Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Many Make a Series?

I wonder if three is sufficient a number to call a series? In my Owl Sisters post, I said I was creating a series of ‘Birdstick Women”. Here are three completed in the last week – all inspired by Australian birds commonly found in the Eastern States – a grass owl, an Australian raven (crow), and a Rose Robin ( although here the nesting female is rather a plain looking bird!).

And the fourth just didn’t want a bird as a companion -

These art dolls are in preparation for my workshop at the Contemporary Craft Retreat in Canberra in October.  For more information about my workshops and many others led by talented artists from all over Australia, please check out the Contemporary Craft Retreat website

Friday, March 25, 2011

Owl Sisters

This beautiful print is by an Australian artist. Lindy Longhurst of   Serpent Mandalas Please click the link to see more of Lindy's art although I admit this is one of my favourites.  I chose a smaller version of this for my sister's birthday gift and then I went  searching for other owl paintings and mixed media collages, depicting beautiful girls and owls.
I was surprised to find so many on Etsy, so I created a treasury. It is called Owl Sisters - just click to find some amazing art work, linking girls and owls or you can see the images in the Etsy Mini  in the side bar to the right.
Some old  Australian Aboriginal beliefs assert that bats represent the souls of men and owls the souls of women. Owls are therefore sacred, because your sister is an Owl - and the Owl is your sister.

A few years ago, I planned to make a series of "bird" women. I did finish the owl woman, but that is as far as I got. However, recently I have started to make a series of  "stick" dolls as bird totems ... well, I have one made - a rose robin, a common bird in Eastern Australia.  Owls are next...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japanese Nostalgia

With the news of the unfolding and escalating disaster in Japan dominating the media, our thoughts are with  our friends, especially our previous exchange daughters and their families in Japan. Thankfully they are all safe, but we can't help feeling sad for the magnitude of loss of life and environmental destruction. This morning, I looked around our home and found all kinds of  little reminders of happy times we have had with them. Most are beautiful gifts the girls or their families have given us or made themselves ... a thousand cranes, paper cuts, dolls and fabrics.

I even found small gifts from my host families when I was in Japan over 40 years ago,
and a little handbag I made a few years ago and this reminds me so much of our girls. We are thinking postive thoughts for you all.

Not to forget a small but very special event this week - Happy 3rd  Birthday William. May you always be protected from disaster.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

11 Wise Women

Today is International Women's Day 2011. The world  today celebrates 100 years of progress towards gender equality. International Women's Day, however, is both a day to celebrate and a day to draw attention to the challenges that remains before gender equality is truly realised.

What  a significant day to meet with a special woman /gallery owner to negotiate a series a workshops culminating in an exhibition of handmade, soft sculptured  art dolls ,"Wise Women" or as they have been affectionately become known as WOWs (Women of Wisdom). The exhibition opening is planned for International Women's Day 2012. Naturally, I began to think of all the "Wise Women" I've made over the last few years, as well as the many wise women who have taken workshops to make their own. I wonder how many women from the WOW pattern now exist? I have chosen eleven of my creations to help celebrate this very special day 2011...

Happy International Women's Day to my women friends and to the women in my family who are all wise . Here is a special short documentary On Her Shoulders  -  Thanks to all the brave women who have come before us to make our lives so much more fulfilling. Hopefully we can all work to make a small positive difference to improve the lot of women in many parts of the world where they are less fortunate than ourselves.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Felted Balls : Tutorial for Beginners

Felted balls like these are really easy to make - a great project for beginners...   It all started when my mother sent me a cutting from an old magazine about felting balls.

 I read the instructions and this seemed very simple - so simple that I could do it while babysitting. I thought it would be a good afternoon activity and felting lesson for my one year old granddaughter who was suffering from a cold on Monday and was tired of playing with toys! I got her interest by putting the sticky tape and two bottle tops on her little plastic table ... and so the process began.
Step1 :  Making the rattle for inside the ball  - take two bottle tops and put some little stones inside one and tape the other on top. Check that the tape is secure.

Step 2: Gathering wool supplies - you will need some wool for the core of the ball ( wool roving, pieces of an old woollen garment or blanket.), some wool roving for the outside of the ball and some novelty yarns, silk threads, or feature yarns to add some interest.  
Step 3: Making the core of the ball - wrap some wool around the bottle top rattle, trying to make a fairly  basic spherical shape. Wrap some wool  yarn around this core to keep it all together and to maintain the basic shape.

Step 4: Outer layer of the ball - cover the core with wool roving and  wind a contrasting or novelty yarn ( natural fibres are best) around the roving to hold it in place.

Step 5: Preparing the ball for felting - put the "ball" into the toe of of a nylon stocking - take care not to to push any of the wool or fibres out of place and thus change the shape too much. Tie a knot to secure the ball in the stocking . Check the knot will not come undone. ( My assistant  felter found this step the most fun, as you can also bounce the ball on the ground whilst holding the end of the stocking. )

Step 6: Wet felting- Add the ball in the stocking to a bowl of hot soapy water  - warning, for children, you need to supply their own bowl of lukewarm water. When the ball is saturated, begin to roll the ball in your hands, causing  the friction needed for the wool fibres to felt. This usually take approximately 5 minutes.

Step 7: Remove the ball from the stocking, and continue to roll the ball in your hands to shape. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soapy water and  roll again in a towel to remove excess moisture. Allow to dry naturally. This can take a few days depending on the weather.
I will probably add some surface embroidery, but this ball makes a great sound when shaken, and is a safe toy for toddlers, as well as quite a decorative item.

I did say at the beginning of this post that this was an easy project - now you can see, simple enough for even a one year old!