Books on Sewing With and For Children

Now that the school holidays and Christmas are almost here, I thought a post on sewing and creating with children would be very timely! Sewing is such a useful life skill, whether it be the basic ability to sew on a button and repair your clothes or more advanced garment making, and learning at a young age gives individuals so much confidence in their abilities, as well as developing their creativity and just being fun!BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - Copy

I have already reviewed Learning To Sew by Barbara Snook and Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green in my first post on embroidery books (See:

Another excellent sewing primer for children is :

Busy Little Hands: Sewing: A First Craft Book For Parent and Child  Illustrated by Douglas Hall 1988

Written specifically for children, this book has a very child-centred approach with simple instructions and fun pictures of mice and rabbits engaged in the task. Basic sewing skills are taught from enlarging patterns and using a needle threader to patchwork, tacking, oversewing, hemming and pleating, as well as a range of simple stitches, including back stitch, blanket stitch, herringbone stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch and cross stitch. There are some lovely easy projects from leaf needle cases and prickly hedgehog pincushions to butterfly mobiles; costumes, masks, hats and crowns; and drawstring bags and patchwork night cases. It’s a delightful little book and very appealing to young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6572

Once the basic skills are mastered, the next two books by quiltmaker Yolanda Gifford are wonderful for inspiring creativity and imagination and a love of fabric and colour.

Fabric Fun For Kids by Yolanda Gifford 1995

After introducing basic stitches (running stitch, back stitch, overstitch) and materials (vliesofix; embroidery thread; and fabric textas, markers, dyes and paints), Yolanda launches straight into the 24 projects themselves, including hanging pillows, cushions, bags, pictures, runners, Christmas decorations, quilts, toys and glove puppets and rag baskets.

Each project has a materials sidetab; clear instructions and finishing notes, patterns and diagrams and full-colour plates of the finished article.

When my eldest daughter was younger, she was inspired by the pattern Ellie’s Bird (seen on the book cover below) to make her dad a felt panel of a king parrot.


My girls also made the Christmas tree pillow and picture; the heart pin cushion; and Jake’s Four Patches, as seen in the photo below.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7214 I could easily make the chook runner; the flower cushion; the Nick-Nack Sew a Patch bag and the Home Sweet Home panel myself! The projects are an excellent indicator of the popularity of Yolanda’s home sewing classes for children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6573

Simply Applique by Yolanda Gifford 1997

Yolanda’s second book is similar in presentation to her first book, but focuses on applique, using non-traditional methods and lots of freedom in colour, design and structure to portray children’s artwork on quilts, table cloths, curtains, cushions, bags, banners and family portraits and postcards.

While written for children, it is an equally wonderful book for beginners to the wonderful world of applique!

I love Yolanda’s use of bold simple shapes and bright colours and would love to make her family portrait and postcards; her appliqued curtains; her animal cushions and banner; her red and white embroidered cot quilt; and her love quilt, seen on the front cover of the book.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6574

Steiner education also have some wonderful books for encouraging imaginative play and creativity in children. Here are three of my favourites:

Toymaking With Children by Freya Jaffke 1987

Imaginative play is so important for the development of creativity, as well as developing basic life skills and this little book is packed with wonderful ideas from building sets, shops, dioramas and landscapes to making dressing up costumes, crowns, puppets, gnomes, toy animals and dolls, including doll clothing, houses and furniture and using natural materials to make toys like pine cone birds, bark boats, wooden animals and log trains.

Below is a photo of my youngest daughter’s make-believe fairy, which kept her occupied for hours in the local park, while our car was repaired during a family holiday.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7246There is also a large introductory section on the meaning and importance of play; the three stages of play; appropriate toys for each stage; and outdoor play.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6575

Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994

Felt is a wonderful medium for children to sew, as it is strong, firm and colourful; does not fray at the edges; and is easy to cut out into different shapes. Starting with simple embroidery stitches and instructions on making hair, the book describes a wealth of toy materials, construction methods and projects including:

Wooden standing dolls: Gnomes; a royal family; Saint Nicholas; an angel; a mother and baby ; hazelnut children; a wooden doll with moveable arms and legs and matchbox dolls;

Felt Dolls: Basic model; gnomes; woollen dolls; flower children and blossom fairies; finger puppets; and walking dolls;

Dolls with pipe-cleaner frames: Basic model; Christmas gnome; jester; man; and the man in the moon;

Animals and birds: Duck and swan; a bird; a seal; a butterfly mobile; a snail; cats, dogs and mice; a horse; a rooster; simple felt pictures and books;

French knitting and crochet: a picture and bag;

Felt gifts: Balls; jewellery; a gnome and a clown brooch; bookmarks; comb cases; scissor cases; egg cosies; purses and little gift boxes.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6577

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau by M van Leeuwen and J Moeskops 1990

After a brief discussion on arranging seasonal tableaux and basic techniques for making dolls and marionettes with sheep’s wool, cotton, felt, cardboard cones, wire and wood, as well as creating faces and embroidering hair, this lovely book follows the seasons and special celebratory periods with instructions for all the elements of seasonal tableaux from:

Early Spring: Mother Earth and root children;

Spring: Spring fairies; flower children; felt dandelions;

Easter, Ascension and Whitsun: Hen with chicks; hares; sheep with lambs; paper flowers; Whitsun doves and a Whitsun wedding couple;

Summer: Beehive with bees; Summer fairies; grass wreaths; and sandcastles;

Autumn: Pumpkin child; toadstools; teasel hedgehog and spider; a boy with a kite; and a spider web;

Hallowe’en and Martinmas: Lanterns; gnomes; and mice;

Advent and Christmas: Saint Nicholas and assistant; an angel; sheep, oxen and ass; crib figures- Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus; the shepherds and the three kings;

Winter: King Winter and Mrs Thaw.

It is a wonderful way to develop and promote an appreciation of nature and the seasons in young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6576

My final book, Baby Crafts by Juliet Moxley 1995,  looks at sewing for children and contains 25 wonderful creative projects to make for babies, exposing the latter to the wonderful world of colour.

They are divided into four categories:

First Needs: Moses basket; cot quilt; laundry bag; nappy stacker; travel seat; sleeping bag; night dresses and caps; and rag doll pyjamas case;

Bathing and Playtime: Fish bath mat and mitts; bath robe; cardigan and beret; play mat; painting smocks; and a very cute crazy patchwork teddy;

The Nursery: Torn paper frieze; painted toy box and chair; a delightful wall hanging with pockets based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea; a cot and quilt cover and an animal mobile using reverse applique

Photo of animal patches for mobile

Special Occasions: A beautiful christening robe and pin cushion; some very appealing Christmas stockings; painted plates; and a cross stitch sampler.

While directed primarily at adults, some can be achieved by children like the torn paper frieze and the painting projects. It’s a lovely book and is a great way to generate a love of bright colours and start young children off on their own creative journeys.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6578


Books on Hand Embroidery Part Two: Stitch Dictionaries and Specialised Guides

Every  embroiderer needs one or two books, specifically on embroidery stitches, though most of them also discuss materials and other techniques. Here are some suggestions:

Stitches For Embroidery by Heather Joynes 1991

Stitch samplers are a great way to practice technique and the colourful sampler at the beginning of this book showcases the twenty embroidery stitches taught. Here is a photo of one of my children’s beginner samplers.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1897 The use of these stitches and their differing visual effects, according to application and the use of different threads, is then illustrated in portraying lines; different textures (including the depiction of feathers and  resin); the filling of shapes and a variety of subject matter from leaves and foliage; stems, trunks and branches; flowers, trees, sky and clouds, water and architecture. The photo below shows a variety of effects using the same stitch (seed or running stitch), but with different thread combinations and colours.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1883 Stitch combinations and patterns are also discussed in detail, along with hints about getting it all together in a finished design. The photo below also shows the variations in the same pattern, which can be produced with the application of different combinations of thread colour. BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1887 An excellent book for beginner embroiderers.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-12

A-Z of Embroidery Stitches Country Bumpkin Publications 1997

A comprehensive guide to over 66 stitches and their variations, as well as a number of different embroidery techniques including wool and ribbon embroidery, cutwork, shadow work, Bokhara and Roumanian couching , making eyelets, faggotting, laidwork, and needle weaving. There are lots of hints throughout the book on transferring designs; materials and needles; threading needles; threads and hoops; finishing and framing; thread painting and even, left-handed stitching. I liked this book for its presentation, each stitch with its own page of photographed step-by-step diagrams, variations and suggestions for use.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-16Readers’ Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches: Photographs, Diagrams and Instructions For Over 260 Stitches by Jennifer Campbell and Ann-Marie Bakewell 2006

An even more comprehensive coverage in a neat simple compact format. The book is divided into five sections:

Starting To Embroider: the Basics:  Fabrics, threads, needles and hoops and frames; Blocking; Using designs and charts; and basic stitching techniques (fabric preparation, threading a needle, beginning and ending a thread and working comfortably);

Embroidery on Fabric: Surface embroidery (crewel work, cutwork, shadow work, candlewick, metallic threads, quilting and appliqué; raised work and creating a design);  Counted thread work (cross stitch, Assisi work, Blackwork,  drawn thread work, pulled fabric work, and Hardanger embroidery); Beadwork and all the basic embroidery stitches, divided into line, chain, crossed, blanket, feather, isolated, couching, satin, woven, woven filling, insertion, drawn-thread and pulled stitches;

Smocking: Techniques and stitches;

Embroidery on Canvas: Materials, techniques (Florentine work or Bargello, Berlin woolwork,  and Long stitch); and all the basic canvas stitches, again divided into categories: Diagonal stitches, Cross stitches, Star stitches, Straight stitches, Fan stitches, Square stitches, Braid and Knot stitches and Loop stitches; and

Finished Embroidery: Caring (Cleaning, ironing and storing) and display (mounting, framing, lining and hanging).BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1898All stitches are well explained with annotated diagrams and coloured photographs. An excellent dictionary of embroidery stitches for both the beginner and more advanced embroiderer. It is so much fun playing with all the different stitches and colours!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-14

And for the more serious embroidery student:

Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches Including Crewel by Marion Nichols 1974

There are ten basic families of stitches in this book: Straight, Back, Chain, Buttonhole or Blanket, Fly or Feather, Cross, Knots, Composite, Couched or Laid, and Woven. The stitches in each family are further divided into six categories of progressive difficulty, starting with the basic stitch and developing increasingly sophisticated variations. These stages are as follows: Isolated (Basic stitch), Line, Angled, Stacked, Grouped and Combined.

A sampler chart and a summary of the progression of stitches is included at the beginning of each family chapter, followed by individual pages for each stitch and its variations, with  illustrations and step-by-step instructions and notes on rhythm, uses and helpful remarks. A very logical and comprehensive guide!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-18

The Stitches of Creative Embroidery by Jacqueline Enthoven 1987 Revised and Enlarged Edition 1996

A mix between an embroidery guide and a dictionary of stitches, I quite liked the more personal chatty style of this book with its all lovely stitch samplers, historical photographs and gallery of applications. Jacqueline divides her stitches into five groupings: Flat, Looped, Chained, Knotted and Couching and Laid Work. She also has notes on finishing and using embroidery samplers; creating borders; working with geometric designs; working on plain and printed fabrics; embroidering flower shapes; joining and edgings; and suggestions for the use of embroidery on clothes, wall hangings and space dividers, and table cloths and runners and cushions.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-17

More Specialised Embroidery Guides

Mark Making in Textile Art by Helen Parrott

The basic premise behind this book is that embroidery is basically mark making or drawing with a needle and thread instead of a pencil. It covers the journey from inspiration and ideas to marks on paper and in stitch and finally, the completed artwork.

The first few chapters focus on marks- their characteristics (shape and direction, scale,  location and placement, colour, texture and form, origin and purpose, relationship to time, number and variability, and repetition and density); and observation, recording (sketching and photography), collection and storage.

Next, mark making on a range of different papers with pens, pencils and crayons; using resists; monoprinting with finger patterns, textured surfaces and blocks; and framing and presenting works. Below is a photo of my unconventional stitch sampler portraying Blanket and Chain stitches, including Detached Chain and Lazy Daisy stitches.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1889Stitch marks follow with notes on needle and thread selection, hand-stitched marks (running stitch, including radiant and spiral stitch patterns; loop stitch; knots and ties including reef knots and French knots); machine-stitched marks (free-machined marks,single marks, massed stitch marks, all-over stitch marks, continuous lines, dots webs and tufts, layered stitch marks, and working with single or mixed and contrasting colours). My creativity really went wild with my next piece of experimentation!BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1893The final chapters cover sources of inspiration, using a sketchbook, choosing a focus, materials and equipment, threads and fabrics, sampling, building a reference collection,  and finishing work; strategies for living a creative life, including  time and work spaces, health and safety, motivation and breaks, membership of groups and resolving creator’s block; and lists of resources ( materials and equipment), suppliers, organisations and inspiring places to visit in the United Kingdom. BlogFeltBooks2515-06-16 14.41.37

With lots of practical exercises, this book is all about experimentation and exploration and developing your own creative voice and potential. The cushion above is another form of stitch sampler in both the vase and the different flowers!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-19Embroidered Purses: Design and Techniques by Linda Tudor 2004

Embroidery has been a perfect medium to decorate bags and purses for millennia. In fact, as far back as 2400 BC, Assyrians carried medicine in special bags called ‘naruqqu’, one of the facts I learned from reading this interesting book. It starts with an examination of the history of purses, as well as different purses from around the world. Did you know that 17th century sweet purses contained perfumed powders to counteract bad odours and were hung from the belt and secreted in the folds of the skirt, while Chinese men and women also wore incense purses around the neck or waist, no doubt for a similar reason.

The next chapter discusses the role of the purse as a container and the process of purse design- its shape, sources of inspiration, equipment, material, pattern making, colour, decoration and finishing. I loved Emily Jo Gibb’s horse-chestnut purse, Conker, found in the Victoria and Albert Museum. ( and She too is a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and teaches regularly at West Dean College, United Kingdom.  Quite inspiring, as I have always wanted to design a purse based on the seedpods of Native Frangipani!

The book goes on to examine different types of purses: simple two-sided purses, folded purses, reverse-appliqued silk clutch purses, gusseted purses, drawstring purses and box purses, including patterns and variations and a gallery of photographs.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-20

Finishing techniques, including making bias strips, rouleaux and borders; bound edges; using bondaweb and cutting bonded fabrics; English and Seminole patchwork; lace making; canvaswork; cords, handles and tassels; embellishments with embroidery stitches and beads; and fastenings are all discussed. Finally, there is a list of purse collections around the world, including The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK  ( and the Museum of Bags and Purses, Tassen, The Netherlands:

The Art of the Handbag: Crazy Beautiful Bags by Clare Anthony 2013 is a similar book, which I would love to read one day!

Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991 and Embroidery From the Garden 1997 by Diana Lampe

Perfect for craftspeople with a shared love of the garden AND embroidery! Diana Lampe has written six books, however I only own the first and the third. See: for a list of her embroidery books. She is one of Australia’s most successful non-fiction writers having sold more than 120, 000 copies of her books worldwide. She is also a passionate food writer with some delicious recipes on her website as well! But back to my two books!

Both books follow a similar format and can stand alone on their own merit and be used separately. After initial chapters on materials and equipment, design and proportion, finishing and framing and sewing notes, Diana describes various designs and projects, accompanied by colour photographs and keyed diagrams.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-21Her first book Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991  contains designs for a Traditional Cottage Garden, a Spring Garden, a Spring Garland, embroidered initials, flower samplers and some gift suggestions (lavender sachets, towels, coat hangers, Spring baskets, pin cushions,brooches, jumpers, cushions and handkerchiefs), while Embroidery From the Garden 1997 focuses on South African flowers with designs for a Strelitzia Garden, a Protea Garden, a Garland of South African Flowers, another flower sampler and more projects (table linen, brooch, coat hanger, spectacle case, cushion, pincushion, needle case and mirror).BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-22A large section of her books is devoted to a Flower Glossary, detailing threads, number of strands and stitches and method, with explanatory diagrams on each page. Not only plants are featured. There are also embroidery instructions for gardener’s friends (pussy cat, butterfly, spider and web) and pests (snail), as well as built features in the garden like flagstones, pergolas and terracotta pots.

The flower glossary is followed by a Stitch Glossary, with instructions and diagrams for each type of embroidery stitch. The appendix includes a list of flowers in each garden design, as well as the DMC threads used; and detailed notes on framing.

Finally, three books on 3-D embroidery!

Stumpwork Embroidery: A Collection of Fruits, Flowers and Insects for Contemporary Raised Embroidery by Jane Nicholas 1995

Stumpwork is a style of heavily padded and raised embroidery, practiced from 1650 to 1700 in England, where it was called known raised or embossed work, but now given new life and exposure by Jane Nicholas. She certainly does beautiful work and has made an extensive study of the subject in response to the dearth of comprehensive instruction at the time .

In this definitive guide, she discusses:

Materials and Equipment: Fabric, threads (cotton, silk, synthetic and metallic), needles, hoops and frames, beads and sequins, wire and miscellaneous treasures;

General Instructions: Raised applied fabric or needlepoint shapes; padded needle lace or embroidered shapes; raised detached fabric, needle lace or wire shapes; methods for working leaves and stems; attaching wire to the main background; padding with felt; using paper-backed fusible web; transferring designs to fabric (tracing paper and pencil, carbon paper, basting); and finishing techniques (framing and mounting inside a box lid, in a paperweight, or on a brooch); and

Individual Elements: Making acorns;different types of flowers, leaves, vegetables and fruit/berries; insects: bees, butterflies, crickets, dragonflies, ladybirds, hoverflies and spiders; hedgehogs, owls and snails;

With ideas and detailed instructions for embroidering different designs for a variety of projects from brooches to pictures and mirror frames, as well as a Stitch Glossary of all the embroidery stitches used in the back of the book.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-23

Embroidered Flora and Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textural Embroidery by Lesley Turpin-Dleport and Nikki Delport-Wepener 2008

This lovely book develops 3-D embroidery even further with the depiction of flora and fauna. I really like their style, which I feel is more informal than the previous book. It’s a wonderful book for texture, using lots of different types of threads (stranded cotton, perle cotton, soft or tapestry cotton, flower thread, tapestry wool, crewel wool, crazy wools, yarn, chenille, boucle, round rayon cord, flat knitted rayon ribbon, space-dyed and variegated threads, quilting threads, silk, viscose, linen and metallic) and ribbons (silk, organza, rayon and satin) and techniques (Trapunto, Casal Guidi and corded quilting from the Italian Renaissance; goldwork and stumpwork from the Elizabethan Era; Jacobean crewel work; Victorian ribbon work and tucks and pleats; tassels, fringing and ribbon roses from the 1920s and contemporary hand and machine embroidery, ribbon work and smocking).

Tools and materials are listed in The Sewing Basket, followed by a large section on basic techniques, including photo transfers, fabric preparation, scale and shading, working with textured threads, appliqué, wire work, stumpwork, trapunto quilting, ribbon work, beading, machine stitching and working with felt, net and metallic threads.

There are also some beautiful embroidery designs for application to:

Kitchen and Dining Room: Tablecloths and tray cloths, serviettes and place mats, tea towels and aprons, oven mitts and pot holders, tea cosy and mesh food cover;

Bedroom: Sheet sets and pillow cases, quilts and duvet covers, hangers and tissue box covers;

Bathroom: Bath sheets and towels, laundry and cosmetic bags;

Living Areas: Lampshades and curtains, cushions and throws, pictures and picture frames, and embroidered boxes,book covers,  flower arrangements and fire screens; and

Clothing: Pyjamas, beach gear, jeans and children’s clothes.

They are divided into 12 colour groupings: Oyster, yellow, salmon, pink, red, burgundy, brown, lilac and lavender, blue, indigo, and grey, black and white. Materials, instructions and colour photographs are provided for each embroidery design, with a stitch glossary and design patterns in the back of the book. I particularly loved the Gerberas, the Light Sussex Rooster and the Barred Owlets! It is a really beautiful book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-24

Three-Dimensional Embroidery: Methods of Construction For the Third Dimension by Janet Edmonds 2005

In this original and specialised book, Janet explores a wide range of construction methods, including coiling with wrapped cords, building with flat pieces, fabric manipulation with tucks and gathers and using heat-reactive or dissolvable fabric to create 3-D forms, including boxes, bags and advanced geometric shapes and freeform embroidery pieces.

After initial chapters on the design brief, research, mulling time, the design process and a wide variety of materials, tools and equipment, different construction methods are discussed, including practice exercises and projects:

Constructing with Flat Pieces: Geometrics; squares and rectangles; gift boxes; triangles; cylinders; and strips and slices and freeform.

Continuous Lengths: Coiling with wrapped cores; and freeform building;

Manipulated Methods:

Fabrics: Gathering, tucks and pleats, darts, stuffed shapes; heated acrylic felt or Tyvek; and knitting and weaving;

Paper and Wire techniques;


Soft: Stuffed fabric tubes; and wrapped or rolled fabric;

Hard: Tyvek; clay; plastics; wood; wire; and commercial beads;

Finishing Techniques: Edges and rims; wire armature; wood or card base; wire support; feet; and lids.

Like the first book in this post, it has an experimental bias and is all about exploring new boundaries!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-25

Next week, I will be featuring books about some wonderfully creative and talented contemporary embroiderers, as well as informative books about ethnic embroidery around the world.

The Autumn Garden

It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-17 11.35.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.44.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 14.34.52BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-10 12.50.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.30Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.08.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.51BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.01.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.52.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.59.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-20 16.12.47 The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 17.16.16BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.23.52BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.37.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-26 18.02.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 09.47.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.25.17BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.59.23The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0199BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 11.06.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 18.53.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-25 11.50.02The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:

Soho Bed:

Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.

Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.

Moon Bed

Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus

Main Pergola

Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam

Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison

Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses

Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.

Right-hand Side: Pink Roses

Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis

Rugosa Hedge

Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant


Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens


Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha

I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:

Blue :

Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea

Green :

Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella

Orange, Gold and Yellow :

Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily

Pink :

Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’

Red :

Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red

Purple :

Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet

White :

Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the Paper White Ziva jonquils for the season!

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.

We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 13.25.16 We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1186BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1237We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3);BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 18.04.14BlogHybridMusksReszd2016-11-10 09.19.26BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0877 and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 15.33.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.27.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 18.58.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.13.31 Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0277BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0274From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.07.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 19.24.20 We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.43.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-05 11.44.26 We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway!  Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0879BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23 All the new citrus are growing madly  and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 18.09.05BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.33.13 The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0773BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0774BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0778BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.35BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.48The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1241 attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 10.54.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-28 14.30.57 which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson RosellasBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.34.29 and huge flocks of King Parrots.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.57.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.04BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.30.07BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.28.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.01.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.59.33 Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0518BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0642 then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 08.51.21-2BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-03 19.44.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 19.54.50BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1253 occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.46.46BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0807 We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.08.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.20.25Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0116BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0090BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.16.41 Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.40.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-04 14.53.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 12.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-13 17.29.54BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 14.37.25BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 17.46.44 And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 11.54.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 14.54.51BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0707BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0319 all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-06 12.11.05We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 14.54.13The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from for his birthday:BlogAutumngardenReszd7517-04-25 17.56.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-25 15.00.36 and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-12 13.33.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 12.09.54 My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (, gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 14.27.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 15.36.30BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 16.16.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 10.56.10 I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0441BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.19.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.23.44 I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0510BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0516BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0845BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0505 as well as a pair of felt appliqué cushions for my sister’s bed.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-06 17.44.17 And another decoupage floral card and a paper owl, assembled from a German kit, which was given to me by my daughter in Berlin.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0499BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1220BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1221And finally, there were the bouquets from the garden! Masses of colourful zinnias…BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0037BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28 and bright dahlias;BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0226BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1148 Scented roses;BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.32BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0888BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.26.09BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.58

Simple blue salvias and bold hydrangeas;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 10.20.45BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0264BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0261 And wonderful mixtures of colourful blooms!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 18.58.02BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0021BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 12.16.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.49.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.50.00 How I love arranging flowers!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 14.11.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.07.18BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0003And finally, we had some wonderful days out, exploring new spots and revisiting old haunts. The Bendethera day in March was rather inclement and while we could not reach our final destination due to the amount of water in the final creek, we did ascertain that our vehicle could manage the 4WD tracks for a future camping trip and despite the rain and constant cloud, it was still a lovely day out.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1007BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0985BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0995BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0998BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0952 We had much better April weather for our Monaro drive to Delegate, Jindabyne (including the wonderful Wildbrumby Scnapps Distillery in photo 2) and Thredbo (the Kosciuszko chair lift in photo 3) and discovered a wonderful birdwatching and trout fishing  venue, Black Lake, near Cathcart, on our way home (photo 5), where we saw six elegant Black-Winged Stilts (photo 6).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 11.21.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 12.59.21BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 13.28.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 15.11.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.14.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.48.57 We introduced friends to Bay Cliff and Greenglades (also see: in late April (see if you can guess the tracks on the beach in photo 7!); BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 15.15.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 13.45.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.50.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.12.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.55.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.09.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.10.41 and Aragunnu (also see: in May, two of our favourite spots on the coast;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.37.22BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.40.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 16.05.58BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 15.28.36BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 17.30.24as well as revisiting Nunnock Swamp and Alexander’s Hut (also see: 12.15.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 13.16.33BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.21.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.23.20BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.15.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.52.27And we went canoeing on Back Lake at Merimbula, where we photographed a beautiful Azure Kingfisher, as well as a teenage cygnet and white egrets.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.40.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.09.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.49.59BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.26.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.20.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.39.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.01.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10 We are so lucky to have such easy access to these beautiful unspoilt natural areas! Next week, I am returning to our dreamy roses!

On Creativity : Part 2 : Developing Creativity

Creativity is an endlessly fascinating subject! Last week, I discussed its importance, our personal experiences and the universality of creativity, especially in children, and how its practice and confident application decreases with age. Sadly, the 2012 Adobe study on creativity, mentioned in the previous post on creativity, showed that only 1 in 4 people – believe they are living up to their own creative potential (, but the good news is that creativity can be redeveloped!

‘Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.’                                         Edward de Bono

In their book : ‘The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators’, Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen describe ‘Innovators DNA’  ( According to them , the ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of five key behaviours that optimize the brain for discovery :

  • Associating : drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields;
  • Questioning : posing queries that challenge common wisdom;
  • Observing : scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things;
  • Networking : meeting people with different ideas and perspectives; and
  • Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge.

‘Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while’                                 Steve Jobs

Here are my views on what worked for us!

Creativity can be developed and fostered by :

1. Provision of materials; learning spaces; learning opportunities and inspiration
2. Exercises and practice
3. Recognizing its importance and paying homage to it
4. Praise and encouragement

1a. Learning materials

Spending the majority of our lives on a single income, we have never been wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, at least not in our Western world, but we have never felt poor, because of the richness of our daily lives and our beautiful flowers! And we have always had enough money to spend on material, tools and books for creativity. Of course, the list varies according to the creative form involved, but these are a few of the essential items, at least for us!!

1. Art Materials:

: Paper and cardboard of all types/ thicknesses/ textures; huge wall blackboard
: Pencils, textas, pens and inks, pastels and crayons;
: Paints – watercolour/oils/gouache;
: Brushes and nibs;
: Variety of glues and pastes, hot glue gun;
: Screen-printing and batik frames and easels; printing press
: Palettes and empty jars;
: Compasses, rulers and measuring tapes;
: Recycled items- from jars and tins to old chocolate coloured foil papers, boxes, broken china and metalware; even old milk cartons as used in the photo below.
: Hardware – nails and drawing pins, lino cutting tools, carpentry tools, eye glassesBlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.34.33BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.40.57BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.28.31BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.44.13

2. Craft Materials:

: Materials and threads of all types;
: Needles and sewing kits;
: Variety of scissors and cutting boards and tools;
: Sewing machine and overlocker;
: Sequins, buttons, flowers, shells and decorative paraphernalia;
: Fabric dyes/ indigo/ natural dyeing supplies;
: Washing machine, iron;
: Broken tiles and china for mosaics.BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.35.28BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 19.45.563. Music

: Instruments; Space; Metronome; Tape recorder.

4. Drama

: Costumes; Home stage; Audience.

5. Science

: science lab;
: microscope;
: collecting material;
: magnifying glass;
: binoculars;
: telescope.

6. General

: Books : How-to guides, as well as imaginative stories

: Magazines : for inspiration and collage

: Computer : an amazing and increasingly growing resource, both in content and importance – for knowledge and inspiration – Pinterest is SO WONDERFUL!!!, as well as for word processing, photo storage, communication, selling your work on Etsy or EBay, recording and now BLOGGING!!!

: Camera/ Mobile Phone : For recording the development of your project; the completed product and sending images of your work to friends and family for advice or just praise and recognition!!!

: Photocopier/Printer

: Tracing equipment : Light box; Tracing paper; Carbon paper; See photo below.

: Sketch pads, diaries and art journals and A4 folders of magazine cuttings, ideas, computer printouts, course leaflets

: Wall display board – for creative inspirations, display or pinning up your work so you can ruminate on improvements/ developments and future directions.BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.29.13BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.36.10: Mood boards are also fun to create, as they make you focus on what’s important to you. In the case of my mood board (shown below) :  beauty, roses ( especially Old Roses), textiles, felt toys, the Arts and Crafts Movement led by William Morris and environment are all highly important and significant in my life, though perhaps I now need a new one featuring embroidery as well!!! It includes the famous and meaningful quote by William Morris : ‘Have nothing in your houses, which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’; a photo of the famous Peace rose, whose history was described in Antonia Ridges’s lovely book ‘For the Love of a Rose’; an old pink Tea Rose called ‘Countess Bertha’, very popular in Australia in the 1930s, and my first rose grown from a cutting; Gaia holding our fragile and very special planet Earth, symbolizing my love of environment; a William Morris textile design of roses and my felt Gaia, made from handmade felt, in a workshop with Elizabeth Armstrong.BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 19.47.39

: A collection of inspirational quotes about creativity is also very beneficial, especially of you are having an off-day or are stuck in a rut ! Here are some good starter sites :

A particularly inspirational site is :

1b. Learning spaces and environment

1.A special spot is ideal, as you can leave everything out, for easy resumption of your activity when you have time. This may be a studio, sewing room, music room, library or tool shed, but it could equally be just a small corner in the house. The photos are my sewing room and my daughter’s spot in our old garage when she used to make her own glass beads and jewellery. I love her sea beads in the sand!BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.28.04BlogCreativity2 30%Reszd2015-10-13 16.39.11BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.38.16These are some lovely books on the topic :

‘The Textile Artist’s Studio Handbook’ by Owyn Ruck and Visnja Popovic

‘Inside the Creative Studio’ by Cate Coulacas Prato

‘Where Women Create’ by Jo Packham

‘A Room of Her Own’ by Chris Casson Madden

2.Whatever the amount of space, organization is essential, so that everything is easily accessible, especially if the space available is small or temporary or you are renovating ! The year I studied Clothing Assembly, we were also renovating an old house and I was continually having to buy second items to replace lost requirements!!! ‘A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place’ is my mantra !Blog Late Summer20%Reszd2015-01-31 15.56.30BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.28.58BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.18.58BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 08.17.38

Not that everything is always organized and tidy all the time, especially when I am working on a project, but I always like to tidy up at the end. Also, keep a check on supplies and top up regularly.

3.Your local environment is important too.

: Cultivate beauty in your natural environment, garden, house and decor

eg Art work on the walls – your own or inspirational work of others – it need not be expensive – it could even be magazine cut-outs or computer print-outs.

Here are some photos of examples of this concept: a staircase made to our design; a beautiful old cane chair decorated with daisies and Vinca major; a birthday cake and high tea and a stunning vase of colourful dahlias.BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.27.28BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.28.02Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0064BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.37.37: Also cultivate beauty in your personal appearance and clothing : good health and fitness are very important, as well as looking good and wearing clothes that engender creativity.

‘To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.’                              Osho

: Music can promote creativity. Read the following articles about its importance : creative_n_5511501.html?ir=Australia

4. A special quiet spot for relaxation, meditation and dreaming is also important.

1c. Learning opportunities

: School : Art lessons all the way through, even for science students; choir and drama. I’d like to see special classes in creativity for all school students in the future!!!

: Extra-Curricular activities : local art gallery, artists and craft people, music and drama lessons and performances.

: Adult courses : TAFE/ Adult Education/ Other artists : Design, Colour theory and technique.

: Self education : Books and magazines; Computers and internet – there are so many courses available now.

: Libraries – books and courses.

1d. Inspiration

‘Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”’

Jim Jarmusch [MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ].

Whereas C.E.M. Joad said :

‘Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.’

: 1. Natural World :

‘The world is but a canvas to the imagination.’                   Henry David Thoreau

‘An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.’                                         David Attenborough

a. Nature : including seasonal changes, gardens and National Parks

b. Old botanical prints and artwork :   I love the work of Ernst Haeckel. See :

c. Books and websites about Nature : Here are some to get you started:

‘Geometry Structure : From Nature to Design’ by Daniela Bertol and her website : blogs : and

‘Patterns in Nature’ by Peter S Stevens. See : 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.27.35BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.27.58BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.41.04BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.40.38BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-11 09.39.21BlogCreativity2 30%Reszd2015-10-13 15.31.012. Patterns

A good starting point. I like to try a pattern out once, then adapt it with different techniques, materials and threads or tweak a recipe like Chronicle of Ellen ( did with my Mum’s Apple Cake recipe.

3. Books and Magazines :

a. Old books : I love new contemporary guides, but it is also worth searching out old books from the days when there was more time to pursue creative pursuits. I have some lovely old books on embroidery, toy making and home making, gardening and cookery from the first half of the 20th century, as well as older guides downloaded from :                and

b. Imaginative fiction: For example, reading the description of the giant puppets in London in ‘Nina in Utopia’ by Miranda Miller sent me scurrying to the internet to read this site : and the puppets have since visited the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival : see

c. Magazines : To name a few of my favourites and they all have blogs as well:

: Frankie :

: Tickle the Imagination :

: Selvedge :

: Paper Cloth Scissors :

: Country Living – English edition :

: Victoria :

d. Libraries : The library is a wonderful place to find inspiration and on that note : another wonderful book is ‘Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects’ by Jessica Pigsa.

e. Poetry : I love the poetry of Dylan Thomas, whose use of words is highly imaginative and creative.

f. Art guides and Artist books are very inspirational, as are visits to :

4. Art Galleries, including visiting exhibitions and sculpture shows . Some of our favourites are :

National Gallery of Victoria:

Art Gallery of New South Wales :

National Gallery of Australia :

Ivy Hill Gallery :

Narek Galleries :

I absolutely adored Narek Gakkeries’ recent exhibition of Annie Franklin’s exhibition ‘Small Kingdoms’ of her amazing paintings and exquisite fine porcelain bowls. See : and

5. Museums and collections :

My siblings and I all had separate collecting hobbies from stamps and shells to gemstones, fossils and butterflies.

I used to love the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery : – it is still one of my favourites!

6. Performances including plays, music and film.

7. Dreams :  often weird and wonderful, but make perfect sense at the time !!!

8. Computer and Internet :

I often cut-and-paste inspirational ideas to a Word document and save the folder on my desktop or print it for later use and store in A4 folders, though I have so many now that, despite my organization, they are still sometimes difficult to locate!

As for Pinterest….! It opened my world !!!

9. Travel : the ultimate aid for developing creativity!!! Take lots of exploratory trips! They are refreshing and informative and inspirational!


1.Critical analysis and Art Journals :

With all these wonderful sources of inspiration, it is important to try and work out what it is that you like about the image/idea and note them down, including techniques used, in an art journal, inspiration diary or travel sketchbook.

I love the latter, often as much as the completed art work, and it is good to see the inspirations behind the art. I am also a sucker for books about creating art journals:

‘Artist’s Journal Workshop : Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures’ by Cathy Johnson

‘Making Journals By Hand’ by Jason Thompson

‘The Decorated Journal’ by Gwen Diehn

‘Create Your Own Artist’s Journal ‘   by Erin O’Toole                     and

‘Creating Sketchbooks For Embroiderers and Textile Artists’    by Kay GreenleesBlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 08.22.182. Cross-fertilise :

a.Cross-fertilise activities : Try out and practice different techniques and courses across the board – it all goes into the Creativity-generating pot! eg cooking, gardening. Remember more begets more – it opens the floodgates of creativity! The photo below shows my daughter’s CD cover, which she designed herself, combining her love of guitar playing, nature and zentangle drawing. If you want to know more about creating zentangles, see : .

b. Cross-fertilise patterns : Often knitting and cross-stitch patterns can be used interchanged. I have a wonderful book by Alice Starmore called ‘Alice Starmore’s Charts For Colour Knitting, which is one such book. See :

BlogCreativity140%ReszdImage copy

2. Exercises and Practice

There are so many books, which offer methods and techniques to develop creativity and improve the left brain-right brain balance. Look for books by :

a. Edward de Bono :, especially famous for his concept of ‘Six Thinking Hats’ :

b. Betty Edwards : Her book ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ offers much information on the right and left hemispheres of the brain, as well as techniques including : drawing upside-down or with the non-dominant hand, using negative space, speedy gesture drawing and drawing blind.

I once did a course using her methods and I remember sketching a lady with glasses using the latter technique. As soon as I could look at my drawing, my critical left brain immediately kicked in, when I saw that I had drawn one lens square and one lens round. I was only when I really looked at her properly and the angle that I was drawing her from, that I realized I had drawn her glasses accurately, but it was a real lesson in the power of the left brain !!!BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 08.19.31c. Julia Cameron : ‘The Artist’s Way’ and ‘Vein of Gold’ :

d. Sark : ‘Succulent Wild Woman’; ‘Inspiration Sandwich’ and ‘Sark’s Journal and Play! Book’                                     and

e. Tony Buzan : For brainstorming and mind maps.

If that is not enough, there are also some wonderful websites including :     and

The Creativity at Work website above cites a study in Creativity by Exeter University, UK, which showed that excellence is determined by:
• opportunities
• encouragement
• training
• motivation, and
• most of all – practice.

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject :

1.Don’t be afraid of mess ! It’s all part of the creative process, especially during its execution. You can tidy up at the end. It is why having your own space is so beneficial! This concept is particularly important when encouraging your kids’ creativity or teaching your husband to cook!!!

2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes ! They are a quintessential part of learning and can be a plus and lead to new ideas or a totally different result than planned. Remember experimentation is essential to creativity. You can always unpick or cover over mistakes. For example, my daughter’s doll, which she made aged 8 years old.BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.33.09BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.14.20‘The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’
 Sylvia Plath, ‘The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath’

‘If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.’
 Ken Robinson, ‘The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything’

‘To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.’  Joseph Chilton Pearce

3. Leave your critical left brain at the door.

4. Be prepared to be flexible and allow the work to gain its own momentum. Start with the germ of an notion about its development, but avoid a totally preconceived idea of the end product. It is not about reproducing a perfect facsimile or a bland industrial product, but rather individuality, difference, uniqueness and home-made! I often found when making dolls and soft toys that the characters take on a life of their own and it is amazing to see, when doing courses with the same pattern, how no one doll is the same and how they tend to take on their creator’s personality. The former was very clearly demonstrated at a Shellyback Bogle workshop at the Millennium Madness : First Australian Cloth Doll-O-Rama in Brisbane, August 2000, with Jeraldine Just ( Shellyback Bogle are mythical creatures, who stowed away on convict boats and live underground in drains. They have dull colours and are very textural. Here are photos of all the different versions, made with the one pattern, as well as my warrior and his bride, who I made later on to keep him company.BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.34.10BlogCreativity2 30%Reszd2015-10-13 15.34.06BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.08.47‘Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it’                 Salvador Dali

‘Individuality of expression is the beginning and end of all art.’
 Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)        ‘Proverbs in Prose’

Similarly, if you don’t have all the correct materials or thread colours, be prepared to experiment and use what you already have, unless it is absolutely necessary to have the desired ingredient or requirement. For example, on my Seabird cushion cover for my Mum, I didn’t own any grey perle threads at the time (I do now!!), so I used purple for the sea eagle (very regal!) and light blue for the seagull (very marine). When I finished the latter, I realized its tail was directed upwards, which my left brain condemned, but because I felt its orientation was indicative of the cheeky nature of these birds, I left it – only to see a seagull with an upward tail later on !!!BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-07-12 11.50.33And remember if you want to represent an image and you have no confidence in your drawing ability, you can always trace, then adapt!!! Light boxes and photocopiers/ printers are indispensable!!!

3. Paying Homage to Creativity

Recognize and vindicate its importance by making it one of your main priorities.

a.Make time for creativity

My experience of full-time work showed how difficult it was to find free time to practice my creative pursuits. Not only do you need time to relax and dream, but also for ideas to develop and for completion of the actual task.

A deadline is also quite useful. My classic way of working is to dream up the idea, do a little research, let it sit for a bit to ferment, start one element of the design, procrastinate a little, especially when things don’t quite go the way I want or I’ve had to unpick or am not in the right zone! Then, especially as the deadline approaches, I get a run-on, I have a few successes and suddenly I’m nearly finished and very very happy with the result !!! Not to mention,  getting it all done on time!!!

Although sometimes, I don’t! I have to admit that I do have a pile of past UFOs, but not so many these days!!!

I often find that 3 am – 4 am is often a peak creativity time for me – whether it is because I’ve already had a sleep or my subconscious has been working overtime or it is something to do with sleep stages and brain waves, but if I happen to wake up at this time, my brain is overflowing with ideas and I find it best to write them down straight away, so that a) I can get back to sleep and b) I don’t forget them!

Of course, it annoys my husband like hell, because invariably he has already been awake for an hour or two and neither the lamp switching on and off all the time nor the scribbling sound of the pencil is conducive to falling back to sleep. So I try to be as quiet, quick and non-obtrusive as possible and jot down my notes in the dark ! Often, I will accidentally overwrite my notes, making it very challenging to decipher them in the morning – most of this essay was written that way ! – but it does use up a lot of pages of my notebook and I dream of a lighted pen or being able to download my thoughts on a personal Hard Drive – I know that is supposed to be my brain, but there are just so many thoughts twirling and whirling away in that tiny little space!!! Sometimes I think that speaking into a tape recorder might be quicker, but that would be even noisier !!!

BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-09-30 08.07.18

b. Practice often and daily – in any form of creativity from art and craft to music and drama, gardening and cookery and even blogging !!!

‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.’  Maya Angelou

‘You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not’?”‘                                                                               George Bernard Shaw

‘Every day is an opportunity to be creative – the canvas is your mind, the brushes and colours are your thoughts and feelings, the panorama is your story, the complete picture is a work of art called, “my life”. Be careful what you put on the canvas of your mind today – it matters.’          Innerspace                                            

c. Keep your eyes open all the time for any opportunity to practice our creativity. Constantly question- what if ?– and use your lateral thinking skills and imagination to solve problems and deal with issues. Use it in all areas.

For example, I have printed my resume in green ink in the past and for a job advertisement for a floristry position, I once wrote a very corny little ditty ! It got me the initial interview with the job agency, but unfortunately the florist changed her mind about employing extra help. And this was before I studied floristry!!!

d. And remember age is irrelevant – it is just an excuse for fearful procrastination. Far better you start now, if you haven’t already, than when you are 80 years old!

Mary Ann Shaffer wrote her bestseller and one and only book ‘ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ just before her death in 2008 at the age of 73 years old. See :

Mrs Mary Delaney produced her exquisite floral paper collages back in the 1700s when she was 68 years old. See:   and   and my previous post :

‘Ambassadors of Spring’  (

We used to visit a wonderful pair of older ladies in their  80s and early 90s, who used to run an art gallery in the delightful National Trust town of Millthorpe, near Orange, NSW. Ada Clark was so inspirational. Even though she was blind in one eye and had various health issues, she painted beautiful pictures and still travelled regularly in her  80s to places like Morocco, Turkey and Greece, as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, from where she imported their pottery and wonderful felt Shyrdak rugs. For an idea of these rugs, see : Ada’s sister made beautiful embroidered purses and bags and the sisters arranged all their sale products in very attractive colour ranges. They inspired me to research and make a textile postcard, employing the technique used to make the rugs (see photo below). Quite difficult on such a small scale! Unfortunately, Ada’s Place is no longer open, but for many years, this wonderful pair inspired me (and still do!) with their joyous use of colour, their passion for life, their energy and vitality and their positive get-up-and-go mentality. I hope that I have her energy when I am older!!! Ada even has her own website :, so you can still see her wonderful paintings and make purchases.

BlogCreativity2 20%Reszdlost city phone 123BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 08.18.41BlogCreativity2 20%Reszdlost city phone 121BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.41.25‘There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.’                                                                               Sophia Loren

4. Praise and Encouragement

a. Be gentle on yourself ! No one can be an expert initially – it takes time and practice and everyone is unique and has their own style.

b. Share your achievements with family and friends for encouragement, suggestions and just sheer adulation !!! But don’t necessarily take any criticisms on board, unless you asked for help and the critique is positive and done in good faith and you feel the advice has merit! Listen to your Inner Voice and not necessarily the over-critical negative one!

‘We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.’                                                            Shakti Gawain

‘A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.’                                                                                                                        Charles Brower

‘Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it at the bud.’                                     Alex Osborn

c. Praise others’ artwork and support their efforts – financially, by purchasing their work if you can afford it, or psychologically.

Kids in particular thrive in a positive nurturing environment. I read Kaffe Fassett’s autobiography ‘Dreaming in Colour’ recently and it was not only fascinating, but an ideal example of the success of the latter principle! See :

I know, from a personal angle, that I owe an enormous debt to my ever-supportive husband, who encourages me constantly with positive feedback, no matter how wacky or changeable my ideas (Gemini girls – a Libran partner is your best bet !!!), and also allows me the time (by continuing to do the cooking and sweeping!) and resources to pursue my creativity. My kids, family and friends are also great supporters of my work.

So thank you everyone! And may your creative adventures continue to blossom!!!

‘The highest prize we can receive for creative work is the joy of being creative. Creative effort spent for any other reason than the joy of being in that light filled space, love, god, whatever we want to call it, is lacking in integrity. . .’
                                                                                                             Marianne Williamson

Albert Einstein can have the final word :

‘The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.’

‘Old Man’s Advice to Youth: “Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.”‘                                           LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955), p. 64

On Creativity : Part 1 : Everyone Has It !

‘The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.’                          Alan Alda

I have always wanted to write about creativity, as it has always been a very important part of my life and it should be for every person.

The English Oxford Dictionary ( defines ‘Creativity’ as :

  ‘The use of imagination or original ideas to create something’ or ‘inventiveness’. ( ) goes further with :

‘the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination’.

It is one of the fundamental human needs, classified by Max Neef, who was an economist, famous for his taxonomy of Fundamental Human Needs and Human Scale Development. These needs include: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, recreation (in the sense of leisure, time to reflect, or idleness), creation, identity and freedom and can also be defined according to the existential categories of being (qualities), having (things), doing (actions) and interacting (settings), complete with how they can be satisfied.

In the case of Creation (and Creativity) :
Being : Imagination; Boldness; Inventiveness; Curiosity
Having : Abilities; Skills; Work; Techniques
Doing : Invent; Build; Design; Work; Compose; Interpret
Interaction : Spaces for expression; Workshops; Audiences

Here are some websites if you want to read some of Max Neef’s works :

Creativity is incredibly important, not just for an individual’s richness of life, but also for the world with its incredible complexity and problems requiring urgent solutions like climate change, waste disposal, limited resources for an increasing human population, ozone layer depletion and loss of biodiversity and habitat.

‘There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.’                                                                                    Edward de Bono

Major organizations head hunt highly creative people. Employers want staff, who can think outside the box and find innovative solutions. A 2012 Adobe study on creativity, where 5,000 adults across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan were interviewed about the role of creativity in business, education and society overall, showed 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth and nearly two-thirds of respondents feel creativity is valuable to society. Here is what others have to say :

‘The economic future of an organization depends on its ability to create wealth by fostering innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.’                  Linda Naiman

‘The organizations of the future will increasingly depend on the creativity of their members to survive.’                                                                                     Warren Bennis

‘Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steel-making.’                                                              Richard Florida

‘The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.’                Bob Iger

Business organizations also often use artists to illustrate concepts as speeches are delivered, as it is a well-known fact that humans are highly visual creatures.

A great example is this brilliant YouTube clip of Ken Robinson’s speech for the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) on Changing Education Paradigms for the modern age :

Ken Robinson is a world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award. He defines creativity as : ‘ the process of having original ideas that have value’, as opposed to divergent thinking.

This clip is part of the RSA Animate series :, which also covers other issues titled :
• Re-imagining Work;
• The Power of Outrospection;
• The Truth about Dishonesty; and
• The Power of Networks.

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) : is also well worth visiting.

Where would the world be without people like :

  • Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie ( science and medicine);
  • Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (computers);
  • William Morris, The Pre-Raphaelites, The Impressionists, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali (art);
  • Le Corbusier, Antoni Gaudí , Jørn Utzon (architecture);
  • Gertrude Jekyll, Roberto Burle Marx, Christopher Lloyd, Vita Sackville-West, Edna Walling (gardens);
  • Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer, Claudia Roden, Rick Stein, Sophie Dahl, Ian Parmentier (cooking);
  • Ansel Adams, Olive Cotton, Harold Cazneaux, Alfred Stieglitz(photography);
  • Kaffe Fassett (knitting), Brian Chan and Robert J. Lang(origami), Rob Ryan and Su Blackwell (paper cutting), Anita Larkin and Judit Pocs (Felt), Dijanne Cevaal and Jeraldine Just (Textiles);
  • Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, the Brontes, Alison Uttley , Charles Dickens (literature);
  • Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge (poetry);
  • Stephen Poliakoff, Steven Spielberg, Philippe Lioret, the Coen Brothers and Walt Disney (Film);
  • Emily Watson, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson(drama);
  • Amadeus Mozart, Bob Dylan and Andrew Lloyd Webber (music),    to name but a few!

An excellent site, well worth looking at if you wish to pursue the topic of creativity further is: .

Another one is :

But here for now is my tuppence worth !!!

What I Know About Creativity

Because of an enormous word count, I have decided to divide this post into 2 sections :

Part 1 : Everyone has it from birth!!!

: Children and Creativity
: My Personal Experiences

Part 2 : Creativity can be developed and fostered by the

: Provision of materials; learning spaces; learning opportunities and inspiration
: Exercises and practice
: Recognizing its importance and paying homage to it
: Praise and encouragement

Part 1

1.Children and Creativity

‘Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people’                                                                                                            Leo Burnett

Before they start school, all children are highly creative confident little beings. They are enthralled by their amazing new environment and want to know everything there is to know about it.

‘Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every conceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing.’                                                                                                         Thomas Huxley

They have no filters like ego or self-consciousness to block their creativity.

‘Your ego can become an obstacle to your work. If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.’                                     Marina Abramovic

Unfortunately, by the time they reach 8 years of age, their critical brain has kicked in, as well as peer group comparisons and they begin to doubt their own abilities!

‘If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.’                                                                  Vincent Van Gogh

Ken Robinson cites a book called ‘Break Point and Beyond’ by George Land and Beth Jarman ( ), who conducted a longitudinal study of 1600 children aged 3 – 5 years, who they then tested at 5 yearly intervals.

Apparently, 98 percent of Kindergarten children are creative geniuses in divergent thinking, but unfortunately, this figure steadily declines with increasing age.

At 8 – 10 years old, only 32 per cent of these same children scored in the creative genius category.

Five years later, only 10 per cent of the children scored in this category.
In tests of over 200,000 adults over 25, only 2 per cent scored enough to be classified as creative geniuses! Incidentally , this is also a very good site on creativity.

‘Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up’
                                                                                                                        Pablo Picasso

‘There is no use trying,” said Alice. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’                                                      Lewis Carroll

2. My Personal Experiences

I think at this point, it is useful to compare my experiences with the creative journeys of my children, who I believe to be highly confident, creative and talented young adults!

As a child, I enjoyed playing with art materials and creating things. At school, my report card showed that in the early years of school, I was a bit clumsy with sewing and handwork, which is really quite ironical now, given my chosen field of creativity!!!

But then, I was not much good at ball sports either and was often among the last to be chosen for teams in the playground, until Grade 6 that is! There is a school of thought that believes that it takes 10 years for all the physical, emotional, cognitive and social skills to fully evolve and come together! I was obviously a late bloomer!

Back home, we would dress up and put on plays for my parents, perform concerts with singing and recorder, make dolls’ houses out of cardboard shoe boxes and mud pies with filched food colouring, rouge our lips with fuchsia berries, make up poems, paint Easter cards with water colours and make Fimo chess figures. We dressed cardboard dolls with paper cut-out clothing and made crepe paper flowers and Christmas decorations, as well as learning how to cook and sew our own clothes.

But as school lessons became more serious and homework and assignments occupied more and more free time, creativity started to take a back step. Art lessons were replaced by Languages and Sciences, although I still sang in the school choir and performed in school plays and musicals.

In Year 11, I studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths. Because the former 2 subjects were spread out over 2 years, I could not matriculate in the first year like so many of my arts-based friends and because we had to study 4 subjects a year, I chose English Literature and Art !!!

However, the damage in my confidence had already been achieved over the preceding years and I compared myself unfavourably with my art peers, who I felt were so much more talented ( and they were, because they’d never stopped art study!!!). As a consequence, I chose to specialize in the Art Major History strand with Batik as my practical component! There was certainly no competition there- I was the only one doing it!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about art history though – it gave me a wonderful understanding of the foundations of Modern Art, informed my later art practice and gave me a lifelong interest in art. And the batik was so much fun too, albeit a little basic at that stage!

Getting a job after school was (and still is!) very important, so I studied physiotherapy, where employment prospects were still excellent, but at university, I still managed to slip in a creative course or two like handmade paper making. I enjoyed my work, especially rehabilitation therapy for stroke and head injured patients, where you could be much more creative, but once I married and moved to the country, the more prescriptive outpatient’s work was more available.

‘The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.’                                     Pablo Picasso

We started a family and by the time I was pregnant with No. 3, all my earnings as a part-time physio were going in child care. So I stopped working outside home and became a Stay-at-Home Mum, as well as helping on the farm. Unfortunately, I was the last generation to be able to do this acceptably and only just. It’s an enormous financial sacrifice, as well as damaging to your career prospects, but I loved it! In my book, child rearing is a full time job and it was wonderful to share my childhood pursuits and books and toys with my children, as well as provide them with longed-for desires like real dolls’ houses, made by their clever Dad!!! Here are the girls, when they were younger, making their Christmas fairies at the kitchen table.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - CopyBlogCreativity130%Reszd2015-10-13 15.54.24Because of my lack of confidence in my artistic abilities , I was determined that my children would not face the same frustrations and so placed an extra strong emphasis on creativity in my child rearing! The job market was by now so competitive, that the general consensus about careers was the best option was to pursue your love and maybe you would be talented enough to score that job! Also, creative skills were becoming increasingly valued by the workforce.

My kids grew up surrounded by magical books, both fiction and how-to guides and plenty of easily accessible art materials and dressing-up outfits. They too performed plays and concerts and made boats and fairies out of leaves and twigs.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.31.52BlogCreativity130%Reszd2015-10-13 15.52.02One big advantage was that because they went through public education and we did not have to pay exorbitant school fees, we had a bit of money to spend on music lessons, tennis, drama, dance, art lessons with the local art gallery and even a philosophy discussion group.

Some of the art courses included : Basketry with Natural Materials with Tim Johnson in his early days as a visiting artist-in-residence at NERAM before he became famous :; lino cutting; screen printing; ceramics and drawing. We made mosaic stepping stones with a friend, which you will have seen in my first garden post, ‘New Beginnings’. Here are some of the creations made by my kids from Tim’s class: a goanna and a frilled neck lizard.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 16.07.31BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 16.07.26We visited inspiring exhibitions and attended plays, film and concerts on our travels. They performed in eisteddfods and school plays. We were very proud of our eldest daughter and her 3 school friends (1st photo below), when they won the State Shakespeare Festival in Grade 11 for the whole of New South Wales, against all the other public schools, private schools and performing arts schools. Not bad for a country public high school !!! She also sang with her school in a massed choir at the Sydney Opera House in Grade 8 and was part of a Celtic Dance group in Years 9 and 10. Here is a photo of the Shakespeare group practicing on our verandah. The 2nd photo below was another school drama performance.BlogCreativity130%Reszd2015-10-13 16.15.11BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 16.26.42My three children had their own alter egos – a hippo, camel and piglet with distinct personalities, language and histories. Life was always full of fun, you never knew who was going to emerge and it was often a brilliant way for conflict resolution! These lovable characters featured in a self-produced monthly magazine, complete with articles, stories and fashion, makeup, quiz, astrology and Help pages and even a first novel about the adventures of their alter egos in its own handmade book!

At school, the kids continued their art all the way through and became competent sketchers and confident in their creative abilities. That is not to say, they never had their own misgivings or doubts – there are always incredibly talented people out there, if you let yourself fall into the trap of comparisons – but on the whole, I think they are all incredibly talented and well-rounded. Not only are they all good artists, but they also play guitar (self-taught), piano and accordion and write their own songs, which they perform at ‘Open Mic’ nights.

Over the years, we and their friends and extended family have been the recipients of some wonderful home-made gifts from hand-painted chequerboards, Monopoly boards, flags and wall maps to framed artwork, coasters, sculptures, pottery bowls and china serving plates and oil burners, jewellery, delicious feasts with menus and brilliant plays and concerts. I love my little piglet and elephant bowls, the piglet and Monopoly boards, my daughter’s hand-painted world map (which she made while saving for her overseas trip), my wooden turtle and snake coasters and my beautiful ceramic plate!BlogCreativity120%Reszdworld mapBlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.25.21BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.25.37BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.13.12BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.12.40BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.23.48My eldest daughter became an art teacher, who inspired her own students to achieve their creative goals, but now travels, writes and plays music with a bit of casual teaching on the side to fund her lifestyle!!! You can follow her travels on :

‘Creativity is contagious, pass it on’                            Albert Einstein

My youngest daughter had a stint of being a highly artistic Makeup Queen, winning the Best Makeup Student of the Year in her TAFE Diploma studies for the whole of Victoria, working as a makeup artist on the film ‘Blinder’, doing film shoots with Guy Sebastian and being a founding staff member and second-in-command at Geelong’s MAC store, a highly creative and successful makeup company, which does all the makeup for the Melbourne Fashion shows and film industry.

And my son is rediscovering his creativity through sketching and is a very inventive problem solver!

So I feel so proud of them all and believe I have achieved that goal of conserving and developing their creativity streak at least!!!

Throughout their childhood, I also continued my creative journey. While I was at home with the kids, we did still work and ran a small tourism business with 2 self-catering cottages, which enabled me to stay home, as well as pursue my love of interior decorating, floristry and home cooking. I made all our own soft furnishings, as well as clothes. I knitted scarves and hats, made bags and enjoyed sewing cross-stitch pictures. We renovated our old 1904 house and one of the cottages and built the other larger one from scratch. I studied Clothing Assembly at TAFE, as well as a few other textile related courses like more batik, fabric dyeing, shibori and tie-dye, embroidery and knitting. Here are some of my cross-stitches from commercial patterns:BlogCreativity140%Reszddec 2009 137BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.18.10And a case for eye glasses with a cross-stitch design of my own :BlogCreativity140%Reszdearly oct 2012 262

We built another little guest cottage on our magical country block in the rainforest, to which we moved on lock-up, as we really wanted to experience life over there. I studied more courses in art, design and photography and started my own small clothing business, Izzie and Ozzie, specializing in clothing and toys for children.BlogCreativity120%ReszdEarly march 2013 014BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.58.14BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.40 - CopyBlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.03Once the kids left home, we decided, after a 6 month trip around our amazing continent, to continue the journey of self-discovery and spent the last 5 years in Victoria – the first year in Melbourne studying a Diploma of Textile Art, then 4 years in Geelong, where I studied floristry with TAFE and garden design at Burnley (Melbourne University), as well as working with my wonderful roses at Soho Rose Farm for 2 years. I joined the Victorian Felters and the Victorian Embroiderer’s Guild and enjoyed both their extensive libraries and courses. I learnt how to dye indigo with a friend, made cushions and stuffed toys, studied pattern making and did a few wonderful mosaic workshops with Helen Millar. For more information, see : I was so inspired by Elizabeth Armstrong’s wonderful sense of colour, fun and creativity. We made our own felt, then bravely had to chop it up into the pattern pieces and make dolls out of it. See :   and I love my green Gaia doll!

BlogCreativity140%Reszdfelt sticks 029BlogCreativity140%Reszdfelt 016BlogCreativity140%Reszdcaro visit 077BlogCreativity120%Reszd2014-05-03 20.36.56

I then spent 18 months working full-time at Deakin University on computers, creating records for all the university academics research output. While the upshot of this career change meant that I lost my fear of computers and greatly improved my digital skills and my semi-retired husband took over all the shopping, cooking and house cleaning, I missed my free time, my sewing and gardening and even the dreaded cleaning!! I still managed to make these small Easter and Christmas gifts during the weekends though!

BlogCreativity140%Reszddec 2010 074BlogCreativity120%ReszdEarly march 2013 144

And that has been the wonderful thing about our move here to Candelo and our resumption of a time-rich, but dirt-poor existence! I have time and freedom to pursue all my old activities and to specialize in my strongest areas. Having experimented with very many different art forms, mainly in the textile area, I have finally decided that hand embroidery is my thing, with a bit of paper work and photography on the side, as well as cooking, gardening and home making of course!!! And now writing this blog, which has been wonderful!!! I don’t know how I filled all my time before this !!! But I am loving it and my days of full-time work are definitely over!

‘Creativity is intelligence having fun.’                                       Albert Einstein

‘Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.’                               Cecil B. DeMille