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

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who listens to the radio?

Three ladies attempted a conference call the other night, via the amazing technology of Skype and mobiles.

The other two ladies could hear each other fine, although there was a big time drag, so that they constantly talked over each other. But all I could hear was these weird computer noises, and it sounded like a Commodore 64 singing to me from the past. Very pretty, but not really condusive to converstation. Eventually, we gave up.

And it reminded me about the time the stereo in our car was dying. Well, that's a little dramatic, as it's not far gone from where it was when we got the car. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Let me tell you a story.

Our car is 16 years old and came sans aerial. This wipes the radio off the list of entertainment possibilities whilst in the car. It has a tape player, but the first time we tried it, it chewed the tape and spat it back at us. And it wasn't the choice of music the car was objecting too, who could turn down Andy Prettyboy (of which I'm unsure of the spelling but sure of the music).

Then we had the bright idea of buying a faux tape thing that attaches to a cd player and using the stereo that way, which, after much searching of technology stores, we did. we plugged it in excitedly and pressed play on the portable crappy cd player we found under the bed and waited for the strains of music to well up. Unfortunately, the one working speaker under the dash didn't live up to our surround-sound hopes. But we had music and we were happy.

But a few weeks ago, I was driving around and suddenly the music went weird. Well, it was a song from Avenue Q, so let's say it went weirder. The drum dropped out entirely and the guitar sounded odd and the vocals were suddenly far off and sounded like a delicate machine was singing them. Then these weird dreadfully 80s synth-pop sounds started mixing in with the song and before I knew it, I was suddenly listening to odd sounding 80s remixes of all the songs on this mix cd, sung by machine. It was if machines had evolved to such a level that they were now a fully functioning aspect of society and had started putting out dreadful pop songs. Although they could sing in English, they still had their native machine accents on the words.

It was the aural equivalent of when the dvd player screws up and everything gets weird and disjointed and pixellated. It was actually very pretty. Depending on which layer of the track would drop out, I had 80s techno, acoustic without voices or accapella drums. I drove around all day listening to all my favourite songs as I'd never heard them before. Truely a soundtrack to the new millenium, played by a bunch of machines from the previous century.

Rock (or machine generated synth-pop) on!

And the weirdest thing was, after about a week and a half, it reverted back to how it used to sound, which is crackly from the dying speaker but once again recognisable.

We have a quirky car.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

tutorial: Dead simple cushion covers

These cushion covers are really, really simple. You'll need a design in mind, something simple is better to start, some material and a needle and thread. THat's it. Fleece is perfect for this project, it's soft and warm and inviting and, best of all, it doesn't need hemming, so it makes it a much faster project to sew. However, feel free to use any kind of material at all. My advice is to pick something hard wearing, as it's to cover an item in use.

Today I'm showing you how to do it using road markings as the inspiration. You could do anything thou, the sun, a burning garbage can, geometric shapes, anything at all. Simplify it down to it's basic shape/s, and you'll be away.

SO, You'll need:
A cushion (and it's measurements)
a design
material 2 1/2 times longer than your cushion
more material for the design
a needle and thread.

An overlocker or sewing machine makes this go faster, but it's not totally necessary.

First thing's first. Step One: Measure your cushion. Mine are 65cm sqaure (they're floor cushions), so that makes things nice and easy.

Step Two: Lay out your material, and cut a large strip 2 1/2 times longer than your cushion and for the width, make it the same measurement as your cushion PLUS 2 1/2cm hem allowance on each side. Thus, for a 20x30 cm cushion, cut a strip 50cms long and 35cm wide. Or, with my example, cut the material 162 1/2 cms long and 70cms wide.

Step Two Point Five: If you're using material that needs hemming, now's the time to do it.

Step Three: Fold your material 5cms longer than the cushion back over itself, and then fold the extra on top (see drawing below) all with the right sides IN

Step Four: Pin along the two open sides that don't have the foldback, and sew them up. The foldback is to help hold the cushion in the cover once you're finished.

(Take no notice of the white stitching in the photo at this time, I was a little ahead of myself when I took the photo)

You can see the the foldback, the back and the front more clearly in this photo:

Step Five: Now you're ready to fold it inside out and stitch on your design. Mine were simple straight lines, and it sewed up pretty quickly. At this stage you'll need to hand sew it, as machine sewing will be too difficult (I'm a hand sewer over a machine sewer). If you want to machine sew your design, stitch it to the material (step five) before you sew the edges into the cushion cover (step four)

Hopefully you've come up with something simple, especially for a first try. Think about your design, and pare it back to it's basic shapes. The sun idea becomes a big yellow circle and some little yellow straight lines. On a blue cushion cover with a couple of white cloud shapes it would look fab. The burning garbage can breaks down into a grey cylinder for the can and some triangle flame shapes in yellow, red and orange. A dog is a circle for a head, an oval for a body, straight lines for the legs and a long half circle for the tounge. If you can't picture how to make the image you want, google it, you'll find cartoon versions of pretty much everything.

Cut the shapes out and pin them to your cover. Stitch them firmly in place with cotton the same colour as the material.

And that's it. You have cushion covers for your cushions and you've crafted away an afternoon. Congratulations!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Workshops and Chookas

EEE! I went to the workshop today and one of the ladies had bought a doll in she made over the week.
She's made a doll of her art teacher as a gift for her. How great is that? It's so personalized, from the stockings to the glasses to the jewellery to the hair and hair wrap. Oh, I was so thrilled she made this! I'm so happy.

In related news, the workshops will run until the end of the year now. We're looking at other craft to teach the ladies, machine sewn sofites seem to be the front runner at the moment.

In unrelated things, I worked at the Chookas festival at the Arts Centre for the last 5 days, encouranging children to draw on the Arts Centre walls. It was a lot of fun, but totally exhausting. Mainly I was getting them to draw circus-themed things. Check out the photo below. You can see a guy on a tightrope, a seal balancing a ball on it's nose and a rabbit in a hat, amongst others

Here is the producer of the event (recognise the wings she's wearing?) writing on the wall on the last day

And here are some of the Front of House staff wearing their uniform, also drawing on the wall. EVERYONE wanted a go, when else are you not only allowed but actively encouraged to draw all over the arts centre?

There were SO many awesome drawings over the 5 days, but below is my favourite, a smiley lion. I even considered getting it tattooed, I am so taken with it. But I thought better of it. But there's just something so amazing about it.

It was an incredibly tiring week, but packed full of fun and I loved it.