Friday 29 July 2011

All good things ...

... come to those who wait! I finally received some copies of the Moda Bake Shop book, Fresh Fabric Treats. And I can at last reveal my contribution, a jewellery wallet.
Like all Bake Shop projects, the challenge was to create something new and unique with one of the Moda precuts. For me, that precut was a honey bun of a muted, olde worlde line called 'Luna Notte' by 3 Sisters. 
The fabrics seemed to me to be calling out for a soft brown grey linen and some pearl button detail.
The wallet unfolds and is able to be hung from a fabric covered hook. My thought was that it would be handy to use while travelling.
There are lots of components on the inside to accommodate your jewellery. From the top, there is a band for holding hair clips and pins or brooches. The tiny rolls untie in the middle for storing all your diamond rings(!). Below that is a zippered compartment, constructed with clear vinyl.
The pink ties are for holding bangles securely. A felt flap, punched with tiny holes is for your earrings.
And at the bottom of the wallet are a series of loops to hold necklaces. The pink elasticised band is for holding pendants securely, and to prevent your necklaces from tangling.

I feel so honoured to have been asked to contribute to this book. The publishers, Stash Books, have done a beautiful job in bringing together a diverse mix of inspiring projects. 
I have three spare copies of 'Fresh Fabric Treats'. As much as I would love to give them away, they are, in part, payment for my contribution to the book. I am selling these copies for AU$21 each. Please email me if you would like to purchase a copy, and I will let you know how much postage will be to your destination.  

My sincere thanks to my lovely friends, online and otherwise, who have encouraged me to pursue my interest in design. I am indebted to you all. Without you, I'd not have had the courage to design anything! Bloom x

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Mum? M-u-u-u-u-m?!

On my last trip home, I nagged and nagged my mother to finally finish her basket wallhanging.
Always one to please, she obliged me :)
 The pattern is called 'Basket Quilt and Pillows #57' by Bareroots. There are some better photos in a previous post. 
Poor Mum - the nagging is over! 
When this little quilt was finished, she quietly reminded me that she started stitching it at Dad's hospital bedside in his last days at Royal Prince Alfred. Hmmm ... I was suitably humbled. I will hitherto try to stop hassling my mother about her UFOs. And perhaps focus on mine?

Friday 22 July 2011

Daybook entry #9

Outside my window ... not today, but recently. 
Today is equally cold, but regretfully no snow.

From the kitchen ... a birthday cake for my now 10-year-old blossie. She requested a Beanie Kid cake. Thankfully daughter #1 rose to the challenge and produced this masterpiece for her sister!
 For those uneducated in BK mania, Beanie Kids are little teddy bears, unique to the Australian market I think. New designs are released each month, in every theme you can imagine. They are inexpensive, addictive and very collectible. 
I am stitching ... blocks for a new quilt using the lovely Figtree Quilts 'Strawberry Fields'.
I am reading ... the last couple of chapters of 'The Help'. I have been searching for some time for 'that book you just can't put down'. I found it in this book. It is the story of black maids working for white housewives in 1960's America. It is at once heartwarming and infuriating! A wonderful read.

I am inspired by ... a creative website that I came across during the week, Dear Photograph. The site invites you to take a photograph of a picture from the past matching it to the same place in the present. A very cool concept! 
I am listening to ... a beautiful song by a young Aussie songwriter, Jamie MacDowell, written for his sister and played at her wedding. I bet there wasn't a dry eye in the house!

Have a great weekend. Bloom x

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Two favourites from the Art Express exhibition

Back to our visit to Art Express, an exhibition of the best of last year's Higher School Certificate works. One of my favourite works was an astonishing drawing, worked in graphite on recycled library books.
Regretfully, I didn't get a photo of the work in its entirety. It was displayed at knee level and was roughly a metre square. Discarded library books were pieced together to form a 'recycled' dimensional canvas.
The artist purposely illuminated sentences from the books. Her drawings were beautiful, especially considering her chosen canvas. It is hard to believe these works are done by 17-year-olds. Amazing talent!
A second of my favourite pieces was 'The Good Wife's Guide'. This one made me smile! It is a clever series of photographs inspired by a set of 'housewife's rules' that the artist found in a 1955 issue of 'Housekeeping Monthly'.
From the artist: "These rules, placed on women by women, are my way of representing the impossibility of perfection and, through humour, deconstructing our futile struggle to achieve it."
The artist must have had a ball dressing up as a '50's housewife for the photographs. Although each image is so carefully composed and detailed that it must have take her an eternity. She also prepared a poignant video to accompany the stills. I have included a few of the panels for you to see. If you click on each image, it should be large enough for you to read. Enjoy!

Monday 18 July 2011

Warming the cockles of my heart ...

... or perhaps stomach! Not sure that stomachs have cockles? 
A cold winter's night in Bloom country is conquered with some warming French onion soup. 
french onion soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
7 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
salt & pepper
1.5 litres good quality beef, chicken or vegetable stock
8 slices sourdough baguette, toasted
gruyere cheese, grated

Put butter & oil into a thick-bottomed, non-stick pan. Add garlic & onions, season with salt & pepper and stir. Put a lid on pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook slowly for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, without colouring onions. 

Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes so the onions become soft and golden. Stir occasionally to prevent the onions from catching on the bottom.When the onions are soft, add stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Ladle soup into four bowls, top each with two slices bread. Sprinkle with grated cheese and put bowls under grill to melt the cheese.

p.s. poorly focussed photo = direct result of Bloom's raging hurry to devour soup :)

Saturday 16 July 2011

Sweet girl, are you sure you want to be an artist?

We visited our Regional Art Gallery during the school holidays. Our eldest daughter (15) is on the brink of choosing her subjects for her Higher School Certificate, and is contemplating choosing Visual Arts. To help her to understand the commitment involved in creating a HSC Major Work, we took her to a travelling Art Express exhibition, a diverse showcase of the very best artworks from last year's HSC. Oh my, what astounding talent was on display, and what sophisticated ideas portrayed. Here are just a few of them:
'Personal Sanctuary: If you are alone, you belong entirely to yourself'
Printmaking: oil-based printing ink on Fabriano paper
"Popular culture has warped the term 'intimacy' to mean purely physical pleasure. I diverged from this ... capturing moments of inner tranquility of individuals in their personal environment"
'Once Upon a Time'
Graphic design: acrylic paints, textas and varnish on wooden skateboards
"A representation of the contrast between the naivety of a young, innocent child and the confronting search for identity found in an adolescent"
'Set in her Ways'
Sculpture: an entire dinner setting made from hot glue
"Art nouveau designs symbolise the extremely precious and intricate nature of families, despite their increasing tendency to be replaced, lost or forgotten in today's society"
Painting: acrylic paint on canvas
"Brushstrokes ... gently move, silently with the morning light seeping through the window ... creating a concentric pattern of radiating light that mimics the continuity of life and spirit"
'Conflict of Interest (inner)'
Collection of works: mixed media on wood
"This piece ... questions the preconceived notions we hold regarding the nature and definition of hypocrisy by exposing the complex nature of the subconscious"
'Heading Towards Annihilation While Engaged in Trivial Conversation'
"Bright unnatural colours comment on the lack of knowledge of the dodo's true appearance ... (and) act as a warning about other endangered species that are in imminent danger of extinction"
'Facial Facades'
Drawing: charcoal on paper
"We don't quite remember when we were children why we were so good at getting what we wanted ... children are brilliant actors, it comes so easily to them"
'Eliphant, Bich, Barbq 
(Elephant, Beach, Barbeque)''
Drawing: pen on paper
"I want to take you inside a dyslexic head. Eliphant, bich, barbq, three words that I could not spell as a child. Red crosses dominated my exercise books. I felt a failure. I finally learned to spell elephant, beach, and barbeque ... Looking through dyslexic eyes, things move, are complex and always changing. There are feeling of confusion and frustration. For me, there was eventually calmness. "

Our visit to the Gallery was perhaps secretly intended to intimidate my daughter into choosing a less challenging HSC subject. As it happens, she came home excited, inspired and even more encouraged to follow her artistic heart! 

I would love to hear of your favourite artwork from this post. Or perhaps your experiences in getting a child through Year 12 Visual Arts :) I have saved two of my very favourite works for my next post. Stay tuned!

Thursday 7 July 2011

A new Frilly Dilly for a winter’s day

I put the finishing stitches on my winter Frilly Dilly last night, in time for a very wintery day in town and a visit to the local art gallery (more on that in my next post).
The fabrics are a muted (not mutant!) hybrid of French General and Barbara Brackman I think - I don’t have the fabrics at hand right now, so I will check that and be back with more detail.
I have used an interesting brown herringbone-weave linen as the base of the bag. I found this fabric ages ago in a remnant bin at a furnishing fabric store. And I used an old wooden buckle that I picked up on my travels. Both have been waiting patiently in ‘the abyss that is my sewing cupboard’ for just the right project.
I tend to live in jeans in the winter, and this frilly dilly just feels like it was made to live with comfortable, old denim. And comfortable, old me as it turns out!
I barely need to say it, as I have made so many of these bags, but the pattern is Janelle Wind’s ‘Frilly Dilly’ bag. You can find availability details for her patterns on her blog.

Friday 1 July 2011

Something to read with your Saturday morning coffee

The very first issue of Etzcetera magazine arrived in my inbox today. 
Etzcetera is a brand spanking new digital publication headed by Australian talent, Kim Archer. The first issue is free for your reading pleasure, available at their website. It is a fresh and inspiring read, true to their theme of 'craft ... lifestyle ... family ... home ... you'!

I am especially excited about this release since the Stitching Editor is none other than Janelle Wind, one of my favourite Aussie designers. Warmest congratulations to Kim, Janelle, and all the editorial staff and contributors on a thoughtful and visually beautiful launch issue. I will certainly be reading it with my coffee in the morning.
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