GIFTED #1: Botanical Mural Throw

OK, OK. So it wasn’t an octopus. Or a cephalopod of any kind.

I made my sister a painted throw/blanket/wrap/coverlet for her birthday. Last year, I made her a 1920s-style triangle shawl with the same green fabric and golden fern fronds. There was fabric left over and I got inspired by MACC and HGTV’s Botanical Jungle Wall Mural to create this huge throw thing.

People following my personal Instagram, as well as some of my Facebook friends, were confused as to what I was making. In an attempt to hoodwink my sister, I took close-up pictures of the progress, and randomly started referring to the design as a collection of octopuses.

Botanical Mural Throw | Photo by Andy Niemeyer | July 2016

So shaking it out to decide how to get the best picture was the first time I’d seen the thing as a whole. It looks SO COOL IRL (in real life for real people). Four shades of gold and one bronze leaf. I love leafs 🙂 This was a very expensive gift – two paint top up trips to the art shops despite me having ordered paint for cheaps on the interwebs. Yeesh. But totally totally worth it. It is amazing! Such excite 😀 

I have been making things for many years now but it took a while til I made things for my family. Part of it was me thinking that they wouldn’t understand it enough to appreciate it – indeed, mother likes ‘new’ things not re-purposed or reconstructed – and part of it was that I felt my stuff wasn’t good enough. The effort and thought and care that goes into making something, particularly a gift, isn’t always understood by the receiver. I also wanted to make them practical, useful gifts as they both hate wastage.

The first gifts I remember properly making for them were kimono coverups. I think they liked them, but I don’t know if they use them. I may have also crocheted a beanie for my sister at some point. I made them both some silk clutches but I did not have the right amount of interfacing for proper stiffness – mother now uses it as a tablet carry bag. I remember hand-embroidering a design onto a plain tablecloth for mother – she used that once.

It is difficult making gifts for family. You know them well, and it is difficult – especially if they’re independent like mine – to make, or even get, them gifts they’ll use. Over the years though, my sister has become very vocally supportive of my art, crafts, sewing, and general activities. She got very excited over her last gift and hopefully, she will really like this one too. It is nice to be appreciated for what you do.

When I saw MACC’s DIY for HGTV, I was instantly super keen to do something with the design idea. Jungle botanicals are amazing and close-to-home as some of these leaves are real and present on the island I grew up on. Leaves were also the first real thing I learnt to draw and can actually sketch free-hand. These started out with templates, but they were way too tiny and so I hand to draw them out by hand. They turned out pretty OK, to be honest.

Botanical Mural Throw | Photo by Andy Niemeyer | July 2016

Yes, the veins are not done. Yes, that is what I look like when I’m not fancy-fied or posing. I like how vivid the colours are. And the variation in the shades of gold. 

Australia, too, has many interesting plants, and leaves are one of my favourite decorative touches – be it drawn, painted, sewn, or just draped everywhere. Having grown up in a tropical country where cities are still very green, I love the freshness and cool shade of tress and nature. Sydney, too, is a fairly green city, and I am lucky to live near both a park and university, where I can occasionally go and gawp at the majesty of nature. Really, I go to stare at the trees, and feel the leaves. Totally not creepy at all. I like leaves.

Now I realised that we chose the least leafy part of UNSW to photograph this thing. Damn. Well, my sister better go stand among some trees and take pics with this. I still have to do the veins on the leaves, but this gets packed up and shipped out tomorrow, and should reach by Thursday.

Botanical Mural Throw | Photo by Andy Niemeyer | July 2016

Yet another shade of gold. I will press that line out. Maybe. I’m tired, OK!

Everyone go wish my sister a happy birthday on Thursday. She turns 33, and is the most supportive and loving sister ever. Well, as far as I know. Not like I have any other experience to go off.


Photos: Andy Niemeyer (thanks Andy!- Andy kindly took photos for me while on a Pokemon hunt)

Location: UNSW

Fabric: The Remnant Warehouse

Paints used: Jo Sonja pale gold and rich gold, Global Colours antique gold, Chromacryl gold, and Reeves bronze

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