SOAK STUDIO

original paintings by Melinda K

Soak Studio Update

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Exciting changes are happening here at Soak Studio.  It's been several years of illustration, design & wood work, we've built a new house and moved locations.  And with those moves comes a fresh start, and new work.  I've been painting for quite a while, on and off since I was a kid, and in lots of small ways as part of the Soak Studio shop, and now I'm ready to take it on more seriously. 

So the Soak site will now be dedicated to my original paintings, discussing the ideas behind them, the creative process and latest work.  I'm in the process of uploading several of my ongoing series, and am looking forward to growing as an artist.

I will still have my favourite designs available in my Etsy shop, so hop on over there if you need a personalised print or fun serving board. 

Otherwise, I'd be thrilled if you'd look around, and I always love to hear any feedback on my work - your conversations always help to shape my work.

Here are just a few examples of some of my latest paintings:

Behind the Scenes - Board Making

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Dad and I love using reclaimed timber to create gorgeous heirloom boards – it’s so amazing to take a piece of wood that looks like it’s life is over, then to strip it back and find amazing grain and character underneath.  It’s always exciting to plan what we might make out of it.

This weekend, I photographed Dad making up a board from some cypress pine (smells amazing!) – want to see?

Board-Making-Small.gif

These pieces were from a large post, so he first cut it into useable thicknesses and lengths for the finished boards.  Next, it’s doweling the boards together so it’s super strong – quite a process when doing it by hand! 

The next step will be to smooth out the surface with planning and multiple sandings until it’s polished and deliciously smooth to touch.  I’m planning on leather handles for these boards, and am still deciding if I’ll paint them or oil them.  We’ve refined enough pieces to make 5 boards, it’s the best thing about reclaimed timbers – each one will only make a few unique pieces, so it’s a constantly evolving design process.

Ps: What do you think of these beautiful planes?  They are from my grandfathers who were carpenters – the wooden ones were handmade by them!  Something that doesn’t happen these day….

Ps: What do you think of these beautiful planes?  They are from my grandfathers who were carpenters – the wooden ones were handmade by them!  Something that doesn’t happen these day….

Simple Inspiration

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Where do you find inspiration?  What is it that takes your day from ordinary to breath taking?

How easy it is to live through a day without even realising that you are alive.  Wouldn't it be amazing to look back at your day and be completely satisfied that you got absolutely every drop of 'life' out of it?  Instead of being lost in the worries of yesterday, the busyness of today's 'To Do List' and plans for tomorrow, you actually enjoyed the challenges of the day and felt you were making a difference.

Behind the Scenes: My New Office

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If you’re like me, then you love to have a sticky beak at where other people work:)  So I thought I’d share my latest project – building my own office!  I spent the quiet time earlier this year planning out the space I need for my very varied work, and how to build it (thank you Year12 woodwork)  – and of course, picked a week with multiple 40+ degree days to do the cutting & building!!!  Talk about a sweat fest:)  And yes, I cut and finished it myself, with a helping hand from my terrific hubby John and the kids.

The room used to be for storage - full of shelves, music, packaging, printers, craft – but not bench space.  So now, with 5 sheets of ply, I have an office that is almost all bench space!  It's exactly what I need, and I love being in there.

Do you have an office space you love?  What helps you be more productive there?

FREE Valentine's Day Printable Vouchers

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Last Minute Valentine's Day Gift

Need a last minute Valentine's Day gift?  I've created these sweet vouchers, ready for you to print and fill in with the most romantic ideas you can think of.  There's 10 to a page, simply print front and back on card, cut them out and your ready to get creative. 

Here are 14 ideas to celebrate Feb 14th to get you started:

  1. a foot massage
  2. hair brush session
  3. a back rub
  4. a weekend sleep in, completely child free
  5. breakfast in bed
  6. choose their favourite meal to be cooked
  7. a date night at their favourite restaurant
  8. tickets to their choice of concert or show
  9. one encouragement and pep talk session
  10. a D&M (deep and meaningful) about topics of their choice
  11. a whole evening of controlling the remote
  12. an ice cream date
  13. a candle lit bubble bath
  14. one get-out-of-jail free card

They make a sweet gift for your kids too - my daughter LOVES choosing some of her favourite things!  I'd love, love, love to hear in the comments below, what vouchers will you give to your Valentine?

Click here to download the PDF file, complete with a front and back.

xx Melinda

Going Deeper on V Day

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5 Fun Ways to Deepen Your Relationship on Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine's Day!  Red roses, sparkly hearts, chocolates and hallmark cards....  it can seem like the modern take on celebrating love is just the teeniest bit cheesy.

But did you know that Valentine's Day is inspired by a long history, and it's current version stems from the 18th century?

A popular version says that Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry.  According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius.  The story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.

It was during the 18th century that the remembrance of Saints named Valentine shifted to celebrate romantic love with chocolates and flowers, a tradition we still copy today.

So instead of chocolate, I'm a huge fan of finding deeper meaning in this special day.  We remember all the unique and special things about our love story and see just how much we've flourished together as a couple.

Here are my top 5 favourite relationship deepening activities for Valentine's Day:

  1. Sunset picnic - there is nothing like lying on a picnic rug star gazing together and feeling the spaciousness, to give you some perspective.  In all the bigness of the universe, there truly is nothing better than having one person know you completely.
  2. Handmade presents - the best part is the time and thought that go into them.  It might be a favourite shared dessert, a jar full of love notes, or this fun deck of cards love notes.
  3. Hand written Love Letters - taking the time to write a letter by hand, to fully explain your thoughts and feelings is always appreciated.  I would always prefer a hand written letter over the sparkliest store bought card.
  4. A photo session - whether it's visiting a photo booth, having a friend take some happy snaps, or going all out to have a photographer capture some special moments.  You'll have fun choosing a location and getting all cuddly.
  5. Vouchers - and I don't mean store bought ones.  I mean cute printable ones, or hand made ones that can include thoughtful favours - my favourites are always a foot rub, back massage, a D&M session (a Deep & Meaningful chat, in case you didn't know!) and a child free sleep in morning. Bliss! (Stay tuned for next week - I'll post a free printable for you to borrow.)

Bonus Idea:  Read through your old love letters together - out loud!  We have our own box of special letters, poems, cards, tickets, and funny trinkets we've given each other over the years.  For a super boost in feeling loved, dust off the lid, and be reminded of the words and feelings you've shared - you'll probably shed a tear or two, and you'll definitely feel closer as you remember your history together.

I'd love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and tell me: What's your absolute favourite thing to do on Valentine's Day?

xx Melinda

Keeping it Simple

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Keeping it Simple Soak Studio

Often when we are on the journey to being unique, it feels so complex!  Like spaghetti in your head.  Life is being woven around us, and it's hard to see where anything starts and ends.  We have been writing our story for many years, sometimes allowing others to write it, and it's hard to know which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction.  Where do you start to pull out and build on the true stories of you?  Where do you start to rewrite the ones that are not really you? 

Who am I really, what am I naturally good at, what should I do with my life, what will truly fulfill me, am I enough, who am I copying, why am I copying, why am I scared to say how I feel, what if they don't like me, what if they laugh at me or ignore me, what if I never get the chance to be heard... you know the drill!

To simply be yourself is the challenge and the achievement.

Every single one of us is on the journey.  Some truly living with authenticity, some still running away from themselves, and some looking at their life thinking "How did I get here??".

It begins by replacing one thought at a time. Thoughts are the foundations for your words, your action, your habits & your character.  So you begin by replacing one thought at a time.  One word at a time.  One action at a time.  Find a word or quote that reminds you, inspires you, calls you out.  Put that thought on a sticky note, have a print made to display were you see it all day, tattoo it on your hand.  Ok, maybe just start with pen, just in case you change your mind:)  But make it visible.

Trying to change everything at once is just too much, and very quickly you'll bounce back to the same habits & thoughts, old ways of doing, thinking and feeling.  So treat this as an experiment.  What things are easier to change?  What sticks?

  • GO GENTLY with yourself.  This is not about self control and will power.  It's about releasing and freeing, & giving yourself an opportunity to figure out what makes you unique.
  • Write a simple list:  Old thoughts on one side, and new, better thoughts on the other.
  • Remind yourself to see one positive thing in your job, relationship, life and focus on that regularly. 
  • Find out where your strengths & natural talents lie, but instead of doing ten personality & strength test, do ONE and then leave time to process what you learned. 
  • Allow time to see how you can build on that strength, how it fits into your life, how you might have squashed it previously, how you can see it playing out in your childhood.

If you move ahead one step at a time, it's easy to undo that step if it doesn't feel like you.  Don't be in a rush to get there NOW.  You have your whole life to get there.

Your challenge:

Write down one thought you want to replace.  How can you take small, simple steps to make changes?

 I'd love to hear from  you!  Leave a comment below to share how you keep it simple in your journey.

xx Melinda

The Gift of Words

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LOVE words print set.jpg

Ok, it might sound a little strange to give words as a gift.  How do you wrap them up?!  Life is so rushed and so full of negative words  - TV, news, radio, songs, books, phone calls, meetings, magazines and social media - it becomes like white noise!  We all have negative words that are stuck in our heads, so giving encouraging words can really make someone's day, or week, or year!

Here are some simple ways you can give word gifts:

  • Choose a print with an inspirational quote or word.  You'll find lots of my favourites in my Etsy shop.
  • Write an old fashioned love letter and snail mail it.  Write about the person - what you love about them, how they inspire you, what you admire about them, what makes them one of a kind.
  • Write a beautiful card.  There are so many awesome printable cards online that you can purchase and print yourself.
  • Record a video or audio that can be replayed and sent across the world.
  • Write a poem.  Rehash a classic like Shakespeare, or try your hand at your own for extra brownie points!

I'd love to hear from you!!  Do you display inspiring words around you?  What's the best word gift you've ever received?

What to Give When They Have EVERYTHING

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Oh, these have to be the most tricky people to buy for!  Their house is full of stuff, they've been everywhere, seen everything, but you know you can't show up empty handed to their celebration.  Or Grandparents!  What do you buy grandparents who have collected so many things over the decades?

In this case, it's not about buying the most expensive, impressive gift, and it's not about buying them something they need.  This is where you get to choose something that celebrates THEM instead of just buying a token gift.

And this is where personalised gifts really shine.  These are my FAVOURITE type of gifts to buy, and because I've invested time and thought in choosing and personalising it, I get the biggest buzz when they love it too!

Think about what they love to do, places they've been, what they've accomplished in their life, and what things they're passionate about.  Any one of those things is a great place to start in choosing an awesome, meaningful gift.

  • Let's say they've traveled the world - you could have a print created that lists all the places they've been in the popular subway style.  Or you could have a world map printed with their globe-trotting travels marked on.  Or a beautiful photo of details from their favourite city.
  • Maybe they're totally into movies and they watch every blockbuster in their surround sound home cinema!  Put their name in lights with a Famous Screen Couples print and make them feel like a superstar too.  Who hasn't imagined their names alongside Neo + Trinity, Romeo + Juliet, or Aladdin + Princess Jasmine?  Or if they're a superhero fanatic, pick a Superhero with their name starring alongside Superman, Batman and Wolverine.
  • Perhaps they have a favourite author, or historical figure.  You could pick a famous inspirational quote by the person, and have it made into a custom typography print, something they can put on their desk or wall as a little reminder or their hero.
  • Do they spend time on a hobby?  There are always words, images and saying that are unique to that hobby.  Have a golf themed print designed, or a vintage poster reworked with their name as the star attraction.
     
  • My favourite gift for grandparents is a family tree print.  Their family is usually the thing they are most proud of, and to see that celebrated and appreciated can bring such joy.

There are endless personalised gifts!  Each one of these ideas will let them know how much you care, and that you took the time to think outside the box.  It will show them that you actually notice what they like, and to most of us, that means the more than anything!

I'd love to hear from you!! What awesome gifts have you given to someone who has everything?  And what would YOU love to receive?  Let me know in the comments below, you may just trigger a new series of designs:)

photo credit: stevendepolo via photopincc

What Are You REALLY Giving??

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I usually love gift shopping – I just love to pick out the right gift, something I know will totally make them smile.  But let's be honest - how often do we buy a gift without much thought because you're in a rush, or you just don't want to turn up empty handed!

This is where changing your mind set helps.  Instead of seeing it as just one more money sapping chore, choose to see it as a way to give something deeper.  When you give someone a gift that speaks of their style, their needs, their favourite things, you show them that you have been paying attention to their uniqueness.  You are telling them that they matter to you, that they take up space inside your brain and heart, and little conversations you’ve had have stuck with you.  Make your gift full of heart, and full of thought.  Don't miss the moment to celebrate them.

You see, you're not really giving them a vase, or a book, or a record.  You're actually giving them something better - Like JOY.  Like DELIGHT.  Like LOVE.  Like INSPIRATION.  By spending the time to find a perfect gift, you're telling them that they matter, that their unique style, loves and quirks are important to you.

My all time fav gift was a lamp.  I fell in love with it when I visited a friend's house, and I teasingly mentioned that they might find it missing in the future.  Fast forward to Christmas, and guess what they bought me - the lamp!  I was so speechless I just sat there hugging it.  I was touched to the bottom of my heart that they had remembered my comment, and every time I see my lamp, I think of them and their kindness.

Don't just give THINGS.   Be a gift giving superstar, and use gifts as opportunities to show something deeper.

I'd love to hear from you!!  Tell me what your best gift ever has been!  And have you ever had someone give you a gift and you KNEW it was heart-less or thought-less?

photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopincc

Copycat or Unique?

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Copycat or Unique Soak Studio

It often seems so much easier to copy others.  What is it that makes us feel our life would be a little bit better, a little bit easier, if only we were like 'x'?

There's something in us that watches other people, their successes and failures, and we assume that it's the bits we can see that make it so.  We think it's the way they dress, their artistic style, their website, the people they hang out with.

And if they have the kind of life we want, we try to copy that.  We imitate the way they dress, do their hair, the brands they buy, the places they hang out, the way they speak.  Of course, if it's someone we DON'T want to be like, we make sure we DON'T copy those things.

But let me ask you something - if you want to stand out from the crowd, for all the right reasons, do you think it will happen because you're the same as them?  Hmm, I'm thinking you're more likely to get labelled a copy cat, or stalker:)

People stand out because they're unique - there's something about them that is different to everyone else.  And they've learned how to embrace that, how to be even more of that.  You can do the same thing - figure out where YOUR uniqueness stems from, and cultivate that.

It's just about impossible to discover your uniqueness while your holding on to your old ways.  Many of us have been so busy with high school, uni, studying, trying to fit in, starting families and new jobs, figuring out how to be a grown up, that we really haven't had time to stop and think about what makes us unique. 

We have to let go of the idea that we need to be the same as everyone else.  What do you love, what lights you up, inspires you?  What are your quirks, things that people comment on about you?

Here are your questions to ponder this week: 

What things have you copied about those you want to be like?  Did it feel authentic?  What is one unique quality or quirk you want to appreciate more in yourself?

Let me know how you go in the comments below! 

xx Melinda