Getting my creative drive back

This year, I’ve been feeling a little down. It has really flattened my ability to dream and get in a state of flow through my art. So, to try and kick start the process, I purchased a beautiful pad of 100% Cotton Rag Water Colour paper and some artists’ inks which I have not used before. They sat in a paper bag for a few weeks. I peeked inside occasionally but didn’t take them out.

On Monday, in my art class for people with Intellectual Disabilities, my 80-year-old volunteer Judith, brought in a book of nursery rhymes from her childhood. It was beautiful. The rhymes were on the right side of the book, on the left were illustrations, all surrounded by lovely borders of tiny flowers and curlicues. I don’t know why, but into my head popped the idea of drawing Budgerigars or Budgies as we call them in Australia, bordered by a lovely edging.

I have decided to set myself a goal of creating 50 of these. The first one I abandoned half way through as I managed to smudge the pen and I wasn’t really happy with the oval shape. You can see my first completed effort below. I wish I was a speedy illustrator, this took me rather a long time. A feathery look was quite challenging for me, I really wanted to capture the softness of the little Budgie. What colour should I paint next?

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“Hello my pretty” 1 in Winter Owls Shop 

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I planned the border first, then I painted a very soft pink background and sketched the Budgie in pencil first.

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I’m quite happy with this for my 1st effort, stay tuned to see the next 49!

My favourite Tea Towel find

On Thursday after work, I popped into my local Animal Aid Op Shop as a reward for surviving my art class with my group of disengaged teenagers….Actually, it was quite a successful class. They drew sugar candy skulls using  Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) as their inspiration.The Mexican holiday gathers family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. I think it is a lovely tradition and one I would like to see one day. Dia de Muertos isn’t until October 31st but in desperation to find something that would interest them, I decided to do this activity early. It was lovely to see them all focused and absorbed.

Oh yes, the Op Shop, I hear you say. I found a beautiful pile of linen tea towels, vintage and unused. They are too nice to chop up and use in one of my creations. There were several Indigenous Art of Australia ones which I am going to put in my shop. The one I am keeping for myself though, is pictured below. It celebrates the Golden Jubilee of Country Women’s Association of Victoria 1928-1978. This non-party political, non-sectarian volunteer organisation  states that “Whilst the focus has often been on tea and scones, there is so much more on the menu of this dynamic Association which aims to improve conditions for women and children.”  I love the patchwork design of this tea towel. Even my nineteen year old son said, “Cool tea towel”. Can’t ask for much better than that!

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A mess of buttons

After showing you my organised cupboard last week, I find myself in a mess of buttons, threads and doilies. The table is covered with little hills of vintage purple, gold, blue, cream, white and red buttons. Fine velvet ribbons curl around each other and doilies lie piled up like pancakes. This is my favourite part of the creative process. I sort and swap, arrange and shift, pick up and put down. When finally I’m happy, I start to stitch.

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An upcycled doily, with velvet ribbon and vintage buttons,

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turns into,

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a lovely little necklace. Available in Winter Owls Shop.

A gentleman’s wardrobe

Poking around in a local opportunity shop, I found a locked cupboard with a price tag of $35.00 dollars on it. The manager asked if I wanted to look inside and she opened up what she referred to as “a gentleman’s wardrobe” made in 1931. The wardrobe stands at around 4 foot high and has a hanging space on one side, perfect for pants and shirts but too short for dresses. Perhaps this was designed, so the lady of the house couldn’t take over? On the other side is a handy set of shelves and drawers, just perfect for stashing crafty bits and pieces I thought. The very elderly manager and her even more elderly assistant, would not let me help put this in the back of my car. I felt very embarrassed standing by watching. They were very efficient and obviously furniture removal experts. I suggested they could start up a removal company. Perhaps “Gran with a Van”?

So, now you know what my last post’s key was for. Pom poms make sure I don’t lose the key. I had lots of fun organising the wardrobe. Standing guard over it all, is my latest creation, Charlotte the koala. She’s made from a vintage wool blanket, a mohair cardigan and wears a little doily apron. As she’s smiling, I think she approves of my latest find.

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A pom pom clad key

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A gentleman’s wardrobe

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Handy storage for craft bits and pieces

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Embroidery threads find a home

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Charlotte the Koala surveys the room, she is available in the Winter Owls Shop.

Eat your pom poms

 It’s raining it’s pouring, it’s freezing in Melbourne. Perfect for snuggling in and doing a bit of crafting. Today I made some little pom poms using a fork. I wish I could give credit to whoever first came up with this method because it’s so easy. A perfect activity for children or any age really. Speaking of crafts for children you might like to visit Easy Crafts For Children and Living Simply Free. Both of these wonderful bloggers have clever ideas for recycling what others might throw away to use in craft projects.

Back to the pom poms. I’ve made a little photo tutorial for how to make pom poms with a fork. I have used my pom poms to decorate an old key so that I won’t lose it. What is the key for I hear you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait until my next post to find out….

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Three completed fork pom poms.

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First get a fork, wool, and scissors.

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Next, cut a piece of wool about 30cm long and place through the middle of the prongs. This will be what you use to tie the pom pom. I have doubled my wool because it is quite fine and I wanted it to be stronger.

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Wrap your wool around and around the prongs about 30 times. You can wrap it more if you want a really thick pom pom.

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Using the first piece of wool you placed through the centre, tie a knot tightly around the wrapped wool.

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Remove the wrapped wool bundle from your fork gently.

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Cut the “loops” of the yarn, being careful not to cut the thread you tied it together with! You can fluff up your pom pom and trim it if you like.

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Three completed pom poms ready to be…

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The waiting key.

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I threaded a cotton string through a key leaving two hanging pieces of string. Finally, I used a large needle to thread through the pom poms and tied a knot on the end. No more lost key! Hmm, perhaps I could do this to my glasses that I’m always misplacing.

Winter morning

We’ve gotten used to fairly mild winters in Melbourne over the last few years. So Antarctic winds, hail and even snow on the nearby ranges have come as a bit of a surprise. It’s perfect weather for snuggling in bed but sadly, for me, I had to get up early on a Saturday, to drive my son to cross country running. It was lovely though, to see in the soft morning light, the garden gilded with rain drops. The promise of spring to come, in the little nodding Jonquils….

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Gilded with rain drops

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Jonquils promise of spring

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Raindrops hang like precious jewels

Spelling Tuesday

“He respects owl, because you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right.”

A.A.Milne

Here’s to Tuesday, here’s to not being perfect, here’s to loving handmade and all its little quirks….

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Hand painted with love by Winter Owls.

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A white owl peeks from a vintage wool blanket bag.

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Original hand painted brooch available in Winter Owls Shop