Monday, May 31, 2010

I've been stitching ...

I have a goodly number of skills but honestly, embroidery and stitchery aren't really amongst them. I have good friends who will confirm this - it is not false modesty - if you want your thread knotty and a bit grubby then I am your girl. If you are not adverse to having the back of your stitchery look like some kind of insane join the dots - well I can do that too. I don't do neat stitches and please don't ask me to count them - it is just not gonna happen! However, despite my ineptitude with needle and thread, I think I may have found an outlet for my would-be embroidery longings ...

... it was just a matter of finding the right medium! This still needs a bit of refinement but I think it will work - especially if I pay attention to details like - oh I don't know - drilling the holes in a straight line! (sigh).
This is pendant size and was once a spoon. I was gonna call it "Hash Heart" but think that is a bit dubious so if you come up with a better name, let me know!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It must be Sunday - Flea Market Finds!

I didn't set out to go op-shopping this week - but you know, I happened to be passing one and if I didn't go in I would torment myself with thoughts of all the treasures that might have been lurking within - well you know how it goes! As it turns out I scored 2 really decent school jumpers for my son who, at nearly 17 has arms that seem to lengthen nightly! These jumpers are part of the school uniform and are really good quality and made to last but that doesn't help if your kids insist on growing! I won't share a pic of those  - I am sure we all have plenty of less-than-fond memories of school uniforms! I also found this lovely tin - it is not vintage or anything but since I plan to cut it up, that is just as well!

Pretty huh?!

I don't know what a "mooncake" is but I am pretty sure I would like it!

Another neat but not-really-vintage find was this book called "Decoupage Made Easy". I don't like the projects in it ( think Tracey Marsh circa early 90's - eeeewwww!) but at the back there are pages of images that I think could be put to good use ...

I'll spare you any pics of the actually projects but here are some of the images.

Some cute stuff and some "arty" stuff - I will probably scan them and muck about with them somehow.

The one thing I unearthed that  actually looks vintage was this wooden ruler for hem measuring - it is missing the little sliding doo-dad but since I won't be measuring skirts with it, it doesn't matter!
It was darn tricky to photograph so I apologise for the pic quality. Here is a close-up of those lovely numbers.

I added to my stash on Saturday morning I'm afraid.

Another white teapot for the installation I am making, a couple of teaspoons (given the spoon-drought a while back I have decided to NEVER pass them up!) and some stuff I plan to turn into displays for an exhibition. Oh and can you spot the killer tea cosy?

It came with the tea-pot which is one of those lovely old aluminum ones - made in England for the Carlton Hotel - just yummy! I also fell in love with the illustration in the little book. It is called "The Adventures Of Tom Thumb" and is by M.Jean Craig with illustrations by Haig and Regina Shekerjian - who was also known as Regina Tor. I have a quick search for some more info but haven't found anything of a biographical nature although it seems Regina was a prolific illustrator of kids books. If you know anything about her I would love to hear about it! Her are a few pics from the book I have.

 I love the use of the really bold red throughout the book - just touches of it here and there and occasionally as a bold patterned background. This copy is a first printing and is dated 1972. I am not sure if I love the reigned rat or am terrified of him - he looks a little malevolent!
If you were fossicking in the thrift stores this week, I hope your searches were fruitful. Head on over to Sophie's and check out all the goodies people have unearthed in Flea Market Finds.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fancy Feathers - are you tickilish ...?

As part of my Uni studies, I am working on a jewellery project using non-traditional materials (ie not silver or gold etc). I am planning a neckpiece using feathers. I want this piece to be a bit "out there" rather than a something you would wear alot. I will share a pic when it I have made it, but in the meantime here are some pics of the feathers I plan to use.

I am really happy with how they have turned out! Woo hoo - lacy feathers! There were a few tense moments when I printed these babies as my supply of white feathers is small and the printing doesn't work very well on the sort you get from the craft stores and I am keen to use as many printed feathers in the piece as possible. I am getting excited now!

Post Clean-up ...

  Looking at the photos I am not sure it looks much better - although the decks are a bit clearer ...
Well at least there is nothing perched on top of the sewing machine now!
I can see the work mat now - although it still looks messy!

I did sort out lots of beads!

This bit looks heaps better!

I generally use this area for card making and other paper crafts so it is great to actually be able to have a clear surface to work on! This room is not exactly huge - less than 3m x 3m and I fit a lot of stuff in there I reckon! Naturally, keeping it tidy is a bit of a challenge especially as I like to have things in plain sight. Still, despite how chaotic it looks I can generally lay my hand on whatever I need. Unless of course the scissors are being ratbags and deliberately hide from me. Or my favourite hammer grows legs and wanders of its own accord to the shed .... sometimes tools are just plain NAUGHTY!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Speaking of chaos ...

Well this is what my work room looked like a week ago - what a disaster! 

Oh dear - just looking at it makes me shudder!

The place is positively littered with stuff that needs dealing with ...

Well the good news is that I have indeed had a clean-up. Really, it was more like an archaeological excavation than a tidy-up! I will show you the proof of my endeavors later ( need to tweak it a bit 'cos I've been working in there ...) but trust me, I really, truly did clean-up and it was well worth the effort. Sometimes you just have to tame the chaos!

Now if I could just manage to maintain a studio like this one ...
This studio belongs to artist Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley and  I found the image here where there are lots of good arty things to read about - isn't it gorgeous? Her work is great - she is a girl after my own heart because in her bio she says "Oh - and I like glitter" after listing off her fave artists! Ah well, I live in hope of maintaining a space that stays this tidy! And clean!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Collectors and their collections.

I read an article today about people who make collections - I am talking about the truly epic ones that were the predecessor to the Museum. There are lots of collectors out there now who collect everything from key-rings to rare china. The popularity of shows like the Antiques Roadshow and the Collectors are testament that collecting ,as a pastime has lost none of its popularity since the Victorians assembled their Cabinets of Curiousity. Everyone knows that artists are mad collectors - they love stuff - whether to use in their work or to inform their work, they like to have objects around them. One theory about collectors is that by ordering their collection , they can impose some order on life which can often seem chaotic. Me, I think collectors like stuff because it speaks to them - sure there is the thrill of the chase in hunting down that illusive tea-pot or medal but I think the real thrill for an avid collector comes when they hold a sought after object in their hands and wonder at the stories it might reveal and the memories it evokes. Collecting is all about passion and I think to do it properly, it just has to be done from the heart! What do you think? Do you collect something special and what motivates you to seek out things to add to your collection. Me, I just like stuff. And I wouldn't mind a cabinet just like this one!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flea Market Finds

Sunday has rolled around again so it is time to join in Sophies meme, Flea Market Finds. It has been a bit of a lean week for op-shopping - so many other things keeping me busy. Still, I did manage a bit of a flit around my favourite on Saturday morning. Ages ago one of the lovely volunteers there gave me an amazing broken bowl that she had purchased in Morrocco - she carted it all over the place - through Egypt on rickety buses and other dodgy modes of transport and it stayed safe and sound in one piece - right up until she got to Australia - it got broken in her suitcase! She was so sad about it - it was in a zillion pieces so couldn't even be patched together. The upshot of it was that she hung onto it for years and eventually gave it to me. I promised to make her a piece of jewellery from it - which turned out to be a bit of a challenge! Still, I finally got it made and dropped it off to her at the op shop. She was really pleased with it  and I get to keep the rest of the shards so everyone is a winner! So, that is how I found myself at the oppie on Saturday morning when really I should have been chiselling some of the soap scum off the bathroom tiles! Naturally, I found a couple of treasures!
 Some sage green crochet thread, a mismatched teapot (50 cents!), a tin, 2 spoons, a file and a dolly stringholder - is'nt she gorgeous?!
Actually, she is a bit grubby but that won't take long to fix. I plan to use her to hold a reel of linen thread that I have handy for card making purposes! I also found this toddlers t-shirt - not sure I would have put my toddler in it but the graphic was too good to pass up!
I desided to strike whilst the iron ( and my enthusiasm) was hot and make stuff with my finds straightaway.
Here is the t-shirt reincarnated as a cushion.
And can you guess which find these are partially made from?
Look closely ...
... yep, you are right - they are made from the tin and some EPNS I already had from a previous tray hunt! Add some sterling wire and voila! If you were opshopping this week I hope the Secondhand Saints were travelling with you - check out Sophie's to see what else has turned up in the thrift stores this week.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's baaaack! Yay!

I have found my beady mojo once more! After a reasonably long dry-spell, I am finally back in the saddle - or should I say studio beading up a storm. I think I have Christina to thank for this new-found enthusiasm. She asked me to create a necklace to go with an outfit she was wearing to an up-coming function - I got a pic of the dress and everything! For some reason I got fired up!  I made her two pieces - similar colours but completely different styles - it was great fun and just what I needed to get back into the swing of things.
Here is a piece I made this week - I think it is kinda elegant with a quirky twist. It is made from resin,glass and acrylic beads. The shiny grey ones said they were hematite, but I don't believe it - not that it matters too much 'cos I bought them for their looks alone - is that terribly shallow of me? I usually only care about how a bead looks, not what it is made of ... perhaps I am marginalising the beads, but I can't help it - they gotta look good!
I hope your week was as full of creative goodness as mine was, in one way or another!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Masterchef? Maybe not quite ...

This afternoon I got my cooking groove on and spent a few hours conjuring up some good looking Wintery grub!

Here we have tomato and veg soup, chicken noodle soup and pumpkin soup made from butternuts out of the garden. Also steaming a couple of spuds for dinner!

I made my son pikelets for an after-school snack - soccer training tonight so I figured a few carbs would be a good thing! He loves those mini-quiches so I made a batch for school lunches as well - yummo! I came across the recipe for the frittata whilst cleaning out some magazines - it is from my favourite Barossa cafe - and it looks delicious - although not quite as grand as the piccie in the magazine!  My two daughters share a flat in the city - both at Uni and both work part-time - so every now and then I cook up a freezerful for them! Today I got a MASSIVE tub of ricotta for $1.99 so they get ricotta and spinach filo triangles and a bean and tomato lasagne/pasta dish ( in the oven as I type!). Pretty sure I will be keeping half the frittata though 'cos it smells so good - it has fetta and roast capsicum, caramelised onions and pumpkin in it - drooling just thinking about it!

 And really the kitchen doesn't look too bad - a bit of a dishwashing session is in order now. I need to hunt around in the plastics cupboard for some serving size containers for the soup - I always approach that cupboard with trepidation - and I s'pose I should cook dinner too!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flea Market Finds

This week I had a bit of a forage for some more tea-pots to paint - I want them for a Uni project, so of course I had a good fossick in the "china department" of several local oppies. I only found one suitable tea-pot but I did find this adorable little fellow!

He seems very contemplative doesn't he?! If you want to contemplate some other Flea Market Finds, head on over to Sophie's - or maybe you would like to join in?!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pattern Making Mayhem

I have this top that I just love. It hides a multitude of sins and is soft and comfy but still looks good. Thing is though, I have worn it to death and whilst it is not exactly shabby, it is certainly not in its prime ( a bit like me I suspect!). Now this was an op-shop top that I bought years ago and I have never seen another like it - even in "real" clothing stores. I thought it had been lost at one stage and was  mighty upset. So, I decided to gird my loins and make a pattern from it and set to making myself anothery! I should point out that I haven't made a pattern for years - and even when I did I was always terribly grateful for stretch fabrics - gotta love easement! Of course there was no tracing paper in the workroom, so I snaffled the Glad-Bake out of the kitchen and set to work. I drafted the pieces fairly well (forgot about seam allowances though!) but what seems like a simple top is in fact deceptively complex - the front is actually made of 6 panels - all differing in shape - they kinda fit together like a jigsaw! The upshot was that I decided I should make a prototype - just to see if the pattern works before I go and spend my dollars on decent fabric. I only had a skerrick of stretchy fabric in the cupboard so it looks a bit odd - there will need to be a few pattern adjustments - adding seams for one thing but overall, I do believe it might just work! I sure made a mess getting there though!

 Fortunately, you can't see the floor in this pic - it was positively littered with screwed up bits of Glad-Bake- and I always like to add hints on my pattern pieces!

All in all, it reminded me why I like to make jewellery!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recyclers Rule!

I have been using found and recycled stuff in my work for a number of years - I love the challenges non-traditional materials present as well as the freedom they allow because they are usually inexpensive or free. One of my all time favourite artists who works with recycled stuff is Harriet Estel Berman. This lady makes amazingly bold pieces of jewellery and sculpture from tin cans. I find her work fascinating and thought it was high time I shone a light on her! The great thing about Ms Berman is that her work may look decorative and jubilant, but it always has an agenda - some kind of commentary on our world.
Here is a little video from her website.

This is someone who embodies my own sentiments about the materials we use - it is not about using intrinsically valuable materials, but about challenging our perceptions of what we believe to be valuable. Not long ago, I was wearing a neckpiece that I had made from a soft drink can and recycled paper. A jewellery lecturer admired it and suggested that to sell it for a "decent" price I could get the drink can bezel cast in silver. Right there and then I knew that I could indeed go down that road or I could stick to my guns and in my own small way, work towards changing attitudes and steering people towards seeing the true value of an item that is recycled/sustainable -that beauty and value don't have to cost the Earth - literally.Lucky, lucky me - I now have an official bandwagon!!
To see more of this talented lady's work head over to her website here.


A young friend asked me to make some earrings that she could wear to her School Formal. She had bought a drop-dead gorgeous dress and killer heels and was looking for a little "blingage"! The instructions were 'big and sparkly" - we are talking Statement Ear-rings here folks. So, I channeled my inner Beyonce, gathered up the shiniest of shiny Swarovski crystals and set to work. I decided she should have a couple of pairs to choose from and this is what I came up with ...

These are very pretty - not all Swarovski but still have 'bling' factor. The tips of the tear-drop just touched her shoulder ...

I set Swarovski crystals into the bit at the top - the big ones were easy but the little ones that go around the edge took a bit of fanangling! She said big and these babies are definitely BIG!

In my defence the girl in question reiterated that BIG was good so I went with that. These are full-on big and sparkly. I wired Swarovski rhinestones to the smaller hoop and threaded crystals onto the big hoop - there is  a couple of rhinestone rondells thrown in for good measure.
They all looked fabulous on her ( mind you this is one gorgeous gal and would look glamorous in a paper bag!) and she liked all of them,although the fan shaped ones were pretty heavy. I don't know which ones she chose to wear yet - will let you know. All in all I think I followed her instructions for BIG and Shiny pretty well!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flea market Finds - a bit lean this week!

This week I had a big clean out of my wardrobe - I sent heaps off to the op-shop and felt very satisfied with all the "new" space I suddenly had. Apart from the dropping off scenario, I didn't get to do much op-shopping so I don't have a lot to share for this weeks Flea Market Finds. I found this jacket in a local oppie - pretty well brand new and afterall, I did have some spare hanging space after the clean out ....

Hhhmm - not a very good photo I'm afraid - but trust me, it is cute and in excellent order - I have worn it twice this week! I love the big buttons and the sleeves which are not quite full length and have a flouncy bit - I do love a good flouncy bit! Actually it is a really good weight too - warm but not too warm - I hate feeling hot! For far more exciting finds than mine, head over to Sophie's and see what the other Hunter Gatherers have brought home this week!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Still on about that 21st ...

Thought I would share a few piccies of the decorated Hall. We had some most marvelous bunting from Melissa - all made from vintage sheets, doileys and lace. Draping it across the ceiling proved to be quite an adventure as Kath and I had no ladder and we are both somewhat vertically challenged. If I ever caught my kids clambering up a stack of nine chairs waving a massive broom, I would have a hissy fit - but that is exactly what we did! It took several attempts ( and there were a few "Teena Lady" moments let me tell you!) but we got there in the end! The bright bunting (that was easy to hang!) had been made years ago for my nieces wedding and has subsequently been used for quite a few parties. The panne velvet cloths were also made for my nieces wedding and are usually employed to display jewellery upon. The lace cloths were dyed by me - prolly NOT gonna go there again - and you have all met the table decorations (footed tea-pots) before.
I don't have any shots of Melissa's bunting at the hall just yet so I took these to give you an idea of the trouble she went to.

Just a few pieces of the 13 or so meters Melissa made!

Just had to show you how great it looks when it is hanging.

How cute is that little piece of doiley?!

And of course the beautiful crocheted garland - what a gal!

Here is the hall decked out - we only had a few tables the idea was to encourage people to mingle - given the exciting party games, they had no choice really!

The photo board taking shape! Thanks Kath! Ooooh - see all the little tea pots across the front of the stage? They were from Melissa's collection and she gave at least one away on the day and I have the rest - planning something fun ...

The other side of the hall - food, bar and tea station!

Can you believe all those tea cups are mine?! Some I have had since the kids were really little when we would ahve afternoon tea parties on a regular basis! Truth be told, that isn't the entire collection - just what would fit!

Even the birthday cake was handmade - dodgy icing and all! I really take my hat off to people who can ICE! Damn tricky if you ask me! I had to make a mad dash to the cheap shop to find something to disguise my lack of expertise - those flowers around the bottom are not edible - they are neoprene and hide a multitude of icing sins! On the day we also had a good few sparklers to divert the eye - give 'em the old razzle dazzle ...

Oh my goodness it was a lot of fun and made all the more special because my dear friends contributed so much - not just to the organising - baking and decorating but they gave their whole-hearted love, brought along their sense of fun and showed the depth of their friendship by making this a very special occasion - my daughter is still receiving texts from her pals exclaiming how much fun they had. Thanks you two - you are the BEST!