Saturday, 3 August 2019

Masquerade Masks

Recently I was asked to make some masks for a masquerade party – a matching set of his and hers. Given ideas along this line (below) as a starting point, I came up with these (above). I had some stiff cardboard-type masks in my stash (as one who works in this area does!) and over time gathered bits and pieces, like these decorative metal pieces - a couple of dollars a bag at Reverse Garbage, with a few more found at an op-shop. They were thin enough to bend to fit the curve of the masks, and I secured them, along with some lace fragments, with multi-purpose wall filler, which unlike glue, I was able to sand off the pieces where it had bubbled through and sand around them to integrate them into the mask surface..
 The next step was painting with gesso, then painting them black, getting into all the many nooks and crannies.
There were a few alternating sprays of gold and black as I tried to get the balance just right. I was still not completely satisfied with the male musk, so removed the cheek under one eye and added another 'wire' - a piece of crinoline tubing glued either end, as well as some 'studs' in dimensional paint. The final touches were some rubbings of Treasure Gold gilding wax, and some dustings of Moon Glow two-toned pigments to bring out the textured surfaces. As they went out the door, I belatedly thought of gilding flakes.....
It was a fun project using some new materials a techniques, which is always great. 

Monday, 15 July 2019

Naracoorte Caves - Layers in Time

Well, I never really figured out how to photograph it more clearly, so submitted a selection of these images of my work Layers in Time  for the inaugural Naracoorte National Art Prize. Luckily they didn't have a restriction on image numbers, as I felt I needed quite a few to fully represent the different views in different lights. I still hope to get someone to take some better ones! First up we have the glow in the dark versions - after 'charging' with the UV light, the thread will glow for about a minute.
 Then there's the half UV/ half glow in the dark - I like this combination of blue and green glow
Here's the full UV view, where both threads and white materials (including some of the organza background) glow, then a bit of a spotlight effect - I like to see this a bit as though you were walking through the cave with your torch and you see one area lit up, but there is much more in the distance.
 This ones is natural light with a slight UV glow.
Then, another spotlight effect, hopefully conveying that sense of depth....
...then just plain light, where you can see the textured leather border also highlighted with some gold wax.
Finally, the whole piece, including the top and bottom rod pockets for hanging - the whole piece is backed and bordered with this upholstery material, another perfect find from Reverse Garbage.

 So much from Reverse Garbage! The organza for all the embroidered layers, the felt backing, the upholstery fabric, and then the leather off-cuts from Trad's Liquidators. Silk pieces from the studio (this is why nothing gets thrown out!) then the thread bought on ebay. I submitted my entry on Friday, and hope to hear this week whether it has been accepted. Unfortunately, Luciferin Lei, featured in my last blog, was not accepted for Contemporary Wearables, however, I am submitting it for Fiberarts Excellence in Fibres V.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

King Island Residency

Great news! I have been accepted for an artist residency on King Island during the month of December this year! A remote island in the Bass Strait with a population of around 1600, 120km off the coast of Tasmania, with 143 km of amazing coastline to explore, and the Roaring Forties to rip my face off whilst I wrestle with giant Bull Kelp - I can't imagine a better place to spend almost 5 weeks! I actually included this picture in my application, taken on my one and only trip to Tasmania with Matt in 2013, as I was sure it would convince them that I am crazy for kelp! Above is the picture from the King Island Council website which I have been looking at so often for the past week!

This is the opportunity I have been searching for - a time of reflection, and immersion in spectacular nature, in order to begin work on a cohesive body of work for an exhibition. Although the last decade of my career has been focused on wearable art, I feel it is the right time now to channel my designs away from pieces designed for the body, and more towards sculptural works in their own right, as well as exploring low-relief wall works and installation pieces. I hope to utilise the vast array of techniques I have acquired using many different media towards exploring these other forms of expression. On the island itself, I aim to photograph, sketch, and formulate plans for the overall exhibition.
Here's another shot from my 2013 trip - I was so impressed with the movement of the kelp, as well as the sheer size - very Triffid-like!!
I've just booked the flights, even though I won't hear about my Grant Application to the Australia Council for travel and living expenses until September, because This. Is. Happening!!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Glowing Times

In my constant searching for opportunities to participate in, I stumbled across the Naracoorte National Art Prize, being held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of megafauna fossil remains in the world heritage Naracoorte Cave, South Australia. Artists are invited to create a 2D work in any media exploring the theme "Australian Megafauna, Fossils and Caves - an Artistic Exploration".
My composite design
 Not only did this offer a requirement to work in 2D, but upon researching images of the caves and coming up with a composite design of those most iconic, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with the UV reactive/glow-in-the-dark thread I had bought many months ago. Also from the studio stores came metres of what seems to be cotton organza, rescued from Reverse Garbage, which I dyed with eucalyptus leaves to create the natural tones of the caves. Having decided which images were going to go on what layers, I traced them out onto solvy to pin onto the fabric, hoop it, and start stitching!.
Printed design for reference pinned next to the machine
Once the layers were complete, it was time to bring them together. I had imagined keeping each layer whole and hanging millimetres apart, with images visible through, but decided to condense the image and started the scary process of cutting out sections!
The layers were then hand stitched together, with dark layers added around the edge to frame it, and I am now in the process of further framing it with a layer of reptilian-textured leather off-cuts - sewing this is going to be interesting! On track for the July entry deadline, although I'll need to work out how to photograph it more clearly!
Glow in the dark effect
UV Light reaction
It was so much fun working with the thread that I decided to use it to create a piece for Contemporary Wearables in Toowoomba. I had a lot of silk paper shapes dyed a vivid aqua - experiments for Lichen Morphology last year - and stitched densely around the edges, and in towards the centre - inspired a little by mushroom gills. I loved the effect of the loose threads too, creating a feathery, soft outline.
Having pinned them around a mannequin in a slightly asymmetrical shape, I made a wire armature to support them, needle-felted wool over it, and wet-felted it (for ages!) to shrink it down securely onto the wool. A lot more hand stitching later (there's been a lot of bloody fingertips around here lately) a few sequins added, and it was done.
The final stage was completing the entry, which means writing the artist statement, and finding a title for the work. In researching more about bioluminesence, I discovered that the light-emitting compound found in organisms which luminesce is called Luciferin, so this has been named Luciferin Lei.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

SvenJen 2019 Bunnehs in Ballarat Part 2

Upon Friday afternoon arrival, BB went to training, whilst I met the class, claimed a table, and introduced my invisible, but very strong friend, Jenelle! Sadly, due to the confusion of originally booking to do the workshop in NZ before switching to Ballarat, we have turned up with awesome felting tools, but no needles. We’ll work it out....
At dinner, we reunite with old friends, BB gets to meet our tutor and class, and at some stage PB manages the faux pas of "how good is our class – there seem to be 0 fruitloops – perhaps it’s the tutor then?”…. as tutor Kristy walks up behind me…..
At dinner the Bunnehs try and organise the morning:
BB: How long around the lake?
PB: (holds up 6 fingers)
BB: So what time iz upz?
PB: I don’t want to brain it
BB: I’ll work it out
PB: I don’t want to help…..
So the first lake walk is a tad gorgeous, including full rainbow, many birds, and of course philosophical issues, such as why we so often have a desire to be anti-social.....
Class begins, and our tutor Kristy Kun asks, "Who's a leftie?', with BB being the only one to say "me!" Absolute GOLD as Kristy looks at her, sighs, and says, "OK". We are also in giggles as she reads out and reacts to the days notices, including a tea break at 10:30 - "Really? You need a break at 10:30?!", but when she is informed that there will be cake, is immediately sold on the concept. She proceeds to completely win BB over when during one of her demonstrations states that she "is not one for extra steps"!! There is some fun as Pam Hovel points out Kristy's pronunciation of 'aluminium' and PB snorts, 'Yeh, we say all the letters here!", and afternoon tea of cheese and biscuits needs to be reinterpreted as cheese and crackers. Jenelle inverts her felt layout, and Kristy says "That's OK, but no-one else do that", then "And she's left-handed. Still!" Loving this woman!!
PB's much-maligned itinerary/information folder is brought out to consult, and BB finally admits her grudging respect for it as it clearly contains VALUABLE INFORMATION!! It's only taken 7 years to get some respect....

After dinner, we repair to the common room, but when talk turns to euthanasia, decide this is not our night to play. The next morning as we meet in the hall, BB asks me "what in God's name were you playing in there?!'( Poor Bob Dylan. Nobody likes him. On another afternoon, someone else asks me to turn him down). As a brisk breeze appears, I worry about having removed an extra layer, and BB is amused at me being the most consistently cold person she knows! Day 2 of the workshop bears great results, with two sample flowers completed by all.

Flowers soaking to remove the soap.
 Day 3 begins with a disappearing Bun, as I pop up on the other side of BB as she is talking to me, leaving her perplexed and talking to air momentarily. During the lake walk I stop and must photograph the bare branches as they are 'speaking to me'. "What are they saying, Bun?" "Stick".
On the way back we jump the fence to the Botanic Gardens and find an amazing display of dahlias - most pertinent to the class!
Speaking of class - today we begin the larger project, and a volatile BB swings from 'chucking a sad' (a new term embraced by Kristy) as we start by discussing our flowers (too slow!!) to "I'm so excited" as plans progress! Morning tea holds yet another delight for our sweet-toothed Kristy, who has been told that todays' treat is Chocolate Hedgehog, yet somehow goes in search of the Chocolate Turtle.
Tuesday becomes the day of change, as PB braves the day without the coat, waits in a different spot at Maccas for the coffee, crosses the road before the railway and walk through the North Gardens instead of around the Lake. We are rewarded for these brave moves by sighting a fluffy wallaby in the gardens. The day is filled with concentration on work, and twice shutting down group photos on everyone's devices - just NO!!
My new feather hat is worn to dinner at the Top Table, and afterwards we return to the classroom for the first time ever - BB questions "Who even am I"?!! Pam cops some ribbing about the shape her felted cylinder has turned into - "oooh, I like your vagina, Pam"!!
Wednesday is our final morning lake walk, and there are many concerned wails about the wind as we leave the school. PB grumps her way around the lake and the wind gets worse, and there is a moment of clarity as I tell BB about how psycho the wind makes me - a-HA!! It is probably the hardest work day in the class - much rubbing of felt, many heavy sighs. We tour other classrooms, such as the
Millinery one "We need to do THAT" to Erica Gray's headpiece class, where I finally try the 3D pen and decide that I do, indeed, need to buy one of those!
Tired Bunnehs finish up and say goodbye, regretting their decision to leave that day as they are both very tired, but soon realise that it was a good decision. Hire car drop goes smoothly, although I am asked if I am dressed for something special, and I am relieved to see the shuttle bus arrive almost immediately, as I did not know how to explain to BB that there could be a 20-30 minute wait - eeep!! We are stoked to settle in the Virgin Lounge once more, where I manage to mistake mustard for hommous....
And once again it is all over for another year. Sniff.
Now, back to more normal textile transmissions.

SvenJen 2019 - Bunnehs in Ballarat

*Warning - those with a low threshold tolerance of fun and silliness are asked to go no further* - this is the tale of the annual adventure of two gals who somehow (looong story) became 'Bunnehs', who each year venture on a fibre journey to somewhere (most often Ballarat) where they exit the real world, remove all filters, and become... Pure BUN!! PB = Pink Bunneh, BB = Blonde Bunneh.
SvenJen 2019 was again a journey to Ballarat Grammar, but first enjoying 3 nights exploring Kyneton and surrounds. The new Bunnehs got a good workout performing the emergency procedures
on the plane, before settling into the hire car for the trip to Kyneton. We mooted the idea of lunch at Macedon, keen to avoid a hangry, but with just one place open, decided to head straight for Kyneton.
With time to fill in before we could access our burrow, we were more than happy to enjoy some delicious noms at The Little Swallow, before strolling around town to discover that disappointment has a day, and that day is Tuesday. Weekend towns are closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh well.
After settling into the burrow, the twilight surrounds looked so lovely that I kept trying to go and enjoy the porch, only to come back shrieking each time that it was "not nice”! Brrrrrrr!
After an early night, and subsequent early upz, the Bunnehs struggle to find the correct lighting arrangement for gumboot coffee (plunger) making, settling for "aaagh, ok, but still not good”. One Bunneh in particular starts to feel very chirpy, and issues a ‘Morning Warning’!! Real coffee is soon sourced at Cookie Crumb, AKA Cookie Monster/ Cookie Dough/ Crumbed Cookie, before a successful walk along Campasque River, before heading to Woodend, where it is decided over coffee that it is indeed very cold and miserable, and we should
not attempt Hanging Rock. We drive to Daylesford, and the Wombat Gardens, climbing the dizzying spiral staircase of the memorial tower which I declare to be a fine venue for suicide, received with raised eyebrows. Just sayin’. We visit the Convent Gallery and some op-shops before a hangry looms, quickly averted by attendance at Muffins and More for some totally dericious salads.
Mmmm, felafel derishiousness!
 We again visit the Mill Markets, which provide a fabulous trip down memory
We find "A Bunny in Trouble"!!

lane for Bunnehs with childhoods in the 70’s-80’s. BB tries on a boot and ends up cockroached on the floor, leg in the air, with a request of ‘ugh, Bunneh!!’, for it to be removed!!
Next morning, the coffee should have been left another 30 seconds to brew – disappointment haz a flavour. As I write the notes I am devastated when the black pen runs out and I must use BB’s blue – ugh!! To which she replies, “We gotta work on ya quirks”! We drop in to Monsieur Pierre for coffee and head to Black (Forest!) Hill Reserve, finding many wallabies, including a joey in the pouch!
Unlike previous walks in Victoria, there are maps at the beginning, but without reference points noted along the way…again, Victoria, you’re doing it wrong! What do you do when you don't know which way to walk? Why, you throw a glove up in the air and follow what it says! The Little Swallow is revisited, then it is indeed off to Hanging Rock! The Discovery Centre educates BB on the Picnic at Hanging Rock film, and the importance of calling out Mirandaaaa, but she remains dubious. However, she finds $10 on the Summit Path – the money required to pay for our attendance – winning!!
Don't worry, go through, I've got this!!

Thoughts of enjoying a fresh scone and jam are thwarted by PB struggling to digest breakfast - food and exercise just belong no-where near together with me! Sconeless, we drive to Mount Macedon and visit the massive Memorial Cross, and where I found out that the lovely soft-looking topiaried bushes are not at all soft…. We then visit Sanitorium Lake – AKA TB lake or mud-hole of crapulence – a very disappointing stroll.
Ahhhh, TB AKA Sanitorium Lake.
Things go ‘downhill’ as we backtrack to find ‘anti-gravity hill’ with no success. Our final try is Stanley Park, but on arrival BB says “See how I’m not stopping the car”? “I am so ok with you not stopping the car" – even the car park looks barren and uninviting. However, we gain solace in the fact that this takes us down one of the many spectacular Avenues of Honour lined with autumn foliage, before
stopping at Duck Duck Goose for refreshments of savoury scone, coffee, and a Rosemary Greyhound (gin) – mmmm, delishiousness has a location, and it is here, until the weird cat’s-piss-like smell and my sore leg indicate that perhaps it is indeed, time to go.
Our last morning in Kyneton begins over the road at FIKA for our coffee, before a trot into town, brekky, and packing up the burrow. First stop is Turpins Falls, where we should have heeded the graffitied sign (Rated *1 STAR SHIT WATERFALL) – I even changed from my boots into my sneakers to trot down and see this disappointment.
Onwards to Castlemaine, where we drive through the reasonably large town and happen across the Botanic Gardens, and enjoy a leg stretch, fresh air, ducks, and European-style deck chairs and bean bags!

Again onwards to Ballarat for a few supplies, including a kebab to see us through the afternoon. As we unload the car, BB has a skip to her step – quite unlike the first arrival to Ballarat all those years ago! Or is this because she is about to “go and be awesome” at training?! Momentary horror when she thinks we are to share a room (am I really that bad, Bun?!) before we are delighted to find our separate rooms located right across from the showers and toilets!! Hurrah!
To be continued.....