Sunday, October 8, 2017

Some more rabbits from Tempestuous Nature exhibtion

Harry  is possibly my favourite character.  He was also the most difficult to create and I had several attempts at his face.     I settled on air dry clay over cloth to make his face.  Then I painted him. Harry is a hirsute hare in the modern fashion with his bit more than 5.00 o'clock shadow and not quite a beard.                                                                                                              And he is a bit of a dandy.    Harry’s clothes are made from a discarded mens shirt.  (I loved the fabric in this shirt and have used it several times.  It’s just about all gone).   Harry’s lairy flared pants are made from an old tie.  I enjoyed adding the details to Harry's costume. The buttons on his pants come from the shirt used to make the shirt.  Small beads have been added to the front of his shirt to represent buttons.  Harry's ears have been stiffened so that they remain standing.    

Grace is a ballet student.  This bunny is heading off to her ballet school concert.  A temperamental prima donna in the making. She came into being because of her feet.   They looked like they wanted to dance on point. Grace’s leotards, tights and shoes are painted on.  Her skirt is an old scarf that a friend gave me.  The trims came from my collection.  Grace carries a wrap in case she gets cold in the wings.     Grace's muzzel was needle felted and her stage eyes painted on :-).


Houdini  is an excitable boy always getting out of trouble after getting into mischief. Pipe cleaners make him poseable and lend to his demeanour. His bright red pants reflect his nature.  They are made from a fabric scrap supplied by Leanne.    Houdini's eyes are embroidered on He is sitting on top of a gorgeous yellow and red dot felted bags made by Leanne.

These bunnies are looking for new homes  and are for sale.  Contact me via my web site for further details.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rabbits on Exhibtion - Tempetuous Nature

Last night the exhibition Tempestuous Nature was officially opened at Creators Artspace, Lincoln Causeway, Wodonga.  

I was invited to join the exhibition by fibre artists Cathy Upton and Leanne O'Toole.  Cathy has on display results of eco dying on silk, cotton and wool cotton mixes.  Leanne's works are in the form of bags - cloth, felted and both.  Also on display were two felted wearable art dresses on which Cathy and Leanne had collaborated. One of the dresses was a winner at the Wool Fashion Awards in 2014.  Their work is amazing and I was really chuffed to be asked to contribute work - but rabbits?   Well it worked. 

Henrietta is the bunny that started this journey.    Leanne had seen Henrietta and thought that rabbits would fit the eclectic mix of fibre the exhibition.

Henrietta is a true mixed media creation.  I wanted to try clay over cloth which is how her face came about.  Her ears are florists wire and papier-mâché made from tissue that came with a new pair of shows. Henrietta’s little jacket was a failed felting experiment.  The felt came up a treat in its new guise.  Pants were made from a scrap left over from some long forgotten project.  

Bunnies in the buff posing with One of Leanne O'Toole's Cloth bags
and two of Cathy Upton's eco-dyed scarves
 Bunnies in the Buff

These little fellows are made from a test scrap of cotton fabric that Cathy eco dyed.    I just loved the colour and the bunnies have such an exuberant feel about them that I couldn’t clothe them.   

I just gave them simple  embroidered faces and lovely fluffy tails made from unspun sheep wool.

 The Border Mail gave us a nice write up.  You can find it here.

In making my bunnies I have tried to imbibe them with something of a tempestuous nature.  If you look you may find that they are have elements that are emotional, passionate, intense, impassioned, fiery, unrestrained, temperamental, volatile, excitable, mercurial or unpredictable.

I have endeavoured to stick to the principle of not buying anything in making the bunnies. Remembering where lots of the bits came from has added to the fun I have had in making bunnies for this exhibition.
As adults, we often eschew childhood toys and forget the joy they gave us.   These bunnies are toys for adults and can be hung on the wall or sit on a shelf.  I  will post more photos over the next couple of weeks.  I hope my bunnies give you as much pleasure as they do me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cactus Country

A visit to Cactus Country -  friends' gardens hidden on a farming property at Strathmerton (on the Victorian side of the Murray River).

Click here for  a u tube for a bit of a look see as Jim talks about how he came to have acres of cactus.

The garden had more than enough flowers and lovely spiky plants to make our visit memorable. There is lots of inspiration for some textural embroidery and painting.    And an upcoming exhibition of art for the garden or comprising fibres from it in January 2018.  😍  

Also exciting - I will have an exhibition of garden art and some workshops in the garden in January 2018.

Here are some flower photos to wet your appetite:

Friday, May 12, 2017

The value of play

I have been very strict with myself recently.  I have not let myself digress from a big project which must be ready by the end of the month for photographing.

The project is comprised of three disparate parts which I have been working on irregularly over the past year and a half.   I have spent so much time thinking about the project and collecting materials that I thought I was much further on than I actually was.  Add to this a measure of procrastination and boredom (because I had over thought it all) I was feeling over the whole thing!  The project seemed to take forever to come close to finishing.   Drag on execrably in fact!

Anyway, the long and the short is that I decided to give myself a play day and do anything I wanted to – have a play 😊.     And I did.   I made some very simple doll forms (cat shapes) and stuffed them and painted them with gesso.   All so I could play with a bit of paint on cloth.   And I started to paint.

It was fun to do and took my attention away from 'The Project'.  

What I discovered was that whilst I was working on the cat forms I solved problems I was having in the design of an astronaut doll body which is to accompany one of the parts of the series of works.  
As the cat forms had to dry I had time to start the astronaut.  And I was happy to do so .  At this time all I had was an ear less head with no neck or body.

The day flew.  In the time I stuffed and painted the cats I worked out how to progress with the astronaut. Here is a photo of him in his skin so to speak.

His head is sculpted from polymer clay.   His gloves from Makins clay.    I have added some aluminum wire (which is baked into his shoulders) which allow me to pose his arms. I will paint is boots and gloves and I have some lovely aluminum foil snaffled from leftovers of a recently installed ducted heating system which will make his suit.  He will float in the air in front of a mixed fabric and felt “spacescape”.     And I worked out I could make a papier mache helmet and to stop fussing about a glass visor.

Conclusion:   Play gives you time to creatively solve problems.

Resolution:   Let myself play at least once a fortnight so I can step away from bigger projects which go to make a body of work.

What do you do to keep yourself happy and on track with your projects?  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Playing with paverpol

Had a play day with my daughter and we made diva's.   Well that's what they looked to me :-).

Materials -  Timber, wire and alfoil armature, interlock body, lace and braids all stiffened with tinted Paverpol.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Working towards exhibion, visits to Melbourne and Sydney

Part of Grandmother's Garden Installation for exhibtion in mid 2018

What have been up to since last post?   Not really hands on in the creation stakes.   Spent time in Melbourne keeping appointments and dodging rain.

I did get to op shop though and was pleased as punch as I picked up a lovely vintage tea pot, sugar bowl and milk jug which will complement the Grandmother's Garden installation I am working on. I am recylcling old and vintage embroideries  and playing with the hexagon shap which us the basis for the quilt pattern Grandmother's Garden.   In doing so I am remembering special times with my own grandmother who always set a "proper" table with embroidered table cloths and napkins.

And I picked up a couple of books on drawing fantasy figures.   Thinking they will have some inspiration for sculpting faces and different body forms.   One of the books set out its drawings based on the skeleton – much the same as the life drawing classed I had been going to.  Sadly the classes have missed out as they are on a Sunday and I seem to have been away from home for about the last five!!

And this last weekend I went to Sydney and caught up with an exhibiting group I am part of to finalise plans for our joint exhibition in 2018.    The deadline for finalising works to photograph is 1st of May – only a month away!    There will be a bit of panic between now and then as I have looked at my calendar and a lot of time has been blocked out already.   But I am a long way along and  when I review what I have done much closer to completion than I thought.

Whilst in Sydney I was taken to Designers on Show exhibtion.   It showcased and sold work of  Australian artists and designers in all mediums and included fine art, jewelry, homewares such printed designs on linen, hand made one of a kind hats, bespoke shoes and knitted items.  I could go on.  But instead I will go again next year.  It was inspiring.  I purchased a couple of cards of works by Jane Stapelford and one of her peg people.

I have been reading up on Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations and got information and a couple of sketches into my visual diary.    It has been fun and I have started a collection of ideas for a body of work.  

I am intrigued by the saying “as drunk as 400 rabbits”.   A group of Aztec gods called the Centzo Totochtin (also known as 400 rabbits) were associated the agave plant from which an alcoholic drink called maguey was made.  They partied hard it seems!  It was belived that the rabbit first discovered maguey by nibbling on an agave leaf.  Maguey was a ritual drink in Aztec times and the population at large were not permitted to drink it.    If you are interested you can find a little more information here .

My mind is humming with the thought of cartwheeling and leaping rabbits and how to make them😊

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Up date on doll making

In November last year I posted that I had become interested in doll making.

Whilst I haven’t written about it since but I have been slowly progressing with my skills.     

I got two craft orientated presents from my better half this last Christmas a: doll pattern by Cindee Moyer and an online course  with art doll maker Deb Wood through A for Artistic (no affiliations).   Deb's course was polymer clay face making over four weeks  I haven’t quite made the soft female faces that Deb makes but my faces have improved leaps and bounds.

Meet Arnold -  not quite the beautiful smiley girl I set out to create.    But he is alive with humour and is patiently waiting for a body.

The next face I made was more like an old crone.  But Deb kindly said she reminded her of one of her fairy godmothers.  I have made a few more and there are more faces in the pipeline..

Cindee's pattern was called "the Gatherer" and involved simple needle sculpting and a a lot of mixed media :-).

In the past I have resisted courses because I didn’t want to duplicate other peoples’ work or replicate their projects.   Silly me!   Very rarely is anything ever exactly the same.   And now I realise that have missed opportunities to learn.   But most importantly I have missed making friendships and connections in the creative community.  

And of course like everything in life, if you want to get better one must practice, practice, practice.  Which is fun, fun, fun when it comes to creating.  

To this end I have been working on a small series of cloth dolls which I have called Garden Girls.   They are simple skittle shape and the  purpose is to practice painting faces  and designs on cloth.  This is Lily who is singing in the garden.

I have heaps of idea to work on  - recorded in my visual diary   The trick is to remember to look through it occasionally :-).

So where am I going next in this doll making adventure ?   I will keep at the faces and bring embroidery back into the bodies or the costumes that I put on them.    I have ideas tucked away in my visual diary for garden girl variations and will remember to look at them.

And I am finalising pieces for a group exhibition with Six Running Feet.   We are five textile artists who have each worked on pieces which reflect what "off the beaten track" means to us.   We have a date next year and I will tell more next week.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Reasons to write and draw in a journal

I write just about every morning and record my thoughts.  It’s a habit I kept after reading and completing the exercises contained in The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.   I haven't quite got this discipline with the blog and when life is full, as it has been the last few months, the blog loses out .

Sometimes my pages are meaningless… verbal blah about family, garden and domestic chores.   But I keep writing.  There have been occasions I write about the fact that I don’t know what to write about for 2 pages.   But by keeping writing the subconscious bubbles and ideas rise to the surface.

A very recent example  of this relates to a discussion with a Garden and Cafe venue I have been having about mounting an outdoor show .

The garden is are broken up into subcontinental regions such as Africa, the Americas etc and I had got caught up in trying to do something which would reflect the whole of the gardens.  My ideas were becoming too broad and my research for inspiration too far reaching!   The solution came out of the blue when writing one morning.  So obvious – stick to one region!   I had got so caught up with the idea of capturing the whole the gardens I couldn't get past that point.

I have an interest in pre-Columbian history so the Americas became the obvious choice.   Since then I have narrowed the theme down to Mesoamerica: early settlement in the Mexican basin and south to the areas which encapsulate Columbia and Peru.

Ceramic figure of seated woman (AD50- 200) – trace of red pigment 

Serendipity also played a part in this choice.   I am an op shopper and if given the chance will not pass up the opportunity to visit and op shop.  Very recently I came across (and away) with a publication called El Dorado Columbian Gold.  This book accompanied an exhibition of a selection of ancient gold objects from the Museo Del Oro, Bogota, Colombia in the major galleries in each of the States of Australia in 1978.    It is full of amazing photos and very good text.    This complements  other books in my library which focus on textiles, architecture and sculpture in the region. 

An anthropomorphic Tairona bat pectoral (AD900-1600) . Photograph: Museo del Oro, Colombia
Now I am chock full of ideas that can be interpreted in both assemblage, contemporary clays and metal work embroidery.  Bliss.

Image result for peruvian textiles books

Next step is to go one further with recording and start getting ideas from a text format to sketches.   The hardest part for me.   This is, I think, because I have been mulling ideas over in my head for quite a while and just want to get on with it and get my hands dirty or stab some cloth.   But I have learnt that my design and execution is almost always better when I do this step.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Inner City Vibes

I have forgotten how vibrant and busy an inner city is.  Not only the traffic and people but the streets:

Banksy in lane way in inner Melbourne

Lane ways in Brunswick East

Bicycles near a cafe

Surpise in a shop window

Art work by 23rd key outside Banksy exhibition

And the old and the new juxtaposed in the streetscape

After six weeks I will be glad to be home to the quiet of my country town.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello 2017

Goodbye 2016. 

You were a ride! 

We moved house – not just across town but across the state.     

Sun set

Our house is up high and we have the most entrancing views across the town of bush covered hills and an ever changing ‘cloudscape’.  Some days it is difficult to actually move from the table – weather watching can be so absorbing.

We made some new friends and managed to stay in touch with old ones: and have even reconnected with people we haven’t seen for 10 years plus!

I have a new and, even better, established garden which I love.    And a dedicated space in which I can make.   But old habits die hard and there is a definite ebb and flow of all sorts of materials from my studio.

I have managed to keep making art – though that has been a bit sporadic of late.

And most wonderful of all my partner has a new kidney … thanks to his donor brother.   They both came out of hospital on Christmas eve and both are doing well J.   We are in Melbourne till the end of January and then home.    (So miss my bed – it will be about seven weeks away by the time we get there).

With a gift of a kidney comes a new freedom and we are no longer tied to a machine.   We will be able to take more than a night away and we plan to explore the country about us – free range road trips.   Expect to see some photos posted during the year of the world about me.  

 And I will keep making.   For Christmas I got a book on Scottish Folk tales.    Look out for more fey folk inspired by tales of brownies, bogles and selkies.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Filling the creative well

I have been back and forth to Melbourne several times in the past couple of months.  Add to that a trip to Sydney, a trip to Canberra and one to Swan Hill.  Travel has taken its toll on creative endeavours.    On the plus side, I have seen new or revisited familiar vistas which add to the well to be drawn on at some time in the future.

Entrance to a café in Seymour:

The Mangoplah Pub:

 Canola paddocks between Albury and Wagga Wagga ;

Public Art in South Bank:

Mural at Victoria Market;

Murray River at Swan Hill:

And amazing clouds  just about very trip:

Not quite a self portrait

Not quite a self portrait
small 8' quiltlet with embroidered hair

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