Tuesday, 22 December 2009

dan mccarthy: screenprints

Dan McCarthy: The Woods

If this print wasn't already sold out I'd be lining up to purchase it. American printmaker Dan McCarthy's screenprint The Woods. Someone who loves printing and drawing trees as much as I do! And look at those sweet little owl faces in the trees! Little eyes peeping out at us. Click on the image to get a better look. Oh and he has some cool screen printed t-shirts for sale too. Thanks to printinteresting for leading me to his site.

Friday, 18 December 2009

garden surprise

succulent blossom, melbournesucculent blossom, melbournesucculent blossom melbourneCan you believe this garden marvel? A small round green not overly pretty succulent plant that can produce such an enormous and utterly lovely white flower. That stem is about 12 cm in length! I've been watching it grow over the last week or so. This plant only blossoms about every 1-2 years so finding it in full bloom this morning just made my heart sing.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

plum lucky; plum grateful

plumsplumsLast night we headed off down a back laneway near our house to a plum tree loaded up with fruit that the owner seemed not to want. Branches were hanging over into the laneway and in Australia it's legal for the public to take that fruit. As I was picking the plums I could hear the wings of fruit bats near my arms. We were in competition for these luscious red morsels! I plan to make jam on the weekend with that big bowl in the first pic. There is nothing quite like a liquidy plum jam drissled over dessert 7 months from now in the dead of winter. Behind the plum tree was an apricot tree also loaded with ripe fruit. It was well in the man's yard so sadly we could not pick any. We're considering knocking on his door and asking if we can fill up a few bags and pay him for them. I just hate seeing fruit rotting on the ground.This one little plum is the first and only fruit produced by our young plum tree this year. We planted it 18 months ago so were surprised to see she had produced already. Just one but delicious! I can't wait to see how many she gives us next year. It's plum crazy around here at this time of year. So many fruit trees to choose from! Figs galore in another 6 weeks or so, plums, apricots, lemons, limes, the list goes on. All because 50-60 years ago when immigrants from the Mediterranean arrived in Melbourne they planted fruit trees all over the inner city suburbs where they lived. Am I grateful or what?

Sunday, 13 December 2009


Ask anyone and you will find I'm not known for my joyful approach towards the 25th. But I do have nephews & nieces. And we have a family kris kringle. So to decrease my contribution to the consumerist drive at this time of year if I can't make stuff for gifts I make the wrapping paper. And the cards. It's the least I can do.I use plain old brown paper by the roll as my back drop. Last year I made ginger bread for my work colleagues and wrapped them up with little home made gift tags. I don't know if I will get that excited again this year. It was like a factory in our kitchen getting all that organised.

Do you have any handmade tricks for this time of year? Ways to escape dishing out bucket loads of money?

Saturday, 12 December 2009

another sleepy cotton story

'More picture of pajamas?' I hear you say. Well yes, just one more post about the pj sewing frenzy and then that's it. Promise.

These were made from 100% cotton purchased from our friend Spotlight. It's a heavier weight cotton then the previous pair but still ok for summer. I found the fabric in that funny section they call 'American craft fabric'. Whatever that means. My challenge was that I wanted the leafy branches to go length ways down the legs but because of the fabric width I was forced to go the other way. So the branches in fact go sideways across the legs. Some would say a little less flattering. I think I've just gotten away with it. What do you think? Please excuse the green polka dot felted slippers. It was a bit chilly here this morning.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

finished: pj pants

Drum roll please.......the PJ pants are complete! Yay! Mind you it took about 10 goes on scraps to master button holes. It turned out I just had to tweak the setting on my machine to make them happen properly. Two button holes are needed in the waist for the bias tape to come through at the front. So no actual buttons. They're a comfy fit. Nice wide leg pants (though that's hard to see in the photo where I'm modelling them) and damn easy to sew if you already know how to do button holes. I will confess my one error: I accidentally sewed the front of the two legs together so it looked more like a skirt. This was because I was following the drawings in my Japanese pattern book and misunderstood where they were going. So 10 mins or so of unpicking commenced before I could remedy the situation. I had a good laugh about it though.For those of you who want the detail here's the book I used. Pattern Q. It calls for PJs with fancy leg edges on 3/4 pants but I just used ordinary fabric and made them longer. My fabric (surprisingly) was found in Spotlight. It's extremely light weight cotton and good for PJs I think.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

making and reading

I'm going to make some new pajama pants from this fabric over the weekend. With any luck I'll be using a simple pattern from my Japanese sewing book.

I've just finished reading a novel by Kim Edwards: The Memory Keeper's Daughter and I loved it! The kind of book you can't put down. The artwork on the cover fits the tale so well - so ephemerally fragile and beautiful.

What are you up to over the next couple of days? Any plans? Reading anything good at the moment?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

secret pottery loveliness

Quickly. Shhhhh! Let me show you this beautiful bowl. Crafted by a new potter who is very blog shy so I dare not mention her name. Let's just call her M.I've been sneaking around the house this morning photographing this lovely work because I really believe it should be shared.The glaze is a delicate and subtle green. Like that gentle green you often see in Chinese pottery. The bowl is wonderfully thin and shaped so beautifully that it's a joy to hold in your hands.And I ate that nectarine as soon as the photo shoot was over. My first of the season - so sweet and juicy. I have a feeling I'm going to be in so much trouble for showing these pics to you. But in my defence, isn't the bowl just lovely? And wasn't I right in sharing it with you? But shhhhh! Don't answer too loudly, ok?

Friday, 13 November 2009

take a stroll

spring onion flowerAllow me to take you on a little tour of what's happening in my back garden. The spring onions flowered. And then we ate them all up.
succulentThe succulents are looking quite handsome. Some have flowered. Some are looking very busy and stripey.succulentsucculentOthers are looking very pretty. Almost edible.
succulentSome are lovely and green. They make me feel cool on a hot day. succulentsucculentAnd ones like these have a lot going on in their homes.Some are looking very soft and gentle.succulentAnd others all perky and bright. succulent

Saturday, 7 November 2009

zen and minimalism

I've been having fun designing this new giclee print. I just love the whole feeling of ikebana. Shop fronts in Japan have the most gob-smackingly gorgeous ikebana arrangements in their front windows. It makes me want to run away in horror from the front of some Australian shops because they just have no idea. Not all of course. But some seem to have never encountered the principles of shape, line and form or the symmetry and balance of ikebana. Or the concept of minimalism.

I suppose those of us in Melbourne could head off to Ikebana Melbourne for some lessons to help rectify this sad state of affairs.

This photo by markfountain52 on flickr taken on the streets of Kyoto is the kind of thing that makes me swoon.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

project b

This time I've made a summer top based on the same pattern as the dress. It's project b in the book. Once you've made the dress (project c) the top's quite easy. It has elastic gathering in the neck and sleeves but also loosely at the waist. I decided to line the top with some very thin cotton lining and it feels great against my skin. The top pic, while it does make me look pregnant (I'm not), gives you a better idea of the fabric than any other photo I've taken. And the top pic is closer to the real colour than the 2nd one. In reality it's a lovely tea green. It's to-die-for I swear although it's hard to see that in these photos I know.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

little red dress

Four hours later and the dress from Sewing Talk is finished. Sorry about the funny reflection shot but I don't have a full length mirror and was the only one home when I took these photos. So that's me standing outside our bi-fold doors catching the reflection so that you can see the overall shape of the dress [and my cat's tail at the bottom]. I like the '60's feel of the silhouette.

Some detail around the neck and arms in this pic. The pattern was pretty straight forward but the trickiest bit was making the bias strips that line the neck and arm holes. I'd never done that before. The directions were pretty easy to follow in the pattern pictures even for a beginner like me. The red in these pics looks far brighter than it is unfortunately.

I'm not a big person so this pic shows you how loose the style is. If I was to make it again I wouldn't choose the largest size (I chose Japanese size 13 based on their body measurements with a waist of 70 cm) because it feels a bit too baggy on me.

I also read here that you should allow extra for seams on patterns from Japanese books but I forgot to and it worked out ok with this style. I did however add 5cm extra to the length because I'm 166cm tall and I know most Japanese women are around 160cm. Oh and something I didn't realise until I started is that you need to trace the pattern onto some other paper and then cut that out and attach it to your fabric. Because they try to economise on space they overlap patterns from different parts of the book so you can't cut them out directly as they are.

Thanks felt cafe for this link which has translations for some of the Japanese terms used in the patterns. I was able to read most of them but you really don't need to know how to read Japanese to sew with these books.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

the challenge

This is my sewing project for the weekend. I'm using a pattern from the Japanese sewing book Sewing Talk by Machiko Kayaki. I think I've found the perfect fabric for it too. This red seer-sucker Japanese patterned fabric (pic 2). It feels a bit like paper to touch and has so much texture to it. The problem is the fabric is so beautiful I'm quite fearful of cutting into it and making a start. I've never used a Japanese pattern book before so this will be interesting. Hopefully I'll be reporting back with pics of the finished frock in a few days. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

ken noguchi

Coil Vessel
Ken Noguchi

My love of Japanese ceramics is endless so imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I saw this work by Ken Noguchi from Ishikawa, Japan even though it's not made from clay. He uses traditional Japanese lacquer to get that gorgeous black colour and apart from lacquer his materials include hemp, paper and string. No wonder he won first prize in the 2009 Nakaoka Craft Competition. Simple, understated beauty. We all need more of this in our lives.

Friday, 23 October 2009

cycles; cycling

Spring sunshine means going for long bike rides and ending up in pretty parks like this one. Letting the sunshine in and getting excited about the warm weather on our doorstep. Pausing and reflecting, and taking a break from some things, re-energising for others. Being grateful for what is, not anxious about what could be. Spring is for cleaning, refreshing. It's for all the newness in life. And being ready and open for endless possibilities.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

art deco beauty to go

Why is it that beautiful old buildings need to make way for more department stores and we call that progress?
I've just heard (via Ink & Spindle) about the impending demolition of the gorgeous art deco building, Lonsdale House in Melbourne. It needs to go because apparently the world needs another Myer department store. Can you believe this?

When friends and family visit they always tell me how much they love the way Melbourne preserves it's architectural history unlike other big cities like Sydney, which has been only too keen to tear down it's history and replace it with shiny new (read lacking in character) buildings. This demolition would be tragic in terms of preserving Melbourne's unique heritage.

There's an online petition where you can register your opposition to this crazy decision. And Melbourne walking tours which include this art deco beauty while it still stands.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

hanabi shirt in chocolate brown

I know it must seem like all I ever do lately is print hanabi in different ways on different fabrics. One of my work colleagues even suggested I could keep going and make a whole range of clothes with hanabi. But that would be kind of wacky. In my defense I will say that I printed this one a while ago when it was called particles but today I sewed it into this shirt.
I'm calling this one hanabi shirt in chocolate brown. Now for all you super nifty sewers out there I have to let you know something - I made this without a pattern! Yep, that's right, I free-wheeled it and just cut the fabric out around a shirt I've had for years and really like. It was definitely scary to do this. I kept thinking, oh man you are going to mess this up. And I will say it's not perfect. BUT it does have lining inside it! I've never put lining in anything before so that was kind of interesting. I bought this super soft light-weight natural coloured cotton lining because I wanted the shirt to feel really soft against my skin. It took ages for me to work out how to do it so that it looked as nice on the inside (well almost) as it does on the outside (I'm talking stitching here) but I got there eventually. And I made friends with my iron. I had no idea how useful an iron can be with sewing.
This pic is just to prove my story about the lining. Just in case you thought I was fibbing or something.