Welcome to the Workshop

Welcome to the Workshop

Friday, June 24, 2011

O Canada!

Well, I can finally make the announcement. We have signed the contract and are waiting for our visa applications to be completed.

We are moving back to Toronto. Having been back in Australia for almost three years we've decided to give Canada another crack. Our contract is for a year at this stage, and we'll see how things fly after that.
Thanks to everyone in Oz for their love and support over the last year as my business has grown. I plan to continue pikelet workshop via Etsy once we're settled on the other side.

In the meantime please keep me company on the blog and facebook!

Here's a slice of our life in TO last time.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crafty Q&A Part 2.

Where did you get the idea from? Did you see something similar and get inspiration from that, or did you create it from scratch and realise you're very creative ;) (Lisa Charles-Smith)

I've always been 'creative'.
My mother taught me to sew, and I dabbled with art throughout my childhood. There is a certain meditative quality to crafting which I love, and crave.
After the birth of my daughter I felt the need to get making again. I tried knitting and stitching, played around with other people's patterns and made some goofy knitted animals. I noticed that what kept catching my eye was the simple softie people were starting to make. There were quite a lot of them on the market, but I felt I could still come up with something of my own. I think I've achieved that.

As for inspiration?

I have a collection of images in my laptop, and I go over them regularly, adding and subtracting as I go. It could be a picture of a room or something from nature with amazing colours. It may even be a picture of someone else's product that just blows my mind. I also keep a notebook in my bag for when the muse seizes me.
I recommend seeking inspiration everywhere. Head over to Flickr or Pinterest and search for what interests you. Bookmark websites and blogs, scour magazines and tear out pages - keep a folder. Take photographs when you're out and about. And look to your own.
My own child, and the process of motherhood have obviously led me to making things for children. It just makes sense to me, and it's incredibly satisfying to see the delight on a small person's face when they pick up one of my toys.

Take time and put some real effort into forging your own path. Even if your idea is inspired by an existing product, you MUST make it your own. This means more than simply adjusting a pattern or a trim, your product has to come from your heart. The way you combine your materials, the style and shape of it needs to have an edge. It takes a great deal of time and effort to develop an idea into a successful product. Do your research and make sure you are offering something new and success will find you.

More later.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday At The Zoo With Poppet.

In our hot, dry climate the animals at Perth Zoo are usually comatose for the best part of the day. As soon as the temperature drops and it actually rains (heaven forbid!) they wake up and put on a show. Poppet did her best this morning to make the most of every single puddle, no matter how small!

We zoomed in on the kangaroos this morning, as so many of them were lazing about on and around the path. It was a real treat to get so close.

Whilst I love to amble through the native bushland they've created at the zoo, the highlight for Poppet was the carousel. She never tires of it.

However, the true highlight for us 'oldies' was when Poppet said the following after sharing a snack with her dad;

"Now that I've shared I feel really happy, it makes me feel like a good person."

My work here is done.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crafty Q&A Part 1.

One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog is that I find the craft community, particularly the online one, so inspiring. I really wanted a forum for sharing my own crafty discoveries.
Since starting the business a little over a year ago, I have received many emails asking for advice. Most people are very apologetic about approaching me with their questions which is very endearing but absolutely unnecessary. I am happy to chat with anyone and everyone about what makes pikelet workshop 'tick'.
I soon saw through email and Facebook how many questions people have generally about running a small business and thought it would be great to use the blog to explore these questions with other crafty business folk. I hope to start a regular post soon.
Meanwhile I have asked people on my Facebook page to contribute questions for me, as I will act as a guinea pig for the first post. Here is one question I received this week, and my attemps at an answer. I think it's a good place to start.

What did you do pre-Pikelet Workshop? Have you always pursued creative endeavours or did you follow a more "traditional" path in your "other" life, that is pre children, facebook etc? I am nosey :) (Shona from Funky Fabrics)

This is really a blog post in itself so I'll answer this question today and work on the more business related ones during the week.

When I left school I wanted to be an actor, so off I toddled to university to study drama and search for my dream. The problem was, being incredibly shy I could only manage a pitiful audition, which meant I never got cast. Still, I had such passion for theatre and didn't really care what I had to do to be involved. I filled many backstage roles, from sound technician to stage manager and, in third year, started a directing course. The lightbulb came on and I discovered that this was truly my 'thing'. I directed many shows back to back at university and a couple outside of it and people responded well to my work. This was definitely my chosen career path and I was insanely happy and motivated. Here's a pic from one of my early productions.

But, I got bronchitis (no doubt from overdoing it) and that led to a very extended hiatus.
I was struck down with Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, at age 21 and whilst my friends were working and partying and enjoying their early twenties I moved back in with my parents and found it a challenge to the postbox and back without pain. My parents were supportive and tried to be patient as I suffered for years at home. I was only able to manage a casual job in a gift shop and my circle of friends shrank dramatically, to be expected really as I couldn't go out dancing with them etc. Mum had always cross-stitched and quilted and I soon
discovered my own love for craft. I even started watching Aussie rules football (which is absolutely not my thing, sorry) as a 'fun' Friday night activity with my family. Yeesh! - dark days indeed.
A friend invited me to join her on a teddy bear making course over a weekend and it was a revelation. My first bear was pretty darn good, he actually sits on my daughter's bed as a write this.

I made a couple more for fun and then my employer asked if I could make some for her to sell in the shop. Grizzly Bears was born. I set up a workspace in my parents' dining room and started making and selling collectible mohair teddy bears. At this time there was a huge industry and a lot of collectors around. I attended a few markets and was even featured in a national magazine. Still, I was in my early twenties and in those days it was certainly NOT cool or groovy to make teddy bears from home. I was too young to take pride in it and yell it from the roof tops so as my health improved my hours in the shop increased and the bear making dropped off.

I went into retail full time and spent many years working both in management and visual merchandising. I started feeling well enough to go out again and resumed a normal life. An old theatre friend approached me about directing a production for a local festival. We enjoyed two sell-out seasons and
I was back directing at last. I did another show at a local theatre and was considering applying to a drama school on the east coast to really immerse myself in the arts again.
But you see, I'd met this guy, and we were in lurve and, well, you know. We got married and then we had a baby. That certainly put a stop to theatre for me as I wasn't interested in working those long hours and not being home with my kid. So I hit the pause button and stayed home. Being a stay-at-home mum was a decision I happily embraced and I am still very grateful that I have been able to continue that way as my daughter has grown.

We spent a few years living overseas, in Brazil and then in Canada, and returned to Perth in time for my daughter to start kindergarten and me to have a hip replacement (I was born with hip dysplasia which lead to an early onset of arthritis, blah blah blah). At this time I started to toy with the idea of making something crafty again. I spent hours trawling the internet and magazines looking for inspiration. It was another year before I made the first 'poppet' for the birth of a friend's baby. One thing led to another, and pikelet workshop was born.

But that's another blog post...


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Hi Ho Hi Ho...

Follow the path to the bottom of my garden and you'll find the 'pikelet workshop'. I'm very spoilt to have a free-standing place of business. It's my favourite place to be in the winter months, listening to the rain on the tin roof. Not quite so delightful in summer...

This is where all the poppet madness happens. Can you see how close the computer is to the sewing machine? Very dangerous...

My cutting desk is always covered with works-in-progress and I MUST fold the fabric and keep it colour blocked. Can't function any other way...

That's all for now. Just wanted to say 'Hi'!



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