Thursday, December 20, 2007

Earthquake in my home town

Just before 9 oclock last night there was a rather severe earthquake in my beloved home town of Gisborne, New Zealand. The shops in the town were particularly hard hit, with stock tumbling from shelves. Heather my sister in law who has a shoe shop in the town told me that it appeared that the walls seemed to push out and a lot of ceilings collapsed in the shops, the building her shop is located in, is not that old, so escaped relatively unscathed, and as you know you can throw a shoe and it doesnt break. The town area has been locked down until the damage has been assessed and it is deemed safe again. A lot of the shops will be closed for quite a long time as damage is excessive. Gisborne is a lovely historical city on the East Coast of the North Island, (first city of the sun) it has some wonderful old buildings, unfortunately these have been damaged. Over the years Gisborne has lost a lot of its historical buildings to earthquakes, it is really sad to see it losing its character and charm as these beautiful peices of architecture are replaced with modern buildings lacking in soul changing the whole landscape. I have experienced many earthquakes in Gisborne and they are really scarey, such an unknown force of nature. Most of the big ones occur at night, you wake up with a jolt and hold your breath waiting to see how severe it is going to be. Every year while I attended school we would have earthquake drill, but when you awake to one, it is hard to remember what you should do when you are in a state of panic. Heather was cleaning up her home, where jams, chutney, sauces etc had crashed to the floor, breaking and spreading a sticky mess over everything. My nephew was on his computor when the television attached to the wall crashed down, luckily it didnt hit him.
The image on the top of our website is an early photo of the main street in Gisborne, if you can see one of the buildings is Howchow's dining rooms, this was my great grandfathers.
I have really fond memories of christmas eve in Gisborne, where they closed the streets to traffic at 6.oo pm and all the young ones run amok on the road with water pistols etc running into the toilets in the movie theatres to refill, all harmless fun. Before coming to Australia John always had work christmas parties (any excuse for a booze up) so I would take the kids into town, we would have tea at a restuarant then the kids would have fun on the closed street while I finished last minute shopping. This was such a tradition that the kids never forget, it was such a safe place for them, nothing bad ever happened then. I believe that is not quite the case anymore. My thoughts are with you all in Gisborne, as it is always at this time of the year.

Merry Christmas to you all

Best wishes for 2008, may it be a creative prosperous year for you all. Above is the Christmas Journal I put in an earlier blog displayed on my lovely old chipped paint mantle peice, of course there is no fire opening behind the mantlepeice, I just love it to display pretty things on.
These are sitting on top of the heater that sits below the mantlepeice. Can you see that lovely old shoe last still with a scrap of old metal, all rusty on top.And this lovely little old metal cabinet sits in the corner of the window above the bench in the kitchen. Its a lovely faded mint colour. This little cabinet along with the shoe last, I bought while on my week away with my sisters. I ended up buying two of these cabinets, the other is cream and its in my studio. Why two, well they are hard to find, really cheap $25 each and I could always find somewhere to put them. Use them in displays at fairs as well. Well have I justified my purchases.

This christmas I have not put up as many decorations as usual, time was a big factor. I like to put these green swags of eucalytus leaves and nuts that I got several years ago, on the top of the curtains, only thing is close up view of said curtains showed how dusty they where. Consequently curtains had to be dragged down to wash along with the long lacey ones over the doors above. Hanging the curtains on the line the long curtains had disintergrated into great big holes, much to large to disguise as antique lace, so ended up in the bin. Fortunately I had a set of these lovely gauzy curtains I had bought from Freedom about a year ago waiting for the bedroom to be painted, saved the day and I like the way they puddle on the floor.

Today is the last day the shop is open until I re-open on the 2nd January 2008. I have 4 of my granddaughters here scrapbooking while Jo wraps christmas gifts. I find with the shop I dont really get much chance to just be Grandma and I really enjoy their company. I will have 2 of my grandchildren from the country staying with us for a few days after christmas, I intend to not try and do anything ie housework and just enjoy them. Hope you all enjoy the break as well.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas at Artistic Journey

The christmas tree we have in the window is one we have had for about 4 years, the first year I had it at home, then the next year I brought it into the shop where it looked lovely and snowy white, but the next year when we went to put it up one side had yellowed. We guessed the sun had yellowed it so we turned it around so the white side looked out the window and this year we have a very vintage looking tree, sun can be good!!!
This year we didnt have a lot of time to make new decorations so we used what we had and made a woodsy tree, we had these long twisted bare branch's that the dear Sunny had got for us at a sale in a nursery, so draped them around the tree. Popped in some nest's with quail's eggs that we had in the window previously and occassianally there would be a loud crack like someone had thrown a stone at the window but on closer inspection, one of the eggs had exploded in the sun, pooh the sulpher smell. Some old artificial rose garlands seemed to fit in nicely a few of Anthony's (Jo's Husband) rustic bird houses and tin teddy bears and wella tree done.
In the image below you can see how yellow the tree has got, it does not show up in the other images.
We made up a lot of journals for christmas, they look good in the shabby cabinets dont they!!
We made up these journals from Cavalini Folders and I used one to journal my holiday with my sisters last month. The pages inside are the beautiful Magnini papers and I just printed my photo's and journalling straight on to these papers, I was pleased with how good they looked, and printing them straight onto the paper saves so much time, took me about 2 hours to colate my photo's and put down my memories.

How good is this idea for wrapping your gifts, I saw this idea in a magazine (I am a real magazine junkie). A brown paper bag, the sort with raffia handles and a flat bottom, some nice tissue poking out the top, attach a photo (mine is a Cavalini postcard) with a small bulldog clip or wooden clothes peg, I have also added a soldered microscope slide. So don't throw away you shopping bags fold them down flat and recycle when the need arises, some of the shops package your purchases in lovely paper bags, I got a lovely pink one at a lovely french giftware shop I discovered last week. hmmm

I will try and photo my home christmas decorations for you and post before Christmas.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas house book

Well here I am again, this is like talking to friends. Such a busy time of the year, what with classes, craft fairs and shopping I haven't got time to turn around
I am sharing with you a house book we have done in class, I showed you a page in a previous entry and have finally finished. The idea was taken from the lovely book 'In this house' by Angela Cartwright and Sarah Fishburn, and of course you will recognise the wonderful Nina Bagley techniques. Above is the front cover, for all the pages I have used old vintage Australian Christmas images and on the front is a wonderful image of a santa on a kangaroo. On the left side I have glued down scrunched up gauze and lightly applied Golden fluid acrylic in silver with a dry brush. on the right side a stamp of a tree trunk from Michelle Ward as well as the stamps of the birds stamped onto a black and white script paper and roughly cut around so you see the paper behind. white buttons have been added onto the branches. A poem about the Christmas Bush cut into strips and placed randomly down the page.
The second page has an old paint brush and white painted twigs ( a la Nina) tied on with gauze. A small square of cardboard roughed up and painted with gesso is held down with gauze glued across with PVA watered down sprinkles of silver micro beads (these are so cool, have been dyeing to use them, have had them in the shop for ages). Photo of my son, oh isnt he cute, bit different to the tattooed man he is today. mica cut with pinking shears and held on with Coffee Break Design silver boubs, dont you just love that word, sounds like boobs.
Page 3 has a cut out oval from the centre, a sweet image of a little girl in her sheepskin coat and muff is place in the centre and a large peice of mica split in two is held back and front of the page with long shank silver eyelets a strip of pink silk fabric glued on top with PVA and dictionary meaning of the word playmate glued on top. All the pages have had the Claudine Hellmuth peeled paint applied to the background.
Page 4 using similar techniques has a photo of my two girls that little dark haired one is Jo can you believe that little round face. On this page a silver and white scrolled paper napkin has had the two back papers removed then torn in pieces and glued down with watery PVA. A feather with round silver frame and acrylic insert covering some text.
yep thats me, just a little scrap back then in my little smocked dress. A lovely image of a vintage santa in lovely shades of apricot that matches the strip of silk fabric glued down over the painted cardboard, a sprinkle of silver micro beads around santa's boots, believe me they are there. A striped awning, some more white painted twigs with patches of micro beads and tied down with the threads that came off the edges of the silk and wella! finished, I am happy with the result think it will look nice on the old chippy paint mantlepiece at home. measurements 25 x 20 cm

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sisters on holiday

Last week two of my sisters and myself spent a week down south of Western Australia to celebrate a 60th birthday. It was a week of laughter, fun and lots of reminiscing.

This dearest of sisters doesn't share our passion for vintage collectables, but waits patiently while we rummage through all sorts of treasures, this is some of our stash we stowed in the car to bring home.

At the small country town Wagin we stepped back in time and went through their heritage village lots of vintage items to delight in, this was in the dressmakers shop.

How tempting where these old typeset keys, I could reach out and touch, what I could do with them but alas not for sale.

How cool are these, for a vintage artist just way much to temptation, but not for sale

Can you see that wonderful old album and what about those feather quills.

we saw rugged windy coastlines down the bottom of Australia, across the seas one would arrive at the Antartic, millions of years ago Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India where all joined to Antartica these rugged rocks give you an idea of how the land broke up and the seas smoothed them out. This was called Godwana (not sure if spelling is correct) pretty awesome, out on this gap it was very windy, not birds around, guess there little wings could not cope.

From rough seas to tranquil inland rivers, isnt that inviting!

This very secluded spot on the hottest day we shucked off clothes and cooled off in lovely cold water, no you cannot see those photo's!!

Wonderful old forrests with giant old old trees, if they could only talk. They have built a wonderful tree walk up into the top of the trees, Wonderful!

This enormous tree was used as a fire lookout, would have to scoot down pretty quickly if there was a fire coming.

I often climbed trees as a child so could not resist climbing the tree, (not the best view) I climbed to the top then back down, wooow my legs where like jelly and paid for it with screaming thigh muscles for the next three days, you would think I would have learnt by now.

how precious is this days old guinea pig and how gentle are the hands that cradle it!

this friendly guy called in for breakfast, he wasn't going to let that peice of bread go

this delightful home in Albany is the first established farm in Western Australia, the gardens where glorious and the home so quirky, the walls bowed and bulged in different places.
We had a wonderful time and it was over to soon. If you have read this far, thank you for your interest. bye for now

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

couldn't sleep last night, the usual, the harder you try the further away sleep becomes. For a while now I have been picking up one of my journals when I have trouble sleeping and writing my thought patterns until I relax enough to drift off. I wrote for a while all the positive thoughts I could, not sleepy yet, I spied a box of crayons I had put out on my trestle to catch my attention when I needed to try something new. just what I needed, I swirled, those crayons in flowing curves my mind going with the flow, thinking how like life these rivers of motion represent, we flow into dark places which seem to overtake us, then with a little effort it can flow back into the brighter swirls and we can see the sun again. I outlined the depth's then highlighted the peaks. The lovely crayons I used Gallery Watercolour I bought last Xmas, they had been hiding under my creative mess coming to my notice recently. I found this exercise very therapuatic, I had nothing in mind and just let my hand flow where it wanted.

At the shop I am teaching a house book, inspired from the book 'In this House' by Angela Cartwright and Sarah Fishburn. following is page 1, this is a Christmas theme and my favourite Christmas colour shades of white.

I have used vintage christmas themed background pages in black and white onto heavy bookboard. On this page I painted beige all around the border. I am using Claudine Hellmuth's vaseline technique for the backgrounds, painted gesso over the top, rubbed the paint back. painted a thick peice of scrap cardboard with gesso. I have glued using generous amounts of PVA glue, some white gauze over the cardboard into nice textures, as well as adhering to bookboard. I have painted my photo printed on nopa paper with polymer medium to give the photo body. glued photo on top. cut mica with pinking shears and attach over photo. a sprinkle of silver micro beads along top of glued gauze to give that Christmas sparkle. a very nina touch, painted white twigs tied along with a tatty old paint brush, a watch crystal from Coffee Break Design to highlight Santa's face from the background, he is a grand old santa. photo is my sweet little boy from about 38 years ago.

Page two I have used the same techniques and used a musky pink in the santa clip art and instead of gauze a scrap of raw silk fabric, if you have used silk, you will know how the edges like to fray, I have used these threads to tie the twigs onto the roof line over some pink painted stripe script paper. the photo is of me that has been handpainted. I can see these standing zig zag on the mantle peice at Christmas. Will keep you updated as I complete the other pages and the finished peice. I am off down South with two of my three sisters later this afternoon as Phillipa meets another milestone in her life. as we reach a certain age we all try to get together for a week and just celebrate being sisters. sadly my baby sister is unable to come this year, she will be missed. we are just going to go with the flow, stop where it pleases us, have lots of walks on the beach as well as in the forest. last time we got a tattoo each, none of that will be happening this time but I am sure we will come up with something crazy. I will be back next week, re energised with my soul nurtured, will catch up with you then.

Friday, November 2, 2007

email from the past

today when I down loaded my emails there was one from Kevin Watts. I was in the same class as Kevin at Intermediate School, when I was about 13. I joined a website group aimed at making contact with old school friends in New Zealand, and have had contact with quite a few old friends since. I haven't seen Kevin since those school days oh so long ago. I received a phone call and what turned out to be probably the longest conversation I have ever had with Kevin, as back in those days I was not at all confident in talking to boys!!! and what I perceived as quiet and reserved was in fact shyness. I now find that Kevin and I shared a sense of adventure, he has travelled to remote parts throughout the world for many years marrying later in life. Whereas I spent all my childhood travelling from one station to another in rural New Zealand I married young and had my children and started travelling later in life. Then I received another phone call from the lovely Mandy in Queensland. This girl is going a hundred miles an hour, going back to get her degree in visual arts and bringing up her two children on her own, you go girl, what an inspiration. I have made some wonderful friends through this mixed media art business not only throughout Australia but the USA and New Zealand as well. I often rant and rage about modern technology and computers in particular, it can be so damn frustrating and waste so much of my valuable time, but on the other side of the coin it makes the world more accessible.

A dream came true for me last year

this time last year about this time along with Robyn, we arrived in Cortona, Italy. Nina was arriving the following day along with the rest of the girls doing the art retreat. a dream come true for me, thanks to my dearest daughter Jo who made it all possible and John and Kirsty who along with Joanne paid for my trip. Anyone reading this who has thought of going away to do an art retreat, do what you can to make your wishes come true, you will not regret it. I still relive the wonderful week I had in the lovely Tuscany countryside. The countryside reminded me a little of my childhood in New Zealand but of course the buildings and architecture was unique to Italy.

I spent every free moment I could find walking around these lovely uneven streets, can you imagine that cars wizz around these streets, infrequently, as I think during the day most residents that use cars go to work out of Cortona. If I stretched my arms out I could almost touch both walls, so when a vehicle came one had to hug close to the walls of these old, old buildings. You just breath in so much history, you can close your eyes and picture different times that this place has lived and survived through. love it, love it.

standing against time, they certainly built to last. One wonders how long the buildings we build now will last, and would we want them to anyway.

the lovely Olga on the day we spent picking olives, learning how to make pasta and cooking the most delicious Italian meal, a wonderful day we had off from the workshop. Of course the workshops were the highlight, so much creativity going on with the amazing Nina at her best.

Isn't this building intriguing, what stories could it tell, is that a secret tunnel to escape marauding etruscans or romans, come out the discreet door at the top, quickly down the stone steps, scoot around the corner and duck into the tunnel and off. good imagination aye!

several mornings we were greeted with this wonderful thick fog, that enveloped the country below taking several hours before dissipating, look at that mysterious ghostly church dome in the background. Cortona would be bathed in sunshine while below the world was cast in gloom.

Olga, Robyn and myself set out to find 'Bramesole' the setting for the movie 'Under the Tuscan Sun' (loved that movie) after getting lost we finally met a very knowledgeable fine old Italian gentleman who deciphered Olga's Italian and guided us just up the road, where this amazing villa sat in all its splendour, not quite as I remembered it in the movie. Its soft ochre colour so uniquely Italian.

and the little shrine that the elderly gentleman left flowers each day but never returned her greetings until the end of the movie.

and so the sun sets on Tuscany, viewed from where I spent such a wonderful week with creative new friends, the enigmatic Nina, and the ever so patient Stacey who arranged this wonderful retreat that gave us this amazing opportunity. I appreciate all the hard work put into running these retreats, and all the way from the USA.

on the last day we travelled back to Rome and spent half a day with Olga and Phyllis, what treasures to be found there. will have to go back and explore more.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Magazine previews

Recently we received new stock of two magazines from my favourite publisher Stampington, Somerset Workshop and Sew Somerset.
I have found some excellent workshops in Somerset Workshop to date, I try to do some of the workshops to learn new techniques when I get a chance. One that intriqued me in the latest Workshop was Romantic effects with paper, paint and mediums by Rachel Emilie Jackson. Rachel is from Wirral, England and her style is similar to Beryl Taylor who also originally came from England.
Rachel creates lovely soft colour backgrounds using coffee, paints, paper text and clipart, pva glue, gesso and pearlescent paint. The emulsion paints that she buys from hardware shops we have not been able to find in Western Australia but find the Golden fluids mixed with water and softened down with white paint give the same results. If you have purchased this magazine please note that the instruction on page 12 number 7 states to attach ephemera with a glue stick, this is incorrect, should be pva glue. Glue stick will not create a crackle effect. another tip is do not overwork the gesso. We also found that Golden heavy body pearlescent paint gave the same effect as pearlescent tinting medium.

above is my sample from playing with this technique, I think it will make a nice soft background for a vintage book.
this image is from Sew Somerset, The Sewing Book by Caterina Giglio. this will be a future project I would like to try, love the soft pages using a mail order catalogue. lovely old vintage sewing pattern images and tissue, sewing ephemera, paints etc. love the uneven hand stitching in soft embroidery threads.
another project that has caught my eye is this, A year of stitching, by Hanne Matthiesen, minimal sewing on this project, just love those soft colours, see the lovely pink clothes hanging on a line below a branch on a snow background. Oh and the simplicity of the step ladder in a bare bones room, of the natural colours. this is another I will do. Do you get the impression that my favourite colours are the soft whites and washed out pastels.
just to fool you I also love these colours, lovely earthy colours. An altered Fabric Adventure by Kristin Steiner. How yummy is that flower on the cover love the vintage looking button in the centre. that dirty blue is the perfect contrast for this fabric collage book by Kristin.

last but not least is this lovely bag by the lovely Heather Crossley from, none other than Australia. Some of you would have met Heather at our Art Retreat in March. Love your bags Heather. I love the soft feel of fabric journals and of course this media opens all the possibilities of using all the wonderful vintage fabrics and ephemera we love to collect.