Thursday, 1 September 2011

Being Creative or not

At the moment I am doing that nervous wobble that I tend to do before most things I have not done or when I take a step in a new direction.  I know it is a nervous wobble but it does not stop the wobble happening.  I can be as logical as I like the panic and anxiety is still going to be round to cause my heart to be almost jumping out of my chest cavity.

What am I doing going off to university to do an arts course?  You are a happy meddler not someone who is an art student.  I know I am taking a leap into the unknown. My drawing skills are not creative in 3D I can do 2 D and architectural drawings.  I am going off to do that thing I craved for years something creative.

I think the problem has been that I denied my creative urge for so long that I forgot or suppressed that I am creative.  I had to be to manage my busy life working, being a parent and all that.  I worked in fields were I was required to demonstrate my creative problem solving so why do I think I am not creative enough to be a creative arts student.

For so long I put my creative practice on hold that I have undermined my own self confidence and even though I have been craving, wanting  and needing to be creative I have obscured it by my other obligations of work, family, pets and the crumbling house. I am still a failure at housework but I now have a good excuse to be absolutely lousy.  As I can no longer to put off being creative until later.  I have to be creative now.

The thing is I have to somehow work my creativity back into my everyday life cause it permeates everything you do. It is every breath, moment and mundane task.  Yes it is washing dishes the creativity is how you do the mundane task. If I let my creative self back out of the box I have have locked it away  it will suddenly become infused with my creative flair.

What do I need to be creative in my mundane life? It is taking the time and making the effort to have short chunks of creative time. It is a five minutes here and there through out the day.  Besides the mundane tasks it also means just taking time during the day to create something whether this is a quick sketch or is the arrangement of flowers in dining room.  Take the time to be creative.

Friday, 26 August 2011

First University Task

Well now I know the summer is definitely over. Life has been a little complicated due to the continuing medication adjustment so we have not managed much on the reorganisation but I have been chipping away at it.  Still have a long way to go but I will just have to keep chipping at it. I have just received my first university task.  I have homework and hubby is giggling madly over the fact that I am now an artsy student.

This first task is called Circles of One. It requires me to do a collection box of circular items that can include photos or images that have an association with my personality. In addition to the collection I am also required to complete a sketchbook which explores the object and the personal attribute it represents. From the sketchbook exercise I am to produce 3 images or object (30 x 30 cm) using any media to represent three aspects of myself.  All of this work has to be completed by 12th September 2011. As it will be used to introduce yourself to others and as part of the first project task of the course.

So I am being a busy little art student and started collecting some images between the medication induced granny naps. But if the hubby keeps needling me about beads and the hippy arts student I might become the angry little art student.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Getting my house in order

William Morris himself once said, " Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,  and at the moment the house and my coal bunker has some excess poundage in the forms of items that do not meet this criteria. After surviving the last couple of weeks of crazy workloads and PDP assignment tasks I am starting on a chip away at the stuff and junk items in the house and my coal bunker.  Someone who wont be mentioned when told to sort out his junk put it in the coal bunker on more than one occasion so I get to sort through it a second time.

So we are currently working on sorting through the additional items in this house , some are junk and others are for charity, some have been recycled and some will be upcycled to suit our purposes.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


It was the 1999 movie Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline which first introduced the family visually to the modern trend of Steampunk in our isolated location in the Northern Territory.  We of course had been exposed to the start of steampunk culture through the literature of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells but not to the visual culture other than our own imaginations.  One of my favourite novels as a child was "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea" which had a futuristic machine for the time period.  This love of science fiction and fantasy is also shared by other members of the family and as a whole we have a significant literature collection in the genre from the early 1980s onwards.

To today's society the Verne and Wells books are now classed as old-fashioned or passe ideas but when they were written they were very futuristic in nature.  So what is Steampunk visually it is best described generally as a blend of Victoriana and the modern age through the mechanics of steam, cogs and traditional engineering. It is technology mixed with fantasy with a dash of alternative history.

Steampunk has become a mainstream sub theme in the fashion industry with the use of intricate integrated cogs and gears into designer clothing.  While locally there is not a cosplay scene, the world wide scene is taking this trend forward.   Since the outfits and accessories are not easily purchasable and the feature of customised role play this genre is highly supported by the individual creative community.  There is even a sub genre of steampunk within music. Recent films such as Van Helsing (2004), Around the World in 80 days (2004), The League of Extrodinary Gentlemen (2003), Hellboy (2004), The Golden Compass (2007), Stardust (2007) and even Sherlock Holmes (2010) have elements of steampunk which can be observed within the costuming of the main characters and movie props. 

Daughter and I got into steampunk as we both don't have the body shapes that fit modern highs street fashion and the aesthetics of the mixture of old and modernism appeals to our fantasy loving minds. While we mostly have some pieces of steampunk jewellery we have purchased a couple of clothing items.  For example the daughter's prom dress is made out of recycled silk ties but has some classic Victorian styling that makes it a steampunk item.  Daughter is not a Goth but steampunk can also be a observed as subgenre for the gothic movement.  I have also made some clothing for the daughter that blend steampunk themes into modern clothing so daughter has unique items for her tall bird boned thin body.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


So I have started to complete all the student paper work to enable me to go on the course such as student finance and the disabled student's allowance. I am in the process of organising an occupational health assessment at home and then I will need to get one done for the course. I need a new assessment for home as my condition has deteriorated from the last assessment a few years ago.

I have had fun few weeks with the various medicos prodding and poking me and it appears that I am still a favourite guinea pig with my unusual medical history.  This many tropical diseases are not normal in the UK and then my great auto immunities mixing with the side effects. The Fibromyalgia is kicking hard and I am having to learn to new control strategies which hopefully will be in place by September 2011.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

So I am on the course... Have I lost all my marbles?

Well I will give you some benefit that I have a few marbles missing already. Hello  I did move from Australia to the UK it is normally the other way round. Lately some of the extended family did that thing when you are taking a leap into the great unknown that you really don't need. They put a couple of seeds of doubt into this brain who regularly goes into double time overload speed. 

Fortunately for me I have some really good friends who helped to snap me out of the funk I was in and reminded me that I can do this. Yeap it is time to grow a set and reclaim the previous crown of being a total black sheep in my family as an undisciplined Flibbertigibbet. Apparently I am flighty whimsical female who does not know how to be responsible. Tough life is for the living rather than just existing and complying to external expectations. 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Quilting and other textile items

I have been a patchworker and quilter since a small child. I did my first quilt using hand techniques.  It was a hexagon quilt in the pattern called grandmother's flower garden.

I have made quilts for most of the family.  I am currently working on a crazy quilt which has the theme of the Southern Cross.

When doing a quilt I like to make up sample to confirm the piecing plan and colour combinations.  I made the appliqué rose quilt for my sister in law in 1992.

Appliqué Rose sample

A couple of years a go I made a tropical fish theme quilt that was given to a favourite cousin. The sample of the piece is below. I embroidered eyes and used coloured stippling to create the effect of seaweed on the final piece.

Tropical Fish sampler

Besides knitting, spinning and weaving I have also dyed and felted yarn.

Hand dyed yarn and felted headband.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Silver and Metal
At one stage I did the introduction to Silversmithing with the NT Crafts Council while I enjoyed I found at the time I was struggling to get supplies coming up Southern Australia when one of the biggest silver mines in Australia was 40 miles out of town. In this class I made a ring for my Aunt and I made a set of napkins made out of old silver forks brought at the local antique shop which were given to a friend as a wedding gift.

Pearls knotted on clear line
With the glass one of the favourite things I like is dichromatic glass and the effects it provides.  I started the lampwork and enjoyed the sessions using the mandrel and canes for the making of beds but at the time I was not able to set up a lamp work station at home due to the layout of the house and the safety issues of young children.  When we moved to the UK I found out that each summer in Turkey there are a number of short courses to teach Turkish glass techniques and I have been looking for the opportunity to get back into glass and do further work in developing my glass skills.

I did an introduction to Leather forming as part of a Venetian Leather mask making course which unfortunately due to illness I was not able to complete and I missed attending a follow up course due to time constraints with my workplace and family. The one thing I have is a small bracelet that I not been able to wear for years.  No longer the skinny minny of my teenage and early 20s years.

Lately I have been experimenting with knitted jewellery items. I have been working with different forms of metallic wire.

Silk Painting

I love the effect of silk painting particularly the bright jewels colours. My wedding dress had a silk painted yoke which was embellished with embroidery. I have made a number of crazy quilting vests using silk painting and machine embroidery.
Sample practice of machine
embroidery techniques

I am currently hand quilting a silk painted panel that I am using in quilt project bag.

This bag is big enough to carry a cutting mat behind the quilted internal panel.  There are six pockets for the storage of templates and rulers. The other side is draw string pocket so current projects are able to be stored in one project bag while being easily transported from home to guild meetings.


I have done a range of glass activities from architectural to creative. Some of the techniques that I have previously used and experimented with include:

  • lead lighting - traditional stained glass
  • copper foiling
  • enamelling
  • sandblasting
  • acid etching
  • hand painted glass
  • slumping
  • fusing
  • dichroic glass
  • Flamework or lampwork for beads

I have tried glass blowing but was advised due to my severe asthma I was not a suitable candidate for a glass blowing. I have visited a number of glass studios and learnt about techniques. While mostly working in jewellery techniques I do have some experience in architectural including designing a new window and restoration of existing window. Between St Mary's Star of the Sea War Memorial Cathedral and my high school alma mater, Stuartholme and its chapel window my fascination for modern stained glass was developed through many years of association. I attended the Cathedral primary school and my family has a close association with the Cathedral. I was baptised, confirmed and married in St Mary's Cathedral. I have also made a few lamps for family members.  My first lamp is in the picture below and was made over 20 years ago.

Spinning and Plying

This year as part of my personal knitting challenge I have decided that I will make at least 6 shawls from fibre which I have spun. Spinning wise after Knit camp in Scotland last year where I enjoyed a number of classes including a session with Deb Robson.  I also attended an interesting session with the Jamierson and Smith wool grader and buyer, Oliver Henry. A side effect of this talk and session with Oliver is that I came home with four Shetland fleeces which need processing.  I also have other fibres which need spinning up.

I have been working on developing my laceweight knitting.  The shawl on the right is my first shawl made out of my own first attempt at lace weight yarn.
One of the biggest problem I have when starting to spin is deciding on the end product as I have to ensure that I get enough yarn from my fibre after plying to complete the intended project.
Merino sliver top waiting to be spun

Gorse Honey
I have some earlier yarn examples such as the Gorse Honey which I am planning to weave.  I have done four skeins in the Gorse Honey so far I have done one short scarf with one skein.

The Gorse Honey had a metallic thread added to the sliver and this will catch the light.

I find with practice my skill with spinning is becoming better. I have started to use other ply techniques such as Navaho plying. I have some alpha tips which I am working upto as I will have to dye them as well.


When I did the hand building course as part of my Ceramics for Teaching we got a one off chance to use a pre-mould and cast an object.  The school had a traditional styled Chinese Lion and I learnt about pouring a casting slip.  This lion was bisque fired with a under glaze treatment after sanding and smoothing the cast mould marks.  He sits in our kitchen gardening our food and has stood up well to his guard position

I have used other moulding techniques for various craft situations including resin and mosaics. 

Box making

It must be at least 20 years since I made this box as part of a box making class. To think that it has been in use for so long with only minimal signs of wear.

I have some boxes that I need to make for the home. Like anyone who has been to the Grand National I have a hat or two that needs an appropriate storage box. Hat boxes are again becoming in vogue as people realise there is still a need for the glamour hat and after shelling out a serious amount of cash  on this it is worth storing them properly.

I have found a millenary school who do short courses and accreditation course and I want to do some of the courses. I want to develop more skills from the re-blocking of hats that my grandmother taught me do one summer holidays. I always wanted to learn basic millenary as I have a head that does not fit standard shop sizes. Grandmother promised to teach me but unfortunately she died before she go the opportunity to do so.  I have recently been investigating millenary and shoe making classes and there are intensive courses available in London and Birmingham

Recycling textile materials

For a while I have been buying recycled kimono fabric. I have used some for quilting projects but I have also been keeping some for potential resin projects as the patterns would provide great embellishments for jewellery.

I also have some old jumpers that we dont wear but can bear to throw out due to sentimental reasons.  I want to steek these and make cushions out of them.  There are two Norfolk Island jumpers that were brought by my maternal grandmother.  They have been hand knitted but unfortunately the wool is too course for me and I find them to be very hot to wear so they get little use.

Friday, 18 March 2011


For many years I did the traditional weaving of my local area where plant material where woven into baskets, mats and carry bags. I even did tapestry weaving and I have previously done some loom weaving. For my birthday last year I was given a cricket tabletop ridge and heddle loom.

I struggled in finding the appropriate colour warp

I found that with the knitting requirements of the household before Christmas I did not get the time to play. Since Christmas I have been working on my loom skills and found that with practice I get some nice effects.

close up of first necktie made on new loom

Daughter modelling tie made out of my own spun yarn.
I have a few ideas of different textiles techniques I want to create on the loom.

  1. A Long colour pooling
  2. Want to try using some of the metallic core yarn as weft to see if I can have a fabric for hat construction or purse construction

Recycle and reuse

From my childhood in the Northern Territory I have a habit of recycle and reuse including adaptation for new purposes. It was probably due to the restrictive access to new materials that I inherited the ethos of made do and mend.  This as extended through out my life and now I look at materials for new creations from what I can score from other sources.

I recently acquired a vintage steamer trunk on ebay that was not suitable for a vintage restoration but could be adapted to a new purpose. Generally most people make these into coffee tables but I wanted to use this for my yarn or fibre stash. Eventually I want to have it functioning suitable for trunk showings so therefore a mobile classroom and item storage. When not travelling I want it as the storage for my yarn stash and I want a unique representation of my yarn tools.

I recently found another trunk on ebay which had considerable more insight into the original layout.  It looks very similar to my carcass bones and has the same dimensions of 43"x23"x22".

My wardrobe has elements from both these trunks but is not is as good as nick as these two.  I have to fix the holes, hinges and remove the blackboard paint.  One of the brass corners need replacing but I could replace the lot with a new corner design still thinking about the options.  The fabric lining in mine is ripped and I can see evidence of drawers that are a cross between cabinet one and two in the picture. I have a lock well for a bag or shoe box in the hanger door but I do not have the box.  I was thinking about creating a needle storage box that could be removed for use.

I seem to have evidence of small drawers on top and large draws on the bottom with the leather strap and steel bar down the back. On the drawer I have I don't have any handles so I want to make handles the reflect the theme of yarn and fibre. I want the draw fronts to be clear so I can display colours and temp potential buyers for my yarn. I want one large draw at the bottom for samples of items and kit packs.

To List or ideas so far

  1. Needle store box.
  2. Blocking wire kits
  3. Clear fronted drawers
  4. Handles for draws
  5. Replacement leather straps
  6. Replacement lining fabric
  7. Needle Gauge
  8. Project storage bags?
  9. Storage for bobbins and spinning accessories
  10. Storage for cricket loom.
  11. replacement of corner brass and edging to match the theme

Restoration of a Philip Poore Wendy spinning wheel

I already had a Pipy spinning wheel by Philip Poore and could not believe my luck when I walked past a charity shop and saw a wheel in the window. Amongst the hand spinners from Australia and New Zealand this craftsman is famous for his wheels, looms and continued relationship he has with crafters.  

Fortunately, I had done some research into my Pipy wheel (saxony style) and found out that Poore also made another three models of wheels Wendys, Polys and Sprites so I was able to recognise the craftsmanship of a Poore piece. When asking about the wheel the shop said they thought it was probably only a decorator piece as the wheel did not turn although they had some bobbins that came with it.  

I was not going to leave this piece of design and great instrument to neglect any longer the wheel had to come home with me. At home I proceeded to investigate why it was not a working wheel as there was so much dirt and dust on her I had to wash her down carefully while inspecting her components.

I was after my initial cleaning as I started to work out the different spinning component of the wheel did it click that the bobbin had been inserted incorrectly and that she was seized up .  So the wheel was given its first oil change and lube in almost 40 years.  She worked the wheel rotated but by gum did she have a squeak.

Looking at the leathers it was had to realise that these were once leather.  The leathers were oiled to get them moving too.  The squeak was still there but not as bad.  I found a local saddle maker/ repairer and asked him to cut me from his girth strap scraps a replacement foot plate leather as the one I had was perishing and this new leather was fitted.  She still had a squeak but it was much improved on the first .  It appears that with use and the repeated application of machine oil to metal components plus the wood waxing and oiling that the squeak is no longer occurring thanks to usage.  If I don't use her as much as she wants she has a mini squeak until she is warmed up.

The Wendy wheel has been up to Scotland and had number of fibres. Deb Robson has had a go on her and called her sweet while also providing additional advice for repairing the squeak. A side effect to the workshop at Stirling University is that wheel has an appointment this year with four Shetland fleeces I accquired from the Oliver Henry, head wool classer of Jameson and Smith  once I have washed and prepared them.

The Wendy has been repaired and put back into working order is a classic example of a handcrafted design which is recognised by the signature of Phillip Poore's styling and care to produce a functional wheel that enables others to create.  Eventually I would like to have an example of his other two wheels but for the Sprite wheel I can see this being a expensive investment when and if one becomes available as they are a very rare model of his work.

This restoration project is not finished as I need to create a protective storage and travelling case for her so she can be enjoyed for another fifty years.

I also think although she has a built in lazy kate for two ply she would benefit from a floor mounted 3 ply lazy kate to enhance the creation

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Habu textiles

Hubu textiles are a Japanese textiles producer who mainly cater for weavers. They have some interesting yarns including a stainless steel core yarn. The stainless steel yarn comes in two types:
  1. Silk with stainless steel core
  2. Marino with stainless steel core
Apparently according to the Habu textiles this yarn can be used for a range of applications from clothing, jewellery and accessories. I have ordered some to play with the yarn as I want to test the capability, some initial ideas and uses with other materials.

Some of the techniques I wish to attempt with this is:
  1. knitting
  2. crochet
  3. weaving
  4. french knitting
Knitted swatch Rt washed
Potential uses:

  1. Jewellery as a rope backing for pearls or other beads in the necklace or bracelet.
  2. Could do shapes like a handkerchief ruffle and could have the ruffle on a torque 
  3. Look at the structural capabilities to represent shapes.
  4. Lamp shade or tealight shade
  5. handbag or hat with shaping.
  6. Mixed media sculpture.
  7. Could it be used with other materials to create flat ware.