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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Slow Crafting - The knitting edition




The last couple of weeks I have been hanging out for these school holidays just so I could have some time to go shopping for wool and patterns.

I am not much of a knitter but I have recently become obsessed intrigued with The Story Book Rabbit instagram account of the most beautiful cardigan collection. I reeeeeally want to own such a collection. The Story Book Rabbit wears the cutest outfits that I am generally in awe of, I just love her style. However these cardigans have ignited within me a passion to knit, knit and knit some more until I have a collection of cardigans with amazing animal motifs.

I trawled the internet for basic cardigan and animal motif patterns with the passion of a zombie lusting after fresh brain (or whatever it is they lust after). I had very little luck finding the right patterns. I tried Pintrest - Ravelry and many Goggle searches. I have a feeling I am going to have to do this on my own without a proper pattern to follow.

I went to spotty and bought up on wool in a lovely and convenient sale they had on. I found a basic pattern book with the intention of finding the motifs to place in as I go. I also got into a thrift store and found some more basic patterns and some limited motif guides. I think I may even have to get some graph paper and make up my own animal motifs. If anyone knows of other places I should be looking then please feel free to point me in the right direction.

As I said I am not much of a knitter but I think with a lot of time and persistance I can do this. Please do not expect me to post a picture of a finished garment in the near future, this is well and truly going to be 'slow crafting'.

So here I go, wish me luck.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mr - Miss - Mrs - Ms



I was not one of 'those' little girls. I had never dreamed of getting married. I never looked with longing at a wedding dress, nor did I ever think that my wedding day would be the 'best day of my life'. What an absurd thought that one day of your life could be defind in such a dramatic way. We all know that wedding days are full of stress and expectations. I believe that very rarely a wedding day is 'the best day' of someones life... and what a shame if it is.

I have been married for 8 years now. I have been with my partner for nearly 15 years. We got married because it was 'the right thing to do', I wanted to have the same last name as my children and we were best friends. 
I like the idea of 'soul mates' and 'true love', but to be perfectly honest I believe more in the passion of lust than in fairy tale romances.

Recently when I filled out my papers for a new job I had to define my preference for title, Miss - Mrs -Ms. Titles all defined by my marital status. A man has but one option on that form..... Mr.
After all my education, my self improvement, my station as a mother I am still defined by my marital status.

In the past my wanting to be an equal has been considered by some as 'man hating' . The truth is I am not enraged by the titles but the very fact that I am still defined by it completely irritates me.

I have had this conversation with others and they are very much proud of their 'Mrs' title. It was something that they had wanted. For me, it was not something I had ever thought of as being an enviable thing. I would like nothing more than to be defined apart from something so crazy as a marital status.

The same goes for different races, for how much money someone has, for a job title, for what sex they are born with, for what sexual preference someone has and for what religion they believe in. Why can we not just be human, a person, someone that defines themselves rather than the classifications handed down from others? To be judged by our character, on our ability to make the most out of our lives and our ability to live in harmony with others and nature. Surly these things are far more 'person defining' than a marital status.

The fact that in this day an age we are still discussing things such as race, religion and sexuality proves how far we have to go as a race before we can become a noble creature that inhabits this planet. 

I shake my head at the issues that politics and religion are entwined with. These are human issues. Not issues to be handed down to us from higher powers or tradition.

We do not live in a free world. We are surrounded by power hungry, money grabbing, empathy lacking individuals who are so low that they have no right to call themselves human. We need to become self aware so that we can question the media and tradition enough to grow and learn how to be the best human we can. We need to support those in their learning, in their own personal growth instead of thumping views and tradition down upon them. We should never stop seeking out the truth and striving to be better, not striving to be richer or more powerful.... but a better human.

I want my title to be defined by who I am as a person. I am strong but I am nice. From now on will you please call me ST+NCE Michelle Walker. However even my last name causes concern, once defined from my father but is now defined by my husband. All institutions decreed long ago by another man claiming dominance and possession over those inflicted with the female genitalia.

We should not receive a title until we have grown enough to be defined by who we are, therefore we must know who we are. In the same way we can regret a tattoo we received before we knew who we were as a person we should not have to define our title until we find out if it fits our character. A 'mark' gained through experience and not through fashion or inexperienced bravado.

Please consider if you would like to create your own title or should it be something that is formed with consultation with others that truly know you. Just as a child should be raised by a village for complete roundness of character, shouldn't we also be defined and accepted by a well rounded society?

I would like to know how you would like to be titled had you been given the option. Please consider this an invitation to add your own abbreviations to my list. I am very eager to hear your thoughts.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

It's a shiny, bright year!


I am very honored to announce that this humble personal blog has made it into the Top 100 Kidspot Voices of 2014 program. My blog found its way into the top 30 of the Personal and Parenting section.

This is a great privilege and it's made even greater that I am surrounded by many blogs on there that I have followed and looked up to. If I don't make it any further I will be happy that I have come this far knowing what stiff competition I am up against. I am very grateful for this opportunity and for the people that read and support my blog, my making and myself as a person. Much love to you people out there xxx much, much love.

I feel that this is acknowledgment, of sort, about the evolution of this space and my own personal growth. I love how I have developed and changed, I am not doubting for a second that I can still continue to grow and have successes and failures along the way. It's all part of the process and I wish to never stop learning and getting better at the things that I love.

This year my hard working ways of the past have paid off in many ways:
+My continual, and seeming never ending study paid off in my employment in a great school teaching the visual arts and I was so blessed to be in the right place at the right time. 
+The cleansing of bad influences has created a head space that I have never felt before. I feel strong enough to be who I am as a person and to be able to look forward into a future of raising my second child without all the negative factors I endured before.
+I have successfully handed over the Art Centre and now my market with both continuing on without my constant management.
+I am confident enough in myself to create, make and explore without even giving up any head space to what others may think about it, or how I might accidentally offend them in some way.

There is no tight rope balancing act any longer. I have crossed to the other side and I am happy at this time and space.

I will be happier when I am not a pregnant person and I can get on with life without tiredness and heartburn. To be able to create, and learn and grow but this time FOR ME and not for study requirements or outside factors.
The time I will spend at home with my second baby will be happy, constructive and lazy. It will be a life without guilt, for time to spend in anyway I want and I cannot wait.


Image  from The Photo School

A benefit of working is being able to say 'yes' to things that I could not have been able to afford before. I have been able to say 'yes' to attending The Photo Schools photography workshop at the Apple Shed in the Huon Valley. I am going with my good friend Naomi of Look See and it feels so totally self indulgent to be spending a girls weekend away learning to take better photographs and hanging out in that amazing location just because we want to.

It is indeed one of those years that everything seems to 'just work'. I really hope there are others out there that are experiencing the same.

It is a bright - happy - shiny year... and I am grateful.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

This Week...



.... I've been busy, busy busy.

At School:
I have been designing some posters and invitations for a Masquerade Ball. I especially love the paper the invitation was printed on, it has lovely lined texture. Although I was going for a natural and simple design the students couldn't help but add some glitter to the final product.

I learned:
* How to be strict with students
* Why teachers whinge about doing reports
* How frustrating other peoples laziness is
* That I don't have to be 'nice' till people deserve it
* That I really am getting the hang of this teaching thing.



At Home:
* That my Gall Bladder has improved enough that I can have some treats (the baby made me!)
* That heart burn this time round has started extremely early
* That I am already too fat (at 17 weeks) to try to buy 'normal' clothes
* That I am really enjoying art journaling again
* That I need to hire a house cleaner so that I don't spend all weekend cleaning and worrying about the cleaning.
* That Marjorie Blackwell (Bligh's) recipe book is still me 'go to' place for my relish recipe
* That I am still not one of these people that love being pregnant regardless of feeling a whole heap better this time round. I so hate the tiredness, I just want to function at my normal level. Growing little people is hard work.


Lastly I realised I forgot to show you the lovely laptop cover I made for the Mac earlier this year. I used the fabric I screen printed as part of my artist in residency last year. Inside I placed a pocket for USB's and a fabric inner wall to protect the Mac from cords that I shove in there with it.

I am so very much looking forward to school holidays. I plan on painting my bedroom at long last ... but in reality I will probably just sleep a lot.

High hopes.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

DIY Kimono Jacket





I started with a vintage table cloth - it was a round one with a beautiful fringe.


I was having a lazy Saturday morning in bed and browsing some online shopping sites despairing at what to buy to accommodate my increasing belly. I haven't wanted to make anything. I hadn't seen the point when I probably wont fit in it after baby and may not fit in it in a month or even a couple of weeks. I don't like sewing with cheap, synthetic, stretchy material but that's about all I can think that I wouldn't be wasting money on. Le Sigh.

On one of my favorite sites I found a Boho inspired fringed jacket. I thought I could make one easy enough and it is something I won't 'grow' out of. Plus it's perfect for a festival, fingers crossed I ever get to one again. I had a rough idea of the basic shape but this YouTube video below gave me confidence that I was doing the right thing.


I followed the instructions and cut the sides twice as I had left it way to 'flouncy' the first time. The only thing I thought the YouTube video didn't address was the seam on the front edge as it curved along the back of the neck. Perhaps it was my heavier fabric than the tutorial but I did have a little issue hemming the 'corner' part. 

It was a very straight forward sewing experience and I had my new jacket made in about an hour. Easy peasy. I'm already checking my fabric stash to see if I have other fabrics suitable for a second one. Please let me know if you have a go at this tutorial - I'd love to see your versions.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Moleskine Journal


Yesterday I revisited my Journals with the intent on doing something creative and preparing them to take to school to show my college students an example of journal making. For a few years I have been using the Moleskine variety because of its lovely paper and its portability. The size is good for working in and I like the continuity of working in the same type of book year after year.

As I was flipping through the pages I realised that I had been working in this particular journal for three years!! Wow.
I saw sketching work from my paintings for Bruce's, the development of the first branding for Made With Love Market and sketches that were included in Bill Mollison's book "The Permaculture book of Ferment and Human Nutrition". To be honest I was a bit miffed about how "un-journally" productive I have been. This is a time line of my making, the marks of my creative process captured within these pages, but I guess I don't journal my sewing process where most of my time has been spent over the last few years. Perhaps that explains the length of time I have spent in this one book.

I found the the beginnings of many design jobs that I have completed and so, so, so many that I didn't get paid for. I got quite enraged about how many people take advantage of my skills and pull out of work half way through a job and think that its ok not to pay me. I mean... I still did the work! I still created images for people, I used my time in an attempt to give them something original. To be honest I am very much over freelancing and will be demanding a deposit on my time from now on.

Lastly I dug out my journals from my own college years (Yes, I have kept nearly every journal I have worked in). Those journals were so precious to me at the time. A collection of many hours of documenting my thought processes. I carried them everywhere, the covers are worn with use and some pages are falling out. 
To be honest - the work in those journals are awful. I will not be taking them into my students least they think that is the bench mark for their own work.  The output of my art at that time was a great period of growth for me, an emerging of my true artist self, but I don't think the journals really reflect that correctly. 

Oh my, how I have grown. How life has shaped my viewing. How important is the internet to my work now and the globality of my research today. My first year of college was the first time I used the internet, I knew it had power but I did not know what to do with it. It is completely grounding to realise how far I have come. Perhaps these artifacts are a good reminder on those days when you feel you just can't draw and there is no creativeness left in your body. 

Sometimes I think we all need reminders like these.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Localisims 2014






1// A sheep in the animal nursery
2// Side show ally, baby
3// Checking out the cows on show
4// Must have Lions Club raffle tickets (cleaned up this year and won onions x2, potatoes x2, potted plants x2, bulbs x2, socks and a doll)
5// Biggest pumpkin growing competition. This years winner was a whopping 249kg. That's a whole lot of pumpkin soup.

As I mentioned in my post last year the Local Agricultural Show is a must do around these parts. You do a big lap, past the animal nursery, wood chopping, side show ally, the chickens, the hall full of crafts/flowers/cooking/homegrown veggies and back to the start to pick up your Lions Club tickets and a show bag at the end. Novices amongst us have cashed in our Lions tickets straight away and end up carrying their bags of heavy bags around for the rest of the day. 

There are not many traditional agricultural shows left like these and I think we are blessed to still have one in our community. It's all very CWA.

This year the poultry showing shed had burned completely to the ground two weeks prior to the main event. Devastating for the bird showers and viewers in our community.

In keeping with tradition it showered on the day. It has often been suggested that the show should go on tour to drought ridden communities to relieve them.

I was surprised to stumble along a piece of my daughters art work in the main hall. The piece completed at school and she had neglected to inform the parental to keep their eyes out for it.

The highlight for me was the size of the winning pumpkin (my little girl standing in front of winner in the photo for size comparison). Astounding.

Yet another good day at our local agricultural show. Nice one small towns x

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Collecting Style


Last year there were some small, but long, wooden boxes being thrown away. They belonged on easels to hold the paints but I felt they belonged with me instead of the bin.

For a few months they sat in my home not really doing much. Stacked on top of one another I began to use them as shelves for my collections. A few months later, again, I began to screw them to the wall to make them into permanent homes for displays. A modern shadow box. I left gaps between the boxes which allowed additional space for displaying. Some ended up in the lounge room and some ended up in the Woman Cave. Some are yet to find their forever homes.

My collections are made up of found items, handmade items, jars of vintage buttons, Lego men, old frames and postcards, vintage salt and pepper shakers, sewing notions, lonely but beautiful side plates and anything that draws my eye. 

Sometimes people give me things that are just to my taste, sometimes I squeal in an op shop and sometimes I buy them new. However I find these things they become part of my "special things". 
Mostly ordinary objects but beautiful to me.

On my walls I group together works of art. Collections of other peoples needle work, paintings by others, vintage prints, and my own special pieces.

My collections are forever evolving. I change them often. Most of the collection cost me very little and I have no guilt swapping them for new finds as time goes by. Even I grow tired of looking at the paintings I have created and feel comfortable with taking them down to make room for something fresh.

I like this type of evolving styling. It works for me. What works for you?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Handmade Beads




Polymer clay beads are a thing.

They are everywhere and nearly every crafty person is having a roll and selling them at their local craft market. Personally I think polymer clay jewelry should be left as a personal craft, something to do with the kids, an easy project to whip up on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It's the new "soy candle" and everyone is having a crack. Don't get me wrong - if that's your thing then go for it, but maybe just find something to 'mix it up' with the ball rolling craft.

I use to make things out of polymer clay when I was a child crafter. My first commission came from a friend of my Nana's who saw my little bears and dogs I had lovingly spent hours crafting. The kind lady paid me to make some vegetables to put in a mini wheelbarrow she had. My parents weren't as keen about my craft, mainly because I think I remember getting in trouble for leaving some in the carpet (by accident of course).

I decided not to buy polymer clay to make some necklaces with my little girl, instead I got out the air drying clay and we spent an hour rolling some balls and putting them to dry on some skewers, creating holes for the cord. A few weeks later when they were dry I sand papered any rough bits off and we painted them with normal acrylic paints. 
I chose to use the three primary colours and a gold. I only painted half of my balls leaving the lovely white clay exposed on the other half. 
The little girl went with a multi-colour theme (surprise-surprise) and we got lovely and messy on a Sunday afternoon.
I have a feeling the paint wont wear well on the beads but I can't decide if to protect them with a sealant and lose the lovely matt finish or just risk it. I think I'll be a dare devil and leave it to see what happens.

It was a nice afternoon - maybe something we will do again - but certainly you wont see me trying to flog them off on a future stall of mine. Have fun ball rolling people :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fence Paling Bird House



After our recent garden dismantling (read:ripping apart) The back wall I had rendered appeared once more. With no plant life to hide it, the poor wall looked very bare. During the makeover we had disturbed some nesting birds amongst the reeds (which held up our make over for a couple of weeks till they grew up and moved out) and so I was inspired to DIY some fence paling bird houses.

I gathered up some palings out of my collected pile, a round hole cutter that connects to a drill and some medium sized branches that had fallen from the gum trees.

I made the three bird houses in one afternoon and because I did not have a pattern it was a bit hit and miss. However the beauty is this also meant that each bird house was different.

Now I don't expect some poor little bird(s) to want to take up nesting in my houses but I do think they make a rather fine addition to my revealed wall.

Some notes on making your own recylced paling bird house:
  • Drill the hole on the front first prior to assembling the bird house
  • Beware of hole driller as they have a tendency to grab and cause injury (a lesson not learned after multiple bruises)
  • Use small corner pieces on the inside to drill into and stabilise your structure
  • Screw the perch onto the front of the bird house as your second job
  • Add a bottom and a roof that protrude past the main piece for protection and character
Other than those few words of advise I suggest you just go nuts. Oh I do love me a bit of building.