Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shop Feature: The Smile Emporium

This weeks shop feature takes us to the coastal town of Wollongong, Australia to The Smile Emportium, where a happy expression on your face is practically guaranteed.  The shop owner, a proud wife and mother named Debbie, has a store full of several fun items to choose from.  Debbie opened her shop while reflecting on her creative endeavors and uses it as an outlet for her energies, as well as some extra income.

Let's start with the question of the month and see what she has been up to with tarn (t shrit yarn).  How did she start working with this?  Well, it all began by losing a television connection and this You Tube clip...
"At 37, I found myself pregnant with a lovely surprise baby.  Our other three children were 17, 15, and 13.  We decided to put on an extension to accomodate this little one.  My husband took some time off of work and did it as an owner builder.  In the process, we had the TV ariel off for 3 weeks.  While we were never big TV watchers, just having it as "not an option" at night was great.  We learned new skills on the internet.  With my interest in recycling and an Aunt who makes lovely hook rugs, that was one of the first things I investigated.  After the roof went on, we never put the ariel up again.  Four years later we have an adorable little boy (the older kids are wonderful with him), and I have learned how to play the ukelele, make ballon animals, wire wrap jewelry, knit (my mom started me off), make pendants, we read the bible, and  much much more"

Wow Debbie!  It is so inspiring what we can learn to do and how we can grow our relationships without the distraction of television!  I just love trying new things and Debbie's house sounds like the perfect environment for that.  So what is she making with the t shirt yarn?  Well, let me show you...

First let's talk about some rugs!  Debbie's rugs are just beautiful.  Take a look below.  I have included a few pictures as well as her comments under them.

You can purchase this rug here.

Debbie:  I found the material in an op shop.  My favorite color is purple.  It is the first one I have done all the same color.

Debbie:  Purple again.  I collected these colors for a few years until I had enough purple for the rug.  My absolute favorite item I have ever made.

Debbie:  Most of the material was bought at a Salvation Army store or from my stockpile of our old clothes.

Debbie also told me that she got a crick in her neck from spending so much time bent over working on the lounge rug above, but that it was worth it to see her little one playing on a rug made by his Momma.  Such a lovely and heartwarming thought!

Debbie also likes to make bags from tarn.  She sent me this picture of this darling purple bag.

You can purchase this bag here.

Debbie told me that this purse was made from old track suits and remnant material.  She loves combining skills like sewing and rag rug techniques.

I can't talk about Debbie's shop without mentioning her aprons.  They are so darn cute!  And made from upcycled fabrics.  Take a look at this child's apron made from an old pair of board shorts.

You can purchase the apron here.

The Smile Emporiums goal is to "assist a smile to creep onto your face" and she does it well by creating items that make people smile.  What I have shown here is only the beginning of what you will find in her store.  Such as quirky button stuff, National Geographic pictures in cuff links and pendants, birds nest jewelry, and coffee cozies just to name a few.  There is a fabulous mix of creations using new and recycled products.

I was intrigued by Debbie's philosophy regarding upcycling.  She said, "I'm always looking at people's clothes and possessions and thinking 'How coud I extend the usage of this item in a way that functions well and looks good'.  The other part of my process is asking myself questions like 'Will the item potentially be a positive addition to someone's life?'.  For example, aprons encourage creativity and skill building, bags carry our things allowing us to participate in outings, and rugs warm the feet.  Buttons remind us that the simple things in life are beautiful.  National Geographic pictures in jewelry have an element of recycling and promoting the beauty around us that is to be enjoyed, yet treated so others in the future can enjoy it as well."

 Words to live by, Debbie.  Stop by The Smile Emporium and have a smile put on your face!  Also visit Debbie at Facebook and this very fun Australian site called  You can find Debbie on there by clicking here.

Love and Peace,

Idle Hands Yarn Supply


  1. Great interview! Love Debbie's button jewelry too!

  2. Hi! I'm a new follower from BellasBNS Etsy team. Debbie's story is great! I also have a kids ages 16, 13, and 5. Purple is my favorite color too.

  3. Thank you Bee and Brenda! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for the follow Brenda! :)