Petal & Pins

A Fleeting Moment

Sitting on Picnic Bay Beach Magnetic Island

Sitting on Picnic Bay Beach Magnetic Island

I’m back from a Queensland holiday with lots of photos and inspiration for several blog posts and a whole new collection of tropical flower dresses for my Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe.

I bought a new camera before I went – more sophisticated than I had previously so I am still figuring out how to use it (meaning I’m a bit bamboozled by it all!)

I stuck mostly to the auto setting since I couldn’t go wrong with that but I did discover it has an ‘art’ setting for fancy effects hence this picture.

If you’ve been following my blog you will know from my recent post Butterfly Wings & Other Things I’ve been having a bit of a butterfly moment so you can imagine I was pretty delighted when I found the butterfly adorned sandals I’m wearing in a little shop in Ingham.

And this adorned the entrance to Paronella Park at Menna Creek.

butterfly scupture Paronella Park

I don’t know if I’m just tuned in to seeing all things butterfly or the universe is bringing them into my orbit but on Sunday, my last day on Magnetic Island I came across a boy probably only 7 or 8 years old with a butterfly net. He had just caught the most amazing butterfly I’ve ever seen – large iridescent green.

I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo as I’d been fixated on photographing the flowers of a jade vine. He was literally jumping for joy at his discovery and I was pleased to see he let it go after he took a picture.

Back home I pulled out a Vintage Shell Project Card Album Butterflies and Moths to see if I could identify it.

Shell project card album

It was a Cairns Birdwing.

Lucky me for a fleeting moment to share the excitement of seeing it too.

Cairns Birdwing butterfly

Pencil Sketch

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Sultry & Stirred

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014


I photographed this Garden Fairy’s dress made from Bergenia flowers with my iPad. I like the unexpected effect – a grainy vintage sultry summer feel.

I imagine her standing outside in the late afternoon sun with the heat radiating off the buildings, the sun casting long shadows. Martinis being stirred, palm trees and a poolside location.

Maybe she was swimming earlier in the day in her St Tropez style ‘forget-me-not’ bikini..

Miami, Florida. Photographer unknown circa 1950

Miami, Florida. Photographer unknown 1950

Or perhaps I’ve been daydreaming a little as I start to think what to pack for going to Magnetic Island later in the week!


Garbed In The Garden

© sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the postman to deliver something special and today was the day!
Faerie Magazine Summer 2014 issue 27.

My Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe is featured along side the work of floral artists Pam Yokoyama, Vashti Cassinelli, Zita Elze and Francoise Weeks.

There’s also lots of other gorgeousness for inspiration in the garden, entertaining and some magical travel destinations.

You may recognise the article feature photo is similar to my blog ‘about’ page. The peony tree those peonies came from has just started to bloom again this week – Spring is on it’s way! Grape hyacinths are adding a splash of blue everywhere and the air is perfumed with the scent of jonquils.

Another exciting thing to happen is our new deck at the bottom of the garden was completed yesterday and it’s going to be a special spot.

I’m looking forward to lazy days and balmy nights.
Long Sunday lunches and drinks with friends.
Quiet mornings with a pot of tea.
Afternoons in dappled light.
Reading, writing, playing, dreaming.
Sharing laughter, conversation and just being.

Butterfly Wings & Other Things

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I have been wanting to do a post about butterflies for a while now.

Ideas and inspiration swirled around gathered momentum and somehow got away from me – just like a butterfly flitting, just beyond reach.

There are silk butterflies from Paris pinned on my notice board that were given to me several years ago. Occasionally I ‘release’ them from the cellophane bag to contemplate a myriad of possibilities.

The teacups I bought for my serendipitous friend and I are adorned with flowers and butterflies.

I stumbled on this quote -

‘Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued,is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you’

And I photographed some real ones in my garden.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

One summer many moons ago my cousin was given a butterfly net. I don’t remember catching any when my sister and I trailed along but I do remember the ones he’d already caught pinned and displayed.

Years later, visiting a National Trust house in Sydney I was mesmerized by a picture of a floral arrangement which was created out of butterfly wings on black velvet.

I wouldn’t advocate butterfly collecting now and I feel very lucky they visit my garden and simply delight in the random moments when I get to observe one.

I reminded my cousin of his butterfly net and it elicited a smile – he’d completely forgotten about it. The hobby I suspect only lasting one summer. We pondered whether there are less butterflies about these days and I said I thought we are less inclined to stop and notice such things as adults.

Soon after that conversation I heard a fascinating interview with a butterfly farmer on the radio.

And then butterflies seemed to be everywhere – from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2014 Haute Couture collection shown last January, ‘ Miranda Kerr for Royal Albert‘ tea sets, to fabric prints and an invitation to a birthday party.

I decided it was time to finally do my butterfly post before the moment escaped again.

Spring is tantalisingly close in Tasmania so picking from some of the early arrivals I made a flower arrangement inside my teacup and set the silk butterflies free.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Are there butterflies in your garden?


embroidered fabriccutting fabricembroided fabric detail© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Time & Tide

There was wild weather all around Tasmania last week and it was still pouring with rain as we headed off for a few days up the east coast on Friday for some time out and to celebrate Mr Petal & Pins birthday.

We arrived at Rocky Hills Retreat pleased to find the wood heater already lit and we could enjoy watching the brooding atmosphere outside while cosily tucked up on  the couches with a glass of champagne.

The Retreat has an old weatherboard church relocated from Hobart which has been turned into a creative studio for guests so on Saturday morning we wandered up after breakfast to explore and play.

Mr Petal & Pins dusted off his musical skills and found a spot to sit where the sun was streaming in to strum a guitar while I chose to sketch him with charcoal.

Sunday we woke up to blue sky and sunshine, perfect for a drive further up the coast to Friendly Beaches in the Freycinet National Park.

I made this Garden Fairy’s dress in situ and then left it for the tide to take.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I went a little crazy taking photos on the beach and I thought I’d share a few since you might not be familiar with this part of the world.
It is a beautiful place, the colours magical on a sunny day…and as you can see we had the whole beach to ourselves!

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

beach flora

rocks east coast Tasmania

rocks east coast Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

view from Cape Torville

all photos © Sandra Alcorn 2014

Memory & Myth

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I can picture exactly where the Salvia Leucatha grew below the window of my parents bedroom in the front garden of my childhood home.

Drawn to both the colour and the texture I loved the purple spires of velvet flowers on silvery stems – perhaps an early hint of a vocation with the tactility of textiles.

Family myth is purple was one of the first words in my vocabulary and it’s still a favourite colour.

When I walk past the patch of salvia that spills onto the pavement down the road and  lightly touch the velvet flowers it immediately takes me  back to childhood days in that garden.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014




© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

It seems whatever the season there’s a daisy to be found!

These ones grow near my front door and although the bush is not covered in blooms it was just too tempting not to pick some this morning to play with.

Do you like the result?

A Thank You Bouquet

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Recently one of my brides dropped in for morning tea and gave me this gorgeous bunch of ‘thank you’ flowers. It had stems of pretty brassica that also featured in my posts Mon Petit Chou and Petit Chou#2.

The process of designing and creating a wedding dress means spending quite a bit of time with a bride and during the journey from sketch to toile, through fittings to finished gown there are many varied and interesting conversations.

Some are about plans for the festivities – their excitement is contagious and I often help with suggestions for flowers or other details. Occasionally my garden offers up a welcome supply of Cécile Brunner roses for adorning hair or cake.

This last season, a bride’s mother came and picked some of my Perle D’or roses to add to the bridal bouquet and a collection of tiny pine cones I gathered from a picnic were perfect for the men’s buttonholes of my Autumn bridal party.

There was a third gown for my Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe that I created with them last June, so I thought I’d share it today.

It is one of the designs in my Haute Couture Collection along with roses,hellebores and peony. AUS$24.95+pp for a 5 card set available here.

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013


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