Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Altered book and flowers in our garden

These are some pages for the altered book I am working on at present. I have never attempted one of these before, but I am having fun. I have finished colouring the pages and am now waiting for everything to dry out thoroughly before I add bits and pieces - also gives me more time to think and try to work out what I am really going to do!

This page is quite different from the others. I painted it first with pthalo green acrylic paint, then overpainted it with Opulence interference gold. I love those paints, I'm gradually building up a collection of them.

I love the colours that have turned out on these pages - it is always a bit serendipitous as I spray it on while the gesso is still wet and then wait to see what I have got.

This gangly tree in our front garden is a Euodia, native to North Queensland and a host for the beautiful Ulysses butterfly - which I am never in the right position to take a photo of.

These are the flowers which are really lovely. The lorikeets love them as well so we have a tree full of screaming parrots all day long. I don't know why birds which are really gorgeous to look at should have such raucous voices, perhaps it is not so in other parts of the world, but certainly in Australia, the beautiful singers are nearly all nondescript in colour. There are some exceptions of course, our pied butcherbird has a beautiful song and is quite a handsome bird. The Australian magpie is also a handsome bird with a lovely song, not despised as the English magpie seemed to be when we were there.

We have had some rain at long last, wonderful soaking rain, nearly 5 inches of it. Thank goodness, so far we have managed to avoid the damaging storms they have been having in southeast Queensland. I heard on the news that the storms which went through there last night produced over 18,000 lightning strikes - 3 every 2 seconds - which would be quite frightening I imagine.

The downside of having rain is the dreadful humidity in between the showers, up to 80%. I just want to hide in the air conditioning for as much of the day and night as possible, my workroom is in the airconditioned part of the house, so that is a good excuse to play isn't it? I received a couple of parcels of goodies for Christmas so I am trying them all out.

Happy New Year to you all.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Carols and Christmas

Well the Carols are over, and despite the awful weather, they were a fantastic success. We had the threat of a thunderstorm about 2pm, then the sun came out again, the temperature was about 33 degrees celcius, with humidity about 80%. People cam, flopped on the grass, enjoyed their picnic teas, the adults wilted and the kids had a ball.
The lower photo is not very good, but gives a bit of an idea of the children waving their candles around in time to the songs.
The presents are nearly all made - just one to finish - then to wrap them all, the cake is iced, the pudding is hanging, chaos reigns in this house, but what the heck, that is what Christmas and families is all about.
I hope you all have a wonderful, joyous Christmas, see you all later in the year, or maybe not till inthe New Year.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Another box and a tree

I have made a second box, this time to enclose a gift for my sister for Christmas. I sprayed Adirondack colourwash Cranberry over the gesso, but thought it still too bright when it had dried. I overpainted with some Lumiere paint and some pearlescant liquid acrylic paints, so was happy with the end result.

The ornamentation on the lid is a hot glue gun melt onto a stamp - already in my stash! I am almost finished making Christmas presents now, just a couple to go. I always forget how long it takes to parcel everything up as well, but somehow it will all get done.

The neisosperma trees in the Gardens are flowering and fruiting at present. they are really lovely trees, native to this area, and supposedly rare - they have seeded so readily and so many have been given away, they won't be rare much longer. The blossoms have a citrussy perfume and the brilliant red fruit are a real contrast. I love the seeds though - they look rather like a brain, and are very, very hard.

the native rats like them and carry them away to their nests, thus distributing the seeds. The rats usually only manage to eat as far as one or two seeds inside, then the other one or two will germinate - nature is clever isn't it.
We are frantically getting ready for the big night of Carols in the Gardens on Saturday when a crowd of up to 3000 may arrive - hope the weather holds out for us. It should be a lovely evening for the children, I'll try to post photos next week.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

green ants in the Gardens

This black duck was just sitting in the sun beside the water enjoying himself (herself) when we were walking in the Gardens yesterday. We were only about ten feet away from him, but he was quite unconcerned. I couldn't resist photographing this green weaver ants nest in one of the corymbia trees - the ants form huge colonies, weaving the living leaves together to make their nest. When the leaves eventually die, the colony simply builds another nest nearby and moves on.

This photo tries to show you the ants, but they were pretty excited and not staying still! I had tapped their nest sharply to make them come out so I could show you what they look like, so they had reason to be excited. They have a very sharp bite, and because they build their nests in trees from which they are likely to drop down onto you and then bite, most people (including us) don't like them in their home gardens. However, the ants do eat a lot of small garden pests. The aborigines used to eat them as sweets, but you would need to bite very quickly I think to avoid being bitten in your mouth!

This giant cactus is looking very spectacular at present. The plants in this garden were presented to the Botanic Gardens by an elderly Maltese lady who has a wonderful collection of cactus and other succulent plants. She is in her late 80s (I really did mean elderly) and doesn't want her collection to be just dug up when she dies. I think most of these plants are what they grew in Malta, so have special significance. We have a very large population of people of Maltese origin here - they came to Mackay in the early 1900s to work in the sugar industry after the South Sea Islanders were sent home , and now form an important cultural group here.
I have been busy making a box, but no pictures till tomorrow. I have downloaded part 2 of lesson 2 for Maggie's online course and wish I had time to play, but I think that is on the back burner till after Christmas. I am getting in a panic when I think how close it is.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Christmas present and images in the Gardens

Here is the bag I have made for my 7 year old step grandaughter to be in Canberra. I started with my favourite panne velvet disperse dyed, then covered with painted vleisofix and with threads and yarns laid on top. I covered it all with a chiffon scarf, fused it all together and did some sewing. I am quite pleased with the result, now I need to make one for my grandaughter here in Mackay - that can wait for a few days though as she will be staying here, I need to get everything finished which needs to be posted first.

This strange contraption iss supporting our very old cycad - estimated to be about 700 years old, to make sure it can't blow over in strong winds. It came from a cattle property about 150kms south of Mackay. The owners were doing some clearing just as the Gardens were being opened so they asked if we would like it - of course we said yes.

This fascinating structure is a wonderful sculpture done by a Brisbane artist Chris Trotter. He visited a national park near Mackay which is a rainforest area with lots of interesting fungi and other plants, so he tried to reconstruct the shapes in recycled metal agricultural and industrial implements. Hidden in amongst the other things are 10 frogs and it is a favourite occupation of young children trying to find them all. The pieces are rusting to some glorious colours as they age, and I never tire of looking at it.
We are still having very hot humid weather but with no rain - Brisbane is still copping all the storms with some very severe weather there tonight, not good for the fans hoping to see Andre Rieuer (can't spell it) with his show. Quite a few friends of ours from Mackay have flown down to see it and we heard the show start had been delayed by an hour because of the fierce electrical storms. That will make a lot of Brisbanites very nervous as there were about 4000 homes wrecked in a storm a couple of weeks ago. We don't want that sort of weather, especially after the flood here early in the year, but we would like a little bit of rain. There will still be about 200 homes not repaired up here by Christmas after the all the promises that they would all be finished by Christmas. I am so glad we were safe and only a couple of inches of water through the laundry.
I'm going back to my sewing machine to finish a couple more things before I head off to bed.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Books and ATCs and more

I can't believe how long it is since I last posted, where has it all gone? These pictures are of the books I have been making from Maggie's online lessons - lots of fun, but a lot of challenges for me. I have never made books before or added pages to anything either. The pages in the taller book are a rough paper I bought at a scrapbooking shop which I have then sprayed with moonshadow mists before stamping with various flower stamps. I think I am happy with the result.

I used translucent liquid sculpey for the first time with this cover - another first for me, they are coming thick and fast the further I go with these lessons.

It is hard to see in this photo but I used white sketchbook paper which I sprayed with about three different glitzspritz sprays one after the other while they were still wet, it was fun to see the way the colout moved around on the page. I am going to send this one to my sister as part of her birthday present - then I will need to start making her something for Christmas as well!
Annica and I swapped postcards recently -this is the one I sent to her, made on my embellishing machine

and this is the lovely one which Annica sent to me:

Another inspiring edition of WOW is on the web today, and I know Dale said she was posting out the latest Quilting Arts magazines before she left for NZ, then the next lesson for Maggie has been downloaded - no wonder I haven't posted and probably won't for another few days, too much is happening! When I went to Coles supermarket today they had a very large sign outside saying how many sleeps were left till Christmas, don't think I needed to be reminded about that.
I had better go and cut up some fruit for the next Christmas cake, one is made and two to go, then two boild plum puddings. I only do them about two or three days before we will need them so I don't have to freeze them. Here in the tropics they go mouldy in our hot humid weather if they are left for more than a few days. I have been know to rescue one or two by cutting off the outside mouldy layer and pouring over a lot more brandy! Would prefer to have the whole pudding though. We always have a cold Christmas dinner, far too hot to be slaving over a stove, but can't do away with tradition altogether.
Back again before too long I hope.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Wrist cuff giveaway and more

Jackie Cardy who blogs as dogdaisychains makes the most wonderful velvet and tweed wrist cuffs and brooches. She is asking for us all to help her with a market survey and will give away one of her beautiful wrist cuffs to someone. She needs at least 100 people to respond - you only have to measure your wrist - to make the survey viable so please click here to take part - and ask all your friends also. Then hope you will be the lucky winner!

I am having a quiet afternoon and evening as today has been another eye injection day. thankfully I don't seem to have much in the way of after effects at present, just the usual black bubble which should be gone by tomorrow morning. I am skipping next month though, I'm not running the risk of something going wrong just before Christmas!

I have been busy taking photos at the Gardens again. We are having a breakup for the Friends on Saturday night and will have a competition on a PowerPoint of recognising pictures of flowers or shrubs within the Gardens. While I was taking those I saw the magpie geese were on the lagoon. They are very large birds and look quite spectacular when they are flying in formation. There are also a few royal spoonbills there. For some reason we never seem to have the spoonbills with the yellow bills here.

These waterlilies are looking l ovely too. I love the little white ones which I hope you can see if this picture will enlarge. they are such tiny flowers and their lilypads are almost the same size as those of the blue ones.
This is taken inside the fernery, where we have a wonderful collection of bromeliads. I am starting to gather quite a collection of them in my own garden, they take almost no looking after, seem to be droughtproof, and only need the soil to hold them upright. I have a garden bed which has been invaded by the surface roots of a beautiful flowering Euodia ( I will post pictures when it flowers in January). I don't want to take out the tree, so we will use a mattock (small) to hack holes in the bed deep enough to anchor each of the broms. Then all they need is a bit of fertiliser a couple of times a year and the occasional hosing!
I looked at this variety of Bromeliad at the local market last weekend, but jibbed at the price they were asking - probably worth it, but I felt I would make do with a less exotic plant!

This is another lovely specimen also. We are very lucky at the Gardens as the local Bromeliad club come in several times a year and move plants around and generally look after them for the Gardens.

Hopefully tomorrow I will really get back to working on the pages for the tower book. I want to start on some more covers also, I received some Translucent liquid sculpey from Dale a few days ago and haven't had time to play with it yet.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

More ATCs and Maggie's class

Two more lovely ATCs have arrived at my place from the embellisher swap our group who recently finished Dale's course carried out. The one above is from Barb and has been done on foiled felt.
The gorgeous blue one has been made by Chris who does not have a blog site as far as I know. She used painted lutradur zapped and embellished to felt as the base. I really like them both.

Here are some photos I have taken of what I have been doing for the online free class if you have bought Maggie's latest book. Can't tell you what I have really done - you need to buy the book for that.

Sorry about the funny bit at the top of this photo, I couldn't find a suitable background to take the photo in front of. If I ever learn how to use the new Paint Shop Pro software Bill has just bought I could take that unwanted background away with no trouble! I have been studying the instruction book, I think it is written in English, but I am beginning to wonder, there is not too much that makes sense to me at present. I am sure the IT people who write these manuals only write them for others who already know what they are doing and therefore understand the text!!!

Anyway this is the book standing up, and the picture below is of the inside. Now I just have to make some pages - yet another challenge. As I told the group, I have been strictly a textiles person till now, all this mixed media stuff is very challenging - but lots of fun.

I want to make a book next year for when our son Stuart and his partner Natalie are being married, so I need to practise all the techniques I want to use, and this time I will really have to work on some designing first, and lots of samples. At least, that is my resolution at the moment. Most of my projects seem to happen serendipitously I am afraid. I do admire all of you who design and make sample after sample, I am far too impatient.
Now I had better go and make some more souvenirs before I go back to playing again.......till next time.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Botanic Gardens walk

Jack (my blue heeler dog) and I went walking in the Botanic Gardens late yesterday afternoon, where I spent some time trying to get a good photo of the Jabiru (black necked stork) and the pelicans and other birds feeding on the other side of the lagoon. I was not helped by the fact that someone (quite illegally) had let his dog off its lead not too far away from the birds, but thankfully he disappeared after a while. We frequently have the pelicans, moorhens and ducks and ibis, but the Jabiru has beome a very infrequent visitor. I love watching them, especially when they fly, as they have a big v shaped white patch under each wing. They look so aloof stalking their prey in the shallows.
This lovely flowering shrub is a desert rose, and I am sorry but I can't remember its proper name. I know I have another photo somewhere with the proper name on it, but I think I have about a thousand images stored now of flowers in the Gardens and I have not catalogued them properly - never enough time - (and always lots of much more interesting things which of course need doing right this instant).

These two kookaburras make their home in one of the wharf logs which are in the shade garden. they have had a couple of successful breedings but I don't think they have tried this summer yet.

I love these cycads, especially now they are all getting their new shoots. One (not pictured) is over 700 years old. it was donated to the Gardens when some graziers were clearing country on their cattle property south of Mackay. This is much better than just destroying it. I love asking school groups how old they think it is, some of the answers are so funny, and range from 10 years to a million!

On my way home I had to take a photo of these gorgeous orchids growing in my next door neighbour's garden. I have no idea what their name is, I only know they came from rainforest in far north Queensland.
I think I had better go and rescue stuff from my workroom, Bill is being very rude about not being able to see a flat surface in there at all! Mind you, I think he was just hoping to find one in there to do some work of his own, there is absolutely no flat surface available in the office - and that is not my fault (or not much anyway).
Hopefully there will be some samples of Maggie's course to show soon.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Of souvenirs and moths

I really want to get stuck into the online course for Maggie's book, but I need to keep sewing souvenirs to sell at the Botanic Gardens - they keep running out!! These are just some of the Christmas decorations I have been doing, and some of the bookmarks, which are always very popular. Glasses cases and the fairy shoes disappear as fast as I get them there also. Nice to know my work is wanted, but I can't keep up!
While I was doing my roster in the visitors centre at the Gardens today we were visited by this gorgeous moth. We thought it was a butterfly at first, but some research showed it is Alcides metauris a very large daytime flying moth. Its wingspan would have been about 3.5 inches.

The colours on its wings are really a lot more colourful than the photo shows, but they didn't show up inside the building.

Then we waw another one flying around just outside - one of their foodsource vines grows nearby. This picture shows the underside, just as spectacular and quite different from the topside.

This is taken showing the top side of the moth on the tree. It was hard to get a proper focus as the very bright daylight was just behind it all the time. We had attracted several other photographers by this time, so there was quite a battery of cameras snapping away.
There is a photographic competition running at the Gardens for a photo to be selected for a postcard, so it will be interesting to see if our moth turns up on any of them. They are a tropical breed and I think this is about as far south as you can expect to see them.
We have at last had a little bit of rain so my catalogues being killed in the garden beds here have been watered from the sky above, rather than depending on the hose! they are in various stages of disintegration and looking pretty disgusting by now.........ah well, no doubt we will find out more before they disappear completely.
Should have some photos to show tomorrow or the next day of what I have been doing, then back to more fairy shoes.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Apologies and some ATCs

First up I really want to apologise to Maggi to whom I gave an award in my last blog. If you clicked on the link for Gini you would have arrived at Maggi's blog. Sorry for my poor computer skills. I tried unsuccessfully to edit the post, then gave up in disgust and decided the best thing is just to start a new post!

This lovely ATC below is alnother one in the embellisher course swap and is from Sylvia who does not have a blog. I love all the subtle shading she has done.

This next one is quite different, from Marianne in Western Australia, she does not have a blog either. Marianne thought it was not very inspiring, but I love it.
Marianne placed her ATC inside this lovely card which is also made by her. It is a print from an original drawing of the Karri forest at Boranup in SW Western Australia.

Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia, the race which stops a nation, but it doesn't stop too much in this household. I don't bother with Melbourne Cup luncheons these days, prefer to have prawns and a glass of wine at home where we can watch the race on our own TV, and also hear it! I have never been able to hear above the chatter when I have been at a large lunch!
Not anything to show you of mine today. I am experimenting with bits of Maggie's new book, and am also thinking about what to do with the cataloguekiller online lessons - they are very exciting. More later.

Friday, 31 October 2008

I have an award!

Sue has given me this award - I am thrilled as it is my very first award. Now comes the real challenge for someone like me who is new to this game and has not been doing my homework to learn all about the techniques. I have to link back to Sue - the easy part, and do go to look at her fascinating blog.

Next I have to link to 4 dedicated followers of my blog and one new one from another part of the world. here goes:





and Heather

They all have such interesting blogs, I love the way we can link all round the world in just a few seconds.

This is what I have been working on today, when I haven't been working out what to do here, or what to do when I have made stupid mistakes. I sewed the lining on before I sewed on a piece of velcro to fasten it and then of course I had to make a different type of closure. then I couldn't find the button which I wanted.............and on it went. By the time I had finished I was happy, but it wasn't the quick and simple activity I had been planning. The idea is slightly adapted from a Fibre and Stitch free project.

Now I have to go and clean up my studio so I can actually find some space to do some more, I don't think there is one square inch of bed, tables and shelf which can be seen at present, it is all covered by stuff!!!