About Kettlestitchmama

I have always enjoyed creating things: artwork, cosy and beautiful spaces in our home, handmade gifts, hound-bound books and upcycling items that other people have discarded. Since becoming a mum, the importance of not neglecting that creative side of myself has become more apparent to me than ever before… Although this is something I already knew from my training in Creative Arts Therapy and Community Arts and Cultural Development, being a mum has added an exciting new dimension to my creative journey: By looking after my own wellbeing through staying creative, I am able to be a more whole and present mama for my little girl too…

Honest thoughts on motherhood (from an artist’s perspective)

I love this mama’s honest yet inspirational take on what it means to be a creative mama and how her kids play such an integral role in her creative journey!

One of the most frequent question I get asked about my artistic career is “How do you do all of this with two kids?”

Oh man…. Why did you ask that?  You want the honest truth? I don’t.

It’s messy and crazy at times (ok, no, 90% of the time.) That question overwhelms me and I have no solid answer for it. My two little girls are quite young, and come to the studio with frequently.  They create tiny watercolor paintings, do school work on my art table, we eat too many snacks, we break out in random dance parties, go on sunny walks, I drink too much coffee and have a 2am bedtime, and my housekeeping skills are shameful.

Over the past year, as my business has grown, I have caught myself slipping into the mindset that my kids are standing in between me and my creative work.
The slippery thing about…

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A beer called Rose

The Wassail

The Wassail by MacKintosh  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the first assignments  for my Graphic Design course was to create a beer label. We had to come up with a name for a craft beer made in Australia by a company with a Scottish heritage: A blend of Australian amber ale and Scottish stout.

Now there are few things in this world that I hate more than the taste of beer… I was first introduced to the taste in Germany when I was on exchange in high school visiting an awesome family. I loved the exchange and my host German family! I hated the beer. Since then my hubby has tried multiple times to introduce me to the taste, but every time he gets a dramatic display of face-pulling as the horrible taste fills my mouth! So needless to say, I was not exactly thrilled at the idea of designing a beer label!

Innitial Beer label ideasInitially I thought I might call my beer ‘Red House’ after the house William Morris‘ designed, as my designs for the menus, coasters and carpets of the Art House Bar (where this beer would be launched) were based on the Arts & Crafts movement [1850 – 1900]. I then did some research about what that era produced in Scotland (as this beer has a Scottish heritage.) I found that the Glasgow School of Arts was very influential at the time and that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was particularly well know for his stained-glass rose designs from that era.

After some deliberation I decided to call the beer, Glasgow Rose. Hubby was absolutely horrified: “You can’t call a beer Rose – no bloke will drink it!” (Of course! Why hadn’t I thought of that?)  However by that stage I had already done a lot of research and sketches and I was not excited about the prospects of starting again. My lecturer said that since it was a craft beer it was probably for the more cultured drinker, and did not have to apply to the average Aussie bloke…(not that hubby is uncultured or your typical average Aussie male!) So I kept going.

Beer label wrap-over concept sketchBeer label preparatory sketchesI wanted the design to look like a stained glass window, incorporating a rose and a eucalyptus leaf. I submitted my first draft that looked remarkably like a wine bottle label! Of course it did – what do I know about beer labels?!

I kept  researching and looking at real beer labels and had another go. I adjusted my colour choice and as background I used images of textured glass. I designed a wrap-around label for the  bottle neck and body, as well as an image for the bottle-top. This time I was much more satisfied with the result.

Final Beer label designSure it is a beer called rose, complete with flowers on the label – but hey – maybe the girls would like it!

I then also had to design an invite to the launch of Glasgow Rose, drawing on the style and colour-scheme of the Art House Bar as well as the beer label.

I used some of the illustrations from the menus I had already designed and tweaked my original beer label design (the one that looked like a wine label) to become the invite.

All in all I learnt a lot and passed the course. Who knows what exciting assignments and designs next term will bring…

First attempts

Three months ago I started studying a Diploma of Graphic Design. I thought that adding this skill to my toolbox would be a good thing to do: It would give me a career option to work from home while we have little kids, and then later I could simply use it with my work in Community Arts and Cultural Development.

What I did not realise was the amount of work it would take to study part-time, work part-time, and mother full-time! Somehow, with much support and help from my Husband, mum-in-law, lecturers, friends, and various other awesome people, I can now officially say I passed my first semester! 

Arts and Crafts Movement [1850 – 1900]. We then had to select an appropriate colour scheme, and justify why it was suitable.

Arts & Crafts movement colour scheme

Next we had to do hand-drawn sketches to digitize and then use in our designs of four seasonal menus, clearly reflecting the art movement we had chosen. Each of my menus feature hand-drawn images of British foliage since this was something that featured largely in that era. On each menu some of these are in white, which creates consistency and contrast with the muted tones used otherwise. I tied the the four menus together by the placement, font and colour of the words ‘Art House Bar’, as well as the centralised placement and consistent font of the word ‘menu’. The fonts used here are very typical of the Arts & Crafts period.

Menu 1: Summer

I chose to use greens which speak of life and growth, referencing the green English countryside. The flowers depicted here were inspired by lavender and daisy species that bloom in summer.

Menu 2: Autumn

The dominant colours used for this menu are autumn colours of terracotta and crimson, contrasted with white. Again the Begonia and Aconite flowers featured here are ones that specifically bloom in the UK in Autumn.

Menu 3: Winter

For the winter menu I decided to feature Irises and lilies that are typical winter bloomers in the UK. They have a very distinct shape and featured heavily in the work of Walter Crane. The dark blue is a cold colour to go with the temperature of winter. I used an ochre as a highlight colour alongside the white, as used in the other menus.

Menu 4: Spring

Tulips are such a typical spring flower that they were the flower of choice for the last menu. I used the terracotta colour in about 80% opacity, rather than the ivory I had originally intended to use, as the ivory was simply not strong enough against the white and turquoise. The turquoise is a beautiful crisp colour that shows off the pink and white spring blooms well.

So there you have it… my first attempt at marrying my drawings with graphic design.

Galleries and Toddlers: Anish Kapoor at the MCA

For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed visiting galleries. I love the idea of being that artsy-looking person who goes to galleries with my leather satchel, visual diary and drawing materials, spending hours capturing my intrigue and impressions of the myriad creative ideas contained within one space…

But actually, I am the mummy with porridge on her shirt, a pram, a busy toddler, a nappy bag with Vegemite sandwiches, sultanas and water hidden inside, trying to keep my little person remotely contained to avoid any huge insurance claims against our name!

All the same, I think galleries are awesome places for little people to explore creativity and be exposed to interesting colours, shapes and concepts. When she was still contained and immobile, I took Belle to the Picasso exhibition for my birthday – her very first art exhibition. What a treat! A few months later we attempted the Sydney Biennale and again it was relatively easy, and she seemed to enjoy it too.

I recently took my Belle to the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the MCA, Sydney. His work is so intriguing  – deceptive mirrors throwing back millions of one image; deep blue and red pigment-toned voids and concave forms; polished mirrors distorting the world to appear upside down…

Needless to say Belle was intrigued! So much so that she wanted to go right up to the works and touch them and say hallo to the million versions of herself smiling back at her – which resulted in a rather loud display of her vocal capacity, as I held her back. But other than the glances one would expect from the patrons in a supermarket when one’s toddler chucks a tanty, the gallery patrons just smiled and somehow understood that this little mind wanted to, just like them, get up close and enter the wonderful world of Anish.

An added bonus afterwards was the free Art Play session at the aptly named Bella Room, which contained Emily Floyd’s interactive artwork The Garden, consisting of sculptural objects, wooden blocks and other creative objects, specifically developed as a sensory experience for toddler to explore. Belle loved it! We finished the day off with a coffee at The Rocks, enjoying the sunshine and blue waters of Sydney Harbour. All in all, a very worthwhile experience – and one that reassured me that visiting exhibitions are not completely out of my reach now that I have a toddler.