Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Little Oak Caps

A couple of weeks ago, I went for a walk......you know, all the right social distancing strategies in place and all. It being Autumn, I found a whole lot of fallen acorns and their little caps as I walked under some oak trees. I collected a few, just because I like them.
When I got home, I got to thinking that they would make perfect little hats for some tiny people, so I got out some materials and started to make some. The heads are tiny, because they had to fit into the little caps, so the bodies were made to suit the sizes of the heads. This is the first one, complete with some needle-felted toadstools:



Here's number two - I made him the tiniest jumper, using two-ply wool and then I thought he needed a chair, so I made this crookedy stick chair for him to sit on. I've had a lot of fun making these and I still have lots of little caps, so I can make a lot more, if I feel like it. It's not as if I don't have time!






Monday, March 23, 2020

A New World

Well, here I am and so much has changed since I last wrote a post here.......a lot of the world's population is in lockdown or semi-lockdown as countries try to stem the spread of this insidious COVID 19 virus. I've pretty much been just staying home, with brief forays to get essentials. I'm trying hard not to be a hoarder, because as we've seen in recent weeks, the hoarding causes problems for older and disabled people who cannot get to shops as easily as the rest of us. We've all witnessed terrible scenes of grown people fighting over toilet paper!

So what has changed for me? Not too much, actually, as I work from home and I like to cook rather than eat out........the biggest change is that both the band and the orchestra I play in have suspended activity for the forseeable future. So only solo playing for now, but plenty of practice time!

The other big change is that my resident grand-daughter is working from home for the time being. She's lucky that her job is one where that can be quite easily done (though it took a few days to get the tech glitches ironed out) At least she still has a job - it's just terrible to see tens of thousands thrown out of work on one day because suddenly restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres, hotels, any tourist venture etc etc have no patrons and have to lay off staff. I can't imagine where or when this is all going to end. Here in Australia, the inexorable trend of virus spread is still very much up and in the USA things are starting to look, frankly, quite frightening.

It's quite interesting to me to learn what people are impelled to do when confronted with an unknown and uncontrollable threat - it seems in some, the instinct is to hoard toilet paper or beer, but my first impulse was to dig more garden and plant what I could at this time of year. That's a bit limited as we creep towards winter, but there is always stuff that will grow. I don't usually bother too much with a winter garden, but this year I'm determined! So I've been digging, weeding fertilizing and mulching - hard yakka - but the exercise is good and productive. I'm making plans for how to enlarge the growing space even more, despite the fact that I only have a smallish suburban back yard.
Here's two days' work, with more to come when I pull out the remains of the spent summer vegetables. The wire cages are to prevent tha blackbirds from scratching out my silverbeet, Japanese spinach and bok choy seedlings. I've also planted broad beans, beetroot and coriander. I'm still getting tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis and digging over the patch yielded quite a few escapee spuds.



Anyway, all this digging time allows for plenty of thinking and the conclusion I've come to is that the whole of this Western capitalist system, where accumulation of wealth is god, is built upon a fragile, tottering pile of shards and it doesn't take very much to bring it all crashing down, As it has. As was bound to happen. An invisible virus - enough to bring the world to its very knees. I am reminded of how, fewer than twenty years ago, the country that is the supposed "leader of the free world" was similarly brought to its knees by the smuggling of a few box cutters onto a few planes.  It doesn't take much, does it?

I wonder whether we'll be more considerate and caring after we come out of the other side of this, whenever that might be, or whether we'll just slip back into our old ways of trying to accumulate ever more money and stuff and not give too much of a damn about how we are destroying the very planet that nurtures us. I hope the latter is not the case. 
I hope we emerge with a different mind-set, but I have my doubts.

In the meantime, here's a doll I've completed in recent days. No prize for guessing her identity!





Please look after yourselves, keep washing your hands and stay away from crowds. That's what I'll be doing.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

It's been a long time!

It's been way too long since I last wrote here on my blog. The noise and shallow chatter of Facebook seems to get in the way of the writing of more considered posts here on my blog. I have therefore resolved to make sure I post at least weekly, as I used to, because I find I can express myself more clearly when I'm not dashing off a quick FB post or reacting to some political rubbish that I probably shouldn't even bother with. It's such a waste of time and effort! Even if nobody ever looks at my posts, I still enjoy blogging.

At the moment I am in a mad dash to the line to get the last pieces completed for the "IMAGES" exhibition in Hobart (Long Gallery in Salamanca Place) It opens at 8 am on December 19th for any of you based in the South of the state and inclined for an early morning art experience........and CHAMPAGNE!

Here's a sneak peek at some of my pieces for that show....























Friday, February 8, 2019

Naming A Doll

Naming a finished doll can be difficult - I seem to run out of names I like, so sometimes I leave the naming to the new owner, as in the case of this recently-completed doll, Claire-Louise. I really like the name and it might have been one I chose myself! This is the first doll for 2019........she is a one-of-a-kind cloth doll. She has a linen fabric body with painted lower limbs and jointed hips. The upper arms are loosely filled and jointed to the body in such a way as to allow a great deal of natural arm positioning. Her legs are firmly stuffed, so she is able to stand easily. The head is also jointed to the shoulder-plate so there is neck mobility. Her wig is wispy-fine blonde Suri alpaca hair, hand-knotted and her clothes are linen, cotton with merino wool yarn for the knits. She has little custom-made leather sandals. I hand-smocked the front of her linen dress.

Meet Claire-Louise:






 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Assembling the Unassembled



When I start a mixed media assemblage piece, I usually start with a rough sketch with just enough information so that I don't lose the idea, because sometimes it takes me a while to get around to actually making it. Here is the sketch for my latest piece: "Artemisia's Chest #2"



I then start assembling all the pieces I need to make the piece - a combination of found objects and sculpted parts, usually. I play around with these bits and pieces before committing to the final arrangement.



It is then a process of permanently joining all the parts together into a cohesive whole. Usually, because there is a great disparity between the materials, I use layers of colour to harmonize everything and make it look like it all actually belongs together!






 In this piece, I sculpted one foot, two hands and a head. I made a stiffened felt conical hat and everything else was found: empty silkworm cocoons, fabrics, driftwood, rusted, flattened hose wrapping, a tiny jar, snake bones, a pulley, a box and some plywood.........a whole bunch of very discrete things pulled together into a cohesive whole. I have been fascinated by some of the interesting feedback I have had about this piece - some see it as a statement about lost childhood, which is something that had not entered my mind! Mostly, I work fairly intuitively when I'm making something like this.....I like meaning to be hinted at, but not spelled out. After all, those looking at it have to do SOME work!
The doors are hinged, so the cam be closed.
 

Friday, November 2, 2018

A New Doll






This as-yet nameless doll is nearing completion...........just a few more details to be added over the weekend. She's quite small - around 14" with jointed hips and knees (so she can sit without her legs stick straight out!) I'm planning to make a chair for her. She has loosely attached arms, so they can be placed in any pose and her fingers are wired. There is a lot of blue/green in the painting of her face and this colour has been repeated in the clothing, which is made from a really fine cotton knit fabric which I over-dyed by spraying stains onto the surface through some old lace in a fairly random way. Her hair is made from hand-knotted Suri alpaca - a beautiful lustrous, long fibre......my new favourite!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Ancestor Project

Some years ago, my late husband and I spent an extended time in England and Europe, touching base with our roots, to some extent. During that time we stayed with my aunt in England (Gwen) and my aunt in Germany (Annelotte).........I discovered that both aunts had photographs of my grandparents that had all been taken at around the same time: ca 1917. I made quick little sketches in my travel sketchbook of all four of them for no particular purpose other than that I felt some connection to them. At the time the pictures were taken, they were 18, 17, 16 and 13 years old.

Time rolls on, loved ones die and one starts to think a bit more about mortality and the transience of our time here on earth and where we come from........hence the birth of The Ancestor Project. I resurrected  the little pencil portraits (I have to say, they are all good likenesses) to try and do something a little more permanent with them. I enlarged and transferred them onto silk organza and mounted them onto canvas using a special acrylic medium that encases them and preserves them forever. Here are the first two "Ancestor" pieces.: the first is 20" x 20" and the diptych is two small canvases - 6" x 6".

There is some acrylic overpainting on both and red stitching on the larger piece.



You'll notice that my English grandfather, Bertram Johnston, is wearing a British soldiers' uniform and my German grandfather, Heinrich Klatt, is wearing a German Red Cross uniform (he had a club foot and couldn't serve as a regular soldier) They were on opposite sides at the Battle of the Somme and I sometimes fantasize about them meeting behind the battle lines. Didn't happen, of course, but I often wonder what would have transpired if they had. I think they were both pacifists and hated war and would probably have got along quite well!

My English grandmother, Gladys Barnes (far left in the larger piece) was only thirteen at this time. The story goes that just before this picture was taken, she'd cut off her long hair and had got into a lot of trouble! Rosa Mohr was my German grandmother - apparently she had a very sunny disposition. I never got to meet my German grandparents, but when we were growing up, they used to send fabulously exotic Christmas parcels to us that were stitched into linen covers that had to be unpicked.....all sorts of exotic aromas were released when the box finally disgorged its contents.....cigars, marzipan, dark chocolate.......just the thought of those scents evokes feelings of great nostalgia.

There may be more to come in this series.....I have a few ideas fomenting. 
 
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