Wednesday, 8 April 2015

the clayer

the clayerlooking through old sketchbooks tracing images...homeworkthe clayerhandbuilding fun! #slab #pinch #coil #clay #ceramicsthe clayerthe clayertiles

I'm often surprised looking back through my photos to see the little bits of making I've managed to sneak in to a busy period even when it feels like I get no time to create. Often its only when I make my year end mosaics I realise how much I've managed to cram into the year.

My blog is a nice record for those days when it feels like I've got nothing done, it helps me see that somehow I always manage to squeeze a little bit in!

The last few months have been no exception.

In February an online course I'd booked into on a whim last year suddenly came around. I'd signed up to an online Clay decorating course called The Clayer, with the lovely and inspiring Diana Fayt, something I'd been wanting to do for a while.

But then I wasn't feeling even slightly prepared when it came due!!

Luckily the fact that my pottery wheel was stored away for the renovation didn't matter as Diana's projects all used handbuilding. This is something I hadn't done much of in my short ceramics career, so it was good to start with her detailled videos to guide me.

Decoration though is something I've experimented with and it was nice to have Diana's weekly inspiration videos to fuel my making with Mishima, painting and sgraffito.

Due to my basic lack of time I decided I would concentrate on small tiles rather than the footed platters Diana used. That way I could get a few ideas on clay quickly. Her idea of tracing designs from sketchbooks proved a great way to rediscover and play with sketches from over the years.

About now I am really feeling the lack of a kiln and I'm hoping this year is the one I finally get to play with my own. I haven't had a chance to fire these pieces or do the painting techniques that need bisque fired pieces.

And I didn't get round yet to her ideas about stamping clay designs, something I'm really looking forward to that because it will combine two of my favourite crafts - ceramics and hand carved stamps!

Please excuse the ipad and iphone photos. My poor little camera is finally at the Camera Doctor. I've been missing it a lot .

Friday, 13 March 2015

decked - reno part 1

renovationrenovation progressIMG_0970

I've been promising renovation pics for a while now. I was waiting for those perfectly styled 'after' shots, but who am I kidding! Heaven knows when that will ever happen, we actually have quite a lot of stuff still to do, so I'm giving you a progress post instead.

I love seeing other people's before and after renovations, so I hope you enjoy them too.

This montage of progress shots show how the back view of the house has changed, dramatically, over the course of the renovation from our initial daggy cement porch and metal stairs through to the new wooden deck and lovely blue gum stairs.

Most of the building happened last year, which explains why I've been less active as a blogger and maker than usual. Having builders in the house when you work at home is a big thing. Luckily our builders were lovely and they managed to partition off our kitchen and leave our dishwasher working for the whole time. So we were pretty lucky.

Below stairs is the part that still needs most work. Those downstairs doors were a fortuitous Ebay find for less than $200! And while they aren't actually installed yet - just propped in place so we can dream about how they will look when its finished - it won't be long.

Upstairs the deck is painted and oiled. That took us about four weekends of 8 hour days but its very satisfying to see the final product. I've bought some inexpensive furniture for the deck and we are spending lots of time out there now. Its great for catching a cool breeze on these hot muggy days and lovely to eat dinner in the outdoors.

During the day the birds and butterflies float around this space as I hoped they would and if you follow my instagram you will see that a baby dove even slept there for a day!

We are loving the extra space in our tiny kitchen too, which was doubled in size. It was tiny and its a luxury to have more room. We also have more dining room too and now it opens through bifolds to the deck.

More photos to come as more gets finished!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

frankie's blankie

Frankie's blankieimageimageimageIMG_1103

Baby Frankie arrived late last year. He is a much loved little brother for Poppy.

Poppy was the first baby I made a quilt for and its still one of my favourites so I'm very happy to hear that baby Frankie is using it in turn. But everyone needs a little blankie action of their own, so when I knew we were going to finally catch up with Mr Frankie, who doesn't live nearby, I wanted to make him something special.

It is inspired by the summer wrap I made little Zoe back here.

Adapting it for a different season, summer in to autumn, I decided to make a two sided blanket, one side cotton and the other flannel. I wanted a lightweight throw that was easy to drag around, good for car seat or stroller, or big enough to make another layer in the cot. Something soft and cuddly.

I decided to border it with bias binding because I'm in love with patterned bias. Encouraged by my last successful foray into the dark arts of bias sewing I bought a bright stripy yellow fabric to marry the two prints, my Triangle Twist design fabric and a soft blue flannel with delicate dark blue pinspot. I like the way the colours and geometrics are a little more boyish.

Once you get your mind around the cutting and directioning of Bias binding its really not that difficult. I took some photos this time to remind myself of the process, in particular the folding that gives your strips their diagonal cut. I've reproduced it below in case it might help (and so I don't have to look it up again next time I try this!)

The sewing is tricksy but I figure practice makes perfect and I'm going to keep sewing it till I'm really confident.

There's nothing like starting a new body off with some handmade loving, and its a tradition I really love. Best of all I got the most beautiful photo the other day of Frankie, who is very cute, lying on his blankie so I know its going to be well loved :-)

It was nice to have an excuse to do some making, I've been feeling stretched at the moment, spare time has gone to endless painting of the new bits of house, helping our HSC student, putting the garden to rights and the other endless list of jobs we have around here to finish off our reno. I'm not complaining though I promise, we are loving the extra space and its great being part of the making of our house, in some small way!

p.s. When the good camera is better I'd like to rephotograph it and put up a tutorial so I have it on the blog, but for now here is how you get the fabric to cut on the bias:
trim the fabric square by lining up the selvages;
open it out into one piece; fold the top across to meet the bottom diagonally;
then fold in the other side along that fold, turning until it is all wound up in a rectangle;
cut the end off your 'package' of fabric and then cut your strips the correct width for your bias maker, mine was 1/2 inch double fold so I cut 15/16ths of an inch widths;
finally make sure you choose two pieces that are cut the same way (hint, they aren't all the same!) and then flip them and pin them like this, overlapping the pointy edges by the margin you are going to sew.

My creation