Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Thrift Shopping

I love posts about thrift shopping because people always find the most amazing stuff and I always think, "Wow, I'm living in the wrong place because I never find stuff like that". Well apparently I am living in the right place now - 'cause look what I found!
Firstly I love the art of James Christensen it's very inspirational to doll artists as he's costuming and posing say so much about the characters. So I was very excited to find this brand new, unopened jigsaw puzzle for the princely sum of $3.
The other thing I found was this beautiful top, again - $4.
I also got this book of art works for $2 - I plan to use the pictures in some altered art if I can bring myself to chop it up - I am not very good with altered books as I can never bring myself to chop them - it feels inherently wicked.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shiva Sticks

I am in a group of awesome textile artists - we call ourselves the Embellishing Queens. One of the experiments we are planning for this year is with Shiva Sticks (aka Markal). Carole sent through this link at Canyon Textiles. At the same time a couple of the gals on Doll Street Journal added some info about them too. Colleen Babcock wrote this post on her blog last September. Camille Pratt wrote a list of colours she regards as essential. This is what she wrote:

Must have colors (IMO), are the:
Iridescent White
Iridescent Dark Blue
Iridescent Turquoise
Iridescent Red
Iridescent Brown
Iridescent Gold (an antique gold)
Iridescent Copper
Iridescent Light Gold

'Regular' colors (non-iridescent):
Titanium White
Ivory Black
Napthol Red
Ultramarine Blue
Burnt Sienna
Raw Umber
Yellow Ochre

With the colors listed above you can mix up pretty much any color you chose(remember the primary colors: Red, blue and yellow), and lighten them with the white, or darken them with the browns or black.
Thanks Camille for permission to reproduce the list here.
Patti Culea is currently working on a cloth doll with Shiva Sticks - find a link to her blog here.
Looking forward to experimenting soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Steampunk Sydney

I was very conscious of showing Claire some of the terrific buildings around Sydney - here she is in the entrance to the State Theatre - it just glows - it's so beautiful and rococco.
The Queen Victoria Building has some amazing elements too - here is the tiled floor as seen through the open domes three stories up. We watched this clock strike the hour - there are many historical scenes from English history that move through.
Looking up there is this beautiful glass dome.
And isn't this staircase the very essence of steampunk?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Menzies, Monet and Holidaying in your own City

Steven was away in Western Australia last week and the oldest two were off at camp - so Claire and I had a little mini-holiday. I checked out and booked a 4 star mystery hotel in the middle of Sydney for the princely sum of $99. Well it turned out to be the Menzies - and definitely 4 star (but most impressive to an 8 year old!) It's in a great location - so we caught the bus down the M2 with our back packs on. They allowed us to check in early so we could dump the bags. A spot of lunch at the MLC Centre (an old stomping ground of mine from my previous high flying corporate life) and then off we went up Martin Place, across Macquarie Street (stopping to rub the nose of the lucky Il Porcino statue outside the Sydney Hospital) and through the Domain to the NSW Art Gallery to see the Monet exhibition. No photos of the actual exhibition - I don't think you were allowed to and I didn't try. The two favourite pictures were two that were posed side by side - one of Rouen Cathedral which was so encrusted with paint and subtle close up that it was difficult to discern what you were actually looking at but increasingly spectacular as you stepped away. The other was an early morning painting of the famous pond in the gardens at Giverny - the brushwork was so smooth - I could imagine that there was an early morning mist on the water. So lovely - his works are just so sublime.
After the exhibition we wandered around the rest of the Art Gallery and looked at some of the permanent displays - here's Claire admiring Fredrick McCubbins. And here's Snowdrop and the seven redcapsI have no idea who painted this one - but I love it! We walked back through the Domain and stopped off to admire the State Library (currently undergoing a renovation of it's exterior) and then down to Circular Quay and hopped on a ferry to Darling Harbour

At Darling Harbour we went to the Lindt Chocolate Cafe and had an Ice Chocolate - this is the chocolate they have in heaven - I'm sure.After some dinner we caught the Monorail back up to the city and walked back to the hotel. ...Stopping to admire the Strand - it's so beautiful I promised to take Claire through it the next day. Back at the hotel Claire swam in the hotel pool and then we had showers and lay on the beds and watched Foxtel till our eyes fell out of our heads (well actually I pulled rank and said lights out). The next day we went and had breakfast out (Little Miss knocked off a full cooked breakfast thanks very much!) We went back to the Strand and stopped to look in an antique jewellry shop on the ground floor - called Victoria and Albert Jewellers I think. Well the lady there was so lovely to Claire - she sat her up on the stool and treated her as though she was her best ever customer - allowing her to try on the most expensive necklace in the shop - a rather large solid opal heart surrounded by a couple of carats worth of diamonds - and only 12,500 dollars! Here she is trying on an 18k gold hair clip that had diamonds in it. We also went past the State Theatre and had a look at it - and walked up to the Queen Victoria Building - but I'll save that for another post because this one is getting too long! But here's a shot of the chocolate shop at the QVB - delish!

All I can say is - having a holiday in your own back yard is great - it helps the local economy and helps you to appreciate where you live. For those who live in other countries you might wonder about the colour of the sky in the shots of the harbour - they are completely untouched - the colour of the sky in Australia is just that colour!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thrift Shopping

I enjoyed a girl's day out with Emily and Claire this week - the boys were away - so we went and hit the shops. First stop was the local Vinnies - Emily - who is just a little germ phobic walked in with her nose crinkled up and all "the smelly old stuff'". Undeterred I scanned the bookshelf and picked up Eat, Pray, Love by Elisabeth Gilbert and All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve for the princely sum of $2 each. Claire was happy to pick up a 50c copy of a book on rocks and minerals and Emily soon changed her tune though when she discovered a brand new Fiorelli handbag - for the princely sum of $3. Claire had to get into the game too and picked out a brand new Billabong bag for $2. As we were paying for the bags I noticed this little beauty up on the wall - too good to pass up at $5 it's now hanging in the hall - but will probably relocate to the bedroom. After we left Vinnies, we went past a handbag shop that was having a big sale I'd wanted to check out. Emily was shocked to see the very same handbag that she'd just bought with a price tag of $109! She decided that she'd got the buy of the day. I have to agree!

Today we watched Thoroughly Modern Millie - complete with an extremely young Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and James Fox (completely unrecognisable!) as was Pat Morita (as in the Karate Kid) who played "Oriental #2" with the very thick round glasses. The other standout of course was the irrepressible Carole Channing - her singing 'Jazz Baby' is the best thing in the movie. The other thing that was divine was the bedroom at Muzzy's "cottage" - oh those white moire taffeta walls and the blue ribbon motif throughout the room. The girls really enjoyed it - especially the part where they have to tap dance in the lift to make it work. It was fun to see them enjoy it so much - I loved it as a kid.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Surfing through Endless Summer

New obsessions are fun - and surfing the net (which only really happens for me with a new obsession) can lead you to all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

I found this site which has lots of cool things - including a print out and make your own flip book - something to keep the kids amused until they can't find the stapler. As well as A Bawdy Woman Jumping Jack (although I must say the string seems to emenate from an unfortunate place!) and I love the staging page for the Bawdy Women. As I looked through the site at the automata I recognised a few pieces - I had seen them in Susie Oroyan's various doll books I am sure - how funny that the journey should come back to dolls.

The look and feel of this site reminds me of another great love from my childhood - namely Coles Funny Picture Book - which was an entirely Australian phenomenon - the rest of the world having no idea what they missed out on! Now there were three as I recall - but No. 3 was by far the best.

At some point I also recall Victorian Paper Masks in my childhood - probably my mum bought some - I get my fancies for somethings from her I am sure. They looked like these ones here - and you can still buy some - here's a cool site in New Jersey, USA that seems to sell some pretty fantastic stuff. And this English site which has different collections including Alice In Wonderland. In one of Kaffe Fassett's books - Glorious Inspiration most likely - he has a room with lots of face motifs and there are paper masks like these ones lining the wall. Actually some of those ideas in Glorious Inspiration and Glorious Interiors remind me of the steampunk elements - the collectors eye of shells, natural history, mosaic, animals etc. - wonderful!

I also had this game as a kid - I am not sure what happened to it - might have gone to God in the great clean up of '06 (not that I'd have thrown it out - my love for vintage ephemera was too strong - plus the fact it was MINE!) I distinctly remember playing it at around the age of 9 - especially after I'd had my appendix out - because if I was careful I could lay it out on the bed and not joggle it.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Steampunk Love

To celebrate the new year I thought I would share a new obsession - Steampunk. Now I say its a new obsession but really it's the name tag developed by people who love the things that turn me on. It's not the content of Steampunk that I've newly discovered it's that there is a name for it!
Some claim it has grown out of the goth culture (losing all the emo bits presumably) or the sci-fi genre. I don't know about that but I know it describes the things that make my heart go pitter-pat when I see very lust worthy items - like old books (swoon), libraries full of old books (double swoon), anything to do with clocks, clock parts, old watches, velvet, inlayed wood, steamer trunks, anything to do with old fashioned travel (think trains like The Orient Express) or ocean liners (like Titanic - but hey - no icebergs thanks). Literary influences on steampunk include anything Jules Verne naturally and other writers of that period who wrote about the future.
One of the best blogs is The Steampunk Home - I spent most of the day avoiding the heat and the whining of children by immersing myself in the blog from start to finish. Can't say that I totally agree with all the calls re: steampunk or not - but hey - that's the whole thing - it has that certain je ne sais quoi - and probably can encompass people's particular pecadilloes (as opposed to armadillos - although a stuffed one would possibly qualify - as taxidermy in the Victorian pseudo scientific taste can be encompassed by the look although I am personally not big on the dead animal thing!)
When I finished reading and drooling at all the pics - I thought of all the steampunk style things I have loved over the years - what actually occurred to me is that some of my all time favourite computer games are very steampunk - Myst (and its follow up games such as Riven and Exile) are very much in the genre, as well as the various Zork games (written by Activision) particulary Zork Nemesis. Now the truly scary thing is that these games are at least 12 years old in the case of Zork Nemesis and 10 or 11 years old in the case of the various Myst games. Wow - am I ahead of the times or what???
Other things I love that I think have some steampunk influences in them are of course movies - The Golden Compass is one of course - the storyline didn't do much for me but I loved all the costumes and set designs and of course - the gadgetry - not the least of which was the aforementioned compass and the airships and Daniel Craig who isn't the least bit steampunk but maybe a steamy hunk which is close enough in my book.

And then of course there was The Spiderwick Chronicles - which I might also add got a mention on The Steampunk Home because Holly Black the co-creator of the aforementioned book has a Secret Library which is accessed through a hidden door. Sheesh! It's enough to almost motivate me to go and write a best selling book for kids so that I can afford to have one too. (Can you tell I am only slightly jealous? I wonder if she'd let me come and sit in her library and inhale the leather bindings on her books till I sneezed? Or maybe move in - permanently??)

Other movies which have a steam punk vibe also include Disney's Treasure Planet (wouldn't dare post a pic they'd probably sue me and take my house for violation of copyright) a Series of Unfortunate Events (who didn't love that closing credit sequence of illustrations??)

I don't think you could quite include Harry Potter although I think the Golden Snitch probably comes close - enchanted objects are too into the magical fantasy as opposed to something quite conceivably built by a mad scientist or creative genius.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that

Well - this is my 101st post - anybody out there? It's 2009 - can't believe the decade has been and almost gone. Can't say I miss 2008 very much - it was a long year - split into two for me at June as having the shop and then post shop life - so in many ways it felt like two years!
Emily has taken some photos for me of the various things we did in the count down to Christmas - I won't post them here but will add them back into the Christmas posts - who said you can't re-write history?
Spent New Year's at my friend Gail's house in Longueville. Very relaxed evening and we strolled up the hill to see the fireworks around the harbour. We were standing there like two grumpy old ducks rolling our eyes at the ridiculous teenagers standing in front of us. "OOooooo - we don't ever have to do 2008 ever again! Ooooo - we're going to Uni this year! OOooooo - I'm going overseas! Oooooo- I've had sooooooo many Cruisers! Ooooo - I'm going to be soooooo hung over tommorrow! " - what is it about teenagers that they feel driven to comment loudly on every inane detail of their sorry little lives in the loudest voice possible?
Every one else was happy just to stand and ooo and ahhh and the fireworks and hug and kiss and say happy new year!