Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
10 white onions
4 oranges (juice the oranges and zest them too, keep these separate)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 and 1/3 cups of brown sugar
4 tsps turmeric
8 tsps mustard seeds
Cut up the onions into chunks, put into a saucepan with the vinegar and orange juice and bring to the boil.
Add the sugar, turmeric, mustard seeds and the orange zest, boil for 10 mins until onion is soft, but not mooshy.
Then turn heat down and simmer for 30 mins. This should make enough for around 6 mid sized jars, depending on what size jars of course.
Monday, December 21, 2009
We needed a peg bag, and rather than just buy one, I asked the ever clever Becclebee to sew us one. This is what she made...
I love the machine stitching, and the cute little jocks! How beautiful is that?
Next comes our handmade chutney and preserves store. Squirreling away ripe goodness in jars for the lean winter months... I know it's not a very pretty photo, but it's the subject matter, not the composition that's exciting in this one!
1) Corn relish made yesterday (can't wait to try that, it's a brand new recipe)
2) the last few jars of the very successful Orange Onion Marmalade
3) Sadie's Tomato Chutney, the amazing recipe from Sadie and Lance
4) Dandelion Wine, from the cheerful flowers popping up all over the backyard. If you've never made dandelion wine, go outside and do it today. It needs to be bottled for at least a couple of months, we leave it for a year. It's like delicate champagne when you open it, and totally worth the wait.
5) Onion Chutney. Another brand new recipe that's awaiting a suitable meal to open...
Last but not least is more, more more stars... These are Christmas decorations for a friend. I love handmade, homemade christmas decorations!
Monday, December 14, 2009
She, and now I, have been busy crocheting stars using the wonderful Royal Sisters star pattern.
Bec also had these amazing crochet pieces completed
How cute are they! I'm not really a huge fan of christmas decorations but this has made me aware that I'm rather keen on homemade christmas decorations. I've already crocheted myself a line of 7 yellow stars, a friend a red, green and white set and a friend with kids a rainbow set of 17 stars. Damn human fraility that I need to rest my wrists now! There's so many more stars I want to make...
If you haven't been over to The Royal Sisters, do pop along to bathe in some of her cheerful granny goodness.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
. I'm so excited to get the book! I've ordered it tonight. The experience of helping make this film, of being on set and being behind the scenes, was truly one of the highlights of my career and I'm so pleased to be able to relive that through this hardcover book.
I went to see the film the other day, there was a cast and crew showing. I love the visual quality, the creatures and the setting and everything was perfect. I wasn't so sold on the story, I have to say, but talking to a friend of mine afterwards, he said something that helped enormously with my understanding of the film.
Don't be afraid, if you've read the book, this isn't a spoiler...
I was unsatisfied with the Wild Things characters, they didn't seem to learn anything or even move on from when we met them until when we leave them in the film. But once the idea that all the Wild Things were previously children who have followed (or forged) Max's path but let themselves be taken over with the Wild Thing spirit, and have stopped being children and have totally become the Wild Things. That's why they don't progress during the film - they're stuck as who they are*.
I have to say that a) I didn't get that from the film at all, and b) it made the film SO much cooler! I wish, I wish it had of come through more in the film itself. My friend was on set most of the time and thus privy to the inside workings and thinkings of the film, which is how he formed this reading of the film.
So my advice to you is to take this knowledge into your viewing of the movie. It'll make it so much better!
But the very exciting news is that not only are there already photobooks of the story of the film, but there is a Making-Of book out as well, called Heads On and We Shoot: The Making of Where the Wild Things Are. Being a part of creating this film, being both on set and behind the scenes, was truly a highlight of my career and I'm so pleased that I can relive those feelings and sights through this beautiful hardcover book. I can't wait to see it!
* the main evidence of this is Daniel, the Bull, which is the quiet one that doesn't appear to take part in all the other guy's actions, he still has human feet, signifying that he hasn't quite made the total change from human to Wild Thing. It's a very subtle hint to this reading of the film, so don't fret if you've seen it and missed it.
I was thinking more about the film and really, it was beautiful. And I was dreadfully excited to see scenes I was around for the shooting or helped with the creatures. The beautiful owls, for instance, I spent two whole weeks steaming feathers. If you've never steamed a feather, the up side is that they unfurl and straighten like a flower unfolding and it's quite beautiful to watch. The downside is that you'll end up smelling like damn chooks all day. Not really my favourite of smells.
I wonder if that's where my owl thing quietly started...
Saturday, November 28, 2009
In a way, things like cooking and knitting connect me with the past and with hundreds of generations of women who's lives were sort of like mine. If you strip away the specifics, most people live very similar lives, searching for happiness, working to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, having family and friends and all taking the journey of life together.
Using old recipes and patterns, old skills and techniques, ensures that there is another generation keeping the torch alive and passing it on. Just like before.
In the spirit of this, I'm going to share two recipes, one my grandmothers (Australian Roast) and one my great grandmothers (Mayonnaise). A few years before she died, my grandmother sat down and wrote out as many vegetarian recipes as she had handy, most were either her recipes or one handed down from her mother and grandmother. This tiny, spiral bound book is where I'm getting today's recipes from. I'm sorry to say however, there are no photos for this post, my camera batteries have died.
(I'm not sure why this is an "australian roast" but that's what it's called in my book)
1 cup of haricot beans (can use lentils or other beans)
1/4 lb grated cheese
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 grated carrot
soak beans overnight. Next day pressure cook beans 1/2 hour (if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can boil then simmer them until tender) Strain and mash well, add all the other ingrediants. Mix with egg. Shape into a roll, bake in a moderatly hot oven 1/2 hour.
X Good. (my grandmother always rater her recipes so she could remember her favorites. I've seen it range from no note, through Good, X Good and XX Good, so this one's pretty high on the rating scale. At least one of my sisters has continued this tradition in her own recipe books.)
My mother's Mayonnaise, keeps 12 months or more
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons mustard
2 teaspoons flour
salt and pepper
mix all together
add 1 cup of water and 1 egg.
Beat all together well. Gradually add 1 cup of vinigar, heat until nearly boiling, stirring constantly. DONT LET IT BOIL
That's where the recipe ends, but to finish off, let cool a little then pour into sterilized jars.
There's so much good stuff in that little cook book, I'd love to make them all at once. Reading the writing and thinking about the food she used to make puts me straight back into her kitchen with the dark brown wood paneling on the cupboards and the drawer she used to open to tell us how she used to keep this drawer full of plain flour and this drawer full of self raising flour because that was the amount of baking she used to do. Her kitchen was mostly brown and orange and was filled with little trinkets of who she was and where she'd been and I loved it there. She was one awesome old lady.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
in the CBD
There's something so sweet about it!
I've been making a bunch of props for next year's Halloween show, and I wanted to share a couple with you...
One dark night, the moon got tangled in a tree...
A wizard with his bubbling cauldron. I love the use of stuffing as the steam!
We're not sure if this is The Devil or just a little devil minion from Hell. But I'm sure we'll figure it out or he'll let us know.
I'm such a fan of these guys... And each new one I make becomes my new favourite, so I chop and change all the time. There's currently 13 of them, which is a perfect time to stop and share a couple!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Damnit! I don't need another obsession, I've got quite enough, thank you!
However, having said that, I just finished my practicum at a primary school that had, as it's little mascot, an owl. I discovered this on the first day and took it as a Good Sign.
So I wanted to thank the two teachers that mentored me over the past month, so I made them both, you guessed it, little owls.
I wanted them both to be different, so I started with the one on the left, cutting out the individual feathers. It has wings too, you can see the wing on the right best, sticking out a little. Although I was happy with it, I felt I could do an owl a totally different way to see what happened. Thus the guy on the right. He looks a little like a tree is growing out the top of his head, but it's part tree and part feathers and I like the fact he has both. Bird and Habitat in one.
Side view, including tail!
The cool thing is that the second guy, the Tree Owl (ahaha, how great is that) sparked the next play! So I've been sewing like a whirlwind, and I'll put a couple of guys up as I go, to show you all. I'm really proud of the guys I"m making, they're ace!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
It went over really well, the kids loved it! Thinking maybe I should do a lesson on shadow puppets at the end.
Since the kids know I make puppets they've taken to bringing in puppets they have at home, both store bought and hand made. I've seen a sugar glider hand puppet, koala and emu finger puppets and the hand made sock puppet. Since they didn't have any glue, this displays awesome use of sticky tape to hold the yarn hair on:
Out of all the puppets they bought in, this one was my favourite. Also a good use of a single sock when it's pair goes missing in the wash...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
We chose Sovereign Hill and headed out there, it was a fantastic day filled with heaps of cool things to do and see. For those of you who don't know, Sovereign Hill is a small historic village constructed entirely to mimic the goldrush times in rural Victoria. If you ever have the chance to check it out, do so! There were a number of old and beautiful crafts on display including knitting, quilt making, embroidery, blacksmithing and more.
When we were putting together our display for the expo, I decided I wanted to make a little craft station where people could make peg dolls. I remember making them when I was small, and about half the students remembered them too, so it was a great nostalgic thing to do. A couple of students who swore they couldnt sew to save themselves had a go and were really pleased with the results!
This is the writeup that went with the activity:
The tradition of making dolls out of wooden clothes pegs comes from a time when most families had little money to spend on things like toys. During the 19th Century, peg dolls were very popular, even among the rich. One of the best-known collections of these belonged to the young Queen
You will need:
- A wooden 'dolly' type peg
- A pipe cleaner
- Scraps of material and wool
- Scissors, glue, sharpie pens
Wind the middle of pipe cleaner a few times around the peg just below the 'neck'. Bend out the two ends to make arms, and twist the ends under to make hands. Wrap the material around the peg to make clothing and glue down. Glue the wool on for hair and draw a face with the sharpies.
This can be done as part of a 'history of toys' lesson, or a 'clothing of the past' lesson or simply a fun activity during the goldmining unit.
Below is three peg dolls made during the expo. You have a serving girl to the left, a convict man in the middle and a lady to the right. All in all a fun and highly successful activity to do!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
After our show Everything Will Be Ok, finished, it sparked a puppet making frenzy. I have embarked on attempting one of each style of puppet there is, from materials found around the home.
Firstly: The Bunraku style puppet from toilet paper rolls, foil, kebab sticks and wool:
There is a lot of controversy about use of the term "Bunraku". Either it's a certain style of puppet that usually takes two to three people to manipulate or it's a very specific style of puppetry that only ancient Japanese people can do, the secrets of making them are closely held and no-one in the Western world can know. Japanese puppeteers can train for up to 10 years before they're allowed to puppet anything other than a foot. This is why I have referred to this as a Bunraku 'style', rather than the actual puppet type, I don't tend to like to enter into fights that don't seem to matter. And, after all, they didn't have toilet paper rolls in ancient Japan. Dontcha just LOVE craft materials?
The next guy I made is a rod puppet from dowel, felt, some stuffing, a coat hanger, an old pillowcase and two buttons:
The wrists spin quite a lot, being due to the fact they're just plaited wool. I'd want to look at another way to do it next time. But these are all test puppets so I can learn to make them and we can learn to puppet them. So for a first effort, making it all up as I went along, it's not too bad.
And this rod puppet from pencils, scraps of leather, some left over scraps of the aforementioned pillow case, a wooden bead and another coat hanger:
This guy (and his lady puppet) are tiny, about a hand and a half high. The culmination of hot glue and thick leather in the joints have made them both a little hard to manipulate, but I've learned heaps from it to make the next lot.
I've got the rod puppet and the bunraku style puppet photographed step by step, I can write a tutorial for either but the bunraku is pretty damn easy to make. You imagine the joints of a human and stab corresponding holes in the toilet rolls, thread them through with wool... And if you happen to have half a role of cheap aluminum foil the head practically makes itself! Left over theatrical props are dreadfully useful for this type of thing.
I'm such a fan of puppets. Little inanimate objects that are endowed with life, it's right down my alley!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I loved the upside down bows and the heart. And her parents recognised it instantly as a portrait doll, which is always heart warming!
In other, exciting news, Garth Johnson (of Extreme Craft) long awaited book 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse is almost here! Featuring a bunch of artists and their crafts from totally reused materials. I'm in it, somewhere, so grab a copy when it's released, or preorder it from Amazon... EEE!!!!
Friday, October 2, 2009
Go HERE to check it out.
If you're into the history of craft, and the history of Australian craft, you should really consider it. It's an awesome book and I'm delighted to have a copy in my library. You can read my thoughts while reading it in this post.
In other craft related news, Rayna from Radical Cross Stitch has an opening tonight at Platform Gallery as part of the Interventionist Guide to Melbourne. If you're around, go check it out!
An example of Rayna's awesome work:
(Originally uploaded on Radical Cross Stitch)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
In Everything Will Be Okay Sayraphim Lothian joins Robert Reid to perform a sixty minute show of tabletop puppetry. The performance is the surreal conception of Reid, artistic director of Melbourne’s Theatre in Decay.
As I entered the theatre for the performance, the usher advised that I should, “Listen with my eyes, and see with my ears.” I’m still not exactly sure what that means, however I can say that the visual experience of the show is very pleasing. An interesting combination of pre-recorded voiceovers, Thom Yorke style sounds, numerous kitsch props and meticulous timing, Everything Will Be Okay is a unique and engaging production.
While the visual aspects of the show are superb, the story itself is somewhat difficult. The plot follows an expatriate Australian named Doug who lands in Peru where he joins a political revolutionary group. While Doug struggles to understand the existential type dilemmas his life is full of, his girlfriend is humorously psychoanalyzed by a fat cat in sunglasses. Fractured narrative is tricky in film and literature, and even more so in theatre where the audience needs significant markers to follow the story. Reid acknowledges this fact and does attempt to give a sense to the disjunction; however I still found myself confused at times.
The show is however very funny, poking fun at Kevin Rudd and various pop culture phenomena. The size of the audience and proximity to the puppets makes for an intimate setting where you feel performed to rather than performed at. At the end of the hour I came away thinking that Everything Will Be Okay is unlike anything else you’re likely to catch at this year’s Fringe.
by Regan Brantley
The show is an exploration of the form, utalising different kinds of puppetry and creating beautiful vignettes. It's like a flash animation on stage. If you're thinking of coming, seats are limited, so book now!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Here is a photo of one of the scenes, where Debbie is talking to Ayn Rand and Jose Arguelleus.
A couple more shots of the show can be found on Flickr here.
The opening for the exhibition I've curated for Fringe, Echo's Lost was also beautiful, a number of people braved the rain and the cold to stand under Circa's awning to watch the unveiling. I don't want to post complete photos, I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I thought I might give you a taste of the show.
Penny Neil (back) and Angelica East (front)
The artists involved are
SaraMae Belle Page, Allira Cornell, Angelica East, Claire Falkingham, Vanessa Heaton, Soncha Iacono, Sayraphim Lothian, Rebecca Miller, Penny Neil, Ilona Nelson, Roslyn Quin and Beth Robinson
So come along and see some beautiful art. The front window of Circa Vintage Store, 102 Gertrude St, Fitzroy.
And over at Miss Pen Pen's blog, she's posted about a wonderful book called Yarnbombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain, which features photos of the Doiley tree outside her shop, Cottage Industrys, on Gertrude St. It looks like an awesome book and I'm heading out to get a copy this week.
If in Melbourne, you can pick up your own copy from Artisan Books on, you guessed it, Gertrude St across from Dantes (and you can check out Echo's Lost at the same time :) otherwise you can get it from Amazon here.
Friday, September 25, 2009
The biggest thing for me was that last night was my first ever night performing. I come from a visual arts background, and although I’ve worked on a number of theatre shows, it’s only ever been making props or puppets, running around backstage, that sort of thing. I’ve never wanted to be an actor, never wanted to be a performer of any kind. I’ve only performed once with puppets (weird, I know, for someone who’s so keen on making them) and that was to a friendly, tiny audience after a puppeteering class.
Never having really been on stage, I’ve always had stage fright at the very thought of doing it. So when Rob suggested that we would do the puppeteering, that was a little nerve racking. And the first couple of rehearsals were worry-causing, as I moved Doug here and the moon there, I wondered how the hell I was ever going to remember all of it, let alone do it competently.
But last night was surprisingly good. We set up, costumed up, turned off the house lights (the normal, every day lights for those not in the Know) and on with the theatre lights and started our pre-show pattern. People filled in, and I wasn’t a bit nervous. It helped, I think, that 4 out of the 6 people were friends, but the two people I didn’t know didn’t faze me. I knew what I was doing, I knew what needed to be done next, and if I didn’t we have a running sheet which reminds us. I was confidant, and it was, as the title of the show suggests, all Ok.
I think having a recorded soundtrack really helps. One, I’m not actually doing the voices, which would be a whole other layer of complication, plus there’s only two of us and although Rob’s pretty good at accents, I’m not. In fact, when we first met, about 9 years ago, I could only do one. And it was a Drunken English Pirate. Quite specific, I grant you, but it was the only one I’d worked out. Now a days, with much more exposure to theatre guys, accents, telly and the like, I’m a little better at a couple, but nowhere near good enough to pull off half the roles in a puppet show. The other reason I’m a fan of recorded soundtracks is that it ensures that every night it’s going to be exactly the same. The music will dip and soar as it did every time in rehearsal, the voices will come in at exactly the same time every night and say exactly the same thing. This makes it much smoother and easier for all involved. It also makes the pressure on the actors less. Instead of having to commit to 6 weeks of rehearsals and then a 2 or 3 week run, we asked them to turn up to Josh’s place one Saturday afternoon and we recorded the whole lot in a couple of hours. Go Josh!
I was listening to a random but well known comedian on the radio the other day, and he was saying that after performing, he gets this huge buzz and can’t sleep, especially on good nights. And it’s the tradition in New York after opening night on broadway that they go to a cafe and drink champaign, waiting for the reviews to be published in the morning. Armed with this knowledge, I did wonder what it would be like once we’d taken our final bows.
So last night, we finished, and they applauded and we started packing up as they started filling out. There was a few who hung around, including one of the women we didn’t know, and talked about the show for a while, and then we continued packed up. Packing up takes about half an hour, so I had time to think. It had been a huge day, I’d opened an exhibition I’ve curated earlier in the night (Echo’s Lost, in the front window of Circa Vintage Store, 102 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) and then we’d gone on to preview Everything. I was glad it had gone so well, and glad that the audience liked it. I was interested in the feedback, that the plot was actually followable (we had been less than certain on that point) and that they felt it was magical. I was glad we’d made something so beautiful, and was super glad it had worked like we’d hoped. But I wasn’t over the moon, or on a high or anything else. I was pleased but tired, like after a nice day at the beach (but, you know, without the sunburn or the sand in your knickers) and I just wanted to go home.
On Broadway they celebrate with bottles of champaign, bunches of flowers and staying out all night long. We drove home, stopping at the Sev to buy a icecream, and went to bed.
Rockstars we may not be, but gosh darn it, we make a good show.
Everything Will Be Ok Details on Melbourne Fringe website
(original post on Terrible Comfort's blog)
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This time the brief was a finger puppet of our own Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, but you can use this for anyone at all. To make a finger puppet of someone, or indeed a doll or anything else, really you want the boiled down, essence of that person. You don't want to have to spend a year adding hundreds of the tiniest details to convey the person when you could do it with a couple of stitches in a line.
So to find a simple image that's recognisable as your chosen celebrity, the easiest way is to find a professional who's already done it for you. Political cartoons in newspapers, for example, are perfect for any politician, a quick google search of "Kevin Rudd Cartoon" brings up heaps of examples. Spend a little time looking over them, you want a simple, not really detailed drawing that perfectly captures your celeb. If you don't recognise the person in the drawing, don't use it.
For Kev, I'm going to use this image:
It's by Mark Knight from the Herald Sun, and it comes from here.
My next suggestion is to redraw the face for yourself. Even if you have poor drawing skills (like me), a quick drawing of it will help you understand the shapes you're about to create. I copied the shape of the head, and then drew the hair over the top of that. Don't worry if it's not Van Gogh, no one's gunna see it (you know, unless you put it on your blog :)
Even though Mr Knight's cartoon is a simplified version of our Kev, I decided to simplify it further. Really all that's needed to suggest Kev is the facial shape, the blonde styled hair and the glasses. A suit will help suggest him further, but that comes a bit later on in the process.
So I've cut out his face shape in a pale pink felt, and then copied the hair shape in yellow. Then I'll stitch the hair to the head in tiny yellow stitches.
Next is the glasses. I liked the idea of the fringe falling over the glasses rim, so I stitched it thus.
Eyeballs are next, a couple of tiny bright blue stitches is all you need. And that's it for the face. Now all you need is the body. You can use a finger sized tube of felt, or for this project I wanted him on a glove. The suit is a blue rectangle of felt with the corners snipped off and hot glued down and the tie is two red triangles.
(The clever ones among you will notice that this finished Kev is a different version than the example one in the tute, please don't send me emails about it! It's because there were quite a number of Kevs made and this was just the one I happened to photographed when finished. You get all get a gold star each!)
Monday, September 14, 2009
gold leaf (or silver or copper or whatever)
gold leaf adesive (can be purchased where ever gold leaf is sold)
a paintbrush you don't mind ruining
and if your object is round, then some plastic food wrap
Grab your object and paint the glue on. It'll go on blue/white, which makes it easy to see where you've covered and where you've missed.
Once the item is covered, you need to put it aside to dry. Once it dries, it will go clear and you'll know it's ready to use. Don't fret, it dries tacky or sticky (no pun intended) and that's how the foil sticks to the object.
Make a cup of tea and have a bit of a sit while you wait for it to dry.
Once the object's glue as gone clear, lay it down on newspapers on your worksurface. If you are foiling for rounded objects, lay out a big strip of plastic food wrap.
Now you need the gold foil out of it's packet. Make sure all windows and doors are shut, even the slightest breeze will make this whole process almost impossible. Open the packet and take out the whole lot very carefully. There's always paper layers between each sheet. Peel one sheet off, then carefully place the rest of the foil sheets back in the packet. If your object is much smaller than the foil sheet (the sheets are less than A5) then it's probably best to cut the sheet to size and place the rest of it back in the packet. Here I've cut the foil a bit wider than I've estimated the diameter of the stick will be.
Step four part B:
Again, for rounded objects, I've laid the copper foil in an approximation of the shape of the stick on the wrap. If you have a flat item, lay the foil gently down onto the item. As soon as the foil touches the glue, it'll be stuck there forever. But the appearance of foil is always a little wrinkly and that's ok. You can use a clean paint brush to smooth the foil down, but you'll probably find that it gets sticky with glue very quickly, and then the foil will stick to the brush more than it sticks to the item. Try using a little square of plastic wrap that you can throw out and get a clean one when it gets sticky from the glue. Which it will. Trust me.
Here is the clever bit for rounded stuff. Place the item down onto the foil and then pick up the plastic, item, foil and all. You can now wrap the foil around the stick carefully using the plastic to keep your fingers away from the glue. If there's any spaces on the item that hasn't been covered in foil, you can cut a little more from the sheet and place it in the space.
Now remove the item from the plastic wrap and run your fingers up and down it, smoothing down any foil that might still be sticking up a little.
Paint the varnish on, which will protect the foil and thus your object. Place it aside for the varnish to dry, and you're done!
Monday, September 7, 2009
I discovered Lizette Greco who creates softies from her children's drawings. Check these out:
How wonderful are they? I'm so sold on this as an idea. There's this great resource called Build Your Wild Self where you can make an almalgum animal from elements from heaps of different animals, it's really cool. So you could do that with the class and then make one of them, but then there's issues of jealousy as to whose gets made, so maybe building it all with the class is a better idea.
I also found Yeondoo Jung, who used to be a kindergarten teacher and he collected something like 1700 drawings over the years. He then analyzed them all, and decided on which ones he was going to recreate. He got teenagers from the local high school to be in them, got fashion designers to make the costumes and created all the sets himself.
(images from Yeondoo's site)
I love children's drawings, and I'm really looking forward to being in the classroom. I'm really looking forward to being inspired by them, and learning from them as much as they're learning from me!