WE HEART MIROSLAV SASEK

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Last year Maree went on the BIG TOUR. With her family and that means mum dad, husband (handsome Bruce) and three adorable kids….you get the picture.

This year, like this weekend, Anna is following suit with Mum, Dad, boyfriend (handsome Graham) and two adorable, very naughty kids…is heading to London and Paris and some other exotic joints in between.

High in our mind, when a BIG TRIP is afoot are the charming 1950s travel books for kids by Mirsoslav Sasek. These books describe cities for kids with historic majesty, local colour (LOTS) and charming customs, some of which have changed very little.The fiesty market of Les Halles is gone in Paris, and in London men don’t really wear bowler hats anymore… and yet the essential character captured in Sasek’s eloquent and witty illustrations lives on. Anna, somehow, is going to hustle the books into her hand luggage and read them to her brats (sorry darlings) on the plane. When she can wrench the iPads out of their little hands.

Sadly this time, Rome is not on the menu but that book is also a beauty! And we think he also did Australia… How we love a vagabond. No matter how firmly rooted Little Branch is to local soil, a part of us is always wandering.

x Little Branch

Poppy mad at Little Branch

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Preparing the new card collection we can’t resist the floppy, poignant, unpredictable and downright Expressionist charm of the Poppy.

The European view of the poppy is verdant scarlet. Red and a symbol of war veterans and war brides and red lipstick and sad dance hall nights. But to us Poppies are every shade of yellow and orange and funky tangerine.

In the 80s Anna hated Poppies because she thought they were “so seventies”.
Now she dislikes gerberas because they “are so nineties”. But who could ignore a poppy. They are like the muppets of the flower kingdom. Starting off all harsh and furry and then bursting into wild colour like a mad hat at Ascot.

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Poppies remind us of spring and couture and the English Eccentric Isabella Blow who always wore giant flowers on her head and red rouge on her sardonic smile. Also we still love Poppy King, the home grown lipstick magnet that had everyone kissing neutral smiles goodbye. Poppy where are you? We toast you with a frosty glass of spring time Sangria.

x Little Branch

jessica goes to paris

I ran out of time to send a card so I made a collage for my lovely friend, urban environmental activist, author, astral visionary and god mother extraordinaire Jessica Adams.

It’s in the scruffy glamorous Little Branch house style of foliage, jewels, some crazy scent (thank you Chanel boutique) and pure colour. Maybe this is actually our first perfumed collage!

Jessica’s birthday is today, July 25th and she will be rambling around Paris.

This is how we imagine her day.

Happy Birthday Jessica

x Anna

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UPDATE… LITTLE BRANCH, BIG TREE

Michael Johnson - 'Oceania high low'

Michael Johnson – ‘Oceania high low’

Anna’s granny painted. Her uncles paint. Her sister in law, Helga Groves, is a black sheep post minimal artist with a beautiful show now on exhibit at Sutton Gallery in Melbourne, and her brother and father are well known abstract artists who are both well versed in the adventure of colour.Right now they are having a bit of a moment.

Matthew just opened an accomplished and delicately subtle show at Olsen Irwin Gallery in Paddington. The works are large and luminous.

Also this week Michael’s large work OCEANIA HIGH LOW (based on the vast network of islands large and small that form Oceania) was hung in the Art Gallery of New South Wales as a finalist in the annual Wynne Prize. And, this morning,  it has been chosen as the winner. Bravo Michael! 

Together it’s quite an avalanche of colour and generates the sort of mood that we love… summer that never ends, evocative forms that make you dream and a blissful continual experiment in paint.

Hat’s off to Michael. Experiments are always vital!

 

OCEANIA HIGH LOW 

Because of our imposing geographical mass as a single continent, Australia is often viewed as its own entity, rather than what it really is: a vast island in a sea of islands known as Oceania.This work pays homage to the origin myths of Oceania, particularly the Maori legend of the sky and earth being separated to admit the light of day.

Landscape is so often signalled by the division of sea and sky but this work deals with convex space rather than a conventional horizontal perspective. With a wider scale and a paler palette, I explore the inverted geology under the sea or the unmapped strata of clouds.
- Michael Johnson, 2014

LITTLE BRANCH, BIG TREE

Michael Johnson - 'Oceania high low'

Michael Johnson – ‘Oceania high low’

Anna’s granny painted. Her uncles paint. Her sister in law is a black sheep post minimal artist but her brother and father are well known abstract artists who are both well versed in the adventure of colour.

This week Michael’s large work (based on the vast network of islands large and small that form Oceania) was hung in the Art Gallery of New South Wales as a finalist in the annual Wynne Prize and Matthew opened an accomplished subtle show at Olsen Irwin Gallery in Paddington.

Matthew Johnson 'Arum Verte'

Matthew Johnson ‘Arum Verte’

Together it’s quite an avalanche of colour and generates the sort of mood that we love….summer that never ends, evocative forms that make you dream and a blissful continual experiment in paint.

FORGET PICASSO

Francoise Gilot

Francoise Gilot

Loads of people say that the best thing about Pablo Picasso were “his” women and that their beauty was like a ray of light breaking through a ruin. We feel that way when we look at his drawings of Francoise Gilot, the eternal muse and dark siren who accompanied Pablo to the bull ring yin the blazing sun and famously danced for him under a fringed parasol on the beach.

Our good friend Harriet Griffey caught up with Francois in New York in May (London’s Financial Times) and we are looking at her face for a new series of monochrome prints. Isn’t she an eternal grace, ageless and strangely modern? Almond eyes to launch a thousand galleons, hair like the night and lips the dwell forever on the edge of a smile.

A GOOD SALE IS (NOT SO) HARD TO FIND

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Hard to Find understand the shopping mind.

They totally get that, blah it’s the middle of winter I need a visual equivalent to hot chocolate…feeling. And they know that around mid-year your kid’s rooms need a big pick me up. They also know that fifteen dollars off might just be enough to sway someone into treating themselves.

So… while we are putting the finishing touches on our website please pop along to the beautiful online lolly shop that is Hard to Find and check out our sale. Treats like wrapping paper or lush gifts like a limited edition art print trilogy might just the slice of sunshine you need.

JUST MARRIED, JUST DELICIOUS

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If Little Branch could choose a gorgeous mansion in which to take up artists in residency… it would have to be Ripponlea in Melbourne. Owned and lovingly maintained by the Victorian National Trust, this Italianate mansion is currently hosting a costume exhibition steeped in drama, romance and opulence. It is called LOVE, DESIRE AND RICHES and Anna had a sneak preview yesterday when she spoke with the very gifted Akira Isogawa. Sitting in the ballroom under the art deco stars was a delight and the vintage rose fines and crazy fern house are bound to make it into a new art print or card collection for us very soon.

If you need a touch more romance in your quotidean existence or conversely if you are a hardened anti-heroine, rush to this swell and elegant show and prepare to be astonished!

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We loved the costume from Roman Polanski’s TESS, we loved Collette Dinnigan’s epic crystal ecrusted gown and we really adored the red wedding dress by Akira in embroidered silk. For something old something new, something borrowed and something dreamily blue dip into history then try out the new cafe in the stable decorated by Christina Re and opening this weekend.

Anna had to be dragged away in a National Trust van… because she wanted to sleep the night under Miss Havesham’s grand dining table! Dressed head to toe in spider web lace.

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Love, Desire & Riches comprises a wide ranging exploration of over 200 years of marriage. Romance is never without drama and costumes from great moments in literature and film will be placed along side real life love stories of the women and men of Melbourne. 

The exhibition feaures dresses from world renowned fashion houses such as Valentino, Maticevski, Akira and a unique collection of rarely seen celebrity wedding dresses sourced both locally and internationally. 

A vast collection of dresses from the 18th to 21st centuries will also feature prominently within the exhibition.

AT LONG LAST…. LITTLE BRANCH

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Where on earth have we been, right?

Well you know websites. they are a bit like sock drawers. So hard to get to the bottom and sort it all out. We just kept adding things and day dreaming and making new art as well!

But we have finally got it all in one big vivid  bouquet and will be back bright and beautiful in mid July. Do drop in for art prints, digital decorations and original water-colours.

We’ve missed you.

Anna & Maree 

Here comes the sun, little darling.

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We were looking at old silk scarves by Vera. And the dresses that are getting packed away for autumn. And the influence of that crystal autumn light when we came up with a new sunflowers patterns for a forthcoming card collection. The funny thing about Little Branch is that summer never really ends for us, even when the cardigans are coming out of moth balls.

Is that denial or optimism…or both?

Little Branch cards are for available for wholesale customers thru our distributor Vevoke in Australia.
‘Sunflowers’ pictured above is one of our new designs releasing in August 2014 in Australia.

Hatching something new…

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HATCHING SOMETHING NEW AT LITTLE BRANCH

Wishing you a safe happy abundant Easter holiday and loving everything pastel and tinsel and chocolatey. Yum. It’s been a little quiet as our noses twitch and our tails bounce getting our new site ready for a May 1st launch.

Get ready for new art, new ideas and a whole world of colour in the Australian Autumn of 2014.

Thanks for being patient.

Love, Maree & Anna

“The tradition of painted eggs dates back 2500 years ago and was created by the Zoroastrians for Nowrooz. They painted the eggs to celebrate the New Year which falls during the spring equinox.” Huffington Post

LIVING WITH ART and THINGS YOU LOVE

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silver pumps by Sophie Cox

 

ISN’T IT ODD….

That sometimes the photos and necklaces and art works and kid’s scrawls and love letters and vintage posters and polaroids and postcards we stick up on the walls of our house get stuck. Sometimes for what seems like decades?

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We move furniture and change curtains and go mad with bed spreads and yet there is something strangely holy about what we place on the walls.

Well…for autumn, why not change all that and create new galleries in your house?

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Start with the hallway. What have you got banging about other than umbrellas and a 60s chair? Make a story with images all in monochrome or lemon yellow? Get some vintage frames and paint them olive green. Mix watercolours and oils and plastic and newspaper.

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Then look at the seriously grown-up rooms in your house. Is a single lonely image hanging them? Give it company. Make a happening. Be irreverent and give yourself a laugh. Change is energy. Your house is a visual sentence so make it a poem or a rude song. Blu tac and loud music put us in the mood to shift things around.And this isn’t the usual domestic grind of cleaning and clearing the decks. It’s art darling…your way.

SPRING IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE (OF OUR MINDS)

As we launch a new collection of watercolours we were wondering where all the amorphic forms keep coming from. Why are flowers sprouting into sea sponges and petals melting into setting suns. Somewhere in our memory must be the endless Spring of the symbolist painter Odilon Redon. A visionary before LSD or Biba dress prints were invented or known. These paintings are romantic and vivid and mad and we quite love them. Or in the words of Van Morrison “Dream on John Donne….”

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Au Revoir Collette

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Dusk was falling in Woollahra and the last of the champagne was being poured in the beautiful pale salon on Queen Street. The owner was resplendent in floor length chiffon. Her loyal staff were in lace and French silk and her daughter Estella lounged on a setee relaxed amongst all the buttons and bows. A few brides wafted in and out and I dropped in to say thank you to a designer I have know since the days when she sold hand made lace pieces at Paddington markets and held exotic shows full of parasols and wild roses. If you know a designer from a moment when you could slink into a sample size then you know it has been a few decades. 

Every time Little Branch feature a lace dress (Like the most recent drawing featured above) it’s Dinnigan we’re thinking of and I refuse to believe she will not be making exquisite things in the future. Her touch and her line as well as her truly unusual palette from pale biscuit to electric palm Beach orange, lemon yellow and Gentian blue… all of this is with us every collection. It wasn’t just clothes…it was a vision of glamour home grown, intricately executed and boldly exported.

 Bravo Collette! Merci for the beauty. A hot house full of flowers that will never perish or fade.

 Love Anna and Maree

VIVA RULES, OK?

 

The Australian Magazine - Feb 2014

 

Viva Vayspap helped style the lifestyle shoot we are using to launch our new website in MARCH. And she also had Anna draw the watercolour for this weekend’s hot rock jewel spread in The Weekend Australian. Viva’s style is poetic, exploratory and always bohemian in the true sense. Long may we work together and collaborate creatively.

Little Branch at Reed

Just a little note to our lovely retailers of our card and wrapping ranges that our Distributor Vevoke will be showing the Little Branch range at the Home & Giving Trade Show,  Homebush, Stand HR11 | Feb 15-18th 2014. We have a great new collection of Little Branch designs also launching.

We have a little sneak peek here for you below.

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Life Instyle with Urban Road

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We are delighted to announce that our canvas collaboration with Urban Road will be on display at Life Instyle Sydney 13th-16th February 2014.
(please note this a trade only event)

So any of our lovely retailers who are keen to stock our range of canvases inshore this is a great opportunity to drop in and see them up close and personal. PLUS we are deliriously happy to say that we will be also launching our SECOND canvas collection range with Urban Road at Life Instyle and also drumroll… CUSHIONS!!! Eek! We are soooo excited!

If you are unable to make it to the show you can also register online for wholesale access and purchase direct from Urban Road here.

Image: Chris Warnes  |  Canvas: The Postman’s Daughter

Spotted!

We are back in the studio after a lovely long holiday break and we delighted to see the lovely ladies at Sarbe celebrated Christmas adorning their table with our Violet wrapping paper as a table runner! What a lovely idea and we think it looks beautiful!

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Sweet gratitude y’all

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On Saturday Maree came to Sydney and we did a crazy six hour shoot for the new website and look book. I have never cleaned like that before and until the Queen comes for tea probably never will again. The theme was Palm Beach meets Bollywood meets French botanical children’s books…but that only emerged after I saw the swag of tiny butterflies cut from wrapping paper that fell out of Maree’s suitcase…of course we could have shot for days. Weeks maybe.

We were really showered with great talent, energy and generosity for this Little Branch production.

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We would like to send a virtual bouquet of lilac, hydrangea, violets and snap dragons to the following critical contributors:

PHOTOGRAPHY…
by the divinely relaxed and very inventive Chris Warnes.

FLOWERS…
by the very talented and intuitive Kylie at Portobello Rose, Northbridge.

STYLING…
by the magical mercurial Viva Vayspap (on what should have been her day off!)

TRANSPORT…
by Ellie Maslen, who looks very cool in gum boots and bare legs.

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PROPS AND HOMEWARES…
We were very lucky to borrow beautiful things from The Bay Tree, Pigotts’s Store and Edit. All in Woollahra and all perfect for Christmas shopping and decorating and matching with our artwork!

Thank you also to Suzie at Urban Road, our collaborative partner for our new canvas collection.

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Back at home holding the fort, Graham and Bruce.  And to Marcello for letting us put “girl stuff” in your bedroom.

A & M xxx

When in doubt make bunting.

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The intrepid Bonnie of the very happy blog spot:
http://bouncingbonbon.blogspot.com.au/p/about-me.html
Made a bunting for her bedroom… what we love is the odd shapes and different sizes of her material. Bunting is often mass produced and cookie cutter but this one has a really personal charm. She also has  very sweet line in stuffed owls that she sells on her very home crafted website Bonnie Designs. Go go Bonnie!

http://bouncingbonbon.blogspot.com.au

The distant echo of jingle bells…

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It’s November the 13th. And we can feel it…despite the fact that sun is blazing blue in Sydney and in Queensland we can smell pine cones and hear sleigh bells and the rustling of women all over this big country digging through dusty boxes full of ornaments.

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Christmas fever. I try to resist it. Sometimes I try and tweak it to…Like styling silver and white Christmas or Mexican Christmas but deep down I am a totally corny Cherry red and bright green Christmas traditionalist.

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At Little Branch we often paint dresses on their own. We love the way a disembodied frock carries the spirit and the ghosts of festivities past and that sort of blind promise of a vintage dress that has been hand washed and ironed or a home made dress created just for the occasion. For new (but home made) Christmas dresses we often ramble through Etsy and if a dress is unaffordable a new apron will do.

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Yeah…we’re corny. But I do not do Turkey in a heatwave, OK?

We HEART Print & Pattern

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Even though Little Branch is not overtly FOLKY, SCANDO, CANDY COLOURED, MYTHOLOGICAL, DISNEY OR RETRO KITSCHY NINETEEN SIXTIES…. We actually really like that sort of thing.

And when we need a fix we go to the Brit Pop palace of all things paper and print we go to print & pattern an English website with a mysterious author that proffers fun, fun, fun!

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This blog spot has produced a few books, offers sensible advice to young designers and troves the British Isles looking for all things patterned and perky. Here are just a few juicy pages and one day may we also be featured in such good company!

The world really is their biscuit tin.

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All house… no garden

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH LITTLE BRANCH
Little Branch | Inside House & Garden

The day that House and Garden came to shoot our new canvases we decided to create a living room evocative of the 1920s with a dash of seventies Boho grit thrown in. OK, maybe more than a dash. Anna was on her own for the shoot as Maree was battling the end days of school holidays…but as always the ideas and the fantasies and the palette were all on the same page.

Using our favourite photography prop, Anna’s mum’s Indian dowry chest from Bombay we started piling on the art noveau French enamel vases, the bibelot, the buds (thank you Grandiflora) and all the shades of green, lilac, purple and scarlet that echoed the big new art work in frame.

Off camera it looked mental. I mean really something like a forested hippie shrine but amazingly the image looked different through the view finder. I dug up a dress from the Trelise Cooper 2013 Spring Collection that looks exactly like Monet’s garden in Giverny (yes it is now on lay-by),  a pair of pale lavender Manolo Blahnik suede heels and some stunning Bunda jewels. Lucy McCabe was swift and light hearted but when the shot was ready I am sorry to say the nanny was gone and this uber style Queen had to hold the baby. That’s no way to treat an editor! But it was nap time and little Violet’s lace dress was itching her…and all the little mite wanted to do was climb on and off a fragile silk chair. Then John Paul Urizar, the photographer had to rush when this didn’t really work and then the cat didn’t want to be in the picture. Oh arkie you are so moody.

Just as soon as it had all began it was over and we sat down to cold coffee and cherry strudel and the flat was full of flowers and beautiful unworn dresses and two giant imposing Little Branch canvases. Oddly the abundance of it all started to look normal and I had a faintly Norma Desmond moment where I imagined I would be spending the fading dusk eating candied volets floating in champagne in a cool bath strewn with fresh orchids. But no. Instead I ran around putting fragile vases as high as I could and saving delicate blooms from the blazing heat. That Gatsby fellow had servants I believe.

The picture finally chosen by the magazine features an artwork that is a tiny bit larger than life but…it could be yours…Our canvas collection with Urban Road is so new that if word reaches us that people want their flowers big. Big they shall be..

Deep down I feel everyone has a little bit of twenties diva in her soul. That shoot had me reaching for my satin pyjamas and wishing the big white funky Grandiflora flower truck manned by Saskia and Grace was coming every Thursday. Big sigh. There is nothing more glamorous than a room full of lilac and delphinium with Louis Armstrong singing Ma Vie en Rose. Thank you House and Garden for featuring us on the Insider page in their bumper glorious Christmas issue and next time Maree it’s your turn to enshrine your front room or we (finally) get to be photographed together, in the same space in different dresses. Two Little Branchettes are always better than one.

The Little Branch for Urban Road canvas collection is available here.

 

House & Garden

Goth on Cup Day

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Already with the Kate Middleton-esque flesh coloured parent leather high heels and odd jewel toned royal family cocktail dresses with matching feathered fascinators deemed as celebrity race wear.

This year…if Little Branch went to the Cup we’d go goth. Yes. Black lace in the blazing sun. With a squirt of Chanel no 5 and black nail polish.

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Perhaps we are in mourning for the resignations of two major
Queens of Australian Femme style. First Alannah Hill and now, Collette Dinnigan.
We salute you and no one will ever equal your ways with lace…
Black and otherwise.

California here we come!

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This weekend (November 2) a very cool show opens at the Queensland Art Gallery. Anna saw it in Auckland the day before it closed and was making mental notes for me but that wasn’t really necessary as I will scoot up to Brisbane and get my fill of all things angular, bright, Americana and Moderne.

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Organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and curated by Wendy Kaplan (Curator and Department Head) and Bobbye Tigerman (Associate Curator) from LACMA’s Decorative Arts and Design Department, the exhibition presents over 250 objects, including an iconic aluminium 1936 Airstream ‘Clipper’ trailer. I think the trailer would make a great Little Branch office and I guess we could wear retro swimsuits as playsuits….

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Highlights of the show include objects by the acclaimed designers Charles and Ray Eames, Henry Dreyfuss, Dorothy Wright Liebes and Raymond Loewy and we are very keen to check out the museum’s pop-up shop created just for this show as well.

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All Hail & Farewell The Queen of Lace

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Collette Dinnigan laces in and out of my life. I remember her selling amazing lingerie at Paddington Markets, little camisoles and knickers that looked like they stepped out of an 18th century boudoir. I interviewed her for Vogue when I was in my 20s and she kindly lent me a silk dress to wear to the launch of my first book, Three Black Skirts. I also remember being small enough to squeeze into her sample sized sale dresses and the frenzy that seemed to last late late into the night at her annual warehouse sales.

Like Chanel, the quietly intense blonde designer always had the sort of cachet that evokes a world of opulence the minute you hear the name. It’s luxury, yes, but with an intimate hand wrought quality, her’s was never a faceless brand or a corporate house. She is one truly great Australian designer that seemed to deepen her commitment to quality season after season. I obsessed about her prints and fabrics and her love of the colour yellow. I watched her converse with so many subtle aspects of a dress from a grosgrain belt to a well placed sleeve. A cynic might say her clothes were for the jet set but that star dust settled far and wide. On a freelance salary, I rationalised several of her evening dresses on price per wear… and of course it was always worth the money. If you invested in one of her frocks it worked strange magic for you. Mine did year after year.

Today, an email from Dinnigan in her own hand writing said that despite a highly burgeoning business she didn’t want to miss her children growing up. With her new book out for Christmas and well earned international respect she is retiring at the height of her powers.

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The simplicity of this is striking. Imagine what is has taken to build up a 14 million dollar international business and design collection after collection. Delegation wasn’t part of her design truth. I know Collette’s work on sight and it is obvious that her hand and her eye have been in every garment. No one curates and cuts fine fabrics like this woman. No one seems to tweak the past into the present like she has.

I always imagined my wedding dress would be by her and the big shop on Queen Street has been a favourite place to dream. It’s not nice to think it will close in January. A little bit of polished theatrical beauty is leaving the world.

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Often I see Collette, Our Lady of Lace, on the school run (her daughter is a year above my son) and I always admire her composure. Because everyone envies a truly successful woman but no one envies the work load…especially with two kids. Next time I see her she will look even more relaxed and I feel she deserves double praise. For creating something truly beautifully original over many long years, for being one of the first to show in Paris, for cherishing the female body, for supporting writers and artists of her own generation and for being a Mum. Bravo CD.

X Love, Little Branch

Lou Reed

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“One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it.
Three chords and you’re into jazz.”

Lou Reed is dead. It’s hard to imagine anyone from his sort of world living to 71. But he has passed and with him a large part of indigenous grimy transgressive New York City is also dead. The smoky voice of the Velvet Underground and possibly the world’s grumpiest artist, I once passed him on the street in Manhattan. Stupidly I smiled at him and said hello. What was I expecting? A cheery wave? He snarled, glared and shuffled forward. Deborah Harry was nicer, she squeezed out a sidewalk smile under her pork pie hat. But rock and roll is not about nice.

He is famous for the proto punk and grunge songs of the late sixties. Guitar rock at its most Zen. But…I also loved the album “New York”. Lou’s Manhattan was raw. it was pre-Starbucks and pre-renovated Times Square. It was the city that wore its desperate inequities on its sleeve and because Lou never seemed to write a song that was north of 14th street or south of Spanish Harlem, the “other New York” Woody Allen’s anxiously rich city was not his concern. He was thinking about children in the ghetto, society girls on smack, right wing governments and the environment. Often in the same song. Perhaps he wasn’t a “people person” but he had the integrity to embrace the broader issues in lacerating terms. It wasn’t all cynical cool.

Lou Reed was my hangover music when I was 19. And now, now I play “Walk on the Wild Side” while I pick up toys and vacuum. It doesn’t matter where you are in life when a song captures a single moment in time. Other music writers must be making lists in their heads right now of all the singers who have copied Lou. This was the man who made Bowie more experimental and this was the voice that every young band leader tries to emulate on that delicate transition from the shower to the pub stage. When I think about Lou Reed I can’t help but see him as a musical mirror to the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, another delicately handsome artist who explored transgender, gay pride, bondage and studded leather in detail. And so few people think of Lou as a gay or even particularlly bi rock star. He’s not Freddie Mercury, but his call to rebellion was on all levels. Everyone is straight now. Physically and literally. But Andy Warhol’s factory was the circus of the beautiful oddity, the glamorous freak and above all the black sheep.

Lou Reed is music for black sheep rebels and the people who wear black to breakfast. Forever. I haven’t worn a leather jacket since 1987. But I’d like to today. Over my pyjamas. With pearls. For Lou.

Why we love Kathy Dalwood’s loo

ARISTOCRATS PUT ART IN THE TOILET!

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And we don’t know why but perhaps it’s because they have quite so much art that the smaller pieces have to go in the WC? Here is Kathy Dalwood’s London loo. It’s a shade of Egyptian green and stuffed with small paintings. Clutter is considered posh. Not in Sydney but, you know,…over the pond. And what we like is the character it confers and to a degree the courage and eccentricity it represents. Because anyone can stick up one picture…but what about, eighteen?

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Oddly some of our deepest moments of art appreciation have not occured in museums. My grannie’s daisies in the kitchen get plenty of lime light. And in that spirit our first canvas collection is all about the art that is stumbled upon in a market, or looks a bit old fashioned, or stars in a crumbly Noble loo or could have modelled on a perfectly weird bouquet by Constance Spry.

Little Branch love a bit of a granny art…but then if you knew our grannies you’d know why.

Little Branch House & Garden (in about 18 vases)

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Maximalism is not fashionable. We know. But at Little Branch we love flowers so much that they EAT every photo shoot. And when Australian House & Garden asked us to name our eight favourite things for their Christmas issue…um, we must say that most of them sprout up from the earth! Buds never get old.

So….Imagine a florist like Saskia Havekes driving to your place in the middle of a heat wave opening up a cool van full of flowers and saying “What do you want?” Such a dangerous expensive question for floral fiends like us.

For one glorious day last week this apartment looked like Gloria Vanderbilt’s boudoir colliding with Diana’s Vreeland’s Chinese sitting room blended with Constance Spry’s wildest dreams. Saskia and Grace of Grandiflora stuffed the elevator full of mad native species and heady roses and smoky purple lilacs and blooms as big as small trees. The only thing that was missing really was a big hash pipe and some ceramic Zebras.

Sadly our dynamic duo was not united for this shoot and if Maree had been here she might have told me the vintage Bunda pearls were too much for midday but that’s the funny thing about photography and painting and glossy magazines…it does soak up detail and colour like a thirsty sponge. We printed our Italian Vase artwork on a massive canvas. I was terrified seeing it that big, but, now I say bring on the wallpaper and who wants a mural.

Center stage was this HUGE new canvas from our forthcoming canvas collection and a dress splattered with Irises and my shortness teetering in lavender suede Manolos and then Arkie the cat who got scooped up and shoved in the final shot…and yeah, it all looked pretty good together. Rather tasteful really. Look out for us in the December issue on the NEST page (on the stands first week of November) and here are some juicy still lives from the day (my crap photos).

Special thanks to The Bay Tree, BUNDA and Shapiro for a lending even more beauty and to Grandiflora for translating our art into a three dimensional manifestation…It was nature design and mid summer madness, to the max.

FORGET CY TWOMBLY, MEET THE WOMBLES…

YOUNG ARTISTS ARE GETTING CRAFTY IN A POST INDUSTRIAL SETTING AT THE SYDNEY CONTEMPORARY.

Well, I never thought I’d get a chance to attend an international art fair three juicy days in a row in my hometown but the ease of catching a train and then taking a small walk to the venue made it simple. By day three I felt like I was living at Redfern’s Carriage Works. And it didn’t feel like a mall or a haul, and instead it was good sophisticated fun. I loved the sense of space fostered by the vast vaulted ceiling, the unusually good vibes (there was a kid’s activity room), the weird art damaged men with plaited beards and tattooed butt cheeks and black satin bloomers. The serious poker faced American curators (were they American?). The delicate mousey little paint splattered art students. The extreme anxiety surrounding the Campos coffee cart. Because we all know that art runs on coffee. Black. No sugar. Why ask?

Highlights to my eye were the stands that featured just one artist. Rosemary Laing’s new work for Tolarno was evocative and melancholic and political.They featured a series of photographs of a forest floor carpeted in wet newspaper, an image at once suffocating and delicately beautiful. It made me think just how adapted we are to pollution, to waste and to the printed nature of every surface on earth.

Dale Frank 

And I never get sick of Dale Frank. Frank showed his bombastic beasty brash colour at more than one gallery and they looked good in the light, gleaming and glazed like very expensive doughnuts.There was quite a lot of art about racism (good news!) not that much art about sex (where is the push for erotica?) and a great deal of work on paper. Ink. Wash. Line drawings all seemed to be making a string return. Yet, in a show this big, it’s impossible to sense trends of any kind. Yet there was this vibe of seventies commune creativity seeping in.

I felt the creeping knotty Wombly influence of ceramics and the potters wheel in crafty new work by the Melbourne artist Suji Park at the stand for Tristian Koenig (www.tristiankoenig.com).  Those works felt like a discovery and that is a critical feature of a good art fair: that you will see very costly works by big brand names and quiet things by emerging artists. But the relief is in finding things you simply like. Things that are international, or obscure and freaky or brilliant museum standard Aboriginal art. The Rover Thomas paintings at Tim Klingender’s stand brought my whole family back three times. The room full of large paintings by Juan Davila was also a bit of  blast as anyone over 40 will know he was once an extremely controversial figure, the Pedro Amaldovar of Australian art.

 Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor
Anish Kapoor

Bravo to Sydney’s first international art fair. It deserved heaps more press but the general public voted with their feet anyway and opening night attracted 10,000 souls. Only some of them had plaited beards!!!

PS. Thanks to Rosie Lamb for helping Little Branch out with a press pass and tickets. Those new artists are headed straight to Vogue.

Anna x

 

Winners…

Charlotte & Meldi entered our daggy but well meant card contest and won our hearts with  their happy rationales. We have sent them both six of the best and we might throw in five dollars for a coffee. Wait a second does coffee really cost five dollars in New Zealand? No fair! 
 
Keep up the bespoke communication Charlotte & Meldi…
 
xxx Team Little Branch
1. Because: your endorphins explode to life when you open your letter-box and find a hand-written card from a friend!!
 
2. Because: As a reciever you feel as though someone truly cares for you.
 
3. Because: I feel a sense of achievement when i have put time into making, writing and sending a card.
 
4. Because: it is fun and you can get creative
 
5. Because: you can put a $5er in the card and your recipient can buy a coffee (i use to explode with joy when my Dad did this for me back in 1998!) 
 
6. Because: It keeps our posties employed!
 
Please please send me some of your lovely cards!!! I love the illustrations so much, they are the best I even bought Savvy Chic, and great advice in this, and the darling illustrations, Drool.
 
Charlotte

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 
 
 Hi there Little Branch!

I adore your cards. I found them at Ariel Books in Paddington last week, and bought three straight away.
 
Last night I looked up the website, so here goes for my six reasons why receiving a handwritten card makes the difference:
 
1. Receiving a handwritten card lights up your day and lifts up your heart, because it means someone has taken the trouble to put pen to paper and write a personal message to you. This conveys to the receiver that they are worth time and attention…and ultimately…love. A handwritten card shows the style and slant of a person’s writing, which communicates a lot about their personality and perhaps even their mood when they wrote to you.
 
2. Receiving a handwritten card with a beautiful and uplifting image on it warms the heart. Looking at something beautiful inspires us in our busy lives and reminds us there is beauty in the world. This is something that cannot be conveyed in emails, which are usually impersonal and convey little, if any, emotion.
 
3. Receiving a handwritten card is very meaningful because it’s something we can keep and treasure for years to come. It creates a bit of tangible history of the relationship between you and the person who sent you the card. I still have a beautiful card my aunt sent me when I was 14 – 29 years ago! It has dainty white flowers placed as notes on a musical stave and is set against a sky blue background. It’s absolutely stunning.
 
Another card I have kept has a funny drawing of a woodpecker playing the flute on it. A friend gave it to me when I was 15…we are still friends and she was a bridesmaid at my wedding in June 2012. She wrote: ‘last night I heard the most beautiful flute playing I have ever heard.’ She was writing about hearing me play the flute at a concert. When I feel a bit down etc I get this card out and read it as it encourages me and lifts me up. How beautiful and meaningful is that?
 
4. Choosing a card for someone is very personal. How many of us have stood in a newsagency or bookshop agonising over which card to choose? The kind of card we send to someone sends a clear message to the person we send it to as to what we think of them and of the message and emotion we would like to get across to them. The card you choose reflects your personal style and your thoughts and attitude to the person. When you think of it like that, no wonder it’s such a personal thing and we spend so much time thinking about it :-)
 
5. Receiving a handwritten card stands out in this age of technology; most people send a message via email, the phone, iphone, android, ipad or fax. Whatever happened to the humble telegram?! Receiving a handwritten card has become something unusual and special, and it is a permanent record.
 
6. I always remember a story I read about an old woman who put envelopes in her letter box late at night so she could go and collect them during the day. The goal was to communicate to her neighbours that she was still loved, that she was not forgotten, and people did still send her letters.
 
It’s amazing how powerful receiving a piece of mail ie a handwritten card can be and how valued and loved it can make us feel.
 
Your cards really struck a cord with me!
I collect beautiful cards and have for a long time.
 
All the very best,
Meldi 

From little things, big things grow.

prettiest bike in town

These days blogs have such a strong business vibe. What may have started small invariably balloons to MEGA with the forces of commerce squeezing out the soul of craft.

Not so for the humble and very talented Kate, author of www.greedyforcolour.blogspot.co.nz

Kate, an Australian Mum living with her family on a New Zealand dairy farm has a beautiful way with colour, very clear easy to follow tutorials (mainly for crochet) and she is a very sweet water colour artist to boot. What lucky kids!

Here is the crochet bunting she made for her bike.

Thanks for an uplifting Friday Miss Kate!

Anna x

The paper bag Princess

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Some years ago when I was working on a book that mapped a thousand year history of the handbag, I stumbled across Bonnie Cashin. Cashin was the original designer for COACH, a maverick designer of somewhat androgynous sportswear and above all a great fan of the hand made shopping bag. Bonnie crafted her own custom shopping bags and then went one to innovate linen leather and tweed shoulder bags that were shaped just like classic grocery bags except with a luxe finish.

I would like to make a gift bag from one of our wraps and I can share with you a very clever (animated) link to a tutorial we found on wiki how. Even a clumsy bum could get it right….
And why make a paper bag you might ask? To make a pretty house for your very worst household bills. To hang on the wall as utilitarian art. Or to make a file for love letters yet unsent. Or to look totally different to everyone else walking to the post office. Or, most whimsically…to show your kids what shopping bags looked like before plastic eat our universe. Come on get lively and get snipping!
Anna x

 

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THE WHITE ALBUM

white

When Maree and I want to spiritually and creatively re-charge we dip into the void, the cleansing clear energy of white. Not white sugar and not white bread and not liquid paper…. but beautiful things in culture and in nature that are monochrome. Pale pleasures make us happy. Perhaps because we work with so much colour. Perhaps because we live with the crayon crushing chaos of children… maybe it’s a faintly Catholic thing, but anywhere here is a little slice of vanilla scented heaven. When in doubt seek out white silk pajamas, look at a Cy Twombly painting, sip white tea from a china cup and gaze into the infinite possibility of a blank page or an empty canvas, everything begins and ends with light.

Anna x

Spring cleaning in progress

Little Branch Spring Burst

Little Branch are upgrading our website, changing our leaves, spring cleaning our online store but not changing our stripes. On the holding site we will still be blogging and invite our loyal customers and the creatively curious to seek out our art prints at Hard to Find

Our brand spanking new website will be up and running November 1st.
Thanks for your patience while we are under construction.
Little Branch | Instagram | Facebook | Email | Shop | Mailing List
Paper Flower made with Little Branch ‘Spring Burst’ wrapping paper by Hoso.

If We Had Twins in America, They Might Look Like This…

Elise & Emma A BEAUTIFUL MESS

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Emma is the blonde one. The one with amazing photography and styling skills whose style is contempo-classic. Elsie is the kooky one with 60s pop star hair like Zooey Deschanel and an obsession with vintage.

Together they are A BEAUTIFUL MESS a blog out of Springfield Missouri that became a fashion label (Red Velvet) a vintage boutique, and now…a book as well. We could just gobble them right up with a large wooden spoon.

These girls live and breathe DIY style and even uploaded their wedding videos and photography to show how 360 their integrity of vision really is.

It’s not often in the blogopshere that you see something really fresh and funny and un-cynical and whimsical and naughty and cool.

The Mess-ettes are all that and more. I am getting busy making a lampshade as fast as I can to shoot and send to the blonde one and the dark one. And this is a girl crush. So be it.

The book: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book: 95 Inspiring Ideas for Photographing Your Friends, Your World, and Yourself by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman (Aug 13, 2013)

Women in Business

The cool and uplifting website http://www.womeninbusiness.com.au was kind enough to interview team Little Branch about our backgrounds and how we got started.

Today they upload part two of the interviews and we love sipping watery coffee and reading about all the kick-arse women on their site.

Thank you Clare and have a look here if you want to go snooping through our back pages.

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Sorry, Thank You, P.S. I Love You

WE WILL SEND SIX BEAUTIFUL CARDS TO SOMEONE WHO CARES

There is an empty card on your desk that could light up your routine existence, pick up a pen and let the sun stream in

I visited a girlfriend last week who is an 80 year old bohemian. Her greatest rebellion (aside from buying a house in naughty Darlinghurst in the 1950s) as a young woman, and beyond, was to pin postcards to her living room walls.

They still flutter there like butterflies. Sometimes the breeze catches them. I wrote some of them. Perhaps she isn’t getting so many these days because of email. But I recall a time, not so long ago, when I would sit down on a Sunday night to patch and mend friendships by writing cards. I was especially prolific when far from home. Choosing Funny cards. Pretty cards. Personal or slightly arty or soppy cards. This weekend coming, hopefully on a rainy night, Maree and I are going to brew our favourite pear and green jasmine tea and do the same. Six cards to six people we love.

If you want to join the chain, send us six reasons why a hand written card makes the difference and we will send you six blank cards to light up the lives of those you love…or want to love. Hurry up! Why wait till Sunday night?

Post a comment to our Facebook page or email us hello@littlebranch.com.au

My Little Pirate

Boys change. One minute they are awe struck by Thomas and the next minute they are looking at you, squirming, going “Mum…seriously?” and they look like Renaissance angels and they sound like American sitcoms. But there are certain magical things that boys hold onto all the way to about eleven and one of them is a fascination with Pirates. Now they might start with classic pirate stories and wind up with Johnny Depp (sounds good to us) but the thing about Ye Olde Classic Pirate is that they are brave, and grubby, and a bit rock and very strange and lost in history and they speak oddly as well. When we created our PIrate boy and girl (for greeting cards and very cool bedroom prints!) there were certain children in mind. Pirate Marcello turns eight today. He knotty. He’s naughty. And he has three more years to stand on the bed screaming YEARGHHHH ME HEARTIES!

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We HEART Australian Works on Paper

If you wanted to start a great art collection tomorrow then you would begin by looking at works on paper. At Little Branch, we love drawing and we find it almost shocking, but also pretty wonderful, just how accessible and affordable drawings. etchings and prints are in Australia.

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The bouyant earthy painter Luke Sciberras opens tomorrow night in Sydney (www.olsenirwingallery.com.au) and Anna has been collecting his drawings of owls for a few years. Most of these animals are very elegant road kill that the painter scoops off the roads near his house and often hangs in the open air like a Flemish master. “More bloody owls?” he bellows down the phone from the bush. Actually yes. Anna prefers owls to dead chickens and pheasants and they happen to be Violet’s favourite too. Framed simply, we love to see the raw edge of the page, as fresh as if it was just scooped off the studio floor. These drawings have a pale grandeur and a tender attention to detail that evoke both the scrubby enduring landscape of Hill End where Luke has his rambling stone church studio and the far more ancient studies of naturalists such as Albrecht Durer. Also…we love the paper. For evry artist paper this costly and nubbly and dense is hand made and very precious. You can almost smell French art paper and the strange scent and crayon are comforting and familiar. Investing in the works of young artists feels good. And it doesn’t have to be scary. If you cant afford an oil…and, um, we can’t…then invest in a work on paper. And let your soul take flight.

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Home for the Holidays

Day four. NSW school holidays…is it day four? There seems to be cat fur on the walls. There is LEGO everywhere. I found Lego in my lingerie drawer! I keep running out of cherry tomatoes. Everyone is sick of pears. Um, they are also sick of mandarins. We are meant to be doing CRAFT and LOVING each other. Instead, we are making packet cakes and just getting on.

My friend Liane Rossler who is, like, a creative genius. Is painting her daughters nails with miniature watermelons (she actually got them to stay that still!!!). Um, Violet is a bit small for that. And tomorrow at the MCA they are doing a contemporary art workshop. BORING, I can imagine the boy screaming. Yet still we might try it.

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So It’s pancakes tomorrow. And more playdough and bits of lego jammed in playdough and when all else fails blogs and sites that allude to the CRAFT – some of our favourites being Lotta Magazine, BIG Kids Magazine, Kids Craft Club, Mini Eco, Mr Printables to name a few – we might never get to…

Just yesterday on the train this was the train of thought…

“Mum?”
“Yeah?”
“What is origami?”
“The art of paper folding and making cranes and stuff…”
“What is a person called who does origami?”
“An origamist…I love you so much.”
“Why?”
“Because I have always wanted to use the word origamist in casual conversation!”

Baby Steps

Shoes have such soul. Especially children’s shoes. And even if Maree’s kids are often barefoot in the sun and my boy is always in school shoes…there is nothing like a first pair of shoes. Violet is almost out of her scuffed pink leather Mary Janes. Her first steps were so proud and majestic in them. Last night a friend brought over old shoes: Converse, little velveteen slippers and Magic Red shoes. So sweet slightly worn…They will definitely end up in our watercolours.

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We invite our readers to send in their favourite images of their children’s shoes and their own shoes and we will run the best and loveliest image on July 5th. Hurry up, go to the cupboard and dust off your dancing shoes. The favourite image will receive a Little Branch digital print of beautiful SHOES! Of course it is!

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Email us your image to hello@littlebranch.com.au post it on our FACEBOOK page or INSTAGRAM us @littlebranchettes #littlebranchettesloveshoes

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Musing on Beauty and Mortality

Many of our good friends are florists. Kylie at Portobello Rose and Saskia at Grandiflora work everyday with the reality that beauty fades. But…um…we still can’t accept it. Flowers die quickly and as they die they twist with the most exquisite agony, their petals grow pale and wrinkle and blanche and the weight of their doom almost slows time. It’s understandable that people hang their roses by the throat in doorways and dry them. But dried flowers are so desolate. Lately we’ve been looking to orchids…for their longevity and their sophisticated erotic beauty. I suppose one outgrows daisies and gladioli are yet to return. Orchids are not flighty like the rose. Or eccentric like the poppy. They are almost the couture gown of botanicals. Well cut. Perfectly formed. All they lack really is scent. So today I bought their cheap little sister…the jonquil. And for six dollars I have immortality on the window sill…at least for three days. Thank goodness cards…and tartan pencil skirts last a little bit longer.

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Wrapped Up in Craft

Origamists. Yes that is a word. Origamists love our gift wrap because it is quite hearty and has a smooth beautiful surface. You can really hear the scissors sing when you make a gift tag or a flower or a cut out doll from one of our papers. This morning, start of our creative week, Little Branch are feeling crafty. We love the tender pretty paper sculptures made with nimble hands by British artist Jennifer Collier and have half a mind to send her some paper to play with. We are also looking to learn how to wrap a bit more lavishly this year for children’s birthdays and finding ways to weave Little Branch paper into home decor with a bit more capricious invention.

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We found a great tutorial for eco-gift wrapping with flair on the Green Earth Goodies blog, and really all it takes is a full pot of tea and little bit more time. Honestly as there is nothing on TV, we say, what on earth are you waiting for. Go ahead and delight someone!

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Maree is the paper pervert (I mean it is a fetish for her), and I am more textile oriented, but this manifests in me making life size dresses out of hand painted paper or planning some “silk” panels for home that are actually hand painted paper. Here are some yummy visuals to get you started and a special offer on our gift wrap. Slice into it!

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