explainin loooosy

WELCOME to the Forest Flaw.
If you are here to check out my portrait work, please click HERE!
If you would like to see my Pet portraits, please click HERE!
If you would like to see my Forest Flaw babies, see HERE!
If you would like to follow me on facebook, click HERE

You can see by my blog that I have many interests, including sewing, drawing and writing about various crafty art related things.
Custom orders are available, just message me.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Technology Apocalypse

What kind of hero takes on hyperlinks and htmls? Who in their right mind succeeds with spreadsheets?
What does application virtualisation mean?! 
No, I am not 80 years old.

In fact, I grew up with computers. We had a commodore 64. On it, you could play hangman and spend a whole day inputting binary 01011110010101 to make a coloured block (representing a hot air balloon) sail gracefully across the pixelated screen. It was a far cry from the video machines that thrillingly allowed a stick hit a ball from one side of the screen to another. For one thing, it had a keyboard.

I was up with the Amiga. I could draw pumpkins and print out reels and reels of perforated paper to create banners I didn't need. "WELCOME HOME FROM WORK DAD" with accompanying pictures would take about 20 pages.
"HOW ABOUT A CUP OF TEA WITH A BISCUIT _ I'VE GOT CHOCOLATE" would take probably about 35 pages. And about 35 minutes to print.

When we got our first IBM, I could play games that used text, scrolling screen and colour. Breakthrough! I could print out reams of paper at about one third of the speed (and about equal usefulness).

I kept up with technology. I worked in admin, I can word process, de-frag my computer, download (legally...) upload, learn any computer program. But DAMNED if I can drive Facebook!

I boycotted facebook since it first appeared.
I said "ugh, who wants to be on that?" I also said "you will never find me on that ego-centric, networking, meat market web site."

You can find me at http://www.facebook.com/TheForestFlaw  

Since beginning the Forest Flaw I have been 'Facebooking' because it is the MOST valuable networking tool I can find. Everybody who wants to know what I'm up to can get instant feeds. Even my blog feeds into my page (eventually, but another story).
However, as au fait as I am with the computer world, I can not get my head around invites. Or personal pages vs business pages, events, notes, links, wallpapers, info and rss feeds. Status, photos, links videos and questions.

So if you follow me on facebook, I apologise. You may get things three times, you may see things you shouldn't and you will probably get things you may not understand.

I think it's Facebook revenge, had I joined from the start, I would probably be the Emperor of Faceook by now. That's how it works right?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Constructive vs Critisism

I do not take criticism well.

I don't know what it is, perhaps my ego is too big. Perhaps my ego is too fragile. Either way, I'm sure it's ego related.

Years ago I painted.
I took a year or two off to study this. I learnt illustrating, ceramics, etching, linocuts, sculpture, you name it. I did well (for a young girl with no attention span at all), except for when I had to work in a group.

Now, art and I are old friends. We drew on the pavements with chalk and arranged objects into aesthetic positions and cut up dad's paper (before he read it) way back when I was a tyke. We would dress up the dog and make elaborate houses for the cats and draw doorways for the ghost that lived in the bungalow back when I was a wee lass.
Which was fine, because I did this all on my own. I could spend all day on my own - still can - and not get lonely, because art and my imagination always kept me company. It was when I had to work with others that the problems occurred.

I know what you're thinking, but no, I'm not an only child. Neither am I selfish with my things, I shared toys, it's just that no-one seemed to have enough imagination to play with me.
I remember being told off by friends when playing dolls (ugh, dolls), because Barbie did not walk 5 feet off the floor, nor could horses speak or werewolves live at Ken's house.

It was somewhat similar when I signed up for a professional writing course. I aced the assignments (shyeah!), ruled the editing room (woo!), and flew through creative writing (you know it baby!). However, I was DISMAL in group assignments (boo!). And why? Because no-one had enough imagination to play (I mean work) with me! I couldn't (possibly wouldn't) listen because I don't like linear rules or having a group of people question my methods.

It is the same now. I get to play with all my toys (that I create) all by myself. I can make up background stories for them and decide what they're doing all on my own. It works, but not as well as it works when I push my ego down and gulp on my pride and get a second opinion from my quality control (AKA husband). He will tell me things I already know but was perfectly happy to ignore because it would mean another hour of work. He suggests things that, although I don't want to do, have to concede that make my creations really pop.

I don't envy his job. I have a good throwing arm. And I can mumble obscenities on a competition level.
Not sure It will improve, but I'm learning to take it better. Today, I was constructively told my Lion needed teeth and once again he was right (I swore a bit).

So here's to constructive criticism. May it always be dodged when followed by a heavy projectile.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Finding Room in Outer Space

A peacock balances gracefully on the tip of a wire dome bird cage.

The wire birdcage sits empty next to a beautiful fairy house, whitewashed and roofed with baby's tears moss. The fairy house is sandwiched next to a wire cake rack, inside sits a hand blown glass cake stand. The cake stand and above mentioned items are perched atop a dark wood display cabinet, holding a selection of black toile crockery, pewter coffee sets and empty vases.

This takes up approximately 1.5 metres across x 3 metres high. Times this by 30 and this is how my house is packed. PACKED.

Anyone who lives in a hundred something year old townhouse would know what I'm talking about. But anyone who CRAFTS would REALLY know what I'm talking about!

When I started sewing for this venture, I naively thought it would be a nice little creative outlet that wouldn't take up much space. Something I could do to while away the hours and keep my hands busy.
I could go back in time and slap myself.
Where as before, I had to wend my way around clothes and furniture to get to bed, now I am re-locating bags of stuffing, wayward creatures, and re-purposed cloth.
When once I would simply slide into a chair at the kitchen table, now I have to scoot over cotton, move half sewn blobs and re-position precariously towering objet d'crap.

I have simply no room to have a room to my self. No space to create a work-space and no area for hysteria.

Meantime, I have to put up or shut up (shop). Who can afford to move? who can afford the time to move?
I will just have to console myself that there are dozens, hundreds, possibly thousands who are in the same craft-dilemma as me.

However, it is not the end of the world as we know, merely a small, centrally located craftastrophe.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-live

It would have been a strange sight to look in my kitchen window the other night.

On the floor surrounded by buttons, buckles and various cogs, tears streamed down my face. Were they tears of sadness? frustration? anger? No. They were tears of remembrance.

Now, since beginning The Forest Flaw, many strange things have flooded back to me. The first creatures (owls) required blanket stitching. This stitch was taught to me by my Gang Gang (or Grandma to you lay-people). Gang Gang would diligently sew back on ears and eyes from much loved stuffed toys. She would happily fashion new arms and darn patches and re-fashion bits of cats and pandas.

But another revelation was in the materials she used. My Gang Gang was handy with the material box.
My much loved sausage dog had his floppy ear replaced with a flannelette face-washer. And I thought that was grand.
My cat's eyes would be replaced with a button taken from a worn out cardigan. And I thought that was wonderous.
My smurf had the tip of his hat replaced with a bit of pillowcase. And I thought that was strange - but loved it none-the less.

Gang Gang sewed and told me stories. Stories about the old days, how she would walk to town with no shoes and see a movie for a penny. She sewed and told me tales about her childhood. But the main thing I remember is that she sewed (and knitted itchy jumpers, but that's another story).

So perhaps without knowing it she has influenced me in my creative pursuits. I sew creatures using socks and tea towels. I stitch creations using jumpers and tops.

Recently I was given the most precious gift to my business endeavor yet. The large Pablo coffee jar with yellow lid that Gang Gang would save all her buttons and gismos into. She would dip into this jar to mend my cat's face's, my bears noses, and even the jumpers I wore.

So It was this jar that I sprawled out on the floor to rummage through. I picked up buttons from dresses she wore, buckles from the belts she saved, and remembered all the nifty things she created and crafted with them.
So thanks Gang Gang, you've influenced me more than I had realised, and now each creature I send out into the world is just that little bit more special.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The gorgeous price of success

Who would have expected positive feedback could be overwhelming?

You would imagine that being heaped with praise could be a never ending thing, something to take in your stride and put in your pocket. Be a little smug over later, in private.

Well, I just had my first market and it was fantastic, enjoyed it much more than expected. Not only for the sales that piled up - but for the feedback.
Face sore from smiling at prospective customers, I began to take compliments. "gorgeous" being the word of the day.
"gorgeous" they would say.
"thank you" I would say.

Ha ha, I began to think to myself, aren't I clever.
The people beside me with markets of their own heaped me with praise, "gorgeous", "thank you", and then sell to them too.
Then the same customers would come back, with friends.
"thank you".

But it was when store owners approached me with "listen, gorgeous" that I began to take it on board. "Please place said gorgeous things in my shop" they said. "thank you" I said.

Now, maybe it was the praise going to my head, but I think that too many "gorgeouses" may have got me and my ego in trouble. "listen, gorgeous, " they said, "I'll do it!" I said.
Now, hours later, cat on lap, tables packed away, money counted, face recovered, smugness worn off (a little) - that I smugly look at my diary.
20 creatures to make by next month for shop. 4 personal orders. 20 Orders for another shop by November. another 20 for another shop. 10 for window display for yet another in December.
ahh...it is now I wonder how long the power of praise will keep me going?
Will the mere memory of all those
"thank you"
transactions keep me going when my eyes are failing at 2am? Will the memory of delighted faces keep me from crying when I break needles and am sick of embroidering for three hours straight?
Must remember to be gorgeous. Can not let quality slip. At all times, keep creatures gorgeous. because I don't think "nice" is going to cut it.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Doing your business in the Forest

Bleary eyed and puffy faced, I answered the door this morning to a professional photographer. 

Already long gone are the days of sitting at the table, mind racing with ideas - cotton, felt, fur strewn across the surface - mug of cold tea and me, in my pajamas, sewing with wild abandon.

The early beginnings of this micro business were just that; me filling that empty space of my creative void by tinkering with foxes and owls. Soon I had a few too many and wondered what to do with them. It was then a family member suggested putting them online and pointed me to handmade stores on the internet. AMAzINg! I never knew there was this outlet for people like me; It was like being handed the keys to a new kingdom and being told "go forth and create". All of a sudden there was a medium for me to enjoy - a community of buyers and sellers who supported each other no matter what the product - good, bad or fluffy.

Soon I made my first sale, then another and another. Some were to people I worked with, others were complete strangers from across the country. I needed networking tools - I started a Facebook account (damn you Facebook! damn you and your usefulness!) Much to my chagrin, began to get addicted to my 'likes' and comments'. Now I had feedback!

I received emails and phone calls and custom orders. I was approached to have an exhibition (hooray for Cafe El Gordo!) I took photos of all my new creations and put them on Facebook and sold them - almost instantly! I was discovering the most obvious business rule -
The more I put in to merchandising - the more my return!
Last week I had an email to request an interview and photo shoot for the Bendigo magazine. The lovely lady who is giving me my first exhibition wants to do an artists profile on me.
Hence the photographer.
 My creatures to be in a glossy magazine - me- in a glossy magazine!
Sure, it isn't vogue, modeling h'aute couture, but something I can be proud of - something handmade and hand designed - by me, in my pajamas, at my kitchen table with my mug of cold tea.

Cafe El Gordo                                           
Bendigo Magazine

Monday, 12 September 2011


It was on the movie Spaceballs that I heard it put best. 

The intrepid travellers arrive at the guru's home planet, looking for guidance and some kind of powerful,  life altering 'strength to go on' message. 
After being shown through a humbly furnished cave, they ask the wizened little yoda rip off how he managed to live the calm, serene life of a hermit on a planet far far away.
It was then he pulled back a curtain to reveal a brightly lit cave full of yoda dolls, plaquards, stickers, posters; you name it. 
The answer, he told them, was "Merchandising!"

This, I am finding, is the clockwork; cog turning machinery behind any home based business. 
All week I have been facebooking, organising business cards, creating catalogues and generally plastering my face all over the internet for the upcoming market.
I have done approximately 2 hours of sewing. That's it, no designing, no 'just playing around with material' or scaring the dog with new creations (she really is horrified by them!) 
Before the day is out, I will mock up my market stall in my dining room, take some new pictures and do some more plastering of my self on the info-web. 

All this so that I can sell the image of the calm, crafty, homebased sewing business just bursting with serenity and loveliness and fun. Which I admit it sometimes is...on a Sunday afternoon when I have no visitors and the cat is snoozing on the windowsill...See! I just can't quit!

Wednesday I have a photographer visiting for a shoot, all my mess and cards and paper and  materials will be crammed into my bedroom. 
Then when they ask how I manage such a lovely, laid back, creative existence, I can open the door and tell him...

Saturday, 10 September 2011

To market, to market

Day three.
Have drunk (drank? drinken? drinked?) all the tea. There are a few mint slices still haunting my memory in the fridge, but alas I must work on.
The led spotlights are harsh, I have forgotten my name.
My fingers and eyes burn like some kind of red monstered - demon thing, yet I push on. Onwards to the market.
I have traversed the Microsoft Word dunes and sloughed through the jpeg fens, the internet fjords and facebook quicksands to get here.
I have navigated the thread forest, crawled through the needle swamps, even sailed the treacherous embroidery seas.

Who would have thought that preparing for the first market would have been such a slog?
Perhaps it wouldn't have been had I just simply decided to turn up on the day like a normal mortal - but 'NO!' my brain said - 'You must create a catalogue of items!' it said.
'You must sew one of each creature and create new flyers and business cards and bunting and banners and SIGNS!' it said.
I said 'you're mad brain, it can't be done!' then realised I was talking to my own brain but by then it was too late. My brain had it's way. Ooh it's a tricksy beast.

So this one's for you brain. I'm quitting the computer for tonight - going to lay on the couch, do nothing...ha ha, I can do that...I can do that...
let me just check the image size on that last page isn't encroaching the margins and that my pricing is correct.
Then I will quickly mock up the flyer template and prepare the felt for the letters on my bunting.
After that I will bask in the sunshine, lay on that couch, eat ALL the mint slices, read a book, hell, even blink.
Ahh blinking, akin to sleep. How I miss you.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Furry Flurrie Bunnies

There is a flurry of activity in the Forest at the moment.

I am sewing like a mad woman, designing like a crazy person and organising my life like that guy who lives at the end of the street and stops you to make sure your bins are back behind your gates first thing Thursday morning.
So: must stop and prioritise. prioritise prioriti...cheese, need cheese and milk and more felt...
ahh...let me take the mouse off the wheel for a while and break this down into edible chunks:

(please read below for shameless self promotion and calender of events)

FIRST: sew like monkey (and promote) for the SQUARE market; tick
SECOND: market said market - 17th September - Bendigo Town Hall, come one come all!
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Square-Bendigos-Handmade-Market/146792158670515; tick
THIRD: Ask extremely talented co-worker / graphic artist to style up some business cards and flyers
http://benblenner.com/; tick
FOURTH: have photoshoot with BENDIGO MAGAZINE for artist profile (thank you El Gordo and Megan Spencer!! CAFE EL GORDO _ Chancery lane Bendigo_ home of the fat one!)
FIFTH: then sew like monkey again for exhibition in above mentioned artsy cool cafe! October - will post dates...
SIX: holiday? quit day job? become super famous and rich? tick?

Early beginnings

So I feel like an early settler, traversing the plains of Blogdom until I find that perfect layout - the ultimate font - the difinitive 'vibe' so that I can unload my wagon and sort out my gear.
I can almost feel the wind in my virtual hair as this country is wide and vast and incredibly intimidating. At least I am talking to myself here until I grow and nurture a community of listeners to stop at my campsite and be regaled with tales of my new creations and how they came to be.
I pledge not to be too boring - too preachy - too academic or too abstract.
I vow to be entertaining - inspirational (tabs on self!) and whimsically amusing (can only aspire anyway).

However, I think I can see the Forest on the horizon - bear with me as I navigate the micro-roads to get there, I hope it doesn't take too long :)