Sunday 25 October 2015

Ice Dyeing and felting, and some future judging!

Ice dyed rayon jacket
Soooo, I've slowly backed away from the sequins (all sorted, new ones added!) and delved into the freezer to do some ice dyeing!! My Etsy shop is now looking lively with some very colourful new additions, with more to follow.
Ice dyed silk scarves
Acid dyed silk/wool scarves
I left my camera charger cord in NZ, hence the delay, and hence the phone photos today. Although ice dyeing is somewhat uncontrollable and serendipitous, there is still a certain amount of skill in getting a good result, and it's taking quite a bit of practice. After some research, I did a couple of test scarves today, making sure I used colours which would split, and shifting from block ice to crushed, and doing some simple folding techniques for patterning. I also used silk instead of rayon, foolishly changing too many variables in one go! I am pleased with the results, and feel my understanding of the techniques is growing. The light scarf in the centre was an old habutai one, so doesn't have much of a sheen, but I don't know why it's so much lighter than the others. Groovy pattern, though! Disheartened during the week by some of my efforts, I did some good old acid dyeing on some silk/wool blend scarves, which pleased me greatly with the brightness, and lovely blending of pink, purple and orange!
Ice dyed rayon kaftan
Felted wrap with lace
This kaftan from my second batch of garments has some lovely soft colours and patterns - some of them have been turning out very 60's tie-dyed and bright, whereas I want some more gentle blends. Bless Youtube and bloggers who so willingly share so much information!
I also had a crack at some felting, as I try to get through some of my stash. (I seem to be in a mad spring cleaning fever - you should see the house this week!) It's not my favourite piece, but it's growing on me! I had some lace pieces that didn't felt in too well, so I have spent a lot of time hand stitching them in, which kind of defeats the purpose of the felting!
Simple layout
Finally, I made a simple felted wrap today with a beautiful piece of turquoise dyed silk from my stash. I didn't want to detract from the lovely patterning of the silk, so just stuck to a basic curvy grid pattern to make sure it 'crunkled' up well.
It's hard to tell from these photos - not the best of conditions!
It's a wrap!
It's hard to believe that a week ago was my birthday weekend - look at the gorgeous wee cakes my mumma made for me! It's also strange to think that this time next week, I'll be in Adelaide, having a little Svenja time by myself before my final appearance at the Craft & Quilt Fair. It's been a great year, I've really enjoyed the opportunity to travel around, show my work and explain it, meet people, and see new places in this fabulous country. Already one fabulous outcome is that I have been invited to be a judge at the Common Threads Wearable Art competition in Mandurah, WA. This is a great quality event which offers participants many benefits, and is going from strength to strength, becoming a strong presence on the textile art scene here in Australia, and extending internationally! I really enjoyed my visit to Perth, and look forward to returning. However, that's not until March 2016, next stop - Radelaide!!

Thursday 15 October 2015

Sorting Sequins.....

Yep, that's the kind of activity you allow yourself to do when you are exhausted, sick, and feeling a little down. I did it for real this week (and then bought heaps more on ebay last night!) but I think it shall become a euphemism for when one is really not feeling up to much. It has also been a good time time to do some leather moulding.... on the couch......     watching Charlies Angels........ but good, no?! I'm not even sure how these feather/leaf arm pieces started, but who am I to question.They have kept my fingers entertained, and could be a useful addition to my stand if I am accepted to trade at the Etsy Made Local Brisbane market day. This is what has inspired me to re-stock my Etsy shop, starting with some botanically dyed pieces with my stash of leaves from Canberra. I also did a batch of ice-dyeing on some rayon garments today - I will photograph these and enter them in over the next few days.
Studio table mid leather work and ice dyeing!
So, back to leather.... my contemplative time in the studio has led to some finishing off of pieces started at the Craft Fairs, such as this set (above) - not sure whether that is going to be the front or the back of a bodice or what - but at least I have both done now to play with.
I also have two young nephews with birthdays just gone and just coming, very difficult to find gifts for, so thought some wee fantasy masks might be fun. I think they have turned out very 'Dark Crystal' esque - I hope they like them!

Saturday 10 October 2015

To Hot Water Beach!

Thursday: It was an early start as we had to pack all our gear and clean the house before leaving, hopefully before 8. We managed just after, with the car packed to the gunnells, including the rubbish, as it was too early to visit the tip! I was sad to leave our little cottage by the river plus Bunnehs!! We
stopped for fuel in Turangi, before heading towards a coffee break at Taupo - we have managed to have nice coffees always - very different to previous trips ! The food at this place also looked lovely. It wasn't far from there to Waiotapu, where we amazingly arrived just in time to see the Lady Knox Geyser errupt. What we didn't realise was that it happens every day at 10:15 because they pour soap down it to make it errupt - whaaaat?!! In my excitement to see this erruption, I launched myself up on to one of the benches at the rear of the ampitheatre, but sadly, misjudged the leap by a few centimetres, and made a spectacular thump as I fell on my quad onto said bench. The pain was indescribable - it made me feel sick for several hours - no, days! However, nothing was going to stop me from enjoying Waitapu, and after seeing the bubbling mudpools, where the boys were overwhelmed by the sulphurous smell, we entered the park itself, where we enjoyed many mineral rock colours and formations, including the coloured lakes. Matt was particularly fascinated by the lack of protective fencing as we would have in our 'nanny-state' Australia, relying merely on warning signs and common-sense - aaaah, survival of the fittest. Good to see!
You mean I can walk out there?
and there's only this sign to stop me?!!
Of course, I found the Champagne Pool!
From here we continued through Rotorua, and Tauranga, and not long after, put our lunch on to heat in foil in the car engine. However, our car being the gutless wonder that it is, after an hour it was still only barely warm! However, we enjoyed it with some jasmine rice Matt had bought at a cafe where I had to stop for a very necessary break, then it was on into the Coromandel Peninsular. I managed to keep up my navigational duties in between dozing, and we arrived at our magnificent destination at Hot Water Beach. The boys and I were so excited, we had to go and check it out - it's true!! You dig a hole in the sand and there is boiling water!
The water might be hot.....
After sussing this out we came back to collect Matt, and we all got changed into appropriate gear. However, having to put my jumper on on the way there made me realise that getting wet was probably not a good option, so opted just to kneel in a puddle! There were so many people in togs, and even Callum went into the ocean - eeeeek!

After checking out the local café, Matt and I retired to the wonderful house to
sit in the sun, nom paté and probiotic brie and drink bubbles. After a while, he lured me to the upper level, where it was toasty warm, and we had a wonderful view of the boys playing on the beach! Truly awful. We all stayed upstairs enjoying the view until it became dark, and the boys cooked some steak we had picked up from the 'bitcher' (NZ for butcher) in Whenuakite!

Friday: I woke to my alarm going off in the lounge, and attempted to silence

Gateway to gallery sculpture garden
it by walking into the wardrobe. No luck there. Oh, the confusion of waking up in different places!! I enjoyed coffee on the deck and watching the day emerge, then Matt and I set off for Cathedral Cove. Unfortunately, it was a 45 minute walk there and then back again, and in my current broken state, I couldn't manage it! :-( Onwards we went towards Coromandel via Road 309 - unsealed and in a state of repair. It wasn't too bad, but we decided not to return that way! We reached Coromandel and enjoyed a coffee and a couple of nice galleries, including Weta Design, where I saw some nice botanical dyeing on merino knit and on nuno felt; in another I saw a wonderful piece of driftwood with oyster shells attached, with LED's inside!! There were also some wonderful photos with seagulls looking like real characters, and we have seen plenty of them here! We headed towards Whitianga for lunch, hoping to find scallops, but the only place we could find them was hidden away in chowder - nope, no good! We followed directions from one gallery to a French place, which did not appear to exist, but stumbled across a restaurant along the esplanade that was offering Panko crumbed scallops - that

will be just fine! Often scallops with roe can be overwhelmingly rich, but I think these were so fresh that it was not an issue. Back to Hot Waaaaater Beach, and it was off for a walk across the stream and around the hill to find the boys engaged in digging a communal pool. (Before we got there, we crossed over to a gallery Moko Artspace  which looked to my jaded eye like it would be rubbish, but which was actually full of the best things I have seen yet!!) I wanted to explore a little further along, but again, could not cope with much more walking - although I am keen to keep the leg moving but the pain makes me feel quite sick! We stopped at Hotties for a champagne, and discussed Liam's Army prospects with him before heading back home to bunk in for a lazy afternoon.
I remembered for the first time to turn my alarm off, but woke shortly after anyway! Matt woke at one stage and also tried to exit the room via the cupboard.... It was another beautiful day, and I drank my coffee on the deck sitting in the bean bag - ear muffs on, of course!! I could never have survived so happily without their warmth - it makes such a difference to me! Warm ears = happy Svenja! I think they get even more attention than my hair, though. I am thinking of doing some custom decorated ones. .....

Creative display outside a record shop in Thames!
Unfortunately we both woke up feeling under the weather, Matt moreso than me. We took it easy whilst the boys packed up and cleaned the house, and were out by just after 9. We crossed the Peninsular to visit Thames, where we browsed the local market on the looong main street, and brunched at Café Melbourne where I enjoyed a Crocque Monsieur. We split from the boys for a bit, and returned to the pastry stall to indulge! We then headed straight for Auckland, with Matt waking me at the city limits to start my navigation duties! I managed with the help of my wonderful Google Girl (I shall call her Gigi), but on arrival at the Victoria Park Markets was well disappointed at the bleak and empty venue. We piled back into the car and Gigi took us to the CBD, where we attempted to park, but the parking station would not accept coins due to vandalism, but did not seem to read our credit card either! We even tried another machine before giving up in frustration and driving to a multi-level car park (which at least accepted our card if not our coins). We again split up, and Matt and I, although sick, wandered the city streets, down to the Wharf, and through the CBD, whilst I think the boys just travelled between fast food outlets.  Our exit was smoothly assisted by Gigi (to think I didn't even know I had her!!) and we were so early to arrive that we couldn't even check in yet! And so ends our New Zealand Adventure. It's good to be home.

Monday 5 October 2015

To Taupo and Waitomo Caves

Waikane Beach

We had a smooth exit from Wellington, and apart from a short detour at Waikane beach and a food and coffee stop at Bull, it was a scenic drive past the snow covered mountain to our Bach at Kurutau, which was everything I hoped for. Look at that!!

Wind in the Willows much?!
Callum, Matt & I enjoyed a stroll along the lake until we turned a corner and nearly had our heads blown off - time to head back! We also spent some time honing our pumice-stone
skimming skills.
Close to home we saw the duck posse again, and lured them closer by 'feeding' them small pumice stones, which they soon wised up to. We enjoyed some more time on our idyllic deck until the sun went down - definitely time to go in, where Matt had a lovely fire going.
Tuesday we set off after a quick brekkie to Whakapapa village, where we caught the bus up to the slopes of Mt Ruapehu and proceeded to bash each other with snowballs! The scenery as we approached on a sparkling sunny day was just amazing - I've never seen anything like it. There was a dusting of fresh snow, which felt amazing! The boys were even sliding down the hills over acqua-blue ice on their bums - soon to be wet bums! We got surprisingly hot running around, then I was grounded with a massive shoe fail as my platform boot snapped almost clean off! Matt came to the rescue with a roll of tape from the ski shop. From there we drove to Taupo, with most of us having a kip along the way. The weather and the scenery were just fantastic, with the view going right across the lake. We found noms at the main corner, next to
the restaurant where Mum and I ate many years
ago. Lindauer Fraise and a fish burger for me, with a beautifully light beer-battered piece of fish most enjoyed! We left the boys with some wi-fi, and went in search of black electrical tape to more subtly repair my boot, and I enjoyed a couple of nice galleries. Next stop - Huka Falls, wherethe power and the colour of the water was truly impressive. I could watch the patterns that form and the sheer energy of it all for hours. Of course, the boys had to scamper up a very steep hill, with us thinking of insurance issues and telling them to come down! We stopped again in Taupo to re-stock the noms, and were very happy to return to base. The afternoon was beautifully still and warm, and we really enjoyed relaxing out there. Liam even jumped in the freezing water, shouting 'Holy Jesus' on resurfacing and quickly removing himself!

We also enjoyed watching the ducks in the water, and feeding them bread, and feeding ourselves cheese, paté and dip. Truly awful. A crackling fire in the burrow and an early night for these bunnehs. Except Callum and I stayed up watching some crazy film and I was sketching WOW ideas. I know.
Wednesday - gumboot water by the very still river, then off for a walk along the lake. The ground
islittered with lichen that the trees have discarded - and they are dripping in it! Pumice is everywhere along the sparkling black shoreline - sometimes between the black sand and the water there is a strip of delightfully crunchy gravel! Matt cooked us breakfast which we ate on the back deck, before setting off for Waitomo Gloworm Caves!! We stopped in Taemarunui for a coffee for me, which also turned into a smoked fish savoury and cheesecake! The proprietor was lovely, and I just knew that the food was going to be delish - it looked real! If you stopped at cafe like that in Australia
Entrance to the caves
 you would get absolute rubbish! It was a long and winding road (hahahaha) on to Waitomo past many sheep and hilarious lambies. We arrived just in time for the 12 o'clock tour, and were taken down to the caves by an extraordinarily chilled out, or perhaps just terminally bored with gloworms, Maori woman. It was absolutely spectacular - and that was just the rock formations before we saw the gloworms! There were amazing formations looking like bizarre creatures from the Dark Crystal, some of them glistening eerily with water. We also saw the threads hanging down from the
The Cathedral

gloworms with which they catch their prey - 15cm long tendrils - all very Avatar!! The tour finished with a silent boat ride through the cave, with Callum getting a whole bench to himself so he could lie down and look at the glowing roof! However, it was also nice sitting up to see the tunnels ahead, especially when we came out into the light at the end. We all really enjoyed it! The damned warm car sent me to sleep again on the way home, but I was very happy to wake up when Matt finally stopped at the side of the road for me to talk to some sheep! They weren't too keen, and ran orff somewhat, but I got to have a bit of a giggle!On the way home we stopped at Te Kuiti, but the 'galleries' and 'craft shops' were imported tatt, so we continued on to Taemaranui to get more supplies for the evening so we could bunk in, especially after we realised how much driving we had ahead of us on Thursday! Unfortunately, Matt seemed to be coming down with something, so went to rest, but the boys and I enjoyed hanging out on our idyllic deck, with them making mini-rafts, skimming stones, and generally messing about. Liam cooked our BBQ, with leftovers for our road trip tomorrow!
Shaun Jr and I attempt conversation with the sheep