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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Plan - drum roll please...

Since my last post I have been happily rummaging through stash and books to organise my plan for 2010. I was going to set myself a challenge for each month, but in the end I have settled for 11, given that something is guaranteed to put a spanner in the works at some point! Plus, there is a 12th one really, that I will try to do some of each month.

I am not going to get stressed if things don't pan out, they are more suggestions to encourage me to be more organised next year.

(All book links to Amazon. It;s easier).

In no particular order:

Work my way through The creative Entrepreneur, Lisa Sonora Beam, at least one 2 page spread per month.

Experiment with the glass fusing materials, and microwave kiln, that I bought at a craft fair earlier this year (and took a workshop in).

Experiment with the resin bracelet making kit that I bought at a later craft fair.

Attempt at least one technique from Stitched Jewels, Marthe Le Van

Experiment with at least one technique from Design and Make Mixed Media Jewellery, Joanne Haywood

Experiment with at least one technique from Origami Jewellery, Nyako Brodek

Read the book thoroughly, and do a piece inspired by Exhibition 36, Susan Tuttle

Use techniques from A Charming Exchange, Kelly Snelling and Ruth Rae, to create a collection of charms

Use techniques from Fabric Beads, Kristal Wick, to create a collection of beads

Male at least one garment using my stash of patterns and fabrics, that fits and that I will actually wear

Gain enough confidence with my overlocker to make at least one wearable garment using stretch fabric, not necessarily for me

Experiment with at least one technique from Mixed Mania, Debbie Crane and Cheryl Prater

The idea with all of this is to encourage myself to use books, equipment and materials that I already have (though not precluding buying more stuff if ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, enlarging the range of techniques I have in crafting, and giving next year some structure. I will not beat myself up if things do not get done off this list, or if my experiments fail. I will blog about all of them, however. (Unless the failures are just too embarassing for words!) And pictures will accompany blogging wherever possible.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I have a cunning plan...

I have been reading about Paisley Womble's idea of knitting from her book stash. She chose six knitting books that she had not made any projects from, and picked a project from each to knit during the year.

I haven't had a 'plan' this year, not really. At the start of the year I was recovering mentally from finishing three years of studying for the Studio Stitch Diploma (now more appropriately named Diploma of Textile Art), and then preparing for the exhibition at the Substation in Newport. After that I sort of slumped, coping with family issues (like Baby Bear coming down with Post Viral Syndrome and having six months either not attending school at all or attending half-time) and pootling around making textile jewellery which I have not had the energy to put up on Etsy.

I did have one 'plan', which is under control, sort of. I was going to reread all of the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan, one a month, until the final one was released in November/December. That was going fine until a couple of hiccups along the way - in November I realised that I had borrowed far too many library books, most of which looked too interesting to return unread, and missed my November fix of WOT while working my way through them. I still have three of them to go but then will read Volume 11. And I will certainly read Volume 12 in the near future after that, though it may be January holiday reading. The other 'minor' hiccup is that Volume 12 is not, after all, the final one - there will be 13 next year and 14 the year after! So much for the trilogy he planned some time in the 1990s. (Oh, and the last three are being written by someone else, using his copious notes, 'cos the sod went and died before finishing it!!)

So my plan for next year - I considered doing projects from books, but I don't really do that any more. (Except for some knitting patterns). So I have decided to trawl through my books (of which there are altogether far too many!) and choose 12 techniques or 'things' that I want to work on over next year. Hopefully each attempt will produce at least one finished item that is worth displaying. I have already chosen two of them, and they aren't from books - at various times this year I have bought a microwave kiln and glass for doing glass fusing; I did a workshop so technically I have already 'done' the technique and produced a rather nice brooch, but I want to work on it at home and see what I can come up with. So that's one of them. And I have also bought a kit containing a bracelet mould and resin and instructions and I want to have a good play with that. In the meantime I am looking through books thinking about things. A full list will appear either late this month or early in the New Year. I wonder if I can carry it through!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


After barely knitting any socks for ages (or anything else, really) I have had a sudden urge to take up tiny needles again. These are the result. The top pair are knitted in a cheap Spotlight sock wool that turned out very nicely indeed. It was the usual wool/nylon mix and the colours are lovely. It felt a little bit coarse as I was knittingt, but not enough to hurt the fingers, and it softened up immediately after the first wash. These ones are for George, hence them looking too big for Baby Bear who is modelling them.

The second pair are also possibly a cheap Spotlight brand, I lost the band immediately after starting them. Again, nice colours and knitted up beautifully. These ones fit her perfectly, I am glad to say! I winged the heel a bit - I have George's pattern off by heart and it fits him, but she has smaller legs and feet and I had to guess a bit about the exact heel placement, but it worked very well and she is deligted with them.

I currently have another pair for her on the needles. This time a proper Opal yarn which I admit is nicer to knit with. However I am very pleased with the Spotlight yarns, which are about half the price (and yes, I know all about their terrible labour practices and the fact that these yarns were probably made by slaves in third world countries).

George's are matched perfectly, they just look a little skew-whiff because they are on smaller feet. Baby Bear's are too, but she has rolled one foot slightly so they also look off in the photo. (To be fair she was taking the photos herself and it is hard to keep the feet perfectly perpendicular while in that position AND photographing them!).

Please excuse the disgusting carpet. It is far too old and, although clean, permanently stained with too many things to bear thinking about!
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Friday, October 09, 2009

An unusual form of textile art

While visiting the Melbourne Museum last week to see the Pompeii exhibition (VERY interesting and worthwhile, by the way) I happened across this little curiosity in the museum section devoted to the workings of the mind, which includes some stuff about the treatment of the mentally ill over the last couple of centuries. A quick Internet search reveals nothing more about this item other than the fact that the mental hospital referred to closed down in 1995 and is now leased by Latrobe University.

I was fascinated by the idea that this woman created textile art out of a desire to order her mind and sooth her anxieties. And she 'gleaned' the materials in order to do so. (Should I be surprised that a mentally ill patient was allowed a needle and, presumably, scissors? Maybe she was surpervised, or was not considered a threat to herself or others). I would love to know what happened to her, what was wrong with her, whether an effective treatment was ever found, where she went after the hospital closed down (if she was still alive - I have no idea how old she was in the 1970s) and if she made more of these objects. And if they really did bring some sort of peace to her.

Why do we create art, of any sort? Most people who do, feel 'driven' to do it. Not necessarily in a high-faluting, 'genius' sort of way, but as a compulsion. And that goes for the person who is slightly obsessed with knitting socks as much for the person who creates internationally famous works of art. I cannot spend a day without doing something with textiles or I start to feel anxious and restless. And yes, knitting socks counts!!!

I love this worn out little jumper with its delicate stitching, and all that it stands for. It makes me want to include the ideas in a body of work and it makes me sit still and think about why I do what I do.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

School hols

Apparently being a newly fledged teenager does not prevent you from enjoying a swing. George thinks he needs a haircut. Wombat does not. It doesn't actually look too long in this picture, but the tossing the fringe out of the eyes is a bit of an issue.

My kids claim to hate each other.

Baby Bear and Sirius on a rare sunny day. The rocket run to seed is a bit of a worry. We did eat a lot of it during the winter though, and very nice it was too. Behind Sirius's head there is healthy sage and oregano, and to the right of the disgraceful rocket is a healthy parsley plant. I am not complaining about the paucity of sun recently. It won't belong before we have six months of blazing sun and can't find a way to keep cool.
I believe Baby Bear had tidied her room before this was taken. As you can't see much of the floor it is hard to tell. She has a filing system for her clothes but it mostly involves the floor and is so arcane that an alchemist would scratch his head over it. She has had this bed since she was 2. We bought it in an antique shop in Tetbury (Gloucestershire, UK) and it is Dutch, I think. It had fallen apart last year and she had spent the time sleeping on her mattress on the floor whining that she needed a new bed. WE did look briefly at new beds in the summer but she hated them all (they were horrible, i don't blame her!) except for the expensive and huge ones that we were not going to buy her. Eventually I got sick of the situation and told her to mend her own ******* bed if she wanted one, she didn't need a new one. Being a girl with a power drill, she did just that (with some help from George), reassembled it herself, and is remarkably proud of it!!

It being the school holidays we are being busy, in between providing Wombat with the space to relax as he is exhausted from school. Baby Bear, having been off school for most of the last term with Post Viral Syndrome, is exhausted anyway, poor thing. Wombat and I have been to see 'Up', which was an utterly charming Pixar film that I cannot recommend highly enough, and are no doubt going to see less edifying films as well - he wants to see 'Shorts' and we are off to that 'shortly' (groan). Baby Bear is about to take the train to stay with her Nana for a few days. Hopefully Nana will spoil her, and teach her to sew. We bought some fabric last summer and I have been trying to summon the strength to teach her - we do not survive very well as teacher and pupil but she will listen to Nana!! So I am sending her with a skirt pattern and three lengths of fabric (which probably need rewashing and ironing as they have been lurking around since January!) and hopefully she will learn basic operations of a sewing machine over the next few days. (She does want to do this, I am not forcing her!).

We will pick her up on Sunday when we all go down. There is much excitement at the old homestead as she has just bought a house in town - 82 is getting a bit old to be living on a 7 acre property out of town that no-one will come and do the maintenance on, despite the supposed unemployment rate in town! So there is a flurry of activity (which I am avoiding as much as possible). She has been resisting the move for some time, but after last summer when she had to evacuate herself 2 or 3 times from encroaching bushfires even she has decided that it would be safer and easier. That said, I think the local estate agents were a it bemused as to why a woman her age would be wanting to buy a 4 bedroom house!!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I don't think I took any of these pictures

My beautiful children. Pity about the cross-eyed one! We were waiting for a bus to gointo town to the opening of my exhibition, of which more in another post.

Baby Bear WILL play with her food. We eat kangaroo at least once a week and for some reason it prompts her to play. The first is a kangaroo, obviously, and the second, a bass and treble clef. What can I say, she is a mad muso with a camera and a warped sense of humour!
And this to prove that my kids hate each other. Honestly, they are always fighting, and then someone catches them looking like this! Notice the tense, coiled spring of a dog as protection.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Continuing Catch-up Photos

I'm really glad my children still enjoy dressing up, they have so much fun with it!
Baby Bear is studying Year 11 Drama this year. This was semester one's performance. They had to work in groups and do a sketch based on an archetype of some sort - fairy tale, myth, etc. Her group used a story about Buddhist monks. She played various incarnations of weirdo - lost, on drugs, rejected by society, etc - and one of the monks tried to help her while the other one was dismissive of her problems. Her performance was, of course, brilliant. In fact her portrayal of someone on drugs was rather scarily realistic and even her drama teacher though so! Don't you love the 1960s air hostess uniform? She picked various costumes from the drama costume department which had obviously been stocked from dubious op shops.
And this is another proud moment. Baby Bear singing a solo (admittedly a very brief one) in Hamer Hall. She was part of a choir of secondary school students from around the Eastern region of Melbourne, all hand-picked to perform in a concert called As Time Goes By. She also played the flute in an orchestra. It was a wonderful performance all round and it was a great experience for them all to perform in one of Australia's premier concert halls. We were extrememly proud parents, if all rather tired by the end as it went on till 11pm on a school night! And yes, jeans was the outfit the choir were told to wear, they were singing songs from musicals like Rent (which is what she is singing in the photo) and it was considered appropriate. She wore proper black for the orchestral performance.
And finally a picture that is both sad and hopeful. Taken a few months after Black Saturday (7th February for non-Victorians) in Gippsland, it shows something of the appalling bushfire damage that occured, but also tree ferns growing back as a sign that life always returns in some form.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Pictures

Wombat on his first day at high school. Baby Bear on her first day at the same school; she has moved from her previous school. This one is just round the corner from us and offers better teaching in certain subjects than her old one. She loves it. So does he!

Wombat had to do a poster demonstrating safety in science. He and Baby Bear set up this scenario and took lots of pictures. He looks very serious! That is a real lab coat and safety glasses, they are requirements for school science at this school. We had to go to a very dodgy warehouse to buy them secondhand.

Gippsland Field Days at Warragul. Baby Bear discovered a hitherto unexplored interest in tractors. WE all fell in love with alpacas and piglets, too.

Fianlly, Sirius being cute and silly, as usual.

I have been hunting for skully, piratey, slightly Goth things for the last couple of days. Harder than it seems. Bought some cheap jewellery to caniballise and have some fabrics.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

I might be back...

Nothing like swearing to blog regularly to promote an 8 month hiatus! Above, Wombat and I in the pancake parlour after he finished Grade 6 and was no longer a primary school student! He did really well last year and is now happily settled at our local high school, doing well, making friends, and both he and the school are compromising surprisingly well to cope with each other. WE are all very pleased and proud.
Taken some time during the summer. Baby Bear loves pulling silly faces for the camera. So does Wombat, but he was caught out with a small smile this time!
The kids took part in a Christmas play at church. Over four weeks they did various stages of the Christmas story, with a twist. Baby Bear is one of the angels (there was A1, A2 and A2.1, determined by the costumes and who looked best in them!) Wombat was the 'stage manager' (as in a character of a stage manager) and hammed it up for all he was worth.
We went to Echuca in January. This is WOmbat at the Chinese Museum in Bendigo on the way back. Note that he ignored the instruction to smile! We went to Bendigo specifically to visit the Couture Exhibition, which was FANTASTIC, and the kids enjoyed the Chinese museum too, especially the dragon.

More regular blogging will occur from now on, cross my heart and hope to die!
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