Wednesday 27 March 2013

before i die

when in South Australia [ie home]
i mostly hang about in places like this

but every now and then
i find myself in places that are not quite so open

i was taking a short-cut the other day
through the back streets
and happened to look left at that corner
before i turned right
 which set me thinking
what do i want to do
before i die?

the statement at bottom left sounds like a plan.
top right looks good too.

a few more definite things floated through the greyspace
i want to learn to swing dance
[and find someone who would like to learn it with me]
i want to play more music
to grow a garden again and stay home in it
with a Dog [as well as Martha and her friends] .

but really
i suspect it really boils down to this

before i die
i want to reach a healthy, lucid and luminous old age
with love, joy, enthusiasm and curiosity

what would you write on the pole, if i gave you a piece of chalk?

Sunday 24 March 2013

piglet report

in case you were wondering
Kowhai [the piglet]
is doing just fine
somewhat comatose in these pix
from a day of romping with assorted dogs, cats and humans
[the top pic shows her snoozing on her favourite lap]

Wednesday 20 March 2013

a Good Day

i fed the piglet
[this will be the chorus of today's song, repeat every three lines]

the picture is blurry because milk makes Kowhai wriggle with delight

then i fed myself

washed down with

the picture shows the 'before'
it tastes good after the relevant buttons have been pressed
but is less attractive...
[then i fed the piglet again]

Sam would like the piglet to be HIM.

Felix was unimpressed.

Max didn't care

after a while i wandered off down a backroad
a little out of my own patch

signs were in the sky

and by the road

and when i stopped to have a look at something over a fence
a border collie shimmied silently along
gave me an appraising look

and came over for a cuddle
...bonus dog therapy!!

putting me in high good spirits
i went home again
and after yet more pig-feeding
made another book

taking advantage of the discount offer
available until March 31
and highly recommended!

Monday 18 March 2013


idling through the Saturday papers [just a few days late]
with my coffee this morning
i stumbled upon something that looks remarkably like
a daydream i've been having for some years now

a place with a lake of its own
90 acres to plant and grow a collection of the best eucalypts [in terms of dyeing]
with an average rainfall of 1030 mm - that's 40.55 in inches
to sustain them...that's twice what we get at Mount Pleasant

it has a big old stone woolshed
just perfect for workshops [and dancing]
along with a separate storage building
that would make a rather nice gallery
the house has three bedrooms
and another room that could also become one
together with three bathrooms
so up to six people could live in for small classes 
work at their own pace
perhaps even take a longer residency

be nourished in body by food grown on the property
served in the lovely dining room
and in spirit by wandering the wonderful landscape in which the house sits
[really nice people would be allowed to help weed the garden
which is very good for the soul]

it's well away from other dwellings
[so i imagine that star-gazing would be fabulous]
but within 10 minutes of a freeway link to Adelaide
meaning far less frustration-by-caravan/horsefloat/grapetruck

there's space to create a walled vegetable garden
where chickens could have a fox-proof palace
and indigo could be grown 
safe from the hot north winds

and there would be plenty of room for a helpful border collie
as well as a flock of pet sheep for her to manage
if you look at the picture carefully
you'll see there is even a resident rainbow

the only catch is that there's a price tag of $2million
i can't even imagine that in marbles
let alone find it in dollars., i don't suppose there are a thousand brides out there wanting to commission wedding dresses, perchance?
i look forward to hearing from them. SOON.

i'll be here playing with those amulets...
and nursing Kowhai the piglet

Sunday 17 March 2013

felt stone part the third

i am writing this post with a lapful of sleeping infant 
fulfilling my grandmotherly duties because
my soft-hearted Eldest performed a rescue at the local ag show yesterday
[that's a 'fair', for North American readers]
but as she's working interstate this week
and can't possibly get the documents required when transporting livestock
i have volunteered to mind the baby

i don't know why the picture is upside down
you can see how charming she is

i'm also very proud because my son-in-law
came first in his class of the Speed Shearing
and was also awarded a trophy for Best Butt on the Board
...yes, dear reader, there is such a thing.
all the shearers line up with their backs to the audience
and take a bow.
Rangi's posterior was judged the prettiest.

but enough giggling, back to the matter at hand.
if you recall
we had left the pouch and stone
bundled and redyed

hanging to dry
with a stone inside to keep the shape

the straps turned out just as i had hoped

and the pouch was quite sweet
[seen here with magnifying glass on an extra strap]

but clearly there was still room for improvement

so i gathered up a few useful bits
and a small bead tray
[my cats love me for buying these special beading trays]

and began to play

here's a closer view

and here's the key to all the bits
and where they are from

i'm not entirely sure i have quite finished
it is such a joy to stitch on felt
which has good body
and in which loose ends can be so nicely hidden

it is also a very good sign
when i get excited by new teaching ideas
and can't put them down myself

could go rather well together too

and now i'd better prepare a bottle for the baby.

it was quite cold and limp yesterday
and had to sit on its great-grandmother's lap for some  
and bonding

now it has a voracious appetite.

+  +  +

in case you've only just joined us
the rest of the story can be found here

part one
part two

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Je prends un demi,s'il vous plaît

the felt+stone story continues

as any experienced feltmaker will have surmised
felting on stone does not allow for much "shrinkage"
as there is a solid object at the core of operations
and therefore the felt will not have been fulled to completion

i was pondering this notion
and mentally labelled it "semi-felt"
which led to the French "demi-feutre"
[which would more properly be "demi-feutré"]

but then the German possibilities were not so snappy
..."halb-filz" lacks energy
and "halb-gefilzt" sounds positively insulting
[even though German is my first language]

but enough musing. the felted stone shown in the earlier post
which, incidentally
began with scoured, undyed white merino wool
came out of the dyepot richly cocoa-coloured
which is how i wanted it

curiously, the inside layer, close to the stone
was a rich silver grey. a cause de quoi? je ne sais pas.
but i'm thinking about it.

anyway i had a plan for this little sample
having an eye of seeing [small magnifying glass]
that was beginning to become a bit scratched through its residence in an apron pocket
and needing something soft that i could hang around my neck
to keep the glass within reach

+  +  +

demi-felt [a good bit sturdier than pre-felt]  
is delightful to stitch upon.
and stitching is a good means of securing the slightly fuzzy surface

in the course of stitching
the object began to resemble [in shape] the purse of a ram lamb
as the stitching had pulled it in somewhat
[in Australia the testicles and scrota of sheep are referred to obliquely as "stones" and "purses". go figure. and then think about what a sporran might originally have been made from]
not attractive

the great thing about felting with wool
is that it is a continuous and ongoing process
[also irreversible despite what people mumble about the use of Fuller's Earth and stretching]
i thought i would go back to basic principles and play with the notion of
"shocking" the wool
by dipping it first in very hot and then in very cold, water

which worked a treat 
as well as offering a happy reassurance about the substantivity [i made have just made that word up] of eucalyptus dyes

as you can see, no colour is leaching into that very hot water at all

before i began the re-felting 
i drew around the object on an old envelope
so i would be able to compare shrinkage [or not]

as it turned out, once it had been shocked
and then re-shaped [with the help of another, smaller stone]
it hadn't really lost much volume at all
although the stitching now sits nicely into the surface
rather than looking like the icing on a slightly strange cupcake

the next challenge was to bring the stitching [mostly glaring white, which i had initially thought would be rather nice] closer to the colour of the pouch itself
sometimes things are better when you have to discover them through investigation
rather than being glaringly obvious [both in actuality and as metaphor]

so i pootled down to the creek [sadly dry]
for a bit of windfall gathering
wrapped the pouch around another stone to help it keep its shape
[remember that wool has the memory of an elephant for what happens to it] 
and then nestled my little treasure
into a pot full of [windfall, gathered from a city carpark] citriodora leaves
which were once classified as eucalyptus but have now been renamed corymbia
by the white-coated botany-boffins

i poured in the water that had been used for felting
[no soap or wetting agents used, so no dramas]
tossed in the rind of a lemon that was lying on the sink
[extra acidity always makes for better eucalyptus colour - which is why the need for alum as mordant escapes me]

+   +   +

  why am i making small things?
firstly because i need a small pouch for that wee glass
and secondly,
because it's dawned on me that with the rises in airfares
and increase in the cost of accompanying bags
those of us travelling to workshops [whether as student or forest guide] are feeling the pain in our hip pockets
i'm playing* with ways of making small things
through which many techniques and tricks can be learned

small things are easier to finish in class
there are less materials to carry [for the student, at least]
and with the application of a little thought
all of the learning can be applied to larger objects in the student's own studio

part 3 of this series follows soon

+   +   +

*  remember the words of George Bernard Shaw...
"we don't cease to play because we grow old, we grow old because we cease to play"

Monday 11 March 2013

it was so hot i felt like dyeing

these images are for those of you who think 
that eucalyptus
needs to be boiled for hours and hours

when you boil eucalyptus for more than an hour
what happens is
the kino in the leaf is released
making everything

in this instance
brown and also well-boiled felt
is exactly what i wanted
i'm not finished with this object
just yet

Saturday 9 March 2013

loose ends

the Wild Rose came home for the weekend
and was persuaded to try on this dress
commissioned by
Company Miji
[i designed and made the cozzies for their production 
Reliquary a couple of years ago]

her well-meaning but not wildly bright friend Molly
Molly is more Staffy than Border Collie
but has Very Good Intentions

i too had good intentions today
and spent my daylight hours
alternately hand-stitching on the dress
virtually stitching on my website
which had been a little neglected

i also put together a small book
with images and the text

Friday 8 March 2013

writings on walls and printing in books

a sweet set of pix over at Shell-nola
reminded me that i had promised to put the wall-text
on my blog in readable form

but before i do
i want to show you what arrived in yesterday's mailbag

 exquisitely made by fellow wayfarer Ronnie
it will accompany me on my travels

and now here's that wall text. if you click on it it will get bigger.

i'm getting around to putting images and text together
for muddy waters
perhaps on blurb. we'll see.