Mar 22, 2015

Graduation Ceremony with New Zealand style Pomp and Circumstance.

Adjusting her robes, with pink lining to denote The Arts.
So our eldest has gained her Degree with Honours (an extra year by invitation only), she has been studying English and History for 4 years, with 1 year off in between for her O.E. (overseas experience; most young people in NZ try their courage on an extended working holiday somewhere-in-the-world-but-not-NZ, usually starting in old mother England.)
Our girl supported herself with supermarket jobs and transcribing work. Like all students, she has a student debt. to pay back the government.
Usually the graduation ceremony is in April, but as she thought she might be away overseas again, she and a number of her friends asked for special permission to have it at the earlier date in October.
That coincided with the many foreign students, which added a very multicultural flavour to the whole affair.
Excited graduants and family milling about at starting point.
We managed to reach the starting point with 10 minutes to spare, after driving for 4 hours and struggling through the Friday evening city traffic.

All the graduates were to walk through the middle of town, an old tradition. To show off the cities' finest assets, the Educated. The traffic was halted, and people stopped to watch.
3 Development Graduates, the woman wearing her
Maori tribes' special feather cloak to honour her.
Although it looked like a huge dress-up party, the robes with their coloured linings and hoods, the trenchers and caps were all worn with pride, and many had added honourable symbols of their culture, such as tribal cloaks, flowers in their hair, leis around their necks. This was encouraged by the University, to make it more meaningful to the individuals.

Everyone marched through Wellington, the traffic was laid still. European kiwis,
Muslim women, Maori and Pacific Islanders all together.

Several pipe bands accompanied the graduates and family.

We all walked to the Wellington Public Library.
We all walked to the Wellington PublicLibrary, a lovely building to look at, to be addressed by the Mayoress and the heads of the University. After that we trooped into the Michael Fowler Concert building for the Ceremony.

A Pacific Islander( perhaps from Samoa) was wearing his beautifully woven
 lace patterned lava lava, to show the significance of the day.

The Mayoress of Wellington and the University president addressing the crowd.

This was the third ceremony this week already.

Please click on this  to experience the Maori Welcome.
We were welcomed with a Powhiri (poh-fi-ree), a Maori Welcome with the asking of ancestors' attention and a challenge to the new graduates.
I will spare you the next 3 hours; with trumpet players, speeches, jazz performance, classical music, speeches, and the long handing out of certificates.

Many families of the graduates responded to their loved ones by yelling praise, breaking into impromptu chanting, and sometimes well rehearsed haka's (maori or pacific island sung/shouted challenges with rhythmic footstamping and dance gestures). There were also a few outbursts of ululations from middle-eastern groups, towards some of the Muslim women getting their degrees.
And of course much applause for everyone. 

This added to a very excited joyful atmosphere, in which the audience contributed their part.

Our daughter just receiving her Degree with Honours in Humanity Arts.(English and History)

A very Proud Family.

All in all, a long, but memorable experience, which I would not have missed for the world.
We sure had a few drinks that evening with all of us to celebrate!

After the Ceremony, a weekend of nice dinners
and enjoying  our capital city.

Mar 8, 2015

Hearts, Unicorns and Fairywings, but not as you know them.

3D felting technique, no stitching.
Small feltings were made by me last autumn. I wanted to perfect this particular multiple resists technique, which in the last stages involves cutting carefully through the individually separated layers, to reveal the shiny surprise waiting deep within the work.
I liked the spiral attached to the point of the heart, it has a rather tentacle feeling about it. It was all felted in one go, no stitching at all, except for the brooch clasp at the back.

Hand felted layered heart brooch.
The whole thing shrunk by about a third of its' original lay-out size. The shiny surprise is a piece of Indian sari embroidered with metal threads. It felted right in, with the embroidery popping up out of the wool. (merino)
Do you like my background by the way , of swirly hand marbled paper?

Shaggy felted shoulder bag.
In Spring I needed a new shoulder bag, large enough for all my stuff, and with a long enough strap, so it would fit across my body. That way I can walk hands free down the hill to town, and have nothing hanging off that sore shoulder. I made the body out of Merino wool, and the wild looking curls are Leicester wool, which is a long-wool sheep, strong wool. Those sheep are not very common in New Zealand.
It felts in nicely, especially when you secure the ends with an extra thin layer of merino over the top. The long curls remain separate, which is the effect I was after.

Channeling my inner unicorn...
 I made the strap separately, and sewed it on with plenty of reinforcing stitching. The closure is a wool spike that fits through the loop. 
The spike together with the shaggy manes made my bag look like it was made from a unicorn skin. Someone suggested I should add a blue glass eye looking through the curls. But I thought it was a bit too creepy...

Felted bag has inner pocket and divider, all felted in one go. 
The inside of the bag has a pocket and a divider panel added with a resist method.
The bag is soft, light and tactile to wear, my hand is forever touching the manes, as if to pet my unicorn. It is also easy to wash on the wool wash cycle in my washing machine.

This was the last biggish piece I have made, since my shoulder definitely did not like that felting day at all.(Yes it only took 1 day to make this!)
 Early January after my caring masseur lady had already stopped touching my arm for weeks, and told me to see my doctor, I had an ultrasound , and I found out that there was a small tear in the ligament of my a.c.shoulder joint. No wonder there were shooting pains in to my arm. 
Verdict: rest, no lifting, pulling, carrying. 
And that included felting. And vacuuming too.
How that may have happened I don't know exactly, but I suspect strongly that the last 2 years of lifting a child in and out of a wheelchair, and pushing the darn thing at school camp for 3 days over and up and down rough terrain would be the likely culprit. 
Sometimes you just put up with discomfort, until it gets too much, I guess.

The last 2 months have been frustratingly slow on the Art and Craft front. I noticed I could not even keep a book up for too long, but have had to rest the book on a cushion on my lap. Slowly it is starting to get better, and I can sleep for short times on my right side again too.
Found some things I could do though. 
I can't just do nothing!
Do you like to keep your hands busy all the time too?

Moss green moth. A tiny jewelled fairy in emerald wings.

Mar 7, 2015

Small Makes and Big Improvements.

Handspun wool, crochet, felted balls and vintage glass buttons.
I did make new things during the past season, you know.
I'll start filling you in on some of the details.
Here a little cuff bracelet to start with, using my own homespun merino, from a soft purple space dyed sliver. I made up all the patterns, it's easy with crochet once you know a few stitches.

A warm, soft cuff bracelet.
There are also felted balls wrapped with silk thread and beads, and some of my vintage glass buttons from my collection. Everything was sewn on to the cuff, and small beads for sparkle were added.

Loop and ball closure.
Because I used fine merino, it doesn't itch, and is soft and warm to wear.
I wear it often, as it goes with several outfits.

My spring inspired art yarn with fluffy curls, plied with lavender blues.
I made several of these skeins, but I haven't finished the batch yet. And that was due to severe tiredness and pain in my shoulder all the time during spring and summer. I could not spin.
I found out I was really low on iron after some blood-tests from our doctor. So that was easily fixed, although it took about 7 weeks before I felt energetic again.
I have a weekly massage from a Thai lady with the strongest hands in the southern hemisphere, for nearly 2 years now, and she has fixed some major stiffness and aches in my neck and upper back. Getting a massage ( often not pleasant...) is one of the luxuries in our lives, my man has one every fortnight. So good for his back.
But this shoulder pain would not go away. Radiating into my right arm.
Really annoying to say the least.

Taking off the inside walls.
Oh look, no insulation...
In the meantime the living room D.I.Y. improvements were steadily carrying on. The ceilings were sanded and professionally replastered. The man of the house then painted them and repaired the decorative cornices.
He then started on the walls that were outside walls, by ripping all the gib boards off the walls, as we knew that there was no insulation at all, apart from some builders' paper. It's one way of getting rid of the old beige wallpaper!
Insulation fitted, an extra powerpoint added (good thinking), then new gib boards up. He did one wall at a time, so that it was easy to shift the furniture back in place during the week, until the next weekend of d.i.y.

D.I.Y. David Trubridge lamps. Supermodern!
He did find two (now world famous from down the road at his Whakatu workshop) David Trubridge lampshades for sale at $50 each. He spent a pleasant afternoon putting them together.

The 1st strip of wallpaper up!
We had come to a decision on which wallpaper we wanted, and it was the first choice my man made when we started looking through all those books. A white background with painterly aquarelle type flowers, subtle grey shadows in botanical shapes, with a soft silver shine.
It was in one of the newest collections from Europe. 
Absolutely love it!
And the light blue of one of the flowers echoes the aqua blue of the dining room.

Oh yes! There's a hint of silver in the design.
With all the black leather seating, shiny black surfaces of gas heater, t.v. , sound installation, and cool aluminium and glass touches, the soft florals seem to balance out the masculine feel of the living room. Well, that's our reasoning anyway!
Now it was starting to feel we were in our own room, not still someone else's.

Mar 4, 2015

Summer Sounds.

The Simple Pleasure of toast and honey,
straight from a  hive.
It is the 3d of March and some of the trees are already showing the ending of this long hot summer, which started in November, or was it before that already...?
Some liquidambers show russet colours, and the plane trees next door have started dropping some of their leaves.
It is late in the afternoon and I've found some shade on the deck at home, with a book. Another hot day, with a slight breeze coming from the eastern sea. The Pacific Ocean beyond our shimmering Bay is a strong blue line against the pale coloured sky, just visible through our big oaks' branches.
The cicadas, high in the communal trees of all our neighbours, trill their summer song.

Summer reading.    New ideas!

Table Vignette.
From two doors up the hill the opera singer is practising her slow and exuberant voice, accompanied on the piano by an invisible player. Her sometimes powerful, sometimes soft song floats through the backyards and into our living-room, the words indistinguishable. 
So now and then there are exceptionally melodic bursts of bird song coming from a new-to-the-neighbourhood tui, and the old bellbird chimes in as well.
Are they persuaded to compete with her voice?
Some piano tinkling next door, and a child's voice mimicking the opera singer tells me that Shirley's grandchild certainly feels inspired.
 And all around the continuous clicking and chirping of the summer cicadas, while my fat black cat lies on his back, purring loudly.

Weekend bike ride along Hawkes' Bays' seaside. Napier in the distance.

Can't stop smiling, what a lovely day!
Napier marina.

Ahuriri beach.

Summer blooming pohutukawa tree.

Delicious gelato at the end of the trip.
 The sound of a trucks' engine and beeping of a gear in reverse tells me my man is home from work. A thumping sound of boots being pulled off on the porch. 
"Yoohoo" he calls out, walking through the house. I greet him with a smile, we kiss and he invites me to come with him to the auction house at the bottom of the hill, for a look-see.
I pull the doors shut and chatting about our respective day we rumble down in the truck.

Napiers' Art Deco style gardens.
 We enter the shady hall and amble through the aisles of old furniture, dusty boxes of curious items and tired porcelain. 
He strums a guitar while I inspect two retro drawer units, which have caught my fancy. 
We chat with one of his gardeners, also keen on bargains, and giggle over a vintage reel to reel player with large recording rolls, still in their boxes.
My fingers stroke over the spines and highly decorative covers of heavy books at least 70 years old.
I open two tin boxes of watercolours, still with the remnants of tiny rectangles of colour inside them, so sweet. One of them is a Reeves set, the other has vintage Mickey Mouse characters printed on the still bright red enamel.

A box of rusty things from the auction house.
 We put in our absent bids for tomorrows' auction and rumble back up the hill.
Time for coffee and biscuits. My teaspoon clinks against the cup.
The cicadas sing on.

Can you hear it?

Summer Bliss...

And vintage jewellery, much glittering amongst the dust.