Sunday 29 January 2012

Silk, shibori, shoes, and much, much silliness!!

A four day weekend of bliss – it was the Christmas holiday we never had!! Australia Day dawned Thursday, and we did our patriotic duty by decorating Murray the International with flags, and washing down steak and egg for brunch with a XXXX. 
Despite continuing to drink beer, much was achieved! Friday (house cleaning day) I told the boss I wasn’t going to work, even though he had to work half the day doing a boiler acid clean. So I was able to host a visit from my sister Kiri and friend Lois, who were having a bit of a ladies day with all the kinder back at school, so I got chance to show my latest op-shop bargains and progress on my WoW piece.  Between us we decided that the Shoes of Salvation would be a good choice to wear with the WoW outfit. (For explantion of this title, I suggest you visit The Interesting Thoughts of Edward Monkton).
The Shoes of Salvation
 The day ended with dinner at our favourite Chinese restaurant. Next day I headed down the highway to my favourite fabric shop, Fabric Cash & Carry, which is closing down. Very sad. I will miss them and their fantastic cheap organza and surprise finds. 
Organza Cash & Carry Craziness!!!!
It was a good opportunity for stocking up the cupboards though, and I left with a few rolls of silk and boxes of corset boning. I had done a bit of a different face for the day – some ‘tie-dye’ eyes to match my dress!
Tie-dye eyes
 It was another happy few hours, sailing the kombi down the freeway and singing our hearts out to Barry Manilow (LOLA!!!!) ELO, and The Who. Many laughs as we sang and danced our way around!
The rainy afternoon was spent watching old music videos and D-Gen episodes with my beloved, who after working back at the acid clean again that morning, was not up for his usual activities in his workshop! I made up 3 test shibori leaves for my own outfit for WoW – one a piece of hand dyed silk, one a commercial purple/pink dupion, one a hot pink silk satin which exactly matches the colour of the outfit. Once shibori wrapped, I put them in a black dye pot, hoping to get the effect of black ridges opening up to see a flash of pink in between. The purple/pink turned out all black – it just soaked up the dye! The hand dyed piece worked well, and I’m awaiting the results of the hot pink satin one now – I’ve got it drying in the oven!
Shibori shaped leaf for shrug
Sunday morning – we had hoped to go to Chandler markets as we have not been for around 6 months – I was all ready to stock up on salmon and trawl through tables of other peoples’ junk that just might be my treasure, but more rain put an end to that idea. We set off for our weekly pilgrimage to Bunnings in Murray, even though he is a bit skittish in the rain, but why would you take a boring station wagon when you could be in that? Well the answer to that is the fact that the sunroof leaks, so as we turned around in the street, a stream of water trickled down all over my freshly made up face! I shrieked with surprise and Matt in turn freaked out at my shrieking!! It was a FREAKOUT!! We had the obligatory Bunnings breakfast of sausage, onions, mustard and sauce in a slice of bread. Messy. For someone who cannot actually bite and sever things properly because their teeth only touch at the back, this can be an event to watch and wonder at. I always get extra napkins…..! Having remained facially intact and therefore unembarrasing to be seen with, we then went to another favourite haunt, Trad’s, where I got my gold leather piece to begin work on my footwear for the WoW piece.It's soaking now in a saucepan, ready to mould. Matt just wandered in before to ask what was cooking in the oven - response - "shibori"! A textile artist always has an exciting kitchen!
I spent some time tidying up my studio today – if you think it looks messy here, then you don’t want to see it in its normal state! 
Trust me, it's all organised!
 This is tidy. By the WoW deadline I anticipate that as usual there will be fabric spewing out if it and trailing up and down the hallway, reaching into all rooms – that’s what usually happens! That’s when Matt walks in the back door and says “Svenja! Your studio has thrown up – it’s time to do something about that!” At least I have 2 mannequins out on loan at the moment – that’s helping with space!
When the rain gave us a break, we set up the burner and pot in the backyard again to re-do my shibori shaped skirt – now wrapped in the right direction, and with 2 extra layers to make it firmer. I’ll see the results of that in a day or two once they have dried. After some more work towards the beast, I have spent the afternoon booking ferries, flights, cars and accommodation for our NZ trip – I feel so much better now that is organised! Now we just desperately hope we get in so there is a reason for our trip!!!
It’s been great to have some serious time just working at home – I just wish I could have got further on the fibreglassing aspect, but no chance with 95% humidity! It has taken 5 days for my last effort to dry! Hopefully next weekend will  be kinder, as I am just about done with all the textile based work now! Time to texture and paint – can’t wait!
I’m kind of getting tired of working on her now – I’m ready for a fresh challenge! It felt good to at least do a little work on my own outfit, just for something different. I need to decide if I can fit in the Bernina Art U Wear competition this year – themed “The Fairest of Them All”. Hmmmm. Like last year’s “Circus Berzerkus” nothing leaps out at me, but sometimes it can be good to challenge yourself beyond your usual themes. Look at Siren of the Sea – I’m very happy I made her!
Onwards and upwards, folks! Hope you all had a creative weekend, or at least one that fed your soul in some way.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Another week, another weekend.

It’s only the fact that you know that Friday will be here before you know it that makes Mondays bearable. The weeks fly by, the only bonus being that the weekends keep rolling around too.
This much anticipated weekend was a full and bountiful one – much good progress was made! And it all started early - a visit from my mother on Thursday afternoon to update her on my progress led to an inspired idea for footwear for the WoW piece – well done, Ja Ja! I have worked on these this weekend with some more shibori pieces being steamed….
Wrapped on the tubes ready for steaming
After steaming, straight off the tubes, not yet unwrapped
She also suggested that instead of altering/adding to the beautiful pink silk outfit I scored as mentioned last post, I simply make a lovely silk boa/collar piece to wear with it, and replace the buttons at the back (some of which are missing) with self covered ones in matching fabric. Perfick!
Friday I took off from work, as I am just SO efficient and SO up to date! What did I do? I decided to spend 5 hours cleaning the house, and in particular, the oven. And we’re not just talking some Spray & Wipe here – we’re talking dismantling the entire thing and soaking it all in liquid caustic (yes, gloves, mask and goggles were on….. and I still managed to get it on me! ) I handed over to Matt at midday, and he completed the job by pulling the door off and cleaning in between the two layers, whilst I headed off for an afternoon of shopping with photophilanthropist. What can I say…. By the end of that, my card got declined!! I showed him my favourite fabric haunts, and he took me to Sunrise Imports, where there is just all kinds of weird and crazy shit by the box-load. I was entranced by some jewellery items which I could easily see being transformed into a WoW piece (not quite sure how) but spent $200 on them anyway!!
It was a laughter filled afternoon – it would seem that both of us are so used to driving on our own in our cars that we get a little bit nutso with a passenger and do some very strange things…. ‘nuff said. The kombi exhibited some classic highway ‘sailing’, (changing lanes all by itself), but I think the highlight of the day was driving through Sunnybank  and watching a young man grooving along wearing earphones, who suddenly stopped to bust out a few amazing moves, then carry on walking. So funny, but so brilliant! Love that that dude was so into his music that he was just grooving in his own world and didn’t care about expressing it. After a little more hairy driving (and by now I was tired, hungry, and my feet hurt) I ended up at Club Lush, from whence we did not move except to collect the gourmet pizzas for dinner. An early night, and up at first light to get stuck into it! The headpiece is done, the corset is made with most bits attached, the skirt is made, the foot pieces were shibori shaped, the overskirt was shibori shaped, the structure is coming together and the tricky musical bit got worked out with a bit of experimentation! Whooot!
Here you can see Matt, thrilled with his new role as WoW Co-Designer.
The shibori shaped skirt, well, there is a mystery. I made the WHOLE skirt, hemmed and gilded it, then cut it in half to do the shaping on buckets. We then brought up a giant steel pot and the massive gas ring from the shed, and set up a back yard steamer under the watchful eye of Mishka, supervising Safety Officer.
Safety Supervisor Mishka

Shibori on buckets in pot

Steaming pot!

After the all clear from him,  all went well, except the fact that I seemed to have ended up with two lefts instead of a left and a right. I could understand this if I had made each piece separately, and I would know that I had stuffed up, but I had a whole skirt here which I cut down the middle to make a left and right so…. how? What? I just can’t work it out!! At this point I decided to deal with it on Sunday.
Sunday dawned and I still can’t make head nor tail of it. Whatevs. I’ll deal with it later. It was an early start as we had to leave by 7am for the East Coast Muscle Car Club BBQ, and amazingly, I didn’t wake up until 6:30am! Ahhhh, Valium……..
It was a beautiful day, and great to be out riding in Murray the International again, but it turned out to be rather windy down at Victoria Pt! Still, it was a nice morning, a great BBQ, meeting new folk and catching up with Matthew & Jnr. He’s at that stage where he stumbles around looking pissed – awesome fun! We also won the raffle!
Picked up some fibreglass rod on the way home, and got stuck into it on our return – the &*^^% have been fibreglassed together and the &$$% has been fibreglassed onto the *#$%$. Yay!! Seeing as Matt mowed the lawn last weekend and he did so much stuff for me this weekend, I then mowed the lawn, which earned me a beer! I then retired upstairs to the airconditioning, a shower and said beer. I then received a call from Tricia Smout,who informed me that she was the lucky recipient of Artist in Residence at Mt Coot-tha this year, and would I be interested in doing a collaborative work?! But of course, dear lady – count me in!! As long as it’s after the WoW deadline!
So here we are, a relaxing Sunday afternoon, some strawberry champagne, and much good work behind us. And I can face tomorrow because I know it won’t be long until I’m back here again.
Ciao, Groovers!!

Sunday 15 January 2012

Fibreglass splinters, fabulous finds, fire, and a little fright…..

Another huge weekend of good times and creating, and I am feeling just a tad happy about it all. It had recently been the 9 year anniversary for Matt & I, (which we as usual forgot) I thought we deserved a set of champagne flutes.!! 
Royal Dalton luxury
And some everyday ones for general smashing good times…..
After a night celebrating with several bottles of Veuve Cliquot in said glasses, we all retired, to awaken refreshed (gosh, how good is Veuve, and here’s to being paid for creative jobs in it!!) to embark on a few adventures.  A trip to Chermside shopping centre was in order after some gazing at several brilliant arrays of purple, pink, and orange platform heels and wedges – drool, drool – but what’s with the suede, peoples? – I dropped into Martin the Mechanic of Bernina to fix my dodgy bobbin. Of course, Magic Martin doesn’t work on a Saturday, but the kind lass there gave me a swap bobbin to keep me going. Cheers.
From there it was a trip to Trad’s. Next door is the fabulous Aid for the Blind charity shop, where I discovered  an absolute FIND – a Svenja-Pink pure silk corset and slit-pencil skirt that fits like it was MADE for me.
Pink silk glamour outfit
How much? At the half price special, $12.50. This may be what I wear to WoW this year! (Did I mention we have booked our flights for 10 days in September – whooooot!!)  Going past again on the way out, I had my attention caught by a beautiful bridal veil. On closer investigation, it had beautiful embroidered edges, was a lovely fine cream bridal tulle, was extremely long, and at half price - $15! PP bought it for me, as I had bled the coin purse dry, and I love it, love it so much! Matt nearly had a heart attack when he saw me putting on! But it’s just so pretty!! We hope to use it on some photo shoots – we can just see it dancing in the wind…..and I have visions of a fantastic dress to create to go with it…… then perhaps another shoot after I dye it some interesting colours….
Wanna get married, hun?!
 Back home and it was time for some WOW work. I needed to reheat some glue with the heat gun, and as I plugged it in, I didn’t notice that the wire holding up the powerpack on the overhead beam had slipped to actually cross the plug holes…… ZZZZZZTTTT!! Sparks, and some black smoke. A few moments, (1,2,3..) and Matt charged down from the workshop (as of course, I had tripped out the entire circuit) – “Svenja?!!” Ooooops. All ended well though, and everything still works!

Sanding the fibreglass is indeed pretty awful (NOW I get what you were all warning me about!) and I managed to spear myself with a shard in the meaty part of my thumb, which I could not locate. Overnight, it got quite irritated, which at least enabled it to be seen, and surgeon Matt did a fab job of slicing open my hand this morning to retrieve it. Much better.
Today, a bit of a late start – listened to the start of the jazz show (8am) still in bed!! It wasn’t long until we both decided a trip to Bunnings was in order – gloves for Matt, and some kind of scrubber for me to help me remove the cardboard mould from inside two of my fibreglass shapes. Although I painted it with paint then mould release, it wouldn’t budge, and after 3 days soaking in the bath, nothing happened. A bit of internet research and I discovered that Liquid Caustic, Sulphamic Acid or Hydrochloric acid was what was used in industrial recycling situations to break down cellulose. Luckily, we run a chemical company, so all of these are on hand! 
Damn. Bloody. Cardboard. Whose idea was this?!!

A soak in the caustic helped, but after much scrubbing, a lot still remains. Grrrr. So I’ve left those for another (stronger) soak.  Who would of thought cardboard would be so indestructible?!!
The highlight of today (and yes, being WoW, this description has to be kind of cryptic) was drilling the holes in the ********* and locating the ^^^^^^ in them! 
A hole exposing work from months ago
A big moment. I even got them fibreglassed into position, too. I had to wait until Matt had finished fixing the brakes on the Valiant before we could do it – there is no way I could have done this on my own, it was all about angles, and I trust him much more than me to get that right! He is, after all, an engineer! ( It’s all a bit “The Castle,” with a twist ,around here – waiting to shift the Daytona to bring in the Valiant then work on the Kombi or the International,etc.)
Finished those brakes yet, Matt?!!
Both shibori pieces are now wrapped around their buckets ready for steaming, and we brought up from Studio 5a a massive boiler to do it.
Gilded, shibori-wrapped skirt pieces ready to steam
It was a huge beast, and I scuffed a heel pulling it out, :-( as I wasn’t quite dressed for the occasion - what a surprise! Shame it won’t fit over the fire pit, or we would be out there cooking it now, toasting it with a few drinks! Mishka of course loved getting inside and investigating it.
I also sewed together the bias-cut skirt, which I have been absolutely dreading, but it went without a hitch! Even got the zip in no troubles! Perhaps because it has been pinned to the mannequin and hanging for several months, therefore dropping out all the give.  I’d forgotten to cut out the lining, no probs, can take care of that this week and then sew on to the waistband. The corset has been sewn, boned and eyeleted, ready for the decorative bits.
OK, we’ve had the fibreglass splinter, the fabulous finds, the little fright – what of the fire? Well, this evening I’d put the potatoes on the stove to cook and walked over to the computer. I turned around when I smelled a nasty burning smell, to see my new pot mitt on fire right beside the gas ring. F*&^ing gas, just once more reason to hate it!! Never bloody starts, uncontrollable, open flame – burns things!!! Wrong wrong wrong in a domestic environment!! Anyhoo, fixed that promptly – alert, but not alarmed!
So, 12 weeks to go, and I have to say I am feeling reasonably happy with it. It’s basically time to turn it over to Matt for his engineering work on it, and just decorative stuff for me now that the structure is just about made. I still don’t anticipate actually socialising with folk until this thing is done – sorry Kit! It’s just too full on! Not to mention, I have a week off in 7 weeks to head to Grampians Texture. That may turn out to be a very well timed sanity break!
So, it’s roll on with yet another Monday, but at least we know Friday won’t be far behind! Have a good week, 

Saturday 7 January 2012

A 12 week deadline to start 2012

Greetings to all for this new year. I shall share with you my annual 'Christmas Kiss' photo with my beloved - normally a fairly sedate affair (left), but (right).... a new standard has been set!

And what a creative start it has been! I have just spent a very happy day in the studio working on the WoW piece, with things turning out even better than I hoped – yay! It is nice to feel like this, as I have been panicking  a little with the looming deadline. Although I have been very safety conscious throughout this fibreglassing process, it was today that I realised what everyone was warning me about. It’s the SANDING process that gets you! After a few hours of it (mask and glasses on, but no long sleeves) I developed a charming rash on my neck and back from all the dust, so into a cold shower for me, followed by calomine lotion! I looked like a snowman for a while – covered in fine white powder. As is Matt’s linishing belt, entire workshop, and, ooops, his International truck. Hence I am on workshop and car cleaning duty tomorrow afternoon. Yay.
It is such fun to be able to share this journey with others, and to talk design! Matt is my co-designer/engineer for my piece, and is contributing a LOT of engineering thought and work, not to mention the use of his workshop, and his unfailing encouragement every time I start to doubt. 

Last week I had Ms Jenelle in the studio for some felting practice, in readiness for our much anticipated trip to the Grampians at the end of February to make felt jackets, and drink wine and eat cheese for a week! She was hoping to make an ipad cover, but due to the fact that the felt hardly shrank, now has a new sketchbook cover, which I think is fabulous!
Ms Jenelle concentrates on laying out the wool well!

Ms Jenelle proudly shows her work!

I can't help but share a pic of my beloved fur-child, Mishka - investigating a table whilst Aunty Jenelle and I were working in the studio. 
Only 3 legs but so well balanced....

We also picked through wool, fabric and sparkly scraps, selecting what we will need for our projects. I enjoyed throwing some wool in the pot to dye in seascape colours for her, and gaining blue hands in the process! Followed by pink hands when I re-dyed my hair mid-week! Just in time for my trip to the sleep clinic – what a surreal experience! About 20 wires and microphones attached to me, not to mention oxygen-style tubes in my nose – very glamorous! As suspected, there is nothing wrong with the way I sleep, but, it was worth a shot. An interesting life experience, and the nurse taking care of me all night was just so lovely.

Tomorrow will involve limited time in the wet studio on fibreglass, as I have run out of supplies – but will be able to buy more on Monday! But I have plenty of sewing to do, so will not be slacking off! Although the garment underneath the structure for the WoW piece is largely organised and cut out, it does need to be sewn together, and I can work on the headpiece. I really need to get my Bernina fixed again, so need to find the time to trek out to the fabulous Martin the Mechanic at Chermside to fix it. If I don’t do it now, for sure it is going to die right as I am desperately sewing the last pieces together at the end of March!
Hope everyone is having a fabulous start to the year – don’t forget that beauty, glamour and fabulousness (all in an artistic sense) is what matters most! As well as big shooz!!