December 13, 2012

A wee chat with Megan Morton

Megan Morton Things I Love via

This is the book that I’ve been excited about for months. And it’s here – at last – and just in time for Christmas. Megan Morton in one of Australia’s leading stylists, but really she’s much more than that – she’s actually pretty amazing. She recently opened The School, offering a super-fresh take on craft workshops (you can learn to make pineapple piñatas, flower bombs and shibori, to name a few) as well as sharing her own creative talents through styling masterclasses.

The School via

In her new book, Things I Love, Megan has curated a darn exciting and inspirational collection of homes, people and design she loves, as well as offering a raft of tips and advice. It’s the only book I know that injects warmth and genuine excitement into sharing practical tips such as how to clean a vintage painting, how to mimic the Kate Spade wall, and – my favourite – how to fold a fitted sheet. Naturally, it’s beautifully designed and it’s full of cute features like zip-out postcards and fold-out pages.

So I thought I’d have a wee chat with Megan about something we both love – SHOPS – and boy, does she spill the goods…

Megan Morton via

You’re a such a creative bird, Megan Morton. If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?

A Leila Jeffreys budgie! Have you seen her photographs of Aussie budgies?! Amazing! Standard budgie at first glance but not-so upon further inspection! Her budgies are showing at Tim Olsen gallery at the moment and are hilariously wonderful!

Leila Jeffreys' Suzi via

I adore Leila’s birds, too! Especially the cheeky parrots. Congratulations on your fabulous new book, Things I Love. What about shops you love? Can you tell us which shops you love in Sydney?

La Croix in Kings Cross is a personal favourite because you can spend $6 or $6000 over a coffee. The grey leather banquette with pompoms is enough of a drawcard for me, let alone the glassware, candles, cups and marble kitchen bits all acquired from a medley of sources and countries [see images below].

La Croix Kings Cross via

La Croix Kings Cross via

I love Koskela for their commitment to Australian-made and furniture that is so well made and designed with wit [see image below].

Koskela via

I Love You Beads Warehouse in Leichhardt. There are so many hysterical reasons to love this store. I have taken up a hobby making necklaces. They are actually super nice! I go to this shop as it tickles my sense of humour as well as services all my bead fantasies.

Flour and Stone in  Woolloomooloo for lamingtons and tea served in Beryl ware from classic Brown Betty tea pots [see image below].

Flour and Stone via

Fairfax and Roberts
. Such a decadent and wonderful store experience. I adore jewellery and watching its almost theatrical presence at this store is a wonderful way to tyre-kick/window-shop for all budgets. Shopping for me is not just about nothings, it’s about observing and getting inspiration.

Dolly Up in Surry Hills is a dangerous place for me to go in the same way Belinda is. I love maxi dresses and Erin at Dolly Up has magnificent ones. I have bought many a vintage Valentino from her. With two daughters I feel like I am doing my bit to give us all some nice vintage options in a shared family closet!

Although I designed it, I do honestly love the Ecoya candle store on Queen Street [see images from the launch night below]. Moody and devastating, with hand-blown glass scent chambers down one wall and tarnished mirror down the other. A sensory experience in the truest sense of the word.

Ecoya via

Ecoya Sydney via

Ecoya Sydney via

Plus, any suburban Priceline chemists – it’s like the JB Hi Fi of chemists! High volume, low decoration with lots of useful stuff!  I also like huge warehouse shops too! I love looking basically for things that aren’t expected and challenging myself to find things that are wonderful and not necessarily from predictable places or usual sources.

Which online shops do you love?
Rachel Castle for her sunshiny goodness [see images below]; Strawberrynet for cosmetics; Mecca Cosmetica; JCrew for the kids; and I can’t resist looking at the sale section of West Elm. Lu Lu Lucky for her hand-made block-coloured envelopes and other makeables.

Rachel Castle via

Top five shops in the world?
I can’t contain it to five, unfortunately! I love shops and want to share them with as many people as possible so all these clever people can stay trading and thrive as they deserve to!
1. BHV in Paris – the French alternative to Bunnings although without compare.
2. Gravel and Gold in San Francisco [see image below]. Almost an anti-store. I love its jewellery, American camp blankets and the way they wrap plants in foil for unusual window displays. Everything here is so well-made and the store has little fanfare as its quality speaks volumes.

Gravel and Gold in San Francisco via

3. Arts & Science in Toyko, Japan. Another store that renders me speechless.
4. Tsé & Tsé Associées in Paris. No words.
5. The Pirate Store in San Francisco – genius. Sheer genius. Again, no words! Retailing at its highest art form here [see images below].

The Pirate Store Emergency Burial Sand via

6. Camargue in Brisbane for its Queensland edit of the European clothes I adore, but edited for summer-wearing and set in a classic, neutral and not overly-designed boutique setting. It lets the clothes do the talking.
7. First Dibs – the online interiors auction house. The real store is on Lexington in NYC. Totally incredible and it almost makes you woozy!
8. The Tinsel Trading Co. In New York it’s one of my first stops – I could go there every day for a year and find something in there that I had not seen the day before! Expect trinkets, ribbon, garlands – actually expect none of that – as it’s that kind of place [see images below]!

Tinsel Trading Co via

9. March in San Francisco. I don’t have words for how perfect this kitchen/gift/lifestyle shop is. I hate the word “lifestyle” but in March’s case it really is a life I covet. Everything – and I mean everything here is beyond. Utterly beyond.

March San Francisco via

It’s almost Christmas and I’m dying to know what you’re doing for a Christmas tree this year.

I do a year on and a year off – so this year I am blindfolding my family – seriously – and taking them away on a surprise out-of-town Christmas. Just us. No tree. We are packing the kids’ bags without them knowing and I can’t wait to see their faces when we get to our destination!

I’ve sent a small tree and their gifts up to said destination so it’s going to be a year of surprises. Last year I did a faux tree but highly doused in mercury and silver and pewter decorations and a lunch with all the trimmings, with a day-before-Christmas party!

Year on/year off works so well for me. It gives you the energy needed to deliver a great Christmas and a rest when you need it! I love all trees and decs – even the bad ones! There is nothing bad about this time of the year, I make no style judgements.

Megan Morton Christmas via

This year at our studio we have erected a paper chandelier by Lu Lu Lucky and we are asking people to place wrapped gifts under it along with tins of food they can spare for The Salvation Army. Christmas for me only works when you can shine a kindness light.

Thank you Megan!

Click here for a Wee Birdy Sydney map, showing Megan’s favourite shops.

Things I love by Megan Morton is AU$49.95 and can be found in all nice shops and book stores right now. It would make an amazing Christmas present and you can also buy it online from Booktopia. You can find Megan Morton online right here.

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November 19, 2012

A wee chat with Beci Orpin

Beci Orpin interview via

I know I’m not the first bird to have a bit of a lady crush on Australian design wunderkind Beci Orpin. I’ve been a long-time fan of Beci from her fashion label Princess Tina days, and in the past I’ve blogged about her beautiful bird collage (see below), as well as her sterling silver cloud-and-raindrop necklace. And let it be known that Beci was making clouds waaay before every lady and her umbrella jumped on the rainy cloud motif bandwagon!

It’s this very pioneering spirit, endless creativity and originality that allows Beci to rise above the parochial and produce the kind of work that not only features her signature kaleidoscopic use of colour, but sets new trends on the design landscape.

Find and Keep Succulent Garden by Beci Orpin via

And now Beci can add another feather to that brilliantly-hued bow: her first book, Find & Keep , has just been released. Featuring 26 fun and fresh new craft projects, (including the DIY giant confetti wall featured on Wee Birdy last week) it’s a goldmine for inspiration as well as providing a unique insight into her creative process. It would make an excellent Christmas present.

Beci, firstly congratulations on a truly beautiful and inspirational book! You’re one clever birdy. Actually, if you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be – and why?
Thank-you so much! Hmmm… what bird would I be? That is a tough choice as I actually love birds a lot (my alternative career choice is an ornithologist!). I really like swallows a lot, so maybe just a plain old welcome swallow? That or a finch – my grandma used to breed them. I think Gouldian finches are my favourite (and they are Australian too!).

I love colour, but I know that lots of people are sometimes scared to be big and brave with it in their home. What’s your number one tip for making colour work – for beginners?
I think you can start adding smaller pops of colour through things like artwork or vases or cushions. Or even if that is too scary, just go for the brightest flowers you can find and work your way up from there.

Find and Keep inspiration wall by Beci Orpin via

You’re clearly an awesome collector. Can you tell us your top five shops in Melbourne for finding awesome stuff?

1. Coburg flea market.
I used to frequent Camberwell market when growing up but now i am north-side it’s a little to far to travel first thing on a Sunday morning, so Coburg flea is my new spot. I love it because it’s real trash and treasure… some weeks you find amazing things, some weeks nothing at all.

2. Scout House
When i do find myself south-side, Scout House is one of my first stops. Orlando’s selection is pretty wonderful, as is his colourful iron beds (as seen in my book!).

Scout House bed via

3. Third Drawer Down
I love all the Third Drawer Down collaborations and the other objects they stock too (ceramics are amazing there at the moment!)

4. Any local op shop
I have a few within walking distance of my house and I can’t keep away. The tiny churchy old-school type ones are my favourite.

5. Loom
Rugs are my new obsession and the last one I brought was from Loom. They have an insanely beautiful selection – it was SO hard to choose. Plus owner Down is so helpful, too. (See image below, via Loom.)

Loom Rugs via

4. Who or what would be your dream collaborator? What would you make?
I’d love to collaborate with someone with batik or weaving expertise to make contemporary versions of traditional fabrics. I’d also like to make rugs. Oh, and working for Tsumori Chisato or a company like Hay (see image below) would be amazing.

Hay via

5. Christmas is just around the corner. What does your Christmas tree look like and how do you decorate it?
Despite my best efforts of keeping things tasteful and colour co-ordinated, our Christmas tree is generally our kids’ domain. They like to throw all kinds of things on there so it ends up being a bit of a twinkling mess. It’s pretty great actually.

Click here for a Wee Birdy Melbourne map, showing Beci’s favourite shops.

Find & Keep is AU$39.95 and can be found in all nice shops and book stores right now. It would make an amazing Christmas present and you can also buy it online from Booktopia and Amazon. You can find Beci Orpin online right here.

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November 13, 2012

How to make Beci Orpin’s giant confetti wall

Find & Keep by Beci Orpin via

How amazing does this giant confetti wall look? It’s just one of the superb DIY projects you’ll find in Beci Orpin‘s fabulous new book, Find & Keep. Published by the super-cool Hardie Grant peeps (also publishers of Meet Me at Mike’s books), this book is definitely a find – and a keeper. Check out the incredibly vibrant cover!

Find & Keep via

Just in time for Christmas, it’s the perfect present for anyone who’s a wee bit crafty, a wee bit colourful, and a wee bit cool. I’ll be having a chat with Melbourne-based Beci very soon, but in the meantime, here’s how to make a giant confetti wall, Beci-Orpin-stylee. Over to you, Beci!

“Confetti has become a bit of a rarity these days. The proper old-school tissue paper kind, anyway. Whenever I find a newsagent that carries it, I buy up big, and subsequently have a small cupboard full of confetti boxes. My son Ari discovered these boxes one day and had a fantastic time spreading confetti all over my studio, until I discovered him and broke up the party (and it did look like a party – a really big one at that!). In the following weeks, while I continued to find confetti in every nook and cranny of my studio, I came up with this idea. Here’s how you can make your room look like a party – a much cleaner version than Ari’s, but just as much fun.

You will need:

  • lots of different coloured paper and card (scraps will do fine)
  • traced or photocopied circle template (click here for the template)
  • scissors
  • Blu-Tack
  • a wall!

Let’s get started.

1. Gather your paper together. Scraps of paper of different colours and textures will work very well.

How to make a giant confetti wall by Beci Orpin via

2. Using the template as a guide, cut out as many circles as possible from your coloured card.

How to make a giant confetti wall by Beci Orpin via

3. Once you have cut out all the circles, arrange them roughly by colour. This will help you get organised and it looks nice, too.

How to make a giant confetti wall by Beci Orpin via

4. Using Blu-Tack on the back of the circles, start sticking them onto the wall. Start with one circle and try to make the other circles look like they are floating away from that point in different directions.

Find & Keep by Beci Orpin via

5. Continue until all your circles are on the wall. On corners or where the wall meets the floor, use halfcircles with the flat edge flush against the straight line. These details create an overall better effect for your confetti wall.”

This project is re-published with the kind permission of Beci Orpin and Hardie Grant. Find & Keep is AU$39.95 and can be found in all nice shops and book stores now. You can also buy it online from Booktopia and Amazon You can find Beci Orpin online right here.

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October 25, 2012

Don’t miss: Maggie Alderson

Australians all, let us rejoice, for the marvellous Maggie Alderson is in town. She’s here to launch her latest book, Everything Changes But You, which is her seventh novel to date.

Like so many others, the ladies in my family are devoted Maggie fans, and I can recall many conversations over the past decade that have started with, ‘did you read Maggie Alderson on the weekend?’

So what’s so good about Maggie? For starters, she’s an absolute authority on fashion and style, and Maggie brings a wealth of experience, maturity, education and – most importantly – good humour to the topic. This is no small achievement, given that so much of what appears in our fashion mags is either pithy, uninformed commentary that takes itself too seriously, or lacks any sense of expertise or knowledge of fashion history.

Maggie also knows how to tell a good yarn, the kind of story that’s filled with familiar characters and local settings, such as the “high maintenance” women that populate Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs who “seemed to get their hair and nails done every day”, swim at Nielsen Park and live in “absolute waterfront” properties.

I remember reading Pants on Fire, a story about an English magazine editor living in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay and working at the major publishing house in town at the same time that I was also living in Elizabeth Bay and a magazine editor at a very similar-sounding major publishing house in town. Apart from snorting at the Sydney in-jokes, fashion references and descriptions of local haunts, it was a compelling love story and utterly hilarious.

I also appreciate Maggie’s attention to detail, right down to her English decorator’s “droopy pastel-coloured Ghost skirts and cardigans” in Mad About the Boy (2002) which were “all spot-on in London” but seemed glaringly out of place in Sydney’s glitzy social circles. And I loved the sound of Antonia’s motley yellow jug collection, which she imagined “would make a wonderful group on a table, sitting on the old linen tablecloth, hand-embroidered with primroses, that I had found the day before in a charity shop in Bondi Junction.” Sounds pretty good to me.

I haven’t read her latest novel but it sounds right up my alley. Read the press blurb and you’ll now exactly what I mean:

Everything Changes But You tells the story of three women: Hannah, in her thirties, is happily married to Matt and living the cool life in London’s East End but struggling to reconcile motherhood and her glamorous job as a beauty editor. Her mother, Marguerite, patiently copes with an alcoholic, abusive husband and wonders if this is all her life has to offer. While Matt’s young cousin, Ali, is starting to feel lost looking for love in a strange city.

Things start to unravel when Hannah becomes certain they’d be much better off down in the English countryside with her family – and Matt’s mum needs them with her, back in Sydney, 17,000km away. All of them have unsettling secrets and while some are better shared, others might be best left unspoken. The problem is knowing which are which.

In this very modern story of three women’s search for a place to call home, Maggie Alderson, in her most sophisticated novel yet, crosses continents and generations to explore how we find happiness – and whether love can survive betrayal.

Can’t wait to get my un-manicured hands on it! If you want to catch Maggie on her Australian book tour, you can find her on these following dates:

Brisbane – Thursday 25 October, 6.15pm
Mary Ryan, 40 Park Road, Milton
Ticket $5, includes refreshments.
To book, please call 07 3510 5000

Melbourne – Tuesday 30 October, 7.00pm
Matilda’s Books, 15 Hamilton Place, Mount Waverley
Event is free, but bookings essential on 03 9888 1433

Melbourne – Wednesday 31 October, 6.30pm
Readings Hawthorn, 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn
This event is free, but you must book on 03 9819 1917

Canberra – Thursday 1 November, 6.00pm
Paperchain, 34 Franklin Street, Manuka
This is a free event, but please book on 02 6295 6723

Bowral – Friday 2 November 10.30am
Bookshop at Bowral, at The Gibraltar Hotel, Cnr Centennial Rd & Boronia St, Bowral
$20 per person, includes morning tea. To book, call 02 4862 1634

You can also follow Maggie on Twitter @MaggieA.

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July 10, 2012

Birdy pick of the week: Our Garden Birds

It’s British, it’s birdy and it’s really rather beautiful – check out Matt Sewell‘s new book, Our Garden Birds: A Bird for Every Week of the Year (£4.50, Amazon). Naturally, I’m excited and delighted for Matt as his popular ‘bird of the week’ blog posts were the genesis for this compilation of his charming watercolours.

Accompanied by his inimitable observations of each bird’s distinctive character, Sewell has created his own quirky field guide to Britain’s most beloved birds. It would make a marvelous present and it’s gone straight to the top of my wishlist.

If you like Matt’s work, check out the wooden birds he made exclusively for the V&A here.

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May 29, 2012

Birdy pick of the week: Owl Know How

Exciting times in Sydney and London this week, birdies. While Jubilee preparations reach fever-pitch in London, Sydney’s most iconic buildings are currently ablaze with colour for Vivid, the annual festival of light, music and ideas.

Ranked in the Top Ten global ideas festivals by the Guardian, this year’s Vivid Sydney features an excellent line-up of speakers including Cory Doctorow, author and co-founder of Boing Boing; fashion designer Henry Holland; Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless and VICE founder and CEO Shane Smith. There will also be installations and concerts with the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Karen O.

I’m speaking on a panel at Etsy Success Sydney* on Saturday, which is part of the Vivid Ideas program. It’s not just for Etsy sellers – anyone with a creative business would benefit from the talks and workshops led by the likes of Frankie editor Jo Walker, PR professional and blogger PottyMouthMama and US Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson.

In celebration of Etsy Success Sydney, I’ll be showcasing my favourite Australian Etsy shops this week on Wee Birdy and shining a light on some of our most talented designer-makers.

First up is the creative duo Cat Rabbit and Isobel Knowles, who have collaborated to produce this rather crafty and clever children’s book, Owl Know How – which is also this week’s birdy pick. I’ve been a long-time fan of Cat Rabbit, whose incredibly imaginative range of felt animals (think hipster rabbits in Jarvis specks and hoodies) and brooches will be featured on Wee Birdy later this week.

In the book, published by Thames & Hudson, Cat Rabbit’s felt owls and rabbits come to life with a problem-solving narrative that weaves its way through a whimsical city made of cardboard. The crafty aesthetic is warm and inviting, and the book comes with a pattern and instructions for children to create their own felt owl. You can buy a hand-signed book from Owl Know How’s Etsy shop, with a bonus gocco-printed bookplate for AU$26.

Their Etsy shop also features a very sweet Owl Know How hankie for $15, as well as some very special limited edition hand-made plush characters from the book – Cornelia Rabbit, Orvi and those inimitable owls.

* My competition for two double-passes to Etsy Success Sydney will be announced later today.

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