Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Back-To-Basics Groundswell

I have always been interested in growing, making and doing as much as possible for myself and my family........everything from growing food to making clothes and furniture. With the busy-ness of life and earning a crust often intervening, it hasn't always been possible to devote the time that I would like to these pursuits. But in recent years I have noticed a real groundswell of interest from so many people who want to do these things in order to live more sustainable, meaningful lives where their attachment to the earth and how we come by it's bounty is a really tangible thing. This is not just a dippy-hippie flash in the pan thing, but a real grass roots change among ordinary, thoughtful people. In part, it is a reaction to going into the supermarket and only being able to buy Chinese garlic and carrots etc, when these things grow wonderfully here. It is ludicrous to be importing food halfway around the planet - people are voting with their spades!

 We ourselves have decided to devote more time and effort to our backyard food production.........we managed to eat all winter from our garden and we still have stored vegetables to last until new crops are ready. We have built this Greenhouse Hilton - a four-door poly-tunnel greenhouse already full of things popping through that should be ready to eat in a few weeks and put in new beds and started planting in the outside garden.

As a result, we expect a glut of vegetables and fruit this summer. Which brings me to a great series of classes that Tanya, who writes the Suburban Jubilee blog, is going to be offering in these parts soon. Called "Living Better With Less" she plans to cover such things as preserving your glut by bottling the excess, soapmaking, backyard poultry keeping and doing away with toxic cleansers around your house by using cheaper, safer alternatives. And she's hoping to keep the cost very minimal. You can read what she wrote about it in her blog. This is so timely for me and I am keen to learn more on all these topics, so I can't wait. If you are interested and live locally, you might like to check it out. See you there!

Friday, August 26, 2011


That little green head that I posted about a few days ago now looks more human!

First coat of flesh-colour

Features blocked in

Shading added


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's All This Then?

No, I'm not planning to start making Martian dolls...............this is a new doll I'm working on and this green look is the underpainting. I often do this to prepare a doll head (or a piece of sculpture) before painting. It looks odd, but underpainting is a time-honoured practice among artists. You might have seen an example of an unfinished painting from the Renaissance, where it was widely practiced - the underpainting might be in some kind of sienna colour, but figures were often underpainted in green. The idea is that the underpainting will show through the final layers of paint very subtly and will impart a depth to the painting that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. Cool tones work well - blue, green or purple, but I have also used red in certain cases and I often use dark brown. I will post more pictures of this head as I finish it, to hopefully show how this idea works. The key is subtlety - if too much of the green is evident, this doll will just look sick!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's Here! It's Here!

After a week of flooding rains, sodden ground and grey, drippy days, the sun has come out and it is actually WARM! The swallows are back (about two weeks earlier than usual) to check out their real estate under the studio eaves and to begin the necessary renovations and sweet things are popping up everywhere in the garden. After a fairly traditionally cold, wet winter, it is lovely to finally feel a bit of Spring in the air.

Do you remember me posting about our glasshouse that got completely destroyed by violent winds a few months ago? Well, here is the magnificent replacement that Bob (with a little help from Y.T.) has built to replace it. It's about four times bigger, so we'll be able to grow heaps more in it, and being a poly-tunnel, it should be flexible enough to withstand big winds.

"I built this!"

The "Sukeshi" dolls are in my Etsy store now and I'm working on a little "Zozie" doll like this one, which Tanya chose as her prize in my recent giveaway.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Sukeshi Dolls!

I've been having a lot of fun making these Sukeshi dolls - half the fun is coming up with new ideas.
Here's the whole crew:

The new ones are:

P'tit Fauve - a messy artist.


Moonchild - she has a certain glow.

Fishy Tickles!

These will be in my Etsy Store in a couple of days, so if you've taken a fancy to one, keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway.......................103 people left comments and a couple of people wanted to enter without leaving a comment on the post. The winner - as chosen by a random number generator - is Tanya (post 35). Here's what she said:

"I think she is called Adelaide Maude. She is thoughtful, and calm and kind to animals. She doesn't like brussel sprouts but she adores peas from the pod" It's a lovely name and quite apt, because Adelaide is my hometown! All the names suggested were wonderful and there were quite a few there that I have never thought of so I'll be adding them to my list. Thanks to everyone for taking part. It was fun!

If you get a chance, visit Tanya's blog - it is interesting and often thought-provoking. I have been in touch with her - I'll let you all know what she chooses as her prize.

 Adelaide Maude thanks you all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Bit Of Fun

The community orchestra that I play in is hosting a trivia/social fun night tonight. When the call went up for a few prizes, I thought I could make something appropriate. I came up with this little "Sukeshi" doll playing the violin. Her name is "Allegretto".

There is still time to enter my giveaway - I'm drawing it on the 17th. Just go to the August 3rd post and leave a comment.
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

This 'n That on a Cold Wet Day

Well, it's cold and miserable here today in what I hope will almost be winter's last hurrah. Last week felt positively spring-like and things are definitely on the move in the garden, but this week is a different story: here's the view out of my studio window.

I went to a wonderful felting workshop in Deviot on Sunday conducted by Bettina Hockey - we learned how to make felted forms using the resist method. I already had a rudimentary knowledge of feting principles, but it was great to learn a new application in a convivial group! I made a doll-sized beret and a small purse/mobile phone case - forgot to take my camera, so I couldn't photograph what the others in the class made.

I've also been making a few of these "Sukeshi" dolls - I call them that because they are based on those simple Japanese skittle-shaped wooden kokeshi dolls - I added the "Su" for me.

PS: Please enter my 30 000 blog views giveaway if you haven't already - details are on the Aug 3rd post.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why Random Acts Of Kindness Make You Feel Good

Yesterday, while I was shopping in our little town (one supermarket, two butchers, one newsagent and so forth) I spotted a banknote of large denomination lying on the footpath outside one of the butcher's shops. At first, I thought it was one of those fake trick notes that someone had stuck down on the footpath to watch as people tried to pick it up in order to have a laugh at someone else's expense. But when I bent to pick it up it was exactly what it seemed - a $100 note. There was no-one in the street at all, just me, my grand-daughter and a $100 note. I pondered what to do, knowing that if I'd lost that amount of cash, I'd be pretty devastated...........and decided that I needed to find it's owner if I possibly could. I dropped my grand-daugher off at the hairdresser, raced home to write a sign to put in the butcher's window, then dashed back to stick it up.

When I asked the lad in the shop if it would be OK, he said there had been a man searching high and low for the dropped note, but there seemed to be no sign of him any longer. We went out into the street and the butcher spotted the man disappearing into the newsagent's and pointed him out. I ran in there and went up to the fellow and just asked him if he'd lost some cash. "Yeah", he said, "A hundred dollars. It was my parents money - I've just come into town to buy their groceries. Now I don't know what I'm going to do". He looked really dejected and ill able to afford the loss of $100, so it gave me a really good feeling to be able to tell him that I'd found it and to give it back to him. His gratitude was almost overwhelming.............I believe he thought he would never see that money again.

So acts like this make you feel very good inside because you know you have helped a stranger out of a pickle and because it's the right thing to do. I'm a great believer in random acts of kindness - I do it quite often just because.

I hope he pays it forward.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway - you'll find it in the 3rd August post - I'll be drawing it on August 17th.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All Done.........And The Giveaway!

This doll is now completed (except for her you-know-whats, but you know me - I usually do them last!). I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed creating this piece and at times I felt like I really was channeling Kaethe Kruse. I consider this piece a homage to the wonderful work she did.

I looked at lots of pictures of early "Doll 1's" to get ideas for the clothing. The majority of them seem to have been dressed in fairly simple, practical clothing, probably a lot like what small children of the era (early C20th) would have worn. I didn't make a direct copy of any one outfit - I just went with a general idea.

With her woollies on for a cool Spring day

Ready to play in the sunshine

OK - Now, about the 30 000 page views giveaway (I pinched this idea from my sister from when she was hosting a giveaway on her blog). This poor girl is nameless, so I'm asking you to suggest a name and leave it as a comment on this posting. Your comment will be your entry into the draw for a special hand-made prize something like this:

Or this - you get to choose:

It will be a random draw and the name the winner has suggested will become the name for the "KK" doll.
I'll do the draw in about two weeks. Good luck!

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