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Friday, December 12, 2008


Lately I have been to see a huge, big-budget, famous film and a tiny, low-budget, Melbourne written and based play.  A nice contrast.

AUSTRALIA  I am not going to enter into the historical accuracy debate that is raging.  It was fiction, folks, and if you don't like the way Australia was portrayed in it, use your own version of history.  That means you, Andrew Bolt, in particular.

Loved it.  Expected to hate it, but came away feeling that this was our very own Gone With the Wind (OK, with similar debates about historical accuracy!!)  Pity it was two or three films cobbled together, but they were all quite good in their own way.  It could well have finished when the cattle were driven onto the ship and it would have been a good old-fashioned yarn.  

The scenery was the real star, plus Brandon whatever, the young Aboriginal boy, who was a superb actor.  I hope he has a good life and doesn't get caught up the hype of show business to his detriment.  It was wonderful to see David Gulpilill playing a dignified and resonant role.  Hugh Jackman was rather more deserving of that Sexiest Man in the World label than I had expected!  But Nicole Kidman ... why do people insist on casting her?  She can occasionally be funny, and Lars Von Trier did get one reasonable performance out of her with his own special brand of mental cruelty.  But SHE CANNOT ACT.  And how anyone can spend almost every minute of a nearly three hour film on screen WITHOUT MOVING HER FACE beats me.

CARELESS  In complete contrast, a local play performed in a tiny theatre. La Mama at the CArlton Courthouse is a very intimate space, and we sat in the front row and almost had the actors in our lap.  It was a wonderful experience to see them actually act for every second they were on stage.   The playwright, Russell Rigby, is a Melbourne barrister and it was about lawyers, deceit and dysfunctional relationships - plus the obligatory Lord Denning joke.  The director, John Higginson, has been a friend of ours for many years (his mother did a mature age degree at Monash when George was there) and he did a good job.  It was wonderful to see a women of my age act AND MOVE HER FACE CONSTANTLY!! (Carolyn Bock).  It being a real Melbourne play, the cast had all either been on Neighbours, or Blue Heelers, or both, except for the youngest cast member who had been in Underbelly.  It was very funny, very cutting, and very, very Melbourne.  And afterwards, in the pocket-handkerchief sized bar at the theatre, we mingled with the cast and drank cheap wine out of thick industrial tumblers.

Now that Womabt is off school and the flood of Christmas holiday movies will soon start to trickle in, I will be seeing a lot of kiddie movies.  Actually as my kids get older I enjoy their choice is films much more!

Monday, December 08, 2008

New Template

Just changed my blog template to a new one and consequently need to rebuild all my links and things.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stage Three Funding!!!

Yay!!!  We have just heard that Wombat had been granted Stage Three funding for secondary school.  That's what he has been on in primary school, but many kids go down a level in secondary school, and that is rarely a good thing.  We believe that we will not have to reapply and that it will stay in place until he finishes school, which is FANTASTIC!!!  This gives him a reasonable amount of aide funding for the very necessary assistance he needs.  

His new school this year has been brilliant and he has made lots of progress, enough for us to be reasonably happy about him starting at a state secondary school next year.  We have looked at many schools all over Melbourne but settled on the local secondary school just round the corner.  They have a reasonably good integration program and are very close at hand if disasters need to be dealt with.

Baby Bear has also decided to go there.  She had been getting increasingly unhappy at her school and we think the move will be a positive change for her.

I have just been around to deliver a bottle of bubbly to the teacher who put so much work into the funding application for us.  She deserved it!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Bit of an Anti-Climax

Emptying out the exhibition of Saturday afternoon felt a bit anticlimactic. Rather like cleaning up after a party. But the drinks in the pub afterwards were nice !

My grand total of six months work above: A framed bead embroidery mounted in ultrasuede and framed, inspired by the Shakespeare poem 'Full Fathom Five', including a carved bone skull (handmade but not by me) and coral-like patterns and colours; another framed bead embroidery, this time inspired by the film 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari', again mounted on ultrasuede, using ceramic faces (again handmade but not by me) and colours and patterns inspired by the colours and motifs in the film; a bead embroidery sewn onto the back of a repurposed denim jacket; and a peyote stitch vessel and a jewellery set all inspired agin by 'Full Fathom Five' (the necklace is a lariat made in chevron stitch with fringing, and earrings are just fringing and the brooch in bead embroidery with some fringing on the botton.

Nothing sold. I didn't really expect it to. What did sell was framed machine embroidery, plus a framed felted piece and a coiled felt bowl, plus framed 'patchwork' pieces with lots of screen printing and machine lettering on them. They were all exellent pieces well worthy of sale, but it was noticeable that the less convential styles did not sell at all. I also made a series of earrings in the same style as the green ones in the botton picture to sell separately, and I did sell one of them. The rest are going in the Etsy shop when I have a chance to photograph them individually.

Would the selling pattern have been different if the exhibition had been properly promoted and with more sensible opening hours? Who knows.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deadeye Constance Reborn

After a long fallow period of non-blogging, I am BAACK!!! I have spent the last six months finishing my Diploma of Studio Stitch/Textiles at Box Hill TAFE, a major part of which was preparing for a final exhibition. I didn't want to post pictures of work in progress when they were then going into a public exhibition, and that's basically all I have done for six months! I am still knitting a pair of socks that I started six months ago. (Half way through the second sock, so it will be finished this side of Christmas at least).

I am now relaunching my Etsy store and my business name DEADEYE CONSTANCE. There isn't anything in the store yet but there will be soon. Harry, the beaded thingie in the picture, is my business logo - I made him in 2005 before I even started the course and I am extremely proud of him.

As part of the restructuring of the course there is now a combined Media, Arts and Design department graduate exhibition, this year held at the Meat Market in North Melbourne, arranged and run by the TAFE. You didn't know it was on? Well, that would be because the Communications Officer of the TAFE who was organising everything somehow omitted publicity of ANY DESCRIPTION. REminds me of the old jokes about Intelligence, Military. AS a reward for NOT organising our own exhibition and publicising it and chosing a nice gallery with lighting where our work could be seen, open at times that the public might actually want to see it, we are all being granted a Certificate III in Arts Administration. Refer to joke about Intelligence, Military. SAdly I do not own a budgie whose cage would could be lined by the certificate.

Pics of the exhibition opening night in my next post. I am now going to post regularly, and take things in ways I cannot wait to work on. I am fired up and excited and my fingers are now permanently scarred with beading needle accidents, and I would not have it any other way!

p.s. Exhibition finishes Saturday at 5pm, so sorry Jill!
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Monday, July 07, 2008

Bunch of Grapes

Yes, as Karen S says, we do get some wierd assignments! This one was to do something with the idea of a bunch of grapes. I had fun doing this scarf - based on a colour theme of orange, green and purple, I crocheted a lengthways scarf, then needlefelted some vine shapes onto it with fleece, then knitted leaves and needlefelted them on, then added a bunch of grapes to each end using large acrylic beads, a beaded bead, and some smaller acrylic beads, then crocheted fringes. It took less time than it sounds (if I remember corrctly I was stuck at home that week with a sick child) and was a great success. If flung abruptly over the shoulder, the 'grapes' could take someone's eye out!
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Build Me A Wall

Another class piece. We did fine line pen drawings of a wall and then coloured it with watercolours. Then we had to produce a textile piece in some way connected with walls. I chose to focus in on lichen and try to reproduce it with beads. It hasn't shown up too well in these photos - I wanted to photograph it somewhere natural but consequently the beading losing some detail. Beads are a PITA to photograph well! It is freeform netting with peyote stitch raised bits, draped decoratively over Alphonse, a large lump of quartz which was given to George many years ago (yes, he came with the name!)
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Chemo Caps

Chemo caps for George's elderly aunt. They are made out of Zhivago (50/50 acrylic and tencel) which is apparently rather nice for chemo caps. It feels a bit squishy and a bit silky and is nice to knit. ONLY I didn't check my tension (silly me!) so the first one is a little big, but I figure she can wear it slouchily on a racy angle! The second one I just knittd in the largest child's size instead of fiddling with tension - too lazy - and it looks just fine. Both patterns from the Cleckheaton book Handknits to Wrap and Adorn, new this winter - though Zhivago isn't one of the yarns featured, natch. The flower is from Nicky Epstein's Knitting Never Felt Better, though of course I didn't felt it. I saw her knit one in five minutres flat last year at a Stitches and Craft Show and they were very quick and easy, and look just as good unfelted! Baby Bear has put in an order for one with a flower. They were quick to knit and a welcome distraction from beading with tiny beads and jabbing needles as fine as surgical ones into my fingers. (No, I don't wear thimbles, hate the things, would rather develop calluses).
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Carnivale Mask

We had a class brief about faces - Class of 2008 - a 'class photo' was taken and we had to practice drawing faces in certain ways and then produce a stitched piece ins ome way related to the theme, as a wearable. I can't draw faces - they always look like serial killers or, in the case of our teacher Colin, who I drew, Rolf Harris. But I had these polymer clay faces at home and I love beading around faces, so the idea of a carnivale mask was born. It was fun to do and you can, sort of, see out of it - if I did another I would make the eye holes bigger, as they rather filled up as I beaded around them, and not back it with felt, which was what I had to hand - painted purple it looked like leather, but I would not like the feel of it against my face!
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Can't Draw

When I started at Box Hill 2 1/2 years ago I most definitely could not draw. I still can't, in the sense of looking at something interesting andproducing a good likeness of it. But the incomparable Colin Johnson has taught me techniques that have enabled me to produce the occasional almost Ok piece like these two. It will never be one of my strong points but I am quite pleased with these.
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Monday, June 02, 2008

Brunhilda's Breastplate Bra

We had to do a piece for class inspired by one of a selection of pieces from the Embroidery Guild. I chose the embroidered teatowel above, which is mid-60s to mid-70s depending on which source I check. It is a printed tea towel embroidered and framed, and titled 'Ancient Britons' even though it is clearly meant to be Vikings, who were not Ancient Britons!!

This is what I wrote about it for my submission:

The 'Ancient Britons' (actually Viking Warriors) in the embroidered tea towel look so well-dressed, with their beaded shields and fur boots. I imagined that they were in ceremonial clothes - not real battle clothes - surely battle would make the fur on those boots mat and look ugly? Wouldn't all that gold braid tarnish and those beads fall off if they scored a direct hit.

And so the idea of ceremonial battle dress was born. And if the male warriors could have it, why could not Viking women also get dressed up in ceremonial finery?

Hence Brunhilda's Breastplate Bra. It is clearly ceremonial - knitted fabric having no protective function other than against the cold! The crocheted wire bra cups would certainly provide some practical support while still looking lacey and attractive. It is discreetly decorated with a spiderweb rose and beading, and held together at the neckline by two Runic brooches. These runes betoken health, fertility and happiness, most appropriate for a party outfit!

Hand-painted wool, Procion dyed stranded cotton, nickel jumprings, glass beads, nymo thread, air-drying clay, acrylic paint,
nickel brooch backs.

While I was trying to come up with inspiration for this piece, an article appeared in The Age newspaper about a dig in Birka near Stockholm, which provided conclusive proof that Viking women wore metal bras. That gave me the push I needed to come up with the breastplate bra. It is obviously not life sized as we had size dimensions to work within.
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Monday, April 14, 2008

OK, any more guesses?

No, it's not a lagerphone, or even an avant-guard scarf (though that is tempting!)

It will be finished soon.

Memo to self: when applying so many jump rings, use TWO sets of pliers, not one set and a thumb.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Are They?

Well, obviously they are knitted squares. They are approx. 2cm squared. I am knitting 75 of them. The finished object will also include beads, embroidery and metal. What am I making?

There is no prize, I just wanted to see if anyone came up with any really silly ideas. I am fairly sure that no-one will guess.

They are a PITA to knit - tight tension of five needles, instead of the four I am used to knitting socks with. My hands and arms hurt after a while. As I have a deadline to work to I am now making myself knit a minimum of five a day.
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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Two pairs of oddball socks for me. Finished ages ago but not photographed until last week. I am now using sock leftovers to make a mitred square blanket - not very original, but it's fun to pick up every once in a while and do and it looks nice.

The bottom pair I have just finished for George. They are a Regia cotton/wool blend. I have had lots of problems with tension knitting cotton/wool blends, as opposed to the normal sock wools, but these ones I made on a size smaller needle and they worked out prfectly. He is pleased!

I am knitting a jacket in green Jet for moi ATM and it is coming along nicely on the cooler days when I can bear to touch it. Now we are having something actually resembling autumn I hope to get it finished soon. And then there's the mystery knitted object for TAFE - of which more later...
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It was THIS big!!

After computer glitches we finally have photos from our January visit to Lakes entrance. (Yes, I know that was two months ago, I haven't felt like blogging much and only really wanted those photos...)

Behold the triumphant fisherman. Yes, the crab was released after posing for photos and scuttled away under a rock very promptly - a very good response to being caught by Wombat, I often feel like doing that myself!

He is doing pretty well at his new school. Not everything is perfect, but we knew there would be adjustment issues. I think the staff walk on water and that this year is going to be a good one. He's grumpy right now but we've had a bit of a late heatwave (thoughn othing like as bad as Adelaide has had) and I think it's heat as much as anything else.

Busy busy busy with Third Year at TAFE. Maybe some photos to come. Have to photograph a scarf I crocheted for class. Very busy with a project as the moment though, as it involves knitting, has had to have an enforced rest as the last few days have been twoo hot and sweaty to knit pure wool. All will be revealed .... it is a slightly unusual knitting application.
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Friday, January 04, 2008

Stylish Diva

Baby Bear has been taking photos. From top: Sirius wearing Baby Bear's new sunglasses. 'Stylish Diva' is the name she gave to the series of photos. Sirius is surprisingly accommodating about having accessories plonked on her and posing for photos.

Baby Bear got a guitar as a (slightly early) Christmas present. Yes, it was what she wanted! Billy Hyde (excellent Melbourne music store) always has a sale in November and it was acquired then. It meant that on Christmas Day she got books and DVDs and jewellery rather than anything big, but she is thrilled! Given that she never had a guitar lesson in her life she is actually quite good and will become very good with practice. Dratted girl can pick up any instrument and play it.

I knitted some oddments socks. This is the pair I knitted for her. I have knitted myself two pairs which will appear in a later blog. (Too hot to model them right now, I;m in the study with the aircon on - it's the only room in the house with air conditioning and is very small, so we pretty much have to take it in turns!). I am now knitting a mitred blanket out of other sock scraps - having seen the one in Yarn Magazine and followed through the references to the blog - don't have any URLs to hand but I;m sure all of you knitters will know the one I mean.

I've lost track of how far though the holidays we are. OFficially this is the end of the second week of the school summer holidays. In actualy fact, Baby Bear finished a week earlier than that, and Wombat 2 1/2 weeks earlier. George starts three weeks holidays tonight which takes us more or less up to the start of the new school year.

Wombat finishing so early - a long story that I have alluded to before. He has been having problems all year, culminating in a complete disengagement from any attempt to learn or co-operate. AFter the usual dragging around to health professionals we decided to try to get him into a local special school for twelve months - it is not a 'normal' special school but offers 12 months interventions to people like Wombat with the intention of re-integrating them into mainstream schooling afterwards. We were warned that it wuld be almost impossible to get him in there, given the short notice and the fact that competition for places is very stiff as they are very tiny and very fussy about who they accept (it's a private school so they can legally do that, and their 'fussiness' is about choosing those children who they feel will benefit most from the program). We were lucky enough to be offered the last place for next year (this year!) and have very high hopes of it. It means paying fees (though they are minimal compared to most private schools, it is heavily subsidised) and taking him there and back by bus every day, which is going to be a pain. Instead of spending a total of maybe 45 minutes a day taking him to and from school it will be taking me about 3 hours, which is a substantial bite out of a day, and my TAFE classes on Fridays are going to prove a challenge - workable if George is around but if he is interstate, very difficult. They don't have after school care and the kids must be picked up promptly at 3pm. Fine except when I am in another suburb studying till 3.30! We will work it out. I do so hope this school does what it is said to be able to do, because we felt that we had come to the end of everyone's resources. I had offered to homeschool him (as many kind people have suggested to me - thank you all for your heartfelt suggestions) but no-one except me (and Wombat!) think this is a good idea at the moment. And I agree that the program at this school is xcellent and has a very high success rate. The home-schooling may still happen at a later date but I feel we must try this place out. For any interested people this is the website.

I had to withdraw him from his old school early because, two days in a row, there were incidents where he irritated other children and they beat him up. I wish I could make it sound better than that, but the first time I had to photograph his injuries for evidence and the next day, although not as bad, still left physical marks. He then proceeded to have what in layman's terms is still popularly known as a nervous breakdown, 'severe anxiety state' by our psychiatrist. It took me about ten days to get him calm and happy (no I am not a trained psychiatric nurse though I feel for them deeply now!) but he remains phobic about a number of things and nervier than before. I really hate the way things finished with his old school, because I had been involved there for eight years and everything happened so suddenly and unpleasantly that I still feel quite upset about it.

anyway, he is having a fresh start and is really looking forward to the school. WE shall see what happens!
Reply to Jill - thanks for your kind words (all of them, now and previously!). The principal of the Cheshire School considers that they have failed if the child then ends up at Berenngarra! However we definitely have it flagged as a possibility if necessary. I think the Cheshire School's attitude is because they pride themselves on providing intervention that negates the need to use somewhere like Berengarra - and professional pride!

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