Monday, 3 December 2012

Experimental Spinning Christmas tree

For over 10 years now, the first Saturday of the Month has been Experimental Spinning. I haven't tired of playing with spinning and enjoying the company of fellow experimenters. Over that time there has developed a number of traditions. Christmas is a prime example.

We've fairly recently started celebrating our Christmas meeting with a fibre sandwich, and to keep up the interest, we've decided on a theme for each year, this year it's the Christmas tree.  Think tree, decorations and tinsel!

 First was a layer of green, followed by brown, just a little, for the tree trunk. Then we loaded on the tinsel, silver and silk. In the middle, it's kept in check and is a surprise when you spin it. Then layers of red and green fibre, all added up to an amazing fibre sandwich. And very Christmas tree like.

I still have to contemplate how I'm going to spin it. Split it up, card it together or just go with the flow.....or maybe a bit of each?

Friday, 30 November 2012

'ACE" - 2012 Diploma of Visual Arts graduate exhibition

I've been 'slightly' distracted over the recent weeks with my graduate exhibition, finishing off work, displaying it properly for assessment, taking it down and mounting it for the exhibition and generally revelling in the relative 'freedom'! I have actually finished my Diploma of Visual Arts from the CAE (now part of Box Hill Tafe) and I've majored in sculpture.

Majoring in sculpture was always the plan and I'm glad my plans have not come unstuck! It's been a really valuable year and I'm pleased with the body of work that I've created, along with the ongoing ideas that it has generated. Mila Faranov inspired us, pushed us, encouraged us and all the good things and some of the bad, a good teacher should do.

I ended up completing four pieces of work and all are exhibited along with the 30 odd fellow graduating students, most of whom are painters with only a few of us either sculptors or printmakers. The exhibition is 'ACE' and it's still on at the SmartArtz gallery in South Melbourne. It's on till Saturday. I've been taking friends in and am really pleased with the response. (AND I've sold some of the works!)

The theme for my work is 'Abode', inspired by birds and thier amazing nest building skills and structures. I'm trying to explore ideas around making, building our homes, and recycling materials that are no longer useful.

The four works are:

Empty Nests: spun paper, copper wire, made into 'abodes' using a basketry technique, sitting on cross-sections of trees from our garden, kindly cut up by Tony at A.A.Timbers in Eltham.

High Rise: crocheted video tape (thanks Catherine), oh, and I DON'T need any more!and cellophane leftovers from Reverse Art Truck.

Palace: handknit nylon wire and a bit of brass wire, mounted on a perspex mirror with lights.

Prefab: nylon wire woven on a weave-it loom, these 'abodes' are then manipulated and woven with bits of thread. I am in awe of the next building skills of birds, after attempting these!

And now it's on to the future! I've applied to Craft Victoria for an exhibition based around these works and am waiting to hear the result of my application, expected in the next couple of weeks. There are so few places available, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This will determine, one way of the other, what I do next year.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Antiques Roadshow and spinning!

Yesterday, the Banyule City Council put on a sort of Antiques Roadshow at the Banyule Arts Space, as part of their Winter in Banyule festival. This was the last event. I don't usually get a chance to go to the Winter events, but I was asked along with some other members of the Handweavers and Spinners Guild to go along and demonstrate spinning. I guess a sort of 'antique' art!

It was a lovely day with our spinning providing interest and memories before the 'show' and afterwards when there was tea and scones for afternoon tea, of course!

It was an excellent afternoon. I love the television program 'Antiques Roadshow', though not a collector, I do love the stories that pieces carry with them and the odd 'find' is always exciting. Our little local roadshow had some wonderful finds of its own. The $2000 bronze that had been used as a doorstop, the gold and topaz brooch that had been found at Northland and the most exquisite Japanese embroidery on silk of a pair of tigers and so much more.

And I did manage to get some lovely Wendy Dennis fleece spun.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The view at Rose St.

There comes a time when decisions need to be made. I love Rose St. Artists' Market, the people, the stalls, the community, but, it's not working for me. This Winter has been particularly disappointing with the last two markets being, basically, dismal. I don't exactly know why. It's not Rose St.'s fault, they advertise, they're about to go through renovations that will see exciting new things happening.

As  I sat there and thought, there was the beautiful site of the stall across the way.

I love the 'squashed' look, the simple shapes and colours and then the contrast with the flowers. The young man sells jewellery, but also makes these pots. They're handbuilt. Just love them.

I will think about Rose St. next Winter and I'll have a last market there, for this year, in September. I look forward to it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Yes, it's yarn!

For nearly the last 10 years, every 1st Saturday of the month is Experimental Spinning at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild. Yep, next meeting on the 1st September we celebrate our tenth (oops) birthday. I've been convening the group for all that time and would miss any of it. We continue to have fun and explore all sorts of yarns, fibres, colour and, of course, ideas. If you want to come along and help us celebrate this momentous achievement, don't hesitate to come along, we'll be there with cake and spinning wheels and a few games, from 1 till 4pm.

For the August meeting we attempted, successfully, I may add, tail-spinning. Lexi Boeger in her book 'Intertwined' describes it. Also many years ago we did a version where you spun the locks together, Lexi describes using a core yarn, which is much easier!

I chose English Leicester, which has an amazing crimp, giving you that lovely curly lock look, with a sheen that dyes beautifully.

We all managed to create amazing yarns and the most interesting part was that the yarn wasn't very overspun, which was a surprise, as it is not a plied yarn. This yarn lends itself to being used just as a decorative yarn without having to be transformed by knitting.

Next time I want to try a variegated fleece, Jen did a fabulous grey skein which she wore to coffee. There were also wonderful colours, with dyed mohair being a standout.

Loads of fun!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

All about the socks

Anyone who has started on the knitting socks journey, ie. has knit more than one and the dreaded second sock sydrome need no longer be mentioned, will tell you that these are the perfect journey, waiting room, etc. project. They're small enough to just pop into a bag. Once you've mastered the basic idea there are few difficulties (unless, of course, you choose to embark on a difficult patterm), and, you can never have too many hand-knitted socks, that is, unless there are also others who appreciate handknitted socks, and then you have the never ending reason for knitting yet another pair of socks. And, they're just complicated enough to be enjoyable to knit.

The reason I didn't tell you about the yarn is that it is just a yarn from Spotlight that I picked up when I had the delightful combination of a gift voucher and discount voucher! Wool with a bit of nylon. A good combination.

It's interesting yarns for socks, I've found that the cheap and cheerful are as robust and reasonable as some of the more beautiful yarns. And, helpfully, packing space at a premium, you don't need a pattern, with the sock pattern conveniently on the back!.

I'm now modifying patterns for my feet: right foot bigger than left, and, I tend to wear a hole in the toe first so that is re-inforced in the same way heels are. While toe decreasing I knit in between the decreases as follows:

     Row 1: K1, slip 1....
     Row 2: Knit

This gives a lovely reinforcement that seems to be working.

And simple sock patterns can be modified when you start the second:

Alternating bands of knit, then purl give a big cuff that I hope will hang over the edge of my ankle boots, of which I have a small, not quite yet, collection.

The next socks on the horizon are black!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Catch up installment 3 - What do you do in the tropics?

Knit socks, of course.

We went to the lovely Port Douglas for a week in the school holidays. Much more developed than when partner and I had gone some 25 years ago, but the four mile beach is still amazing to walk along in the morning and you can get a decent coffee at the end!

Unfortunately, it was a bit too windy to go out and snorkel on the reef, but a trip to Cape Tribulation was lovely and the general relaxing atmosphere and the ability to wear t-shirts everyday made the stay seem way too short.

I did have to have something to do on the long plane trip and in those quiet moments in the evening. Bliss.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Catch up - instalment 2 - it's a 21st!

A 21st birthday is still a celebration, despite the 18th birthdays, the 16th birthdays, all sorts of graduations and events. It marks the entry into adulthood, possibly in a more serious way than the 18th. The 18th is a bit can now vote, drive and drink. Well here in Australia, anyway.

So, my oldest has turned 21. We've had a lovely Sunday lunch with family and close family friends at Cafe Matto in Heidelberg, run by an old friend of ours. It was a lovely lunch and we were well catered for. My kids still have both sets of grandparents and they enjoyed helping him celebrate.

We then followed up with a party at our house for about 25 of Michael's friends. It was catered for by good friends of ours. It was fun catching up with these young people, many of whom we had not seen since VCE. Boy, they sure do grow up!

Here is Michael thanking his friends.

It's fun to discover your son makes funny speeches and lovely to hear his friends talk about him with genuine warmth.

Happy 21st birthday!

It was an odd birthday: arthroscopy on his knee ON his actual birthday, singing nurses are just fun! Blue icing, that was a little TOO blue, everyone with blue mouths.

I hope he remembers it well.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Catch up with my trips - Instalment 1 - Bendigo!

Yes, it's that time of the year again! If you can, you've probably been to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo. A must pilgrimage for those interested in anything woolly. From those selling their sheep and showing them to fashion and those of us in between.

As usual, we travelled en masse on the train to Bendigo. It may be an early start, but it is very convivial with six of us and attracting more on the two hour journey as we knit and chat.....and the journey home.

It's a time to meet people, look at the Woolcraft competitions, sheep, some cooking, and, of course, the various traders. There's lots more, some day I'll do more than just glance at the sheep dog trials. Amazing owners controlling dogs, controlling sheep....most of the time!

I did manage to make a few purchases.

There's the natural coloured wool tops and yarns.
LLama fibre from Granite Haven Llamas, tops from Jarob Farm, Chocolate yarn from Bennett & Gregor and a huge (500g) cone of Cash/Merino 1ply from the amazing Charly at Ixchel.
There's the brightly coloured tops.
from Kathy's fibres and Wool n Wire...

Can't wait, must start......

Spinning some wool tops,

and, knitting the amazing mink/angora from Charly.

Next year, it will be even more exciting.........see you there!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Drawing in the Grampians - II

So what did I produce on my week away?

I had a couple of goals in mind. One was just to do some serious big drawings, with an attempt to get them to some sort of completion. I managed two.

For me, drawing is about seeing and recording. If you spend alot of time, carefully observing something, you manage to see so many details. You can feel yourself change as you get deeper into the picture. It's almost like a light switching on. Whilst I would love to make great drawings, that's not the main aim of my ongoing 'need' to draw.

The next aim was to have another try at painting. I find I need to separate the two aspects of drawing: the line or structure, and, the colour. So I figure, with painting, that I can record colour. I've been reading a book on Fred Williams, whose landscapes are disceptively simple with big blocks of colour and 'blobs' of colour for the smaller features.

I tried several times, and while they weren't successful, they were a step in the right direction. I decided to use gouache, rather than watercolour or oils. It allows you to paint thinly or thickly and dries quickly. My colour matching wasn't great, but that's the subject of the next blog!

I attempted to put down just blocks of colour, then I painted over them a stiff brush to make ragged dot marks and a sponge to also try and get texture into the picture.

I then took the first picture back to the cabin and tried again. Working from a picture in 'the studio' isn't a skill I've achieved yet, so a worthy first attempt.

Oh, and I did finally, on the trip home, draw an olive tree.

And, don't they photograph well.....

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Drawing in the Grampians

As part of the Diploma of Visual Arts course, we can attend a week of drawing at Mt Zero in the Grampians. In the western district of Victoria, the Grampians are spectacular and a drawcard for rock climbers. We stay in the Mt. Zero cabins, basic accommodation, mainly for said rock climbers and school groups. It acts as a base, and with a real fire and good company, we bring our food and wine and share.

The treat this time was paella, sadly in the rain, but accompanied by sangria was not a bad deal for the week.

Day one is driving. I go on my own and plan some stops. I've found a gorgeous cafe in Bacchus Marsh, where I also try and buy locally grown food from the roadside food stalls. There are gorgeous little towns along the way, Beaufort, with a great op shop and, this time, I visited Seppelts at Great Western to pick up a couple of bottles of wine!

Day 2 is a drive into the Grampians, about 10 minutes, with Aboriginal Art, beautiful views and great rocks. This was when I strained my back, so that the next day, I didn't participate in the sculpture around the dam. I did document it with my camera, but the idea of bending down did not excite me. The afternoon, I decided to climb Mt. Zero. Only about a kilometre, with a rock scramble at the end, but it took me an hour one way. I stopped to do quick sketches, drink and rest.

It was worth it! The view was spectacular, and, although a little windy, I had lunch up there, drew and took photographs. A slow and slightly sad decent, interrupted, surprisingly, by the thud of the rock wallabies! I felt very satisfied. The is to be my last year and climbing Mt. Zero seemed a fitting exercise.

Thursday, was a trip to Mt. Zero olive farm. Always a mixed bag. It's a delightful olive farm, just under the shadow of Mt. Zero. The olives are wonderful, I bought a 2kg jar to take home! The olives were just about to be picked. However, drawing olive trees is my nightmare. They seem to demand that you draw every leaf! 

So I stayed away from them and had a very pleasant day.

Friday is the drive back. I went back the long way through the mountains to Halls Gap, the main town nestled in the Grampians. It was a very pleasant and spectacular drive. I finally made Ararat where their gallery is wonderful with two exhibitions, both very interesting. One ceramics and the other, Lucy Irvine with her sculptures created with cords, plastic tubes and plastic ties. They were graceful and beautiful.

It was a little difficult driving home as there was some rain whilst I was on the dual highway part of the trip. Lots of trucks sending vast amounts of water over the car, does not make for stress free driving in the dark! 

But, I did make it home, feeling tired and happy, after a great week.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Photo critique

After the photographic expedition to the city with Leanne there was more! As part of the day I was asked to send 5 or 6 photos for a critique and I was sent back both altered photos and a few words. I wanted to put them side by side and compare them, so here they are:

1. The left hand side is sort of floating. Should I have zoomed in or out more?

2. Needs cropping....zoom in!

3.Did it need cropping?


4. Which way round?

5. Needed to get a little more abstract.

6.Triangle, what triangle? Oh THAT triangle, sometimes you really have to look where the lines are leading you!

I've paraphrased the comments, but it is interesting getting someone else critically looking at your work. There is a need to focus more intently on what is the purpose of the picture, either in the subject or the strict composition. I also need to learn to play with Photoshop a bit more to get the most out of my photos!

Thanks Leanne!