Wednesday, October 31, 2012

to market to market

Woo hoo it is that time of year again when all the fun markets etc start to roll around. If you live in South Oz don't miss the annual Arts Bazaar at AC Arts in the city - lots of cool students' work to be found!

Printmakers, ceramacists, jewellers, painters, sculptors - definitely an excellent place to do a spot of Christmas shopping - or just get some art for your own self ....

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I am pretty sure someone actually stole this week. One minute it was Monday and then in the blink of an eye Sunday has rolled around again! What is the deal with that?! I only hit up one oppie in my busy week but it turned out to be all I needed. I am currently trying to make an installation at art school. Of books. The installation is called before Google, and the plan was to spell out that title using books. Something like this ...

.. only better. The installation is a bit of a comment on the ubiquity and superfluousness of the book in a digital age. I was inspired to make it when I stopped to consider the sheer volume of discarded books in thrift stores - particularly encyclopedias. I did in fact hope to make the whole thing from encyclopedias but the logistics proved too complicated for this project. So I created one letter "b" and was stunned by how many books it used up. These were saved from an overhaul of my own shelves (or rather boxes in the ceiling!) and a box of books I purchased for a couple of bucks. Clearly spelling out two words and a total of  twelve letters was not gonna happen - too many books required! I settled on just spelling out "books" but still needed more books than I had on hand. I headed to the biggest op shop in town to see what they had on offer. The deity/spiritual being-of-your-choice was with me because just as I got to the book section a chap came along with a sack truck and began loading boxes of books onto it. It quickly transpired that these books were headed for the "big skip bin out the back". Whaaaaat????? Well I guess it helps prove my point about the perceived worth of books these days. Apparently the shop gets so many books donated that they cannot manage to find space for them all and despite the prices ranging from free in the school holidays to a buck, they just can't sell enough of them either. I was a bit gobsmacked but recovered quickly enough to explain my situation and divert Mr SackTruck to my van. Look what I came home with ...

Believe it or not there are two boxes missing from this photo - they were still in the car!

Rex thought the boxes were interesting.

The first part of the selection process - separating hard covers from paperbacks. Then it will be by size and colour.  It has taken an age because I keep getting distracted by the inscription that are often inside the front cover - "To Dottie, Merry Christmas 1953. love Uncle Bert and Aunty Win" and things like that. There are get well wishes and congratulations for academic achievement too. It seems there was a whole raft of  situations that meant a book was the perfect gift! There are plenty of library books in these boxes too. Some of them have stern instructions to borrowers inside the front cover ....

Wow - they certainly took the book lending business seriously huh? That is the sum total of my thrifty adventures this week - and quite enough to contend with! I hope you managed to get out and about and find some treasures this week. If you click on the link below, you can share them with us!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


This week I was on a thrifting mission. I had a list and a plan to stick to it. I needed a large aluminium dye pot, a steamer and a glass measuring jug that could  be used in my studio for mixing up stuff you don't want near the kitchen. I set forth and in the very first oppie I was utterly unsuccessful - no glass jugs and teeny tiny saucepans. However, I did find some intriguing plastic bags full of stuff ...

They were stuffed full of goodies - vintage belt buckles, buttons, brass curtain rings - even some old coins. I purchased them as consolation that the things I needed were not to be had - well who wouldn't right? I was feeling pretty optomistic as I trundled off to the next thrift store - surely the saucepan of my dreams awaited inside? And there was a great pot there - but I was sure someone had made a mistake pricing it - fifteen bucks?! I don't think so! As I was leaving and muttering about the unrealistic expectations of some thrift stores, I happened to see a 50 cent rack out of the corner of my eye - ah - far more my style and price range. I had a flick through checking out the shirts for their buttons and textile potential. I found this ...

It is 100% cotton - perfect for India Flint style dyeing - and has this intriguing beadwork. The shirt was made in Africa (the label was "Viva Afrika"- can you believe it?!) and is a lovely sage green - although it looks a bit grey in the photo. I recognised this style of beadwork from a project I did a few years ago about non-verbal communication. I researched Zulu beadwork which traditionally has been used as a form of communication and is full of codes and symbolism. The beadwork also encapsulates certain moral and social mores and follows certain guidlines :
  • Beadwork communicates between unrelated males and females, avoiding the discomfort of direct initial discourse on the sensitive subject of personal relations.
  • Beadwork flows from females, the designers and manufactures, to males - their traditional clients.
  • Men wear beadwork to show involvement with women they may marry, incestuous implications preclude beaded gifts from mothers, sisters and daugters.
  • Beadwork symbolism is encoded within a limited number of colours and geometric figures.
  • Colour symbols have alternative values but those assigned to geometric figures are constant.
  • Values assigned to colours are in groups of positive and negative alternatives, excepting white, which has no negative connotation.
  • Symbolic coding is influenced by a number of factors
    1. The combination and arrangement of colours.
    2. The use and nature of an object.
    3. The deliberate breaking of rules by which these factors operate
(I nabbed this info from here because it is so succinct!)

The beadwork on the shirt reminded me of the Zulu work I had seen - of course it is highly unlikley (zero chance really) to be actual factual traditional Zulu work (there is plenty of touristy stuff made in this vein) but I thought it was pretty cool to score this lovely work and a cotton shirt to cut up for 50 cents. Kinda made up for the overpriced pot really. Buoyed by this purchase and with true indomitable op shoppers spirit I headed to the next thrift store on my list. I had hope in my heart ... alas, the best the next shop had to offer in the jug department was a really sorry-arse plastic number and all the pots were swish stainless steel jobs.  By now the weight of disappointment was bearing heavily upon me but as a veteran op shopper I carried on - bearing my load as best I could. I sought solace with a perusal of  the rest of the shop ...

Score! Scrummy orange floral tin.

Score! Printed tin full of vintage girls.

Bugger the self imposed "Tin Moratorium" these babies had to come home with me! By the time I got to the carpark the adrenalin rush of finding these tins had worn off and like any junkie I was heading for the crash - this op shopping is not for the fainthearted folks .. it is a slippery slope I tell ya. So there I was, alone in a grungy carpark, my quest unfulfilled and my funds rapidly disappearing ... I was close to despair ...  There was just one op shop left to visit and although I wasn't sure if I could bear the disappointment of not achieving my aim, I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and set forth. I entered the thrift store with some trepidation although I was cheered by the lovely greetings from the staff. Cautiously and desperate to avoid the disappointment that might just send me into a tailspin of despair I sidled off to the area where all the kitcheny stuff is kept. Would I find what I was looking for? Would Lady Luck and the Op Shop Faeries be kind to me? Would the thrift shop come through for me? These were some of the questions whirling around my brain, tormenting me as I picked my way through miscellaneous Tupperware lids, mis-matched cutlery and old jam jars. But wait - could it be? My heart leapt with joy when my eyes lit upon a table simply burgeoning with aluminium saucepans and such. Hoorah!

The op shop ladies were a little startled by my "sqeeeeeeeee" of delight but were far too polite to remark on it. One of them did explain that "most people don't want to use aluminium pots any more dear - it makes them a bit mental - you know like the hatters ..." - I think she was concerned for my mental health after the "squeeeeee" but was still happy to take my five dollars ... Success at last. I returned home exhausted but triumphant. All of which just goes to show that perseverance in the face of adversity (and op shops with a lack of what you need) can be overcome with a "can-do" attitude. I hope you had some op shop adventures this week. Won't you share them with us? Go on - you just need to click on the linky do-dad below ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Belgian Bat Girl strikes ...

The lovely Steph has sent me a parcel of goodies. Not just any old stuff either. No, these gifts were thoughtfully chosen and invested in. I feel rather spoilt right now. I love that two people can connect in this way, sharing ideas and stuff when so many geographical miles separate them. Truly that is the greatness of the internet. Thank you Mr Berners-Lee. I am sure he didn't realise way back in 1990 that his invention would be connecting like- minded artisans and allowing me to be the recipient of a whole bunch of awesomness! Enough of the babbling - check out the pretties ...

The first little packet within a package - what could it contain?

Fabulous battered tin and some orbs - already a little "monster" in the making.

Ohhh - I know right? It is just gorgeous and I feel it will be keeping me company for some time to come because I use that shape bird alot - it is a bit of a talisman to me. Clever Steph.

Buffalo teeth? Are you kidding me? How exciting is that - oh and other stuff that just happens to be some very beautiful and very old beads ... And did I mention the drilled rock with embroidery on it? holy moley!

Ever since I saw a doco about Mark Dion and his project collecting stuff from the Thames I have had envy in my heart over the amazing clay pipe pieces that he and his team uncovered. I really wanted to own some myself. And now, thanks to Steph, I DO!!!

Another piece of Steph gorgeousness - I love all the changing colours in this pendant.

One of the most intriguing things about Stephs work is that she manages to create things with a really ancient aesthetic without them looking cheesy. These pieces look like they could have been dug up from some Norseman's  grave-site. Hmm - maybe the Norse cremated their dead but you know what I mean.

This was the last little packet that I opened and my heart did a little tap dance when my eyes fell upon that red glazed donut bead - just the right amount of shiny versus matte. It too looks like it has been excavated from an ancient archaeological site.

I am going to spend some time just looking at and patting all these lovelies but eventually I will put them into some jewellery. Not just yet - I want to keep them together and ponder the generosity of a woman I have never met and the total awesomness of a virtual space that allows us to connect across the globe.

Thank you so much Steph.

Monday, October 15, 2012

You get an idea and ...

it all starts out so neatly ...

and ends up like this ...

Ah the creative process!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


With lots of busy-ness and things happening this week I was only afforded one opportunity to visit a thrift store but it was quite a fruitful visit. This local oppie had extended its dollar sale for an extra week so I picked up a gorgeous purple felt hat and a great handbag for one daughter and some fun tees and a frock for the other. I even found a cool skirt for moi. And a really large but lovely pure linen shirt to cut up - it had nice buttons too so was kinda a double bargain! Naturally I had a rummage through the jewellery and bric-a-brac areas as well. I found these necklaces to deconstruct ...

Lovely creamy colours that are perfectly suited to romantic vintage style jewellery. Noice. In the 50 cent basket where the op shop ladies chuck all the beady things that are a bit tangled/dodgy or unidentifiable, I came across this little thing ...

This little doll has been made by the Ndebele people of frica. The Ndebele are renowned for their amazing art work - from the colourful way they paint their buildings to intricate beadweaving. This doll has been made for the tourist market but is based on a traditional Ndeble design. I have long admired their use of vibrant colours and bold patterns and designs so I was pleased to be able to bring this little doll home. My bestest find came out of the bric-a-brac section this week .

I love these egg cups. They are made by Arabia - a Finnish company that have been creating ceramics for over 130 years. The Finns are often at the top of the list when it comes to design excellence and this company is no exception. A liitle research into the company revealed that it was quite progressive - employing artists and designers to constantly improve the range. They expanded a great deal too and in 1895 the factory employed around 300 workers - half of them being women. They won a gold medal at the Paris World Fair in 1900 ( a very big deal at the time) and remain a highly regarded design oriented brand. Their web site has a great page showing all the factory stamps used over time so you can readily identify when your pieces were made. My little eggcups were made between 1964 and 1972. Pretty sure the pattern gives that away anyway but it was great to be able to narrow it down. Do you remember reading books about  The Moomins when you were a kid?

"Moomintroll’s mother and father always welcomed all their friends in the same quiet way, just adding another bed and putting another leaf in the dining-room table. And so Moominhouse was rather full — a place where everyone did what they liked and seldom worried about to-morrow. Very often unexpected and disturbing things used to happen, but nobody ever had time to be bored, and that is always a good thing."

These stories - written by Tove Jansson - are all about these lovely, gentle, fun-loving trolls - not the scary kind, they are round and squishy - like this ...

and they say things like this ...

"I think I'm beginning to understand now," said Moomintroll slowly. "You aren't a collector any longer, are you? Now you are just an owner. That's nowhere near as much fun." "No," said the Hemulen thoroughly dejected. "It is most decidedly nowhere near as much fun." 

and this ...

"What is it?" said Moomintroll. Discoveries were his very favourite thing (after mysterious paths, swimming and secrets, that is).

Well, Arabia are responsible for creating Moomin ceramics! They are too gorgeous ...

Do you remember the wooden tray I showed you last week? Well it has now been cut up ready to work with and i thought I would share a peek at what it will eventually become a part of. This is a prototype of some brooch designs I am working on for a show in December.

The tray has becpme the back of the brooch and I have used reclaimed pewter for the front. The theme of the show is "Woodland Whimsy" so I expect there will be a few different little critters involved!
I hope you had a fun week fishing around in your favourite op shops. And found some treasures! You can share them with us by clicking on the link below. I would love that!

 Happy Thrifting!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

new thang ...

I finally settled at my bench today and made something! Yay for me. This piece is actually being donated as a prize that will be handed out at next weeks screening of a doco called "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.". Head on over to Emmica's blog and read about what it is and where it is being shown. In the meantime, I thought I would share the necklace with by way of patting myself on the back!

I have revisited a style here - although this looks quite different to the last one I made like this. That is a good thing.

Lovely scrap of vintage tin - and I mean scrap. It was just a skerrick and I had to cut it out very carefully. Lush pattern isn't it?

The rest is reclaimed pewter - both cast (wee birdy) and cut out from a mug. Those gorgeous beads are dyed riverstones and matched perfectly which was pretty lucky really 'cos as usual, I just started and hope my stash would provide. And it did! All done and in the post now - I hope the lucky winner enjoys wearing it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I can't believe that a whole week has whizzed by and it is time to share our thrifting treasures again! For the first week of every month one of our local oppies has a one dollar sale - all shoes and clothes are just $1. They always add the disclaimer 'unless otherwise marked'. It is the best time to hunt up some clothes or at the very least, purchase clothes for their buttons, lace or fabric. Now as it happens I have just tidied up my fabric cupboard after it seemed to have exploded all over the laundry so I was being particularly strict on myself about purchasing more fabric. I came across a navy blue cardie that was made of something so completely synthetic that a dirty look would have made it combust. It was truly awful. Yet strangely, it was possessed of two extremely gorgeous buttons.

They are made of glass and deliciously shiny. I snipped them off forthwith and pitched the cardie - there seemed no other choice I'm afraid as I just couldn't think of another use for it - weed-mat perhaps?
For ages now I have been collecting bits and pieces with the idea that I might use them to create some shrines. The only thing holding me up is deciding what or who to dedicate the shrines to. Chocolate and tequila seem to be the things that pop into my brain most often when I think about it but one must ask oneself are such things shrine-worthy? Or would I just be admitting I am a lush with a sweet-tooth? Still, I thought these things would come in handy for the project ...

Boom boom tish! Get it? Come in handy? sorry. I also found some dear little things in the same china area ...

Ha ha ha - dear little things - oh I just can't help myself today can I? sorry. again.
I was lucky enough to find one of those teak veneer trays that were really popular in the 70's. It is in perfect nick and I plan to cut it up and use it in some jewellery. It will be interesting to see how that works out - I hope it will be relatively easy to saw ...

I trundled down to the library after receiving a terse text message that reminded me I had overdue items. And yes, I do have the ability to discern the tone of a text so be sweet if you ever text me 'cos I will know! They were having a book sale and for one whole dollar I picked up this tome - sure to become a classic!

Ok so this is not great literature but it is choc-a-cloc full of great images of Vegas in its glory days!  There are also pics of old handbills for performers like Count Basie - a truly great musician.

You can check him out here ...


It is also littered with images of celebrities from Red Skelton, Liberace to my favourite dame - Mae West.

And here she is surrounded by blokes with more muscles than the entire cast of 300 (and they are not CGI!), who appear to be wearing nappies. And extremely naff sandals. So to finish off let me leave you with some words of wisdom from the lady herself.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” 

“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.” 

“Good sex is like good bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand.” 

“I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.” 

“I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.” 

“If a little is great, and a lot is better, then way too much is just about right!” 

Ah what a gal! Hope you can join in with thrift-a-long this week - just click on the link below!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Buy Nothing New Month

I was flicking through Peppermint the other day. I like this magazine - it has a nice aesthetic and pays its respects to craftspeople. There is a fair bit of advertising but not the glossy-in-your-face kind. Rather, it promotes ecologically sound practitioners and products . I don't always buy it but  I am glad I got the Spring edition last week. Inside, among all the yummy sounding beauty products and makers of all kinds, I came across a little note about Buy Nothing New Month. I dutifully headed off to the dub dub dub addie and read about this campaign. The general idea is that by getting people to pledge to not purchasing unnecessary new goods for one month, awareness about over-consumption and what it means for our planet will be raised , as well as perhaps changing a few habits. I'm all for it. Actually, they are preaching to the converted here but I think it is a great idea.

pic nabbed from here
To be honest when I want something for my home or wardrobe, I generally look in the thrift store first. My kids are well-trained op-shoppers too. The girls treat it as a recreational sport and whilst my son doesn't seek it out as actively, he is more than happy to have second-hand in his life - like the suede leather jacket he found in a local oppie whilst accompanying his sister. Or the  double bed sized Superman duvet cover I found for him when he moved out of home earlier this year ( he may not appreciate me telling you about that!). The girls have really honed their op-shopping skills as students when they have had little money to spare. We furnished their flats with second -hand furniture. yadda yadda yadda. The beaut thing is though that post-Uni and a  job did not stop Number 1 from ardent op-shopping. (Number 2 daughter is still studying and op shopping ).

stole this pic from here
It isn't just about saving money though. It is about thinking more creatively about what we use and consume. We throw away such a lot of stuff in this country and that can be wasteful and have big impacts on our environment. Can it be mended, re-used for a different purpose or up-cycled? My choice to use reclaimed materials in my jewellery is not an accident - it really is a purposeful choice based on my personal beliefs. A number of years ago I was showing a fine jewellery artist/lecturer who admire greatly, a pendant I had made that incorporated a drink can base. They really liked it but suggested I could have the can shape cast in silver so I could charge more for it. That was a real 'ah-ha' moment for me. I realised several important things. Firstly, the whole point of the damn thing was that it was made from a post-consumer reclaimed/recycled material. Secondly, they had missed the point but liked the aesthetic so maybe other people would get the point and the aesthetic. Thirdly, it might be a bit of a battle to get people to do that but it was really important to me that I used those kind of materials. I have stuck with my conviction and without doubt have seen an increase in both people who do get the point - practitioners and clients alike. yay!

Schezerade, Sue Garrard,2012, recycled and reclaimed materials
The other issue close to my heart is the crazy cheapness of so many goods in our big chain stores. Six bucks for a t shirt? How is that even possible? What sort of conditions is the person responsible for stitching that together working in? Okay so I am not going to bang on about the deplorable conditions of factory workers in other countries and I promise that the BNNM website is not choc-a-bloc full of guilt inducing statistics either. It is fun and interesting. Head over there and have a squizz. Maybe take the pledge?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mexacali ...

Fun jewels inspired by all things Mexican and with a  "Dia de los Muertos" flavour.

These are pretty large - about 8cms long .

I have embellished them with all sorts of found objects - and components I have made.

I made the flaming heart from reclaimed pewter and the metal embellishment on the purple cross is from an old belt.

This large flower is made from reclaimed pewter too but is a casting from a mold I created ages ago.
These will be hanging from scrumptious brightly coloured bead chains - any minute now. I am loving working with bright colours and fun elements. And each one is different - especially love that aspect!