Sunday, 24 April 2016

Kiama - April 2016

Just letting everyone know that I've moved my shop to a little space at 33 Collins St in Kiama - not  the main road, but the side road by which you enter Kiama from the north. We're opposite those cute little terraces in an old shop with a garden at the front, called The Collective.

There's some stylish hand made gift items, fair trade, retro and vintage furniture, and Di's homewares section is beautiful. Kiama is a thriving little town with regular markets and art exhibitions in the park, some great cafes and is a top little spot to visit. I'm hoping in a couple of months the council merger will go ahead and Kiama and Shoalhaven will be the same region. :-)

Bayside Emporium in Huskisson, I believe, is winding down. I'm hoping the site will be redeveloped to something fabulous as part of the foreshore masterplan. It was a fantastic opportunity and trading there for 2 1/2 years with my fellow stallholder community has been a positive and rewarding experience.


Saturday, 5 March 2016

Goodbye Summer

While I love watercolour and how it has worked it's way into popular culture, I still appreciate a classic pencil drawing. These ones I started a year ago for these gorgeous rustic hand-made frames from India, and have finally got them on display.

I was very happy to work some watercolour elements into the design for the 2016 Shoalhaven Visitors Guide which reproduced really nicely on the uncoated stock.

Still loving maps and the all the colours and textures in the details and topography. I did a quick makeover on Em's bedside table the night before she moved out. Pages from a gorgeous old Atlas, Mod Podge and some new handles. My squeeky old brayer got a good workout.


 Little t-shirt yarn baskets. These are made with a big fat crochet hook and old t-shirts cut to continuous 1" strips. Would love to do a rag rug like this.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Raising Hens

Anything - growing plants, making art, keeping chooks, raising kids - looks easy when it's done right, by someone who knows what they're doing. It was gratifying to have a laugh at this cartoon being somewhat of a city person in a regional environment.

However, I have had a few wins - the hens started laying again after (to me a very mysterious) egg-less stint of maybe 4 months. I relocated their house to the less soggy back corner of the garden which is a pleasanter experience for the carer at least. Constrained their movements to a fenced portion of the yard, so that they aren't free to poo under the carport, on the lawn and on the back deck. Spent a day in the hot sun building the fence higher to stop them going next door and kicking the mulch out of my neighbours garden beds. Even clipped most of their wings with Emmy's help - though flying may have helped them escape a fox I saw run from our yard early one morning -  the decision was made based on the havoc they can create and my available time & energy to spend fixing it.

So it's taken nearly a year, but I think I've got it working fairly well - eggs, pleasant clucking and scratching, good compost creation, minimal garden damage, and happy neighbours.

But now one of the hens has started to crow.
In the morning, once they wake up, the girls make their way as close as they can to the house and make a racket of clucking and squawking until I bring their food out to settle them down. I should add that often their feeder is full of pellets, and of course their area has ample space to scratch and explore, but this is the routine. It's at this time that the one Em calls Jodyhighroller, has started to position herself on a treestump, flap her wings, and blast out a croaky, gutteral crow, like an adolescent rooster. And like a trained seal, I run out instantly in my dressing gown with an icecream container full of food to shut the noise down before the neighbours think I have a rooster. Which I don't. Incidentally rewarding and reinforcing the whole routine.

It will be interesting to see if she stops laying and makes further gender identity changes, or whether the crowing is just a dominance thing... Otherwise she might have to go to the special rooster farm as Fil of Howash has explained.

Eggs are available on weekends from Bayside Emporium. The dozens are a mix of sizes - the tiny ones are Lucy's.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A stitch in time

Revamped lamp with twine-wound base and map lampshade

Peeling off the paper template for appliqued sketch book cover

The finished cover... inspired by Alabama Chanin's (far more amazing) work

One of a batch of hand-made recycled notebooks

This notebook cover has a little window

They are recycled from art-reference printouts, childrens story books, atlas pages, tracing paper and old schoolbooks among other things. And hand-bound with crochet thread. And there's a fair bit of sewn paper in there with the threads all left dangling.
Sometimes a fabulous thing happens and I find time to float off on waves of inspiration, and make and do things that make no economic or logical sense.

Other times another fabulous thing happens and I find time to calmly address undealt-with things that have been filed as too difficult or time-consuming or overwhelming to resolve. Often as I daily chip away at my 'urgent' list I'm also building little barriers in my brain. Things which need doing or resolving that I will possibly never tend to. These last few years as I've embarked on a bit of a rediscovery of my creative nature I've observed these patterns but I'm still a little clueless as to why the mental doors get shut on some things, when there is so much satisfaction in the unlatching.

For example the thread on my sewing machine kept tangling and it would jam up and refuse to sew. So I thought I'd have to get it serviced. My sister said that would probably cost at least $70 and she sent me a link to a brand new machine at Aldi for $99. So cheap! But I'm not a person who likes to chuck things away. I still feel guilty about throwing away my microwave a few months ago, while it still worked perfectly, tho I got it second hand in the 80s. So anyhow I just stopped sewing for a while. Then one day I suddenly found the focus & patience to give it a good looking at. I googled the problem, read a few forum comments and then dug out the manual. The last page had adequate instructions on how to clean & oil the machine. I didn't really imagine that I could make much of a difference to the serious problem I was experiencing but I committed to the process anyway, regardless of what the outcome might be. I had to overcome some mental barriers like the tools supplied didn't seem the right shape to easily carry out their purpose, and fear of losing parts or not being able to return parts to their previous position. But these were just little tests that faded to insignificance once I was empowered by each successful stage in the process.

I think I spent about an hour on the machine, increased my competence with it and knowledge of it's components and operation. Increased my mood and feeling of ability and control. Increased my bond with my trusty machine. And when I ran the first swatch of test fabric through it sewed like a dream.

I also hand-hemmed a pair of pants which I've had pinned for about 18 months. It took maybe 20 minutes. And now when I put the pants on my shoe doesn't get hooked in the pinned hem. I know, it's not Einstein's theory of relativity. But what the hell IS it?

Anyhow I'll get back to my inspired time-consuming craft creating, much dominated by the well-oiled stitching of my trusty Singer. The pictures tell the story - sewn paper, appliqued patterns and recycled things. Tactile, rife with tattered thread ends and rugged twines, details of maps and random sentences from children's stories. I'm loving these projects so much, and though making them to sell makes no economic sense, they are available in my little store in Huskisson.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Sticks and Sewings

I'm not much into material things. Only mostly because a fancy new thing that costs a lot, is only new and fancy for so long. But almost any thing can be defined as new if it's new to your environment or experience and can enhance your life or space or way of doing things. So maybe I AM into material things, because my whole day or life can be transformed by the way a stenciled heart combines with old denim and a bit of stitching, or a remnant of floral cotton or gingham.

 So here are 3 buntings made from my daughter's old jeans. With a beautiful weight and drape that reminds me a little bit of leather, they each have 15 triangular flags alternated on nylon cord with loops tied at the ends.
An order from a (very patient) regular customer, shown here one of two bedside lamps with the shade made of twigs. The base is a metal touch lamp, which I think is really convenient for emergency lights-on rather than hunting for switches in the dark. I say twigs here but I really think of them as sticks. I think of sticks as building blocks for so many things that I'm almost reluctant to poke them into my blazing brazier. I am very rich in sticks.

Some more sketch book covers. Or should I say 'visual diary'? I buy these little sketch books and make beautiful fabric covers from calico, remnants of vintage linen, old hand-done needlework, re-purposed cords, straps, buttons. They have pencil-pockets, and wrap shut so you can throw them in your bag for your Artists Date (aka The Artist's Way). C'mon you visual people, I know how it feels to want to record everything with a sketch or diagram! Anyway, these books are for you. And for the handy hand-crafters who toiled to make the original needle-work I've used in these - here's to your efforts! Here's to your contribution to the artisan world! I honor your efforts and hope to spread the love!! The bird design above is a vintage iron-on embroidery pattern, which I think looks very elegant in it's original blue-only form.

So I was going to wind up with something about how sticks and sewings can break my bones... or tie in to the idea of the value of material things against the value of experiences. But now I've been delayed by a discussion with my daughter who in her final year of school has managed to refine her focus and study to a very neat degree, so much more so than I at that age. And the day has grown dark and delicious and there are so many exciting possibilities for tomorrow that I leave with that tension... Happy Friday

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Making time for making...

This week I've found the 'to-do' list at a manageable level, with minimal emergencies, no double-bookings, no desperate deadlines, car breakdowns, health dramas, pet crisis'... in short, none of the things that regularly shape my (moaning now) chaotic, busy days. 
So there have been hours of blissful creating of things and experimenting with materials, and revitalising and reworking things, which has materialised in some new items for the Husky store.

 Satin cord - so many ideas, these were just a couple of experiments. I started to look at chinese knots - wow. I'd love to perfect the butterfly knot! But for now I'm working with some standard macrame knots and braids.
 Doily earrings - these ones I dip dyed. Some I tea-stained. But I thought they were a nice fresh variation on the plain doily.
 Upcycled bottles - I love the whole bottle, twine, aged label thing. Vintage images, combined with scans of old worn paper printed on some lovely beige stock. The printed image is fixed with spray matt varnish.
 More little bottle necklaces - some tiny pieces of local seaglass, a magic potion, and a paper butterfly cutout. A lovely customer already bought the potion one - an Alice in Wonderland fan like me.

A 'found' branch with birds, jewellery pendant, refashioned into a choker. I love how the clasp matches.
And a table runner made from printed linen and backed with calico. This fabric is super pretty and I've also made t-towels to match with the neatest mitered corners I'm ridiculously proud of.

I've also made a pair of twig lampshades with touchlamp bases that were an order for a regular customer. I'll photograph them to upload next time.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have time to make time for making - if that's the sort of thing you like doing. :-)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Wood & String

 Last year I was asked to sit with the neighbour's lovely girls for the day, and as a craft activity I showed them some little glass bottles. They were so inspired, filling them with tiny seed beads and wrapping the tops with wire or writing tiny notes on tea-stained paper and rolling them up to pop inside. I've made some more bottle necklaces for the shop, I love the sciency look of them, and the idea that anything that fits inside can become jewellery. When I was at school I had a collection of jars with creatures in metho, these days I am a little more practical but the fascination is still there.

When I was a schoolkid I went through a macrame phase and made several pot hangers, owls, and even a halter (i had a little obsession with horses). 
It seems quite difficult to find appropriate materials for macrame - cords and ropes can be quite costly and fairly large quantities are needed. So when I found some nice fat white acrylic at the op shop, I excitedly matched it up with a beautifully sun-bleached gum branch and some wooden op-shop beads for a lovely seaside wall hanging.

I strung a tatted doily on an embroidery hoop with knotless netting to make this dreamcatcher. There is a wire nest which has a brass bird searching for it.
These beautiful frames made from recycled timber are begging for some gentle, natural artworks. I've started with a deer which has been on the table unfinished for some time now. I will get them done at some stage but if they turn out very, very pretty I might have to keep them. :-)

I should mention that I no longer have a shop at JindyAndy Mill. Any remaining stock is now at Huskisson in the Bayside Emporium.