Thursday, September 27, 2012

Felting follow up

Well the felting class with Renata Kraus was terrific. Day 1 we made the bag to pre-felt stage with serious work on the handles. Day 2 was all about the picture making which is the fun part in my opinion. It was tiring (as felt making is a very physical activity) but loads of fun. Renata is a great teacher and everyone was complimentary about her sharing of techniques and small tricks to get it all looking just right (not every tutor does you know!) Here are a number of pictures of bags in process. A lot of us chose to do the poppies as they are so appealing and that was my choice too. Wonderful fun and great results all round.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Felting workshop with Renata Kraus

I am very excited to say that I am doing a wet felting workshop this weekend with Renata Kraus from Vilnius in Lithuania. I was aware of her work long before I knew about the workshop. My understanding is that she does not use prefelts or needlefelting and yet her image creation in the felt is amazing - like a painting!
Photo via Renata Kraus
I was so lucky to find out about the workshop which is being held at Virginia Farm - where I go each week to learn spinning. Apparently Renata is visiting friends in Australia and is also doing a workshop at Virginia Farm as well as the NSW Spinners & Weavers Guild. I know the class at Virginia Farm is full - but the Guild may still have places - why not check here if interested. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Red Dress

During January I got busy making a red dress for Miss Emily to wear to a party. Although she's a young thing and this dress is sleeveless  - it's amazing to me how difficult it is to find a dress that is not thigh high and sleeveless. So much poorly made crapola in the stores and fabric that just turns to dishrags as soon as it's been through the wash.

Anyway - she looked great and all her friends admired her dress. What more can you ask for? 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Needlefelting Class at Virginia Farm Woolworks

Hello everyone - just popping in to say I will be teaching needlefelting at Virginia Farm Woolworks at Annangrove (NSW, Australia) on the 7th May. The choice will be to either make a teddy bear or a little pixie to pop out of odd places around the home. Small class of around 8 people so everyone gets individual attention - it'll be fun - come and play!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mr Rosenblum's List, Constance Spry and Coronation Chicken

I picked up Mr Rosenblum's List by Natasha Solomons at the local library on a whim and really enjoyed reading it. It's a charming book about a German Jewish man, Mr Rosenblum who, along with his wife and daughter, leave Nazi Germany and move to England prior to the implementation of Hitler's "Final Solution".
Mr Rosenblum is committed to becoming a proper Englishman and his ambitions take him on an interesting journey from inner city London, to successful carpet manufacturer, to "an enemy alien" internee and finally a country gentleman when he moves to Dorset to construct a golf course on fields that come with a tumbledown cottage.
Mr Rosenblum's self belief and optimism are unquenchable and he throws himself into this new life as an  Englishman. His long suffering wife Sadie, is haunted by the past and desperately tries to construct an inner world where she can hold onto the ghosts of her parents and brother Emil - all lost to her in the Holocaust. One of Mrs Rosenblum's connections is through her mother's cookbook. As she cooks the dishes contained in the cookbook the aromas trigger memories of happier times. One of the most poignant moments is when Sadie cooks a Baumtorte - or "tree cake" - each layer representing a memory. 
Photo source: Natasha Solomon
The Baumtorte is based on a recipe in a cookbook Natasha inherited from her own grandmother - you can find the recipe here.
I can completely imagine this book as a film and apparently she and her husband are working on a screenplay. I do hope someone options it for a movie - it would be fantastic! I imagined Pete Postlethwaite as Mr Rosenblum's cider loving and partially pickled friend, Curtis. Such a shame he (i.e. Pete Postlethwaite) passed away last week.
The book also references the famous "Coronation Chicken" invented by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume to serve to foreign dignatories during the coronation. In one of those nice serendipitous moments I had been reading one of Nigella's cookbooks and she gave her spin on "Coronation Chicken" and it finally clicked in my head that this was the same recipe my mother had received from her friend, the late June Bosanquet and known to us as "Creamed Curried Chicken".
Back to Constant Spry. As the link to Wikipedia shows - she was quite an interesting character and I think would be a wonderful subject for a movie also. There is a relatively new book out about her called The Suprising Life of Constance Spry by Sue Shephard. Might have to add it to the reading list! Of course - the other thing that was pinging away in the back of my brain was why I heard of Constance Spry. She was, of course, famous as a floral designer and had a fabulous David Austin rose named after her "Constance Spry". Bingo! Pinging 25th brain cell was satisfied. I love that rose!
Don't you love going down rabbit trails?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


 One of the other lovely things we did as a Family was to go and see Wicked - The Musical in the last week before it left Sydney for Brisbane. We thoroughly enjoyed it (except for the bogan family behind us who talked, rustled lolly bags and popped open their cans of coke they'd brought from the supermarket).

Can't say that the songs were terribly memorable as the melodies were not straightforward - however the words were clever and I am full of admiration for the cast as they were difficult songs to sing. The costumes were absolutely spectacular - I was trying to absorb as much detail as possible. I particularly liked the green costumes for the citizens of Oz - they were full of inventiveness.

While looking for pics etc. of the costumes I came across this video on It's an interview with Susan Hilferty, the Broadway designer of the original costumes. Definitely worth a watch. You can also click on her name above to go to her website.

There is also a shorter video on Susan's website where she talks about the thought process she went through at the conceptual stage
Theatre costuming is always a great source of inspiration for doll designers - Wicked certainly contains some amazing eye-candy!

You poor sad neglected thing.....

Here I sit 11 November and my poor little blog hasn't had an update in so long - it's quite tragic. So time to capture a few 2010 thoughts and moments before it's 2011 and my head explodes.
Photo: Tara Bradford Paris Parfait
This time last year (ahem) the lovely Tara Bradford had a giveaway competition on her blog Paris Parfait. I entered and one this lovely book which Tara posted to me on her return from her amazing photo expedition to Jordan. It turned up early 2010 - so qualifies for my catch up post!

I love all things Parisian - so was thrilled to find this little number on sale at Blue Illusion. I had seen it previously at retail of about $59.00 but thought that was a bit much for something to tidy up my mail - so when it was there for $19.00 - well - I had to snap it up! It's very handy for holding bills and bits of chat that end up on the kitchen bench otherwise. Hmm - note to self - better go and check it for unpaid bills!
I have to say I also won another giveaway on a different blog. I was thrilled to win and left my home address as requested. Didn't hear anything back but as they had comment moderation I thought maybe something had gone wrong so left my address again. Still nothing. Eventually (as in some months later) I got an email saying sorry for the delay and it was going to be sent. Well - to this day - still nothing. Now - at the end of the day - the prize was not a big to do - but still - why would you run a giveaway and not come through with the prize? The more embarrassing thing is it's a blog run by one of the big fabric houses - a fabric house that I spent many thousands of dollars buying their fabrics for my shop. So stiffing me on a giveaway adds insult to injury. I just looked back - it was October last year - wow - that really is pathetic.

Anyhoo... moving on.....

We also had an interesting year with Chris finishing High School and doing his Higher School Certificate (HSC). Results won't be known until December - but - for better or worse it's all behind him now and all ahead of him too. Don't quite know how he made the quantum leap to adulthood so fast - but here we are!

Despite looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth - he managed to break a bone in my wrist by leaping out from behind a door to scare me  - 7 weeks in a scaphoid cast doesn't do wonders for productivity.

Fortunately before the broken bone I was lucky to do a class with Pam Grose again. Looking back on my blog it had been three years since Pam had stayed with us last - so it was wonderful to have her back again. Marilyn Halcomb contacted me and we quickly organised a two day class. It was wonderful!
Here are some of Pam's dolls that she brought - she sold all but one I think.

These dolls are made with a new technique that Pam has been refining. Basically she makes a wire armature and builds it up with aluminium foil and electrical tape. I made the cat lady so she is skinned with velour - only the fingers need sewing the rest is hand sewn on the doll - making it easy to do. 
Basic Armature

Basic armature for the hands

Basic Armature for the Cat Lady feet

The basic armature - checking for balance

Building up the shape some more

A body with shoes
Skinning the face and doing set in eyes

Stitching the eyelids

The face stuffed and finished - ready for painting

Claire is always one to get into the act - Pam had a spare toddler body so Claire made up this head - stuffed it and drew her own face on it, painted it and put together the body and sew the clothes on. She did quite a job of it!

and she sewed on the hair....

This one was going to have painted eyes rather than inset eyes

Some of the painted faces

Love the white tipped fur - it makes a great wig!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Craft and Quilt Fair - Darling Harbour

I visited the Craft and Quilt Fair last week - I was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day and slept like a baby when I got home but I was tired in a good way!
Uniquely Felt
It was wonderful to see all the textile stalls - lots of wool and felting stands as well as ATASDA, NSW Spinners and Weavers Guild and felting workshops and demonstrations (but I still miss The Thread Studio).  I bought Uniquely Felt by Christine White a great techical book about Felting that covers all the major methods of felting as well as this DVD by Judit Pocs which shows many of her wonderful art pieces both in process and finally completed. Her Noah's Ark rug is just absolutely stunning!
I also bought some Free Trade Sari silk which is the waste silk from Sari production gathered and spun into a yarn. One of the traders had a knitted bag made out of a hank of silk - so I can home and made one - so proud of myself for actually finishing it!
Exciting news also that Pam Grose is coming to Sydney to teach. She'll be staying with me - so high motivation to get my craft room tidied up! It's unbelievable but it's been three years since she was last here -  when we made her baby dragons  - I am sure we will have great fun! I think I might make one of her little girls but I do like this sexy looking witch or maybe a young girl like this - kind of sassy and punk! Whatever we decide to do I'm sure it will be a fantastic time!