Category Archives: Created

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Introverts, craft and creativity

June 21, 2017

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Hello little blog, it has only been half a year since I last talked to you. How did that happen?

It’s been a busy year so far, the harder we try to slow down the faster life seems to go don’t you think? Thankfully just at the point that I was about to reach burn-out the lovely folk at Etsy Australia invited me to attend a creative retreat they put together with Art Series Hotels in Melbourne. The tagline was eat, craft, sleep, repeat! How could I say no to that, it fulfilled all my leisure aspirations plus it was in my favourite Australian city.

Eat, Sleep, Craft, Repeat!

Eat, Sleep, Craft, Repeat!

The Etsy team kept us in the dark about the specific details, but kept requesting little bits of information that had me intrigued. They asked what I’m listening to on repeat (D.D Dumbo amaze!) how I take my coffee (long macchiato) and various questions that piqued my interest. The week leading up to the retreat turned out to be professionally challenging, and I was thankful for an opportunity to leave ‘real life’ at home for 48 hours. Having travelled a lot with children on planes, there is something magical that happens with air travel when you are a parent travelling with no kids. It’s a phenomenon that turns the plane trip into the ultimate relaxation opportunity – time to read magazines (check), an opportunity to watch a full movie with no interruptions (check), people bringing you food rather than the other way round (check, check, check). I arrived in Melbourne refreshed and ready for the weekend.

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Sunrise over Prahran, view from my window at The Cullen

Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group organised for me to stay at The Cullen, one of their hotels in Prahran. I’d heard about the Art Series Hotels for years, but have never had the opportunity to stay there. The concept is right up my alley, a hotel dedicated to an artist. In this case it was Adam Cullen, one of Australia’s best known contemporary artists who famously won the Archibald Prize for his portrait of David Wenham. His work is featured throughout the hotel and each of the rooms have a stack of art books and interesting information. I love the neighbourhood of Prahran too, lots of awesome restaurants and the Prahran Market which is a foodie’s dream.

All the pretty things! So spoilt.

All the pretty things!

I entered my room to find the bed laden with presents that the team had thoughtfully chosen for me by clever Etsy makers (a gorgeous scarf by Squeak Design, the stunning book Flowersmith by Jennifer Tran, a sleeping mask by Orchard Rose, and beautiful calligraphy with our mantra, eat, craft, sleep, repeat!). Included was an itinerary and information about the workshops we would undertaking and a request to be upstairs at The Cullen Rooftop for afternoon tea at 2.30pm.

As I waited for the lift to take me upstairs my stomach started doing flip flops. Despite many people thinking that I’m an extrovert when they meet me, I’m definitely 100% an introvert and situations where I meet new people always make me nervous. I’m pretty good at hiding it, particularly after many years of having to put myself out there for work, but I would be perfectly happy to curl up in my bedroom with a book rather than face the task of meeting new people. Crazy, I know.

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Divine afternoon tea at The Cullen Rooftop, yum!

Thankfully I pushed through, because I was rewarded with the most wonderful 24 hours of connection with a group of fabulous and creative souls. First on the agenda (after an ah-maz-ing afternoon tea) and brilliantly chosen to start our retreat was session of Meditation & Mindfulness with Manoj Dias from A-Space.

Manoj Dias from A-Space leading a workshop on Meditation and Mindfulness

Manoj Dias from A-Space leading a workshop on Meditation and Mindfulness (photo by James Douglas)

Mindfulness is the big buzzword at the moment, and I have to be honest and say that I’ve never really appreciated what meditation and mindfulness could offer me. But, as I sat there and listened to Manoj speak about what mindfulness is I had a bit of an epiphany. He talked about curiosity and kindness – two things I believe in wholeheartedly – but reframed them so that those two concepts were opened up to be both outward and inward focusing.

Many of us believe that we are curious, that we approach life wanting to learn but often our curiosity is explored within fairly rigid parameters – we are open to learning but only about things that interest us or people that we think are like minded. In any social situation we gravitate towards ‘our tribe’ or the people that we feel we will have something in common with. He challenged us to try things that we would normally decide are not our kind of thing, and to talk to people we didn’t (immediately) have anything in common with, to be truly curious about all things. I’m not doing justice to Manoj’s words here, but his message sparked a little fire within me and also made me think how brilliant meditation would be for my 6 year old daughter who can tie herself in knots with anxiety. (Note to self, check out meditation apps for children, or better yet attend more meditation workshops!).

craft, etsy, maker, textile

Contemporary Embroidery Workshop with Madi Astolfi

I left Manoj’s workshop feeling both grounded by his words and with my heart and mind wide open for new experiences. From here we broken into two groups to start a craft workshop. The group I was in headed to one of the gorgeous penthouse apartments to take an embroidery workshop with Madi Astolfi from Unpicking. Madi makes the most stunning contemporary embroidery creations – I adore her succulents – check out her instagram if you are after some inspiration.  Her workshop was so much fun, we were taught the basic embroidery stitches and had the opportunity to make our own piece of embroidery. I was surprised at how much I loved this workshop – embroidery has always been something I’ve assumed would be too hard and not really my thing. But in fact it was really meditative and relaxing. And there was lots of laughter and questions from my fellow crafters that made the time flash by. We were all inspired to finish the pieces we started, and though I suspect it might take me a few weeks to finish mine, I have decided it’s the perfect winter craft activity.  You can attend a workshop with Madi in Melbourne next month, check out the link here!

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The gorgeous Katherine Sabbath in the Fat Yarn Knitting Workshop (photo by James Douglas)

While I was doing embroidery, the other group were hand knitting an amazing blanket with Lynda Sharp from The Fat Yarn Store. This workshop also looked incredible, the blankets that everyone made had me wanting to start extreme knitting too. Lynda is doing another workshop as part of #etsyxartseries and you’ll finish a blanket by the end of the workshop – how cool is that!

Dinner details at The Olsen Hotel with recipes by Julia Ostro and hosted by Honor Eastly (photo by James Douglas)

Dinner details at The Olsen Hotel with recipes by Julia Ostro and hosted by Honor Eastly (photo by James Douglas)

After the workshops we had a bit of rest time before gathering in the lobby to walk to dinner to a surprise location. As we walked down Chapel Street we were all guessing where we would end up, until we spotted The Olsen Hotel up the street. We marched in past a beautiful John Olsen mural and went up to the incredible penthouse for the yummiest dinner. The menu was created by Julia Busuttil Nishimura and was based on recipes from her forthcoming book. Oh my goodness, soooo yummy and definitely soul food. The evening was hosted by the rather fabulous Honor Eastly from Starving Artist who led us through a series of conversational questions that had us turning to our dinner partners and listening intently, laughing raucously and generally having a grand old time. All my introvert leanings were cast aside. I collapsed into bed that night feeling grateful to have experienced so much; full tummy and full heart.

Breakfast in Bed, how spoilt was I?

Breakfast in Bed, how spoilt was I?

The next morning we were told to expect a knock on the door from 8am, and awaiting us was the bright and cheerful Etsy and Art Series team with breakfast in bed. Talk about spoilt! I think it has been years and years since I’ve been treated to breakfast in bed and this was the yummiest way to start the day. Of course all the food was served on handmade plates which really added so much to the experience.

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Heading upstairs to the rooftop again I was keen to get started with another workshop. I was very lucky to attend a Calligraphy workshop with Chloe Flemming from Month of June Design. I love Chloe’s beautiful calligraphy, and having done a few online tutorials and workshops many many years ago it was fun to be picking up a calligraphy pen again. I found this workshop to be very meditative, the repetitive nature of practising the calligraphy strokes was hypnotic and really calming. The workshop sped by under Chloe’s excellent tuition and I could have kept going for hours. I would definitely recommend checking out the workshop that Chloe is giving on Saturday – it’s great for beginners and you’ll really get into the swing of it.

Gorgeous details from Cat Rabbit's workshop

Gorgeous details from Cat Rabbit’s workshop

While I was doing calligraphy the other group were making the cutest little handmade creatures with Cat Rabbit. I sat next to Cat at dinner and we had a great time chatting, I know her workshop would have been super enjoyable and I loved seeing everyone’s finished creatures.

We finished off our creative retreat with one more meditation with Manoj Dias, a little bit more delicious food and lots of lovely conversation. I jumped onto the plane already feeling nostalgic for my 24 hours of heaven, but content and recharged.

I want to say a huge thank you to the team from Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group and all the brilliant makers and creatives who I shared a weekend with. You guys were just what I needed to reset my creativity for the second half of the year. I love the concept that Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group have put together – you can book into your own creative retreat for a bit of super charged ‘me’ time. Details are here.

I was a guest of Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group in Melbourne but all opinions, thoughts, words etc are mine.

 

 

Created / Foraged

A new year

January 10, 2017

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2017. It’s hard to believe we’ve come full circle on another year. Last year finished at a hectic pace for me. Work was crazy and we threw moving house into the mix. I approached Christmas like a marathon runner, focused on making the distance but not seeing much around me. I just had to keep running… but we made it out the other side. Most of the boxes are unpacked and our house is definitely feeling like a home. In fact I find myself wandering about the house sighing happily, sitting in different spots and revelling in the beautiful light and details.

This house is our dream house – we love the suburb, the size of the house is bigger than our old house but not too big, there is space for the girls to have a play room and for us to have a study, close to the city but in a very quiet area. But best of all are the beautiful 1940s details like lead light windows and art deco features and the natural light that streams into the house.

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I have big plans for this year. The ideas are still circulating in my head, gathering momentum as I shape them. But one idea I’ve been planning for a while is to start blogging again. Getting our house ready for sale, looking for a new house and planning the move took up most of my spare time for the second half of 2016 and I let this poor blog fall to the side. A new year brings new plans and a renewed focus and I’m looking forward to picking up here again.

The one thing our new house doesn’t have is a garden (well two things if you include the kitchen, but more on that project another time). For a flower lover like me this is something I need to change immediately. We have the potential for a big garden but there is so much work to be done to turn it into a green space that we will use. We are up for the challenge, and I’m looking forward to journalling the progress here. My aim is to do a weekly update on the blog about our garden transformation. But in the spirit of a new year I’m cutting myself some slack, there will be some weeks where nothing happens, where work is too hectic for me to get outside or when we are away. And so while I have every intent to make this a 52 week project, the world won’t end if I miss a few weeks here and there.

Having said that, let’s start with week one! Any transformation needs a before shot and I’ve taken a few to record just how big our challenge is. Our house is on a corner block and we have a big front garden and a big back garden. Both have been neglected for some time. There is a random assortment of native trees, shrubs and dead grass. The front verge has three massive gum trees that are home to a beautiful array of bird life – Kookaburras, Red Tailed Black Cockatoos, Western Rosellas and more. The verges where we live are huge and there are lots of public parks and big trees, it makes it feel like you are living in a semi rural area, but in fact we’re about 5km from the city. Our back yard has a Jacaranda tree, home to a family of Willie Wagtails. When we moved in they were nesting and would dive bomb us if we got too close to their nest. It took us a few days to realise why they were so unhappy with us. The eggs had hatched and three little beaks were pointing up from the nest. It was such an amazing thing to see, and something special to show the girls. The babies have left the nest now and are flying around the backyard testing their wings.

To be honest there is not much worth saving in the garden apart from the mature trees. The rest we will clear during summer ready to plant in Autumn. Perth has awful soil, lots of sand that is water repellent. We need to do a LOT of work getting the soil prepared, fixing the bore and putting in reticulation. I’m finding it hard to be patient and work through this prep phase…I’m ready to plant ALL the pretty things!

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Thankfully we have a big collection of pot plants that we brought with us and they are making the back garden feel a little more like home.

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I’m finding it odd having a garden without any flowers or familiar plants at the moment. Both my parents are avid gardeners and it is something I’ve come to love as I’ve got older. Now one of my favourite pastimes is visiting nurseries and thinking about all the beautiful things we can plant. This dreaming phase is good for the soul though, and making me slow down at a time of year that is ridiculously busy at work.

x Katherine

Created / Foraged / Styled

Inspiration and the making of an image

January 15, 2016

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Are you addicted to Pinterest? I was a mad pinner when it first launched, though this was before I became addicted to Instagram. When I discovered Instagram I reasoned that I could only handle one social media addiction at a time and something had to give. So I said goodbye to all those DIYs I pinned for joining crochet squares, sewing quilts and designing impressive birthday cakes and channelled all my spare time into composing photos to be shared in square format.

In the last few months I’ve rekindled my love of Pinterest, and check in every week or so to see what’s doing the rounds, or if I’m looking for a quick inspiration hit.

Lately I’ve been enjoying pinning plants and greenery to a board I’ve been really original in naming Greenery. I can’t get enough green and white together at the moment, either by bringing plants inside or through imagery using those colours.

It was while I was skimming through Pinterest picking up bits of green and white here and there that I got an idea in my mind for a composition I wanted to put together and photograph. For me there are two ways that I come up with ideas – either I have a prop, like a teacup or some fresh flowers that I want to play with, and I just play around with no specific idea in mind until something works. Or alternatively, I set out with an idea in mind that I want to create, usually sparked by something I’ve seen either online or while flipping through a magazine. When I created the image above it was a combination of both methods. I had been given this beautiful ceramic platter from my mother for Christmas and I really wanted to use it in a composition. I also really wanted a pop of green and white in my Instagram feed. I started to gather bits and pieces as I walked through the house, a few postcards I’d been sent or collected, some vintage green cotton reels and some beautifully weathered pegs. I decided the contrast of the contemporary ceramic platter with the vintage props would work well. I also had one of my favourite flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, growing in the garden and that would provide my fresh pop of green. I knew I’d probably only share the image on Instagram so I decided to use my iphone for the photo rather than my camera. I think flatlays are much easier to compose using the iphone and the quality is generally pretty good.

I was really happy with the first image I took, but thought I would also try one photo without the ceramic platter below. As it turns out I like them both equally.

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I find Pinterest a really good tool to gather inspiration, I’ve shot a few images for other people recently and it has been helpful to make a board that I can share with them to show the type of image I’m hoping to create.  Who do you follow on Pinterest? I’d love to find some great boards or pinners to follow, come and say hello over there if you feel like it Katherine Dorrington

x Katherine

Collected / Created

The wonders of snail mail

January 5, 2016

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A christmas parcel I put together for one of my instagram friends.

One of the things I love the most about social media, and particularly instagram, is the way it connects me to people around the world in real and tangible ways. The biggest example of that would be through snail mail or good old fashioned letter writing. I’ve always loved sending and receiving mail, I have vivid memories of letters my mother would leave under my pillow for me to find when she went overseas for work and I was learning how to read. And one of my favourite books as a child was The Jolly Postman – so much fun reading those teeny tiny letters. I love the feel of paper, the beauty of stamps and the way a person’s handwriting gives clues to their personality. Unfortunately these days our mailboxes are filled with mostly advertising material, not even bills are sent in paper form any more and so the opportunities for real mail are few and far between.

Thankfully over the last few years I’ve got back into the art of letter writing, mostly to people I’ve connected with on instagram. It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of interacting on social media. I was inspired by beautiful posts that would appear on my feed of mail being sent and received and slowly I overcame my introvert ways to put feelers out with some of the people I follow to see if they would be interested in swapping letters.

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Recent outgoing mail.

Part of the fun writing mail is having a reason to use all those paper supplies I seem to accumulate, or finding the perfect small gift to share with a letter. I also love seeing examples of different mail art, there are so many creative letter writers out there. But without doubt the best bit about receiving a letter is the opportunity to take ten minutes out of my day to sit with a cup of tea and be transported around the world. Letters are such a sensory experience and there is wonderful ritual in both the writing and reading of them.

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Beautiful Christmas mail sent to me by @janeplanetjoy

I now belong to a group of letter writers called The Snail Mail Collective, at last count there are about 60 of us who share mail every month or so. Each month you are paired with a different partner who you put a parcel together for around that month’s theme. We’ve just finished the Christmas round which is always one of my favourites, and other themes have included travel, the red letter round, a postcard round and so on.

Last year I also put my hand up for a project called The Travelling Book, created by @ellaofthevalley – the idea behind this project is to add to your creative touch to a Moleskine Journal that is slowly making its way around the globe.

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The Travelling Book

I’ve just sent the book onto it’s next host in Australia and it has been so lovely seeing all the different contributions that everyone has made so far and all the different styles. This is one of the beautiful artworks within the book that caught my attention:

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This beautiful page was created by one of the people who had the book before me. It’s so lovely.

The book arrived at a very busy time for me at work, and then the lead up to Christmas and it took me a while to work out what I wanted to contribute. I ended up creating six pages within the book, here’s a sneak peak:

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My first page, welcoming the new year.

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A letter I wrote to include in the book.

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I’ve included a little bag filled with surprises.

I had such fun with The Travelling Book that I’m keen to do something similar this year and wondered if you would be interested in joining in? I’m thinking instead of a travelling book that it would be great to create beautiful postcards to send around the world to each other. We could have a creative postcard swap – either making the postcards as mini artworks or finding beautiful and quirky ones to send. Stay tuned for more details…

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x Katherine

Created / Foraged / Styled

The ten minute wreath for time poor Christmas lovers – Tutorial

December 21, 2015

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Every year I am desperate to make a whole host of Christmas decorations and festive touches for the house and for gifts. Wreaths are always number one on my list but they’re often the thing I don’t end up doing as I run out of time. With Christmas only a few days away I decided I’d try and freestyle a quick and easy wreath. I’m so happy with the results I thought I’d share them with you. And if you’re anything like me you still have time to get this festive touch on your front door before the big day.

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted the wreath to look like and popped into a floral wholesaler on my way to work to buy the wreath base. The trick to this wreath is all in the base as the multiple rings give you a structure to insert your foliage without you needing to wire or tie each piece. I wanted to feature very simple foliage and used a silvery green eucalyptus that smells divine.

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This foliage is great as it has a bit of bend and flexibility in the branches. Start by selecting the largest branches and insert the bottom tip of the branch into the wire base and wrap your branch up around the circle. Poke some of the branch through the wire mid way up and again at the top to loosely secure it. Build up your wreath by using the largest branches first, overlapping them with the ones you’ve already placed. You want to make sure they are spread evenly along the frame with no major gaps.

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Once all the big branches are on the frame add a few smaller branches in the areas that look less covered. These can be poked through the wreath and wound up around and through the bottom branches to secure them. I like mine to be fairly rustic and a little wild.

Once you’ve finished adding the branches you can add some decorative elements. I’ve added some gum nuts, small pinecones and a gold spray painted plastic leaf. I tucked the bottom of the leaf into the wreath and didn’t need to secure it with any wire, but for the pine cones I’ve tied them on with fishing line so that you can’t see it. If your wreath isn’t feeling very secure you could tie a few sections with fishing line, just make sure you tuck some leaves over the wire or fishing line so that you can’t see it.

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My finished wreath ended up using two pieces of fishing line to secure the pinecones and another piece at the top to hang the wreath. The whole exercise took me 10 minutes and the wreath is now hanging on our front door.

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Now sit back and enjoy your handiwork!

x Katherine