Aug 20, 2012

Botanical Beauties.

My one-off felt creation shown by my pretty model.
As you can see I have been busy felting lately.This time an OOAK hat. (One Of A Kind : took me ages to figure out what those letters stood for...)
I was commissioned to make a mushroom shaped hat for a 9 year old expert on fungi. He requested a brown and yellow button shape, and even though I had never made one, I was sure I knew how.

Top of the Mushroom Hat
And I am quite happy with how it turned out, and judging by their enthusiastic response, so were the boy and his Mum.
I left a small ridge on the edge (usually on a 3-d shape like this, I work the ridge so it disappears.) to make it more of a division between top and underside. The only stitching is is on the underside to sculpt the gills, and give it more upward rigidness.

The sculpted underside.
I also added a loose padding inside, soft cotton with sewn in wool sliver.
The measurements for his head circumference had already been provided. It had to fit of course, and not sink over his eyes...

Super shrinking rate!
This time I worked the felt even harder than with the hobbit hole. You can see the bubble-wrap resist, which was the size I started off with! Usually I felt until the object has shrunk by a third of it's original size, or even less if I want it to remain supersoft and flexible.
But this time it shrunk to one third of it's original shape. This also means that the different coloured layers of wool used, will "travel" and subtly blend to make the final colours.
I definitely had quite sore arms the next day...

 Weird Impulse buy:
Alfred Meakin dinner set "Oaklands"
So there I was in 1 of the opshops on my "Thrift Queen List" and my eye fell on this dusty bunch of plates and cups. I really liked the stylized acorns, beech nuts and leaves pattern. I figured it was late 1950's or mid 60's.
I turned it over and to my surprise it said Alfred Meakin, England, glow-white "Oaklands".    I often pick up porcelain because of it's cheerful colours or patterns, and I often see Meakin, but usually much older looking, pre-war. Not that I can find any information on this particular pattern, but I just like it.
I also noticed the price on a wee little sticker: $5 (NZ)
Well, I took it home, didn't I....
 My love liked it too, and it will make a nice change at dinner time after 27 years of the same plates. Not that I will chuck out the other set mind you.
 It is Crown Lynn, "Wild Wheat", bought new from the D.I.C. store. I can still see us walking through town with the boxes of our dinner-set, ready to go flatting together. I felt so proud and excited!
 And there is nothing more Kiwiana than Crown Lynn crockery.

How does our garden grow:
It is winter time, so our Christmas star is in full bloom. But no X-mas in sight for our pointsettia...
 We get the forced potted plants with that season in the supermarkets.
Poinsettias get bigger than you think...
It is a small bushy tree in our garden here. Last year a big branch snapped off in stormy weather.
Are you Northern Europeans surprised with the size your little potted plants can grow to?

Creamy delicious magnolia.
The tuis love our neighbours' magnolia tree, they dip their beaks into the back of the flowers and have a little sip.
Next to the magnolia is a native "cabbage tree".
We have a lovely view of this winter flowering tree from our living room.
 It is nice to be on canopy-level!

Aug 12, 2012

Clouds in our Skies.

Volcanic ash on my car.
 So last Monday 6th august,11:30ish at night, Tongariro, one of our volcanoes in the central North-Island plateau, erupted. It had been asleep since 1897. It burped out a bunch of rocks, a few explosions, much steam and ash, accompanied by small tremors and lightning.
None of which we heard or felt in Napier.
 But it did smell funny in the morning on Tuesday; a faint smell of sulphur.
I then heard it on the radio news, and went outside, where I could see small flecks of white-grey ash lying on the ballustrade of our deck.
And once I got to school for work, this (above) is what my car looked like.

Looking north west across Havelock North and Hastings.
I had taken my camera along, and after work in the early afternoon I drove up Te Mata Peak look-out point.
On a clear day you can see Mt.Ruapehu from here, the sister volcano of the 3 grouped together there. But you can see from my photo, that it was cloudy and hazy.
(Nasa Photo)Tongariro Ash plume seen by moonlight 1 hour after eruption, drifting east towards Hawke's Bay.
This is a Nasa photo, much clearer, even though at night.
The distance between Napier and the volcanic plateau is about 110 km as the crow flies.
 Or in this case; as the ash drifts.

Looking north towards Napier by the sea.
We live on that large hill outcrop at the sea side. On the left is Havelock North and the outskirts of Hastings. Hazy everywhere.

Looking westwards.
You can really see the ash filled air between the ranges in the distance and the green hills in the foreground. By this time of the day it was slowly moving south .
Looking east across the Tuki-tuki river.
I then turned around to the east and looked down into one of my favourite scenery, the Tuki-tuki river valley. Across the river is a glade of pine trees, which was softly smoking it seemed.
No, not more ash, but soft green-yellow billows of pine pollen.
Can you feel a sneeze coming on?
I did have some teary eyes that day and the next, but I usually have a more severe response to other pollen allergy, so I think I was reacting to the ash.

 The volcanologists are saying that there are 3 scenarios: *1 Tongariro will simply go back to sleep, and it was just farting in bed, *2 it will keep going quietly for a while, with gentle steaming and ash throwing *3 it might be gearing up for more activity.
The ash etcetera was coming out of 3 new vents apparantly. Also the magma is bubbling up higher than usual, measured by certain gases in the steam. But that is all they can tell us.
-However, White Island off the coast of Bay of Plenty has also erupted, either on Tuesday or Wednesday. It hasn't done that for 12 years, although there is always some bubbling going on there. White island is a volcano, of which only a quarter of its full size is sticking up out of the sea.
- And if that isn't enough to make you wonder if they are connected, so has another underwater volcano North of New Zealand, called Mount Monowai.
A navy ship found 25 000 square km worth of floating pumice on the surface of the ocean.
All these volcanoes are of course on the fault line of the tectonic plates on which we balance here in little old New Zealand...
Interesting stuff! We'll just keep watching this space...

Aug 6, 2012

Exotic Balinese Critters.

Pollinating the hibiscus flowers.
There were many little delights in Bali, here a series of insects we chanced upon . And my camera does up close quite well. Don't forget to click on a picture to see it bigger.
Unfortunately I do not know any of the beautiful creatures' names.
It was very difficult to get a picture of the black butterfly with the swallowtail shaped wings. It was bigger than a monarch butterfly and it had a flash of deep blue on its wings, the yellow was pollen. It flapped its wings rapidly even when sitting down.
Looking ancient.
 This huge bug was making its way up a rusty gate. It moved woodenly and slowly. It looked very robust and would have filled the palm of my hand.
Didn't like my hand.

Electric blue dragonfly.
This is the colour-way you  would expect of a dragonfly. Although beautifully offset by its black wings. Shimmering against the green foliage.

Golden dragonfly.
This dragonfly was a glowing golden colour. Just right against that dark water background.

Velvet red dragonfly.
 And this one amazed me! A velvety dark red, but with see-through wing tips.
This is one of my favourite photos.

Super size snail.
 Near the rice fields a whopping big snail was slipping up the wall.
 Didn't like my hand either.
Big beetle.
At night on the porch this bumbling big beetle came crashing into the lamp. We helped it back up and on its way.
I would have loved to film the fireflies, but the camera couldn't handle the focus in the dark, what with those little beetles blinking on and off all the time.
 Shame , because they are just magic!

Emerging gold dragonfly.
This was a brand-new golden dragonfly, just emerging from its pupae stage. Its wings haven't quite un-crumpled yet, and are still drying out.
It will fly off soon, for the first time in its short life, and it will know exactly what to do.
I just love the little things in this world, don't you?