Weekly Photography Challenge:Abstract

This weeks photography challenge is “Abstract”, making interesting images by moving in so close as to remove the context – or perhaps by unfocusing. My dad bought me a tripod several years ago, indicating that he felt I needed it. It’s handy at times, but all those out-of-focus close-ups I was taking were deliberate, not duds, Dad!

These I took a few days ago, on a very slow walk to a playground with Juniper, her mum and dad and Morris (the pup). The last two I took with my old phone (zoomed, so very low pixels). I’d gone for an late walk to the shops, and the slanting evening light was too lovely to ignore, and the phone was in my bag. The photo of leaves on the green grass I took because I thought it would make an excellent (ie frustrating) jigsaw puzzle!editleafpile

Not so abstract, but someone had thoughtfully raked up a large pile of autumn leaves,right next to the playground that was our ultimate destination. It was even more fun than the slide and swings. I’ve only got another day or so in Canberra, then it will be time to drive home to Victoria, and my other grand daughter – shame they live so far apart!


Friday Poem:Sorry, Muse

I’m away from home, spending time with my little granddaughter and her mum and dad. I’m busy doing “nothing”, keeping company with a toddler obsessed with Thomas the Tank and his friends. Poetry has taken a seat at the back of the bus (Bertie, to his friends), and yet…thinking about neglecting my Muse somehow seeded a poem….IMG_8358edit2I’m so sorry My Muse
I don’t mean to avoid you
I garner a few lines
And they vanish on the breeze
Like dandelion clocks
Scattering at a puff.

O My Muse
I am as vacant and empty
as a ploughed field
I am waiting for
wind-blown seeds
I am waiting for
Refreshing showers
I am waiting for you
Sweet Muse
to send down roots
and uncoil shoots
And bring me poems.IMG_2799 (Medium)

I had some fun looking for photos that would go with the words (the toddler is napping at present). The void is not highly regarded in Western culture, and yet emptiness is necessary before something new can come in and grow. Maybe I should be thanking my Muse for the blankness of my poetic sheet, not apologising…what do you think?IMG_7956 (Large)crop

The third photo is a detail of a lampshade I made from wire and eucalypt-dyed tulle and thin silk.

I feel like I should add a pic of Juni and her trains, just for the record. I’ve taken so many!IMG_8308edit

Creativity: Envelope Book

I was lucky recently to find a beautiful box of vintage notepaper on a market stall. Nestled under the notelets was a stack of small envelopes, and I immediately decided that some of them should become book pages.

I made the cover last week before I left home, sandwiching two pieces of board between two layers of papers. The printed one is handmade in India, the blue silk paper is handmade in Moyston by my friend Karen. There is a gap between the boards for the spine.

I used a very simple stitch pattern, and sewed straight onto the spine, one envelope at a time, starting at the back. I didn’t quite line up the stitches, as a row of holes would probably tear really easily. One of the envelopes tore from one hole to the next as I stitched anyway, because the old paper is quite brittle.

If I’d been home (or thought to pack more supplies!) I would have sewn the book with a heavier thread – as it was, I used doubled ordinary sewing cotton, which wouldn’t be satisfactory for a book that was to be used a lot. I don’t think it will be an issue for this one.

Now I just need to find interesting bits and pieces to place inside all those tiny envelopes!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Dinnertime

We went for a walk on the weekend, visiting a large pond frequented by a variety of waterbirds, including Coots. They thought we might be offering dinner, so my “dinnertime” challenge was given to me on a plate, as it were…

Canberra is well-endowed with walking tracks (best stay alert for cyclists coming up behind though!), and they lead to things like playgrounds and this pond, which is where storm-water ends up (if it ever rains, that is). A little lock at the other end catches rubbish and keeps it out of the broad expanse of silvery water. We saw a spoon-bill later – too far off to get a photo, unfortunately,  but we could see it gracefully sweeping its bill from side to side as it hunted it’s dinner. It was midday, but when I was growing up, “dinner’ was the noon meal, with “tea” in the evening – even if “dinner” was a Vegemite sandwich and “tea” meat and three veg.

We didn’t have anything for the hopeful Coots, so they had to find their own.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Future

I feel like I’m blowing my own (future) trumpet with this post, which is an activity not encouraged for women of my age and culture. So I’m doing it anyway…

On the left, my photo of a spinning top in a patch of rainbow, on the right, that image applied to a ladies…top.

On the left, a magnificent epiphyllum flower, and that image on a sleeveless top.

A highlight of visits to Perth, Western Australia, is watching the sun go down over the Indian Ocean – our Western Sea – and that image on a silk “men’s pocket square”.

I’m inveterate collector of…interesting things. Here are some of them in a heavily edited photo of the little grid of shelves in my kitchen window – now available on a silk scarf.

I was lucky enough to find a crochet bedspread in an op shop/thrift store – all it needed was a good soak and an afternoon on the washing line. I think it makes a gorgeous and witty print for a silk cashmere scarf.

All these designs -my collection-so-far – are available to order from VIDA. As the pieces are printed and made up to order, they are all existing “in the future”, and may look a little different from the digital prototypes. The best bit of Vida is that the makers are given access to literacy education as well as being paid for their expertise- brightening the future for them and their families.

Friday Poem: I +II

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This week marked twenty two years since Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, an event that sent shock-waves around the world. I wrote this pair of poems months later, after my boring life had been “changed forever”, thanks to seeing Nirvana Unplugged on TV. These were the first in a flood of poems and art that came after…IMG_7956 (Large)


A soul hung out to dry
Hangs tattered in the wind:
A song grows ragged
As the voice wears thin:
These slender hands
Knew tenderness and sin:
No sunbeam shone:
There was no hope for him:
And all alone
He let the darkness in.


His life and soul
seem tangled into mine
He robs my sleep
He fills my head with songs
And he is dead.IMG_7962 (Large)

I don’t lie awake at night wondering why Kurt did it any more, but my life is so much richer for all the songs he (posthumously) led me to. Also, I don’t think I would have gone to Washington State on The Trip of a Lifetime, if it wasn’t for the Taking Punk To the Masses exhibition (featuring Nirvana) that was at Experience Music Project in Seattle – let alone to Aberdeen and the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (and yes, they really are…).

The images are of an Imperial White butterfly, which I found dead and took home to photograph, a detail of a lamp-shade I made from wire and eucalypt-dyed silk tulle, and wax-coated photo of a pre-school Kurt Cobain, resting in a vintage cup amongst my jewelry.

Creativity: Finish What You Started

I haven’t finished quite a few things…I think every artist/craftsperson knows what a UFO is. I seem to have been piling them up, for various reasons. One reason is having to pack things away to make room for visitors (giving rise to the cry “I need a bigger studio!!!”), and another may possibly be that I like starting new things best.

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This piece, which I am again working on, is “Women’s Work Is Never Done”, and the top is a patchwork of unfinished knitting and crochet. My volunteer job at the local Salvos Store involves emptying bags of donations and sorting the contents. Sometimes I find a bag of yarn, and sometimes that bag may contain a sleeve, or an unfinished front, a piece of waistband, useless but often beautifully made. Of course, I made a collection of them, until I had enough to make this quilt.IMG_7875 (Large)


I had it all laid out on the floor for a while, stitching all the sections together while standing on my head (slight exaggeration…). Then it was packed away to make room, and stayed packed away all summer. Now that the days and nights are cooler, all that wooliness is much more attractive. I have not attempted to hide the stitching, and I’ve incorporated some raw edges into the design, too. As it is pieced crazy-fashion, I am adding some surface decoration as I go, and will do more. IMG_7876 (Large)

The uncut threads will become tassels, and I did a grub rose in the corner of a piece of baby jacket (feather and fan stitch – one of my favourites). My next task is to stitch the knitted quilt top onto a backing of vintage woolen blanket. If it ends up on a bed, it will be seriously warm and toasty, if heavy. It’s lovely to walk on, too. I’m thinking of stitching front to back with kantha-style running stitches. I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m not sure how it will work, or if it is logistically possible, but it would hold the layers together beautifully, I think, and help unify the pieces.

My mother’s paternal grandmother made “Waggas’ before I was born, using recycled fabrics and feed bags, and my late friend rose told me about sleeping under an incredibly heavy Wagga when she was a young woman. It was made from entire, outgrown, handknitted jumpers roughly sewn in layers for utility not beauty. then there is the Victorian crazy patchwork, made from odd scraps, and Indian Kantha with their lovely texture. All of these ideas are going into my quilt, which, despite it’s title, I certainly aim to finish.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Landscape

Landscape seems like a really simple subject – almost anyone would know immediately what “landscape” means. However, almost any photographer has probably got a lot to choose from, maybe thousands of images of many kinds of landscape, so choosing what to share is a problem once again!march 2011 041 (Large)

Just south of where I live, there is a view of the ancient Grampians (Gariwerd) Range in Western Victoria. On the evening on which I took this photo, the mountains were almost obscured by smoke from farmers burning stubble (a practice that has surely had it’s day).march 2012 100 (Large)

The tourist village of Hall’s Gap huddles between the ranges with their rock-piled peaks. The landscape in there is wild yet intimate, no less spectacular for the constriction of space.DSCF5112 (Large)

We like to visit this spot for it’s view of the Grampians (which are invisible from our house). The mound of earth is man-made and a challenge to scramble to the top, but well worth the effort.IMG_1278 (Large)

North of the Gramps, the landscape becomes very flat, with vast paddocks sown to crops such as this canola field. A blooming field of acid-yellow flowers is irresistible to a person with a camera, which is why we stopped on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere for me to take pictures!sept 2011 1246 (Large)

And now for something completely different, as they used to say on Monty Python – a riverine landscape with a lot of built elements, taken from a bridge over the Hoquaim River in Washington State several years ago.sept 2011 680 (Large)

On the same trip, we went to Johnson’s Ridge to see Mt St Helens, which even after she blew her top off is much, much higher than our Grampians, and the whole landscape up there is on a vast scale. I hope we get back there again before we a too old and creaky to explore some of the trails we didn’t have time for last trip!