Monday, December 29, 2008

some beautiful things

firstly, merry christmas! I hope you had a lovely one filled with everything you like :)

As part of my Christmas, I participated in The Toy Society's Christmas Drop (What a lot of capitals)

The idea, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, is to make a doll and then leave it somewhere for someone to find with a tag that says TAKE ME HOME, I'M YOURS and some contact info for the Toy Society.

This was my doll (and the post on the blog):

The doll I made was the first in a series I'm currently doing, and by that I mean that I sewed her and thought - oh, she's great, I'll make more of her. The basic pattern is what I'm using to make the portrait dolls (one of which can be seen here)

The wonderful thing was that not only was the doll found, but the lady who found her emailed in. You can read her email here. That makes me so happy :)

In other news, my top hat sold on etsy. How ace is that? It's been a long time since she's been used, and now she'll be winging her way to America where the lovely Stephanie will love her and keep her and feed her well. Stephanie has the same problem I have, which is a 23 inch head. This makes for not a lot of hats that fit. She's been looking for a top hat for a while but they've all been too small. Until now!

Yay for the interconnectedness of etsy, the web and the community.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You shouldn't expect meaning from those paid to fake it

There's a review online for the show This Is Set In The Future at It seems a little conflicted, glowing at the start and not so keen at the end, which is a little weird, but still its a good review...

This is set in the future a traditional Christmas tale of blood, cum and karma, complete with a Pseudo Santa resplendent in a tight frock contemplating an even tighter noose. The publicity did say it was more festy than festive…

Glyn Roberts’s not-so-cheery tale explores the not-too-distant future where we could live forever. Will folk get up to acts of selfless good and create heartfelt joy? Not with Robert Reid directing.

As always, director Reid (theatre in decay) hides his hope behind a large wall of cynicism. He despairs in his program notes that Melbourne theatre has “gotten ever so samey”. Melbourne’s independent theatre would be a duller place without Reid and I’m not alone in my gladness that he is determined to produce original work.

With Sayraphim Lothian’s spot-on design and a cast of competitive alphas (Scott Gooding, Rachel Baring, Hayley Butcher, Joshua Cameron and writer Glyn Roberts), Reid guides the delightfully-dark script into a place where even the Christmas-cracker jokes would need a PGR rating.

There’s not much left in this future world beyond “fuck or punch”. It sets out to shock and this is where I think it just missed the mark. There were some moments where it could have gone somewhere very nasty and interesting, or somewhere even more outrageously, hilariously obscene - but I felt that the brakes were applied and what could have been jaw-dropping black was simply taken back to joke. They were good jokes, but didn’t have the expected effect.

It might have just been final night excitement, but the cast were enjoying the fun a little bit too much. The impact of having the crap beaten out of you is dulled if the actors make it clear that it’s meant to be funny. There’s no shock in “incest is the new gay” if it’s being said to create a nervous audience titter. The comic book style of performance was perfect for the script, but we needed to see more of the fascinating characters, rather than the terrific actors, because the telling of their story was lost. We were watching to see what the performers would do next, rather than what would happen next.

Reid declares that we shouldn’t “expect meaning from people paid to fake it”. It was clear that everyone involved in This is set in the future understood every nuance of meaning, but they could have shared their meaning just a little bit more with the audience.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Craft mirrors

My grandmother was very artistic. She could take any image at all and copy it perfectly. She used to lament because she couldn't draw out of her imagination, but truly could copy anything perfectly. It was a staggering talent and one I always admired and secretly wished I had.

But it suddenly occurred to me a few months ago that I have her talent, just in 3d form. I can take a photo of anything and copy it in knitting. I've made Ludo from Labyrinth, GIR from Invader Zim, most of the creatures from Where The Wild Thing Are, Daleks and K9 from Dr Who, even an SLR and an anotomicall correct heart. It's like a puzzle, to figure out how to knit them, but I love it.

My amazing and terribly talented friend, SaraMae Page, sent 6 of these (right) dolls to me as part of Totem. They're beautiful little peg dolls and are collectively called Domestic Gist.

Truth be told, I wanted to keep them all. But instead they starred in Totem and then were sent back home to Mrs Page.

I wanted to make her something special as a present, and I couldn't think of anything better than knitting her a version of her Domestic Gist peg dolls.

The 'type' effect on the dress was created by using a normal yarn in a sepia/gold colour for the paper and a thin black crochet cotton together. She leans a little because of her dress, but I don't mind that.

One of the things I love about a stash is that I can rummage around in the 6 clear plastic boxes of yarn (organised by colour) and knit this entire doll from it. Even the pearls came from a stash - I find a lot of broken jewelery on the ground which I collect up and take home.

The stuff I find mostly falls into three categories:
broken jewelery
and playing cards.

It's a strange but ever growing collection of Found Objects which all reside in glass jars on my shelf. I dive into it about once a week to deck out dolls or add them to artworks.

Speaking of dolls and Totem, I made another portrait doll to give to my exceptionally hard working and devoted producer, Simone Collins. Simone was really pleased when I gave it to her. The doll is wearing a shirt based on one of my favourites of Simone's shirts she used to wear when I was working with her. One of the things I love best about the doll is it has Simone's earrings. Simone wears flesh tunnels through her ears, but the prettiest ones I've ever seen, they're black with sparkly diamonds around the circle. Portrait dolls are all about showcasing a few particular visual traits of the person you're portraying, so I knew that Simone's earrings would be really important to this doll. Luckily I found little circular black beads with diamantes around their edges in my local bead shop. Not perfect, but close enough to suggest Simone's jewelery. She even commented that the doll had her earrings! So that was nice.

I love when presents are so perfect for the recipients. Makes me so warm inside!

Tutorial - Surprise Piggies

And it's time for another tutorial, working through the last of the props for This is set in the future : Surprise Piggies!

I love these guys. They were designed to be thrown through the air, which is why they look so surprised, and thus they're just constructed of felt and stuffing, there's nothing hard or anything that could be dangerous to people or things. The eyes are stuffed to give them an even more bulgy appearence

For each Piggy, you'll need:
1 pink felt square (around a4 sized)
scraps of white for eyes
pink thread

Black thread

Step one: Download the Piggy pattern here and print it out A4 sized.

Step two: Cut the pattern pieces out. Fold the felt in half longways, and place the Piggy's body along the fold (as it is in the pattern). Fit the rest of the pattern pieces as shown in the pattern, and cut out. Remember you need 2 HEADs, 2 EARs, 1 BODY (which will fold out to twice the size), 1 TAIL and 1 SNOUT

Step three: Place both HEADs together and stitch around edge, leaving a hole at the bottom to turn right side out.

Step four: Turn HEAD right side out and stuff firmly and stitch the hole closed

Step five: Fold BODY back together, and tuck the TAIL inside at one end, leaving the outter edge sticking out to allow for stitching (see photo at right). Stitch around the whole Piggy, leaving a whole at the neck to turn Piggy outside in. Ensure you stitch the TAIL firmly into the BODY.

Step six: turn BODY rightside out and stuff firmly, stitching the hole closed

Step seven: Stitch BODY to the middle of the back of the HEAD. These Piggy's heads are designed to flop about, making the throwing of them more fun to watch :) So only stitch the HEAD on at one point, but ensure to stitch firmly. These guys get put through a lot!

Step eight: Fold each EAR as shown in photo, and stitch to HEAD.

Step nine: cut two EYEs out of white felt, slightly larger than the SNOUT (you can use the SNOUT pattern as a gauge). Stitch around most of the EYE, leaving a small hole to stick stuffing in. Stuff firmly and stitch closed.

Step ten: with black thread, stitch tiny pupils in each EYE.

Step eleven: Position SNOUT on Piggy's face, and stitch over and over with two long black stitches for snout holes.

And thus, you have your very own Surprise Piggy! They fly better in flocks, so make a couple and start chucking them around!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I know I posted about 5 minutes ago, but the friendly young postie just knocked at my door and delivered me MY TINNIE!!!

I rushed back into the house to open it

How pretty is that? Wrapped in brown paper and string. And a mystery little package on top!

welcome to my tinnie! 4 or so types of fabric, and good sizes, I could make 50s style aprons out of each! plus a bunch of buttons, 4 metres of pretty white daisy trim (I love daisies!) and two shades of blue of thread. When you purchase a tinnie on etsy, you can request a colour scheme. I said that I was fond of blue, green and purple and check out the beautiful colours I received!

After about 5 minutes of pouring over the contents of the tin, I turned to the little package

IT'S A MINI TINNIE!!! with several felt shapes (again, all in my colour scheme) some ribbon and some buttons. Oh, how beautiful!

I tell you, it's just like being gifted with a bunch of your grandmother's craft stash. Thank you so much Tinniegirl! You've totally made my day :)

an interesting topic

On Facebook yesterday, Cate of polka dot rabbit posted this photo:

and the question - what do you think?

It's by Johnny Ryan and Jenny Ryan and called Soft 9/11. I saw it here on Extreme Craft, however the original post is here on Boing Boing.

It's stirred heaps of controversy, you only need to look at the hundred of comments on the Boing Boing post. Predictably, there are people calling it disgusting, and other people supporting it, pointing out it's nowhere near as repulsive as the 'official' commemorative products, including a coin and weirdly enough, an official 911 commemorative SCRUNCHIE.

So since I'd two cents-ed all over Cate's Facebook wall, I figured I'd put it here too.

I think it's certainly about time 911 was held up to the art microscope. Every chapter in history is scrutinized, internalized and regurgitated as art. Its something humans do. It's in our world, it's part of our history and thus it comes out in our art. The Tienanmen Square photo of the man and the tank has been repeated over and over in art, advertising and more. Art reflects the world we live in.

someone replied to this saying I'm sorry. That is NOT art. That is to art what a ringtone is to the 1812 overture.

I liked the analogy of the ringtone. And because I'm currently researching this sort of thing, and I like discussions of this nature, I waded in again

I guess that does totally depend on what your definition of art is. It's certainly a legitimate reaction to the event.

It was Dechamp that first invented the idea that art is anything an artist decrees as such, by exhibiting the urinal as Art in 1917. This act pretty much sparked off the Modern Art movement, one that Dechamp decried on his deathbed and said that had he known what floodgates he was opening at the time, he never would have done it.

I'm not sure the Ryans are labeling this art, that was my interpretation. But now this is out in the world it's for it's audience to label and interpret as they see fit.

I think it's a totally legitimate reaction to an event. It seems to be humanising it, breaking it down from a huge and horrific event to something small and easily manageable. I think just as Serrano's Piss Christ was bringing Jesus back down to human, that these plushies are taking a huge and terrifying event and re-presenting it to us in a comical form, to allow us to come out from under it's terror shadow and move on.

However, I also understand that everyone is going to view it differently.

A couple of other people waded in, defending the artist's right to make this, but the Not Art man hasn't said anything more as yet, which is a shame. I was just getting into this one.

I think humans need to process events, break them down and try to understand them in personal terms, so they can figure them out and move on. And I think that 911 was such a huge and frightening event that it's very difficult to process it. A year after it happened, The theatre company I worked for at the time, theatre in decay, wanted children drawings of a destroyed city for the background of a play they were working on at the time called All Of Which Are American Dreams. The producer went to her old primary school and over a few weeks got the children to draw destroyed and broken cities. Every single one of those children drew planes flying into buildings. This event has been burned into our psyche, and even more so for people in America.

But to understand such an event, and process it, we need to take it apart and rebuild it for ourselves. And that's where art such as this comes in. in a way it's cathartic, taking an event that is treated with such reverence and injecting a little gentle humour into it, as if to say - see? it's ok, it's not as scary anymore.

I like it for those reasons. But more than that, I think it's a really important step to take, and I applaud the Ryans for doing it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

much craft community

Last night I went to the Craft Cartel's inaugural Flock and Flog Market, which was a sort of semi-spontaneous flash mob market. Turn up, hock your wares and vanish back into the night. You can read more about the mentality behind it on their website, but it was a sort of squatters market, instead of going through all the red tape and exorbitant fees of getting a council to approve a street market, the Craft Cartel decided to bypass it all and just hold one. I think it's a great idea.

There wern't many stall holders there (it's an inaugural event after all), but a busker was singing some atmospheric songs (as I left he was playing some Janis Joplin) and they echoed nicely around the alley's walls. There was a stall selling cross stitch and cross stitch patterns that I recognised - Kakariki's Radical Cross Stitch. I went up and introduced myself to the stall holder, she's one of my artists from Totem, although I never met her personally. We had a general chat about craft and politics and I bought one of her kits, a cute cross stitch with a bike symbol. Since the Road/Rode exhibition, I've got a thing for the bike symbol. Babushka's and the bike symbol. Well, you gotta have a hobby.

I also got a pretty card of an interesting design of circles from another stall holder - Meliors Simms. So all in all it was a good experience.

This morning I find in my inbox an email from Kakariki, with these two photos attached-

MUCH better than my crappy phone camera one. And I love the view from the side, it gives a much better impression of the 3d quality to the craft. she also snapped them in September (she thinks) and thus her photos have the missing letter in them. Thanks so much Kakariki!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some days you just want to have someone send you something in the mail

Today I found Tinniegirl, a woman from Melbourne who sells ace old tins packed full of crafting treasures through her store on etsy. I love this idea! Imagine getting a package with a beautiful old tin, and inside some fat quarters, some buttons and other lovely things. That'd so make any crafty person's day! I have to confess, having a look around her shop was too much temptation and I bought one. I can't wait til it arrives!

This come straight from Tinniegirl's blog, it's the contents of one her of tins. How heartwarming is that? Sharing craft, straight from the heart...

In other news, and speaking of spending, I went on a gallery crawl with a dear old friend of mine and accedently bought an artwork. I love buying artworks, although the last time I did it was a couple of years ago, I love being able to support local artists and having someone unique on my walls. They're 2 white feathers lino-print with blue designs so they look like an old faded blue-and-white china bowl. They're beautiful, but I've forgotten the artist's name just for the moment. I'll post more about it when I go to pick it up next week.

But last for today, my assistant for Totem was a friend of mine who is a lovely woman and remarkably talented. I wanted to thank her for all her hard work and a bottle of wine just didnt seem right. So instead I knitted a portrait doll of her. She's just recieved it in the mail so that's why I can share it now... I loved it, it really captured her essence. Stay tuned for more portrait dolls over the coming weeks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Little Blue Birds tutorial

A friend of mine is really into birds at the moment, and i decided to make her some. These are simple birds that require less than the amount of material that it takes to make a full shirt sleeve each. I know this because i made these guys out of a 70s shirt I bought from an op shop. The pattern on it suggests feathers, while being the sort of pattern my friend loves. So it is a gift totally tailored to her. But that doesn't mean you can't make it for people you know! The bird is two coloured, under the wings and tail are (in these birds) plain white. But you can make them any two colours you fancy, or just one if you prefer.

For each bird you'll need:
About the amount of material
used in a long shirt sleeve in COLOUR 1
A couple of pieces of material in a contrasting colour (if you're doing it that way) which is COLOUR 2
needle and thread of the same colour



Step one: Download the bird pattern here and print it out A4 sized.

Step two: cut out the pattern and place it on the material. Remember you'll need 2 of the body, 2 of the tail and 4 of the wings. If you're going with the two toned bird, you'll need 2 of the body
in COLOUR 1, 1 tail in COLOUR 1, 1 tail in COLOUR 2, 2 wings in COLOUR 1 and 2 wings in COLOUR 2

Step three: Assembly is pretty easy with this one. Place the body right sides together and stitch around most of it, leaving a gap of around 7cm (2 1/2") at either the neck or the bottom to enable you to turn it right side out.

Step four: turn the bird right side out and stuff firmly, then stitch the gap closed.

Step five: Place the 2 of wings right side together and stitch around, again leaving a gap to turn right side out. If you're going the two coloured bird, remember to stitch a COLOUR 1 wing to a COLOUR 2 wing. Turn right side out and stuff.

Step six: Place the 2 tails right side in and stitch around, leaving a gap. Turn right side out and stuff.

Step seven: Here is the fun bit (well, it's all been fun up to now, hasn't it? So I should say - here's where you can let your creativity shine!) Placement of the wings and tail are up to you. If you look at the photo, one bird has it's wings up and it's tail down, and the other has it's wings down and it's tail up. I prefer the look of the wings-up bird, but this is your Little Blue Bird and you stitch it however you want! So place the wings and tail in whichever position makes you the happiest and stitch firmly around about 1/3 of the edge. Check out the picture to the left, you can see I've only stitched around the curve of the wing.

Step eight: Sew eyes. I used 2 buttons, a black one on top of a clear one. If you're using buttons with 4 holes, be cause not to stitch them through the holes with the thread in a X formation - I always think that makes whatever you're making look dead. Unless that's what you're going for. Crows, Ravens, Zombies Birds, that sort of thing needs X's for eyes... I guess...

And thus your Little Blue Bird (who has never said a word...) is done!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

awwe, shucks :)

I've been featured in another blog! Em over at EmBellSH in Brisbane woke to find a large python on her budgie cage outside (and features a photo of it) so she did a Four Favourites from Etsy on a Snake theme. My snake charmer doll, Saskia was one of those four.

You can check out the other 3 cool items on Em's post here

Thanks so much Em!

In other news, I'm currently waiting for butter, eggs and philly cheese to reach room temp and then I'm going to be attempting some pretty amazing bakery. More of that soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

photo love

I'm selling some stuff on Ebay, trying to declutter the life while earning some cash. Anyway, I've had these three necklaces for years and I don't want them anymore, so up they go! I always find it better to show things like that on someone, to give the buyer a better idea of how it hangs.

I don't have anyone around at the moment, but luckily I own the most incredible looking maniquin who is happy to pose for photos.

Meet Miss Glass Ameliorate:

I love her long neck and the expression on her face which changes depending on which angle you veiw her on - haughty, sleepy, curious or lanquid. She's also bald, although currently she has a scarf draped across her head in a Mary like moment that's been going on for about a year now and I really should give that scarf back to my sister.

She's been in a number of my exhibitions and photographs, infact there's a photo of her available on Red Bubble as a card:
Nothing like theatrical lighting for a dramatic shot. Click on the photo to buy the card... Go on, you KNOW you want too.

In fact, are you still bereft of beautiful Christmas cards? Click on the photo at the right to buy some of them. Send them to friends, family and everyone you can think of!

Onto other things, I'm currently writing up a Little Blue Bird Tute. They're so dreadfully cute!
Stay turned...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


In the next week there's going to be a Surprise Piggy tutorial and a cloth doll tute (I haven't thought of a funky name for her yet) and I'm really looking forward to sharing those with you!

But until then, I figured I'd share some photos from the play I designed that's just finished, This Is Set In The Future at La Mama. There was heaps of good feedback for it, and I was pretty happy with it all up. This was what the Bedazzler was for, as well as the Confusion Fish. But here are some photos of some of the things I made in all their glory!

Joshua Cameron and his bedazzled DISCO SLUT knickers

Joshua Cameron, Rachel Barring and the Confusion Fish

Something I haven't mentioned yet on the blog, the Turkey Baby puppet. It waves it's wings gently if you watch closely. Erm, not in this photo of course, but when Rachel was cradling it.

Rachel and the Turkey Baby.

Nicely enough, I heard one audience member remark as she left "That headless naked turkey really freaked me the hell out" Shucks. It's so nice when something you make connects with the audience! I used to think puppets were in a realm of their own, you know, only something that a Henson Workshop employee could make. But puppets are just craft. The Turkey Baby is made up of dowel rods, shaped foam, loads of hot glue, some terry toweling for skin and then airbrushed with pink ink. Ok, well, the air brushing takes some special equipment, an air brush and air compressor (love you ebay!) but everything else is simple craft supplies anyone can get. And the best place for foam is the off cuts bin at your local friendly foam store.

And, indecently, if you're looking for books on how to make foam hand and rod puppets (think the Muppets) you cannot go past The Foam Book : An Easy Guide to Building Polyfoam Puppets
by Donald Devet and Drew Allison it was and continues to be extraordinarily useful. You can buy it off Amazon, and if I could find a simple way to link to the page I would. Damn uppity Amazon!

Stay tuned for more craft...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Awesome Craft Graffitti

I found this down Hosier Lane today

I think one of the 'S's has fallen off, but how great is that? It was soft and hand sewn and doing it for Crafters everywhere!

Love it. More, more say I!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Veggie sausage rolls version 1

I was somewhere the other day and they were serving party pies and party sausage rolls, and I got a craving. Being vegetarian, it's not something you can fix by buying it from the shops, but I've got two awesome Sausage Roll recipes to fall back on. One is my sisters and the other is a close friend's. Today I'm sharing with you my sister's version, which comes from a friend of hers and I don't know it's geneology before that. Lets call it an heirloom piece, and leave it at that.

3 eggs
1/2 cup walnuts
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 cup rolled oats
3sheets puff pastry
1 tbls milk for glazing

mix together everything (except puff pastry)
cut pastry sheet in 1/2 and spoon mixture down one edge.
brush other edge with milk
roll to enclose filling with pastry and repeat with remaining sheets
cut each pastry log into 6 even lengths (or into little party sizes :)
brush with milk and poke with fork
bake in hot oven on a greased tray 200C for 15-20 min or until golden and crisp.

nb - you can freeze these before or after baking.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

recipe one: home made bread crumbs

I decided to cook Veggie Sausage Rolls, and while standing at the supermarket looking at all the chemicals in commercial breadcrumbs, it occurred to me that I had a bunch of left over crusts in the freezer that are too thick to cram into my toaster, and that I could kill two birds with one stone... metaphorically speaking.

So I trooped happily home with the other ingredients that wern't hanging out in my freezer waiting for me to do something with and I embarked on Making My Own Breadcrumbs. You can find How Tos on the net, but they all involve food processors. For a machine-free way to do it, read on!



First, I got all the ends out of the freezer and arranged them attractively on an oven tray.

Then I put them into an oven turned to around 100 degrees (C). You don't want it up too high, or they'll burn, and you'll have charcoal crumbs. Great for the art, not so great for the belly.

They need to dry out til they're hard, so I left them for about 20 mins, but that's only a guide. Remember to make sure that they're dry all the way through before you take them out. You want them hard but not brown.

Pull them out of the oven and put one in the bowl. Smash it with the heavy thing. It should break up into crumbs. Don't worry if the middle flattens out rather than disintegrating (and ends up looking a bit like a flattened bread daisy), it just means it's not fully dry yet. Smash all the dry bits off, then pop back into the oven for a little more drying out.
Breadcrumbs in the bowl with a Flattened Bread Daisy in the middle

Flattened Bread Daisies about to go back into the oven

Continue to take the drier middle bits out of the oven (the aforementioned flat bread daisies) and smash them until they're all crumbs. Then put in a zip-lock bag or container and put them in your freezer, all ready for next time you need home made bread crumbs!

Tommorrow, part two of this culinary advenutre: Veggie Sausage Rolls

While She Naps

I've just discovered a beautiful soft sculpture artist, Abby of While She Naps, who makes, amongst other things, incredibly beautiful birds. She's just posted a really interesting photography journey of making a peacock which you should check out.

But I found her for her beautiful teacup pin cushions.
She buys antique teacup and saucer sets and turns them into pin cushions like the one on the left. How beautiful are they? I love the idea of rescuing things that other people have thrown out and make them into something beautiful and useful. And I'm always a fan of old world items and crafts. Abby is selling her beautiful work at her etsy store, which has some heart achingly beautiful things on it!
It occurs to me that I used the term 'beautiful' quite a lot in that post. But I comfort myself that I am an artist, so I call them how I see them. Plus, my thesaurus is all the way over the other side of the room. Of course, I could look it up on the net, but I think that what I think is what I think. And I find a lot of things beautiful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Doll Workshop exhibition pics

The space isn't good for photos, it's terribly reflective. It's got a number of panes of glass between the camera and the dolls, but regardless of that, how good do they all look! I'm so proud.

Close ups:

I love how different they all are, even though they're all from the same pattern. The little doll in the fez is mine, all the rest are the ladies. I love them all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

and sometimes the universe craftily kisses you

For the play I'm designing, the director wanted jocks with rhinestones picking out a certain phrase from the play. And I was talking to my younger sister the other day, who often helps me out when I'm making stuff for plays or workshops or anything else I've said yes too, and I asked her how she'd feel about helping sew this phrase onto these jocks.

And she said - I've got a rhinestoner if you want.

"A what?" I replied, confused.

"You know, one of those machines that rhinestones things"

"You don't mean..." I said breathless...

She dived into the biggest craft box I've ever seen (seriously, picture a huge wooden pirate chest, stuffed full of crafting items) and pulled out a plain box

Hoping against hope, I carefully opened the box and pulled out the contents. Beyone my wildest dreams, my younger sister had had stashed in her craft box for years on end, A BEDAZZLER, complete with accessories!!!

It had everything in there, heaps of little stones, instructions, purple iron on stencils all intact and even the letters from Demtel thanking the buyer for their purchase! Ahh, if you're Australian and mid 30s, you'll remember the Demtel ads, where excited ladies offered you carefully scripted reasons why you should buy much junk over the phone.

We think that what happened was that one of my grandmother's friends was sucked in by the aforementioned ads and bought it, but then never used it. All the little rhinestones and stuff were still in packaging stapled closed. At some stage they would have handed it onto my grandmother, thinking she was a crafty type of person, and all crafty people have a use for Bedazzlers, surely. My grandmother obviously never used it, she made toys, not trashy 80s fashion, and a few years ago she handed it to my sister, who stuck it in her craft box and never used it either.

There's no date on the Demtel letter, but it does date it vaguely around the 80s. So this has been sitting in it's box for 20 years just waiting for the right person to come along.

Bedazzlers are really simple to use. Theres the tacky little plastic gem bit and a pointy metal backing that gets inserted into a plastic stapler like thing, and basically you pierce the material to hole it in.
Rhinestone goes into one end...
Pointy metal backing goes into the other end. Place the fabric right side down over the rhinestone and push down.

And congratulations! You have Bedazzled!

I sat on the floor at rehearsal last night happily bedazzling the knickers. So much fun and so, so horribly tacky.

You can even buy more rhinstones on ebay! I am so set. Now all I need to do is find more applications for it, ones that arn't anything I wear, anything anyone I know wears or will be seen with. But nothing like a big of 80s nostalgia to take you back to a more innocent time. Hammer pants, frizzy hair and the good old Bedazzler.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Theatre and toys

Oh, it has been a very busy week, mostly craftwise! I have built, sewn, glued and created more props for the play and we're now on the home stretch.

Once the show is down, I'll put some photos up here of these nicely crafty props, but y'all have to wait til then, otherwise it'll spoil the suprise (Confusion Fish notwithstanding ;) Before that time, if you're in Melbourne some time in the next month, you should go see it!

I should give it a plug actually:

"In my dreams I shit eagles"
By Glyn Roberts
Directed by Robert Reid
from 29th Nov to the Dec

at La Mama,
205 Faraday Street, Carlton

The guests arrive.
the future is here.
They are fashion conscious, bi-lingual and well into their 100's.
This new black comedy from Glyn Roberts (The Jaundice Table. La Mama, Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2006) is a densely packed meditation on mortality and love set in the middle of a debauched society party.
If you prefer your holidays more festy than festive, come spend a night with Roberts, lit by the dying embers of humanity

Wed & Sun 6:30pm, Thurs - Sat 8:00pm

Workshopped and Read in May at La Mama under the title 'Vampires Vs. Ninjas'

Phone: 0393476142

Until then, The Toy Society is looking for you! If you don't know about this wonderful group, it's a silent group of crafters who make beautiful handmade toys to leave around for other people to find. How beautiful is that? And they're looking for people for a Great Big Christmas Drop (TM). Read further for more info!

What: A co ordinated simultaneous world-wide toy drop the weekend before Christmas. On that weekend a map with drop locations will be uploaded to the blog so you can see where all the Toy Society elves are active. Each toy drop will also then be uploaded to the blog as well as any finder emails.

When: The last weekend before Christmas.

Who: Anyone willing to make a handmade toy and drop it on the street the weekend before Christmas.

Why: Because it's Christmas, of course.

How: To be part of 'A Toy Society Christmas' email with the subject 'Christmas'. Don't forget to include a link to your blog if you have one. The code for the button above will be made available to everyone participating. If you're part of this you'll need to think of your drop location and submit that via email by December 1.

(I stole that word for word from the Toy Society blog. But she's a lovely girl and I'm pretty sure she wont mind. So if you're interested in making a stranger's day, register now! I can't wait, I'm already thinking about what I want to make and drop...)

Monday, November 10, 2008

tutorial - felt Confusion Fish mobile

These fish were created as rod puppets for a theatre show I am designing, they float around a character's head and confuse her. Thus, they are referred to as Confusion Fish (and a Confusion Blue Ringed Octopus)

This tutorial is for the fish alone, I'll be posting another one for the Confusion Octopus as soon as I can photograph it's pattern.

Firstly, the fish. You'll need:
2 felt squares of complimenting colours (around a4 sized)
for each fish
needle and thread of the same colour



Step one: Download the fish pattern here and print it out A4 sized.

Step two: cut out the pattern and place it on the different pieces of felt. Remember you'll need 2 of every shape.The HEAD, BODY 2, TAIL, and FIN are all from the Main Colour (in this example, it's Dark Blue) and the BODY 1, BODY 3 and EYE are out of the Secondary Colour (Light Blue)

Step three: this is the weird part. We sew this fish from the tail up. So grab the TAIL and the BODY 3 parts. Place the two parts together with wavy edge of BODY3 rests just past where the tail thins to become the body.
(Check out the example photo) Working on the wrong side of the fish, stitch the straight edge of the top of BODY3 to the TAIL. The clever thing about this pattern is that all the stitching in the body itself is hidden by the next overlapping piece.

Continue with BODY2 and BODY1 as in the photo
At the moment it will look a little flimsy, but don't worry about it, everything will be fine.

Stitch the other side of the body the same way. If you're keen, you can keep checking it against the first body to ensure it all matches up. I'm not that keen ;)

Step four: Now here is the clever bit. Place the HEADs in the correct place on the newly sewn fish body, and place them together, right sides in. Stitch around the entire thing, leaving a gap of around 7cm (2 1/2") at the belly to enable you to turn it right side out.

Step five: turn Confusion Fish right side out. Bet you didn't see that coming!

Step six: Stuff the Fish firmly, then stitch the gap closed.

Step seven: lift the edge of the head and stitch the fin under the flap (see example pic above) and stitch on eye.

And that's it. You're the proud creator and owner of a Confusion Fish.

Next, the Octopus. You'll need:
2 felt squares of complimenting colours (around a4 sized)
I've gone with green here.
needle and thread of the same colour

scraps of light blue and dark blue felt


Step one: Download the octopus pattern here and print it out A4 sized.

Step two: Cut 2 Dark Green BODIES, 2 Dark Green EYES and 2 Light Green HEADs. Each leg you make needs 1 Dark Green LEG, 1 Light green LEG, 3 Dark Blue RING1's and 3 Light Blue RING2's.

Step three: Place the HEADs in the correct place on the BODIES,and stitch around the entire thing, leaving the bottom entirly unsewn.

Step four: Turn right side out and stuff firmly.

Step five:Place a RING2 on top of a RING1 which you then place on a Light Green LEG and stitch around the edge of the RING2. Repeat twice more os the Light Green leg has 3 rings on it as per photo
You don't need to stitch around RING1, stitching RING2 is enough.

Step six: Place the Light Green LEG with the rings down on top of the Dark Green LEG (right sides in) and stitch around the whole thing, leaving the top open.

Step seven: turn right side out and stuff. Make as many legs as you need to fit into the bottom of the Octopus, mine called for 5.

Step eight: Place all the legs into the bottom of the 'Pus and stitch them all firmly in.

Step nine: Stitch eyes on

And that's it.
Make a couple of Fish and one 'Pus and sew them with a long thread to a piece of dowel, and you have a Confusion Fish mobile for a small child. Sew them to individual dowel rods painted black and you have Confusion Fish rod puppets.

Simple, colourful and fun