Thursday, October 15, 2009

McSweeney's Open Letters Revisited

I found this site about a year ago I think and I just love it. Wanted to share a couple of my favourites with you all.

September 6, 2006

Dearest Lost Bikini Bra,

I wish I had the words to tell you how keenly I miss you
We met at a hole-in-the-wall togs shop in Bondi Beach, Australia. The woman behind the counter took in my 34Ds with the cool appraising eye of a jeweler.

"This is what you need," she told me flatly. "It's this one or nothing."

You were a feat of engineering to rival the Great Pyramids. Your genius was in your simplicity. With two wires, two teeny strings, and two triangles of cloth, you and I violated the law of gravity together. Fuck off, Mr. Newton. These apples are never falling down.

Look, Lost Bikini Bra, I don't hate my body, but let's be realistic: love handles here, a bit extra on the tummy there, and breasts that haven't been able to pass the pencil test since junior high. But when you were with me ... oh, boy, were my tits perfect. Nestled so close against my tenderest bits, you made me look and feel so sexy, like nothing and nobody had ever done before.

Sometimes, if I was feeling particularly cheeky, I would let a boy untie you before I sunbathed. They always liked that part. Then you would lie by my side as the warm Australian sun slowly turned my nipples from pink to brown and erased the white marks where your strings caressed my neck.

When I took you home to Texas, we swam through clear springs and rivers together, and you still looked as good as the day we found each other, unmarred by a single snag or fade.
And then ... oh, it's all my fault, Bikini darling. I should have taken better care of you.
My ex-boyfriend says he lost you in the move. A likely story. Where are you now? In a dark U-Haul box, stuffed between that ridiculous automatic bread maker and last year's bank statements? Or are you stashed guiltily in a sock drawer, stiffened and stained by his sticky secret juices? Oh, that sick bastard. I don't know which scenario is more heart-wrenching: you forgotten or you defiled. At least in the latter you're getting a bit of attention.

You deserve my honesty: I went shopping for a new bathing suit yesterday. It's not that I wanted to replace you, darling, but I gave up hope that we'd ever be reunited. Can somebody tell me why it's so damn difficult to find a reasonably sexy bikini that fits me? Talk about four torturous hours of my life that I'll never get back—much like my $100, which is also gone for good. Your replacement will do in a pinch, but it doesn't hold a candle to your glory.

I have a photo of you that sums up how right we were for each other. You and me on the purest white sands of Sydney's Pacific coast. We look so happy together, and, holy shit, did you make my tits look good.

So goodbye forever, my darling Lost Bikini Bra. We'll always have Australia.

Love eternally,
Jen BiundoAustin, Texas

- - - -
July 20, 2005

Dear Sir or Madam,

We've been warring for nearly a year now. Although my side hasn't lost a single life, let me be the first to say it: it is time to put a stop to the fighting.

I've emptied bottles of anti-ant spray and tolerated the resulting offensive odor. I've laid out bait-style poisons, which are specifically designed to trick your populace into carrying fatal toxins to your very own door, but your people consistently evade them. Eventually they organize parades that march directly around the deadly morsels in mockery of my attempts. I admit, the hyperintelligence of your military leaders is baffling. Thus, I've resorted to a multi-pronged and less obvious attack strategy: I've maintained tidiness, I've swatted at your troops with newspapers, I've smashed them one by one with my mighty thumbs, I've carpet-bombed them with Windex, I've blown them out the window with my breath of fire as they crawled across the neighboring tiles. I've even left mass graves open so that you might recognize what devastating havoc I'm capable of delivering.

Still, you send recon teams out. I spot them regularly, sometimes a team of two or three, sometimes a lone wolf crawling across the floor or the shower walls.

The leader of such a tenacious tribe must be both very proud and very wise. It is my sincere hope that you can set aside your pride and exercise your wisdom to the fullest extent for the purposes of this conversation. The cycle of violence can't continue. You must withdraw every last one of your kind from my apartment.

It's not fair. I pay rent. Don't give me any crap about being indigenous. It's not about that. The comparisons you will surely draw upon are nonsensical and you know it. You are ants. Don't make this something it's not. Have some couth.

Do not take my suggestion of peace as a sign of weakness. If you don't vacate the premises, I will continue to crush you and your soldiers on sight, without mercy or hesitation. My heart is remorseless at the thought of the lives I've destroyed and the families I've broken.

Annoyance is the driving force behind my hope of armistice. I grow tired of spotting your spies creeping around on the tiled shower walls as I stand in the buff. The endless removal of your dead after battle wears on my nerves. You make me late some mornings because I get lost in thought about our clash.

But my biggest frustration, the reason I am graying, lies in the question of purpose. Why do you want to be in my bathroom? What do you seek? There is no food there! Not a morsel. Were you to attack my kitchen, attempt a coup there, I would kill you with the same abandon, but I might be more understanding of your plight. Maybe I would be quicker to draft a solution to win the peace. Perhaps I would take to eating out more often, despite my ongoing fiscal crisis. As the situation is, though, there's not much I can do. I need to habitually bathe. I'm unmovable on this matter. It's not really even my choice.

Frankly, for several months I assumed I was dealing with madmen. But you must have some goal; your efforts surely have a purpose. When your troops tread across these countertops and tiles, they are consistently killed. Even a loony would realize that by now. Your ants are dying for something. Please, pray tell, what is it? Perhaps I will willingly surrender it to you if you help me to understand.

I'm reaching out here. Let's put an end to this.

Joshua W. JacksonPresident of the Bathroom

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back From Geelong

A very weary little felter has arrived home from the Geelong Forum. What an amazing week, there are no words to describe it, let alone pictures. I don't think I have ever had so much fun and all I can do it! Some of the knitters were doing guerilla knitting (I know that is probably spelt incorrectly, but am too tired to care!) or grafitti knitting. You would walk around campus and find interesting things everywhere. This was the last day and the main fountain in the middle of the school......remember this is at Geelong Grammar School, one of Australia's most prestigous schools. Luckily they are used to a bunch of weird women running wild.
I made a wonderful new friend Tania Spencer, a fellow artist from WA, down in Lake Grace. Primarily Tania knits in wire and makes amazing sculptures. Two of her pieces have been at the Sculptures By The Sea, in Cottesloe and next year she will have another piece entered. We shared a dorm room and had a nice to make new friends.
This was Gillians little dog she made.........such a lovely piece. I became a word natzi.....what is she talking about you ask???? I am so sick and tired of people referring to my and others work as 'cute', there was a blanket ban and anyone who said that something was 'cute' when referring to anothers work.....well they got told what cute actually meant. Mind you Alice the Camel, who I made....really is's her eyelashes!
This was a piece that the gorgeous Teresa did....just loved how she combined the flower ends with the looped bag. This was one of my favourite pieces for the week.
This is actually a photo of a photo of Sandy Elverd's work....our illustrious tutor. This was Sandy's first gig as a tutor at such a big forum and she did a wonderful job. It was great to have the freedom to do as we wished. She gave us demos on techniques and basically inspired us and let our creativity come to the front and would assist us when we got into trouble or just plain old needed help. A wonderful tutor who I would highly recommend to anyone wanted to some fibre work.
I have a feeling this is another of Gillians pieces. Everyone took to coiling so quickly, but then random stitching took over.......we had too much fun.
We were very lucky to have a couple of very experienced basket makers in our group. Wendy Golden, who will be teaching at the Grampian forum in March was there. How ironic that when I got home, I found her website written on my notepad and I had been looking at her site before I went and met her. Now that is Karma! We also had the gorgeous Lyn Dickson, another very experienced basket maker.....who along with Wendy brough along a great amount of fibre matter for us to share. Soosie Jobson and I both could bring nothing as we were travelling from interstate. All of the girls shared their stash with us, which Soosie and I were both very appreciative of. I managed to bring home some of my work, but gave some away to some of the local quarantine back into WA is super strict and I didn't want to bring anything harmful back into WA!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ken Smith....What a Man!

Today I have been busy with textile artist Ken Smith. Ken is based in Tasmania and is a renowned machine embroiderer, with many years experience. He has learnt under such people as Constance Howard.....that really impressed me!
Ken has been in Perth and Bunbury running a series of workshops on machine embroidery. His techniques are superb and have resparked an interest in my sewing machine.....not that I had ever lost interest.....but hand stitching has sort of taken over lately.
The workshop I am taking part in is Holeyer Than Thou.....and yes, that is a made up word! We have been creating holes and stitching them, you forget how quickly you can do things on a machine. I want to try doing some of the bobbin work that Ken has been showing us.....a bit scared, but am going to be brave tomorrow. He showed us moss stitching, which I never thought I would be able to do..........only to discover that it is super easy and I am a natural!

One of the things I love about Ken, is that he is very generous with his knowledge. Many artists wouldn't share the amount of skills that Ken to Ken.....I say thank you. This is a link to his website and I would recommend a look!

I am scheming to get Ken to come back next year and do one of his week long workshop on fungi! His fungi is so realistic, he got picked up in customs in NZ when they caught sight of it in his bag.....they thought it was real and he had to explain himself. I just need to do a bit more nagging and see if I can get Jenny to agree to arrange it....something to have a chat about over lunch tomorrow I think!
I will share my samples when I am finished...they are all safely locked away at Craft House for the night. If anyone broke in there, they could make a fortune on stealing all the sewing machines....mine along is a couple of grand!

Alpaca Anyone???

OnFriday and I went for a drive with Taj, we went visiting Caroline, from Windella Alpacas. I should of taken some pics of the alpacas....they were beautiful. Two gorgeous girls are pregnant and 3 stunning boys were ready to go to the Perth Royal Show.

Caroline, along with 2 friends have built a business, where they breed, sheer and process their own alpaca fibre. I am terribly interested in their processing, which is much more minimal that sheep fibre. We are planning a visit to the processing plant in November.....can't wait.
These are some of the gorgeous bumps that have been produced from the alpacas. The colour range is wonderful, ranging from a clean white, thru to cream, light brown, a chestnut brown, a darker brown still, brown black and finally blue black. They are sooooo just want to hug them.
I bought 3 of the batts, which have been created and they felt beautifully. I know some girls who would love to spin and weave with these. One of our girls at Feltwest, asked me to get her a black batt, sight unseen........she's a bit excited.
I had never felted with alpaca before and had no idea how it was going to turn out. It felts very easily and has a very different texture to the merino I usually work with. Because of the different scales on alpaca (Caroline said they sit more flat), they have a different finished look. Even though it is fully felted, it still has a lovely textured look to it, more like hair than fibre. I have felted two shades of the brown I have and am currently working on a piece for Cervantes with them. Will take some pics as I go along the process. It will also show you how I go about planning (or maybe my lack of planning) process and just how I work.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Promise........

Now that I have been playing with my page and am happy with everything......I promise.......that I will not post in blue text, as it will blind all of my friends. I promise........that I will try and be a good blogger and blog more often. I update interesting blogs which I follow! I promise......not to bore the pants off you!!!

Don't You Just Love To Play

Don't you just love it when you take the time to play!! I had never really customised my blog...mainly because I hadn't taken the time. So with it being before 6am, the kids still asleep, my urges were bubbling to the surface.

It was so simple, I could kick myself. So now that I am able to be creative with my pages......I apologise for the colours that may confront you from now on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To Photograph......or Not to Photograph???

A very interesting dilema arose on the weekend. Do we photograph another artists work or not??? Karin Kortenhorst would not allow us to take photos of her work, but was happy for us to sketch them and make our own samples of her work.

Apparently in Europe, it is common practice that you do not photograph other artists work. I can totally understand why and think that this practice shall start to be used more here in Australia. As an artist, you always put yourself out to the public for scrutiny. Unfortunately, there are people who are more interested in replicating others work, than tapping into their own creative energy.

I suppose the underlying thing to remember, is that other people may have different morals to you. Do your own work, develop your own style and this will be recognised by those around you. If someone replicates your work, firstly work is good enough to copy. Then approach the person and tell them this is not on. My wonderful friend Trudi has had this happen to her and she dealt with it immediately and it hasn't happened since. Word got out, not to mess with her and her work. You go girl!!!!!

The message I am probably trying to think before you snap! Do you have permission to take photos....or have you even bothered to ask?? What is the photo actually going to do for you? Why not just enjoy looking.....savour the moment.......let inspiration take over you........and then go and create your own masterpiece.

Think about it.....let me know your thoughts!

Karin Kortenhorst

Over the weekend I attended a two day workshop with Dutch jeweller, Karin Kortenhorst. Karin is a very fine jeweller, who has come to teach at the Geelong Forum and we were lucky enough at Feltwest, to have her stop over and workshop with us.
It's always fantastic to work with an international tutor and especially one, who isn't a felt maker, but someone who can show you different ways of using your material of choice. Wire was heavily used, with the use of many different types. Copper wire was popular to use, as it is very soft and maliable. Heather Davis had some copper sheeting and made this lovely lotus flower inspired piece. And yes....the photo us upside down!
This is a piece of copper sheeting, which has been hammered. I love the organic flow the occurs after hammering. The fact that something which is so rigid, can produce such soft lines intrigues me. I am keen to start incorporating some of the new techniques we learnt, into my work.

Sue Swain brought along this bulb, which is from a watsonia plant. Apparently they are a weed here in Perth, but boy do I love their bulbs. In the UK there are people who work in an area which can best be described at living plant sculptures. Willow is their plant of choice as it grows so well there. They plant the willow and train it to form these amazing sculptures. A large cathedral has been built in Germany. Go and have a look at this website and you will see what I mean.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Natural Dyes

I have learnt how to download pics from my camera! Actually...that's not quite right....I made Anthony learn and he hasn't yet shown me....but hey....same diff!!!

Let me walk you through some of our pics from July.....

These were the results of natural dyeing which we did up at Trudi Pollards studio. When we dye, we try to dye different threads and materials. It gives us a good record of how the dyes effect different substances. We will use different types of silks, threads, wool and of course felt.
A collection of the various threads, with the leaves that were used to dye alongside each. This helps in the recording process.
These threads have been dyed with chilli bush, a native Australian plant, which looks nothing like chilli, but has a similar taste. You can get anything from a pink through to purple with this plant. This is a lovely subdued taupe colour. Every batch is different.

The next two pictures are the wrong way around....they should be the undyed version and then the dyed version....but can figure that out. This was a dye pot at my house, using Eucalyptus Cineria....otherwise known as Silver Dollar. I just love the deep, rich colours I personal favourite.
The dye pot, before cooking. It's a good idea to photograph each stage for documentation.

The result of some other dye pots using the same plant. Each dye pot will always come out differently. It depends on the amount of water, the number of leaves, which tree the leaves come from etc.
Some of the results from steaming, instead of boiling using plant material. These are wet, so the true beauty of the colour isn't seen yet. This is us as we unwrapped them, straight from the steamer. They were burning our hands!
These two were a piece of habutai silk and a wool/silk blend piece of fabric. The plant material was placed in between the layers, so we get the same pattern on two different pieces of fabric.
One of my round vessels, which was steamed. This is the leaves as we are peeling them from the vessel. Again using my favourite plant.
Finally a picture of my two favourite ladies. Trudi Pollard on the left and Lorna Hindmarsh on the right. Lorna is such an inspiration. She has been naturally dyeing for much of her life. I will blog about her later. Lorna very kindly had Trudi and myself to her house and went through some of her work. We are planning to do more work with Lorna in the near future. The felt piece that the ladies are holding, is all dyed using natural dyes from the local Perth area.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Suck!!!

As it has been pointed out to me....I suck badly. Firstly I am going to blame my camera for all my troubles. My faithful old Fuji, died a very sudden death. Of course on the day when I needed him most. Notice how I have decided it was a male.....they always cause trouble!!

I had to rush out and buy a replacement.....not an easy thing to do...........especially when I loved old Fuji so much. Now I have my first Cannon and am loving him (still a male), but.... I now have a problem. I need to learn how to download the pictures. Can you imagine how many pics I have sitting on that camera. It will take me a week to sort them into folders and if I am lucky, I may print a pic out....notice I can't commit to when that may be!

So.........what's been happening you may ask??? Lots, lots and lots more! After our exhibition at Mundaring was a great success, I was asked to join the WAFTA Exhibition Committee. Now that was busy. Our exhibition went for a week and was one of the most successful to date at that gallery.

Now I am getting ready to have a body of work completed, as I am one of the featured artists at the Cervantes Art Festival in the end of October. The works need to be submitted by the end of September.....gettin close......eeeeekkkkk!!!! I have upcoming workshops with Karin Kortenhorst from Denmark, Ken Smith from Queensland, Chungi Lee from Korea and I am off to Geelong for the fibre forum at the end of the month!

Anthony has just arrived home with the boys, so now I am going to see if he can teach me to download those photos.......lets hope there is something interesting in there!!!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bush Brew

Well we are at it again..........more natural dyeing. Trudi Pollard and I are working together on a joint piece for the WAFTA Exhibition, I have made the felt pods and she has dyed and stitched them. They are looking fab, all I have to do now is download the pics.

These are another set of pods and vessels which will go up to Aspects Gallery in Kings Park. Trudi is the artist in focus there in September for Wildflower Month! She will be demonstrating natural dyeing and giving some talks. So we again, are working together and showing what can be done with nature.

These are half the pods and vessels which have been dyed.

As well as using a conventional dye pot, we have also used the steamer. To achieve this, we tightly bind the plant material with either silk or the felt, and let it steam away. The results which we have are fabulous....and again, I just need to download the pictures. It is truly amazing what can be created from plants and steam!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Natural Dye Day With Trudi Pollard

I have been having too much fun recently! My wonderful friend Trudi Pollard is the most amazing artist and natural dyer! I have been doing shibori, indigo and natural dyeing for the past 7 weeks and yesterday was our natural dye day!

I am soooo hooked on natural dyes, have a look at what we did. We used brown onion, puff balls, fig leaves, silver dollar and chilli bush! And before you think of hacking your chilli plants in the yard, it's not that sort of chilli bush....the aussie native one! Chilli bush is my favourite and I want to do more and more and more. Of course I want to put my felt in, but this was a rather large communal class, which I am not a fan of....nothing worse than your pieces of silk being taken by others.....and of course you find out later!

Going from left to right the colours are: Puff balls, chilli bush, fig leaves and brown onions. The silver dollar will be coming tomorrow, it needed a longer cooking time! The beautiful thing about natural dyes, is that they all work together, no matter which way you put them. How amazing that these colours all come from plants. Trudi has so much knowledge, far more than anyone else I know of. We are all getting on her case about writing a book, as the Inida Flint book Eco Colour is good, but she doesn't give away many of her secrets. Trudi is so generous with her knowledge and skills......I haven't met anyone quite like her....she is one of a kind.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Retreat, Recipe and Reactions

I could always start listing the excuses why I haven't blogged in a while....but no one really wants to hear that. So lets catch up!!! I am in love with my own japanese soup I have created, our exhibition is going well, art awards went well, retreat was sensational and am getting over the flu!

My Japanese soup: Enoki mushrooms, soba noodles, japanese soup stock, spring onions, nori roll sliced thinly and some cooked chook. Chuck the noodles and mushrooms into the stock and cook for about 5 mins. Put into a bowl and add the chicken, spring onions and sliced nori roll. Man it's fabo and so good for you. Even my kids eat it!

I woke up on yesterday and decided to go and get my second tattoo. I have had a tat for 13 years now and this one is pretty special. It is a symbolisation of my family. My husband is the single star and the other stars are for my boys who roam this gorgeous planet and for my two babies who watch us from above. The single star hurt like hell.

Have had all positive reactions so far, my hubby liked it, my kids had their stars picked out at first sight and happily tell everyone who has which star. Am waiting for someone to give me a bad reaction.....sometimes I love to able to use my vast vocabulary to it's fullest extent!

I am the luckiest daughter in law in the world. This is my wonderful birthday present from my wonderful inlaws, Ted and Jan. I actually got 2 of these stands, in solid jarrah. I asked Ted to make me one in pine for the market stalls, so I can hang my bags and bits and of course I got 2 solid jarrah. You have to love an architect.

The first edition of Felt has just hit the stands.....a damn good magazine, about to send an email to the editors and let them know that. Go and find this at your newsagent!

The most gorgeous letter box in the world. What you don't see, is the antique spoon on the back, which is the handle to open the door. This is made by a local cabinet maker in the hills.....he is about to make some bird houses too!!!

How happy was I when my shipment of water balls arrived from Germany. And it didn't hurt that I was on my way to a felting workshop I run on Thursdays. The girls were all too happy to grab one and start squirting away. They are soooooo hard to find, but after a year of persistently annoying the right people, I found a source.

The following pictures are all from our retreat at Camp Simon in Roleystone. We had 26 Feltwest members come along and we had such a grand time. The location was stunning, the hall so big we had room to move and most of us had double tables. Food was good, company sensational and the opportunity to felt all day and night.....simply glorious.
I made a vow at the beginning of the weekend, not to make a 3D vessel or form. That vow was on Thursday night, by Saturday morning I was felting a vessel. I was enticed....Heather came back from a quick jaunt and starting waving my favourite natural fibre to weave and sculpt with, under my nose. She told me where it was and I was gone. Back in about 15 mins, and felting within another 10. Actually the piece is gorgeous and I will photograph it when it's finished.
I was very proud of myself though, I actually did a heap of nuno, which was a first for me. I really enjoyed it, but still love my sculptural work better. It's good to have some time off though and now I may incorporate some nuno into my sculptures.

Heathers scarf laid out.

An abstract design I was working on.

Lee Ann Davis, amazing felter and stitcher, a sample of some of her work.

Sharna's piece partially laid out.

Heather, our dye pot master, could not resist doing some natural dyeing. Lindy and Heather had two pots simmering, one a fungi pot and the other natural vegetation from around camp.

Nancy's rug after it was pretty much felted.

Sue Eslick, our tea cosie queen, with a great hat she made. We made her wear it sideways, as it looked better! Sue also won our name badge challenge with a lovely mini tea cosie badge! I got equal second place!!

Some of the name badges in our challenge. Mine is the funky purple and green one!

Mary Anne made this stunning baby jacket, and this was just a sample! I have been inspired, she so generously gave me the pattern and now I am going to have an attempt! You may never see the pictures of my attempt!

A pic of some of our work at the end of the weekend. Everyone went insane making hats. I said next year we need to have a hat challenge!