Sunday, March 28, 2010

Stitching, stitching, stitching.........

A few more progress pics.  I've been working on this exclusively this week, so no drawing or painting happening at the moment.  I made up a small scale version of my robe/mat to see what it looked like on.
Here's the back and front, the back being the highly decorated bit I'm currently working on.

It was designed to fit Prince Charming here (presuming he's 6'4"), but as you can see, he's met with a terrible accident (ie. a run in with the dingle dog) and I think his modelling career may be over (the phrase that immediately comes to mind is "ma legs, ma legs, ah caint feel ma legs"...from some movie or other that my full-scale Prince Charming likes to quote)!
He's remarkably cheery considering his predicament.  Perhaps Prince Charming is made of sterner stuff than I thought!

Luckily, Barbie was available to step into his place at very short notice.  She clearly loves being in front of the camera.  Wait a minute...I don't, Barbie wouldn't stoop that low just for a modelling gig...would she?!

So back to the real item.  I've added the dark outer circle, which will be on the bottom half of the robe (unless I change my mind, and anything is possible).  If you think the shape of my 2 base fabric pieces looks strangely familiar, yes, you're right.  It did use to be a pair of nice light-weight summer 'hippy' trousers, but they'd worn so thin I tore a huge hole in the arse last summer and they've been in the rag bag since.  They were the right colour and had nice striped bottoms as well (which are being incorporated as patches), so I decided to recycle them!  Feet bare as usual...which reminds me of a favourite poem of mine called Instantes.  I thought it was by Jorge Luis borges...but perhaps not.

And this is where I'm at now, sewing on small scraps of fabric in purply-plummy colours.  Using a very simple running stitch just to tack it all down.  Once that's done, I'm embroidering over the top, and probably adding more of the yarn spirals...but who knows!  Than a bit of padding I think, and it gets stitched to the backing cloth with more running/quilt stitching...also known as Kantha stitching in India, or Sashiko in Japan (I've learnt all this in the last month or two!)  Then I've got to start on the top outside circle, which will be more golds and oranges, and probably a different pattern.
If you're wondering what the red yarn is for, it's my 'compass' string to keep all the patches lined up around the centre circle.

Phew!  Lots more to do...and I actually do have paintings I'm supposed to be doing as well.  And with school holidays next week...I think there will be some late nights involved!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour! Not too late to join if you haven't already!

Switch your lights off for an easy is that?  It makes a difference...and it makes the world a little smaller too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Making it up as I go along...the quilty thing

This is the project I mentioned, a larger embroidery/applique/quilt kind of thing.  I should probably mention BEFORE you look at the pics, that I've never made a quilt in my life before and don't know anyone who does personally, so I've never actually seen one in progress, only pictures.  If you have a look at Jude Hill's work at Spirit Cloth, and Judy Martin's at Judy's Journal, you'll see where my inspiration is coming from though...I adore their work, but they are masters (or should that be mistresses!?) of their craft!  So if you're a quilt-maker, please don't laugh too's all a learning process!  I'm continuing the idea from my small piece of showing the rough edges of the fabric because I like the softness, I don't want a hard edge.  The idea is to make a double sided affair, so that it is a mat to sit on...and also a kind of robe that can be worn.  A theatrical costume I suppose, but I liked the idea of it being a practical item that does two jobs.  That's the IDEA...the reality will no doubt be vastly different, but as I keep telling myself, it's the journey that counts.  The scribbly bit of paper is the only concrete planning/design I've done, everything else is in my usual.  In all likelihood, it will end up as a one-sided wall hanging because I haven't got any idea how I'm going to put it all together...but for now, I'll hang on to my two-sided dream!

The plan...such as it is.  The one I'm following (sort of) is the bottom right design.  It is 1.2m square in total.

Beginning of the centre circle...about 30cm diameter

Detail of centre

Second circle added (it looks off-centre because of the angle), and more details added to centre circle

Close-up.  Once I've stitched the third circle on, I'll go back and embroider and applique over it all, then the plan is to stitch it to a backing cloth with an all-over running stitch that spirals and curves over the whole thing.  Don't know if I'll need any extra padding between this part and the backing, I'll see what happens when I get there!

So I really am just making it up as I go along, and probably making a whole lot of mistakes that an experienced quilt-maker would know how to avoid, but oh may be unorthodox, but I'll work out just might end up being the long scenic route!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

OMG...rain, rain and more RAIN!!!!!

Well, as they say, when it rains it pours!  No rain to speak of for about 3 months...and then THIS!  We were lucky, although I was a bit worried looking out the back french doors that I might have to start putting towels along the bottom of the door.  A fellow school mum had her games room 6 inches under water, and part of the roof of the local shopping centre collapsed, and the whole place was flooded.  Luckily, it seems no-one was hurt, but the damage bill is going to be huge.  Why can't mother nature just start a little earlier and a little less ferociously instead of suddenly deciding she has to make up for lost time?!  A few pics to give you an idea...not mine though, you wouldn't catch me out there with my camera (or without it either!)

Phew!  It's almost 5pm now, and I had hoped that all that rain might bring us a cool change, but's been hot and sticky today. When, oh when, is Autumn really going to start?!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Changing seasons...the smell of Autumn

I've caught a whiff of Autumn the last few days.  It's still warm, but there's an indefinable smell in the air, an almost intangible chill in the mornings, and I feel as if I'm unfurling and waking up.  Like the sad garden around me, I am shaking the dry dust of summer off my Autumn raiment and I can smell moisture in the air, the promise of rain, that most potent green-maker.  Soon, small tendrils with tiny golden new-leaf wings will be poking their heads out of the dry soil, the dried up stalks of summer's victims will give way to green growing things.  And so I am optimistically pulling out my yarns and wools and making things to wear when the weather turns cold.  I love wintery fashions so much more than summer ones; boots and scarves and hats and gloves and snuggly shawls, and bright coloured socks and stockings.

I actually made these a couple of weeks ago, during a slightly cooler couple of days...I didn't really believe Autumn was on its way then, it was merely wishful thinking and inspiration from crafty bloggers in the northern hemisphere.  These are semi successful...they're not identical, but do the job.  I've never learnt how to follow a crochet pattern, I learnt from a friend's mum who showed me how to start a granny square, and off I went, discovering and adapting along the way.  So every crochet piece I make is made up as I go along, and I've never attempted anything before where I had to make two pieces the same.  So a lot of throws and scarves and shawls and hats.  Especially hats...I love hats!

I've made lots of long scarves before, but never a short scarflette, and I thought they seemed an excellently practical way of keeping warm without having to constantly rescue long dangling ends from dipping in your coffee, getting caught on door handles, and filling up your shoulder bag if it turned a bit warm and you needed to take it off.  The button is a seed pod, but I'm not sure what of!

See, I told you I love making hats.  I want to enjoy making as many as I can now because I know it's only a matter of time before mummy's hats are simply not 'cool' enough to be seen in public in...and then I'll have to wait 15 or 20 years for grandchildren before I can make more!  This is one of two, because of course, I have to make two of everything.  The 2nd one will be slightly different simply because there's no pattern, but that's part of the fun...I never know quite how it's going to look until it's finished!

I've just started another project, and so my family room floor looks like a half constructed tent at the moment.  Inspired by the magical textiles of Jude at Spirit Cloth, I'm attempting a larger textile piece, a sort of a mat come cloak if you like, because I enjoyed my small pieces so much.  Well that's the plan, but at the moment it exists only in the fertile possibilities of a large untidy pile of fabric and textile scraps, and my mind of course.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Freedom...can mean many different things....

I've been intending to post about this film since I saw it last weekend, but then a 3 day headache intervened and I've not done much at all since Wednesday (right now, Freedom to me would be a headache-free life!)  I love the synchronicity of Blogland...Richard Jesse Watson was musing about freedom and gypsies last week, about what the gypsy life represents to those of us who are not gypsies, though perhaps, deep down in our child-heart, we wish we were.  And then I had the opportunity to see Tony Gatlif's latest film 'Liberte'.  Tony Gatlif has made some truly marvelous films ('Lachto Drom' is another favourite of mine) about the Romany people, their way of life and their struggle to keep that way of life alive against huge odds.  This film was no exception, set in occupied France during Word War II, it concerned the edicts that prevented gypsies from living their traditional nomadic life, and giving them no other alternative, were used as excuses to round them up and put them into camps.  Somewhere between 250 000 and 500 000 perished in Nazi camps.  It is the story of one family, and the people of one small village who tried to help them.  But it also deals with the ingrained prejudice that gypsies have experienced, and continue to experience.

It's something that I have wondered about, on and off.  And not just with gypsies, but any people who are nomadic.  We like things to be 'fixed' don't we?  We like to know what's what, and that what's here today will still be here tomorrow.  And people who move don't fit.  We build our walls and mark our boundaries, on this side it's US and on that side it's THEM...but people who move across borders like rivers, who don't respect the lines we arbitrarily inscribe on maps, are, like rivers, uncontrollable.  And like rivers, unpredictable...which of course makes them scary and different too.  And so the gypsy, the traveller, the tinker, the tramp, the nomad, the homeless person...become the bogey men we scare children with.  These people from other places who we can never get to know, never learn to see beyond the stereotypes because they're gone so soon, having been somewhere we've probably never been, heading for somewhere else we'll never go...because we're stuck.  Which leads me to what I think is possibly the deeper reason for so much prejudice, beyond all the beliefs about being thieves, or racist ideas about 'brown-skin', or prejudices and ignorance based simply on different culture or language or being 'civilised' (whatever that might mean).  It's envy.  People have always been chained to one place for one reason or another; work, family, landlords, bosses whatever.  But in this day and age, we accumulate so much STUFF because apparently that's how we show we've 'arrived' (though from where I don't know), and all this accumulation becomes a kind of chain around our ankles too, though we tell ourselves we have so much freedom (freedom to buy more stuff, perhaps?)  So we can't just GO...we have responsibilities, we have to be at work on Monday, there's a meeting we can't miss, bills to be paid.  And though I'm sure most of the time we are happy, we have so much to be thankful for, and being out in the freezing cold sleeping rough is not something you wish for when you're tucked up under the quilt in your own cosy bed...but sometimes we're not.  Sometimes we do get the urge to just go...leave this crazy world and throw a pack over our shoulder and just walk away, walk to the next town, be someone new and different.  Know that everything you own or need is in the bag on your back, that you don't need all that other stuff to be YOU.  It's a hard, hard life and most of us couldn't cut it, but for many of us, the word 'gypsy' itself is synonymous with our most cherished and romantic notions of freedom.  Something that is becoming harder and harder to find in our digital, plastic, CCTV world.  And so, we still often punish those who dare to live like that despite all obstacles, because deep down, we wish we had their courage.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Busy experimenting!

Sometimes I need a push, especially at the beginning of the year after Christmas and holidays and hot, uncreative weather, to get myself painting again.  I've always been the kind of slightly disorganised (or not so slightly!), procrastination-prone person who benefits from a deadline.  I may always end up bemoaning the fact that a tight schedule means I never quite reach the heights I was aiming for, but I'm also well aware that without a deadline I more often than not never even get started, and my great ideas stay just that...ideas that never get fleshed out, never become real.  So, to get this years' ball rolling, I did something I quite often do...entered an Art competition BEFORE I'd painted the piece I'd entered.  This was a little different, as the piece was partly done, a landscape that I did a couple years ago, having great fun playing around creating the stormy sky and ominous clouds, but it just didn't stand on its own.  So I tossed the idea of adding a figure around for a bit, then thought maybe a spot of collage might be interesting to experiment with...and thought of a name...and put in my entry form!  Right, now I have to paint it!  Hmmm, and of course, having put it down as a 'mixed media' piece, I can't just paint, so that vague collage idea is going to have to be utilized even if I have no idea if it will even work or not.  So...this is what I've been working on for the last week!  It's called 'Storm Spirit Moving'.

Figure pencilled in and face and arms painted, basic hair put in.  As the landscape painting had a spray gloss varnish on it, it's hard to get a good photo without white shine patches!  The painting is quite large, about 1m x 1m, and I haven't done one that big for some time, so it felt good to be back at the easel upstairs in my little studio!  Stayed like this for a few days because I was having serious doubts about whether my collage idea would work.

OK, I finally committed to the collage idea...I think it's working OK, but the plan is to go over it with some delicate white pen-and-ink patterns, like a kind of lacework.

Finished!  Well, as finished as it's going to get, as I had to take it in today.  

I always spend too much time trying to plan things out it my head before committing pen to paper (or canvas), but I still get excited when things occur along the way that I hadn't thought of.  The white pen-and-ink patterns started to remind me a little of some of the patterns in the Nazca Desert in Peru...and then I started thinking they were like some kind of ancient celestial maps of constellations, which I thought was highly appropriate...and then I realised they also reminded me of crop circles!  They're essentially just doodles, no real thought and definitely no planning or designing gone into them, so I quite liked that idea.  I need to stop thinking about my work so much BEFORE I start it, and just start and see what happens, allowing myself to have fun along the way.  If I stop worrying so much about what might go wrong, I might discover some really interesting things!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So what do you do on the second day of Autumn, and it's 36˚C?

I'm using the term 'Autumn' very loosely here, by the way (though I did pass a very optimistic Plane tree in town, with almost all its leaves gone)!

Well, you go to the beach of course.  So I went to my favourite cafe, the South Beach Cafe, for lunch with a friend, and immediately thought 'damn, wish I'd brought my camera'.  Because I've been moaning about how horrible and hot it is here, and that I'm really not a summer person, and looking with extreme envy at all the lovely pictures of snow on all my favourite blogs...and it dawned on me how much I love this cafe and yet it's an essential part of what summer is all about, or should be all about, here in Western Australia.  I've been going to this cafe for years, and the first thing I love about it is that it hasn't really changed at all.  It's still essentially a beach kiosk, where you can wander in wearing wet bathers and sandy feet, on a long patch of grass with big pine trees providing very welcome shade, right next to a beautiful beach of turquoise water and white sand.  So you wander down to the beach, have a leisurely swim (which we did, and the water was perfect), wander back up with sandy feet, sit on the grass outside the cafe (as we did) or sit inside and no-one will look twice at your bare feet or care that you're dripping onto the paving, and order simple but pretty damn good food at reasonable prices, and good coffee (my other half fancies himself a bit of a barista, so good coffee is appreciated).  I didn't take my camera, but a quick web search and I found they have their very own website with pics, and even a couple of videos to watch.  So here's a few piccies for a little summer dreaming.

Inside the dress code, YAY!  Though this must have been a colder day (it's open all year round, and I'll go there anytime!)

Just over those bushes in the background, is the beach.

Free live music on weekend afternoons, and well-behaved 4-legged patrons welcome.

There's those bushes again...and the beach!

Great place to go for an evening swim and watch the sunset.

No explanation required really!

Sometimes I think we West Aussies are very spoilt when it comes to beaches.  We really do have the best in the world!

As a final note, watching the dodgy little video of South Beach led me to other videos on YouTube of West Aussie beaches and scenery...seemed kind of silly to watch at first, I mean I live here, but then I started reading the comments left by other people.  People saying things like "One day I'll live there", or "It's been my dream for so long to visit".  And it was good to be reminded how lucky we are, no matter where we are really.  If we have food on the table, a good roof over our heads, and live without fear of war or famine or persecution, with our loved ones around us, then paradise is wherever you make it.
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