I’d found someone’s unfinished patchwork project in one of my local thrift stores. It was basically just some square patches sewn together, without a backing. I liked the uneven, slightly wonky, amateurish feel to the piece and knew I could do something with it. At just $5, it was a real steal. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Inspired by my fascination with Indian Kantha quilts, which are fashioned out of layers of vintage sari cloths sewn together using simple running stitches, I decided to try my hand at making my own Kantha + Patchwork quilt. 

I had amongst my fabric stash a Queen-sized duvet cover in a lovely blue stripe, which would work perfectly with the patchwork piece.

First, I lay the duvet cover right side down on my bedroom rug. (This unassuming rug, a recent purchase, is around 6 x 8 feet and has become my workfloor for my bigger sewing projects, as well as providing a handy template for sizing quilts). 

Next, I lay the patchwork piece right side up, on top of the duvet cover. The duvet cover is larger than the patchwork piece. After making sure all the sides were equally balanced, I trimmed, folded and pinned the excess duvet cover fabric over the patchwork piece.

The laying out and pinning took a long time to get right. 

Next, I took the pinned piece to my sewing machine and sewed along all the edges, to secure both pieces together. Then I pinned the patchwork piece to the duvet cover at regular intervals, to prevent it slipping out of place when Kantha stitching.

The reason I chose the striped duvet cover as the backing for this project was so I’d have a handy guide to sew the running stitches along. 

I decided on a 4+3 pattern, i.e I’d sew along 4 rows of stripes and skip the next 3, then sew the next 4, skip 3 and so on. I used white crochet thread, which is strong and smooth at the same time. 

3 weeks of nights spent “watching” TV while sewing, rolling and unrolling this humongous swath of fabric on and off the sofa, et voila! I give you my first Kantha + Patchwork Quilt!

(Showing the front)

(Showing the back)

Now to show this off outside, in natural sunlight! The previous photos were taken at night, indoors, and don’t do justice to the vibrance of the colours in this quilt.

I draped it over Meep, my little Kia Cerato here, so you can see just how big a project this turned out to be!

This photo shows the rows of stitching and how they simply go over the patchworked squares on the other side. I just love the crinkly effect Kantha stitching produces!

Now for some close-ups:

Here’s what it looks like folded up. I love it! ❤❤❤

I intend this year to sew up a whole batch of Kantha-inspired items, ranging from little to large. These will be my inventory and stock for when I start selling my crafts later this year.

So, watch this space for more Kantha-inspired projects!

My Valentine

To those feeling lonely because you haven’t got a Valentine date, I say: Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Love yourself first and foremost, and if you love your own company, you will never feel lonely or alone. You don’t need some consumerist faux celebration to appreciate your own company or revel in your own awesomeness. 

Yes. 

YOU. ARE .AWESOME. JUST. THE. WAY. YOU. ARE.

I bought this white painted rattan heart decoration at a local thrift store for $3.

I found these skeins of feathered pom-pom yarn while clearing out my junk room. I remember buying them cheap, about $1 each, from a discount variety shop many years ago. I love the bright colours and the combination of different textures.

So, with Valentine’s nearly here and no beau in sight, what’s a girl to do but weave and wind some colourful yarn around the rattan heart and make her own heartfelt present to herself.

I started out weaving the yard through the gaps in the rattan, using a dowel. Then I realised I didn’t really need to do this at all. I could just wind the yarn around the heart, covering up all the white.So much easier! And at the end, I just had to use the dowel to push the end of the yard through one of the gaps, to bury it and secure it.

Et voila! I tied the ribbon back and now it’s hanging from a drawer in my bedroom. 

A soft, fluffy, vibrantly coloured heart ornament, perfect for Valentine’s Day. ❤

Floral Block Print on Saffron: a Kantha-Boro story

This item can be purchased from my Etsy store through this link.


Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.


Colours: I found the backing fabric as a fat quarter, which I cut in half and sewed together to form a long and narrow piece. The other side is a beautiful vintage piece of saffron fabric, the colour of which attracted me from the start, and which is echoed in the floral fabric. Owing to the vintage nature of the saffron fabric, there are a couple of tiny tears in it, which I find adds to the beautiful Wabi-Sabi nature of this style of slow stitching. I have used an off-white crochet thread for the Kantha running stitches, to unify the whole.


Dimensions: 60 x 19.5 inches (152 x 50 cm)


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Bird On Saffron With Purple Pompoms: a Kantha-Boro story

Another of my Kantha-Boro projects, which is available for purchase from my Etsy store here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.

Colours: Predominantly magenta, orange, medium blue and green. The design consists of stylised birds around stylised flowers, possibly Indian or Middle Eastern in origin. The piece comprises 2 pieces sewn back to back, the front being the fabric with the Bird motif – a scarf in its previous life, the back being a piece of vintage saffron-coloured fabric. Edged at both ends with royal purple pompoms. Kantha running stitches are embroidery floss in various different colours, complementing the colours of the Bird fabric. This piece is super soft and tactile.


Dimensions: 56 x 23 inches (142 x 59 cm)

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Dreaming Tree on Black Velvet: a Kantha- Boro Story

​”Dreaming Tree on Black Velvet” is available for purchase from my Etsy store here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.

Style: Kantha-Boro. Indian Kantha running stitches in parallel rows, embroidered over Japanese Boro-style fabric remnants, which are simply pinned in place before oversewing.


Colours: The backing for this piece is a thrifted Oriental black velvet scarf. Oversewn Boro fabric remnants in shades of red, dark and light blue, yellow and cerise and white with sweetpea floral elements. 4 light brown Chinese knots edge the ends of the piece.


Dimensions: 54 x 10 inches (138 x 26 cm)

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Modern Floral on Ombre Velvet: A Kantha-Boro story

Last year, I threw myself into sewing a series of Kantha-inspired items. I’d blogged about a couple of them, then got a wee bit sidetracked by The Universe and immersed myself in the Law of Attraction and the practice of Gratitude. That was followed by Thirty Days of Gratitude, for which of course I am most grateful for 😊.

And now the time has come once again to pick up the threads where I’d left off previously, excuse the pun.

You can purchase this handmade, handsewn piece of Kantha-Boro, directly from my Etsy store here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.


Style: Kantha-Boro. Indian Kantha running stitches in parallel rows, embroidered over Japanese Boro-style fabric remnants, which are simply pinned in place before oversewing.


Colours: The fabric for this piece reminds me of Amy Butler’s designs, a colourful and fresh take on florals. I’ve used a thrifted ombre velvet scarf as the back, it graduates from black through silver and back to black again, with black fringing at both ends. Very bohemian, indeed!


Dimensions: 70 x 7.5 inches (178 x 19 cm)