Dec 26, 2013

Christmas Children and Wise Men.

Needle-felted Wizard by Elmtree.
Just before Christmas I finished and delivered my last orders. Amongst them my very first handpuppet, that you have seen before, but now with hands. He went to a good home, and will be used by a drama teacher for story telling. Awesome!

The Wily Wizard of the Woods.

A new Trike for Christmas.
The child I look after at school, who has special needs, had a wonderful last assembly. She was presented with a new trike; the money was partly raised by school with a sausage sizzle, and the rest came from the Halberg Sports Trust . Absolutely Fantastic Day!

I found this little Xmas childrens story made by the Auckland St.Pauls church. Very cleverly done.

Summer Christmas dinner with lobster!
Christmas day for our family was a nice low-key affair, our youngest divided her time between her house, with boyfriend and son and all her "-in-laws" and us and her work residents. Our eldest came up from Wellington and it was so nice to see her. We spent the afternoon at my brothers' household, and were truly spoilt with a sumptious summer feast.

Cooking scallops to perfection.
These men knew just what to do in the kitchen and everything was delicious.
I like a man in a floral shirt!
Christmas hats are compulsory in this house hold, and we all miraculously pulled one out of our crackers that went with our outfits!
The first spoon breaking into the 6-layered jelly.
And of course the desert table was a triumph, as only my sister-in-law can do. It was served after a nice walk and some strenuous games of badminton. The weather was mild and the forecasted rain stayed away after all.
We got that rain today in stead. Never mind!Hope you had a relaxed Christmas yourselves!

Nov 27, 2013

Needle-felted Lady, and a lunch at a lake.

Deer-Princess eye.
Recently a new puppet was started. I wanted it to be a Princess character. I also wanted her to have a long shaped face with a tiny chin. But she had to be kind. Not cold.
After I found a book on good and bad fairies by Brian Froud, I got lots of visual ideas for face shapes.
 Her mouth became quite small, but with a hint of large front teeth. The space between mouth and nose puffed out like a grazing animal.

Not quite human.
Her eyes turned out just as I wanted: large, expressive and alert.
Then I knew who she was, my Princess was a deer princess! A kind doe. She only speaks quietly and thoughtfully.

Some Brian Froud inspiration.
I'll show more of her, when she is properly finished. She needs some ears now you see. And hair.

Lake Rotorua.
A little road-trip was called for when we bought a new coffee table. Which was in Rotorua.

Lunch at the Lake.
So we went for a day trip, 5 and a half hours there and back. With lovely stops in Taupo for great coffee and morning tea. The weather was lovely and spring like. Lake Rotorua smooth and even the usual sulphur smell there, was not too over whelming. 
Sometimes you just have to get out of the house!

Black swan and signets. 

Nov 9, 2013

Agriculture and Pastoral Show 2013.

Teaching spinning to my Nephew A.
Every year in the spring, in the long weekend of Labour day and Hawkes' bay Anniversary day combined, it is also time for the annual A.&P. Show.
This day really shows what is going on in the region in the rural communities. Over 3 days there are competitions in horse riding. Showing cattle, sheep and alpacca, and their fibre. A childrens' petting zoo, new tractors and farm tools, a fairground with exciting rides, much to eat and drink, woodchopping competitions, sheepdog trials, even country womens' institute knitting, sewing and jam making prizes.
The local spinning clubs, of which there are a good handful around here, organize shifts of spinners and weavers to educate the public and promote our national society. I was asked again this year too, and I took along my star pupil Olga, whom I taught spinning in 3 lessons this year. 
At the show I usually teach kids spinning, and often their mums as well. Especially those women that seem to dawdle, and stay longer than others. 
Very often I also manage to convince tourists to have a go.
I usually do the treadling, and guide their hands, while speaking the 3 magic words ; Pinch, Pull, Slide.
Then after a meter or so of yarn I stop and pull out what they have spun, let it ply on itself and tell them with much praise; "Now you have spun yarn , like people have been doing for thousands of years!"
I usually then wrap it around their wrist, like a rainbow coloured bracelet. 
And after a hurried 'thank you' they run off to show their parent.
We hope that those 10 minutes of using their own hands touching the soft fluff, and magically transforming it themselves, will stick in their minds for later.
I was busy non-stop with this for 4 hours!
And some children told me that they had tried this last year too!
A sheep gets shorn for us, and that wool is used, while the poor embarrassed creature lies somewhere close by, chewing hay, and feeling naked.
However when I teach kids I like to use multi coloured clean carded wool. Far more exciting to show your friends!
No, we don't charge money at all!

And weaving. That mum would love to have a go I think.
We had many interested men as well, who wanted to know lots of technical stuff about our instruments, especially my different looking wheel. And who were surprised to hear that new models with improved features are still being developed and sold around the world.
When you tell boys that it is a machine that doesn't need electricity, you have them hooked straight away.

Super Cute alpacca.
These were irresistible! They make  the cutest noises too, like overgrown guinea pigs. 
And they have such dainty little feet!
Which can really kick another alpacca that they don't like the smell of. Not so cuty-cuty...

Alpacca winning prizes.
Some of their owners give them kisses and hugs, when they win a ribbon.
Their gorgeously soft fibre comes in a range of colours, and lengths, like the near dreadlocks of the suri alpacca.

Prize winning fleeces.
Olga and I went for a good look around when our shift was over. We admired some of the champion fleeces on display.

Champion coloured wool fleeces.
Marveled over the amount of ribbons awarded to a fibre friend of ours, who specializes in Gotland sheep.

The finest fibres.
Had a touch and a feel of course.

The crimp so fine it looked like smoke.
And enjoyed the special smell and greasy-ness of a clean fleece.

A lacemaker with all her tools.
Also saw another ancient textile technique, lacemaking.
A very friendly lady gave us all sorts of information about her chosen passion.
And she sure knew what to do. All those gorgeously beaded bobbins. I marveled how she knew which one did what....

Her fingers made those lace bobbins fly.

Nov 6, 2013

Retro Childhood Drawings and a New Nuno Felted Wrap.

Eden girl with mandoline.
So here a flashback to when I was a little girl. I recently found these pictures on the amazing interweb by an artist called Eden. This artist made quite a few paintings like it, but these 2 I had hanging in my bedroom. I love the pigtails.
Eden girl in harlequin diamonds.
 I wore pigtails myself through most of the late sixties and seventies. With super cool, brightly coloured plastic baubles on elastic hair-ties. I had a small box full of them. And little clips with cute things on the ends.

Every morning my Mum would tie up my hair, and we would both dread the terrible knots in my hair. Here she is with pigtails as well. 
I remember that handbag well, cream linen with brown leather straps. She is wearing a black velvet ribbon around her neck with a pendant hanging off it.
I like to remember her like this, happy being a busy mum of 3, enjoying outings. Showing us a bird nest, or pointing out running horses in the distance. 
Not how she went, so ill. I woke up with that image first thing every morning for a year afterwards.
I don't want the word cancer and mum to be linked in my head. 
It wasn't her, and she wasn't the disease.
I rather remember how we argued together, or delighted in finding a treasure in an opshop.

Nuno felted wrap in reds.
I've recently made another wrap. I used a large piece of tie-dyed silk fabric, in soft pink and a simple dark red pattern. On the other side I laid down fine merino in bright reds, and feathery white plucks of silk fibre.

Same nuno-felted wrap, but the other side.
 So it has become a reversible wrap, light and draping, perfect for summer evenings.

Nuno felt just holding together.
Above you can see the un-felted piece, wet and just stuck onto the silk fabric with soapy water.

Nuno felt after felting process.
An hour or so later it has shrunk to this size, with much rolling, rubbing and throwing.
The edges are now uneven, something which I love the look of.

Deliciously crinkled nuno felt surface.

 The silk fabric is grabbed by the wool fibre, which shrinks. The fabric does not shrink, and starts to crinkle up, causing the wonderfully tactile surface which typifies nuno-felt.

Merino wool and white silk fibres.
The shiny white flashes of silk fibre add a luxurious touch to the other side. The whole thing only weighs 155 grams.
I am very happy with this wrap!

Oct 31, 2013

A Sassy Girl Collage.

At last I finished one of my collages, purposely made for one of my best friends. I put in lots of symbolism, as it was all about her. It was a very belated birthday present, and also a housewarming gift.

I found the quote on the web, and had to think of her. The quote inspired the rest of the collage.
 I use many magazine pictures for my collages, and alter, add and subtract at will.

There is the sassy girl, all confident and open, and being just how she should be.
She has wings to go, wherever she wants.
She wears an apron for practicality, and green for new beginnings. 
White innocence is still underneath, covered by the red of womanhood.
The cage lies discarded behind her, empty with the door shut. 
For the bird has flown. 
It sits atop the mirror tree of growth.
 I think they look at each other knowingly, so now and then.

I framed it as well, recycled of course.
With a lick of paint.
She really liked it!
New Zealand Kingfisher.

I heard this kingfisher one sunny morning. It was in the oak tree outside, I managed to snap its' picture before it zoomed off. All lemon-yellow fronted. It didn't turn around to show its' greeny-blue back unfortunately. 
Off to find someones' gold fish in their pond, a juicy big insect, or (I heard a neighbour report) to spear a fantail bird......! Horror!

Oct 29, 2013

Hobbit Teatime after Hard Tidying.

My hobbit cup.
My favourite afternoon tea cup was given to me by my Wellington daughter. It was made by the same pottery studio that provided the crockery for the Hobbit film. It is nice and chunky with a birds egg-speckle. And together with some home made cake, I feel very hobbit-like.

Studio all tidied up.
In the end it only took 2 of my holiday days to totally tidy up my studio. And everything was put away in the proper place too, downstairs in the storage room, and even that looks tidy; all boxes labelled on the shelves and tags hanging of zip storage bags.
Even my spinning wools and felting wools are separated.

The cutting table bared of mess.
Some of my tools and tool bags are quite retro. That is my parents' old bread box. Full of papers.
I also use quite a few old suitcases, and paste pretty papers onto large shoe boxes.

Painting station cleared for finishing work.
Fox in his box next to my table, he likes to be close. 
He is 17 years old and can get a bit confused sometimes.

Sunny corner in the new laundry.
In the mean time, my Love has finished the laundry and it is now fully operational.
It is very compact, and clean and practical.

The tub.
There is a small tub with a swivel tap, big enough to stand a bucket in.
It's all I need.

And I can close it off with 2 folding doors. These now have white frosted glass in them, so the light comes through but not the view of 2 big machines.
What a handy guy I have! Thanks Darling, you are the best!

Oct 25, 2013

Masks and Mess.

Wolf fingerpuppet.
Remember I told you I had performed the story of the Wolf and the three pigs with finger-puppets for the class a while ago? Well this was the wolf finger-puppet I needle-felted. He looks nicely wild with shaggy bits of gottland wool curls as his coat.
 Hungry eyes and a teeth-filled open snout. 
He'll huff and he'll puff!

My paintings for the school production masks.
Speaking of puppets, year 3 and 4 had to produce a variety show, and a Pinocchio readers theatre was chosen by our teacher for her group. That means that a bunch of kids are Pinocchio, and a bunch are Gepetto , with one of the bunch being the actor, while they all speak in unison.
The teacher was able to find some character faces for masks on the web, which needed modification, but I painted  6 of the characters masks ( incl. Jimeny Cricket, not shown). We copied them and glued them on to cardboard, they sat above the childrens' mouths, so that we could hear their voices. 
It went very well, they lasted 4 performances, produced very cheaply!
I am an awesome teacher aide!

All the magazines and books for ripping up.
You know how you see photos of these beautifully designed and decorated studios of multi talented artists? You even have whole magazines devoted to "studios" and "where women create".
It's very inspiring, and makes you drool at the mouth of course.
Then reality hits.
Do they actually get used?
Where are their piled up books, spare bits of paper, the dried up paint spills?
The coffee cup with half the contents, from last week?

My cutting and laying out table is somewhere under this.
The sewing project that utterly, I mean Utterly Flopped.
Left in a corner. Together with that basket of threads that just can't be classified and therefore has no real place.
Do they have a cat that might have pooped under the table?

My felting table...yeah,right!
And all those things that these artists had taken somewhere, perhaps to work on at Club, and coming home they "just for now" popped on to the table.
Did they find that the tube of glue had leaked and left a rock hard puddle on the cutting sheet?

And my painting station: un-usable.
Cause I have all that. 
It just happens.
By itself, honest.

Oct 22, 2013

Spinning in Springtime.

Sunshine on the table.
Not having a big budget for flowers, I often buy flowers from a roadside stall. $3 for a bunch of cheer is awesome, and these daffodils were often replaced in the early spring.

Breakfast table.
We are an old-fashioned family, we set the breakfast table the night before, and always eat at the table. Stops you from rushing with your food, and is a great slow start to the day.
I love creamy porridge with dried fruit in cold weather.

Last September I attended a Spinning Workshop in Woodville, a one and a half hours drive south from here. The tutor was Suzy Brown, a.k.a. Woolwench . She is an amazing art yarn spinner, who lives in The Netherlands. She is a kiwi however, from Hawkes' Bay, so kind of the opposite of me!

Suzy and Tracy have their thinking faces on...
The workshop was held in Tracy Whites' Studio and shop in Woodville. I learned at least 5 other spinning techniques and Suzy helped me with some trouble shooting of one of my yarns as well. It was lovely to meet her face to face, as we had already messaged each other through her blog.
 I had a go at a Majacraft prototype carder, that we had to test, as well as using a blending board for the first time.
One of my fellow students trying hard to not control the yarn.
Tracy had some delicious fibres for us to play with, and I brought some of my own as well.
Suzy made us spin our first crazy multi-fibre batt with our eyes closed! This was to stop us controlling the fibre going into the wheel, because when you have spun for a while, spinners' hands want to make the thread fine and even. Art yarn can be bulky and full of irregularities.
Of course some of the fibre got so bulky, it wouldn't go through the hole, and there was some swearing in the room! Unfortunately not everyone had a wheel that could accommodate bulky bits.
Thanks to my new flyer and large bobbins I was fine with that.
It was a really good exercise.

A fine combed merino and silk mixture from the blending board.
At home I spun up my fine combed merino and oodles of silk rolags from the blending board, I managed to make 3 of those rolags. The thread I made was fine and even, because I wanted it to go a long way. I could use it by itself or as a wrapping yarn or as a plying yarn.
Who knows.
I'll show the other yarns I made in another post soon.
My favourite elmtree .
I drive by this marvelous elmtree every day I go to work.
 It is massive!
And has the perfect shape.
Oh I love it!
Free free!
This winter an escaped cockateel has been circling our street. The neighbours across the street have 1 too, in a cage on their porch. They screeched to each other often and the free one would circle their house.
Until one afternoon the cage door came unstuck, and our neighbours' bird joined the free bird.
We haven't seen either of them since...