Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Big Events

The Big Events coming soon ... World Day of Prayer (6 March) and International Women's Day (8 March) are important days for all women to celebrate. I'm mentioning them this week, so you will have time to put them on your calendar. This year, the World Day of Prayer reflects on the women of Papua New Guinea. As most of you know, these women are close to my heart, from my time in the Eastern Highlands, PNG last year. The photo above is of a Mando woman making a bilum.
From the World Day of Prayer website ... Papua New Guinea has one of the most heterogeneous indigenous populations in the world. More than 800 languages are spoken. Their diversity is expressed in this saying, “For each village another culture.” Yet, the bilum, a traditional string bag is found nearly everywhere. Bilums come in many colors, sizes, shapes, and styles and often the creative designs identify where the bilums were made. Men usually prefer a long handle style that is worn over the shoulder. Women carry their babies and their market produce. Bilums are also used as a hanging cradle for a sleeping baby.We are also invited to reflect on the collaborative networks among women
Here are photos of some wonderful bilums which we brought back from our project last year. The women in the villages are never idle. If they are not working in their gardens growing food, they are needle weaving thses bilums, even as they are walking to and from places.

The second important event is International Women's Day ( 8 March) which has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more. ( from the International Women's Day website)
So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
This is my friend and fellow Rotarian, Lyn Thorpe who will be the guest speaker at our local International Women's Day function on 6 March. Lyn is an amazing woman - as a volunteer theatre nurse she has assisted in operations to correct cleft palates and remove eye cataracts many times in many developing countires such as Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Peru,Cambodia, Kenya .... the list goes on and on. Lyn is also Citizen of the Year in Lake Macquarie. Lyn, you are an inspiration!

And, by the way, thank you, Kathleen for the award last week . You can read about it on Kathleen's blog dated 15 February... I will do the follow up in weeks to come.
What have I been doing this week? Cleaning up my workroom , making a felted handbag as a prize at the International Women's Day function, practising some scrumbling with a couple of friends, grandson sitting... and saw some great live theatre last night , The Thirty-Nine Steps - a comic thriller. Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

May I Present Mrs Chalumeau...

Finally Mrs Chalumeau takes a bow …She is a Pearly Queen …
695 buttons on the doll and 10 on the journal.(I think – could be more). I would like to thank Paula from Antiques and Collectables here in Hamilton, Newcastle and Raku Buttons ETSY seller for supplying me with about 500 of the vintage mother of pearl buttons, and the rest I had in my stash. I think they look great on my pearly queen, but I am truly tired of sewing on buttons. It made me think however, how many buttons must be on the elaborate clothes of the real pearly Kings and Queens! I drew my inspiration from the lovely lady pictured here, and the following description from Wikipedia. ... A Pearly King ( feminine form Pearly Queen) is a person dressed in a traditional Cockney costume covered in mother-of-pearl buttons. These costumes were treasured heirlooms, hand made and sometimes representing much of a family's wealth. ....

This doll is all cloth – a little different from most of my other dolls which generally have clay heads. Her face is needle sculpted – a skill which I have yet to master – and I usually try to avoid, but I was quite happy with this outcome. Mrs C is not beauty queen material. It is an interpretation of Mrs Chalumeau, a Heather Cooper pattern. – I straightened her legs, posed her arms so she is lifting her skirt to step out on the footpath as well as holding her hat on. I also adapted the suggested clothing of course. Her shoes are leather, with polymer clay heels. She stands well, as I have a metal tube inside her left leg, and the stand is a textured clay covered piece of timber, with a dowel, which is inserted into the tube. I find that this method of attaching a doll to a stand is very stable. I tried to replicate the roughness of a well-worn English footpath /alleyway by texturing the clay with a “brick” print and other designs in sections to create the “patched’ look. This is the first “big” doll I’ve made for awhile so I was happy to finish well in time for the Craft and Quilt Fair. And I was fairly happy with the result. This doll was quite a challenge, but it was wonderful to declare her finished, take photos and deliver her to Craft and Quilt fair for the Hello Dollies Goes Crazy exhibition.

PS There were 18 other Mrs Chalmeau and one Mr Chalumeau dolls entered in the challenge ... I will feature those photos in the Hello Dollies blog tomorrow, after the judging.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Featured Artist and Featured Photo 6/6

FEATURED ARTIST: I have decided each month, to feature someone whom I admire as an artist. For February, I’m featuring a wonderful craftswoman, my mother, Joyce Chock Man. She is very creative - beautiful embroidery, fabric and beaded flowers, sewing, knitting and crocheting - all kinds of crafts. Here is her latest work – temari.
What is temari? From the photos, you can see it is thread wrapped in patterns around a sphere. A thousand year old craft from Japan, Temari is traditionally given as a gift. From humble beginnings as simple toy balls for children's play, Temari create a magnetic effect on viewers today. As a spectacular decorating focal point, the puzzle of the design is mesmerizing. The concept is elegantly simple; the end result is simply elegant! ( from My mother is 84 next month, and we all hope that when we are that age, we will be as creative, active and keen to learn as she is. Congratulations Mum - your work is really beautiful and you are an amazing woman!

FEATURED PHOTO : Erika aka Incalesco ( has tagged me to play "6th in the 6th". This means that I am challenged to find the sixth photo in my sixth folder of photos, publish it and describe the photo, and tag six others to do the same . I am yet to find 6 but I have tagged Judith , Bobbi, Tracy and Vicki. As my photo files are a mess, I was wondering what would eventuate. It so happens that this photo came up – taken on 15 December, 2007. It is a photo of three of my “Dolly” friends, from left, Linda, Connie and Michelle, modelling aprons which were made for the Craft show volunteers to wear in 2008. Next weekend, the same show will be here in Newcastle again, and we will be donning those aprons again for our Dollies Goes Crazy exhibition.

An aside– I am very happy to say that my Mrs Chalumeau is finished… maybe some last minute touches next week before the exhibition. Here is sneak preview - that's her right shoe! Mrs Chalumeau in all her glory will be featured on my blog next week.

Today I helped my friend, Pam put together a wall hanging/quilt she is making for her nephew and niece -in-law when they celebrate their wedding next weekend. This is a really great idea. Pam sent strips of calico to family and friends (even those not going to the wedding). They were asked to do something creative to the fabric – beading, embroidery, patchwork, and painting or merely exchange with a fabric which would have some significance to the couple. I thought it was such a good idea that I did one too - a row of colouful people dancing and the words " Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here, we should dance." All the contributions were really fabulous – delicately embroidered butterflies, hand painted family members, special photos, bright beads and bling, traditional patchwork, beautiful cross stitch – a spectrum of colour and techniques. The strips were sewn together today, and now Pam is sewing the centre strip and border – what a stunning and memorable gift for the newly weds.

What a week - special thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the devastating bushfires. This week, I've been thinking a lot about everyday bravery ... Robyn Davidson was a really brave woman who lived in the Outback. She said " The two most important things I learnt [about starting over] were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Red Inspiration

I am inspired mostly by what I read . This week, I've been reading this book China Revealed. a Christmas gift from my friend, June. It is a book of powerful images and very informative accounts of the journey of a Hong Kong based Chinese photographer to every province in China. It captures China today - the new urban wealth and the rural poverty, the stark and the lyrically beautiful. The dust cover says, " Never before has such an ambitious journey - 'contemplating the orchids from a galloping horse ' as the old proverb has it - been undertaken . China Revealed is a profoundly important and visually stunning record. "

The photos also show one of the little boxes I made this week. It opens out flat and is meant to be gift box and greeting card in one. Clever? I learnt this in my card making class.

Mrs Chalumeau , my doll for the exhibition in a couple of weeks, is making good progress. I don't think she should be revealed yet , but here are some photos of her skirt being stitched with mother of pearl buttons. So far, I have used about 300 of the 500+ buttons I have collected from various sources. Most of the buttons are vintage mother of pearl, but I found some new small heart shaped buttons last week, and have incorporated them. I also found a mother of pearl small belt buckle in the shape of a butterfly, so Mrs C will also have a belt to her outfit. I am now sewing buttons to the cape, Only the hat to go, and her stand!
It's been a good week creatively:
- four ETSY sales in the last three days, (only downside is here I am in the middle of making Mrs C and no stock prepared for the shop)
- my White Knight ( the new version) this week was featured on the front page of the Beaded Art Dolls Forum.