Friday, February 15, 2013

Brave Steps

You know how it is; 'more ideas than time' is often the catch-cry of the maker.  There are so many things that you want to make, that sometimes actually making something new is a little scary and a tad overwhelming.  

Maybe it's because you're really comfortable with what you are making now, and you don't know if you can move away from your signature products; maybe you tell yourself you don't have time to work out all the specs, with orders already backing up; maybe it's because you're not quite sure if you can translate your vision into reality; or maybe it's because you don't know how a new product will be recieved by the public. 

And so often what happens is product development is put off way longer than it should be.

But then life has a way of kicking you up the behind, to give you the push that you need.  Like someone asking you for a product which is kinda like what you do, but a whole new thing too. A natural step forwards, which you have been tinkering with - theoretically.

I can write with such authority on this subject because two weeks ago I was the person as described above; lots of ideas but no time and opportunity to do something new.  But then Bec of Little Toot Creations sent me a message which scared and excited me at the same time.

Her challenge: turn this notebook cover design, into an artwork piece.

Read more about the process of this book cover design coming to life HERE.

Oh sure!  The one thing that I had been desperatly wanting to do, and desperately putting off for ages!

So with eldest child now in Preps, and youngest child daytime napping, it really was time to sit down with canvas, paint, fabric and buttons and make it happen.

It was slow to begin with, as I recalled my art and design training from high school.  Resolving the design first, tentitvely putting paint to canvas, watching as the artwork moved in a slightly different direction than the brief and initial designs had planned (the artwork had it's own ideas of what it wanted to be), worrying if the customer would still like it, and whether it was any good anyway!  Sheesh!  So stressful..... and the best thing I have done in ages; and by that, I mean meeting this challenge has been theraputic, exciting and wonderful.

Original work of art by 
Tania Goranitis of 
Chicken Ink.  Creative
Mixed media canvas 50 X 45cms 
Acrylic paint, original lino cut wren, fabric, buttons, string of bunting

Anyone have any suggestions for a title?

Sorry about the watermark, but I am slightly proud of this and don't want to see it suddenly appear somewhere else as 'someone else's' work.

See those details?  That is actual fabric, bonded to the painting, buttons as berries and an actual string of bunting across the top!

Thankfully, Bec loves it, although it is a little more colourful than first intended.  To Bec I owe a debt of gratitude for being such a patient and understanding client during this process.  It is afterall the first painting I have completed since VCE in 1997 - yikes that makes me feel old!

So, the question is, to do more of this or not?  Your feedback and ideas will surely help me to make that decision!  Comments on the blog appreciated.

Artworks of this size/similar design will retail for $65 plus postage.

Oh and by the way - I challenge YOU to develop one new product by the end of February!  What ideas have you been tinkering with in the back of your mind? Might just be the time to make it happen!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thifty Chicken: A lovely $4 chair

With the arrival of Spring, my annual 'clean and re-decorate the house' illness has struck.  Again.  I do believe that I am genetically programed to re-do the nest on a near constant basis, but it decidedly reaches fever pitch in Spring.  When I can see the hiding dirt.  And the furniture in daylight.

So thank goodness for op shops.  I. LOVE. THEM.  Because, you find fantastic stuff that you wouldn't otherwise find, at an unbeatable price, the money goes to a good cause, and the house gets a change up: WIN/WIN/WIN/WIN!  But you already know that!

I have completed a few projects recently which I hope to share with you soon, but I wanted to jump ahead and show you this adorable chair.  It was purchased as part of my table dressing for Chicken Ink. Creative at the upcoming summer markets, but of course I could not deny Miss 4 the joy of having it in her room the other 99% of the time.

Throwing caution to the wind (i.e. with no training and no research into upholstery) I jumped into this little project, and crossed my fingers and toes, hoping for the best.  Because really, there isn't much you can't do with a staple gun.  Is there?  Did I tell you that I have an electric staple gun?  Look out world! 

This is the BEFORE and AFTER:

Cute, no?  While you're you're having a squiz, check out the other items in the room, which are either second hand, re-decorated, or handmade:
  • Chest of drawers - was my grandmother's. It was dark wood, and hubby re-painted in Antique White USA.
  • Mirror - was already distressed and awesome, bought from an op shop when I was in my 20's.
  • Little shabby chic box - recently purchased for a song at a local op shop.
  • Photo frame - ok that one was from the Reject Shop (so not quite but nearly).
  • Cushion - was a lovely pink napkin, already embroidered and sitting all by itself in an op shop, turned into an appliqued cushion be moi.
  • Bunting - see it in the reflection, also by me.
  • A Calamity Bolt filly - because Elke does the BEST horses in Australia.
  • And of course, the new chair.
And here is a bit of a visual step by step of how I did it.  Yes, I did use a nappy box as part of the upholstery.

Don't 20 month olds make the BEST helpers?  Except when they try to insist on using the power tools.  And hammers.  And nails.... 

The whole thing cost me under $10. I had the fabric and everything I needed in my stash, including the box which I used to help me create a stable back to wrap the fabric around.  I did have to get some new upholstery nails, but that was it.  And there are stacks left over for another job. 

So here is Miss 4, showing off her new chair.  I am glad she likes it, cos I am not changing it now!

Do you like to thrift, re-do, renovate, up cycle?  What was your best project?

Cheers, Chicken

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chicken's Creative Space

Are you lucky enough to have a dedicated space for your creative persuits?  I am, but I wasn't always.

When I first started Chicken Ink. 3 years ago, I was taking over the family dining table and driving everyone nuts.  Then we moved house, and a dedicated workspace was a non-negotiable item on our checklist.  But then, when we moved in I only had trestle tables and other temporary furniture to work on.  Still, it was a massive step up!

Recently though, after carefully watching my local Buy Swap Sell pages on Facebook, and scouring the op shops, I have picked up some key pieces of furniture second hand, allowing me to fit out my creative space with much more of the design aesthetics I have always dreamed of. My space now proudly houses a refectory table and two second hand chairs, a vintage cupboard and an upcycled chest of draws {decorated by moi}.

Side note: I love recycling and upcycling, and I love supporting other creatives.  Therefore it pleases me no end that my new antique fabric cupboard with shabby finish is from a local maker, Michelle of "I Love Vintage".  It was the final piece to upgrade the space.

While the area will always be a work in progress, I am super happy with it's feel and atmosphere.
I sometimes just like to stand in it.  I know I am really lucky to have it.  Now to find time to make stuff.....

Enjoy my photographic tour of my creative space!

 Cheers, Chicken

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dinner and drinks with Yes, Dear

I love this social media thing. How did we ever live without it?

How did we maintain our connections with people who live far away? How did we meet new people who live in another town, another state, another country? Oh all those missed opportunities!

Thank you Social Media for somehow linking me to Ange, from the blog Yes, Dear. For a year or so I have enjoyed my regular contact with her via Facebook, and reading her blog, and always suspected her to be someone who was 'my kind of person'.

Thank you fate for putting us together, in the same city at the same time, for 2 hours. Just enough time for a girly dinner with a couple of wines, and non stop talking.

Yep. She is exactly who I thought she was, but even more lovely and awesome. That is her on the right, me on the left.

Have you been able to meet in person an online friend? Was it as great as you had hoped? Were they who you thought they were? Do tell!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

6 Reasons To Buy Local, Buy Handmade

Have you ever stopped to consider the story behind the items you purchase? Whether they were created in accordance with good humanitarian practices? How about their impact on the environment? Is your purchase benefiting your local economy; a local business, a local designer? How about if the design is unique and original, or just another version of what you can find on any end cap, in any department store?

Having the ability to make a conscious decision about how and where we spend our money is a gift; one we can use to do more than add to our possessions. One that can benefit our community, local designers and the environment. One that might just help a Mum send her child to dance class, a Dad afford to take the family on holiday, an artist to make a viable living doing what they are passionate about. One that doesn’t support sweat-shop manufacturing.

Here are 6 reasons why buying locally produced handmade items is good for everyone.

Love the environment When you purchase locally produced handmade goods, they don’t have to travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres to reach you, reducing the use of fossil fuels, and pollution being released into the atmosphere. It is also common for designers to create up-cycled products from pre-loved materials, potentially reducing the number of items going into landfill.

Be a humanitarian Handmade artists create items in their own homes or studios, and on their own terms. You can be sure that human rights have been respected during their creation. Every time you buy a locally produced handmade item, you are reducing demand for mass produced items made in sweat shops.

Support your local economy Purchasing a locally produced handmade item has a flow on effect which benefits your community. Your purchase supports a local person to put that money back into the local economy; it may mean that the maker can buy more supplies, extend themselves by studying, afford to go to the movies, donate their time and skills to charity or even just buy groceries. Surely its better the money goes to them, than to a chain store CEO who wants a new sports car.

Unique design, quality production Handmade is often fashion forward or better still timeless. Makers are producing items which are one off or limited run, and different to what you can find in every chain store. Moreover, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is generally of a very high standard; designs created and made with genuine care and attention, for your benefit.

Personal connection Buying locally produced handmade products often affords us the opportunity to meet with the maker; to learn their story and hear about the creation process. Many makers also love to create custom items specifically for you; an added luxury not possible in the mass produced marketplace.

Give a gift with care Giving handmade gifts can denote an extra level of care and attention shown when choosing the gift; and you can be pretty confident that no one else will give the same gift!


Pictured: Shown above is a new retail space inside the stables gallery, Bairnsdale VIC. Along with the gallery director, I established it to support East Gippsland makers by providing them with permanent ongoing retail space within our community. It's called The {East Gippsland} Makery.

It's the first step in some grand plans to create a handmade cooperative with a dedicated retail space in our CBD; which will include a sewing lounge and public meeting space.

What's happening in your community? Is there a gap that needs to be filled? Are you waiting for someone else to fill it? Hmmm... maybe something to think about then?

Cheers, Chicken

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

We handmaidens are savvy business women. Capable. Driven. Focused. Multi-taskers. Boy do we work hard. And amongst the dedication to our families, homes, friendships, jobs and communities we strive towards our business goals with often unwavering determination.

But we know that sometimes, it’s not sales that we need to make. It’s more than orders that we need to do. Sometimes, it’s not things that we need to mend.

It’s hopes that we need to make.
Comforting that we need to do.
Hearts that we need to mend.

And in these times, our community really shines.

Throughout 2011 we have seen many examples of how the Australian handmade community has mobilising quickly, selflessly and without hesitation to help others in need, via the massive power of social media.

Our ability to raise funds and morale came into sharp focus in February this year when Qld and Vic were affected by severe flooding. Without missing a beat, the leaders in our community mobilised people to take action the best way we could. So we got sewing, soldering, hammering, beading, painting and pasting. We donated our time, materials and products to raise funds through auctions, or we sent items to those who needed it most; those that had lost everything.

And gee weren’t we just a little surprised and a bit chuffed at just how successful our efforts were? What an overwhelming sense of unity, pride and achievement we gained!

Now with the holiday season approaching, I encourage you to once again put some time aside and turn your hand, head and heart towards helping those in need. Actually don’t wait for the holiday season to come around; or natural disaster. You can give any time.

Here are some fantastic organisations and charities that need your help. Spend some time on your own, in a group or with your family to support these deserving causes; this holiday season and all the whole year through. Your kindness will yield the most beautiful gift of all; that beautiful feeling that comes from giving selflessly.

Name: Softies For Mirabel
Type: Handmade Softie Christmas Appeal
Get involved: Make softies! Create 1 or more. Create as an individual, group or community then send them into Meet Met At Mikes.
Beneficiaries: Supporting children orphaned or abandoned due to their parent’s drug addiction. Children in need are matched to their perfect softie to help provide emotional support.
Period: Now until 5th December 2011 More info and register:

Name: Treasured Babies
Type: Clothing and Blanket Collection
Get involved: Create handmade, size appropriate clothing for miscarried, unborn and newborn babies such as night gowns, matinee jackets, hats, booties, as well as blankets.
Beneficiaries: Supporting bereaved families to begin the grieving and healing process after losing their unborn or newborn baby; by dressing, wrapping and bonding with their child.
Period: Ongoing - all year
More info and register:

Name: Backpacks for Aussie Kids
Type: Clothing, Essentials, Blanket, Toy and Bag Collection
Get involved: Donate handmade clothes, toys and blankets for children.
Beneficiaries: Supporting children who are placed in foster or kinship care. Backpacks and nappy bags are filled with essential and personal items for Aussie kids in care to call their own; after often being removed from their homes with little to no possessions.
Period: Ongoing - all year with a special Christmas collection More info and register:

Name: The Toy Society
Type: Random Toy Drop
Get involved: The Toy Society is an Australian project which has now gone world-wide. Crafters of varying skill levels make toys and leave them as gifts in their community.
Beneficiaries: Children (or people) in your community
Period: All year round plus a special Christmas Toy drop on the last weekend before Christmas. More info and register:

This article was origionally written for and published on 'tickle the imagination'; the Christmas edition. Please click through to see this wonderful online magazine, full of crafty goodness.

{Facebook} {Website}

Cheers, Chicken

Friday, November 25, 2011

Competition in the market place: an opportunity to be awesomely different

Many of my lovely Facebook friends will know that I have been doing my craft thing online for a few years now.

Like many crafters, I tried on lots of different products and styles, looking for my niche. I found it with fabric covered books, using a process and style that I developed personally over 2 years ago. They were clearly my most popular and sought after ite
ms, and I was proud of them. PLUS I enjoyed making them. They indulged my fabric obsession.

Since taking 12 months off to have my second baby however, returning back to Chicken Ink. has been more difficult than expected. It seems that the hole I left in the market place was quickly filled, and demand for my work just wasn't what it was.

So I was left with 2 options:

A: Sulk and stand in the corner

B: Accept that things change, and see this as an opportunity to push myself creatively

I have chosen B. A just isn't in my nature; and hardly inline with what I have discussed on my other blog, The Contemporary Handmade Alliance!

The competition in the market place with like products has become a massive opportunity for me. An opportunity to push myself to be innovative and different. Although my patchwork covers are unique to Chicken Ink., I wanted to do more. And what better time than now?

Now is the time to delve deep into the creative recesses of my imagination. Pull together all my years of arts and creativity training and go in a new direction. Push myself and stretch myself.

It has been the best thing for me!

I have always thought as my book covers as mini canvases. A frame if you will; a prescribed area for creatively, contained within the boundaries of the cover dimensions. This really came forward when I started patch working my covers. And now, the next step. Using lino cuts and fabric paint along with appliqué and stitching to bring an entirely new, original style.

This style really does pull together all my training over the years. My VCE (year 11/12) consisted of Studio Arts Painting, Studio Art Drawing, Ceramics and English. So I had lots of fun and got a good basic arts training. I am so glad to now be able to put it together with my love of craft and fabric!

I am at the very start of this new direction, and your support has already been fantastic. It has really spurred me on, and encouraged me that indeed I am on the right path. Thank you.

Stay tuned with lots more new designs to come over the next weeks and months. As always, your feedback and support, dear friends, is greatly appreciated and valued.

Cheers, Chicken
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