Nanami Cowdroy was born in Sydney, Australia with close bonds to her mixed Japanese-European heritage. Growing up with such contrasting cultures and surroundings, has greatly influenced her style of art and creative expression.
By intertwining complex characters and highly detailed objects her pieces reflect a juxtaposition between foreign and familiar entities and environments. Her imagination is illustrated through works which are elaborate and exotic. She is drawn to subjects, which may on the surface seem delicate or fragile, but are given strength and depth through her pen and ink techniques, intricate hand illustrative style and mixed media compositions.
Julie of tractorgirl and her partner live on a farm, with cereal cropping and sheep and three small children (5, and twins 3), in south-eastern inland Australia. And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, she also sews lovely pillow covers, tea cozies, brooches and makes textured silver necklaces.
From an early age, Julie’s been a maker and a dreamer.
My mum used to work as a dressmaker, and so she would always have scraps of lovely fabric around for me to wrap my dolls in.
At University she studied jewelery and silversmithing, and while she loves it, with small children around, it’s difficult to do, so she’s returned to sewing. While she’s sold things now and then ever since finishing University, she’s always had another job as her main income. Now, however, as a stay-at-home mother – which is definitely a full time job in itself, it’s also one without without an income and she’s becoming much more involved in selling her work.
I have always felt compelled to make something somehow, and it didn’t seem to matter too much what type of medium – drawing, lino, textiles, metal.
My head is repository for all sorts of wonderful things. I like to keep on open mind; inspiration comes from all sorts of things, everything from nature to architecture. I have a Fine Arts background, so I have a large aesthetic resource to draw on – for instance, I am using classic motifs from various time frames and cultures for my current designs.
I care about my work – the process and the finished details. Each item is unique; I use upcycled materials somewhere in all my work, so I can rarely make the same thing twice.
I always try to be gentle on the earth. For me, upcycling refers to fabrics that are remnants from old projects and other sources, and from clothing, homewares and remnants found in op shops (thrift stores). This saves it from going to landfill, and besides, some things are too beautiful to throw out!
Julie’s favorite item is usually the last thing she made – right now it’s a cushion cover featuring a decorative motif from Pompeii, in white velvet and red satin. Her reverse applique on cushion covers is a beautiful combination of rustic and modern.
We just enjoyed 3 days of glorious sunshine (which is a rarity this time of year here on the “wet coast”) and all I could think of was how I’d love a new dress or two soon, to be ready for all that summer will have to offer. A little insight into life here in Vancouver, we locals joke frequently about how most of our city’s dwellers have at least a mild case of “SAD” (seasonal affective disorder), and how we love to watch abandoned streets, patios and beaches become almost instantly filled when the first hint of summer sunshine arrives. Honestly, I’m getting wistful just typing this! Before I segue, I’ll just let you know that if you need somewhere to visit in the summer time, Vancouver is truly where it’s at if you love the great outdoors, good food, and unique shopping (and no, I don’t work for Tourism Canada ;).
Moving along… I’ve got a wonderful fashion duo to share with you today! Hailing from Australia, Three Little Ducks is a boutique fashion label run by Katherine Humphery and Patrick McDermott. Their line is full of beautiful classic tailoring, figure flattering cuts and details that make this fashion lover swoon! More than one dress from this collection has caught my eye and has me mentally calculating shipping costs and timing for a package to arrive from Australia to Canada.
Katherine and Patrick share on their blog that the focus of their line is quality and simplicity with details brought into their pieces through the use of layers and textured fabrics. Their passion for what they do is so evident – it seems clear to me they know the power fashion can have to transform us and they say it best on their blog:
“Even the serious fashion cynic can find him or herself in unconscious appreciation of a tailored shirt and aware of its persuasive influence on both wearer and observer.
The clothes we wear of course surround us and, if we accept Alain De Botton’s notion that, for better or worse, we are different people depending on our surrounds, we should resist the gauche and embrace skillful design and construction in fabric and clothes.”
I hope you’ll enjoy this peek into their latest collection and are inspired by their passionate approach to their craft. If you have a favorite indie design label you think we should cover here on the blog I’d love to hear about it!
This gorgeous bag is tempting me all the way from Australia. Could you please buy it so that I don’t? By MyStudio.
When sixteen year old Abby Sunderland lost contact on her solo voyage last week, she was right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There’s very little in the way of land in this part of the world, where Perth, Australia sits at the eastern edge of the ocean’s water. But creativity knows no geographical boundaries, and even in this far away place, there are handmade goods to tempt you.
Olivia and Michiko YasueIt are the sisters behind My Furoshiki, a collection of hand screen printed fabric wrap. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese practice of wrapping items in a simple piece of fabric. Children can wrap their books, or their bento box lunches. Furoshiki is also an eco-friendly way for anyone to wrap gifts. Olivia lives in Perth, Australia and Michiko is based in England. Each wrap includes instructions for multiple wrapping techniques, and more information can be found on their blog.
Artist Liz Briggs is based in Perth, Australia, but the Kazuri beads she uses in her jewelry designs are actually from Kenya. Handmade and hand painted by women in Kenya, The Kazuri Bead business employs 360 women, each of whom are paid fair wages. The beads business is ethically run, and helps many women, especially single mothers, to work their way out of poverty and care for their family.
Photographer Aimee Claire uses both film and digital cameras. Specifically, she uses a Holga camera which delivers a tactile image that can not be duplicated by digital. She says she loves the freedom of digital, but it can’t replicate the feel of film. Aimee Claire’s photograph of an empty shoreline may be very close to what teen sailor Abby Sunderland imagined as she lay adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean last week. But passion is an amazing thing, and when we know we are following our hearts desire, it can sustain us–even in the darkest hour.