December 09, 2014

Beautiful Children's Books

As an illustrator, I love children's books. Whilst browsing around some book shops looking for possible Christmas presents, I was longing to find a really special children's book. A keepsake; something to hold and treasure. There are so many beautiful books out there, and here are some of my favourite picks after my bit of real-life-shopping & online browsing.
The Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare (affiliate link) The cover on this book is clothbound, so this is definitely a book to pick up and give you that this-book-is-special feel. Loving the old- style cover design. We all have a million fairy tale stories (well, I know we do), and while they usually look magnificent in the book stores, I'm not sure we can handle another rendition of Henny Penny or The Magic Porridge Pot. Perhaps Shakespeare tales will fulfil the need for more interesting stories, but original?
Mr Dog's Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn is an independently published book that really has that special wow book factor. This can be ordered directly from their website & there is also the story behind the book's creation which gives an insight to how this book came about. I've been following the book's journey on Kickstarter & was joyful when the creators raised enough money to bring it to fruition. Now, if I were more organised I could've ordered a copy for Christmas! Maybe next year!?
How can I go past Emily Winfield Martin's Dream Animals!? (affiliate link) Whimsical, lush illustrations and a gorgeous sentiment; a unique dream animal for each individual child. The hardcover edition would be lovely to own. If you order directly from Emily's Etsy shop, you get a signed book, a print and some postcards! Special, special, special! She also has a daytime book out, but I may faint with gorgeous overload if I list that here too.
The Mermaid and the Shoe (affiliate link) Every now and then a book comes along with illustrations that make me gasp. This is that kind of book... Must. Order.
Oh.. Beautiful Oops! Celebrating the human error in all of us, and helping children (and adults) to overcome their frustrations with mistakes (I just misspelt mistakes- seriously!) comes this lovely arty book. I am always emphasising in my children the main purpose of art is enjoyment; not creating something to look a certain way, or pursuing perfection. This book helps get this message across. View it on youtube! Beautiful Oops (affiliate link) Don't be put off by the fact that in the online descriptions it says "board book". It kind of is because of the creative lift-outs and pages inside; but not in a baby-board-book kind of way. 
Fox's Garden (affiliate link)

I would also love to feast my eyes upon all of the pages of the Fox's Garden. Paper cut illustrations show intricate work, which inspires awe & makes for a special book. For now I will have to be content with viewing what I can of this book online. 

How to Find Flower Fairies (affiliate link)

And a book that we already own, which is truly special indeed, and will make any fairy loving kid swoon, is How to Find Flower Fairies. You can't go past a detailed pop-up book for that special wow factor, and this book lives up to all of those treasured book expectations.

Do you have any special treasured books? You know, the kind that are destined to be well loved; picked up again & again because there is just something really special about the book, be it the story, the illustrations, or the overall feel of the book?

I'd love to hear your picks.

Jules :)

*Affiliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

November 25, 2014

Recent Paintings and My Latest Health Experiment

You can find these mini canvases in the shop. I had a lot of fun painting these ones. The top one is called "I am nature" and the bottom one is titled "The narwhal, the unicorn and the magical journey". 

At the moment I am busy working on some orders for necklaces and stamp sets, but I'm hoping to get back into painting again soon! I always work in rotation; once I get back into painting I churn a few more out again and then move onto the next pressing project.

In other news I have embarked upon a health experiment. I have recently been to my worst place in all the world- the dentist. And, gasp! I have a cavity, and some other suspicious areas in my mouth. (Thanks to some receding gums because I brush with gusto. Get the job done, man. This is boring already!!) Now, me being me, I had to research this and stumbled upon information of people out there that have actually healed their cavities. Through diet. From the inside, remineralising the body. What the!? I know, right!? 

So off I started on my strange experiment of a nutrient dense diet including lots of bone broth, fermented cod liver oil, and totally grain and sugar free. In a nutshell. It's been 11 days so far, and although this diet is not my ideal way to eat, I'm interested to know if it will work. It's kind of similar to paleo. 

Here's a couple of photos showing some of the things I am ingesting of late (I have since ditched the kombucha as although it's filled with beneficial probiotics it's also very sweet):

Mmmm, lots of bone broth soups..

Organic eggs and butter for their higher nutrient content.. and veggies. Lots o' veggies.

I will post my result! So weird. But then, that's what I do. Sometimes I wish for an easier life where I didn't have to question  everything. But it's part of my personality and something I am working on trying to accept! 

Thanks for reading :)

September 29, 2014

New Print- Fox Treasure

New print in the shop tonight. "Fox treasure". I imagine this fox tiptoeing his way through a sparkly forest. Collecting treasures; making memories of the beauty. Do you feel a kinship towards him like I do? :)

September 24, 2014

Painting Freely Without Fear & Exploring My Style

I recently got my hands on a copy of Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley.

This book is the perfect antidote for blank-canvas-paralysis! For painters and artists, or anyone that wants to paint or create for that matter, wanting to free themselves up, and let go of fear. Ever watched the pure enjoyment of a child painting? Tap back into that feeling...

I have to thank Flora Bowley for writing this book. From the bottom of my heart. The copy I have here is from the library, but it is at the very top of my wish list. (A close contender with Doctor Yourself, but that is a different subject entirely!) 

I have been flicking through this book for the last month or so. It's on my reading side table. I am a messy person; there are many books and magazines there, but this one keeps gravitating to the top of the pile. I tend not to read non-fiction books from start to finish, and this book was no exception. You can open it up and read from anywhere in the book and it makes sense. So many great tips in there for finding your own way as an artist & painter.

I have been illustrating, painting and creating (in the past under the name Julie Knoblock) professionally now for over ten years. And there is always room to grow. To learn new things. To challenge yourself. Even though I feel comfortable with where I am now as an artist I felt this book really advanced me along in my process of learning new things about my chosen craft.

Flora really has a unique way of looking at the world and she certainly knows that art is not separate from living. Hence she has activities to try in the book that are seemingly disconnected from painting, but a closer look at these prompts reveals they can help to promote artistic growth and enhance the creative journey. There's suggestions to meditate, do yoga, and to dance, for example.

The painting challenges is what I picked out to have a bit of fun with. There are challenges such as work on multiple pieces at once, turning your work around at set intervals, and covering up a lot of your previous layers. I found a new way of applying myself to my paintings which in turn made my works have a different visual outcome. I have taken some of these lessons I have learnt and find I am still applying them to subsequent works. One thing that I will continue to employ is to use many layers, which builds up awesome texture and an 'aged' look in my paintings.

I feel like this is a book that will keep giving. No matter where you are in your painting journey you could pick it up and gain something from it. I think that you could read something at one point in time and skim over it, but at a different stage it may pop out and resonate with you.  It has helped resolve a bit of that fear I have as an artist. That pressure I put upon myself complete something that looks good, which is a little scary and can leave me feeling cautious about applying paint to a surface.  And procrastinate! This book helps to negate this fear. There's a big emphasis on play in this book which I really opened up to. 

I'll leave you with a visual display of the works I have completed since applying some of the methods in this book. If you are an artist and have read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with it. I hope these photos show how much fun I had! Thanks again Flora...

September 16, 2014

New Necklaces

Necklaces! I know the jewellery world is saturated, but I am so drawn to making unique pieces of what I call 'wearable art'. I had a couple of necklace orders; and well, if I'm making a few for orders, I may as well make a few more. Yes!? 

As you can see from the top photos I am a bit in love with yellow. And tassels. And mixing textures and materials. A few of these are in my shop now. But if you see anything you must have and it's not there, I am happy to do custom orders. Just holler :)

Birds are an obsession too. I don't think they'll ever get old. For me they symbolise beauty & freedom. A good thing to adorn yourself with.

I had a play around with some different techniques.. braiding with beads. Tricky, but fun. Also, crocheting with multicoloured cotton with pre-threaded eclectic beads..

And a peak at the photography process:

Fun. Well, I'm off to do some more work. I am going to get back into some of my old products. Bags are on the horizon. But new and improved for sure! I also have a commission to work on. Looking forward to finishing it and showing you guys.

Have a good one x

September 12, 2014

Goodbye, Bender

The 10th of September was the day we decided to put our old boy Bender to peace. This photo is of a younger, healthy bender.
No longer able to walk, or run for that matter, sad and stressed on his mat, and in pain. I will always remember him and I'm not sure if we will ever be lucky enough again to have such a wonderful dog. Very loyal, easy to train, happy and intelligent. Ball crazy, bone mad and always ready to patrol the perimeters of the property. Allowed inside, he was an outside dog at heart, always itching to get out. "Bender, you've got ants in your pants", I would say to him when I walked past him in the house, and he would jump up, ready for action. Bendy Boy, B Boy, B Bopper, Bendy-mo. Grumpy old dog who would grumble when we hugged him. Yet when we stopped, he would push into us for more.
The place feels empty. Our other dog Leela is not eating and looks nervous. I wonder what she's thinking?
Bender is buried in our backyard, which is nice to be able to visit him. I have this strange urge to dig him up, get him back, feel his fur, give him pats... make him warm.
I don't regret for a moment the large amount of dollars we spent on him just a year prior to his death for a torn cruciate ligament. (Knee issue.) I am so glad we had the money at the time to help him, and I doubt I would have coped putting a beautiful healthy dog to rest just for a bad knee. I'm happy we had a bit of extra time to spend with him.
RIP Bendy. I will miss you barking at rainbows and jet streams (!), hanging out in my studio with me, your feet tapping around the house and up and down the deck, greeting us when we get home. A family member said to me, "they are never with us long enough."
So true.

September 02, 2014

Quick Craft: 'Washi Tape' Magnets

Yay for quick crafts, especially when you're time poor with young sick kids! I was sitting in the studio with Miss 5 1/2, keeping her company whilst she was working on a project. I got fidgety and felt the urge to make something. I was flicking through an old Frankie Magazine, and got the idea to cut out some pictures and patterns and stick them onto some self- adhesive magnet sheets.

Here they are adorning our fridge. The kids have fun using them to stick up their own masterpieces- when they are not adorning the floor.

Pretty easy really, get your images, press onto the magnet sheet, and cut out. So easy and so fun. 

I got a pack of cheap self adhesive magnet sheets from eBay, but you might be lucky enough to pick some up at a craft store. Another idea is to save (hoard) all of those promotional magnets, peel as much of the top paper off as you can (because usually the top layer is too shiny), and glue your preferred images/ fabric/ kids drawings on top. (We've also done that- give them to your kids to glue stuff all over them and they can be proud that they made a real, practical, awesome magnet!)

Here are some of my "washi tape" magnets cut out. Scrap booking paper would also be great to use. There's a style for everyone with the selections of scrap booking paper out there.

Kids in this house have been sick for weeks and are almost better. I have been getting quite down with the lack of time here as I have not had a day to myself in over a month, and it's really getting to me! I have started getting a little bit obsessed with reading organisational blogs with plans and tips, but I'm afraid that's not doing much other than making me fell really guilty! But it's fun to dream.. 

To finish this post I'm adding a couple of Instagram pics from last week, my fave photo wall (with a couple of blank frames, I thought I needed to keep a couple free for future photos- it wasn't that I hadn't finished the job, although I am really good at half finishing projects!)

And here's a chair I scored from an Op Shop thanks to a thoughtful friend who rang me up for an "Op Shop emergency!!" It certainly was! $25 each (I got two of them) and my eyes are feasting on their aqua goodness every time I pass them. I am a colour addict. More colour, MORE!!! Never enough.

Here's hoping for some more art time soon and I can show you some more here soon. X

August 29, 2014

Crafting With Kids- Jewellery Doll Project

Thought I'd show you a project that one of my daughters and I did together a while back. (She was 4 at the time and had a big attention span for seeing craft projects through to the finish- unlike my other daughter!)
I have a bit of a thing for buying vintage craft books from op shops. There's the odd surprising project in them that still looks good (with a bit of tweaking), or I get inspiration for coming up with my own projects. I also like reading instructions or methods in the old crafty books. They sure had a bit more faith in our abilities back in the day.
So she chose this kinda daggy jewellery doll..

She thought a pattern would help us and so she drew this plan for her doll (kids drawings never cease to amaze me):

I didn't follow their instructions, as I wanted to use what we had around the house. I like to start working on a project and solve the problem of how to do each step as I go using what we have. We used a plastic bottle filled with rocks for weighting it down, with the arms made of two rolled up pieces of cardboard. All that was stuck together with masking tape, then we had fun using paper mache to give it strength and bind it all together. After that it was just a matter of covering it with felt, wool, ribbon, beads and buttons; by sewing and glueing with non-toxic craft glue. The head is made from a cylinder of felt gathered in at the top and bottom and filled with polyfill. 

I like to help my kids achieve their crafty projects, even if the skill level seems out of their reach. There is always something they can do, such as choose the wool colours, or pick out the beads or buttons, or decide on what to use. I like to use their ideas and tweaks along the way too, and not tell them how things "should" be done. We were so proud of our efforts and now the doll sits proudly in the bedroom and can hold trinkets in her front pocket, as well as brooches and bracelets on her arms. In hindsight I would've made her arms a bit higher to hang necklaces on, but we think she's charming anyway and really suits our colourful home. 

The kids also spend a lot of time dressing her up and down with accessories (Bonus- yay for practical crafts!).. and you should see how many necklaces this little lady can rock ;)

August 12, 2014

New in My Etsy Shop

Just listed in the Etsy shop today, made by myself. A hand painted then embroidered and beaded artwork in an upcycled vintage frame. I'm loving upcycling frames at the moment. I have five more of these little metal frames that I found in an op shop. All painted and ready to go. 

Can't wait to start working on the other ones. 

Following Blogs

I've just joined Bloglovin as a way to keep up to date with all of my favourite blogs. Do you read many blogs? How do you follow them? I used to bookmark blogs but that doesn't tell me when there's a new post, plus it helps if you actually look at your bookmarks! I don't follow many blogs at the moment, if there's a blog out there that you think would appeal to me, please let me know! I love following other people and getting inspiration from them. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

August 10, 2014

Creating For & With Kids & Incube8r Gallery

Well hello blog, my old friend! A bit neglected lately, hey?

I have been busy with a capital B. I have more items in my Etsy Shop, I have joined Instagram... follow me @jules_tummyache if you wish. People have been telling me to join, I finally did and I love it! I have also rejoined Incube8r Gallery and stocked my space there with my craftiness. More on that soon.

A lot of my time is spent with house duties and mothering, as my kids are still young. But any other time is usually spent creating something or other. When we get a chance, I like to do kid friendly crafts with my little poppets. Even though Miss 3 1/2 got bored of her her project and left and proceeded to empty out a whole bottle of red paint and use every single paintbrush in her tin. Oh, kids! There's a whole new level of patience we must strive for when looking after kids. High fives to anyone out there that chooses to work with the very young!

This clip organiser was a very easy project I devised. We used plastic coat hangers coated with non-toxic craft glue. (Craft glue is a bit different from your normal PVA, it's a bit more faster gripping.) We then used thin coloured strips of fabric wrapped all around. That was an easy step that the kids could be proud to accomplish, great results for easy work. Even Miss 3 1/2 managed ok. We made fabric flowers with instructions from the latest issue of Mollie Makes Magazine. But there are hundreds of tutorials for fabric flowers online, just do a search, or you could use pom poms.. beads.. buttons. So many options. Then three ribbons simply glued to the bottom. So easy, so satisfying, and so pratcial. Win-win-win! 

Except for the red paint thing.

In a more adventurous creating for kids style I have promised to make this for Miss 5 1/2. 

Yes, I could've probably bought one for cheaper. No, we haven't even seen the movie. Yes, I could probably spend my time better making something beautifully creative that's not Disney. Yes, I might be a bit over committing myself when I have other work to do. But I have this crazy desire to do something like this, as I always dreamed of sewing costumes for my little ones when I had kids one day. I really enjoyed putting these costumes together for them a while back. Little Red Riding Hood and The Beautiful Butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Fun.

So I'll make the costume. It'll make Miss 5 1/2 so happy!

My next two photos are of some of my work that is now inhabiting Incube8r Gallery in Smith St Fitzroy (Victoria, Australia). I have a lot more space in there this time around- I used to sell there pre- kids. My style has changed a bit since I was there, but I still have some pieces that used to be favourites. Incube8r Gallery is a place where artists display & sell their wares. So it's all handmade and you can see the work of 50+ artists there. Definitely worth a check in if you are in the area. And nice to keep in mind buying handmade & supporting artists for the fast approaching silly season. I think Christmas will be here before we all know it! 

Thanks for reading, I'll be back soon. :)


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