May 22, 2014

Collaging Merrily Down the Stream.

Hedgehog pixie collage.
Another art experiment was had in my lovely room. First I made a small collage on canvas over hard board, and although I wanted to have a quick image, of course it took on a life of its own and became a story. 
Hedgehog pixie dreaming merrily down the stream, with her fish companion. 

I added lots of different media; handwritten pages underneath, gesso, magazine papers, water-colour tree, black ink stamps, acrylic paint, white gel pen and permanent markers.

Collage finished with 2 layers of wallpaper sizing.
 When it was done, I wanted to try out an encaustic layer, or beeswax melted over the top.

Problem no.1 my beloved people kept saying, but you might ruin it, and it is really nice!
Problem no.2 acrylics, including gesso, don't mix with wax, it won't keep sticking. So I can't use an acrylic sealer over the top. And if the magazine papers don't get sealed the wax will penetrate and show what is on the other side of the paper.

Solution no.1 make photo of unwaxed pixie. Ignore all other comments.
Solution no.2 make up jar of wall paper sizing, which is made from some kind of flour, and dries clear, but is not plastic. Brush on 2 good layers.
2 layers of encaustic beeswax .
When it was good and dry, I started playing with the hot wax. I mixed beeswax (from a candle) with 10% paraffin "drops" to make it a little tougher. That's my own experimental idea.
I melted it in a chocolate-fondue set ($5 opshop) with a little tea-candle underneath. It smelled lovely!
After warming up the artwork with the heat gun, I brushed on a layer of wax with a wide brush, then used the heatgun to warm it up again, so it glistened, but didn't run off.
And again with another layer, more on the sides then in the middle.
I used the heatgun to smooth out the irregular areas, it was fun!
As you can see, there is some darkening in patches on her dress and neck, so I think next time another couple of layers of wallpaper sizing to seal it a bit more.
I like the way the wax has created deeper layering and made the picture look more "dreamy".
I will definitely play more with this medium!

Bellbird at the nectar bowl.
Managed to take a sharp photo of one of our neighbourhoods' bellbirds, I think it is a female, the male has a darker throat. Such a gorgeous colour green, and yes, they have ruby coloured eyes. Bellbirds are quite shy and move very quickly, always on the look out for that rascal tui, that thinks it owns this nectar bowl.

Treasure Hunt Showcase ;

Pip-studio cups found in opshop.
Could not believe my luck! Staring at me from a shelf of ugly mugs and stained teacups, were these 2 gorgeous red and pink Pip-studio cups... I snatched them up! I already had the blue one at home, an expensive purchase a few years ago from Wellington.
Not a chip off them, ooh pretty, pretty! Just $4 together....
Can I bring myself to drink tea out of them, or will I only admire them in a spot where I walk past every day....
$5 worth of vintage linen and napkins.
So how does that work, when you have a colour co-ordinated thrifting spree?
All these sweet lollie colours go together, they will all be dunked into a bucket of nappisan and ironed, and remade into cute things.
These are the kind of opshop finds that make my day, my week even, and have me going back for more treasure thrills.
Some people get their thrills bungee-jumping, or binge-drinking.
Well , I go treasure hunting for sweet bargains, never knowing what I might find!
Aah! It's the little things...

May 5, 2014

Zombie Party to let your Hair Down, or Up...

Realistic felted dreadlocks by hubbie!
 So now and then my brother and sis-in-law throw a party. These are always very popular and creative events;  always dress-up parties with a particular theme. They hadn't had one for a number of years, so for no particular occasion, they announced a new party!
"Channel Your Inner Zombie..."
Yeah!! time to let your hair down : drink, eat, talk, laugh, and dance till the wee hours with lots of wonderful people!
My own accessories...
It was super-fun getting our costumes together, op-shop finds mostly, with some special paint jobs.

My man Baron Samdi.

 I decided I didn't want to have blood and guts everywhere, I actually wanted to wear a nice dress. So I chose to become a Voodoo Priestess, who according to legend, started the whole zombie thing in the first place. There is another character in this culture, and that's Baron Samdi, a kind of demi-god who stands guard between the dead and the living world.
Perfect, my man got to wear a suit!
Voodoo Priestess, with awesome dreadlocks!

Zombie Housewife (sis.i.l.) checking on her ribs.

Brother Zombie with amazing latex make-up job, all his own work.
 ALL the guests, and that was quite a number, had gone all out with their costumes. Zombie-brides, -clowns,-toothfairy,-cyclists,-computernerds,-lawnmower guy,-hunter,-medical staff and others.
There were even barricades to get through to get to the house with creepy zombie noises, and several wood braziers were burning for those having a breather outside. Inside there were zombie movies-best-bits playing, a laser light dance floor with smoke machine, and a lot of "blood" splattered sheets and other props.
Dance I did!!
It was a great night ( and early morning...)
Eyeball snacks and brain schnapps.

May 2, 2014

Easter Egg Dyeing with Natural Colours and Leaf Resists.

Resist dyed leaf patterns.
 About time I showed you what I did with the kids at school for Easter.
 First I explained about the connection with Spring and Easter, or rather let the kids think about why we were celebrating eggs, bunnies, chicks, and flowers at Autumn time! Yes, of course I mentioned the other celebration of Jesus as well, but in passing. This was about dyeing eggs, and it is a secular school.
And the kids did come up with the answer; we're on the other side of the world of where these traditions started! So I said, we are going to make Autumn-Leaves Easter Eggs.

New Zealand Primary school classroom.
 This is my "base" classroom, since I work in 4 different rooms at the moment. That's the teacher, she has phenomenal energy, I am in her class for the second year in a row. The children are having "mat-time"in the picture. In between different activities they come and sit on the mat, or the carpet in front of the teaching desk. It gives them movement and a different pace and signals that they need to pay attention to the teacher while she talks about something in detail. It's also where they eat their morning-tea, or listen to a story.
That big white board is an "interactive white board" on which you can bring up the internet, or computer programmes, with which you can use an electronic pen to write or draw on the board, print it out, or even send to another computer in the school. Nearly all our senior classes in our school are completely "technology classrooms", in which each child does their work on their individual laptops, then sends their work to the teacher. She/he can also monitor their work in their files, and checks if the kids access things they shouldn't. It seems to keep the kids' attention quite well!

Anyway, back to the eggs...
Simmering red cabbage.
 At home I prepared the dyes. I could have done this at school too, but seriously; boiling cabbage and onion skins for half an hour is not that pleasant a smell in a classroom...
So I simmered (in a stainless steel pot, since iron or aluminium can change the colour) half a red cabbage with salt (making it alkaline) and the other half with a dash of white vinegar (making it acid), just under boiling point for half an hour. With all the windows open...
Then drained the cabbage out, reserving the intensely coloured dye-water.

Red and brown onion skins.
 I did the same with 2 big handfuls of mainly red onion skins. Nothing added.

Cheese-cloth (with small leaves inserted) wrapped hardboiled eggs .
 When the dyes were cool enough, I poured them into clean plastic fizzy drink bottles for easy transportation to school. I also took some glass and steel bowls, again other metals react different to natural dyes, and plastic bowls will stain.
I picked a tray of small leaved plant material from my garden, like maiden hair ferns and young fern fronds, young ivy leaves, and clover.
I cut lots of squares of cotton cheesecloth and some white yarn to wrap the eggs into

O.K. the eggs themselves.... I thought that would be easy, right? Get some white eggs from the shop, as you can't  make brown eggs blue or pink.
By George! I had some serious problems there!! No white eggs to be found in either Napier or Hastings supermarkets, Farmers' Markets, or egg Farms..... Incredible!
The lady at an egg farm told me that they can't actually buy the hens anymore that lay white eggs. And that people think that brown eggs are healthier looking, you know like a sun tan, or like brown bread versus white bread.
That's mono-culture farming for you...
Did you know that some type of hens lay blueish eggs, or speckled?
Anyway she had these trays of commercial eggs, these are usually bought by baking companies, the eggs are irregular sized, have bumps or spots, are thin, or very pale.
So we found 30 of the palest brown eggs, it was very kind of her to help me. But some did crack during the hardboiling. They would simply have to do...

I hard boiled them, for about 5 minutes. That way they were still pleasantly edible for the kids. And not so breakable.
I added a drop of dishwash liquid to the water to remove any chicken-bum grease, that might prevent the dye penetrating the shell.

The hard boiled eggs were left overnight in the dyes.
 So the children placed some little leaves in the cheesecloth in their hand and wrapped their egg in it and tied it up. Well, as I thought, that was a super tricky action, most 7 year olds these days can't tie a knot if their life depended on it... They are the velcro-generation, hahaha!
And if they did manage to totally knot up their egg, the cheesecloth was loose. For the resist method to work, the leaves need to lie tightly against the egg while dyeing.
Luckily there were 3 adults in the room.
We also wrote their initials on the egg with a white crayon.

Now they got to choose which dye pot their egg was going to soak overnight in, but I warned them that   their egg would be a different colour then what they could see...
Since I wasn't sure of the outcome I wasn't going to promise them a particular colour, and it was excitingly mysterious...

After cutting off the wraps and drying the eggs.
We were all happily surprised the next day. I cut off all the cotton wraps, and most of the resists had worked nicely. The red onion skin liquid had turned a deep orange brown, the purple red-cabbage-with-salt liquid had left a sky blue colour.
And the purple-pink dye made from the red-cabbage-with-vinegar went a more lavender hue, that could probably have done with another dash of white vinegar to go towards pink.
Science/ Art/ Culture experiment successfully completed!