Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Maori language week

Monday, September 9, 2019

This week is Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Maori language week. Like a lot of people my age, I learned the basics of maori language at school. Some of what I learned has stuck with me, including what I consider to be the most important part, how to pronounce the vowels. This means when I come across an unfamiliar word I can have a go at pronouncing it correctly. It also means I can make an effort at pronouncing common words correctly.

Sometimes it can feel awkward pronouncing words you've always said one way a different way. If we all make an effort at pronouncing maori words correctly, then it will eventually become the norm. The theme this year is 'Kia Kaha te Reo Māori' or 'let's make the maori language strong'.

If you'd like to extend your vocabulary, or learn the meaning of words you're not quite sure about, then check out this list of 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know. Visit here for more ideas.

If you'd like to add some te reo to your space, whether it be your home, workspace or somewhere else, take a look at our range of maori word decals.

8 ways to arrange circle wall decals

Friday, August 16, 2019

If you're looking for inspiration on how to style your circle wall decal dots, you've come to the right place! I've collated a collection of all the different ways I've arranged the dots to give you some ideas. I'd love to see what you do with yours.

1. Hearts

Use the circle wall decals to make just the outline of a heart shape, or fill it in for some solid colour. This works well with our dusky pink dots.

2. Stars

Start with the larger wall decal dots on the outside or the inside, depending on your preference. If you're wanting the easiest option, start with the dots on the inside, then fill in the gaps with the smaller dots. Keep it monotone with the jungle green dots, or mix it up with turkish delight dots.

3. Bubbles

Circle wall decals lend themselves well to bubble patterns. Keep them uniform with individual bubble patterns or group them together for a large bubble pattern. Seen here in dusky pink medium dots.

4. Circles

Another option is to keep the circle theme going and use your circle wall decals to make a larger circle, or even a spiral pattern.

5. Arrow or triangle

Is it an arrow, or is it a triangle? You decide! Mix up your geometric shapes and make a directional arrow or a triangle with your circle wall decal dots. Create this look with our mustard yellow wall mural dots.

6. Abstract

Let you imagination take over and go for an abstract design. Here we've got a wavy line and a tree, which works well with the jungle green wall mural dots.

7. Create a scene

Use something you've already got, like this cute wooden train from Woodn't they love it, and add a feature to complete the scene like this smoke billowing out.

8. Random spots

Last, but by no means least is the random placement of your circle wall decals. This is probably the easiest option, but I have found it's a lot harder to make them look random than I would have expected! Create this look with our mustard yellow medium dots.

Celebrating diversity

Monday, August 12, 2019

After the mosque attacks in March, it became painfully clear how important it is to be inclusive. It made me think about how most of my acquaintances look similar to me. This is not on purpose, I must add! I have some great friends from completely different backgrounds to me. Which makes me think I should get out and meet more people from different walks of life, because there is a good chance there are some more great friends out there, just waiting to be met.

In the immediate aftermath I made a concerted effort to smile at people from minority groups, as I wanted them to feel welcome here in their own country. I also keep reminding myself that this extends to everyone. Someone might be from a different socioeconomic group to you, or dress or express themselves in a different way. Just because this isn't something you would do is not a reason to judge people. It's so easy to create a snap judgement in your mind, so I try to replace anything that sneaks in with 'Isn't it great that they are...' to reframe that judgement into something positive.

Unfortunately these kinds of attacks keep occurring, as there is a group of people who think everyone should be just like them, and doesn't want to celebrate diversity at all. I find it really sad how narrow-minded these people are. In order to counter that, and capture the sentiment that sprung up after the March attacks, I created a series of decals designed to promote inclusion and diversity. I also wanted to help out the Muslim community who were so devastatingly affected by the attack, so I am donating 50% of proceeds of the sales to the The Christchurch Foundation's 'Our People, Our City' fund. I included each of the phrases in arabic, maori and english to show unity.

It's a bit like global warming. One person's actions are gong to change the world by themselves, but collectively we can make big changes. We just need lots of people doing lots of little things. I'd love to hear what you do to be more inclusive of others!

My favourite piece of equipment

Friday, July 12, 2019

It's hard to pick a favourite piece of equipment. In the past I have featured my computer, as it's fairly integral to getting things done. But today I would like to feature my camera. Without it, I would just have products. You would need to be in store or at a market to see the decals. Even then you would have to imagine what they might look like on the wall. This would be easier for some than others – the dots are fairly self-explanatory – but what about the castle girls by Katherine Quinn? It is much easier to envisage what it will look like in your space if you can see a photograph of it assembled, than just by looking at the sheet with all the pieces.

Once you combine the camera and the power of the internet, then the real magic happens. You don't need to be in a shop or at a market to see our wall decals, you can view then anywhere in the world. Through our website you can view all our products, and through social media you can get a glimpse of what I've been up to behind the scenes, and you can check out what I'm up to at a local market.

I think all of that is pretty magic. Cameras have came a very long way in the (almost) 30 years since I was given my very first camera!

Winter in Christchurch

Friday, June 28, 2019

I'm not a huge fan of winter. I feel the cold easily and like to be warm and cosy inside, so it's probably a good thing I have an indoor job! There is no doubt that winter has arrived here in Christchurch. It started with a bang right on the 1st June and we've had plenty of frosty mornings since then. This morning was one of those days, but the frost appears to have melted by the time I got into town to take some photos. It was still very chilly though. Fortunately I have amassed a growing collection of winter coats, so at least it's a good excuse to give them an outing.

One thing you can count on to brighten up a cold Christchurch winter is Encraftment. If you're looking for something to do to take your mind off the cold – or perhaps to stock up on some nice cosy winter gear, then you're in luck! Winter Encraftment is just over a week away. They have made a couple of changes this year, they've moved back in to town, and it's over two days. One thing that hasn't changed is the high calibre and variety of stalls – you will not be disappointed.

I'll be there with my new watercolour kereru decals and I'm hoping to finish another new design to bring too. Hope to see you there!

Falling out of love

Friday, June 21, 2019

This week I'm going to tell you about falling out of love. Yes, that's right, there is something I don't love like I used to. When I started designing decals for StickyTiki I made some geometric designs. Dots, triangles, rectangle chalkboards. They were fun at the time, but they are just flat shapes of solid colour. There is no subtle variation of tone like in watercolour, no waiting for the unexpected to happen, and I knew pretty much exactly how the finished designs would look like when I started.

Drawing vector shapes in illustrator and then choosing colours from swatch books just doesn't have the same appeal anymore. Instead I can get out my paints, choose the colours and then mix them together to get just the right one. Then I can experiment which different brush strokes to get the right look. The process is just not the same when creating geometric vector shapes, and so we must part and go our separate ways.

In the meantime, we do still have some of the geometric shapes of dots and triangles left, and some black chalkboards. These have been reduced to clear, so I can make more room for handpainted wall decals!

How I fell in love with creating

Friday, June 14, 2019

The headline is actually a trick question – I have always loved creating! I don't remember a time before that, because I was too young to remember anything. As a child I enjoyed making things. Empty weet-bix boxes were an endless source of inspiration, I made many creations of that cardboard, it was the perfect weight to create with. As time went by they started to print on the inside of the box which I wasn't too impressed with.

My mother is very crafty, and when I was a child I learned how to knit, sew, spin and weave. She also taught me how to crochet, but I didn't pick that up so easily. As an adult I had to ask her to teach me again! My school's annual field day was the highlight of the year. When the schedule came out, I would go through it seeing what categories there were, and deciding what to make for each one. My classmates' enthusiasm for handcrafts didn't quite match mine, so it wasn't uncommon for me to be the sole entrant in a category! I also had a (very) little side hustle going on while I was at school, which you can read about here.

My prize haul from one year's field day. The two embroideries were made at school.
As I got older I focussed more on art, and studied it throughout high school. Due to attending a small country school I had to do 6th and 7th form art by correspondence which I wasn't well suited to. A month after finishing a painting you would get the feedback from your teacher in Wellington. You can't replace having a teacher behind you as you're working, giving you feedback you can implement straight away.

Half of my fifth form art folio – the year I did have an onsite teacher to guide me.
Upon leaving school I studied graphic design and spent a few years working in the art department of a screen printing company. Around that time I decided to start making candles again, a hobby I'd started in high school. I made quite a few and wondered what I was going to do with them, so set up a  stall at Craft World. This was cut short when I left to go to London for a year.

Mt first efforts at putting my candles out in the world.
After my return from London, I wanted to get in touch with my creative side again, so joined a local painting class. I learned lots of watercolour techniques during this time, and participated in several group exhibitions. I was also quite keen to get back into some craft again, so rekindled my candle business, took up knitting again and properly learned to crochet. Conveniently there was a resurgence in craft, it was a lot cooler than it had been in my youth. I went to some local markets, joined Felt and made some new friends!

'Mists of Maruia'
The painting on the left of Lyttelton Harbour is mine
Five years ago when my son was a baby I wasn't sure what direction to go in next, and then along came StickyTiki! The first job I'd had at the screen printing company had some digital printing machines which I used to operate. One of them could print and cut, and was an earlier (and much lower quality) model of the one we use to print StickyTiki decals. I'd always quite fancied it, so couldn't turn down the chance to own a much better one! I was also thinking it would be a good chance use and grow my art skills.


I had to dig quite deep into the archives for some of the photos to illustrate this post. My aunt gave me a camera when I was 8, which means I have a good photographic record of my childhood. It was a film camera with a little cartridge you put in that had the film in it. It was pretty foolproof!

Where do you put your decals?

Friday, June 7, 2019

There are lots of different ways to use our decals! Obviously they go well on painted walls, but there are lots of other places you can put them. I'm hoping to take more photos of the decals in different places, to give you an idea about how they'll work for you. Some places I'm thinking of photographing our decals on are the door of the fridge, on a laptop and maybe even the car.

So tell me where you put yours! If you don't have one yet, where where are you planning to put it? Just comment below, or even better send me a photo of your decal in it's special place! I love seeing where our decals end up. If you want to share it on social media, use the hashtag #mystickytiki so we can check out how good they are looking!

If you're looking for inspiration, here are some ideas for different places to put your decals.

Coming soon: StickyTiki removable wallpaper!

Friday, May 31, 2019

I have lots of ideas for new products for StickyTiki, and there is one I've been doing some work on behind the scenes for some time now. The product we use was designed to be used for large scale wallcoverings, and that is something I've wanted to add for some time now. You hear lots of stories about the grim task of stripping old wallpaper when people are renovating their homes. How great would it be if you could just peel it off, as easily as a StickyTiki wall decal?

With that in mind, and all the possibilities that brings with it, I needed some fabulous repeating patterns that I could use to print onto wallpaper. Because if you've got a product as special as StickyTiki, you need some pretty special designs, right?

Luckily for me I know some very talented illustrators, one of whom had developed quite a penchant for designing patterns. Katherine Quinn who created the artwork for a range of decals for us also has a great range of patterns. Last year I had the opportunity to create a trade booth for an insulation company, so I recommended using a wallpaper to give the stand more interest. This was a good chance to try out my idea, and it worked really well.

The next step was to create a background to photoshop the wallpaper into. I photograph each and every one of my decals, but this isn't so practical for wallpaper! I wanted to avoid using stock imagery if I could, so I spoke to the lovely Kiri at Junk & Disorderly, and she arranged it so I could come in and photograph some of their gorgeous furniture against a blank wall, so I could use that for a background.

The next step will be to setup the mockups for the different designs, work out all the finer details and then launch them! Hopefully I will get that done over the next few months and then you will be able to buy your very own StickyTiki wallpaper.

Making our packaging more sustainable

Friday, May 24, 2019

Plastic bags – something the world does not need any more of!

You'd think that with all this talk about using less plastic in our lives, there would be lots of great alternatives out there. In lots of cases there are of course (think how ubiquitous reusable coffee cups have become), but sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to find. Recently I was coming close to the end of my supply of small, plastic prepaid courier satchels. The company I was using already had a larger size available in a nice sturdy cardboard envelope. This was great, as not only was it more environmentally friendly – it could be easily recycled, and was made from recycled paper – but it worked better for my decals as it was more sturdy.

I had seen the smaller size in a cardboard envelope from another company, and thought that it wouldn't be difficult to find a suitable replacement. This turned out to be a very optimistic outlook. The current company didn't have any plans to add the size I required to the cardboard range. The other company wasn't even aware that they had made them, as they were no longer available. At this point, the notion of buying a prepaid cardboard satchel in this size was dashed.

Another option that had been suggested to me was buying cardboard envelopes and printing my own courier labels. This also turned out to be easier said than done, as it involved buying a special printer and wasn't really aimed at smaller businesses like mine. Then I had another company recommended to me that could do everything I needed, and I could print the labels on my existing printer. So I was finally able to remove the last plastic packaging option I had for posting, and move entirely to cardboard! I am quite a fan of cardboard, so this made me very happy. Not only is it recyclable, it is such a versatile product.

The new. entirely cardboard range of packing options for sending out your decals

Now I just need to find a biodegradable alternative to the plastic sleeves I use for the medium and large decals. I use biodegradable cellophane bags for the tiny and small decals, but they don't make them in the larger sizes as well. I am still looking, and rest assured when I do find a suitable alternative I will make the switch.

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The first stage of creating a new decal design

Friday, May 17, 2019

To begin with, the decals start out with an idea. Some of those ideas have been swirling around for a long time. I still have ideas from when I was planning to buy StickyTiki that haven't come to fruition yet! So it is very exciting each time I do get to sit down and start work on a new idea. 

Firstly I sketch out some roughs to get a feel for how the work might look. Usually this will start with some pencil sketches from reference images, and then some rough paintings to try out different techniques until I get the desired effect. In this case I practiced the letter forms with my brush pen before using watercolour and a brush.

Once I'm happy with that, I sketch the outline. If it's something geometric, I literally go old school and use my compass and other tech drawing equipment I used at school. I'd like to add that computers were around then, they just weren't quite as sophisticated as they are now. The internet was still a novelty, not a way of life!

Then comes the fun bit where I get out the paint and create the finished painting. Often I'm happy with the first one, but sometimes I have to try again to get it to a stage that I'm happy with. If my high school art teacher is reading this, I have moved on from my perfectionist tendencies from fifth form. When I saw her at a recent school reunion, she wasn't convinced that was possible. It might be because she hadn't met my second art teacher, Maree from Art and Company who taught me to be more loose and go with the flow.

Once that is done, I scan the original artwork to my computer, make any necessary adjustments in photoshop (usually just to the brightness or colour balance), then I add the cutlines and arrange them on a sheet ready to be printed.

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at how I create the artwork for the decals. If you click on they photos, they link through to the finish product, so you can see how they turned out.

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by mlekoshi