February 2010

In This Edition:


Books on sale at kalahari.net
for UNDER R50!

Sale ends on 28 February

Touches of style by Maggie Colvin
Was R99.95, Now R39.95

Scrap-metal Craft by Alet Genis
Was R120.00, Now R43.95

Decoupage with serviettes by Deborah Morbin and Tracy Boomer
Was R120.00, Now R43.95

All New Decoupage by Deborah Morbin and Tracy Boomer
Was R120.00, Now R43.95

Funky Stitches: Fun Ideas for Embroidery Projects by Anita Plant
Was R110.00, Now R40.95

Decoupage by Deborah Morbin and Tracy Boomer
Was R115.00, Now R40.95

Making kids' clothes by Fransie Snyman
Was R99.95, Now R39.95

Dried fruit gifts by Rachele Franco
Was R99.95, Now R39.95


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The year is marching on

I guess it's to be expected; February is the shortest month of the year, after all. But nevertheless, it's flown by! It's been a really good month for us, partly due to the addition of a new staff member, Cara Visser, who'll be doing plenty of writing for us in the future. You can see the first samples of her work in this edition of the Gazette - she put together the feature article and wrote this month's book review.

What are you busy with?

If you're anything like me, then you've always got at least five or six craft projects on the go - one or two of which have moved house with you several times at least. My older projects tend to be ambitious cross-stitch pieces - and if you've ever done cross-stitch then you'll probably understand why. I have a beautiful DMC pattern, featuring a violin and flowers and about fifty different threads, which has been in production for at least five years, I'd say. At the moment I'm also knitting (yes! in this heat!) a very pretty autumn top for myself... so I hope autumn stays away for another few months, while I finish it. I have a couple of other unfinished knitting projects lying around too, one of which is a laptop cover. I predict that the laptop in question will be outdated before I finish the cover. Am I alone in this, or do you also start more things than you could possibly finish, simply because crafting is so darn enjoyable?

Prizes galore

It's a bumper month for competitions here at the Red Balloon Craft Junction. Firstly, we have another beading hamper up for grabs this month, courtesy of Lavender Lane Craft Studio in Pretoria East. In addition to that, we have three dyecraft hampers to give away, each consisting of the latest Metz Press title, Contemporary Dyecraft (reviewed below), plus a pack of Slipstream dyes. Sound good? Check out the competitions section below for more.


Dyeing to meet...

Having just reviewed her fabulous first book, Contemporary Dyecraft, we thought it only fitting to catch up with the artsy author. Meet Melanie Brummer, a self-taught tie-dye artist extraordinaire, passionate educator, owner of Slipstream Fabric Finishes and supplier of customised fabrics to some of SA’s most acclaimed designers. Here’s her story:

It all started in the early 90s.

I learnt how to block print, and started experimenting with dyes and various techniques. For years I sold my hand-printed T-shirts and dresses at flea markets in Gauteng. I eventually decided to close my stands, join the corporate world and develop my sales and marketing skills. It paid off.

My big break came in 2002 when, after cold-calling my way through the telephone directory, Marianne Fassler granted me an interview at Leopard Frock. I made samples, they liked what they saw and started production runs for her Sibella range. It’s only fitting that Marianne wrote the foreword to Contemporary Dyecraft.

Things really took off after partnering with Marianne. I’m very blessed to have worked with other designers like Stoned Cherrie, Sun Goddess, Black Coffee, Strangelove, JJ Schoeman, Marion & Lindie and others.

My fabrics have gone as far as New York Fashion Week. I would mostly find out in the press – there are no words to describe how it feels to recognise the fabrics in a picture as your own. It’s like seeing a photo of your child in the newspaper!

I started selling dye packs in 2005 and now run my own company called Slipstream Fabric Finishes. Apart from books and products, my focus is largely on skills development within NGOs, skills centres and colleges in Gauteng.

Magic really is out there.

It’s possible to make something valuable from very little. I try and take that message to kids. One of the most memorable experiences was during one of my Rainbow Magic Show and Tell workshops at an orphanage in Johannesburg. One little boy approached me wanting to know if what I had done was for real or magic. The look on his face when I told him I’d done it a thousand times was priceless.

If you’re not in Gauteng and would like to learn, buy my book – seriously. I have had fabulous feedback from my students so far. You can also sign up to my mailing list and I will keep you informed of the areas in which I teach.

Plans for the future? I have many.

I plan on creating a house brand of clothing and décor. I would also like to write many more books and see Slipstream become a global brand. Eventually, I’d like to spread a culture of hand-made textiles throughout the world.

Visit Melanie’s website to read more about Slipstream Fabric Finishes, order products and sign up for classes. And be sure to read our review of Contemporary Dyecraft below. We're also giving you the chance to win a hamper consisting of the book plus a Slipstream Fabric dye pack, in one of this month's competitions.


Win with Red Balloon

We're giving away three dyecraft hampers, courtesy of Metz Press and Slipstream Fabrics. Each hamper consists of a copy of Contemporary Dyecraft, reviewed below, plus a pack of dyes from Slipstream Fabrics, which you can use to dye your very own Fire Silk Scarf - one of the gorgeous projects featured in the book!

There's also another super beading hamper up for grabs this month, courtesy of Lavender Lane Craft Studio.

Click here to see the details of both competitions.

Congratulations to Luc Roels and his wife Sandra, who won the first of our three Lavender Lane beading hampers in January. Luc tells us that he entered the competition as a surprise for Sandra - guys, I hope you're taking notes! Sandra chose aquamarine blue as her hamper colour. Don't forget that if you're this month's lucky winner, you'll get to choose your colour too.


What's on

Get more info on these and other events on the Red Balloon Events Calendar.

  • Midrand Urban Market (Gauteng)
    Products on sale include beauty products, cakes, Dutch cheese, organic vegetables, jams, chutneys and many more.
    Next market: Saturday 6 March
    Venue: iKya, R55 Kyalami Main Rd, Crowthorne, Midrand
    Trading hours: 9am - 2pm
    Click here for more information.

  • Shamwari Craft Market (Gauteng)
    A range of stalls showcasing the finest hand-made arts and crafts. There are also plenty of food stalls and kids' activities, so take the whole family!
    Next market: Saturday 6 March
    Venue: Unity College, Cedar Road, Fourways
    Trading hours: 9am - 3pm
    Click here for more information.

  • Garden World Arts and Crafts (Gauteng)
    Dates: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as public holidays
    Venue: Garden World Nursery, Beyers Naude Drive, Honeydew/Muldersdrift (GPS: S 26 0 2.553 E 27 0 53.110)
    Trading hours: Fridays: 9am – 3.30pm, Saturday, Sunday and Public holidays: 9am – 4.30pm
    Contact: Donald on 011 678 8244 or 082 692 0690, or Perla on 083 267 5257. You can also email info@riempiesfurniture.co.za.

  • Soul Sisters Craft Club class (Western Cape)
    Express your creativity in a beautiful, relaxed environment, with other women who share your interests. Join the club for a year (at R285 per month) and attend six classes throughout the year.
    Dates: 19 and 20 March
    Venue: Le Joubert Wine Estate, Napier Street, Paarl
    Time: 8.30am - 2.30pm
    Click here for more information.


Can you help?

  • El-Maree is trying to find out whether the Art in the Garden market at Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden is still going. If you have any information on this, or know how we could contact the organisers, please let us know.

  • Sanette is looking for a jewellery kiln or small pottery kiln in good condition.

  • L. Sing, who lives in the Edenglen area, has a Superba knitting machine for sale, complete with all attachments.

  • Nicky has been hunting all around Cape Town for small silver bells for her wedding. Instead of confetti, she’d like to give each guest a couple of these bells tied together with ribbon. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for Nicky!

If you can help with any of these requests, please email us at info@redballoon.co.za, and we will pass the information on. You can send any requests of your own to the same email address.


On the bookshelf

Contemporary Dyecraft by Melanie Brummer

Reviewed by Cara Visser

Originating centuries ago, and made popular by hippie musicians like Janis Joplin in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, tie-dying is back – bolder and brighter than ever.

In this, her first book, published by Metz Press, Melanie Brummer unleashes a fresh, modern twist to the ancient craft. With over 50 fabulous projects and patterns to choose from, the book gives clear instructions on how to breathe new life (and a swirl of colour!) into anything from tired T-shirts to drab décor.

Melanie doesn’t forget the novice in us though. Hot on the heels of a very complimentary foreword by SA fashionista, Marianne Fassler, the book launches into a thorough introduction to the art and carefully explains the equipment and materials required before doing and dyeing. What’s particularly helpful is that each project is graded according to the level of experience required – easy, intermediate and advanced. So no need to run before dyeing is mastered.

Contemporary Dyecraft is superbly user-friendly and easy on the eye. It is well laid out, a breeze to follow and the photography is not only aesthetically appealing, but genuinely useful. A real gem.

Get more info on this title here.

Find more book reviews in the Craft Compendium.


Opportunities for crafters

Get more info on these and other places to sell your crafts, in the Craft Outlets section of the Red Balloon Craft Junction.

  • Rondebosch Craft Market (Western Cape)
    The Rondebosch Craft Market has been going for nearly 30 years. They have a few spaces available for crafters selling home-made goods; factory-produced or imported goods will not be allowed. As numbers are limited, it is essential that stall-holders apply, book and pay in advance.
    Dates: 2nd Saturday of every month
    Venue: Rondebosch Park, cnr Campground and Sandown Roads, Rondebosch
    Cost: R100 for 3m x 3m spot. Crafters must provide own tables, gazebos, etc.
    Contact: Ann or David on 021 531 4236 or craftprk@iafrica.com

  • Oude Molen Craft and Talent Exchange Market (Western Cape)
    The Oude Molen Craft and Talent Exchange Market is a very new market. Please bear in mind that new markets take time and perseverance to establish!
    Dates: 1st Saturday of every month
    Venue: Oude Molen Eco Village, Alexandra Road, Pinelands
    Cost: R100 for 3m x 3m spot. Crafters must provide own tables, gazebos, etc.
    Contact: Ann or David on 021 531 4236 or craftprk@iafrica.com

  • Shamwari Craft Market (Gauteng)
    Stall-holders wanted!
    Dates: 1st and last Saturday of every month, plus additional dates
    Venue: Unity College, Cedar Road, Fourways
    Trading hours: 9am - 3pm
    Contact: Angie or Claire on 011 475 2124 or shamwari2@yebo.co.za

That's all for this edition. Now why don't you go and put your feet up and finish a couple of those craft projects you've got stuck away in the back of your cupboard? That's certainly what I'm planning to do. ;-)

Till next month,