Monday, 23 November 2015

Monochrome Magic

A whole bunch of (locally made) goodness

I recently collaborated with a few other talented Southland-based artisans to pull together some styled shots of our collective products.

Love from Seventeen: laser cut wood products, Watch this Space: concrete items, chair , Willow Boutique: personalised' t-shirt, The Penny Drops: moons, prints, hobby horse, deer banner. ]

Moral of the story: you need not look far for beautiful, original, handcrafted, artisan products.

Stamp your style on your rooms and support local creatives. 

It's a win-win relationship.

I can't shake the vision of the unlikely event in which a bunch of multinational boardroom corporate folk celebrate the purchase of the t-shirt "Mrs Jones bought from our Invercargill store". 

I know for a fact that every 't-shirt' (or print, or concrete diamond or bear garland) you buy from a small, but aspirational, artisan will be hugely appreciated and rejoiced. 

You are important.

Where you buy this Christmas matters.

Whether you are motivated by supporting local business, fair trade workplaces, a mum working from home to support her family, a talented small scale artisan... think beyond the product and know you have the power to make a difference for people with your spending decisions.

Shopping beyond the high street - whether online, or at local markets or small boutiques - is an exciting adventure. In the words of Love from Seventeen's banner: "go find it!"

x Mel

Sunday, 4 October 2015

DIY Easy 'Feather Flower' Tutorial

More School Holiday Crafting

Following on from our hat decorating activity, we had some left over feathers... they sat in a milk bottle/vase for a week while waiting to be put away properly... which gave me this idea.

Cue one windy Sunday afternoon and a girl at a loose end, we now have these striking adn super easy 'feather flowers'.

Easiest DIY ever

Assembling the last of our feathers (left over from 2 packs of feathers used initially to decorate 8 hats!), some washi tape and sticks, we were ready to go.


This DIY project is as simple as taping two feathers onto the end of a stick and placing in a vase.

We found it easiest to hold the tape in one hand, and twist the stick with the other, to wrap the tape a few times over the base of the feathers, thereby securing them to the stick.

It was easily managed by my just-turned-7-year-old - who decided to combine feather colours on some sticks and match the colours on other sticks.

These 'feather flowers' would make awesome party decorations, photo props or room decor - obviously any colour can be used to suit: en mass in white (or black) would be AMAZING!

Don't feel the need to reserve this activity for the kids to do - depending on the colours you use, this would bring delicious texture, a touch of boho and a layer of interest to a perfectly sophisticated ADULT room.

Please try this, and then share your photos on my Facebook page or tag me via Instagram: @thepennydrops.

x Mel

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

School Holiday Activity

Crafting fun for the kids

School holidays are upon us. 

Thankfully (here in the South at least) we're enjoying a great start to the fortnight weather-wise, but there's no guarantee we won't require indoor activities to keep the kids busy and focused before Term 4 starts.

So I thought I'd share an activity that we rolled out recently for a 7 year old's birthday party.

Decorating hats

I've never had a 7 year old before, but I have a year of having a six year old under my belt now, and it's been busy!

I'm not sure if it's the age (do you think??), or this particular group of friends, but gather them all together and it's mayhem - in a fun-but-full-on sort of way!

We organised this activity to give the girls something to concentrate on - a wee bit of focus among the squealing and non-stop dashing. 

The hats were purchased from a $2-type store (they were $5) - along with the feathers, beads and pom poms. 

I stripped the hats of the embellishments they came with so the girls could redecorate as they liked - these 'recycled' ribbons and trims were added to the mix of ingredients on the table.

We had the girls choose their mix of hat 'toppings' and arrange their placement.

A glue gun was the final ingredient needed to assemble the hats - and a method to determine who went first!

(We choose alphabetical - but if you're only doing this with one or two kids at home, it might not be an issue.)

The girls then had fun modelling the hats and were able to take them home after the party - hopefully now geared up for a long hot summer with a wide brimmed hat for sun protection.

Did you see signs that we hosted the party in our building site... an exciting renovation/extension project we've been working on for a few months now - see the gib stopped walls and wires poking out of walls? We're close to completion and I'm looking forward to showing you more...

x Mel

Friday, 18 September 2015

Playing with my 'real' camera

Dusting off the DSLR

With the convenience of built-in phone cameras (always at hand) it's easy to leave the 'real' camera to gather dust (as mine certainly has literally been doing over a prolonged period of house renovations).

But I've been bingeing on my DSLR camera lately.

Is it Spring that awakens a new lease on life... fresh new eyes on the world?

What sort of camera do you use?

Mine's a Nikon D90 (because people always want to know) and most of these photos were taken with my 50mm prime lens.

I love it.

Here are a few of the images I've been making...

Do you have a favourite?

If you have a 'real camera' gathering dust - let Spring be your inspiration too.

xx Mel

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September's 7-Vignettes

Monthly Photo Challenge

7-Vignettes is a monthly challenge hosted on Instagram by the Australian blog The Interiors Addict.

Participants style  and photograph images and share on Instagram.


The themes set for each day of the challenge vary from month-to-month, and for September they were:
  1. Spring
  2. Mint
  3. Monochrome
  4. Natural
  5. Metallic
  6. Greenery
  7. Pattern

The Penny Drops' Vignettes

I embarked on the week with no over arching plan, taking it day-by-day to compose an image.

On day 1, I was scrambling in the gorse bushes to find some yellow flowers for my 'Spring' wreath. 
(A wreath for spring? Oh so original...)

Day 4 had me clambering up the bank on the side of our road for the toi toi and, by day 6, I was crawling under the trampoline for the long grass... which doubled as my Father's Day tribute to farming Dads.


It may be apparent that we're always inspired by nature at Penny Drops' HQ - both flora and fauna - so it seemed only fitting to have our family rabbits pop in a couple of times to participate.


Black rabbit 'Snowballs' is a real beauty. She's the larger but more timid of the two sisters and has 'wintered well'.

White rabbit 'Snowflake' is invariably the hardest to catch for a cuddle - but only the first time. She's quite the brave and snugly rabbit after her initial hesitation.

Rabbits have long been a motif/theme used by The Penny Drops - in fabric choices and original paintings. This Rabbit Print in my webshop remains one of my best selling items so I take from that, that you like them too.

Excellent. No wonder we get on so well ;)

x Mel

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Gorgeous red and black nursery

Decor with a difference for a baby girl

This blog post represents the start of a new journey for The Penny Drops. I'm planning on popping in occasionally with picture-heavy posts showcasing... 
  1. The Penny Drops in your home
  2. Spaces of local creatives
  3. Just all-round good interior eye-candy
The 'maiden room' of this new adventure ticks all those boxes.

Welcome to Thea's room - daughter of Paula and Matt of Invercargill. 

Paula, along with her mum, is the talent behind local clothing brand Hedgeez - so as you'd expect there's plenty of handcrafted touches. 

(There's also a touch of The Penny Drops in here and it's undoubtedly a fine room.)

Starting point

When Paula found out she was having another girl, she was very keen to avoid the overly pink scheme that had unfolded in her first born's room.

The chair in the corner had been reupholstered by Paula - the striking red fabric and gloss black framework became the launchpad for the rest of the room. 

The art work above the cot "has hung there for years" - long before this room belonged to Thea, and was painted by Paula herself.

Simple, but personal, touches abound in this room - like the use of washi tape to spell out Thea's name on the blackboard bunting draped across the table.

A wee bunny decal by The Penny Drops has found a spot in the fabulous wall arrangement Paula pulled together which continues the red and black theme.

Thea was all smiles during my visit. Her cot quilt was made by Paula.

Paula points out that the collection of decor on the wall was pulled together for very little cost - using items already in the house, including Christmas decorations (hearts), free internet printables and a little DIY - Paula painted the chevron pattern on the star and her Dad " took the elephant to work" and professionally sprayed it red to fit in with the room.

 Thea, following in her big sister's footprints, is the perfect model for Hedgeez apparel.

She was comfortable, cosy and cute in her Hedgeez hoodie and harem pants - clearly loving the ensemble and her special room.

Big thanks to Paula and Thea for welcoming us into their home.

If you're in Southland, have been a Penny Drops customer and/or have a special corner of your home (maybe even a whole room or house), you're proud of, please get in touch and let's discuss featuring you in a future post. I'm open to this being done anonymously if you're 'camera shy' and also receptive to recommendations/nominations of friends and family.

Let's showcase some Southland style to the world.

x Mel

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The week that was

Auction wrap up

Two paintings went up for auction as planned on Thursday night - ahead of the Cancer Society's annual Daffodil Day fundraiser.

In total, across Facebook and Instagram, we raised $130, with thanks to the 2 successful and generous bidders, the under-bidders who drove the price (donation) up and the wider team that responded to the call to share and spread the word.

Truly a team effort.

The donations will be made directly to the Cancer Society in the next few days and the paintings will be on their way to their new homes.

Spring Cleaning

There's nothing about spring weather in Southland that negates the need for a scarf - and these two scarves will do their new owners good service well through the season.

Scarves were a new offering for The Penny Drops this year and were very popular.

Somewhat surprisingly, these two remained in the webshop, where they occupied space I have in mind for other things.

I bribed enticed you with an offer of free earrings to go with each scarf, and the offer was duly accepted - I'm sorry that there were only 2 scarves left as I know there were a few disappointed potential customers.

Behind the scenes

As an aside, here was the set up for the earring shot... all is not always as it seems in the world of product photography.

xx Mel

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Charity Art Auction II

All you need to know

We're just a couple of days out from The Penny Drops' Daffodil Day fundraising art auction.

The support crew have been fantastic at sharing and supporting the concept.

Facebook Auction

The auction of this painting will take place on The Penny Drops' Facebook page on Thursday from 7.30pm.

Bidders will post their bids in the comments section of a 'Bid Now' image/post.

A low reserve of $10 has been set and will cover postage to the highest bidder - depending on how it goes, there's the chance of scoring some seriously cheap art!

(Which of course is not the point when supporting a charity event...)

Increments will be at the discretion of the bidders: as little as $1, as much as... whatever you're up for!

Instagram Auction

The auction of this painting will take place on The Penny Drops' Instagram account on Thursday from 7.30pm.

Bids to be placed in the comments section.

I've never tried this concept via Instagram before so it will be interesting to see how it goes - especially as the geographic reach of this is restricted to NZ and Instagram doesn't seem to have the same penetration locally...

It's all very exciting and kind of terrifying, but all in support of a great cause, so hopefully goes well.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Charity Art Auction

Daffodil Day 2015

The countdown to spring is on which means that The Cancer Society's annual Daffodil Day fundraiser takes place this week.

This year, I've painted two pieces to auction off - one on The Penny Drops Facebook page and one on Instagram.

Mellow yellow

This vase of daffodils spilling offers a colour palette that's restful and gentle, with a pop of yellow that whispers of bravado and hope. 

[It's easy to understand why the Cancer Society chooses the daffodil as its symbol.]

The fluid brushstrokes bring the piece energy and promise of warm spring breezes... can you imagine the gauzy, linen curtains billowing in the background of this tabletop vignette?

Fields of hope

Moody, stormy skies preside over acres of spring daffodils in this piece. 

It's darker and turbulent, but offers hope in the gentle flight of birds soaring on the wind and the early burst of yellow in the field below.

Team work makes the dream work

In order to get the best result for the Cancer Society, I'm recruiting two teams.

Team A

The all important people who will bid on the item/s. 
Be ready on social media Thursday night from 7.30 and help us reach a worthy target for a cause which is (sadly) close to many New Zealander's hearts.

Team B

You might not be keen or able to bid on the piece/s, but can help spread the word and recruit for Team A.
This will be as simple as clicking on the 'like' button when you see a related Facebook post (this helps with Facebook's algorithm - which posts get seen) , sharing with friends and family, telling your colleagues about it, 're-gram' it if Instagram is your thing or 'pin' from this blog post on Pinterest.

I'll be sharing many reminders and updates as the week goes by and can't wait to see it unfold on Thursday - only a few days away!

Thank you in advance.

xx Mel