Saturday, 31 January 2009

missed photo op

I hate it when you leave the camera on your desk......

Seen on a billboard outside a clap-happy church in Donvale- '"So you think it's hot here." God'.
Made my (hot and bothered) day.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

i'm your greatest fan

Another day in the oven.
The last two days were ok, I can deal with dry heat but today was just a little to humid and the studio has become a hot box. As soon as I moved away from the fan, the heat became unbearable.
I was hoping to get more done this week. Haha. There are new tea-cosies in store tomorrow and I was planning to get a few ric-rac tops finished...... well almost...... maybe I'll go into the studio and finish them off before being shop-girl tomorrow.....

On the subject of 'I'm your greatest fan', I've been struggling with a whole spate of being copied and ripped-off lately. There was the newspaper bag issue, the tea-cup candles, a swag of tea towel stuff and, sadly, the doily magnolia tree. Many things I work on have a 'zeitgeist' feel, that there are many people working on similar things or designs of a certain concept at the same time. This is inevitable, and often not a problem, but it's been getting a little sad and depressing lately as so much of it has been close to home and, worst of all, badly done. I, too, sometimes use other people's work as inspiration but I try as hard as possible to make my work individual and to make it to a very high standard. When the Magnolia Collective did the doily tree I was open about the inspiration coming from a piece of work by Janet Morton. Our work took on a life of its own and the tree is very different from Janet's excellent and monumental tree. Sadly the NZ artist who has doilied a magnolia (!) in Wellington has sadly copied some of the things I wrote about our tree in her artist's statement.
This is probably the thing I hate most about the internet and the blogging world, the world is smaller and faster in the dissemination of information. I sometimes feel that there are things that I can not share with the blogverse because I can not trust it to respect my copyright and integrity. Remember that if you have seen or read something on the internet you are not the only one, someone else will recognise the source. To me craft isn't all cupcakes and frilly aprons (let's not go back to the 50s!), it should be about skill and creativity, on-going development and, most of all, the fusing of tradition and innovation.

*And if you think this is snitchy then blame it on the heat.......... I've just eaten a container of ice cream and now feel thoroughly sick.............

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


What with all the 'recession/depression' talk, I've been thinking a lot about clothes made from things like flour sacks, the wonderful creations that come out of necessity. I've also been thinking about Charleston, not the dance, not the city- the house, the home of Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister) and her entourage. Very 'tween the wars, all art and craft and golden summers. I found, many years ago, a great top made from an embroidered tablecloth, now lost in the piles of stuff I've collected and purged, and I've made 'Maisie' in rememberance. She's a very twenties type of girl.
She's made from embroidered tablecloths, using the finished edge, so sometimes she has a bit of hankerchief hem (not too Stevie Nicks) and she's got an elasticised waist at the back.
I made the first Maisie last week. I hung her on the storeroom door on Saturday and in 1/2 an hour she walked out the door and is now living in Sydney.

Monday, 26 January 2009

wattle i do?

I decided not to go to the studio today.
It's going to be sweltering over the next week but it was too nice today to lock myself away.
Also I've been gallivanting off to the country for the last 2 Sundays (Yarra Glen last sunday and Blackwood yesterday) so I thought a little bit of 'homework', washing and vacuuming was in order. I do have to run out this afternoon to do some stuff but I have been trying to get things a bit sorted- this is not easy. I have a small furry helpmate who has caused severe chaos since waking up this morning. Payback I think for leaving him to his own devices yesterday.
You know I wrote that I love that things just happen on my doorstep...... well today we got the RAAF fly over and a small Aboriginal protest (sadly the person leading the chant just couldn't get a good rhythm up), there were many more people than it looks in the picture. See I don't need to leave my Ivory Tower!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

hot rod

I love the fact that things happen on (just about) my doorstep. 
This weekend it's the Hot Rod Show at the Exhibition Buildings.
You don't have to bother about buying a ticket to get in, just check out the cars parked in the forecourt. 
Mighty fine paint jobs and gleaming chrome.

Friday, 23 January 2009

bunking off part 3

And then finally on to Fryerstown for the Annual Antique Market.
This picture only shows a small area, with tents dotted under the trees. It's kind of like the Camberwell Market in the bush (without all the temporary stallholders). It's always hot and dusty but that's part of its charm. Apparently yesterday, when everyone was setting up, was crazily windy and they are all dreading tomorrow as the forecast is warning more wind.
It is always good for a vintage/trashy/excellent scavenge. I spent too much money........... I could have spent more........

bunking off part 2

Then it was on to Eaglehawk to visit the Eaglehawk Recycle Shop. This place is hysterical. It is piles of junk, on shelves, in the shed, in piles and everything sorted, so if you want slightly used trophies...........

..... or a winder for your Hill's Hoist...........

............ or a sink or five (there are more outside)..........

.......... then you really should give it a visit.
Of course it all depends on what they have scavenged but that's the joy of it. The local restaurants were in today because they had a load of crockery and hospitality stuff in. And there are doors and mirrors and funny art made from recycled crap (like the carpet underlay mama above- I'm sure I've seen her somewhere else in my dim dark past....).

bunking off part 1

I took today off.
Planned, not spur of the moment.
First port of call (apart from an op-shop stop or two) was the Golden Age of Couture Exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
I always wish I could see this type of exhibition with no one else in the room. That I could turn the lights up and turn things inside out. 
Excellent though!

And I loved this 'Folly' by Sebastian di Mauro that is outside the gallery amongst the trees.
It's Astro-turf! Really well executed! If I had a garden (haha) I'd definitely have a folly like this.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Today's job was more Agatha dresses. This fabric (bad shot) reminds me of photogram images, sort of freesias, or maybe tuberoses, and oxalis. Managed to get the size 4s, 3s and 2s done- size 1s tomorrow. I'm glad we've got more Agathas in, they have had a really great reaction. 
As a customer said before Xmas, 'they are real sundresses'. That was nice!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

baked and fried

40+ºC is not my type of weather.
All I want to do is sleep feverishly in a darkened room with the fan going, sadly not 'trying' to work in the studio.

On Sunday I roadtripped (if you can call it that, with Eastlink its damnably quick to get out that way) with the hml crew out to Yarra Glen. We visited Yering Station Winery and picnicked in a park. I got sunburnt (badly) on the only bit uncovered or unsunscreened- the nape of my neck- ouch! Sunburn just always puts me in a very sore state of mind, let alone, my poor lily white skin.

I am trying to get work done but it's so hard in January. You feel the panic of needing to get the year off to a good start and the bone weariness of just wanting to do bugger all. Have I written this before? Probably- you see, the hot weather just fries my brain.

Well it's Obamafest tonight/early morning and I just love that Ikea has put together a re-vamped Oval Office. I have this mental image of Barry and Michelle down on their hands and knees trying to get the coffee table stable and wondering why there is a screw left over. 

Thursday, 15 January 2009


I managed to trip over every box and chair leg in the studio today. Weird how some days you just can't keep your balance or see what has been in the same place for weeks. It was like a slap-stick movie.
Another lot of tea-towel cushions done though.
Each day I can hopefully get another thing done.........

I'm just about to put on the TopGear Challenges dvd and noticed this caption, 'Clarkson, Hamster and Captain Slow- ambitious..... but rubbish'. I'm thinking of taking my motto from the boys..... 'ambitious.... but rubbish'. Hahahahaha. Love it! If you can't take the piss out of yourself, who can you take it outta?!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

cooling down

Today wasn't so hot. Temperature wise that is. The cool change came through early. Ahhhh.
Of course the studio is still putridly hot but that's normal. I'm getting bits of stuff done but I just can't get in the 'zen' zone and so work feels like sloshing through goo. The new dresses are done and I spent this evening at home embroidering the belts on the wonky domestic machine, that I scored at the op shop sometime last year ( it is about to go back from whence it came), and I had a little helper. Jethro watched avidly as I stitched and he is now causing late- evening chaos. He keeps playing under the computer screen, poking at the keyboard, attempting to chew cords and fight the mouse, and skittles off when threatened with the mini-waterpistol (he's just popped out from behind the screen to tap me on the finger in encouragement as I had stopped typing).
I thought you were probably sick to death of Jethro photos (going through my picture files tonight I was a little embarrassed by all the kitten pics!) so I snapped a few photos off in the studio today. Stacks of fabric, fabric being cut up for cushions, details of dress fabric, that sort of thing.

This is the black cotton voile I've used for the new dress. It's a very simple summer frock with a scooped neck, tie belt, little cap sleeves and a floaty skirt. As I said very simple, kind of late 50s, early 60s feel in a way. The fabric border is embroidered and appliqued in white and I've stitch the white tape belt with black zigzags. The embroidery is sort of daggy in a nice monochromatic way. I've been longing to do a totally black and white range for quite a while. Then it morphed in my imagination into a black and cream/sepia range- I never seem to get all my ideas into production. I do have a smidge of the black/white happening at the moment though with this dress and a one-size loose checked linen dress in store- and the black linen pants (that I need to get more finished).

The surprise of the day happened though when I got home to find a parcel containing..............

.............sent to me by another TopGear tragic!
I have managed over the last year to keep my TopGear addiction strictly to watching on SBS. I have been seen sidling passed the TopGear stands in both JB and Borders, controlling the urge to buy every dvd AND the magazine. (I know, I know. And I've even secretly thought of going to the show in Sydney- but as James isn't going to be there I've decided it wouldn't be worth it. It wouldn't be the same though. I'm a purist about some things and TG is only on the small screen.) I do have to say that one of the best messages anyone has left me was from Anonymous (Vi and Jess) who were off to London and hoping to catch sight of one of the boys. It was a lovely message, about love and loss and laughter over three grown men acting like complete twats. That's TopGear for you.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


So I dealt with the heat by sleeping in, getting to the studio late and staying in all day. 

Jethro and I snoozed in quite a bit this morning, the boy didn't even stir for an early morning game of fetch (yes- I have a kitten who LOVES playing fetch- too cute) and I took my time getting to the studio. Before Xmas I complained about my hands being blistered and battered, and now my hands are like uncoordinated, bloated, uncooked sausages. They have lost their dexterity- for now- and need to get their skills back. I hate feeling slow and awkward when I'm working. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.
I did manage to get a new dress up and running. I only got the size 2s done today but I made myself get the pattern graded and ready to go for tomorrow. Which is going to be.......... about 40ºC............ at least there is a change coming! The studio, though, will now bake for the rest of summer and well into autumn. I've decided I'm just going to move really slowly and stick to the shade.

One boiling hot night many years ago, my then boyfriend and I watched 'Fargo'. Let me tell you that film's snow covered landscapes actually managed to make us think it wasn't quite so hot.
In the same spirit I've been checking out Char and Dave's Adventures in Iceland. Maybe I should get the Top Gear: Polar Special on dvd...............

See you when the change comes in.

Monday, 12 January 2009

hot hot hot

The next two days are looking like hell for a fair-skinned-sweat-bucket like me. 
I hate summer.
I hate the heat.
I like autumn, winter and spring. They are all lovely. When the weather is cool I can think, work, function but as soon as the heat ramps up that's it for me, energy sapped.
I've been trying to decide whether to go to the studio or stay home. Both will be hot but it's January and I'm stuck between being in holiday mode and fretting about getting the year off to a good start. We need stock asap so I suppose I should go to the studio and try to do something that needs my brain only in first gear. I've been trying to start new projects but they are not coming easily at the moment. I flit from one thing to the next, trying not to make too much mess. Of course the studio is still in disarray but that's typical.

Friday, 9 January 2009


I was shopgirl today. 
Today's project- finish the hand-stitching on the top and  the skirt that have been lying around the studio for eons. Done! (The skirt still needs the basque drafted but that's a different kettle of fish.) Of course, whilst it took all day to do, it really didn't take as long as it had blown out in my head it would take. Duh!

The other night I found on the Wellcome Collection (great art/medicine museum) site the Tiredness Test. It rates how rested/tired you are. It takes 2 minutes- give it a go! Report back to me how you rated and I'll know what a good holiday you've been having! (I sadly did not score very well at all.......)

Thursday, 8 January 2009

authentic imby

So I've managed to clean (a bit ) of the studio. Still piles of fabric and tea towels and crap everywhere but 3 very full vacuum cleaner loads of dust and threads and fluff later and the floor looks a little shinier. I've moved tables around and can see a lot more of my cutting table. I still need to re-attach the cutting table top after the Great Flood of 2008.
And today I had the enjoyment of studio visits and cups of tea with Max and Beck and Nikki. I sometimes forget how nice it is to sit around and chat and become awash with milky tea. Especially when things are little slower in January and you don't feel so pressed for time. Nice.

On Saturday in The Australian there was an article titled 'Return to self-reliance', a list compiled by future trend adviser Richard Watson about the 10 ways in which he believes our lives will be different in 2009. The list had subject headings of Eco-cynics, Seriousness, Unplugging, Ditch the Debt,  We not Me, Delayed Gratification, Fear and Loathing and Anger- all of which I am sure you can take a guess at but the one I think most important to me as a maker is IMBYs.

'IMBYs: Nimbys are people who object to things happening in their local area (not in my backyard), Imbys (in my backyard) are the opposite. They want things to happen locally because they support local production and consumption, and they will campaign to get their way.
Their motives are social, economic, ethical and environmental. They're interested in anything made by hand, and will support a small family business or village shop rather than a national or global brand. Expect a renaissance in arts and crafts, home-based hobbies, do-it-yourself and self -assembly kits. The litmus test for this trend will be how much space big supermarket chains give to local producers.
Good news for farmers' markets and local manufacturers: Imbys won't by Chinese.'

And to make you smile a little- Authenticity. Thankfully I didn't over do the restoration on my Borgward Isabella ( I wish- my dream car! I think Captain Slow would approve of my car of choice) and cancelled the appointment with Smile!.

'Authenticity: When life around us is uncertain, we want authenticity to give us a sense of safety and control. Authentic people, authentic, uncomplicated products, tradition and nothing flash. Forget designer water, it's tap or, if you must, local. Showing off is dead, provenance and patina are cool; flawed doesn't mean imperfect, it means interesting.
It will be acceptable to drive around in a car with scratches and dents because you don't want it to stand out. If you have a really old car, don't over restore it; cracked leather speaks of it's history and will give it a higher value than an old car made pristine. If you have a new Lamborghini, you'll need to keep it in the garage. It's not the sort of signal you want to send out. At home you will lust after an original. Edwardian fireplace, things that show their age and character.
The same goes for faces. Cover images of celebrities whose eyes are too tight to smile will no longer sell magazines. The taste will be for being true to yourself, rather than the same as everyone else; crinkly like Paul Newman, with lines that tell a story, rather than stiff with Botox and impossibly white toothed like American newsreaders. As the population ages and money is tight, interest in plastic surgery will wane.'

Monday, 5 January 2009


A couple of years ago my friend Ben and I had a competition to see who was the most unmotivated post Xmas and New Year. It went on for quite awhile. It was one of those Januaries. Ben won.
So I've managed to get quite a lot done over the last week or two but when the crunch came this morning, about going to the studio to clean up and get this year under way, I just couldn't do it.
I got in the car and drove up country to see my knitters and to do a bit of op shopping but all my fav ops were closed so it was all Vinnies and Salvos. A couple of square yellow Johnson plates and a great octagonal lidded clear glass casserole. 
Well, I better get a good night's sleep and empty the vacuum in preparation for one hell of a clean up.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

you know it's the holidays when.....

......... you fall asleep in a bucket...... sorry that wasn't what I was going to write! 

You know it's the holidays when you forget to pay that outstanding $8.00 on the phone bill and they shut your outgoing calls and texts down on your mobile. Bugger. 
Wondered why I couldn't text Ant a Bon Voyage message yesterday..... my fault not her's. Double bugger.

I finally got the clothes up this afternoon- yay for me, even though I managed to step on the kitten half way through the installation, he was trying to help. Now there is a batch of washing drying in the lovely Fitzroy air. Tim's taken away all the metal frames and the park bench that were in the 'backyard' and I'm perusing timberyard websites pricing decking............. Even though I managed to spend the reno money on shoes I think if I am careful I might be able to put the plan into action. It's all looking much easier now. The painting bit is probably going to be the most annoying. Perhaps I should explain that the 'backyard' here is just under a metre wide and about 5 metres long. It is concrete but it spoons up at the edges where it meets the brick walls and drops down in a slope to the back gate. Absolutely useless as there is no actual flat surface so my brilliant idea is to build a deck that gives a flat level all the way to the sides and to build a little bench into the end to sit on. It's not going to make it miraculously any bigger but just more useful. I hope. And I might have room for plants!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

precious metal (media sluts)

So look who got in The Age's holiday edition of the A2?!?!
There is the lovely Emma (fourth from the left), Jess (next to Emma on the right as you look at the picture) and Coconut Lu (first on the left). Well done girls!
And, yes, the vintage button and fine silver rings and earrings in the Cottage display case are Coconut Lu's work. Perfect chance to score a bit of excellent locally produced jewellery I think!

On the jewellery front it appears I have a cat burglar in the house. Three necklaces gone completely missing. They aren't under the couch, in the cardboard snooze box, under the bed ......hmmmm ..... and here I was thinking I had been cleaning up and making order out of disorder. Let's hope Jethro hasn't chewed the crap out of them. At least the boy has taste- they were all handmade local pieces.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Well I finally de-xmas-fied the shop. What a mess that made. All done now though!
Ready to open up again tomorrow morning- 11am! I was having to turn people away as I cleaned up the shop, hopefully they will all come back in the morning. I feel very naughty not being open but a rest was needed. It's very funny, if you have a look at the front window panes you can see little nose and pointy finger prints- heehee.

Packing away all the Xmas decorations made me realise how much work I need to do to re-stock. Back into the studio for me next week. 

I popped into the city today to look for something I needed for a new design- and came home with a new pair of shoes. I spent the reno money- oops. How did that happen?

Thursday, 1 January 2009

no need to leave the house

I got to see the fireworks from my front window. This was not the view so don't get all jealous! In fact the view I think was better with cascades of sparks shooting up between the city buildings and reflected  in the windows. I like a bit of skyline action, nice framing!
A good long sleep in this morning and a lazy newspaper read- a good way to start the year!
Happy New Year! Hope you are all recovering well!