Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bargains, Inspiration, Green Living ...

Check out my latest finds. This rain jacket is a patchwork / collage style of those designer plastic bags you get when you shop in stores. I love it. It cost me $5 at St Vincent de Pauls in Porirua. It has a calico inner and is well constructed with a zip, hoodie and cool bright pull strings. It's lightweight so perfect for the beach and my kids will have no problems spotting me in a crowd. I would love to know it's history and it's maker. This fits in with my idea of clever upcycling, clever textiles and visually it has all my favourite things: text, stitch, mixed media, and is so purposeful. It crunches and crackles like plastic bags do. For a monochrome girl who only ever wears black this is outside my usual palette but what the hey. I live in a wet and windy city. It will look fab with my floral gumboots.
Front view ...

Back view ... I just noticed the big "Virgin" sign on the back, that's funny.
How appropriate, this red girl is windblown and looks neat with the red and black stitching.
A detail on the sleeve. Quirky guy. I love that it has grog advertisements on it as well.
I also found this amazing handknitted pure wool baby blanket. Sorry my photos are poor quality. I was just bemoaning the fact that I don't have knitty nana's and then I found this in the same op-shop for $4 along with 4 x pure wool Merino baby blankets. SCORE!!

Detail of blankets lovely lacey knitted design. And it is so soft.

I saw this and loved the quirky little illustrations. It was only 50c. I used to love reading these annuals when I was a kid. We would pick up bags of these and Buster / Whizzer and Chips comics from galas and op-shops and spend our weekends perusing them in bed. I will cut them up and make labels and cards for Xmas with all my stash of cardboard I picked up from the paper factory in Upper Hutt. Time to start using some of those things and reduce those stashes.

I never could understand fabricaholics ... until today that is. Look at my yummy Japanese printed fabric.

I am really excited about this. I found a great tutorial and am always so inspired by bloggers like Melissa at TinyHappy and her handmade baby things. So I broke my own rule and went and purchased some of this Japanese printed fabric from the quilting section at Spotlight. I usually like to use secondhand things but these mushrooms will look cute made up into baby things. A little on the pricey side at $24.95pm but I only got 1/2 mtr of the mushroom fabric (100% cotton, won't shrink). I love green. I love the mushrooms. I love the vintage aspect. And when I think about it, I think I love these whimsical things because they are nostalgic of my childhood. Funny considering the book I found in the op shop today and making that connection just now. I will have a go at making Knuckles some bibs and cloth shoes and maybe some patches on those found wool merino blankets I got today. The leafy print was just too cute so I got me some of that too. At $14.95pm (I think), I got 1/2 mtr of that as well. Today and tomorrow at Spotlight the clearance fabrics were all $2pm, so I got 2mtrs of brown corduoroy as well for the soles of his little shoes and maybe some matching pants with leaf patches on the knees. And a little t-shirt with a mushroom appliqued on it. Hahaha, ambitious for one with so little sewing machine knowledge. But now i have said it, so I am under duress to complete it. Maybe that can be my long weekend project if this rain doesn't let up.

Speaking of leaves ... I crack myself up. I just got rid of one bunch of leaves (see last post) and then I found these up at Gear Homestead when I visited the fibrecraft guild today. I love their long shapes and the red. I love red and green colours together. Dumbie me, keep going to these amazing groups that are doing amazing crafty things and I forget my camera. So many talented artists and crafters, and friendly too. I get a bit nervous when I go along to these groups on my own. Like a first day at school. "Will they like me? Will I like them?"

So far I am the only Maori woman I have spotted at these kinds of groups and while I am sure others exist, it is often the first hump I have to get over. Nobody has ever been racist to me but there is the fact that I am different. But, then we talk and share our love of making and creating and my inhibitions fall away as we all get excited and our passion for what we do comes to the forefront.

The women today were very welcoming. It took a bit of effort for me to get there after an abysmal day yesterday but I did and am so glad I went. The women were friendly and for a textile crafty girl like myself, the hub of a creative atmosphere was very conducive to my current situation. There were weavers, spinners, carding wool staples, knitting, needlefelting and I missed some of the others because I got there late. I will try and get some photos next time.

Those red leaves I found on at Gear Homestead (windfall not picked off the tree by the way) will find their way into my dye pot along with some of the vintage silk remnants I picked up from Asia Gallery.

"Shibori" is a book I love too and keep getting out of the library. The giant hank of pure silk thread is my special treat to myself. Kathy kindly brought it in for me today and at $23 I think it's a bargain. I love sewing with it, then seeing the way it takes up colour in the natural dye pots. Silk is like that, it grabs colour. So does wool.

I get tired and heavy and yesterday I spent the whole day just lying on my bed. Not because I wanted to mind you, because I would rather be getting on with some of my projects and working in my new tidy studio. I was supposed to attend a stitch-in with local embroiderers at the Mana Guild. Doh! I was so frustrated. I was physically and mentally unable to walk around, even sitting was uncomfortable. I felt like I had a giant bowling ball in me that I couldn't get comfortable. Even lying down, I took some Panadol which helped but not really. I don't feel like I have had a decent sleep for a while and I guess with seven weeks to go, it will only get more difficult. Wonderful husband got kids ready for school and dropped them off so I could just lie there. It is hard not to feel sorry for myself sometimes but reading helps to distract me. I am so over tv and we have had three consecutive nights being tv-free, computer and playstation games free. The kids have a better attitude and we all talk to one another a lot more. I really am loving peace and quiet these days which is such a change from my usual supercharged nature. The boys spend more time drawing, playing, laughing, reading and talking; hubby is quietly doing research for work on laptop and me, well, I am either reading or like tonight, blogging.

I found this magazine this week at the local supermarket. It's a good read. I keep wanting to make better decisions about our lifestyle and am stuck in the transition between a desire to live a more 'green' lifestyle and the convenience of modern day living.

Some things I battle with:

* I hate those chicken farms. I would rather buy organic chicken once a month for $20 each than eat those poor malformed scary things that are raised in such appalling conditions ...

BUT ... my family loves fried chicken, you know, like they sell in big buckets with fries and coleslaw and mashed potatos.

* I would rather we went back to simple living, sewing and knitting our own clothes and homewares from natural fibres like wool ... BUT ... most families like ours cannot afford the expensive $10 a pair pure wool merino socks when those superstores carry five pairs for $10.

* I hate all the extra packaging and make sure I take my green bags when I go shopping etc ... BUT ... every now and then I forget them, and suck, have to buy ten yellow plastic bags to go into the cupboard that is already stuffed full of the darn things.

* I hate that our business community is sending everything offshore to Asian countries to be manufactured. I am so disappointed to read that Sanitarium have taken their processing plants to Asia. I am starting to look at the labels closely now and will make every effort to buy NZ made. I would rather pay extra for things to be made here in NZ rather than some poor Chinese woman in terrible work conditions earning a few dollars a week to feed her family. It doesn't make sense that we as a country exploit people just to save a few dollars. BUT ... those are the places that make 5 pairs of synthetic socks for $10 because the pure wool NZ ones are too expensive.

* I hate bottles water ... BUT ... I always forget mine.

* I hate those cardboard trendy cups with plastic lids coffee comes in ... BUT ... ditto, like the water bottle, always forget to carry my own mug. (Did you know you can take your own cup in and they will make it in that for you!) By the way, big ups to those using FairTrade coffee etc.

* And don't get me started on those triangle plastic sandwich containers, you know, the clear ones.

* I want to use reusable cloth nappies ... BUT ... they are $25 each and my sewing skills just aren't up to making my own, and disposables are cleaner in that they draw the damp away and my boys never had nappy rash. They slept through the night without needing to be changed... BUT ... the amount of disposables (and wipes) used by each child in a lifetime is considerable and they don't break down in the landfills.

I like the idea of leaving a kinder footprint on this planet, to be a Kaitiaki or guardian of the lands that God has given us. BUT our times is not in synch with this. We burn up resources, keep making new consumer goods instead of repairing, recycling and creating quality goods to start with (like appliances that only have a five year life span if you're lucky).

I am stuck in the middle, but slowly Rich and I are working our way through our lifestyles and making as many conscientious decisions as we can manage.
Here are a couple more of my favourite reads. Good NZ magazines that are full of cool Kiwi's and their beautiful and inspiring homes. Real luxuries these magazines but just what I need as I wait out this baby and for summers warmer weather to set in.

Just wanted to include hubby's pic's. He went schmoozing in this pink Hummer limo last week with his company for lunch while I took the kids to culture practice.

So I have a lot of projects I want to be getting on with. Dyeing, felting, stitch, textile sculptures, baby clothes, journalling, and crafting for market stalls and online selling. First thing that's obvious is that I need a plan. I make something then find a new project and want to start something else. I always finish my projects but need longevity to make a real go of it. Need a business plan me thinks. So that a few hours a week are making some money and others are spent researching and experimenting. Next year I want to take some night classes doing sewing so I can get my finishing right, and jewellery making too. There are lots of cool forums too including a symposium in Australia with India. Plus summer school with India in January. And then there is the reality of a new person coming who will no doubt turn all my plans on my head again ... maybe. And this time I think if that happens, then maybe I will be a little more ready to learn the lessons involved in necessary change if required.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nesting ...

I am reading so much these days ... here are a few of the many books I can be found swimming in, literally. I'd love to write more... for lifestyle magazines or something but my reading list grows. I once had over 50 books out from the local library. Ludicrous but true, and yes, I do actually read them.
I bought some fabric inks so will have a go at printing my own fabrics using lots of the ideas in this great tutorial book. I love the baby shoes and want to make some using Pacific Island prints and mother of pearl buttons. Adorable! Maybe even some matching beanies and bibs too. Ooooo ... an appliqued t-shirts.
The "Summer Crafts" book has great ideas for the kids plus a tote I wanna have a go and make. I can't really sew so have to doddle my way through. "The Constance Howard Book Of Stitches" is one of my fave's. I think I have got it out at least half a dozen times this year. Minerva stock it and I keep meaning to buy me one of my own but it's pricey and the local library has it (when I give it back) - by the way, all these books can be found in our local library here in Porirua.
I love this style of book. I can read these and peruse the eye-candy of all these homes that upcycle and use vintage goods to create the most delicious spaces.
Which is how I got the energy to tackle a long-overdue project of our own here at home...
I love making stuff which often means I am distracted. So housework and organising other things doesn't have a high priority. Of course, dear husband is happy to chip away at the daily things like dishes and laundry whilst I rest and grow a baby. (Of course I do stuff too but he is pretty precious!)
Today we achieved a lot. We cleaned out and tidied up the garage, studio room and all the piles of my art and craft supplies that litter our home. All that's left is for me to sort and sift through my things. The 'before' pictures don't quite do it justice, but the study was literally covered in projects and the detritus that goes with each one. The cane baby bassinet was filled with fabric and thread and tapa cloth. And there was NO clear floor space. I am so proud of the clear floor space and have moved all my projects from around the house back into the studio. Am now struggling with the idea of three kids in their one room but I feel the need to have this space for myself. O Lord, I need a miracle - a big ridiculous house of my own with a bedroom for each of the boys, and a shared big communal space where I can art out, hubby can do music and work, and the boys entertain all their mates, plus huge indoor/outdoor entertainment space for big whanau gatherings.
Literally no room to move, the desk is buried and the baby has no place to rest it's head (Just like another famous baby once, born at Xmas time in a manger somewhere in the middle East).
I can see the floor and the top of my desk now!
I love my vintage tins from Trash Palace for about 50c each. Great for tidying away all the odds and sods from my sewing. Used my nifty label maker to sort our embroidery cottons, tivaevae threads, silk threads etc.
Felts in red container, some beads in the blue shoe box, pins and bits for pincushions in plastic box and cogs/treasures in the wooden carpenter box ($1 at Trash).
A wee corner gets a rethink with some felted balls, a cool heart stone and a wee pile of driftwood tied with a piece of hemp string and some seed pods. I love these mini installations of our treasure walks from our trips around NZ. The scallop shells are from Mission Bay, Auckland, Eastern Beach and also Mt Maunganui.
I have this idea next year to dedicate a year to making things and selling them. Being home gives me the perfect excuse to indulge myself and make some moolah as well. Plus I want to start a crafty girls group too. A few exist in this region but I want a local one that meets regular, so I thought 'why not start one'?!
I make something everyday. Today I found some beautiful dried leaves that friend Cleo brought back from her trip to Gisborne last year. I threaded them into a lei. I love their colour and they are too beautiful to put away. They now hang from my studio window.
I finally got around to cleaning out my plastic bag of munted embroidery threads, winding them onto little plastic spools and putting them in this tin. Totally inspired by Melissa at Tiny Happy ( and her little box of threads too.
New Zealand has so many talented women who are creating and making a living while raising their families. Filling their lives and homes with beautiful and meaningful things is really a happening thing here these days. It is reminiscent of when I was a child and my grandmother crafted everything in our home - all our furnishings, clothes, foods, toys, and games. And my grandfather was a cabinet maker so he built all our furniture. These days we are not so much motivated by necessity but rather a desire to simplify, reduce waste and create things which are not just purposeful but also lovingly made.
Here are some blogs I loved cruising through this week ... there are so many but these are local girls, so big ups to Wellington region crafters, go us! Check out their recommendations to other crafty NZ bloggers as well but warning, this blog-hopping gets addictive and before you know it, it's 3am in the morning.
My journal is filling up again. My third one this year. I love this one. I covered it with wool blankets and a beautiful handstitched doiley I found in an op-shop then crocheted a border with an orange silk thread. I further embellished it with a feather stitch in different threads, and it ties up with a olive green ribbon secured with pink buttons. Colourful for me personally but again, a nod to my feminine side which is sorely outnumbered by the boys in this house. Funny it took me to have three sons and a husband to bring out the 'girl' in me.
Sometimes I doodle my design ideas...
Scrawl in illustrations that have inspired me from elsewhere, even a leaf from the garden ...
Other times its words, lots of them, just spilling my thoughts out. I do try and keep my journal upbeat even during hard times. As authentically as I can because it is my book for me alone, however I find that if I write horrible stuff, I just want to rip it out later, so I do try and spin a positive angle wherever I can.
I encourage the kids to design their own toys and here are some of Marcus creations, we made one a couple of weeks back together. I love them doodling in my book. I love Marcus's frog, ducky and super bug shark. How about a fluffy pirate or an old grandma? He wrote a story about his 'little' dad in his story book at school and I still love teasing my husband about that one. When I asked Marcus what he meant by 'little' he just answered tactfully 'that's just how I wrote it Mum because that's how the story goes' ... hmmm.
I also visited with the Mana Embroidery Guild last Wednesday and look forward to my return visit this Wednesday morning, as they meet weekly for a stitch-in.
Tomorrow is the local Feltmakers gathering at the Gear Homestead, so I am looking forward to my visit there too as I have used all my white merino wool up and need some more. (Thank you for the warm welcome ladies). Then Thursday the textile girls get together and craft etc, so will be investigating some more. I enjoy attending groups from time to time, and now that art school is no longer a fixture, am determind to find other travellers that are happy to have me skipping down their path when I need some crafty community and to share the excitement of crafting with other craftivists.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nine weeks to go and counting ...

Here is the other orange/black felt bowl with glass beads. I found a semi-decent photo after all.
Here are my boys getting in the washing this afternoon. I love the way Marcus climbed on a chair to help his brother. They were laughing and the clothes are probably dirty from being dropped on the ground, but what the hey, the happy noise was pretty cool from inside. When the sun shines in Wellington, moods lift and spirits rise. Thank God it's spring!
Rich and I went to an amazing wedding a couple of weeks back. Thanks to Steph and Andre. Got to hang out with all our old mates, heard the Yandall sisters sing a great set, saw an amazing friend married to an amazing guy, Rich got to sing that night with an amazing line-up of performers and musos, and enjoyed a great Christian wedding. Rich with Wini and Bella sang a couple of hymns.
My friend Lou can wail.
Going north from Wellington to Napier last week, we passed this huge area in Palmerston North that was covered in windmills. They looked alien and freaky and I am so glad they are not in my backyard. Still, something different and I guess a planet-friendly way of generating energy with wind.
Our motel in Napier was literally on the ocean beach shorefront. I took this shot from the living room of our unit. The kids spent all week playing on the high tide line as the current is really strong and a freak wave recently took a small child off the beach. Napier is pretty and when I wasn't being paranoid about earthquakes and tsunami's, I loved being coastal. It smelled like Ahipara, that lovely ocean smell. Now we all want to move to the provinces.
Some flowers growing outside our room.
Me. I didn't go far, just sat in my room felting and reading and watching the boys play. A pebble beach that slopes down to the water is pretty exhausting to walk up and down on, so for the first time I spent time just looking at the scenery, which for me is unheard of but hey, I have nothing to prove and I sure did enjoy my rest. For the most part I just indulged my love of reading and making things. My husband enjoyed fishing right outside and the boys ran to and fro, having a kai (food) and then taking off to go and play all day outside. Wellington weather is so grotty and living in the city means the kids need to be supervised if they go anywhere for safety reasons, and it costs money to do anything, and you need to drive places. Let me tell you, provincial living is looking very attractive right now. I envy my friends who live in the provinces around the world. City living is definitely over-rated.
Marcus chatting non-stop and keeping Rich company. We had fresh kahawai fish cooked on the barbeque for breakfast that day.
This is what happens when you tell your kids to go take some photos. This is Marcus' puppy that goes everywhere with us these days. He sat on the beach inside Marcus sculpture while Marcus ran around.
And this is Marcus. He's our puppy.

The kids spent ages playing on the beach building sculptures and playing war games with sticks and rocks as artillery.
Our friend Olivia came to play and stay and this is her sculpture. She learned to sew with Aunty Chelle and made a pin cushion and monster toy. I was proud of the kids artistic endeavours and their nurturing ways to me. We had a lovely time and look forward to returning next year.