Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maldon Folk Festival - The Instrument Maker's Exhibition.

And like good crafts-people everywhere, they have plenty of interesting stuff to share, and are usually up for a chat.

There were some beautiful instruments, and some really quirky stuff as well. My favourite stand was that of Bill Crocker's. Sitting amongst a table full of fiddles, bows, dulcimers etc, he muttered modestly, "oh I'm not really an instrument maker, I just make things for fun." 

This one is a fiddle. What type? Apparently it is an experimental fiddle. (My favourite type). It has the standard four strings, as well as four sympathetic strings on either side.

And what instrument collection is complete without a hurdy-gurdy?
 Bill had some tools you don't find in every bloke's shed.

A Dulcimer Clamp.

A Plate Thickness Tester. Yep, he invented this one. 
Another favourite stand was this one. Cigar Box Guitars!
A demo from the maker.
These are guitars made from cigar boxes. The work of Julian Whittaker. They were invented in the cotton fields of the Delta Region. Apparently the kids would hear the blues being played and make their own instruments. There were plenty of old cigar boxes lying about, so that's what they used. As the players of these fine gadgets moved on to Chicago, and perfected their craft, they became known as DeVille. (Meaning of the city).
As there are not so many empty cigar cases lying about these days, Julian makes his own. On display were some faithful replicas of the originals. And some with deviations and developments, where he has played around with the shape to produce different sounds. The final touches are some fabulous retro stickers from the cigar boxes of the time. Loads of fun.
Julian also makes some mighty fine guitars.
While I was researching the finer points of hurdy-gurdy construction, and tales from the cotton fields, Bruce was having some adventures too. He found a fret-less banjo. Made by Ray Black, you've gotta love his work. I couldn't find a website, but he makes superb banjos and mandolins.
Fret-less banjo.
He didn't want to put this one down. It is an Octave Mandolin, apparently very similar to a Mandola. Kind of a bass mando, as I understand it. Definitely the missing link in Bruce's instrument collection.
Octave Mandolin.
Ray Black with some of his work.
Some other instrument stands. I can't remember this maker's name, but his work was also quite superb. (Must do some further research). He made the Octave Mando, you can see it on the far right.
We found our mate, Ted testing the wares at the same table.
Watching a craftsman at work always makes me smile. Apparently he had an order that he had to have finished.
Its a bit like taking your knitting to work.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spring Sewing.

Now that Spring is in full swing, the garden is where you will usually find me. But I have also managed to squeeze in a few days at River Studios. It has been a great opportunity to spruce up my faded and tattered wardrobe.

Here are a few of my new things.
This beret I made with the leftover bits from a skirt. The pattern is from Nicole Mallalieu's Quick Projects Range. Very versatile and easy to make. I'm going to whip up one for every occasion from now on.

And here is the skirt. The pattern for this one is in Nicole Mallalieu's book, that everyone is talking about. It is the Wrap Skirt. Pattern free, great fun to make. You take your measurements, work out some ratios, snip-snip, sew-sew and Voila!

This one I made a bit longer, and used some of my Gorgeous Go Granny fabric from The Curlypops Shop as a feature panel. I've also made another A-Line Skirt featuring Go Granny, just need to take a photo of it.
Here is a shorter, sportier version, that I made for my daughter. Of course it looks much better on her, but she wont stand still long enough for me to photograph her in it.
And you can see my beautiful poppies in the background.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I've Got a Luv-er-ly Bunch of Artichokes.

Aren't they beautiful? One of the best things about being a gardening junkie is that you get to eat the profits. You also get to hang out with those of a similar mind, and get to eat their profits too. These were planted at work by a colleague, from cuttings supplied by another work-mate. We have all been swapping recipes and living well on the fat of the land. And they were delicious!
 The small ones were pan fried in olive oil and garlic, served with lemon juice, (lemon from my sister's tree), cracked pepper and sea salt. 
The large ones were used in soup. Best soup ever!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From River Studios.

While you will find me in the garden, last week and the week before I was nowhere to be seen. That's because I was hiding in studio, indulging in one of my other loves, painting.
And what a lovely project it was. A nice man commissioned me to paint this portrait of his friend, who was giving him one of her horses (the one standing up). With a ten day deadline looming, it was a good excuse to totally throw myself into it.
Dressed in my finest rags, covered from head to toe in paint, I thought of nothing but the project at hand. Any attempts at conversation, by well meaning friends resulted in nothing but incoherent babble. Thanks for your patience guys.
The painting was based on a photo, supplied by the client. However, the swirling patterns of capeweed in the foreground was calling out for extra attention. There is nothing like the real thing.
There is nothing like painting from life.
Voila, the finished product! Now in the hands of its rightful owner.

Poppies are all a-bloom at my house.

Being of a slightly excessive nature, I can never seem to do things in small doses. From a few packets of seeds, bought enthusiastically last Autumn, grew a very high yield. "Just choose a few and throw the rest out", "be not a slave to your seedling trays" my work mates tried to tell me. Like I would ever do that..........
 So I worked for hours in the garden, lovingly planting hundreds of teeny, weeny seedlings.
But the rewards are starting to show. Every day I am greeted with more and more of these little beauties.
 Next to flower will be the foxgloves, growing quickly in this warm weather. There were also hollyhocks, but the snails seem to have eaten them all, only three have survived.
Winter vegies are almost at an end, so they're being pulled out to make room for a whole lot of beetroots, carrots, spring onions, leeks, radish, eggplant, tomatoes, corn....................   

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Go Granny from the Curlypops Shop.

If you happened to be in the vicinity of the Western Suburbs of Melbourne yesterday, you may well have heard squeals of glee wafting in the air. That was probably me, jumping out of my skin with excitement, because my mail order had arrived.

The latest product, made here in Melbourne by one of our own fabulous designers, Camile Condon of Curlypops. It was also printed here in Melbourne  by an amazing new local company, Fankie and Swiss.

It just gets better and better. It is printed on 100% natural fibre, medium weight cotton-canvas, using water based, non-toxic, solvent free inks. And isn't it GORGEOUS!

Although I'm in the middle of an all consuming portrait commission, and my Spring vegie seedlings are screaming at me to get them out of their punnets and into the garden, I couldn't resist playing dress-ups with my already bulging fabric stash. Something this spesh can't be used all at once, I'm thinking feature panels for skirts, bags etc. Anyway, better get up to the studio and finish this painting.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Digging Diggers.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend at work showed me the Diggers Club seed catalogue.  (gasp) Be still my beating heart! He was going out to their nursery on the weekend. So of course I gave him a shopping list, which looked more like a ten page document.

It was like Christmas the following week, when the goodies arrived. Good old Loppie even brought in some spare stuff that he had at home.

So now its time to plant them...yay! I have to restrain myself from nicking out to the greenhouse seventeen times a day to check on their progress. Patience Leonie, patience!

Choir Performance - this Saturday, 3 Sept. the Substation.

Have you heard the Newport Community Choir perform? Have you been to the Substation Artist's Market? Well here's your chance to do both. This Saturday, 3 Sept, we will be performing at the Substation Art Market.
It is an amazing market, with everything being hand-made, and the makers all running the stalls. It also boasts fabulous food and entertainment. It is on the first Saturday of every month, running from 10am to 4pm. 1 Market St. Newport. Right next to Newport Railway Station.
And the choir sound pretty good too.
We will be on stage from 12.00 to 12.30. There will also be, as usual a wonderful mix of other musicians performing throughout the day. If you're in the area on Saturday, come on down and listen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

From Gardening to Bag Making in one Day.

Today was such a lovely day for gardening. The weeds were thick and plentiful, but came out easily. As they were pulled out, lots of lovely little flowers that have been hiding away all winter revealed themselves. A nice way to spend the day.
And tonight I went to Nicole Mallalieu Design HQ for a fabulous workshop. Tonight's lesson was making straps for bags, belts etc. It was loads of fun and informative as well.
Here's what I made, in cheap and cheerful callico. Now that I'm off my L-Plates, I can try them in nice fabric on a bag.

The stitching is a little bit dodgey on this one, but you get the idea. Also the iron left a bit of a stain on the fabric, ah well, its only the test model.

All in all, I'm feeling a bit too clever by half. Can't wait to make some real ones up now.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The First Signs of Spring!

Aaaah the first signs of Spring! And look what has popped up.
That must be my cue to get out in the garden and tackle those weeds. Better tie a rope around my leg so I don't get lost.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oh I do love to sit and sew.

This week has been a sewing week.... busy in my little cave, whipping up all manner of creations in fabric. Here's what I've been working on.

The first picture features the wrap skirt. This one was made earlier this year, and has been well loved. The pattern is from Nicole Mallaleiu's fabulous new book You Sew Girl!

The book takes you on a journey, with many fun and rewarding projects. Each project teaches new skills, and has you sewing like a pro in no time. I'm really loving the pattern free clothing section. Its like oragami meets sewing! Having fun experimenting with some cowl neck tops, photos to come.....

The wrap skirt is definitely the favourite so far. I've made it up in all manner of fabrics, as birthday presents for various girlfriends. I also made a shorter version for my leggy teenage daughter.
It is my all-time favourite item of clothing. (Well maybe I love the boots more, but the skirt comes close).
The fabric is the most divine hand printed organic linen, from Thea & Sami.
Thea's range of fabrics, homewares and clothing is to die for. Do check our her website.

So what have I made this week. Well there is the beret. The pattern is from Nicole Mallalieu's Quick and Easy range. It really is very quick and easy to make, and it looks amazing.

The fabric is another gorgeous piece of linen. An offcut I scored about seventeen years ago. I'd just dropped in to visit my sister in her studio with toddler and newborn in tow. The gloss of new motherhood took a backseat when I spied the scrap box of one of her neighbours. It was just overflowing with drool-worthy fabrics in reasonable sized pieces. All that could be seen of me were my feet, disappearing into the box. After rolling around in it for a while, and then remembering the kids, and then apologising to their aunt and all her studio mates, I collected quite a stash. And with little ones to sew for, it didn't matter that they were in small pieces.

I was pretty excited about the beret. It was looking fantastic, until it was finished and tried it on. Unfortunately, now that my hair has turned a lovely shade of silver, browns and tans don't really suit me any more. Luckily my gorgeous red-haired friend, Christine looked stunning in it. She didn't want to be photographed today, but will send some pics later.

And finaly, the Fedora. Another pattern from Nicole Mallalieu's fabulous range. This is the first attempt. Its a little bit wonky, but I'm pretty happy with it. As it also looked better on Christine, she got two hats today. The lemon tree was more willing to be photographed, so you'll have to wait to see how lovely my friend looks.

There are a few other projects bubbling away, stay tuned...............

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Edith's Lyrebird.

Here is a beautiful film I would like to share. It was written and narrated by the fabulous Jackie Kerin.
Based on a true story about a woman befriended a young male lyrebird. The music is stunning, played by two of our local talented musicians, Greg O'Leary and Michael Stewart.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

From River Studios- Pattern Testing Nicole Mallalieu's New A-Line Skirt.

While I've been neglecting blogland of late, other creative ventures have been happening. I've been on a bit of a painting binge, (a nice place to be,> I'll post some pics soon).
But today I have been pattern testing.
Nicole Mallalieu of Nicole Mallalieu Design is about to release a fabulous new skirt pattern. All going well, it should be ready for the Melbourne Quilters Fair. Stay tuned.
This is the first draft. I really like it. Its a great shape, comfy and flattering. Super easy to make, clear instructions with diagrams.
As with all Nikki's patterns, there are tips and hints to improve your sewing skills. It makes the job easier and you learn to sew like a pro as you go. (say that three times quickly).
There is plenty of room for variation, as well as helpful advice on how to add your own bits. I added the panels at the front, but you can add whatever you like. Let your own imagination run wild, go on I dare you.
Nikki has made up a stack of these fabulous skirts, check them out here.