Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tutorial - Easily Customisable Fairy Wings

Wings are SO simple to make. Some coat hangers, some thread, a bit of material and a couple of hours and you'll have a brand new set of wings to flutter around with. Check out these two, a Dr Suess inspired red pair and a set of elegant black cocktail wings. They're both made to this tutorial, from which endless varieties can be created.

You can use any kind of material to make the wings, the best sort is stretchy material, but you can make them from non stretch as well. Material that doesnt fray is the best, so you don't have to go to the bother of hemming it first.
2 coat hangers
pair of pliers

material for the membrane/skin

a cheap pair of stockings to tie the wings on


needle and thread

First thing is to design the wings you want to build. Do you want feathered angel wings? fairy wings? bug wings? other? What colour and shape do you want? What decorations? You can google fairy wings for some inspiration, or just make them up on the fly.

Draw some shapes on paper. Try to envision the final product. Do you want them decorated or plain? If you want them decorated, with what? Glitter, paint, fake or real flowers or leaves, buttons, bells, feathers... let your imagination run wild.

So after you have a shape you're happy with on paper, grab one of the coat hangers. Use the pliers to unkink any dints or divots in the wire so you end with a semi-round shape. Then bend it into your preferred shape, using your drawing for reference. Take some time to make it right, it's always easier to make something right the first time than go back and try to fix it halfway through the process. Once you're happy with it, straighten out the hook, and then use that wing to create a second the same shape.

I like to twist a little spiral into the end of the wire, to make it look more finished (plus, I like spirals) but you can just bend it back in on itself if you are unkeen on this look, and it'll be wrapped into the decoration. More on this later.

For wings using stockings for the membrane
Cut across the where the leg starts from the waist. Cut the toes off and cut it in half at the knee. Then slice each one open along the leg so instead of a tube of material you have a single layered rectangle.

Fold an edge over the wire shape and sew it on, stretching the stocking out as you go to ensure that it fits by the end. Try to stitch it on without any wrinkles, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

For wings using other sorts of material
Lay the wire shape on top of the material and cut around it, including about a 5cm (2 inch) hem allowance.

Fold the wing membrane over the wire, and stitch it on, following the long side of the wing first (if there is one) and then gently stretching the material as you sew the second side. Try to stitch it on without any wrinkles, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

for both kinds of wing

The best way to stitch the membrane on isn't around the wire, but long stitches just underneath the wire. See the diagram.

Once the membrane is stitched onto the wire, cut the excess off, leaving around a 2cm (3/4 inch) hem. If you've sewn the membrane tightly, the hem shouldn't stick out too much. But if it does, you can glue it down with a hot glue gun or PVA/craft glue, or you can stitch it down.

Now, to join your wings together.
Grab the second pair of stockings. I usally use black stockings, as it's a fair bet that I'll be wearing black clothing underneath, so they'll blend in. You can use any colour you prefer.
Cut a leg off, as close to the waist as you can go. Now cut the toes off and slit it up both sides of the leg so you end up with 2 single layered long rectangles.

Tightly wrap the straight wire with the stocking several times, so it's about 1cm thick. You'll probably use about half the stocking length for this. Stitch the end tightly down. If you didn't make spirals, wrap the wire to the end. If you do have spirals, don't wrap them, just wrap close to them.

Then wrap the second wing the same way.

Place both wing wires together and stitch tightly against eachother at the back and the front. If you've made spirals at the end of the wires, make sure they're both at the front.

To hide the stiches, wrap the middle with more stocking, or another material, and stitch closed at the back.

Now comes the fun part, the decoration!
- Draw on the wings with fabric paint
- Sprinkle glitter on the wings after painting, the wet paint will hold the glitter like glue
- stitch or glue feathers on
- stitch buttons or sequins on
let your imagination run wild!

The last bit to do is the ties, so you can actually wear the wings

Get the second leg of the stockings, and cut off the toe and slit down both sides as before.

Position the wings in the middle of the stocking, and tie firmly around the middle wire.

If your wings are top heavy and swing downwards when you try them on, stretch the top tie up the wing a little and sew it on, as in the photo.

That's it, your wings are now ready to wear or give as gifts. Go forth and make wings my friends!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sydney exhibition

I am in an exhibition in Sydney that opens Thursday 6th of Nov. It's part of the Bike Festival and it's on at the At The Vanishing Point gallery, in Newtown.

It's being curated by Mitra Jovanovic, who is being mentored by the gallery, and it's been a really interesting process, beig curated by someone else while curating Totem.

So Sydney guys, go check it out! And let me know what it looks like :) Details below...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tutorial - big bow tie

Welcome to my first Page 63 tute. Just in time for Halloween, here is how to create a big bow tie al la Cat in the Hat.

You'll need the bow tie material, I've used poly cotton here. You'll also need thick interfacing, as thick as you can get, I prefer iron on as it's faster. Then you'll need some bias binding to tie in on at the end.

And off we go!

For the Bow bit, you'll need a piece around 60cms by 10cms. Iron or attach the interfacing, then fold both ends in and overlock down the long open sides. The Tie bit is around 30cms long and 12cms wide. Fold it in half and overlock down the long end. Above is one just sewn and then one turned inside out. Guess what the next step is!

Turn both inside out ;)

Here are all the parts of your bow tie. The Bow and the Tie, then around 90cms of bias binding and a small piece for the middle of the Bow (called, for our purposes, Middle), around 10cms long and 6cms wide.

Grab the Middle. Fold each of the lengthwise sides into the middle, put a couple of stitches across the gap to keep it folded.

Turn the Bow over, and lay the bias binding across the bow. Gather both Bow and bias binding in the middle, wrap the Middle around the gather. Stitch the Middle closed, making sure you stitch the bias binding in at the same time.

Fold the Tie in half (making sure it's on a little bit of an angle rather than perfectly aligned) and stitch the fold to the back of the Middle as in the photo.

The last step is to trim the bottom of the Tie, I used pinking shears but if you dont have them, cut it into a small 'v'.

And that's it.

The Arts Centre job

Chookas is The Arts Centre's festival it runs for kids every year. The theme this year is a circus/Dr Suess one and it's going to look ace!

One of the producers contacted me a week and a half ago, they needed 50 Front of House uniforms for the guys, and I had a 11 days to make them in. The brief was it needed to fit in with the circus/Dr Suess theme, and it needed both the Chookas and Arts Centre logos on it. And the budget wasn't huge. As in, it wasn't much at all.

I wanted to go a bit wacky and Cat in the Hat while still staying true to the Arts Centre corporate style. A big ask, but not an impossible one.

So above is the original plan. It utalises the uniform they already have, the black tshirt with the Arts Centre logo on it, which custs down the cost.

The three circles are badges, the top badge is the Chookas logo, the bottom two are buttons. Then there is a big bow tie, Cat in the Hat style, stripey sleeves with shirt cuffs and then not pictured is a red white and black tail too.

Three of those eleven days was taken up with bump out of Totem, so I had 9 days to make all of this stuff, 50 bow ties, 50 tails, 100 sleeves with cuffs. But I did it, and handed them in yesterday. I took some shots before they left my house, but I'll wait til the festival to show the entire ensemble on.

These are the sleeves, created from socks that have been cut up, and then stitched to the cuffs. Each pair has a white and a black button, the white buttons are sewn on with black thread, and the black buttons with red thread. The cuffs are different sizes and the buttons are deliberatly stitched on differently, either with a cross or two dashes, to ensure that there's a bit of Cat in the Hat chaos to the items.

These are the tails, created from fleece plaited and tied at each end. Each tail has a little loop of elastic at one end, to enable the wearer to attach it to a belt loop at the back of their pants.

These are the bow ties, all 50 of them. Just before they were finished. They just needed to have their ends cut with pinking shears. Damn! I should have photographed them after that! My original plan was to use fleece for everything, since it doesn't run, but it's late spring and I was worried that the guys would overheat. It's really important when designing costumes to remember that people have to wear them and do whatever they do in them. Try to picture yourself wearing whatever you've designed. I imagined that wearing a big bow of fleece under my chin would make me really hot, plus fleece cuffs around my wrists while doing stuff would make it worse. So I changed the design to be cotton/polyester instead. That meant I needed to use really thick interfacing as well, to ensure it stayed the right shape. You've got to be flexible in designing as well. The idea you had might have been perfect at the time, but you need to be willing to change it as you go and as you discover things. Don't be precious about the original idea to the detriment of the final product.

This makes me think of creating props too. Often when people make props, they forget that the reasons props exist is that actors need to use them. I've seen so many times people making fragile or precious props and then if the actors break them in normal use, the prop is gone. Always remember the final destination of the prop, which is in an actor's hand. Ensure you make it as tough and as durable as you possibly can.

So there is Dr Sayraphim's short lecture on prop making. And now back to the Chookas fesitval.

And lastly, the badges. I was really happy with these too. They came from www.stayhuman.com.au and they turned out really well. They're really shiny, so they didn't photograph as well as I'd hoped, but they still look ace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

more Halloween mentions!

Jennifer from Handmade Crafty Goodness listed my marionette as part of her Halloween showcase! That's so lovely of her :)

There's some cute prints and a couple of adorable dolls too, so pop on over and check it out! Thanks Jennifer!

Monday, October 20, 2008

the workshop culminates in a cake recipe

The turkish ladies knitting workshop was drawing to a close. Today was the last day and the dolls were all going to be hung in the Neighborhood Justice Centre tomorrow. But so many of the ladies were keen to keep going we've got another week :)

I've got all the dolls now, they're all so cute! It's amazing to see how different the dolls can be since they're all created on the same pattern. They'll be hung tommorrow, so I'll take some photos then.

But one of the ladies bought in Semolina Cake for the last day, and it was really tasty. So I asked for the recipe.

So, without further ado, here is Knitting Workshop Semolina Cake

1 litre of milk
one cup of semolina
one cup of sugar

Boil the milk, semolina and sugar for a little while, stirring constantly.

Pour into a shallow dish and set in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, make up some jelly and pour it over the set semolina.

Put the cake back in the fridge to set.

There was also suggestion of fruit in the jelly, or nuts on top.

I was send home with several more pieces, which you can see on the right. They fell over on the plate before I photographed it thou. Rest assured it was much prettier before!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Phone Pics

I love the fact they invented phone cameras. It makes me so happy that I can whip out my phone at any time and photograph something that captures my interest.

And today, while I'm brain dead from being half way through the bumpout of Totem, I thought I'd share a couple. Most of them relate to crafty things I've found, and that makes me happy too.

These are the traditional slippers that the Turkish women in my Knitting Workshop were telling me about. One of the ladies bought them in. They're little knitted slippers that are beaded or embroidered and are worn in the house instead of shoes. The one on the left was hand crafted by the lady who bought them in, the one on the right was made by her mother in Turkey and sent over.

I was working on Pacific, the Stephen Spielberg mini series, and they needed coloured light bulbs for a party scene. The question was how to dip 100 light bulbs and then leave them to dry without the glass paint running onto the metal socket. So we rigged up cardboard with heaps of holes and screwed the bulbs in. Then I dipped 25 into each colour. If you look carefully you can see the permanent texta lines which indicate the different colours.

It was messy work, but the pattern it made on the floor was very pretty.
Until we had to clean it off again.

I was once at Como House, which is an old National Trust house in Toorak, and this was in the hallway. It's a taxidermied bird, hung upside down. I asked the attendant why that particular direction was chosen. Apparently, once the birds are killed they're hung from the hunters belt, and so there was a fashion in the 19th century (I think) to taxidermy them that way. To be true to the form, as it were.

At the Lithuanian Club for Fringe, we dropped by the bar for a honey vodka (and you SO have to try one next time you're there!) and hanging above the bar was this little marionette. This photo is centered, it's very strange.

And this is me with my Totem monster. It's like a family photo!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

awwe shucks!

I've been featured on Roadside Scholar's blog! It's titled Spooky Halloween Shopping and it features my Ghost and Grave Playset.

It's alongside some ace halloween goodness from other places, a Mega Scary Robot, some cool candles of the skull-and-crossbones variety as well as some tin pumpkins, and some very pretty 2d work.

In other news, I've just got a job designing uniforms for the childrens festival, Chooka's, at the Arts Centre. It's such fun, it's got a Circus/ Dr Suess theme. Photos as I go!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spreadin' the Love

Being a self employed artist is many things. Sometimes it's wonderful, when you sit down and realise that you're being paid for things you love to do anyway, and sometimes it's painful, when you're doing something that you've done so often that it's no longer quite as fun as it once was, and sometimes it's pinching because for some reason most contracted artist jobs pay half upfront and half at the end. And nothing is ever said about the middle.

So I've been waiting for ages to be paid, and it's all been a bit tight. But I keep finding things on Etsy that I want to buy. So I swore that next time I got paid, I'd go on Etsy and buy some stuff, thus spreading the art-pay love around. Plus, in times like these, I figure that if there is spare cash, it's nice to be able to help other people out.

I've been cruising around the DUST TEAM website - all the Down Under Etsy Sellers, because I'm also a huge fan of buying local. And yesterday I got paid from a job. So I happily jogged over to etsy to see what I could see.

I had marked Inner Earth Soaps a while ago, I love handmade, chemical free soaps and these really fit the bill! They look incredible and I'm sure they smell great. I can't wait to receive them!

Something else I'd marked a while ago was Conscientia's Cameos. I'm a big sucker for cameos and old time things, but also I have this weird new obsession with Babushka dolls. So check these out! How cute are they? I've bought the one third from the left with the lace apron.

I feel good about these purchases for a couple of reasons. One is that it's always nice to buy handmade stuff, plus it's always lovely to recieve gifts in the mail, but one of the best things about this is I'm really glad that in this time of trouble that I had some spare cash and was able to help.

And anyway, I'm a big believer in what goes around comes around :)

I've also bought a present for a family member that they're going to love like nothing else! But I can't put it up here for obvious reasons. That one'll just have to wait!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Knitting workshop

I've just come back from the Turkish Ladies Knitting Workshop, week three.

One of the ladies wanted to make a dress, but wanted a heart on it, so I quickly made her a pattern, and then knitted the heart bit as an example for her.

She was really thrilled and started her dress right away. It was lovely to be able to create exactly what she wanted and see her face when I showed her.

Another lady came in with what she's made at home. She finished her first doll and crocheted it a dress and jacket, and then crocheted herself a second doll. She also bought in a teapot cosy she had crocheted her sister-in-law, but then borrowed back to bring in and show us.
Sorry for the crappy quality photos, I only had my phone on me at the time.

I had knitted a belly dancer and a man in a Turkish costume, but when I showed the ladies today, I was told I picked the wrong colours for the dancer! She is dark purple with silver trim. Belly dancers are always very bright. So the lovely lady crocheted some white around the dancers skirt and top to brighten her up. I thought that was so sweet! I also got the turkish man's trousers wrong, so she's taken him home to fix him. Here is the belly dancer, and I have been sent home with instructions for beading to brighten her up further.

I did research on the costumes, but evidently not enough, which is a little embarrassing, but they seemed not to mind, so that made me feel a bit better about it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Craft Exchange

I am in 3 exhibitions as part of Fringe this year. One is Totem, as you all know, one is Digital Fringe, which I submitted a bunch of digital images I've made over the past couple of years which is shown on hundreds of screens around the world (I think), and one is The Craft Exchange, by The Safari Team.

The idea was that you sign up and they send you some craft in the mail. In return, you make some craft, stick it in an envelope and post it back. Then everyone comes to see it on one night, which was last night.

I emailed them and got accepted. While waiting for my craft to arrive in the mail, I figured that I'd been wanting to knit eyeballs for a while and hadn't had a reason, and that this would be the perfect opportunity. I figured since I'm so keen on the DIY thing, that I'd then write the pattern for the eyeballs, and post it to them as well, asking that they make a bunch of copies that people could take. Free eyeball patterns from a craft show, I'd be happy if I came across that.

My envelope of craft still hadn't arrived by the time I'd knitted 4 eyeballs and perfected the pattern, and then I recieved an email saying - we still don't have your craft yet, so post it on in!

So I trotted off to the post office like a good artist and sent my eyeballs.

The next day my craft envelope arrived, a lot flatter than I imagined. I opened it curiously to find that it was several A4 pieces of photocopied paper. Mosaics of a zine like nature. Kind of cool, but not at all what I expected.

Last night we went to the opening, down a darkened back alley in Northcote. It was held upstairs in a warehouse, a large room filled with people and lots and lots of photocopied art pinned to the wall. There were 7 'featured' artists, which seemed to mean that the several large installations were done by favoured artists who had their name by their work. As to everyone else's art, none of it was labeled and I found it the whole show a little weird. My eyeballs were sitting on a shelf with the photocopied patterns underneath them, but no sign or anything stating people could take one. I'm prepared to bet that no one did, because there was no way you could know you were allowed to walk away with one.

It wasn't that it was a disappointing exhibition, lots of the art was well done or clever, but it jsut was totally not what I expected. I pictured a variety of different craft objects, rather than all just photocopies.

I wonder if they wanted mostly photocopies, or was it that most people were influenced by receiving the Safari's craft before they started their own. I wonder if I had of seen the photocopies before I started, would I have changed my mind on what I was going to submit, or even dropped out thinking - well, photocopying isn't really what I do...

There were a few 3d pieces, one of a finger cast in plaster or something, alablaster white sitting up from a little shelf with fake grass that I found kind of cool, and this piece to the right which was next to mine, but again, I have no idea who did it. The text has been stitched onto kitchen paper, but it was hung backwards making it impossible to read. I thought it was a beautiful piece, and wish it had an artist name.

Here is mine, in all it's salon glory. The eyeballs make me laugh. And in the spirit of the DIY work, click here to download the pattern. It's really simple, if you can increase, decrease, knit and purl, you too can knit an eyeball!

Let me know how they turn out :)

In other news, my tale of woe over missing balls of wool has taken a turn for the better. It turns out Leah of Yarn or a Tale hadn't posted the wool yet. So the hand spun, hand dyed wool is winging its way here still. Yippee!

But so I'm buggered if I know what the missing package at the post office is...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Totem opening

The photos finally arrived!

The opening went really well, we had around 400 people come past in the 3 hours, and myself and a couple of the artists were interviewed for Fringe purposes on film and it might head over to Channel 31, Melbourne's community TV channel as well.

In other exciting news, Fed Square is looking into the possibility of extending the show another month. They think it's beautiful and they want more people to be able to see it. I'm really thrilled. It'll depend on the artists, if the majority need their dolls back for other shows or whatever, then it wont happen. But if most of them are cool to lend their work for another month, then Totem will continue. I'm so happy about that. I'm currently waiting to hear back from them all, but I'll keep you informed!

Left to right: Alex Summers (half), Erin Hall (up the back), my doll (sitting), Natalie Kalinova (straight below it), Beth Robinson, Soncha Iacono and me!