Tag Archives: hand-made

Front Porch by Fiona Lenord

15 Jun

Upcycle: verb. To reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original, moving it ‘up’ the consumer goods chain.

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I love creative people who breathe new life into old things. I’m not talking about The Toy Story theory of extending a discarded item’s life by passing it on to another to be loved all over again but rather upcycling. Pushing the boundaries of an item’s original purpose and creating a new form. Front Porch is one such brand riding the upcycling wave. Front Porch was launched in 2012 by Fiona Lenord after making a tree change to the Blue Mountains, NSW. Behind the brand is Fiona’s 23 years experience as a Textile Designer specialising in hand painted florals, including 13 years with iconic Australian brand Sheridan. This wealth of experience shines through her apparel and homewares designs. The attention to detail and the love put into each piece is really beautiful.

FP cushion

The Front Porch signature piece is a dress made from upcycled textiles. The design is a simple strappy A line cut with a soft rope drawstring, tapering down to varying lengths. Fiona describes her latest best seller, The Foofoo, as “the love child of a poncho and a kimono. Both styles can be layered up and down for all seasons. Worn casually or dressed up for weddings and formal events”.

FP foo

A keen op shopper who loves hunting through secondhand stores and flea markets for vintage items, Fiona found herself “rescuing” old fabric like brocade, seersucker, vintage lace, retro 60’s prints, Australian printed tea towels, embroidered and crocheted tablecloths and doilies. The textiles span across the decades creating diversity in Front Porch, “I have a collection that is constantly rotating from soaking tub to a dye bath, clothes line, sewing machine and ironing board” notes Fiona. The history of the textiles also strike up sentimentality in her customers, some have even commissioned dresses made from family heirloom fabrics. “My biggest surprise has been the repeat customers. I have some customers who own over 30 of my dresses! I have met an amazing network of creative women and friends through this venture and feel lucky to have bonded so quickly with the Blue Mountains community”.

FPCollage

In keeping with the nostalgia of her products is Fiona’s brand name: Front Porch, “I wanted a name with nostalgia, history and quintessentially Australian. I grew up on a fruit Orchard in Kurmond. Our fibro 1960s bungalow had a decorative Besser block Front porch. It was a backdrop to many family photos, a place to greet visitors and hang out.”

 

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This is my Front Porch dress (above) made from a white tablecloth with pale blue embroidery and trimmed with vintage lace. Not only is it cool to wear on hot days and perfect for throwing over my cossies at the beach, it’s also super comfy! I honestly feel like I’m wearing my PJs but I must look fabulous as I always get comments whenever I wear this.

FP plum

I first met Fiona on her stall at The Bluebird Market in Leura and now I have the privilege of calling her my friend. Talented designer is but one of her many hats. Fiona is also a wonderful mother, a professional wearer of red lipstick and owner of a great infectious laugh. I urge you all to seek her out. Front Porch has a stall at The Glenbrook Rotary Market on the 3rd Saturday of every month in the lower Blue Mountains. This is a lovely market full of local farmers, bakers, artisans and producers. Front Porch also visits other Sydney markets so please Like the Front Porch Facebook page for updates. Fiona regularly sells direct from her Front Porch Facebook page so even if you are not in Sydney you can still own one these unique pieces.

Fporch

Do you own a Front Porch original?

* Thank you to Fiona Lenord for the use of some of her images.

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Creative Berowra Market

11 Nov

It was such a lovely sunny day this morning that we decided to abandon our (boring) plans to catch up on some overdue jobs around the house and go market hunting. So we rounded up the offspring, jumped in the car & headed a short way up the F3 to Berowra. Following the signs peppered along the road like Hansel & Gretal’s breadcrumb trail we found the Creative Berowra Market.

Creative Berowra Market

This is a small community market of approx 30 stallholders mostly local to Berowra. As the name suggests many of the goods for sale are lovingly hand-made – biscuits, skin care, preserves, candles, jewellery, cards, quilling, children’s wear and toys. We ate cute little cupcakes with buttercream icing by Cupcake It, sniffed all the luscious soy candles by Sticky Wick Candles and finally purchased one scented with orange & cinnamon, perfect to burn at christmas. I even picked up some tableware for $2 a piece and a cute circus themed notepad with bookmark and pen attached for Little Miss.

Cupcake It

The market makes use of the school hall providing shelter for several stalls and a stage for entertainment. Today we were lucky enough to watch a very funny magic show by  Bill Bell. The magician captivated all the kids (and many adults) for about an hour and yes he even had a white rabbit.

Bill Bell’s Magic Show

In fact kids are well catered for at this market, ours didn’t want to leave! As well as the magic show, there was a face painting stall, icy snow cones to devour, not one but two jumping castles! A huge playground to climb and live music to boogie the day away. Stalls selling delicious home-made biscuits and cupcakes as well as the obligatory Turkish Gozleme stand. Our kids are addicted to these things, we can’t go to a market without them begging for one and it seems that you can’t run a market these days without a Gozleme stand?

You know that saying, give a kid a fantastical high tech toy and all they really want is the box to play in? Well Creative Berowra have put this concept to good use. One of the big hits for kids at the market consisted of a picnic blanket lain under the shade of a tree and strewn with the contents of a recycle bin – cardboard, yogurt containers, plastic bottles, foil, bottle tops etc. With the aid of glue, sticky tape, scissors and their imagination, kids were asked to create a robot. One of our girls created a pink robot using toilet rolls, whilst the other made a video game console utilising an empty roll on deodorant as the touch pad. Genius!

Recycled craft

What really struck us about this market was it’s village atmosphere. It was the lovely people of Berowra who really made the market a friendly community space. Complete strangers just struck up conversation with us, came to our aid when my daughter fell and scraped her knee, complimented the kids on their recycled robot creations. Even though we are not locals to the area, we felt welcome and heartened to see local people so passionate about their community.

The Creative Berowra Market is held on the second Sunday of the month from 9am-2pm at Berowra Public School on Berowra Waters rd.

Creative Berowra

The Dress Up Box

22 Mar

My kids are so spoilt. Their collection of dress ups is the stuff of my childhood dreams. Most of my youth was spent off in LaLa Land pretending I was a gypsy princess wandering the vast mystical lands on some adventure or another. I spent my days singing in the tops of trees, making cubby houses and forcing my parents to watch (and pay for tickets to) yet another one of my “shows”. It is with much pride that I now watch my offspring play pretend with as much imagination as I once did. Its becoming a lost art in this electronic age where kids are lost in video games instead of their imaginations. Sometimes they need props to make pretend a little more real for them. Dress ups can ignite even the most reluctant player.

Over the years I have accumulated quite an impressive collection of kid’s dress ups, practically all of it sourced from op shops for next to nothing. Luckily I have girls as most of what’s on offer in stores are retired dancing costumes but I often spot a superhero suit or a cowboy hat in the mix. Although the young boys that visit our house are not as adverse to sequins and feather boas as you might think. In the heat of play kids abandon learned gender stereotypes like; boys don’t wear dresses, oh really?

Dancing costumes I picked up yesterday at St Vinnies.

Some op shops have a designated fancy dress section where you might find options for children and adults, wedding dresses, school uniforms and ethnic clothing like beautiful Indian saris. Prices vary but generally I’ve been able to pick up kids sized dress ups for as little as fifty cents, $1-$3. Considering the work that has gone into some of those dancing/ice-skating costumes, it’s an absolute bargain! My daughter dances and I often fork out up to $100 per costume. Costumes that are handmade and adorned with sequins & beadwork.

Little Miss loved this op shop ensemble. She thought she might wear it to the school disco!

Many people go to their local op shop looking for specific fancy dress items for an event like a retro party (unlike me who is just looking for any fancy dress all of the time). This is not as easy as it first appears. Unseasoned op shoppers are often overwhelmed by the whole op shopping experience. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask the staff. I’m sure they get asked if they have any khaki safari suits all the time.

Have you been fancy dress hunting at the op shop? What did you find?

Eumundi Market

14 Mar

The Eumundi Market has become a landmark in Queensland, a huge tourist attraction and money earner for what would otherwise be just another sleepy town in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. This community venture has been operating for more than 30 years now. The first market day was held in the CWA hall with 3 stalls in 1979 with only 8 visitors. Numbers have now swelled to a whopping 600 stalls and 1.6million visitors a year making it the biggest art and craft market in Australia.

Eumundi market from Memorial Dr

Eumundi Market is located right in the centre of Eumundi just off the Bruce Hwy a little over an hour north of Brisbane. So popular is the market now that there are 2 trading days – Wednesday 8am-1.30pm and Saturday 7am-2pm. Trading spans over a number of sites from traditional market stalls with marquees and tables to permanent shops and the bohemian stalls tucked behind the shops across the main road, so be sure to visit them all.

permanent shop stalls

We have visited the market a few times now and whilst it becomes easier to navigate your way around the rabbit warren of stalls whilst trying not to lose your offspring in the process with each visit, I do miss the excitement of our first time. The awe of the beautiful town with lovely cafes & shops, the squeals of delight from the kids at the sight of the playground, the thrill of the hunt – browsing the stalls not knowing what treasure might lie in the next aisle. So what advice could I give you that hasn’t already been listed on the comprehensive Eumundi Market website?

Market stalls under the fig trees

1. Get there early. TONS of people flock to this market in the peak xmas holiday period. Don’t be surprised to see a line of cars leading right back to the highway. There is a huge paddock of a carpark behind the market, just follow the signs. There is a parking fee but the money feeds back into the community. Skip the buffet breakfast at your hotel and grab some of the yummy fresh food on offer at the market. Trust me you will want to sample everything.

2. Prepare to get sweaty. It can get really hot and humid in Eumundi, add to that thousands of people crammed together in a mosh pit of consumerism and its going to get sticky. Wear cool clothes and keep hydrated. Take a break under the sanctuary of the heritage listed fig trees while the kids let off stream in the fantastic playground all right next to the market.

The playground

3. Overwhelmed by the sheer choice on offer? Buy local. I like to support small business in the community. I look for unique lovingly handmade items that I won’t find back home or in a retail shop. Hand thrown ceramic bowls, good enough to eat natural beauty products, locally designed clothes, home made soap and candles. On our first visit we were lucky enough to stumble upon the best curry pastes I have ever used – Life’s Good Curry Pastes. We even got to chat with the producer, Sam who gave us lots of alternative recipes for using the pastes. Needless to say I have repurchased the range on every visit.

4. Shop further than the market. Eumundi is home to some great retail therapy in and around the main street. We loved the beautiful handmade chocolates from Cocoa Chocolat. The local pub featured an impressive line up of live music for those staying overnight.

Busker outside the park

5. Work up an appetite. My favourite thing about this market is all the wonderful food on offer. I want it all! Balinese, Spanish, Turkish, Thai, French,German, Indian, Greek and more. So after refueling for breakfast, morning tea, coffee, lunch, snacks and impulse eating whatever takes our fancy it is a relief to be able to buy lots of delectable produce to take home as well. We stocked up on TonKen’s exotic chutneys. The kids wanted plump strawberries and passionfruits. I got a bag of fresh mini cinnamon & raisin bagels from The Bagel Boys to take home for a cuppa later on but they were so irresistible that they didn’t survive the drive back!

Have you been to Eumundi? What did you love?

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