Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A phoenix, a seed of the wild wind

Another cuff in the shop today, and a lovely pair of earrings I came very close to keeping for my own!
I've developed a habit of writing an on-the-spot poem to go with whatever I'm listing, and I took particular liking to the one written for the above cuff:

I am a child of the wild wind-
my life is carried like a seed;
over hills and mountains high,
my path determined by the breeze.

I need no map or compass,
to know which way to fly.
through cities grand and country wild;
The wind is the horse I ride by.

Though storms do sometimes throw me
-as tempests often do-
Never too long does the wild wind blow;
'Fore I'm back to a path that's true.

To be a child of the Wild Wind
people often give their all
but the true skill lies in letting go
and let the wind decide your fall.

As much as I have enjoyed being here at the museum, and as much as I am reluctant to leave it, I must say I am looking forward to my stay with Mum, wherein my time will be my own. Time to just sit, and make things, draw, paint, assemble jewellery, sew wrist cuffs... I'll be dusting off my writing folder too, and taking a serious look at a fantasy novel I've had on hold for some time. This Phoenix fire has burned low, it's time to emerge from ashes again. new chapters, and all that.

And finally, thank you so very very much to the lovely Donna who wrote such terrifically sweet things about my work on her blog today. I was inspired by what she wrote, and it's so heartening to finally have found my place in this world. I challenge anyone to dare say the internet is not a revolution in society! It really is remarkable the way like-minded souls have found each other on this World Wide Web, who knew there were people with as weird a taste in things as us? :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

The higher path is overgrown

framed assemblage ready for the shop

I'm expecting the internet to leave me tomorrow- the phone will be disconnected any moment I'm sure! But I'll only be here for another 4 days and then I shall be living in Warragul. Most of my things will stay here for another 2 weeks or so while I pack them up.

I've walked a fair way in trimming down my hoardings. I rid myself of 3 boxes of stuff for the thrift, as well as 1 box and two bags of fabric, a pile of books and two garbage bags of ...well, garbage! I still have a lounge room floor full of de-stash, two large tubs of vintage fabrics (one bedding, one material) to ebay and a hat box full of beads I don't want. All to go on Etsy or eBay.


I also sold another wrist cuff this morning- The Rabbit and the Sea will soon be crossing the sea! Thank you very much to the buyer. It gives such a thrill to sell something you've poured yourself into, to know that someone out there thinks as much of your art as you do.

I'm really loving making these cuffs, I'm going to list more just as soon as they are done...the next few are amazing, Havisham and Fagin in all their glory...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dye! Dye! Dye!

Another 'how to get random non-de-script colours' adventure...

+ Add one cap each of Dylon cold Nasturtium and Forget-Me-Not blue in a glass jar, add two tablespoons of cooking salt and dissolve in hottest tap water.

Add to bucket of cold water- only as much as I will cover the fabrics. (In this case I went half full- I'm starting to learn (the obvious fact) that the less water you put in, the more concentrated the dye and therefore the better the result.)

Let them soak for a couple of hours (I didn't stir them much, I like the dye to settle and leave blotches) and then wring them out and lay them aside overnight. Air-dry in overcast conditions (I had the addition of a warm wind) after being well rinsed-out in cold water.

(This one is a skirt- yes, I'm doing clothes!)

I've ended up with a washed-out muddy mauvey brown with subtle terracotta 'corruptions'. Some of the fabrics were re-dyes from the purple-grey-brown batch I showed you last time, but most were cream or white to begin with. I should also point out that these are all vintage fabrics; it's possible that invisible age marks and staining have helped the blotchy process. Oh, and these are all powdered dyes too- I've blended liquid dye before but it doesn't work quite the same way, you get a much smoother tonal finish- and who wants that!? ;)

Wrist cuffs are quickly becoming my most favourite thing to make- from dying the fabrics to assembling them (on the kitchen table, while the pasta over-cooks) to sewing them while watching BBC programs.

I still enjoy doing the paper collages, but I find myself avoiding the studio to work on cuffs instead. I'm also feeling ready to branch out into clothes which means going through my big box of pre-dyed vintage pretties (are their too many re-customed slips in the world? I'm I'm also having plans for belts (did these a long time ago, but I was before my time and none sold!) and bags. Scarves and socks are on the list too but I need to learn how to knit first!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The green earth sends her incense up...

The most beautiful Autumn weather today...

Even though I had to walk all the way to the doctors and back, I didn't mind in the slightest. I had my black ruffled brolly in one hand and my camera in the other.

And it was sooo glorious. Long streaks of golden sunshine were slung over the trees in all their tattered orange and yellow leaves....

Secret shadows with scurrying noises in them, long grass weaving itself through picket fencing...and i am going to miss living in this town alot.

Warragul is beautiful too, but i grew up in Korumburra, and there's something about walking down the always-green streets that are still wide enough for two carriages to pass. walking past things that you've walked past your whole life, it has a kind of transportational magic.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Miss Havisham presents the lesson...


It pays not to get too down about a project....

Because sometimes....

Things go wrong, then right, then wrong, then right...

Experiments change all the time, that's why they're experimental!

You just never know what could happen.

You can get lovely pale bluey browny pinky greeny purpley greyish colours out of one dye bath.

Not so bad after all. I just love the way they were different colours at each stage of the process, and this is the final result, thanks to a day in the sun.

The lovely ragged aristocrats in a post-apocalyptic dream, powdered and patchworked in their shredded Fagin finery. There will be bone beads and rhinestones and tiny crystal chips in this batch...and ivory glove buttons no bigger than a match head.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hm, well- there's a lesson for me. Don't get too excited about the colours of your dye when things are still wet and unrinsed.

thanks to my over-enthusiastic washing machine and it's tendency to rinse things twice (it's got a screw loose I think) my lovely not-sure-what-coloured skirts are now a nice respectable bleached-wood grey. It's okay, they'll still come up nicely when I'm done embellishing them, but they're not the mysterious rainbow of mud they once were.

Oh well, that's what happens in experimentland!

As a plus though, all the laces and trims have come out complimentary colours, so they'll suit them perfectly.

I've added another wrist cuff to the shop...

...and will be listing another tomorrow, as well as some de-stash buttons and beads in the other shop.

The thrift turned up some great stuff today- I only had about two minutes to run through as they were closing- but I managed to score well.

+ Victorian bud vase- $4 Seems to be affected in it's factory making on the lower stem, I don't think it's a crack because it's under the glaze. It reminds me of my brother, he loves Greek Revival.

+ five packs of vintage unopened powder blue wool socks. I'll be re-conditioning these, dying them and adding scraps of vintage fabrics and this-n-that. I kept a pair for me and they're lovely! Thin like winter tights, and just over the knee. I have a larger foot too, and they still fit perfect!

+ lovely white milkglass beads- $1. Don't know how old these are, probably 20s- they've been re-strung at one point because they're uneven, so it's possible they were from a flapper necklace that snapped whilst flailing about in mid-Charleston. I like to think!

+ Cute little 70s side plate- 50c. This I bought mostly for the design; I'm getting a tattoo sometimes soon and it's going to be a kind of medieval woodcut look, with weeds and hares and deer and olde English text and that sort of thing.

+ huge white handmade lace-openwork tablecloth -$2. TWO dollars. I couldn't believe it. Here's a better shot, so you can see it's full loveliness:

It's amazing! I was going to tear it up and dye it and do all those other violating things I do, but when I saw how big and well-made it was....I don't know if I can. I have so many other lovely bits of lace I can seems a shame to wreck something so perfect.

I noticed when I came home that all my thrifting colour co-ordinated, not just with itself but with the wrist cuff I finished last night. Every time I go to the thrift I seem to come home with stuff that all matches- maybe it's just what I'm drawn to on that day or something I don't know (though I have been meaning to buy the bud vase for a week, I can't believe it was still there).

Does this mysterious colour co-ordination happen to you?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bowerbirds and magpies all- the getting and letting go of stuff.

The very delightful Donna has been doing some thinking and writing about hoarders and obsessive collecting recently (as I spoke of briefly yesterday) and I'd like to talk about it as well. I have alot to say and I'd like to get it all out, so I've broken it up with some nice pictures of maximalist interiors.

Naturalist's still-life, bedside table (my own image)

I have alot of stuff, like most of us do (gathering by blog studio pics I see!) I grew up with a very creative father who made model trucks, restored clocks and kerosene lamps and also collected Victoriana- which in his time was very unfashionable and therefore very easy to get, in vast amounts, especially in the countryside where we lived. My mother was also a collector of old things, and between them gave me a very stocked full house to grow up in. I should say though that it was kept mostly neat and clean- there may have been a dusty shelf here and there but everything had a place- on the wall, on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, in the garden, in the shed, around the shed...

Shop/residence of Ann Shore, UK stylist

It was a warm, cosy, friendly (and too a young child's imagination, immensely interesting) place to be, and since my grandmothers also had the collecting bug (paternal granny from a house load of kids who all loved old stuff and maternal granny from her travels over Europe as a nurse for the Red Cross) I consequently grew up in a world that was full of things, full of laughing people (Dad's side has Weasley blood) and full of love.

The collecting bug therefore wasn't the only thing that my family passed onto me- it set me a personality that only truly feels comfortable in stuffed rooms. My bedroom as a teenager was tiny, and I loved being in there surrounded by stuff. To this day I prefer a small bedroom.

Scan from Interior Alchemy- one of my favourite books ever.

As life went on though, I began to develop emotional issues and anxiety. I can't be exactly sure where these stem from (though I'm about to start therapy (finally!) this month to start digging up answers) but the short of it is that in order to curb my feelings of anxiety and vulnerability, I began to collect things around me.

I didn't collect just anything I might say- tin cans and old newspapers still went in the recycle bin!- but I did develop a serious thrift shop habit, and collected alot of stuff. Of course being an art student I couldn't really afford such a habit, but I still did it. The more the world gave me a hard time, the more I would collect. The more I collect, the poorer I became, the more the world gave a hard time...etc. It was a destructive circle.

Film still from Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist

This past year I developed a habit of selling things on eBay (because I had alot of stuff sitting around that people paid good money for), and made enough cash out of it to support my running up the street and buying all new stuff whenever I felt the need to 'nest'. It didn't fix my problem, but it made it affordable. It doesn't take away the fact however that there is clearly a larger issue underneath. But is there? Clearly I've developed a security from having alot of stuff around me, but is this an altogether bad thing?

In terms of my surroundings, no. I like stuff. I like having alot of it. I did the Oprah Winfrey hoarders test and managed a 13! But that was mostly due to my being such a diverse artist and living in a house by myself, meaning I don't have to pack away my work when I'm done looking at it. I have jewellery and wrist cuff stuff all over the kitchen table, paper collage all over the studio table and de-stash all over the lounge room floor. These are 'in progress' places that I'm happy about.

Artist Mark Ryden in his studio

But am I making excuses? I've reached a point in my life where due to various emotional and physical problems, I can't cope with daily life 'out there'. I don't spend my days hiding under a blanket, and left to my own devices in my little invented world I'm fine- but let's suffice to say that the stress and anxiety I so easily get from 'out there' is enough to prevent me having a full time job. Thusly I am on welfare payments, which, as some of you may know, aren't nearly enough for getting by in life, let alone having a collecting compulsion.

Loft of artist Wil Shepherd.

What all this boils down to is that I am now finally admitting that I have a problem. If I had the space and the money I wouldn't care, but that's not the circumstance I'm in. As it is now (and I'll be totally honest about this) I have to move out of my house and in with my mother, in order to be able to pay off the debts I've accumulated by choosing thrift sale days over paying the phone bill. (Admittedly there are other reasons for moving out of here but this is a big one.) This is going to be a testing time, not because living with my mother is hard, it isn't- we get on well, but because I'll be in a space that's only half the size of my studio here, and my studio here is too small even for my art, let alone a bed. That's why I'm spread out all over the house (something my muggle mother will not allow).

The outside Room, long-harvested from a forgotten online source.

I'll be in this house for another month. In that time I expect to leave here with half the possessions I have now. Half the books (I never read them), half the CDs (i never listen to them), half the clothes (too small, too big, badly fitting, just don't like it), half my kitchenware (who needs a summer scheme and a winter scheme for their kitchenware!? Just pick one, Penny!) and half my sundries (to quote Absolutely Fabulous: Bric'n'Brac'n'Nick'n'Knack'n'Things).

I'd like to end by saying that when I started this blog I wanted it to remain a pure thing, something that would showcase my work and the influences. To some extent it has stayed that way- but not the perfect mask I desired it to be. This blog has swiftly become a personal place as well as a visual library of influence.

Because all life is my influence.

I am an artist and therefore inspired (and sometimes repulsed) by the world around me. The chips and cracks that I love in physical objects are also there in metaphysical terms in my life, in my head- and I am comfortable with both of them being here for all to see. True strength of character lies in baring all our scars.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lather, rinse, repeat till worn out and muddy

I had one of the most successful dye baths today- it was very experimental, i didn't expect it to work at all. A cap of Dylon cold Wedgwood blue and a cap of the same in Cafe Au Lait. I used them in hot water (don't know if that made a difference) and three times as much salt as advised.

What a great colour result! Some of the pieces are sort of grey, but sometimes purpley, and there's a blotchy brown in there somewhere... Everything came out different (as happens) -one of the pieces of Embroiderie Anglaise stayed resolutely blue (albiet a bit muddy) but the other laces are all levels of grey-brown-purple- one has a large blotch of a reddish-pink, I have no idea where it picked that up from. But the two skirts pictured below are my favourites.

The skirt with the white trim is a grey colour, but just when you've made that decision there's some purple to be seen... The other skirt is grey, almost brown, sometimes purple...with stitched flower trim in brown...or is that burgundy...?

These are the kinds of colours I love, the ones you can't quite put a name to, they keep changing. Hopefully things won't fade too much when I wash them tomorrow (I let them dry before I rinse and wash, give the dye a chance to 'bake' in).

This skirt reminds me of the colours in the floorboards of the train carriage here at the museum:

Don't look away now

I am very slowly getting more wrist cuffs ready for the shop. I think the problem is that I don't watch enough TV- all the time I'm running around checking out dye buckets and sorting out excess craft room goods and messing about with paper scraps...I only watch about an hour of TV a day- that's with dinner!

I must remember to watch Oprah when she's on so I can get more stitching done. Oprah's a secret of mine- all my friends are into terribly cool things like Doctor Who, Firefly, Japanese anything...give me some Oprah. Most of my TV love is British (Nigella, Black Books, Grand Designs, Time Team (my beloved Tony Robinson!)), so Oprah is a nice change. And you have to admit, she's done some great things for the everyday people. She did a show about hoarding not too long ago that Donna blogged about recently; I have things to talk about regarding my own problem with hoarding/letting go, but not right now- this post is long enough!

So one more thing. Some pictures of one of the most precious items in our collection (and one of my favourite objects) , an over-repaired ladies corset:

This is what I'm trying to replicate when I stitch my cuffs in their 'dodgy' stitches. That sturdy, made-to-be-used, never to come undone style that things were repaired with in the 1930s. I'm fascinated by the ingenuity and just plain necessity of some of the make-do-and-mend objects I see; it's also a kind of macabre curiosity- I'm rather conspiracy-paranoid in that I feel there will come a dustbowl time again soon, and history will repeat itself.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The dustbowl

I am so inspired by this amazing bowl I found at the thrift shop yesterday- it's so rare to come across this kind of thing in our country town thrifts. They're all run by practical older people, who take one look and think 'oh that's no good, it's all worn out!' and toss it.

The scars and scrapes and dints and heat damage is so wonderful, I can't get over it! To think such precious glory can be had for a single dollar.

I'd really like to make something from it, if I had the heart to take a hammer in hand I would love to smooth out pieces of it and turn them into pendants. But it's so beautiful as it is, so full of history as a whole object...I might just float a single candle in it, and think about all those yummy cakes and puddings that have been born from it's ironstone belly.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

No sooner home than the nose is to the grindstone...

I'll be updating Etsy with some more wrist cuffs this weekend, hopefully by Sunday night there should be quite a few tattered ladies listed. This one above is already there...

I had one of those 'go' days today- managed to photograph a bunch of stuff for my eBay 'hobby' (I sell vintage there to pay the gas bill!) , did a load of washing, went for a walk in the village, did the dishes (gasp!), started exploring the amazing world of Diamond Glaze, wrote up a listing for Etsy... These take me aaaages because I insist on all that terribly poetic quotes and what-have-you, which means I get distracted researching them!

...and I found an online Mario Bros. Procrastination now comes with a cute little jingle.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ironstone, bone, silver, lace and stone

Adversity from Etta Industry

Spring/Summer 08 collection- 'backwards and forwards' by Nostalgie Cloth

Warming the Keys by Samantha Lamb

Going home to my cottage after being on holiday in the big city for a feels good to go away sometimes, but the best feeling is that of coming home.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Making the heart grow fonder

Flora De La Luna

Please excuse my recent absence, I'm on holidays! I will return soon with a nice big update to the shop- more wrist cuffs!