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!