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!