Friday, October 31, 2008

Glorious glass

This is the lovely lampworked glass heart bead I bought yesterday at the Culverden Fete, an annual North Canterbury event that attracts in excess of 6000 people per year. It was lovely having a day off, the weather was kind and the setting was beautiful - a farm nestled up against hills, with views of the Southern Alps.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


It's almost (but not quite) November. And this is the time for Movember.

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health. It's an international event, and you can read more on the website here. Why? Because men are far more likely to think they're bulletproof and not go to the doctor's than women, so when things go wrong, they're often not picked up early when they can best be treated. Women are more aware of their bodies (hah! who can help but be aware of something that causes so many problems?) so we tend to get regular checkups.

My friend Jill's husband Arnold is supporting Movember this year, helping those men with prostate cancer and also depression. We have started supporting Arnold a bit early as he apparently needs a bit of head start in the mo growing department.

Kiwi bloggers who want to help can donate here. If you're from somewhere else, encourage your significant others (the males, anyway) to register and start mo growing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Composition in Rust

I've been working on this over the weekend when it was a) too wet or b) too hot to be in the garden. I enjoy making rust fabric, but it's hard to find something interesting to make with it, as there is not enough contrast in my rusted fabric alone.

I decided to make a fused composition, so liberally borrowing from other artists' styles, I first drew a design. This is A3 size, drawn on two A4 pieces of printer paper taped together. I then cut the shapes out, one by one, and fused them to either rusted fabric or to other fabric that I felt would blend with it. I still wanted a fairly low contrast piece.

The fused pieces are just sitting on the background so there are gaps between some of them. What I'm doing now is deciding whether the fabrics are right. I am in 2 minds about the upper left-hand background (especially the horizontal stripes) and the orange piece of the first woman's hair. Your comments please!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

I love spring - it's my favourite season. This lilac bush travelled with me when I moved here. You can see a bit of the espaliered apple tree behind it in the fence corner. And something growing vigorously in front.
It's also iris time.
And flowering cherry time. I can see some lovely grass seed heads there too. Weeding time as well!
Look at this Meyer lemon - who thought a tree this size could have 7 huge fruit? I have to find somewhere to plant this now.

Labour Weekend

It's the start of Labour Weekend here in New Zealand (unless you're like me and took yesterday off as well). It originated to celebrate legislation bringing in the 40 hour working week, which the majority of NZers no longer actually work. It's the first public holiday since the start of winter, so it's always a popular holiday. Traditionally the weather is crappy, and this weekend lives up to the tradition, with strong cold winds forecast here for this afternoon.

I took some photos of lovely flowering plants for this post, but failed to notice my camera was set on "manual" so the colours were quite strange. The only one I've kept is this pic of the raised gardens out the back that I've just planted out with things that can tolerate the current weather. I've just bought another big garden, like the one in the foreground, but I'll wait till the weather improves before setting that up. I'm planning to have fresh vegetables all year round, but have also planted scented flowers like stocks and nicotiana in these gardens, so I can enjoy flowers as well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And the winner is....

...Anna. Now I have to package up a wee gift for her and send it off to the UK. Just a note to those who leave comments - if you don't have a profile or any contact details on Blogger, I have no way of getting in touch with you.

I was interested to get such a range of replies to my questions, which only goes to show that we are indeed all different.

And so that this isn't entirely a text posting, here's a photo of some small bags I made about 5 years ago.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Porn for food lovers

I couldn't resist these beautiful purple asparagus. They look too good to eat...but I'm going to!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

First the blues, now the greens

You will need to read the previous post to follow what I'm talking about here.This is Brilliant Blue coupled with Lemon Yellow & Turquoise - probably the closest to what I wanted.
Though Sapphire Blue with Lemon Yellow & just a bit of Turquoise look good too.
I also tried dyeing fabric with some natural wool dyes and garden chemicals. From left to right - lichen, little orange seeds, copper sulphate, sandalwood sawdust and iron sulphate.

500 down....and a question for my blog readers

This is my 500th Post! I've decided to send a small hand made gift (or 2) to one of the blog readers who leaves a comment and answers my question. This is a "pull the name out of hat" thing, there's no right or wrong answer. Read on....

I have always thought that everyone sees colours and patterns when they close their eyes. Apparently, this is not so. I see beautiful clear colours, and often intricate designs and patterns - sometimes when I'm asked "where do you get your inspiration from?", I can only reply that I've"seen" them in my head. I had no idea that this was not what everyone did. Above are some blues that I've dyed this weekend in an attempt to get the blue I "saw", and I have some greens percolating at present.

So my question is: do you see colours and designs too? And if you're an artist of any kind, do you use these in your work?

PS I am adding this after reading the first few comments - I don't TRY to see anything, the colours and designs come completely unbidden and are unrelated to anything I'm working on.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nature - the greatest artist

Whether you believe the creatures of the world were created by evolution or God, there is no doubt that they are magnificent. The photos today celebrate World Animal Day which was held earlier this month. Above is a black Persian cat - I loved this photo for the stark contrast of the fur and the eyes.
And this collage is to show some of the amazing colours and shades and patterns that occur in wild animals - truly beautiful. We artists can only try to produce something this good, while nature does it every day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Impatient Ruster

I only left this fabric on the rusted implements for a day. Truly I am impatient.
This morning I dried and ironed the second round of soy wax fabrics before going to work. No, I didn't iron anything else in the ironing pile. Why do you ask?

I was pleased with the results, but need to find more items to use for stamping.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why stop when you're on a roll?

I came back after lunch and did this second lot. Here they've had 2 rounds of wax and dye and are drying prior to being rinsed in hot water and detergent to remove the wax. I've gone for brighter colours here, and more structured patterns.

Also this morning I wrapped some metal objects in vinegar-soaked fabric to get some more rust-dyed fabric. On the left is a pruning saw blade (the fabric is tied in a circle to save space)along with some other metal bit. On the right is my old favourite, the tyre iron plus 2 pairs of old pliers. I covered them in plastic wrap and put them in the sun. Within a couple of hours, they started to colour up and now look like this. There'll be some dull spaces in the fabric so I may wrap them up a second time as well. Rust never sleeps!

The Impatient Dyer's Guide to Playing with Soy Wax

..but first, a totally gratuitous shot of flowers on my deck for anyone in the midst of bad weather and needing a lift in spirits.

I received the latest Quilting Arts magazine yesterday and was sufficiently excited and inspired by the soy wax article to have a go. I sell the stuff but have never used it. At last, some actual surface design!
I splodged (technical dyeing term) hot soy wax over fat quarters of fabric. Normally when experimenting, the first couple of pieces have very random patterns, and then I settle into something more regular. Or at least, something I've thought about for more than 1 second. This is #2 so it's still pretty random The colour is Tangerine.
By this piece, I was doing a pattern and breaking into 2 colours. This happens pretty quickly - I am not a single colour sort of gal. This is pale Tangerine with pale Midnight Blue.
And so on. Here's the washing line after the first round of wax and dye. That big piece was TOO big to work on comfortably, so I chopped it in half.
After round #2. That's my little greenhouse to the right of these photos. My "I may be a greenhouse but I don't keep the frost out" greenhouse. Hmm... well, now I know! But only after losing half my tomato plants and sundry other baby vegetables.
And here are the finished washed and ironed pieces. I don't muck around, you know! That's why I'm the Impatient Dyer.
I liked the green one best - here it is opened out. Hopefully you can see the 2 different layers of green dye.
I was hungry after all that dyeing so I whipped up this pizza. Naan bread base, covered in satay sauce and then red onions, mushrooms, olives, some deli roast beef and a tomato, topped with aged goats' milk cheese. Yum.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Earth From Above

(Click on the photo for a larger image)

"Earth From Above" is an amazing collection of photographs taken by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. I saw them a year or so ago in Wanaka, where they were exhibited outdoors on weatherproof 4 foot by 6 foot billboards. These are not just pretty snapshots - they were taken with the purpose of raising global awareness of sustainability issues. They are accompanied by information that is quite mind-boggling. Above is an example relevant to those of us working with cotton cloth. The caption reads : "Worker resting on bales of cotton, Thonakaha, Korhogo, Ivory Coast. Cotton crops occupy approximately 335,000 square klilometers worldwide, and use nearly one quarter of all pesticides sold."
One quarter of ALL pesticides on cotton? Who knew?
You can see more of the photos on BigPicture or on Yann's website here. If this exhibition comes to a place near you, go see it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Awwwww, you bloggers are great!

What a raft of lovely comments you've made about Cass and Sophie, and also sending me good wishes for my birthday. Love you all!

And further to my earlier posts about "is this ART?", this year's Turner Prize* finalists include a naked mannequin sitting on the toilet, a rejigged clip from The Simpsons, a pile of dirty dishes at a supermarket checkout and a video of a woman pushing a cup and saucer off a table.

* The Turner Prize is worth 40,000 British pounds (that's around NZ$107,000 or US$70,000) and is given annually to a visual artist under the age of 50 (why? Do we become too old after that?). No wonder this award is so controversial.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

....And today

Cass is doing his "I do not want to be photographed" face.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Twenty years ago....

....I had these guys around. Currently, I have the updated versions staying with me for 3 days. I'll try to get a similar photo of them so you can see the changes/similarities.

Today is my 54th birthday but I still feel the same inside. Actually, I think I'm a more interesting person than I was then, but I don't look as cute....such is life!