Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Midsummer Gypsy Camp

The other weekend, the 3 of us decided on an impromptu picnic, following the discovery that our new daybed was lightweight enough to carry anywhere.  It opened up so many possibilities..!  It meant that we were able to lounge in places never possible before! Throw in 2 hammocks that we've hauled all the way from Brazil - which had also been lying in waiting for a number of years - and we were ready to set up a real little gypsy camp.  

We loaded everything - food, hammocks, camera, books, journal, bunting, pinwheel flowers, throws, toys - onto the daybed and our caravan promptly proceeded across our lawn down to a patch of trees next to a froggy pond.  Our 4-year old proudly soldiering on, holding the one leg of the daybed up, doing her bit to help the trek along.

Then proceeded the setting up of camp under the shadiest patches, where after we unpacked our lunch made up of bits and bobs that were foraged from the fridge.  Needless to say, the daybed and 2 hammocks were thoroughly utilised after lunch.

Clouds were slowly building up but we stuck through 3 light lashings of rain.  We were not to be deterred by the odd drop-in-the face.  Weathered gypsies were we - so we stayed put - enjoying the cool cloudiness that had set in.  Then, just before sunset, thunder struck and the rains poured down.

We threw everything we couldn't carry underneath the daybed and abandoned camp.  Grabbing only the essentials, we covered ourselves and the 4-year old with a large lime green plastic table cloth and ran the 150m to our house, laughing hysterically.  The neighbours must have thought that we had one too many - seeing the lime green thing with 4 legs bobbing about like a drunken caterpillar on the lawn.

By the time we had reached our front door we were drenched. We looked back towards our little camp and saw an incredible sight.  The shower had subsided, the sky had turned luminous and across it spanned the clearest most saturated 180 degree double rainbow I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. We just stood there and gazed in awe.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

POWerhouses of Visual Inspo

One of my fondest childhood memories has to do with books.  My tonsils had to be removed at the tender age of 5, but I do not remember how sick I was nor how painful it was.  Everything was overshadowed by the stacks of books that family and friends gifted me with.  Every book was a powerful and magical journey of the imagination - regardless whether someone was reading me the story or whether I was just looking at the beautiful illustrations.

That enchantment is still with me today.

In my house there is a little corner where I keep a stack of books distinctly separate from the rest of my collection.  These books are my safe house.  They keep the rabbit hole of inspiration and enchantment just an arm's length away because I pass that spot many times during the day.  If I desperately need to get a quick 30-second reminder that life is still beautiful, or I have time to languish over the pages - they're always close by.

When we have house guests, I'm always secretly amused at who might actually end up noticing and take time to page through them and who will not even give them a second glance.  Here they are  - the books that inspire me endlessly:

Pia Jane Bijkerk is a stylist who writes about the journey to follow her wandering heart.  Moving from Italy, to a houseboat in Amsterdam, then to a Parisian apartment - 
all accompanied by her exquisite photography.
Also click over to her blog via my blog roll here on the right.

Wonderful book about displaying your treasured, personal possessions into new and unusual ways to make your home unique.  Geraldine James has a passion for unusual and beautiful things and turns them into works of art purely by her creative approach to displaying them.  Lots of inspiring ideas, colour and textures.

Then there's Sibella Court.  
I have 4 of her books - love them all! An Australian girl who worked as stylist in New York before setting up The Society Inc in her native Australia.  Everything that she does is raw, earthy, full of texture and drenched 
in travel anecdotes.  She gets her inspiration from gathering stories on her travels to far flung places.  She shares contacts, places to stay and places to visit.  The visuals are beyond beautiful and wonderfully inspiring. Sibella's approach is to weave her travel experiences into what she has at home, and what she can source where she lives, without having to haul heavy luggage or containers back home. She encourages the reader to do the same.
Inspirational caffeine! She's also on my blog roll - click on The Society Inc.

Victoria Alexander is a stylist, passionate traveller and fashion editor. Chapters focus on individual colour, its history, meaning and influence. Exquisite photography grouped coupled with powerful minimalist text - this adds to the power of the images.  
Beautiful, lyrical and contemplative content.

Stunning book by legendary designer Tricia Guild. 
An inspiration board of textures, colours, themes, objects and artwork that she finds inspiring.  Gorgeous and energising visuals.

Julia Chaplin coined the term Gypset to describe the very current international community of artists, designers and bon vivants who live the easy and carefree lifestyle of Gypsies with the sophistication of the jet set.  The books explore the unconventional lives of these bohemians and the travel destinations they inhabit.  Mesmerising read!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Japanese Inspired Blinds - a DIY experiment

Magical texture and colour of handmade paper illuminated by sunlight
There has been some fervent creative experimentation with 
2 projects in the making
this past weekend at 
Maison Majorelle.  

The summer sun can be very, very hot and unforgiving here 
in the southern hemisphere 
and the glare makes it really uncomfortable in my studio in the mornings right now.  But when autumn comes, the sun moves and the light and the 
view is glorious throughout winter because we have very 
few rainy days then.  

So I was looking for a solution to cover my studio windows.  Something that would be lightweight, translucent and budget friendly because it would be temporary.  And then the idea of a traditional Japanese paper screen came up.  It might be quite unconventional here in the West, but they've been utilising paper beautifully for centuries, so why not?  This led me to think of the possibility of paper blinds that could be rolled up in the afternoons during summer, and removed entirely during winter without having to cover up or remove any holes or brackets. 

There is a shop in our area that sells a huge variety of the most exquisite handmade papers - see their website here.  Their papers are imported from Thailand, India and China, with recycled mulberry paper products being manufactured on the premises. So I picked up a variety of colours and textures for the project.  I also included a beautiful sheet of Egyptian Art on Papyrus from Cairo that I received as a gift from my brother and cute cotton candy paper that I brought back from Malaysia last year.  

Pasting the paper together so that one large sheet of paper "fabric" is created.

Love the result!  They're light, translucent, 
full of happy colour and texture and easily removable.
Best of all: When the blinds have served their purpose, 
I will recycle them into paper for bookmaking and collage papers for visual journaling.

I'll tell you more about the other project in another post!

Here's a tutorial on how the blinds were made:

1. After taking the measurements of the windows, I made a large sheet of paper "fabric" - larger than the surface of the 3 windows together by laying the sheets down on the floor and gluing the sides together with pva glue.
2. Once the glue was dry, I cut strips from all 4 sides of the paper "fabric" and glued them down again on the opposite sides.  This is optional! I did it because I wanted a more distinct patchwork effect.
3. I measured and cut 3 blinds from the "fabric" - adding extra length to allow for wrapping around wooden slats at the tops and bottoms of the blinds.
4. I measured and cut 3 x 2,5mm balsa wood slats for the top ends of the blinds, and 3 x 8mm dowel sticks for the bottoms. Then I glued them to the screens so that the "fabric" overlapped the wooden inserts on both sides - also adjusting the overlaps so that the screens would fit the length of window.
5. I  used brass thumb tacks to fasten the screens to the wooden window frame.  I also added cotton string to the tacks in the middle. This is to keep the blind in place, once it is rolled away.

Notes on improving the design - as the blinds are still a work in progress:
- for waterproofing in case of rain - a layer of clear lacquer spray or something similar, followed by a couple of layers of gel medium or mod podge;
- for tearing in case of wind - 3 cm wide washi tape in a complementary colour or design to strengthen the sides of the blinds.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Whimsical Art for a 7 year old Ballerina

A while back I had to complete a very fun little project.  
I was requested to do 3 whimsical paintings for my niece who got a room makeover around her 7th birthday.  
Her room's new theme was to be French Vintage/Ballet in Lilac and Antique White with bits of ballet pink thrown in.  
She is seriously into horses right now, recently became proud mama of a baby Basset Hound and her favourite wild animal is a giraffe.  
I had to incorporate whimsical faces as well. was quite a tall order to bring all the elements together, but here they are. 
And most importantly - she was over the moon - which is the best reaction any godmother could've hoped for!

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Rustic Centrepiece for Valentine's .....or Anyday

Here at Maison Majorelle, we have a birthday celebration and Valentine's Day in the same week.  
So we mix the two up a bit.  

Valentine's has grown into a very viable commercial celebration, which is great for business after the post-Christmas/New Years' slump in sales. 
But being present in the moment, to me, includes celebrating something everyday anyway.
So for us, Valentine's Day isn't just for lovers, but a way to celebrate the love we feel for each other, our daughter, for family, for friends. 
And this year, I'd like to stick to "handmade" as much as I can when it comes to gifts and celebrations.

So our celebratory table is very rustic - created from a couple of things we have in the house.
So simple that my 4 year old daughter is able to help with the preparation. 
And a great opportunity for creative collaboration with her.

This is what we used:

You need pine cones, a string of battery operated fairy lights, jars or drinking glasses with tea lights inside.  Add any other candles you have on hand.
Always stick to white candles for a fresh and classic feel.

Angeli goes pine cone hunting

Very proud that she was able to find a basket load full!

Here's how:

Step 1: Angeli distributed the pine cones all along the centre of the table - I tweaked it a bit once she was done.
Step 2: Place your candles randomly in-between the cones.
Step 3: Arrange your string lights from one end to the other so that it curls around and under the candles and pine cones.  Hide the little battery pack under some tree bark or a pine cone. 
Step 4: Add some white napkins, red wine, glorious food, great company and you're set! 

Speaking about the small things: 
It was very exciting for Angeli when I asked her to switch on the fairy lights once the set-up was done.  
And when the candles were lit, her little eyes sparkled even more!

Voila! Centrepiece done!

Don't forget dessert!
A selection of berries changes any dessert into something luscious and celebratory

Perfect end to a perfect evening

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Colours of O'Keeffe

One of the recent Challenges on The Documented Life 2015 was "The Color Wheel". The Journal Prompt that went with it was:  
"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way . . . “ - 
Georgia O’Keeffe, American Painter (1887-1986).  
So I decided to have a closer look at her work.  O'Keeffe was a US based Precisionist painter from the 1920's and beyond.   She was known for her use of brilliant colour - hence the "Color Wheel" Challenge.  Oversized flower studies, animal skeletons, shells, rocks and landscapes were recurring elements in her paintings. You can see more of her work here.  Some of her works that provided inspiration for this specific week's planner pages were these:

Series I no.3 (1918) by Georgia O' Keeffe

Summer Days (1936) by Georgia O' Keeffe.
The current fascination with antlers and faux taxidermy isn't a new trend.  I'm not an art historian but O' Keeffe's series of antler paintings might have highlighted the decorative potential of these organic forms - in the 1930's already.  Incredible - isn't it?

My subsequent planner pages:

Brilliant oranges, blues, pinks. cubist flower shapes, abstract swirls and curly antlers - all elements that O'Keeffe was known for in her wonderful paintings.

O 'Keeffe was a wonderful wordsmith too.  I discovered a long list of inspiring quotes that she is credited for, so I included two of them in my weekly spread.

We are so inundated with visual information these days.  Staying original is becoming a real challenge.  What O' Keeffe  said about originality then, also applies to how I think we should approach this challenge today....

List of materials used:

A5 Week-per-page Moleskine diary 2015
White drawing paper for the flap
Washi tape to adhere the flap
Acrylic paint - turquoise, orange, blue, magenta, yellow, pink
Stencil with flower shapes
Gesso - white
Packing tape - for making a transfer print of the quote
Gel pens - blue, fluorescent pink
Pentel aqua brush with dark blue water soluble ink

Friday, February 6, 2015

Of Mermaids & Beach Bags

December and January are usually the months when we take our long, annual summer holidays here in the Southern Hemisphere.  And although we didn't make it to the beach this December, I just realized that I made two creations during the holidays that has everything to do with the ocean! 

On Christmas Day, the pace suddenly slowed down to a languid, loungy kinda vibe right after a frenetic four weeks.  In order to wind down, I had to do something creative and repetitive with my hands.  Enter Tarn (t-shirt yarn) and a 12mm crochet needle.  Excellent for a beginner like me - the chunky t-shirt yarn and thick needle made for quick progress and immediate gratification!  So making this simple weekend beach bag ended up being my special little Christmas holiday side project.

And then Mici the Mermaid appeared.  I was so inspired by the beach bag pattern and how much I enjoyed learning this new skill, that I couldn't resist making this sweet little amigurumi style mermaid for my daughter.  You can buy and download the patterns for Mici and her cute little band members and other friends on

MICI works as a life guard on the shores of lalylaland, but even as a very little mermaid, she dreamed to open her own shoe store and to design her own collection of summer sandals. 

To pass the time MICI knits chic fishnet stockings for her friends. She loves the rockabilly fashion of the 50s! Her stylish old school anchor tattoo was made by her talented friend OLEG the octopus, using his self-produced homemade ink and a fishing hook. 

MICI is also the singer of a band with RADA the rat, BUZZ the housefly, OLEG the octopus and CARL the cactus, which has gained a reputation for putting their audience into a kind of hypnotic state.