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.