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Category Archives: life….

Many hats, one head

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I have had a long fascination with fascinators.

(see what I did there?)

There is something just so lovely about hats and decorating yourself with an item that serves no other purpose than being shiny and pretty.

My first foray into making fascinators was more about fabric and the process of design, rather than going to the trouble of constructing a head pieces based on traditional millinery techniques. To be honest, they weren’t the best, but I really enjoyed doing it.

This year, I have felt like my life needed a new creative endeavor, and I decided that making fascinators (and who knows, maybe even hats!) would be it. So, for the last couple of months I have been busy researching and practising millinery techniques and have been really enjoying the process. My inspiration has been the lovely shapes and textures of the 30s, 40s and 50s and I love using vintage trims (like the beaded rosette in the photo below)

But, what do i do with them? I only have one head, and I am not really interested in making a career out of it. Etsy maybe?

Anyway, for now I think I will just enjoy myself, and see where it goes!

IMG_2762

One of my new creations.

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Dust in my boots; gardening and sock protectors

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My garden has had a lot of attention lately.

We have a dream to turn our 3 acre semi-rural block into a green, productive paradise. But that means lots of hard work and not much time to write blog posts! So far we have planted fruit trees, put in two wicking beds, a raised garden bed, a herb bed and a seedling raising area, complete with automatic sprinkler.

While I do find gardening relaxing, therapeutic and an excellent work out, gardening in a South East Queensland summer can be tough. Obviously it gets hot (very hot!) and humid. Historically, it has enjoyed good rainfall, but the changing climate can mean that we can suffer long periods with no rain when the garden has to be manually watered to keep it alive. It can also be sweaty, dusty, muddy, insect ridden and full of sticks, hard rocks, prickles and the occasional snake.

So good boots are essential!

boots

I love my work boots- they are surprisingly comfortable, if a bit heavy. They protect my feet from heavy rocks, insects and reptiles.

One small problem: dust in my socks. After a day of traipsing around, I would find my boots full of dust and pebbles, but men’s sock protectors (little sleeve things that go over the top of your boots and stop stuff from falling in them) are very boring, so I made my own! They are very easy, essentially a fabric tube with elastic at the top. I used a drill cotton, which was ok, but I found that it frayed a little.

I have included the pattern and instruction (well… I call it a pattern, but its really just a rectangle!) so that you can make your own. Just click on the link below.

DIY sock protectors

I love that two separate parts of my life (gardening and mucking around in my studio) have finally come together. I wonder what other sewing/gardening projects I can come up with?

 

Picture books in the high school library: Fantastic or foolish?

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While reshelving book the other day, I overheard one girl question the necessity of picture books in a high school library (I am a library aide at a secondary college). ‘We are in high school,’ she exclaimed. ‘Surely we are too old for picture books!(or something to that effect)’. One of the librarians calmly explained that we keep a collection of pictures book for our ESL and learning support students, and for a unit of English where students explore picture books.

Picture books provide other curriculum benefits as well. Susan M. Landt in her article about using picture books in Geography points out that picture books are a great way to engage student and to introduce certain topics and subjects. She goes on to say that picture books are often thought of as being redundant after students are advanced enough to read novels. Trevor Cairney believes  this tendency to see picture books as childish ignores the complex themes and literacy and visual devices that authors and illustrators use. He promotes the continued use of picture books as supporting literacy and creativity;

‘Picture books are important for children ages 0-12 years, so don’t neglect them or disregard them in a perhaps well-intentioned, but misguided desire to improve your children as readers. Remember books are foundational to language writing, knowledge, thinking and creativity as well. They represent one of the best ways to offer children multimodal experiences with text’– Trevor Cairney

I would go further than this. I think that picture books have merit for all ages, not just those aged 0-12, and not just for those who are studying writing or language. As an artform, picture books often give an insight into an aspect of the human condition, history, or natural history which can be forgotten or overlooked in the adult world. Picture book illustrators and authors have a fantastic ability to refine stories into a form that is clean and relatable. Combining this form of storytelling with illustrations provides an extra level of meaning.

I think it would be fair at this stage to point out that I have a background in the visual arts,  and have a passion for illustration of all kinds. I will freely admit to spending more time looking at the illustrations than I do reading the text. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Children’s book illustrators (the accomplished ones, not the Disney spin-offs. My intense dislike of Disney picture books is a whole other post!) are often overlooked as artist, and while their subjects and style can be a bit cutesy at times, their skill and imagination is awe inspiring. Here are some titles that I am loving at the moment:

‘Peggy’ (Anna Walker, Scholastic)peggy

Peggy is a story about an adventurous chicken who strays into the city and has a day of fun and new discoveries, but is glad to finally find her way home. The illustrations are soft watercolours embellished with graphite, coloured pencil and collage. The pages alternate between full page illustrations, storyboard like grids and small drawings on almost blank pages. This style of layout gives the book visual variety and combined with a repetition of graphite lines, gives a sense of movement to Peggy’s journey.

 

 

‘Octopuppy’ (Martin McKenna, Omnibus Books)

octopuppy

Octopuppy (not to be confused with Octomom!) tells the story of Edgar, who really wants a puppy, but ends up with Jarvis the octopus. Jarvis refuses to act like a dog, despite being entered into a dog show, and embarasses Edgar, by juggling, playing the piano and ballet dancing in front of the judges and other contestants. The illustrations in Octopuppy are digitally produced and consequently are more polished than the hand drawn illustrations in ‘Peggy.’ However, McKenna’s attention to detail really makes the story of Jarvis and Edgar come alive and the fanciful end pages showing Jarvis in a variety of costumes is  endearing.

 

 

‘Laika, the astronaut’ (Owen Davey, Allen and Unwin)

laika-the-astronaut

If you have a soft spot for dogs, this book may bring a few tears to your eyes. It is the true story of Laika (pronounced like+a) the stray dog who is recruited into the Soviet space program and  lost in space on her first mission. There is a beautiful, heartwarming twist at the end which I won’t spoil. The illustrations stick to a muted palette, but this choice suits the retro style of the illustrations perfectly.

 

 

 

 

‘The Rules of Summer’ (Shaun Tan, Lothian)

rules-of-summer

I have had a bit of an art crush on Shaun Tan for a while now, all thanks to this book, which I initially didn’t like much at all. While I enjoyed his quirky and beautifully rendered illustrations, I found the storyline annoyingly unfathomable. But, after reading it a few times, I decided that it was a story of a little boy who makes mistakes, pride, apology and forgiveness set in a bizarre and colourful world.

 

 

 

We all have fond memories of picture books from our childhood. Being read to by a parent or grandparent, or endlessly pouring over a favorite. Why does this have to stop in adulthood? Next time you are in a book  shop, why not buy a picture book all for yourself? I say be selfish! don’t give it to the kids, keep it as a special gift to your imagination and sense of joy!

 

Crockery Memories Project

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For a while now, my art practice has dealt with memories and how textures, especially from tresured articles of clothing, can evoke memories. Here is an excerpt from my artist statement

“Life is a complex gathering of memories, and not always memories of important or life changing events, but the textures, smells, feelings and dreams of everyday existence. Memories are often impossible, hazy fragments that are not structured along a linear timeline, but an assortment of jumbled occurrences that are sometimes confused with dreams, day- dreams and stories. These tangled thread combined to form a life lived”

fancy huh?

So my new project is an extension of this and will include the memories of meals and the implements and containers we use/ used. I have some fond memories of cooking when I was a child and being allowed to experiment and make a mess. I also have some great memories of great (and not so great meals….thinking of the time Mum mistook rose hip jam for Pasta sauce… love you Mum, if you are reading x) meals shared with family and friends.
BUT to do this I need your help!
I am after images of crockery/serving dishes/ platters/cups/ pattern or colours that remind you of meals shared, in childhood or otherwise. You can share your images on instagram on the hashtag #crockerymemories
i will post photos of the resulting artworks as they are made

Can wait to see your photos!

Penny Pinching

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It suddenly dawned on us this year that if we were going to get anywhere in life, we would have to start watching our spending and putting some money aside for the important grown up purchases that everyone seems so bothered with.

It kind of sound like a new years resolution, with it being a new direction in life and the beginning of the new year and all…. but I personally really dislike the idea of a new years resolution. Why does new things in your life always have to start Jan 1? wouldn’t it be better to space them out throughout the year so you get to enjoy the newness all year round? And why are they always all about loosing weight, getting healthy and general boring stuff? Surely that should be a beginning of every day resolution?*

(* this is not, of course, a go at those wonderful people who have used the beginning of a new year to redesign their lives for the better. I salute you! Keep up the good work, you are awesome!)

So anyway, random rants aside, I turned our decision to reduce spending into an opportunity for some creative boundaries. Usually I see something bright and shine somewhere, get all excited, and embark on a shopping trip to Spotlight where I put a considerable dent in the credit card. Not only is this bad for the bank balance, the environment takes a bit of a beating as well. New fabric, haberdashery and all of the bits and pieces you buy because you think it will make you a crafty genius, take considerable amounts of resources, carbon and electricity to make. SO the new rules in my studio are;

  • No buying of new fabric/ribbon/beads/embroidery floss. It all must be sourced from my own collection, swapped or brought from an op shop.
  • Recycle as much as possible. Break down old projects or things that have been discarded if needed.
  • Organise. This might sound a bit odd, but if you are organised and know exactly what you have in your studio, the condition its in and how much is left, you are less likely to buy new products out of laziness, or not being able to find them.
  • If new things need to be brought, it has to come out of the Craft Fund (essentially a can of coins! no fancy investment funds here!)
    The Craft Fund

    The Craft Fund

    Rhonda Hetzel’s book ‘Down to Earth‘ really helped me come to this decision. She has some great things to say about attitudes towards money and spending which really put some things into perspective for me. It’s funny how  you can know something in principal, but when it comes to translating that to action, there is that little missing link. Rhonda’s book filled in some of those missing links for me.

“I thought it was normal to have everything I wanted… we are encouraged to think that way. The average Western lifestyle always gives you need things to crave; it keeps encouraging you to spend beyond your means. That will never change, you will have to change instead (p 48)”

Nice!

(You can find Rhonda’s blog here)

I am pretty sure I will break these rules at some stage, but I think boundaries can help the creative juices along!

What do you think? I would love to hear your thrifty crafty tales!

Insanity and the bookcase

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I haven’t posted for a while now and there is a very good reason for that…. University, and lots of it. The assignments are flying thick and fast, not the mention the lectures, readings and general stress that comes with a Master’s degree.

In the middle of all this madness I come up with the awesome idea of downsizing my collection of craft/art supplies and tools and relocating them to the bookcase/ study and transforming the studio into a library/wine nook/ general de-stressing zone (I was envisioning LOTS of Dr. Who posters as well!). Great idea? Yes!

Then came to the actual doing.  And the severe psychological harm of down sizing a room that essentially has been a haven of hoarding for the past three years. Did I really think I was going to reuse all of those egg cartons? and bits of bias binding rescued from the op shop? Of Course! But I think once the stress of throwing things that I previously thought I couldn’t live without and paring my art/craft practice down to the bare minimum will be a good excercise for the brain and soul. And we will gain a space in the house that is devoted to relaxation and free of electronics and TV.

Bring it on I say!

Organised deliciousness. My plan for the new and improved art/craft storage space. Recycled cardboard boxes covered with fabric. Spray adhesive has been my saviour here, so quick and easy and relatively clean.

 

Chaos! all of the contents of the book-case and studio in transit. I can’t seem to produce the fabric covered boxes quick enough! Patience is the key here, I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better living through vintage bikes

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This week I took delivery of a brand new, mint green vintage bike. It’s quite stunning!

The decision to buy a bike was to obviously to promote some healthy living in the house, but also as a way for me and husband to spend some time together doing something that isn’t watching episodes of True Blood all day. It has also meant that the car stays in the driveway, as the quick trip to the shop for milk can be done on my bike, rather than wasting energy and fuel driving the car. So its making me feel warm and fuzzy in an environmentally friendly kind of way too!

You can have a look at the brand and style  here, and the lovely boys at iRide, Toowoomba made it all happen, including spunky new helmets.

And apparently, I am quite cool now, retro bikes being all the rage and featured in the delicious mag, Frankie. The style of bike pictured in this article is a little bit different, but its nice to have a bike option that isn’t all tiny shorts, lycra tops and ridiculous shoes. These lovelies are dress and thong friendly!

I think I’m in love!! ❤ ❤