Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

I wish you a very happy new year . May 2013 be a very special time for us all. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Colours of Christmas

Christmas collection 
Christmas colours at our place - in the hallway ...   

Family stockings 

and in the garden ..... 
flowering syzygium 

and in my art ... 
doll created for a friend 

 and even on my desk .... 
USB Christmas tree 

Merry Christmas to my wonderful family and friends - I hope you enjoy the peace and joy of Christmas with all the people who are special to you.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Arty Places #10 2012 : Clayhouse

Gundaroo NSW : Sally Paskins Store 
Gundaroo, a village about 35km north of Canberra, takes you back in time. Most of the buildings  in the main street of the village are typical of 19th century Australia  - slab huts, wattle and daub, stone and local brick. What a delightful place! Although I lived in Canberra  for over three years, I am embarrassed to admit that I only discovered Gundaroo last week while attending a family wedding. There are  a few arty places in Gundaroo, but I really liked the work of Leanne Percival of Clayhouse and so Clayhouse becomes Arty Place #10 ( most likely the last arty place in this series for 2012). 



 I really like Clayhouse pottery ... I think there is an appealing simplicity and a  trendy cleanness  about the shapes and patterns in a "happy" colour range. 





Clayhouse is very much at home in Sally Paskins Store, a slab hut,  built in 1886 with  kauri floors,  newspaper "wall paper " from the period, and  a brick chimney . 







Sarah ('Sally') Paskins ( who died in 1892)  was an interesting character who was renowned for keeping  a cockatoo on the counter in the shop. These days, Leanne doesn't have a cockatoo, but her silent guard dogs ( sculptures) are a talking point. While this photo depicts Leanne as rather serious, she is a very friendly, personable, talented  and obliging artist. I enjoyed chatting and learning a little about the history of the building and the area. Thanks, Leanne! 


 I love the little egg cups I bought at Clayhouse, and have some creative plans for them. In the meantime, they have happily settled in with  my egg cup collection. 




When you are next in the area, I hope you will enjoy a visit to Gundaroo, and especially to Clayhouse in Cork Sreet,  Gundaroo or at least visit on Facebook  .  
PS Also recommend the Cork Street Cafe and Grazing  Restaurant - great food! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tilda with a Twist

Tilda "bugs" /Christmas beetles from Spring Ideas book 
 Many of you know that I spent some time in Finland in 2001 and recently returned for a visit and also renewed my love of Scandinavian fabric design.  I have always loved Marimekko, so it didn' t take much for me to develop a liking for Tilda - the clean, crisp, softer and appealing designs by Tone Finnanger from Norway.  My local doll supply shop, Anne's Glory Box, has recently stocked the delightful Tilda fabrics. books and accessories, so of course I really couldn't resist... And the laces have been hand dyed at Anne's Glory Box to match the Tilda fabrics.
The bugs from the Spring Ideas book are my favourites ( image above) and they will be  great gifts for my daughter and daughter-in-law, as I give them a handmade ornament for their Christmas trees each year . Tilda  has also become a bit of a craze with some of the cloth doll  makers in my Hello Dollies group. Here are a couple of gorgeous Tilda dolls made by a friend, Vicki Leeke of Victori Dolls.
Tilda dolls by Vicki Leeke 

If you are not familiar with Tilda dolls and characters,  here is a description from the Tilda website 
"Tilda is most known for the whimsical, comical and naive characters in the form of animals and dolls. Tilda's world is without a doubt a feminine one, and the most recognisable features are the faces, with two dots for eyes and rosy cheeks."
I certainly did not or would not change the Tilda style, but I added an Australian twist to  the  gingerbread men  I made  from the Crafting Christmas Gifts book. The fabric for these little gingerbread men was hand dyed with brown onion skins and syzygium leaves.  The syzygium is better known here as Lilly Pilly - an evergreen Australian tree which has glossy dark green leaves and small edible berries or fruits, mostly used to make jam. I thought the dye recipe of onion skins and syzygium turned the calico into a good gingerbread fabric.
Gingerbread Men, pattern from Tilda Crafting Christmas Gifts Book
And for a bit of fun... here is my Chinese bug -  Tilda style if that's possible? certainly Tilda with a twist? 




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Designing with Your Name


"But I can't draw ... " often bemoaned and heard when trying to create a pattern or an original design for textile art! Recently I had the opportunity to work with some  Design teachers, and I shared some ideas for encouraging students to explore creative design using everyday art  materials.  Both of these ideas start from using your name and are great little exercises when you feel your creativity needs a little stimulation... The resulting designs could be used to create embroidery, quilting, art journals, screen prints, mono prints, digital prints ... wherever your imagination takes you. 

Idea No 1 : Your name ... Your initials  ( image above) 
 Materials : permanent marker, cleansing alcohol, some textured surfaces and   pastels or coloured pencils. 
Step 1. Draw some lines with a permanent marker on a piece of cotton fabric. The lines could be straight or wavy....
Step 2 . In between the lines, write your initials...... Big, small, first name, family name, nickname, the right way up, upside down, any which way but fill the space. 
Step 3 . Spray with a little cleansing alcohol and let the marks run. 
Step 4: Heat set with an iron 
Step 5. Place the fabric over some textured surfaces ( these could be purchased texture sheets, some found textures, like bubble wrap, ribbed plastic, or  rubber bands stretched over cardboard) 
Step 6: Make some rubbings with crayon, pastel or coloured pencils. 
Step 7 : Reset with heat ( iron) to ensure colours are permanent. 
( Note: If non-permanent markers are used, the colours can be made to "run" with a spray of water) 
Idea No 2:  Your Name starts with ....
This works really well with a group of creative participants - any age.
Materials : long piece of paper ( I use a roll of cheap brown paper), pastels or crayons, cardboard frame cutouts, tracing paper.
Step 1. Roll out a long piece of paper the length of a table or several desks or small tables pushed together. You and a friend take a place side by side facing the paper.
Step 2: Pick one person's name in the group . This could be done randomly by number, by age, by hair colour, whatever.... so in this case we chose Susan.... the first letter /sound is "S"
Step 3 : Brainstorm and write up every suggestion of descriptive words starting with "S" .... for example, swirly, snakey, sunny, sluggish, slimey, starry,
Step 4 ; Each person chooses a word from the list, but doesn't tell the person  beside him/her.
Step 5: Give a time limit ( no more than 5 minutes) and each person is encouraged to use the pastels or crayons to make some shapes or patterns which interpret the word he/she has chosen.
Step 6: As each person has drawn on the paper directly in front of him/her, there will be a blank space between each person's drawings. Then together try to fill in that space to integrate the two/   drawings into one large art work , as in the image above. For example, the lines with circles and zig zags in the centre of the pattern  pictured  above were drawn to integrate the swirls on the lift and the snakey patterns on the right.
Step 7: Using the  cut out frames, try out different arrangements anywhere on the large art work to choose a favourite design. It might be part of  the combined section,  or your own, or your partner's.

Step 8; Trace around the border of your frame, and cut out the chosen section to use as a basis for some other art work.
Hope you can use or adapt these ideas to create something amazing! 
PS Many thanks to Gail for sharing her photos from the design workshop. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Signs of Summer

I have been spending a little more time in our garden lately, and have noticed that this week it is definitely showing signs of summer. This morning, I took a break from weeding and photographed  many bushes and trees with their flowers coming to an end after the Spring burst....  like the bottlebrushes (above), shedding their flower spikes; the last Kangaroo paw, waving in the breeze....
and the Dianella droppingtheir bright purple berries .... 

but some are still in full bloom like the purple melaleuca....
and the 'Robyn Gordon' grevillea which seems to flower all year round
  I want the Australian Christmas bush, with just a few buds opening now, to slow down so it will be beautiful for Christmas.... 
While most of our garden is native,  the little chameleon roses are blushingly beautiful,  but the summer aphids are also busy as you can see from this photo ...
and this year, I planted a hydrangea cutting, and its first flowers appeared this week peerless pink ... 
It seems that summer is also appearing in my art work - I made cards for a handmade sale on the weekend and this was my most popular sale item ... the summer tree series....
These are made with cardboard cut outs of trees pasted to card, over an overlay of " ground" from decorative paper, and  buttons sewn at the end of the branches to represent leaves or buds. 

I gave them exotic names, too,  for example  Middle Earth tree ... Cherry Blossom tree...  I had so much fun making these..... 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Creative Prizes - Tie Dye 101

 Last month, at the Contemporary Craft Retreat in Canberra, I was lucky enough to win two prizes in the raffle. One was a Tie Dye Kit - it looked very simple to use so who better to try it out than four year old grandson, William.
Step 1. After reading the instructions, mix up the soda ash solution ( with supervision) and place the clothes/fabric to be dyed into the solution. 
 Step 2: Make sure the fabric is totally immersed in the solution and let it soak for 30 minutes. That is such a long time when you're four!
 Step 3. While waiting for the fabric to soak, get ready for the dyeing  - plastic tablecloth, plastic gloves and plastic apron.
Step 4: Tie  the garment with rubber bands in various places ... I would have liked a few more ties, but who would argue with the creative instrincts of a four year old? 
  . Step 5: Apply dye from squeeze bottles - much easier for children than any other method.
 Step 6. Leave the dyed garments overnight before rinsing out. We put ours in plastic containers as they needed to be transported home at the end of the day.
 Step 7: Rinse out and admire. William made these singlets for his little baby cousins and a T shirt for his  other little cousin who is two. Colours are  a little different in real life
My other prize was a set of Fabric markers, so I used them on my Dia de los Muertos / Day of the Dead doll for the Art Dolls Only Challenge.

I also used some coloured pencils on the body section, and acrylic paint on the exposed seam edge. 
Thanks,  organisers of the Contemporary Craft Retreat - I loved using my prizes!