As one of many people with reduced work hours due to the coronavirus, preschool teacher Sarah O'Neill found herself with a little extra time on her hands.
Scrolling through Facebook, Ms O'Neill read the all-too-common qualm from local parents struggling to keep their kids occupied while working from home, and came up with an idea to alleviate the problem - deliver everything they need to their door.
"I thought maybe I could make a business out of putting all the materials together for them," she said.
"We know that it's hard to go down to the shops, we know that even online ordering can be a hassle and can be expensive."
Her new business, Miss Sarah's Education Resources, launched on Saturday and already she is "shocked" by the success of the home-delivered craft packs, with a bulk-order on the way to replenish stock.
"I'm overwhelmed, I'm selling out of products," she said.
"I never expected it to get this kind of response, I was hoping in a few months I'd have a few customers."
Ms O'Neill is among many people who recently lost work due to the coronavirus. She continues to work part-time at a Queanbeyan preschool, but lost her two-days-a-week role as a dance and music teacher.
She is grateful for the work she has, but said the classroom normally brimming with childish delight feels "eerie" and "bizarre" with only four children from a class of 20 still attending.
She hopes her business will help alleviate the stress on parents juggling remote learning and working.
"If I prepare things that are ready to go it can mean less supervision. Obviously some of these activities you want to supervise, but if they're old enough they don't need much help so parents can have their own time to chill," she said.
"It's a way to brighten up a walk'
The artist known as Oh Little Spark put her creative talent to good use, making an isolation challenge to keep kids in her neighborhood of Gordon occupied and "brighten up a walk" in the local area.
"I needed to find a way to keep them entertained and engaged. We're really enjoying the small things at the moment, so we spend a lot of time outdoors anyway, but it makes it extra special when you earn it," she said.
Hand-drawn creepy-crawlies appearing in trees, ponds and bushes around town are part of the Iso Spy Canberra challenge which has been taken up with gusto.
"I didn't anticipate how much the kids would enjoy it. Some of the neighbourhood kids have been giving me some to hide so I've been hiding them in extra hard places."
Ms Kristine has released the bugs to a wider audience with the templates online now popping up in the most unlikely places, including the middle of Point Hut Pond in Gordon.
"People are really looking for ways to connect with their community, the feedback from the parents has been beautiful. They're in some ways surprised that someone would go out of their way to do something like that."
Only in Canberra would you dial in to a chat with a local radio presenter, with the surrealness of that radio presenter being a former university lecturer. Flashback to last years Crafternoon Delight segment, because I just spoke to Dr Kim Huynh on @abccanberra while standing in our walk in robe for an #IsoInterview about #IsoSpyCBR
Had a chat to the delightful Emma Groves from Win News Canberra about Iso Spy.
You can watch it here.
by Amy Martin. The Canberra Times.
Picture: Mitchell Garfath
When Belle Hogg thinks of what Australia means to her, the poem which comes to mind is My Country by Dorothea Mackellar.
As a child, she would go to work with her dad during the school holidays and he would get her to recite it during the drive until phrases such as "I love a sunburnt country" and "The wide brown land for me" became synonymous with the country she called home.
When Sophie Kristine thinks of Australia - particularly in the light of the bushfires which have recently consumed it - she thinks of the distinctive flora and fauna, particularly her favourite animal the wombat.
It was those thoughts which inspired the two Canberra artists - of Belle Photography and Oh Little Spark, respectively - when creating colouring pages for This Is Australia.
A project started by Brisbane artist Kasey Rainbow, the colouring book features 100 artworks from 100 artists, with 100 per cent of the proceeds donated to different wildlife charities tending to the animals which were affected by the bushfires.
"I have been following her for a while and I own some of her products because everything she does is just fun," Kristine says.
"She'd actually done a couple of fundraisers already - she'd done a fundraising tote bag, she'd done a collaboration and a print, and she then she said 'I had this idea to make a colouring book but to get everyone involved I'm going to do a call out. Any Australian artists who want to join me, send your page in'."
Hogg and Kristine are two of at least four Canberra artists which took part in the colouring book, along with Cheryl Hodges and Kate Grlec.
The artists have found that the colouring book has been a good way to not only fundraise after the bushfires but also as a way to help process what has happened.
"I had only just said to my kids 'What can I do'? Especially as a creative person, how can I use my talent for good?" Hogg says.
"And this just popped up and I was like, 'great'. It's now at $9500, which tells me that 950 people have purchased it.
"I saw at that time that a lot of other good things were happening for people so as soon as I saw the animals' lens - every time I see those animal images of things going on in the fires I was just heartbroken. So this was perfect.
"The satisfaction I had when I sent the email off with my submission, was just 'wow'. I'm a part of something that may make some money to help these animals and it just felt so good."
The overall project features 100 pieces of art which are all completely different, despite all having the brief of Australia wildlife affected by the bushfires. Some feature words such as "hope" and "love", while others depict images of the firefighters which fought the fire.
by Amy Martin. The Canberra Times.
1. These socks were made for walking Canberra bus stop socks by InIteration. Picture: Supplied
Have you ever gone by a Canberra bus stop and thought: "I wish I could take that magnificent creation with me everywhere I went"? Now you can ... kind of. These Canberra bus stop socks may just be the perfect Secret Santa gift. You can grab these beauties at InIteration's Etsy page.
2. Speaking of bus stops ... Canberra bus stop and Belconnen Owl models by InIteration.
Why not get a miniature one for your desk? Or for your garden (because you know this is way better than a gnome). And while we're at it, why don't we add in a replica of everyone's favourite owl, the Belconnen Owl? I tell you, Jon Cleaver from InIteration definitely knows how to recreate some Canberra icons because these are both adorable, and are available at his Etsy page.
3. Sweet as honey ... and democracy Australian Parliament House Honey Vodka.
Here's a Christmas present that will really cause a buzz. Australian Parliament is home to some very special residents and they've helped make this next gift - honey vodka. Available at the Parliament House gift shop, the vodka is made by the McHenry Distrillery in Tasmania with honey courtesy of the Australian Parliament bees. The jury is still out as to whether the vodka has sweetened up any pollies since it was launched earlier this year, but it will certainly add a sweet touch to Christmas day.
4. Pumped up kicks Hand-painted Canberra Raiders Nikes by Mad Alice.
At $250 a pair, this present will definitely break the Secret Santa budget but it will also put you on the nice list of any Raider fan. These pumped up kicks are hand-painted with everyone's favourite viking, Victor, by custom shoe company Mad Alice. Nikes have never looked as good as they do when they're supporting the Green Machine. Head over to madalice.com.au to check them out.
5. Yass Queanbeyan! Yass Queanbeyan sticker by Oh Little Spark Art.
Here's a little something for your token Queanbeyan friend - you know, the one who keeps telling you how good life is on the other side of the border? Now they can show their Queanbeyan pride with this street sign sticker by local artist Sophie Kristine, from Oh Little Spark Art. You can find this particular sticker on Redbubble or for more Canberra-themed products from Oh Little Spark Art you can head over to her Etsy page.
6. A shower curtain that towers above any other Telstra Tower shower curtain by Cariboo Design.
The Telstra Tower can be seen while driving around Canberra and now your lucky giftee can also see it from their shower. Plus, for those who need even more Telstra Tower love in their life, the same pattern comes as a bath mat, a wall tapestry, a throw pillow and a blanket. Really, how much is too much Telstra Tower? You can grab this practical and completely Canberran gift from Cariboo Design on Redbubble.
7. Say "Merry Christmas" the Canberran way Canberra-themed Christmas cards by KGCreationsAU.
Just when you thought you were certain Santa's sleigh was pulled by reindeer, along comes Skywhale drifting through the skies with the big man himself. These fun Canberra-themed Christmas cards are something to write home about - quite literally. Head on over to Kate Grlec's Etsy store, KGrCreationsAU to check out these Christmas cards out.
8. Watson on your Christmas list? Canberra-themed cards by Anna Blandford of Able and Game.
Watson, Dickson, Lyneham, Bruce and Wright - they may just sound like Canberra suburbs but they're also the inspiration behind these cards. Created by designer Anna Blandford of Able and Game, each make a punny phrases from photos take of suburb signs. You can find the range at Able and Game's Etsy store.
9. Canberra cred Straight Outta Canberra shirt by Dylan Morgan. Picture: Supplied
The shirt says it all. I mean, Canberra is far from Compton, California but what better way of representing your hometown than putting it on your shirt? It should probably be noted, however, that this shirt will not improve your hip-hop abilities in any way. Head on over to Dylan Morgan's Redbubble page to check it out.
10. A (Sky)whale of a gift An enamel Skywhale pin by Missy Minzy on Etsy. Picture: Supplied
Celebrate the return of Skywhale to the capital by gifting her to someone this Christmas. And if you're still undecided, the product description of this enamel pin promises "lots of cuteness" so you really can't go wrong. Canberra designer Irene Tan, of Missy Minzy on Etsy, also has Canberra bus stop and Belconnen Owl enamel pins available as well.
11. Give the gift of Canberra ... literally A Canberra tea towel by Missy Minzy on Etsy. Picture: Supplied
This one is good for the directionally challenged friend or family member. Speaking as someone who gets lost on the regular, it would be handy to have a map that I could memorise while doing something mundane ... say, like drying the dishes. This linen tea towel by Miss Minzy has all the important things including The Shine Dome, Questacon and the Starlight Drive-in. Pick it up at her Etsy store.
Had a chat to Emma Groves from Win News about smashing together some Queanbeyan icons and getting a solid design ready for the silly season... Still needs a few more components to make it next level though so HMU...
Posted on Reddit, r/Australia.
Find it in all its gloriousness here.
by CBR Canberra.
Find article here.
There’s nothing quite like watching your family unwrap something they’re going to love, you loved choosing and the creator loved making.Canberra’s creative community has been busy making presents galore in the lead up to Christmas. To take some of the pressure off your Christmas shopping we’ve created the ultimate wishlist for the twelve days of Christmas, stocked exclusively by local Etsy makers. Skip the crowds at the shopping centre this holidays and support a local artist instead.
Spoiler alert... you can find me at:
Day 2 – Canberra pride
Quintessentially Canberran, Oh Little Spark has created customised prints of Canberra icons. Who would have thought the Skywhale and our signature bus stops would work so well together?
The Canberra Times
by Bree Element.
See the full article here.
So you’re a fan of the Belconnen owl - but have you hit ‘wear it all summer long on a t-shirt and stubby holder’ level?
Because if you have, local artist and public servant Sophie Kristine's got your back.
She's designed a new fabric that features a few of Canberra’s favourite things: bogong moths, a little bunch of Canberra bluebells and there, taking pride of place, is our favourite feathered phallic friend from the north.
Thanks to online store Redbubble, you can have the blue Belco owl design printed on basically anything your little heart desires - from phone cases, wallets, and bumper stickers to baby onesies and doona covers. (To whoever got me in the Secret Santa draw this year, I'm a size 'Belco owl' in literally everything.)
The owl print is Sophie's follow-up to last year's pink Skywhale print, featuring the booby-licious lady of the sky, Telstra tower and our iconic bus shelters. Leggings in the Skywhale print were hugely popular last Christmas, as were stubby holders and tote bags. Sophie sells under the artist name ohlittlespark_art.
"I'm a born and bred Canberran which is why so many of my designs feature Canberra-centric things," Sophie says.
"I genuinely, genuinely love Canberra so very much. And there's a whole breed of people who are Canberra lovers too, which is so exciting.
"I just started out making designs for myself but then people started saying, 'Where can I get that?' and it's grown from there."
Growing up on the southside - "I was born southside, I've lived southside my entire life, my kids go to the same primary school I went to" - Sophie says the artistic talent of her grandmother Della had a huge influence on her life.
"Instead of toys [for Christmas] I'd get pencils and paints, and she always believed that kids should be given the opportunity to use good quality products which makes a huge difference," Sophie says.
"When my grandma passed away her art supplies were split between the three artists in the family - one of which was me.
"And from there I used the process to grieve a little bit because in using her products I realised that I'm my own person, I've got my own style and it's ok to be different."
Sophie's design signature is "smashing iconic things together". She started out with a magpie / fairy bread print, then launched a bin chicken / VB stubby / bin print, and then a print featuring the arboretum's 'Wide Brown Land' public art sign. She now sells her designs on both Redbubble and Etsy.
"I was on my lunch break the other day and a lady walked past with one of my Skywhale bags," she says.
"I was like oh my God what is happening? It was totally surreal.
"I just love how people get as much joy out of my designs as I do."