Saturday 29 December 2012

Studio Progress

With three teenage children about to descend upon my home for the foreseeable future, work progresses frantically to re-house me in my new studio downstairs, also accommodating the industrial machines I have recently bought! Having combined my dressing room and studio upstairs in order to free up a bedroom, I'm currently working all throughout the house (not entirely unusual anyway!). My current World of WearableArt designs for 2013 are taking up most of the lounge! I'd love to show what I'm up to, but of course, I cannot. However, I can tell you that I am loving working with leather....

Back to the studio.... it's certainly come along way from the last update of the framework for the first wall! This weekend we have the framework for the entire room, and this afternoon the framework for my shelves and storage area for fabric bolts was completed.
Looking through the corridor - doors either end, fabric shelves to right.
Shelf framework, 1 more shelf to go on top, bolt storage area at rear around 1m wide.
It's starting to really look like a room!! Yesterday I spent sometime sitting on a deck chair within the framework imagining the space, and deciding what was what to go where, as when you are having a room custom built, these decisions need to be made early on! After an hour or so, I was satisfied that I had taken everything in to account, and made best use of the space. Remind me of that later, okay?!
Visible progress will slow for a while, as fiddly filling-in, and electrical bits happen. Sheeting won't occurr until the end to provide light and ventilation as long as possible. However, enough progress has been made to get me pretty darn excited!!
Last week, I had another great day on the road, at one stage ending up in IKEA (terrifying!!) where I intended only to check out the food market. I ended up having an early lunch there, so I experienced the Swedish Meatballs for the first time. The soft toy section then beckoned me, where I found these lovely mice and rats, (seen here perched on a saggy baggy elephant!), now ensconced on the sunvisors of the kombi for random throwing at people..... they should be cats, as I am known as the crazy cat lady in the kombi, throwing cats at people....
 and I ended up going through the store backwards. Not a good idea. When I wanted to go and find something I had seen earlier, do you think we could find it? Not a chance....

Since then, Matt and I have survived Christmas, and are soon to face New Years. I'm hoping to have a quiet one, celebrating New Zealand style at 9am Australian time, to wake with a fresh head and ready to perform my now annual ritual of felting my new diary cover for the year, incorporating all sorts of meaningful bits and pieces.
I hope you all have a pleasant start to 2013, and that the year brings creative goodness to all!
All the Best,

Thursday 20 December 2012

A box, a burger, and an overload of bling!

Last Sunday we set off on a mission to Chandler Markets to pick up our smoked salmon for Christmas, and any other treats or treasures we might find. In the first few rows of stalls, I came across this gem for $100.
Merry Christmas to meeeeeeee!!
I can't believe I actually had to think about it!! No, I don't really need it, but c'mon!! It's in pristine condition, has all the design lines for pattern draping on it, is my size, and it was $100 instead of the $500 it would normally cost me!! Mine. She'll be perfect in the new studio.
Next I snavelled the last 2 packets of Tasmanian smoked salmon, much to the annoyance of several other shoppers at the stall - sorry kids - you snooze you lose! Luckily I didn't wait to be served and just took them out of the esky - as the stallholder was saying to one customer "I think I've got a couple left in here" I waved them around and said, "Oh no you don't!!"
The rest of the weekend was spent playing with paper, pins and staples as I tried to lock in my design for WoW 2013. It's time to start making! Huge as this last week at work has been for Matt, he was determined to make progress with the studio - and here is the framework for the first wall!

This morning, I set off on an errand to pick up a wooden box for my mother from her friend on the other side of town. It always seems a little alien on the Northside, and I managed to go the scenic route due to my 5 year old refidex - there are a lot of new roads! Mission accomplished, I headed home to the more comfortable zone of the Southside, where I decided sustenance was required urgently, and that a Grill'd burger was just the thing. In a post-burger food coma, I decided that I really, really didn't feel like heading into work, so after a quick call to the boss, was let off the hook - yahoooo!! Well, I am up to date with everything, and it IS Christmas!! Loot was just down the road, and we'd wanted to go there, so it was only sensible to go - I were almost there! After admiring a patchwork 'Alice in Wonderland' style high-backed armchair in Far Pavilions I decided that as I was halfway to Sunnybank, it would also be sensible to go there to search for interesting Chinese and Indian shops. What a disappointment! Nothing but restaurants and normal shops! To cheer myself up, on the way home I decided to revisit the wonderful Indian shops I had found on Logan Road a week or so ago and possibly buy a sari. Here I had a wonderful experience at Kamalz Indian Fashion, where the two proprietors remembered me from my earlier visit, and welcomed me warmly.  Of course, one had to get the bangles to match, and also pictured is the evening bag our hostess kindly gave me on our way out - just fabulous! Such a gracious couple (we were even served glasses of water on a tray - most welcome in such hot weather)! I look forward to our next visit.

 Then the pièce de résistance for me - a stunning pink and green lacework sari.
The extra bit at the end of the sari for making your bodice and sleeves!
Stunning embroidery and embellishment on a variegated leaf green mesh
 Tomorrow I have another adventure day, starting off with visiting a new fabric shop in Eagleby, not that there's much left in the coffers for purchasing! Looking forward to another day on the road in the Magic Bus! If I don't manage an update after this - all the best for the festive season folks, and a new year of peace to you all.

Thursday 13 December 2012

The end of 2012

The end of 2012 it may be, but not the end of the world! The end of an era, the beginning of a new one in my life as I transition back to fashion college mid year. This week, work began on my new studio! "All I want for Christmas is a new studio"......
Mishka supervises the laying of the first bottom plate of the studio - "Good work, Dad!!"
Well, maybe a little after then, but that's fine with me. In the short design process, as we walked it out, it grew and grew until it filled all the available space - well, why not?!! In typical Matt Pettigrew style, it is being over engineered to buggery - and I like that! I don't want to deal with the aftermath of floods etc when it could be avoided....
I'm really excited about having wall space to design on, bookshelves for all my fabulous inspirational books and magazines,  and cupboards to house the ever-growing collection of garments and materials. I'm also looking forward to the studio christening party!!
Luckily my WoW design process is well under way and should be able to progress despite the changing surrounds. I spent an enjoyable Friday picking up supplies for my pieces, and ended up in Wynnum where I found my new mascot - Bunneh!
Last weekend was our first 'Day on the Green' at Sirromet Winery, and what a great experience that was! The Models, The Church, Simple Minds, and Devo - Awesome! Not a particular fan of any of these bands, it was a wonderful chilled out afternoon full of wine, sun, and even some sketching time! And I am a new convert of Devo's..........
The weekend before last, we ended up having a bit of a spontaneous drinks session on the deck, which ended up with us in the inevitable drinking hats!!
The Frenchman
The Cowboy

and a top hat!
Hmmm, this is supposed to be more of a textile based blog, isn't it.....
Last week I made inroads on my latest piece of thick, vegetable tanned leather, cutting out an armband piece. I started work on it after a lot of design work, which fortuitously led to a decision to make my design in this wonderful stiff leather, which will hold itself  in a beautiful sculptural fashion! And I think I might just be able to make it all from this one piece!
Leather piece ready to be cut!

I'm looking forward to my two weeks off, and making some serious progress with my work, as the new studio takes shape. All the best for the crazy season, folks!

Saturday 24 November 2012


The boys on the pub crawl through town!!
Some great live music and a delicious drink at the Treasury Casino
Having survived the work Christmas party without doing anything awful, I have spent a contemplative Saturday, ending up on the back verandah with my sketchbook, laptop, novel, a cat, and some bubbles.
Tui. The slightly disturbed but pretty cat that growls when you pet her and pisses on everything. Particularly plastic bags.
Mishka, the more mentally, but less physically stable cat. A lovely woman walking past this week asked, 'Is your cat alright - he seems to be limping?' That would be the 3 legs. Does it every time. Also likes to pack himself in boxes.
A satisfying yet slightly odd day. These quieter days, not madly spent ‘doing’ are rare and valuable times. I have to work hard to tell myself that just being, dreaming, and imagining IS a productive way to spend a day, and the older I get the better I get at doing that, as I know these times produce good work many months down the track. So I have let my brain off the leash for a little wander around my imagination, that place where I travel at night in my dreams to see and do the most amazing things. It’s so real I sometimes don’t know what is true. It’s a world I feel privileged to visit.
People often ask me why I make the things I do. I really don’t know. I try not to think about it too much, or I might go crazy. In a small, closed, but not locked box in my head, is the knowledge that life is very short, and reasonably meaningless, so it’s hard to take anything too seriously. Hence I don’t have the drive to be a ‘success’ in a chosen field. It just really doesn’t matter that much. What does seem to matter to me is beauty.  What is taking me to another level is not just designing a piece, but being part of designing an image, a scene, an emotion. Whilst I enjoy making dramatic and expressive works, I never realised how much an image of them can enhance them, and this knowledge is changing my design process. And I’m enjoying that.

Enough with the navel gazing – a summary of this week for your enjoyment:
We’ll discount the first few days of the working week as they were filled with the drudgery of administrative tasks. But before this, suddenly on Thursday, word on the grapevine came that someone was selling some industrial sewing machines at an excellent price, and by Friday morning I was the proud new owner of said machines. Yes, they need a little TLC, but I know they are going to be a great addition to my armory!
Straight sewer and overlocker - I'll be needing professional help to thread that one!!
Tools of the trade.
With a new studio being built and finished by early next year, the StudioSvenja set-up is looking pretty good! Not only will I be in a purpose designed space (walls – lots of walls for drawing on!!) but wet and dry studios will be on one level! No-more running up and down stairs for bits and pieces! (Hmmm, perhaps eat less now?!)

Today was back to fibreglass work, as I extracted my fibreglass mould from its’ cast – a process which took almost an hour, lots of fingerstabbing, and totally fibreglass scratched legs because no, I couldn’t be bothered putting protective gear on and yes, holding the piece with my legs seemed like the only viable option as I weasled my way around it with a screwdriver and hammer. It was an ambitious undertaking which has been a success, much to my surprise. Sadly I can’t show too much of work in progress, as once again it may end up in the World of WearableArt.
The fabric and fibreglass mould. Is there nothing you can't make with this stuff?!!
I also played with dyeing and painting my leather work, and on the basis of that success have ordered more leather and designed more pieces!
Sadly tomorrow is a non-studio day, as I participate in a convoy of Studebakers to the All-American Car Show at Lakeside, which I am promised is sure to be a great day. Really, when I’m driving Fred the M5 – how can it be bad?! Watch out, Brisbane – crazy cat-lady is out of the kombi and into a truck tomorrow!!

Monday 12 November 2012

Platform shoes, The Polo Club, and a Photo Shoot

The weekend began at midday Friday with my shopping errands. First mistake! As usual, I got diverted into Zu shoes, and found these....
Large Image View
Having tried them on, I convinced myself that they were essential to my wardrobe, and it really didn't take too much to do so.......... and now they are mine.
I spent the afternoon loading up the kombi with my goods to participate in the Art in Action sale organised by BVAC at the Brisbane Polo Club. Returning home from delivery just after 5, I was in peak hour traffic for the first time in years. Aaaaghhhh! I'm so glad I don't have to do that all the time - my blood pressure would be off the charts! There were a few interesting moments on the way in, too, as my passenger side mirror had been bumped, so changing lanes on the Storey Bridge became a combination of guesswork and hope......
Sadly, Saturday morning dawned as one of the wettest days in months, which is not a good sign for commerce in Queensland. We decide it's all too hard and go out later. We didn't get the traffic we'd hoped for at the sale, but I enjoyed hanging out with some of my favourite textile friends, getting to know others a little better, and enjoyed a fabulous lunch upstairs. I could get used to that!

The dedicated current president of ATASDA, Lyn Baxter, and the previous dedicated president, Sharyn Hall, setting up in the Polo Club Cellar.
The ever-graceful and delightful Phillipa Rooke (my first felting tutor) - always a pleasure to see her! Both in our signature colours!!
Sunday dawned damp, but not rainy enough to quash our weekly boxing session, where Miss Jenelle seemed to subscribe to an entirely different method of counting blows - a very lax one, and not in my favour! As usual, we worked our abs and mouth muscles laughing our way through another round! Afterwards I had a few hours to spend in the studio, and did an hour of sanding on my fibreglass mould, which is turning into a bit of an epic! I then spent the remaining time in the upstairs studio resolving how to finish the leather and feather bodices I am working on, and starting to work on the feather headpiece. Black rooster feathers with their gorgeous green iridescence are so wonderful - I've just placed another order with Feather and Earth on Etsy.
Beautiful Black Feather, rooster feathers , bulk, lot, wholesale, long
Iridescent feathers from Feather and Earth

It was hard to tear myself away to head off the the Avant Garde photo shoot with Angelina Conias and a team of fabulous make-up artists and models......but it was worth it.
After a rough start of not knowing which one of three buildings I was supposed to be in, having my garment rack blown into the garden at least 5 times by massive winds, and not being able to reach Angelina on her broken phone, I was about ready to turn for home! Despite the security, I was able to blag my way in through two pairs of locked doors, into the lift and up to the 19th floor. I needed to be on the 20th. So close, and yet so far........

It was back to ground to be rescued by Angelina and escorted to the apartment where mayhem was in progress. Models, make-up artists, bags and racks everywhere, and I didn't know a soul!
After getting to know the lovely Nicola, and Cadbury the cat, I headed up to view the shoot on the roof where Kia and Nicola were rocking it!
Robyn and Nicola
Kia and Nicola
Monique looks amazing......
Jennifer Holt styles Kia for my felt dress!
Kia re-adjusts Moniques' bulldog clip!
Grace and Sheila
Sheila wearing Mirror Mirror
These photos are no more than a record of the day - I can't wait to see the magic of the real pics! Thanks to all involved - you were all fabulous, and Angelina - I've never come across such calmness! At around 5:30 I called it quits, when I found out that Matt was across the road at the United States Embassy, hosted by Ambassador Haynes... wearing his dishdash.....
I slipped across with a bottle of champoo and we enjoyed a catch up before parting for our dinners. Another full weekend! NEXT!!!

Saturday 3 November 2012

Toowong Cemetery

Saturday morning began with a visit to make the aquaintance of some old friends of Matts' - a calorific morning of banana cake, Russian caramel fudge and coconut ice - yikes, there goes the diet!! Nicely done, though - nicely done. When we got home, I got stuck into sanding my fibreglass mould.... the more you sand, the more faults you find! Unfortunately, I didn't get as far along as I wanted to, as I was invited to tag along to a trip out to Toowong Cemetery. Never having been there in my life, I was not about to turn the opportunity down, even though it meant I had to walk away from my many projects.

The place is massive, and has many distinctive sections. I think my favourite today was the dense area with lots of pine trees - a quite dishevelled and overgrown area.

 At my first stop, I met Leo - a lovely, friendly, chocolate cat. He was more than happy to receive an
ear rub. ear rub.

I realised he was a long way from home, and rang the number on his collar, and sure enough, he had been missing for several days. His Mum came to get him, but was not surprised - apparently he is a regular visitor at the cemetery!

I found a magnificent tree, and got a closer look. It was so Dark Crystal! I had to climb it.

There was a wonderful amount and variety of wrought iron fencing - wonderful lines for inspiring prints and other designs.....

It could also be said that there is a wonderful sense of 'ruin porn' in such a site, as nature reclaims what humans have built. We loved the crumbling fences, the strangler figs, the lichen and broken graves (the naturally done ones, not those born of human violence and stupidity!). We agreed that a cemetery is the best urban parkland around!
I loved this last one - it looked like the tree was just dripping down onto the ground....

Next weekend will be a busy one - Saturday is 'Art in Action' at the Brisbane Polo Club, held in the cellar from 11-3 - a project of BVAC (Brisbane Visual Arts Community) involving a wide range of art groups from glass, leather, textile and painting disicplines. Should be fun! I will have devore and screen printed scarves, as well as felted boas, wraps, and hats for sale
Sunday sees a collaboration with new strangers (friends I haven't met yet!) in pursuit of an Avant Garde photo shoot, with the results to appear in an exhibition on November 28th - stay tuned for details! Sounds like an epic afternoon with around 20 people involved!! I'm looking forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone and working with other creatives!!
Happy weekend peoples! Bed time now, in preparation for an early start!!