Monday, January 24, 2011

Flea Market Finds

Last week I op-shopped with purpose. I wanted to make a housewarming present for a friend and a "it-has- been-too-long-since-we-have-seen-each-other" gift for another friend. So I set off on a mission to collect some glassware with coloured glass at the top of my list. Here is a sampling of what I unearthed ...

Once the layers of dust have been washed away they are really very pretty - gotta love shiny! And here is what they became ...

This candlestick will be going to a beachside abode so I wanted to use bright, summery colours to fit the location.

The next one will be going to a friend with a very eclectic sense of style - she loves colour - so I wanted to use a good variety of shapes and colours in this candlestick.

It ended up a little crooked because the lovely blue thingy at the bottom was not level - a fact that escaped me until it was too late!

Never mind, I am going with the idea that being slightly lopsided just adds to its' quirky charm! To join in with Flea market Finds or to have a squizz at the goodies everyone has hunted up this wee, head over to Sophies. Pssst - Sophie is having a give-away just leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shakespeare in the Vines.

I have to admit a wee fondness for The Bard. I think his words have transcended time and resonate with meaning - even today. It probably stems from the fact that he wrote plays that dealt with universal human conflicts, love, joy and sorrow. Now, Romeo and Juliet is not my favourite play - sometimes Juliet just seems so utterly pathetic that I can't get my 70's- child brain around her carrying on. Last night though we went to see  Essential Theatre  perform said play and I loved it! I was weeping at the end - ok so there had been some Champagne Cocktails involved, but I was truly moved.

Whilst the audience got settled on their picnic rugs and dug their wine and goodies out of the eskie we were entertained by a local songstress. A cool breeze drifted across the natural amphitheatre giving some welcome relief from the heat of the day.

"Her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light."

The grounds of the Seppeltsfield Winery are a great setting, with large trees providing shade - and the odd flock of Sulphur Crested Cockies that the actors have to compete with!

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet"

Just look at that sun filtering through the vineyards that lay beyond the trees - Heaven!

"O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die."

And as dusk falls,the play finishes,the actors bow and I felt replete - with food and wine and wonderful words.

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, 
That I shall say good night till it be morrow"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tour Down Under

The "Tour Down Under" came to our place yesterday - well not exactly to my house but to our region. It was an almighty flash of metal and Lycra as they whizzed by for the finish of Stage One. They had to negotiate a few hills so I don't suppose they get to enjoy the scenery very much.

There were some odd sights around - like these promotional vehicles ...

(photos from ABC Online)

Line honours went to a Taswegian - Mathew Goss - you can read about it here if you are a fan or just want to know what all the fuss is about! This is a great event for our region , bringing in lots and lots of visitors - there are masses of cycling fans out there. Well, I can certainly appreciate the effort that goes into this sport - I have to admit  that generally, I am not a big fan of Lycra but these athletes do it justice - yes, yes they do. All that aside I think I prefer a more sedate ride - maybe on something like this ...

(pic from imgfave)

- and there will definitely be no Lycra gracing my body - oh no, no there will not! I think I will spare the world that sight. Unless of course I could get my hands on some Industrial Strength Lycra that kinda sucked everything in and hoisted it upwards ...  Anyhoo, if the "Tour" passes through your area be sure to give the cyclists a wave and a shout - they deserve it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hope Softies

I know these will not do much to help the people of Queensland rebuild after the enormous losses from the floods but I do hope they bring a smile to a little persons face.

I will be posting these off to the lovely Steph who will distribute the softies to little kids in Brissie. You can read about it here or hit the "hope softies" badge on my side bar. I hardly sew at all anymore but I felt really inspired to dig out some fabric and concoct a pattern for this terrific cause. Oh and don't forget I have some pretty jewels for sale on my madeit site - everything has been reduced to just $20 each, shipping in Oz is free and all proceeds will go to the flood appeal. So if you need a pressie or just want to spoil yourself hop on over - and don't forget to say "Hi"!

Flea Market Finds

It has been an age since I have joined in with Sophie's fun and games - I have been treasure hunting but pre-Christmas many of my finds were destined to be gifts so I didn't want to spoil the surprise by sharing them here. This week however, all these treasures are for me me me!

Glorious grey shell buttons - the biggest of these are a whopping 3.5 cms across! It was love at first sight and I would have paid much more for them but they were bundled up into $2 packets so I didn't have to.

I picked these up whilst we were away at the seaside. They are definitely some kind of seed pod but I have no idea what kind - I will keep hunting around for an answer. They are quite black and bulbous. I will be deconstructing the necklace and using them for something yummy.

This tiny little ceramic mouse reminded me of my son when he was little and did something he probably shouldn't have. He is way cuter in real life - my son is too!

And why shouldn't buck-toothed squirrels play dress-ups I ask you?

Kinda weird, possibly a little creepy and definitely not very politically correct - they fit right in at my place!

This pretty china will be smashed and worked into earrings I think. I love it when I find odd bits of crockery with a small all over pattern. Speaking of jewellery, if you are in the mood for a little retail therapy please drop by my madeit shop - all the jewellery is now $20 and the proceeds of sales through January will be donated to the flood relief appeal - free shipping in Oz too!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flood Relief sale.

Like everyone else, I have been horrified by the devastating floods in Queensland. Australians are fabulous at rallying together in a time of crisis and I would like to do my own little bit to help. To that end, I have reduced everything on my madeit site to $20, with all proceeds going to the Flood Appeal. Shipping remains free within Australia. So please do pop over there and see if anything takes your fancy. I know these pretties are looking for a new home ...

I think we can all be proud of our craft and blogging community efforts to help out. Have a squizz here for other ways to help.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tree Hugging

We are in the throes of some professional tree removal at our place. I have resisted having these trees taken out for quite awhile now but sadly they have to go. These are gum trees that my Dad used to call "widow-makers" because of their propensity for losing large limbs in the heat. Our place isn't in the line of droppage but our neighbours' houses are so unfortunately these trees have to go. Long before we moved here, this was a strip of reserve apparently and the council divided it up and sold it off. It certainly made the block more attractive to us as we felt quite rural whilst being right in town. Well, there is no mistaking that we are in the middle of the town now and I have lost the nestled in ambiance but at least everyone and their homes will be safe. I felt a bit sick when I heard the first tree coming down. We will be planting food trees - citrus etc but I am gonna miss these gums. With all this tree stress, is it any wonder that this is what has emerged from the studio in the last day or so ...

Tassie oak and recycled silverplated trays.

They are strung on waxed cotton with an ininti seed acting as a shortener.

The nature of the recycled materials doesn't allow for the removal of every ding and scratch or to achieve a high polish. I don't think it matters do you? It really just adds to the hand hewn quality of the pieces. I must say that I find cutting out metal far easier than cutting out wood. I have been wanting to combine the two elements for quite some time now and I am pretty happy with my first results. To give you an idea of scale, these measure about 8.5 cms from root to tip. I know I am going to mourn my trees for a little while though.

Acorn falling close to tree ...

On a recent trundle through a seaside town The Middle Child eye-spied a bracelet in the window of a dress boutique. She was quite taken with it  - well not the actual thing 'cos it was cast and kinda chunky, but she liked the use of text and  different coloured metals. Of course having grown up in a creative household, there was never any doubt in her mind that she could make something like it for her very ownself! When the kids were younger they held the belief that if they liked it, Mum could make it. Now happily, they want to make things themselves - sometimes with a bit of help from me. They are all quite good makers in one way or another and appreciate handcrafted things and will seek them out and part with their hard earned dollars to buy them but they are less keen to hand over their money for mass-produced stuff. Here is what my daughter designed and made.

She cut the circles from recycled pewter, copper and brass. We only had access to a little hand drill so making all those holes was a bit of an adventure!

She learnt to cut, file, dome and stamp the metal. It looks great on her wrist - unique and stylish.

These are the words she chose " seek truth". We applied patina when we got home which has helped the teeny-tiny words show up a bit more. I love passing on skills - when a process is demystified and you see the person you are teaching have that "ah-ha" moment - well, nothing beats it - especially when it is one of your very own offspring! I think she has done a great job - I may be 'borrowing' this design myself!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crystal Clear

Remember that crystal that I captured in a brass setting a few days ago? You can see it here. I wanted to use it in an interesting way and let it be a part of a necklace rather than the focus of the piece. This is what I came up with ...

I have used it to create a pendant with an old watch case, chandelier crystal and a charm.

I have called this piece "Crystal Clear". I like to think of it as a bit of a talisman to promote clear thought and wisdom. I collaged the watch case with an eye print and encased a pearl for feminine wisdom and a sodalite star. Sodalite is believed to clear the mind and bridge the gap between your thoughts and your feelings. The word "clarity" is stamped onto some metal and remains fixed in place whereas the pearl and stone can move.

I have strung it on a piece of flocked tube and whilst I like the dimensions, I am not completely convinced about the material as I am not sure how well it wears.

So there it is - from conception to completion - in under a week - could be some kind of record for me as I do like to ruminate about the pieces ... Anyway I am dead delighted with the rustic chunkiness of this piece and its museum-like quality. I think I will be revisiting this idea.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggety jig ...

Just home after a wonderful beachy holiday with the family. We have had an extra special helping of family time over the Christmas period this year - something that gets harder to arrange as the kids get older, get jobs,study,leave home, travel etc -so I am feeling pretty grateful right now.
We had a great time mooching about some little seaside towns, swimming, eating and laughing ourselves stupid. Our holiday included :

Some DIY henna tattooing.

Fun and games.

Some catch, kiss, and release fishing adventures.

And of course some icy cold wine to wash down some really great local food!

We also made some stuff, watched Tim Minchin DVDs ( not recommended for those suffering any form of stress incontinence!), visited nearby markets, lazed around reading good books and trashy magazines and of course immersed ourselves in the briny sea at every available opportunity. It was trooly rooly Heaven - even so, it is still good to be home.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Too too easy ....

I have constructed a pair of ear-rings.

OK, so that is not all that noteworthy except that these were so amazingly simple that I feel deeply suspicious that there must be some fundamental design flaw.

  They have a simple loop closure that seems to work well and remain secure ... The wires are forged so they retain some "spring" but can't be easily bent out of shape and the recycled brass discs seem to fall naturally to the "right" place when these are worn. They are no trickier to put in my ears than any other hoop-style earrings I own. What is going on? It all sounds too good to be true - there are absolutely no tricky manoeuvrings involved in making or wearing these.

... and they look really great on! So you can understand my suspicions can't you? I am planning to road-test these for a week or two before making some to send out into the world. Am I being paranoid?!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Learning Curve

I thought you might like to join me on a little learning adventure ...
You see, this morning I was cleaning out my handbag and found these ...

I had bought them at a market in the hills well before Christmas and they have been stealthily lurking in my bag ever since. These a roughish bits of quartz and whilst I fell in love with them at the time, I had no real idea about what I would do with them. Well, it is a new year and all so maybe it is time to learn a new skill? I wanted to capture the crystal in a way that would allow me to hang it. Somewhere in the blurry recesses of my brain I have an idea that I have seen some jewellery made using little tabs to hold things in place. How hard can it be I thought ... Well for better or worse I decided to go for it. Here is how I did it ...

I chose my crystal and decided which would be the uppermost side. Then I did a rough little trace around it. Then I added tabs that will eventually wrap over the crystal, and some half circles that will form the hanging mechanism.
I cut out the paper pattern and tested it on the crystal - notice how I have marked the top of the crystal - it is easy to lose track of what goes where ... I had to make the tabs a little bit longer as I had underestimated the crystals' girth - in much the same way as I often underestimate the girth of my butt!

Next up - pattern glued to some brass and we are ready to cut this baby out!

Okay - that is really just a gratuitous shot of me wielding my trusty saw and looking like a proper jeweller!

So, I have cut the shape out, files and sanded the edges and here it is being "antiqued" with a blackening solution.

The moment of truth - will it fit? Will it be secure?

Yessirreee Bob! It does take a little bit of manipulating and some very very gentle taps with a small rubber mallet, but it most definitely WORKS!  Bear in mind that I didn't measure anything so if you wanted a less "organic" (wobbly!) style you would need to rule straight lines and so forth - me, I think it works well with this less-than-perfect bit of rock! Now, to figure out how I am gonna use this component ...?!