Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spring cleaning

There is something that happens to us when the sun begins to shine and the weather warms up. Something in the air makes us more energetic, and inspired to tidy up our stash. Well this year I decided to not only tidy up the stash, but the whole work space. Major task was to take the old storage cupboard I had been using, or stuffing my bits into, and remake it over into a more pleasant and fashionable storage space. As you can see from the photos, this was not exactlyt a modern, well cared for piece of furniture.

After assembling all the pieces, I first coated them with some Penetrol, which the handy man at Bunnings said was much better than sanding back the whole thing! Thank heavens for friendly handy men. I then applied two coats of antique white. Don't ever use just straight up white. It is far to glaring and looks very odd on furniture. After rehanging the doors, adding a couple of new handles and knobs, hammering the staples to secure them back into the back.... this had come loose from years of me just shoving stuff into the front and hoping it would all fit... I think the new storage space looks pretty good.
Now all I have to do is work out how to fit everything that came out of it, back in! I have tried to cull, but every little bits seems to remind me of possible uses. Or worse still unfinished projects. So next item on my list, finish off some of those projects......

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lemon meringue pie

Some people love chocolate, some people search for the perfect caramel slice. Me, I LOVE lemon meringue pie. Mary rang me today and told me about a restaurant that had a huge pie, so off we went for lunch. Unfortunately when we got there it was slightly late, so we only had 30 minutes for lunch. What to do? What to Do? Fortunately Mary had an idea. We could have dessert first and then go off for mains somewhere else. Fabulous.
Oh, yummy yummy yummy. The meringue was chewy outside, soft and marshmallow on the inside. Lemon curd very creamy but tart. The shortbread crust a perfect container. The serves were huge, but we both finished our pieces off. I was very happy. Unfortunately Mary felt a little sick, but then it wasn't her favoritist food.
How NOT to make a lemon meringue pie. After a particularly stressful day, I was desperately craving my favorite treat. Idea: stop at supermarket and pick one up. No such thing, next best idea purchase bits and assemble myself. Brilliant.
I purchased some small meringue nests, a jar of lemon curd, a packet of shortbread biscuits, a tin of whipped cream, oh and just in case the meringue is too crisp some marshmallows to add that extra bit of heavenly yum. Too easy!
Excited I raced home, unpacked my car. It seems I always have five loads of stuff to unload every time I go out. Why do we always need to take so many bits with us when we go on a craft outing? Anyhow I digress. Quickly I assembled a huge bowl of what I thought was a pretty spot on assortment of foodstuffs to make the ultimate lemon meringue pie in a rush.
WRONG Oh so very wrong. It was disgusting. The lemon curd was floury and bland. The meringue a hard sugary crust - empty inside. The canned cream tasteless white foam with a greasy after taste. The marshmallows, floury coated lumps of chewy stuff. The shortbread biscuits hard, buttery and okay if you wanted a biscuit. How disgusting. How disappointing.
Thank heavens for good friends who remember and spot the genuine confection when they are out and about. The one we had today was so yum I offered to marry the chef. Unfortunately he wasn't the marrying kind.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas crafts

How quickly the year seems to pass when we start thinking about Christmas. For those people who share the spirit of this event, there are many wonderful creative activities to enjoy. One of these is the sending and receiving of letters and greeting cards from long lost friends and relatives.
As preparation for this, one of my dear friends, recently invited me to an afternoon of card making. As the pictures show, there is much one can achieve from a few scraps of coloured paper and a little creativity. I particularly enjoyed making the ones where we folded up the paper and arranged them in a cascade like a tree.
Lucky for us, she has promised to share a few of her secrets in detail with us next year, so we should all be able to create beautiful greeting cards for any of the special occasions we have.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

weird and wonderful texture

I am loving the whole textural effect I seem to be getting with everything at the moment. I have just had some fun creating "landscapes" with shibori dye techniques. The whole effect of dying on this sarong was to create a set of planets in the night sky.
The exciting part of dying with shibori is the unknown - what the fabric will do. In this case the bonus mountain like formations that have lifted onto the surface. Best of all, they don't wash out!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Facinating textures with minimal effort

After a very shaky start, I have finally started to feel comfortable with the silk painting process. I wouldn't claim anything near competent, but at least I am now starting to see what magic lies underneath the craft. With a few brush strokes and different dyes one can create the most amazing fluid stripes, as soft as soft, or bright as bright as one wants. The simple addition of salt, either rock salt or table salt (no iodine) added to a pool of colour or several circles of different colours, one can watch as the dyes magically move and swirl into patterns and extract the colours that have been mixed.
The silk I used for this was habutai pre rolled scarves. There are many types of silk, and it can be confusing. Tissue or chiffon is very very fine and often used for nuno felt. Habutai is a more dense weave and provides a firmer surface for applying dyes. Sometimes, this will also be called Japanese silk or Pongee. There is also thicker and more densely woven silks, all of which are okay to use.
This is probably the most expensive part of the whole process, but when the cost of a silk scarf is compared to the cost of the fabric to paint, it really does make a very reasonable gift for your mum, friends or even cris cringle.
A good reference I used is Silk Painting: New ideas and textures, Jill Kennedy & Jane Varrall. There is a lot of information on all the different techniques one can use.