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New Collections!

African Discoveries

It’s taken a while but I’m so pleased I have taken the time to create three new collections that I’m happy with. Last year was really eventful. We were thrilled to be able to take the children to Zambia. It’s been ten years since we last went and being able to take them on safari in the Luangwa National Park was unbelievably special. From all the sketches and photographs I’ve created a pattern collection including rich colours and animals that’s designed to be joyful and fun.

Big Oak Tree

Two weeks before our trip to Africa I returned to the UK. Early July a beautiful time of the year to visit rural England and the trip included many early morning walks around familiar lanes. It always surprises me how green and dense with life the English countryside is. I was there because Dad passed away after having dementia for many years. It was a sad time but also really nice to have the time to enjoy walking in the places he loved. This collection celebrates those walks.

Children of Nature

Last year I created a pattern for a Spoonflower contest inspired by my husband’s childhood in Africa. The idea developed to include other patterns related to children’s curiosity and wonder. Each of these patterns takes me to a time when either my children were small or I was. Looking for bugs and beetles whilst camping. Getting new chickens for the garden coup and fishing or searching rock pools for prawns, or seeing a rare lyrebird in the rainforest.

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Springing Forward

I’m finally getting back to work! It’s the start of another school year here in Australia, and we’re all wondering where on earth the Summer went. The country has had a hideous time and we’re not sure what the future holds. On a personal level our little household has been very busy with the start of renovations and a new puppy who is growing before our eyes. We also bought four new chickens who are delightful to look at because they’re all black, but they’re pretty useless. We’ve had several escapes as they try to navigate the ladder back into the coup at night and not a single egg has been laid!

Spoonflower this week

Of course I set myself some lofty and ambitious resolutions and goals for the start of the year. And of course they’re not being met. One of them was to write a blog post each week…hahaha! Another was to complete two Spoonflower challenges each month. It’s February and this is the first one for the year. It’s a Springtime theme so an opportunity to illustrate some cute little lambs with the potential for making baby blankets. I’m really happy with this. I drew on some of the many many photos I took in the Devon countryside when I was home last year. My particualr favourites are heather and cow parsley (how good is that name!) because they remind me of walking with Dad.

cushion with a pretty Springtime pattern design
blanket with a pretty Springtime pattern design
a pretty Springtime pattern design of lambs, flowers and ducks
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Magical Mallacoota

Australia is experiencing our worst bushfires in history and the news from Mallacoota was some of the worst. It is harrowing and difficult to get your head around. It’s hard to know what to even write under the circumstances. There is so much commentary on how to donate, whether or not to send goods or money. Should we be making joey pouches or donating money to animal shelters? I enjoyed listening to Magda Szubanski yesterday, who’s teamed up with Will Connolly (aka Egg Boy) to raise money for the long term relief effort through providing trauma/mental health support. Here’s the link at GoFundMe.

So, I will donate money and time and sew joey pouches, but in the meantime, I’d like to share my connection with one of the worse affected towns, Mallacoota. We first visited Mallacoota in January 2009. We decided to treat ourselves and stay in a house rather than camping. It was a mudbrick flat and the excentric owner encouraged feeding the wildlife, especially the birds. We fell in love with this magical little town by the sea. The abundant wildlife captivated the children and when we left we always said we’d go back one day.

Ten Years On

It took a while but finally, we returned to Mallacoota, and it didn’t disappoint. Again we found wildlife, beautiful bushland walks, hundreds of little blue crabs scurrying on the beach and the most stunning scenery you can imagine. And now a delightful little coffee hut near the beach selling delicious coffee and a daily supply of origami animals! The kids might be older but nothing beats a bit of origami art. My husband loved to admire the spectacular coffee machine, and I enjoyed the coffee and the view. When you go, visit them! Mallacoota Origami Coffee

Hope

So this week has been heartbreaking but my little ray of hope is seeing that Origami Coffee is still operating on the seafront in Mallacoota. A lot of their customers are the fireys and they’re running a little jar for donations. I read a lovely little article in The Age that offers hope and optimism. We are all hoping that Mallacoota will continue to be the magical place of our memories. We’ll certainly be visiting again with our empty eskies.

If nothing else…. draw.

Using the inspiration I have from the wonderful times we’ve spent on the east coast amongst the parrots and lyrebirds I’m getting back to designing and drawing. Watch out for some colourful patterns!

Australia Red Cross

Go Fund Me page for Trauma and Mental Health ongoing Support

Wildlife Rescue

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Happy Holiday Season

I made this!

The holiday season always seems to creep up on me at an alarming rate in Australia. The kids finish school and the weather starts to warm up so we all hit the beach and forget that Christmas is coming very soon! I did manage to organise myself a bit this year though. I ordered some of my own fabric printed through NextState and got sewing with a beautifully easy-to-follow pattern from Tilly and The Buttons. Of course, when I came to actually wear out to an event I had a crisis of confidence and felt very silly. That’s where having daughters really helps. I swear I wouldn’t leave the house in anything but black without their help.

Puppy news

I know this has nothing to do with design, pattern or illustration but just look at this gorgeous boy! He’s distracting me a lot when he’s not napping or eating so it’s been tricky to get on with any real work. But that’s what the holiday season is for, isn’t it? Plans, drawings and pattern collections can come later. In the meantime, I’m running around in the sunshine with this one.

Happy Christmas

I wish anyone reading this the very best holiday time. Stay safe and have fun!

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Walls That Talk

My illustrations on the outside of a public building!

Back in August The Maitland Library in New South Wales approached me to ask if they could use the illustrations from one of my books for their Christmas exhibition ‘Walls That Talk’. So I was delighted when I checked out their website and saw that they are there! Click on the screenshot below to have a look. It’s the classic ‘The Night Before Christmas‘ and was the first published picture book I illustrated back in 2012. So it’s particularly dear to me. I remember exactly where I was the day I got a call from Hachette Children’s Books to say they wanted to offer me the opportunity to illustrate a childrens book.

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Christmas Cake Toppers Workshop

A bit of history

A few years ago a friend and I met once a week to make cakes. It was a good excuse to get together and laugh, and she really makes me howl! We got pretty good at cake making aswell. I can’t, or rather won’t, bake but I can design stuff. Over time I started making my own fondant and even figured out low-sugar or honey replacement fondant which was delicious. I learnt how to smooth fodant, make all sorts of little models, paint on fondant and create 3D model shaped cakes. We even started exploring gluten free options and beautiful tiered decorated cake with minimal frosting and fruit and flowers. We made cakes for all kinds of different occasions. A lot of them, but nowhere near all of them, are on this Pinterest board.

Christmas workshop

Several years later and we have both got back into teaching. But it’s great to have a reason to work together again. So yesterday I went to run a workshop in cake decoration at the High School where she teaches. It was so much fun I really hope we get the chance to do it again. I tried to keep it relatively simple and gave the kids step by step instructions. They did a truly fantastic job and we laughed a lot.

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Christmas! Just round the corner.

A fun illustrated advent calendar

It’s going to be a bit of a mad Christmas this year at our place. With relatives driving across the Nullarbor Desert to be with us, a new puppy and just one bathroom because the renovations haven’t progressed in time….what could possibly go wrong? One thing is certain there’ll be a lot of laughing and probably some emotional tears. We’ve had some tough times since the kids last saw their cousins so we’re all incredibly grateful that we’re all still here and able to enjoy the gorgeous Aussie summer together.

Advent Calendar

Over the next 20 days I’m offering this free A3 printable to anyone who chooses to subscribe to my news and ramblings. It’s a bit of fun and I’m thinking of using some of the motifs for cards and patterns.

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Excitement all round Play School, Fabric and Puppy!

Mini Celebrations

We had a lot of fun watching Play School yesterday and celebrating ‘Eva’s Imagination’ being read out. It brought back memories of the time when it was on every afternoon. The bubbles were non-alcoholic, and when the kids were little they certainly didn’t have chocolate and crisps for afternoon tea. Who knows if this little bit of exposure will lead to more projects, but it was certainly fun!

Fabric and sewing plans

I finally received the fabric I ordered a while ago from Spoonflower and I’m looking forward to whipping up a few tea-towels. I love Spoonflower for all sorts of reasons, mainly the mock-ups and the design challenges though. Actually ordering and receiving fabrics in a timely manner is pretty restrictive when you live so far from the USA. I’ve decided to stick to NextState. It’s local and many of the fabrics are locally farmed and woven. That’s just sensible all round. Next year I’ll be making some pretty baby wraps and muslins for markets. I’ve ordered some fabric labels for products, so I’ll have to wait for them to arrive before I start on my tea-towels. In the meantime this gorgeous sewing pattern is waiting for me to sew something for myself for the Summer. I’ve ordered the fabric in the Lily pattern I created a couple of weeks ago.

Two weeks is a long time

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over two weeks since I had a nightmare phone call from my daughter travelling in Europe to tell me she’d been in an horrific coach crash. She’s been home for ten days and is doing remarkably well considering what shes been through. So, as things seem to have settled just for a moment in our mad household we’ve decided to shake things up a bit with this little bundle. I stress about not having time to do all the design work I want to do. Not entirely sure how this is going to help. Christmas is going to be fun.

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Book reading on Play School!

We’re on the telly!

Front cover of 'Eva's Imagination' a children's book illustrated by Karen Erasmus and written by Wenda Shurety

I was super excited this week to hear that ‘Eva’s Imagination’ is going to be read on Play School. I used to watch the program every day with the kids ten years ago, but on Tuesday this coming week I be sitting in front of it again with my three near grown-up kids and a bottle of champers. And to add to the excitement the reader is Kate Richie (of Home and Away and Nova 100 fame). This past year I have been exploring surface pattern design with a passion and I really enjoy it. But book illustration has a beautiful lasting quality because people really treasure books.

Maitland Library

A few weeks ago Maitland Library in NSW contacted me to ask if they could use some images from my first published picture book ‘The Night Before Christmas’. They are using the images their Christmas ‘Walls that Talk’ exhibition on the outside of the building. I illustrated the book seven years ago now, so I’m thrilled that people are still enjoying it.

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Water Lilies

I made a new pattern yesterday with water-lilies for inspiration. I was also following the creative prompt ‘Grateful’. My cynical voice didn’t get much of a look in (‘god help me if I hear someone tell I have to be grateful one more time I’ll scream!’…that one) because I really do have something to be incredibly grateful for this week. Forever. Water lilies were what I focussed on when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. The colours and design had to be joyful and bright. I gave this one a lot of thought and I’m happy with the result.