Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Christmas

It's Christmas ... it's summer here in Australia. Usually it is really hot, but today it's cold, rainy and grey. Most years I wonder what a white Christmas is like.... 

When I dream of Christmas,
I dream of wondrous things,
of mistletoe and holly,
and joy the season brings,
Of snowy fields, and rosy cheeks,

sleds careening fast and sleek,
houses lighted, festive, gay,
preparing for that special day

When family gathers ‘round the tree,
anticipating what will be
in Christmas boxes tied up tight,
colorful wrappings shining bright

Merry Christmas to all ... may you enjoy the festive season with those who are special to you in the spirit of love, peace, and hope. 

PS The images in this post are of our Christmas tree, scenes from a beautiful tin of gingerbread, sent to us by our German exchange daughter, and Grandma Gnome, one of my art dolls made for this special time of the year. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Carols in the Caves

The tourist brochure claims that "Magic Happens ..." in the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains (180 km from Sydney, NSW).  It was truly Christmas Magic last weekend at the annual  Carols in the Caves concert.  We started from Newcastle at 6am, but it was worth the long bus trip there. It was a cool invigorating day, and we enjoyed the amazing vistas on the way, having lunch in the courtyard of the iconic Caves House as well as the beautiful carol singing. It brought out the "child" in everyone...
Angels and bright stars appeared from nowhere in cave grottoes...
 Shepherds watched their flocks under the cave canopies...
Like any show, there were times when the drama is backstage ... how many men does it take to organise a star's wardrobe when the costumes fall from the back of a truck inside the Grand Archway of the Jenolan Caves?  Yes, this is my husband Jim helping ... he just happened to be there! 
Ably compered by Peter Vickery of Master Chef  fame and with proceeds to the Westmead Children's Hospital , Carols in the Caves is  recommended to instill the spirit of Christmas in even the grumpiest Scrooge. 
And  happy birthday to our grandson who will be six years old tomorrow. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Arty Places 2011 #6

One of my "new" pieces... see below 
Blog post #6 in the series of Arty Places 2011....   Newcastle Civic Park became an arty place yesterday for the annual Art Bazaar where over 100 artists including sculptors, painters, embroiderers,potters, jewellers, print makers, photographers come together with about 8000 people looking  learning and buying. Yesterday the weather was perfect.  Here are a few of  the images that for me captured the colour, energy and excitement of the day.

During week, I finished a few pieces I started at the Canberra Retreat. I have slightly modified a technique taught by a talented friend, Kathy Geurts from Studio Amara. These cuffs have a focal piece made of stamped and painted plastic. Thanks to Kathy who showed me her technique, I finished six of these for Christmas gifts. 

Another busy week leading into Christmas, and December birthdays.... 
Happy Birthday to our granddaughter who will be two years old on Tuesday. 
( the story behind this photo ... I bought her an absolutely beautiful dress to wear to her party, but she rejected the dress and preferred the coat hanger!) 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Handmade Treasures Sale 2011

Each year, on the Saturday close to the beginning of Advent, we hold an "open house"  Handmade Treasures Sale for charity. My husband takes care of morning tea/lunch, and I ask my creative family and friends to contribute to the sale. Last Saturday, we held our fifth sale and although the heavy rain probably kept many away, those who came seemed to have a good time . Most popular were the home made palmiers, chocolate cake and freshly made sandwiches , marinated mushrooms and feta cheese prepared by Jim. Other than the food,  there was an amazing display of really beautiful work by local artists, embroiderers and talented artisans - all handmade with love ... quilts, handbags, clothing, jewellery, cards, mixed media art, embroidery, dolls, crochet, smocking, knitting, textiles, sewing accessories, Christmas decorations, kitchen accessories, jams, pickles, home made chocolates, rum butter,  Christmas puddings and cakes .... and lots more.

We were also fortunate to have the support of the Hunter East Timor Sisters with wonderful handwoven tais made by  women in East Timor.

Together, we made a substantial amount of money for the charity "Give Love to Children" which is a locally based charity supporting programs for disadvantaged children here in Newcastle and abroad. The charity's current projects are to provide free vision and hearing screenings for primary school students in low income status schools in the Hunter area, and to support a school for street kids in the Philippines. Thanks to all who came to the sale, to those who helped, and to all the talented contributors - supporting children in need  is truly in the spirit of Christmas.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Textile Art Exhibitions and Christmas Sales

Last week I said I was not ready for Christmas. This week I don't think I ever will be - not this year anyway.   While I have been distracted this week from Christmas preparations, it has been worth it. A  very talented textile artist friend Wendy Scott had the opening of her solo exhibition, Rainbow Journey, at Timeless Textiles Gallery on Thursday night. I really recommend that you take the time out to see this one - a magical visual journey of colour, excitement and pure joy.  The exhibition is open until 7 December at Timeless Textiles Gallery, 7 Beaumont Street, Islington  (Newcastle NSW) - just a 2 minute walk from Hamilton (NSW) Railway Station.  Congratulations, Wendy - it is an absolutely beautiful exhibition and a wonderful testimony to your artistic talent. 
Wendy Scott and self portrait 

We are very fortunate to have opportunities to exhibit and see great textile art here in Newcastle. The next textile art exhibition opens this Thursday night at Wallsend Library and it will be the annual exhibition of NCEATA - Newcastle Creative Embroiderers and Textile Artists. The exhibition is entitled "Archi-Textiles" inspired by architecture - there will be some really innovative textile art on display I am sure. I am delivering my contribution " East-West" this afternoon. It is the first time I have used paint, digital prints and  hand made foam printing blocks as well as stitching in a piece of work - not sure about it, but my husband likes it... 
East-West : exhibition piece 
What an exciting  week ... this Saturday is also the annual  Handmade Treasures Christmas Sale for charity. This year, the  recipient of the profits will be a local and global  charity " Give Love to Children" which supports orphanages in the Philippines and provides free health services to disadvantaged children here in the Hunter. Already beautiful work from my lovely sewing friends has arrived - here is a preview of the great gifts you can buy at Saturday's sale supporting local artists and artisans and a very good cause. 
table napkins and  appliqued place mats 
hand sewn quilts 

embroidered cushions, patchwork pouches, Christmas cakes 
colourful aprons - for children, men and women 
appliqued and embroidered sewing bags and babies'wear

  I am looking forward to a great day. If you live nearby, I hope you will come to see  these hand made treasures and lots more...  I have heard this week that the Hunter East Timor Sisters will also be bringing their hand woven tais, many of which have been made by village women in East Timor to raise much needed funds  for teacher scholarships to East Timorese young women.... At least I will have my Christmas shopping done after Saturday...    

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas - Not Yet Please!

I promise every year that I will be organised for Christmas and for our grandchildren's birthdays in December. It's happened again ... I am not ready. Only a few cards made of course,  none ready to post. And  I just "got over the line"  with a few extra things made for my friend's Christmas Boutique Sale  last Saturday. We had a great day.  My stick dolls were perhaps a little out of place amongst the absolutely beautiful fine embroidery, but they were all sold so they must have had some appeal. My own favourite was joyous one ( between the two green ones in the photo below)  - wrapped in sari ribbon and nurturing a baby dragon.
Going with the popular trends, what seemed to appeal the most of my items were the matryoshka doll brooches, so I am currently making more for the Handmade Treasures Sale in a fortnight.

Owls were also popular including my very large and heavy doorstop owl and the little owl families, made from hand printed fabric by Thea and Sami. I have previously made dolls from this gorgeous fabric, but the prints seem to suit these owls, from Lucky Owl pattern by Be Be Bold.

 Now, back to my work room to start preparing for Christmas again...