Monday, 23 December 2013

A Merry Murder and Quilty Christmas.......

 Were you watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Christmas special last night?  (Go to the ABC web site if you missed it or want to watch it again).  Lots of fun - spot the location, which props were brought in  and what really belonged to Montsalvat? Was that wall really there?  Great reasons to watch it again!  But what great use of the Great Hall especially, not an angle or entrance missed.  And of course now we know what all these lights were for.

They'd almost finished removing the snow when this picture was taken - on the quiet, the snow look remarkably like quilt batting! 

 The spirit of Christmas reminds me of the  kindness and generosity of quilters.  Not content with making often complex and beautiful quilts for themselves, as groups, both large and small, they quietly get busy with projects where their time and sewing skills  can be used to help others.   

Take my friend Olga Walters.  Many of you know of her as an award winning art quilter and patchwork teacher.  What most of you wont know is that she is also a brilliant  traditional quilter, absolutely wonderful with colour and design. As you can see by this work in progress.

 In her non-existent spare time she  spends her Friday mornings at St Phillip's Anglican Church in North Box Hill helping teach Sudanese women how to sew.   It is a skill building class that teaches women  to dressmake for a living or to sew for their families - and of course sometimes a patchwork quilt. 

They have a very well set up classroom, many of the machines have been donated, some new, some reconditioned. A little kindergarten is run in the hall  at the church during the class so that mothers don't have to worry about their children. 

 With Christmas  coming  Olga had the  idea to make dolls for these little children.  So she got busy  - she's made ten of these lovely dolls......and no two are the same, each has it's own clothes and a different hair style.  

We are having a very home-made Christmas this year.  I can't show you anything now in case some of our family see this so, on Christmas Night, after our presents are opened, I'm going to start a Twelve Days of Christmas - question is can I have the self discipline during the holiday season to do 12 straight days of blogging?

Merry Christmas everyone!


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Once there was a wedding tree...........

What goes up must come down!   Our yarn bombing in wool and cotton was starting fade, and looking a bit sad.  So the time had  come and on a hot summers evening we made a sortie to Montsalvat to bump out.

Our woolly tags came off in seconds along with spiders of ALL sizes, slaters and many creepy crawlies.  Horror - we were removing habitat!

But then, the wedding tree

Margaret started at the top, me, being a ladder chicken, started at the bottom.  Not so many bugs with this, maybe they dont like white.  

Such a picturesque image - could have been harvest on a summers evening.  But on with the unpeeling......

Came off quicker than we thought.....

Just a heap of cotton crochet on the grass -  which turned out not to be quite the pretty white it had been on the tree.

The first wash to remove loose mould, dust and moss.  In the new year it will be soaked, pressed and sorted.  It was a kind of harvest, because, we have plans for it!!!! Just wait til our exhibition next year!!!!

Now back to a previous post - as you will see I dont really have egg on my face over the snow at Montsalvat issue.  Dont miss tonight's Christmas special Frynne Fisher, ABC1 at 7.30, and you really will see snow at Montsalvat just like we did!

Merry Christmas Montsalvat, and a fantastic New Year full of so many more amazing things.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Green Grafitti?????

A Facebook message - "you gotta look at this, its just right for you".  Yep, it was Margaret leading me astray again.  This time its Green Grafitti.  Google it, its amazing.  The idea of a subversive grafitti, paint it on, cant tell its there, then in a few weeks where you painted grows moss.  Wow !  Then clean it off with lime juice and its not supposed to harm the wall underneath.  That latter I'm not sure of, when I scrub moss off our paving there's definitely damage, however I haven't tried limejuce.....yet......

Well time has gone by and at last, now the weather is hot and likely to be dry and totally wrong, its time for a test run.  Any sensible person would wait til autumn, or the beginning of winter - but you never know your luck, after all the seasons are a bit topsyturvy really.

Step one find some moss..... we have lots, many different kinds.....

And just as I said, its dry, despite the rain we've had.

Step two, wash the dirt of the roots of the moss. 

Bend of Islands moss obviously behaves quite differently to European or American moss.  It did not want to relinquish one grain of precious dirt.  Again a sensible person would  soak it for a while.  Me, I want results now!  So I got a squirter and tried a bit of pressure, none of this "carefully" stuff for me.

The little patch of dry stuff had at least  three different kinds of moss. One example I'd seen on the net had several different textures and colours so today I decided just to use the finer moss at the bottom of the picture and experiment with the others later.

Next step, add the moss to a mixture of yoghurt, water and  corn syrup.

Even the fly on my hand was puzzled.

Now for the moss shake.

Obviously,an artist has a reputation, so no way is there going to be anything in a  public space until there's been an awful lot  of experimenting.  No problem there's plenty of opportunity here.

First of all the rock garden around a shaded pond

Hoping the moss will contrast against baby's tears in the dirt in between

Then there's the spaces between the slate paving....

The bottom of a flower pot - that should be interesting, in all the web photos the moss only grows exactly where the moss shake is painted or stencilled.  So will my pot look rather silly with a mossy stripe on its bottom, or will it look even a little bit natural?

The white coating is where in the past I have painted to milk to try and get moss to grow (not very successfully).  The wet terracotta is the new stripe.

Last of all the side of a garden seat.  Its an old very weathered sleeper with deep ridges on the sides which ought to be just perfect for mossy inserts.

Having had a lovely afternoon  in high humidity painting on my moss - we've now got  38' and a northerly wind forecast for Thursday.  

The instructions on the web say paint  and come back in a couple of weeks to see how its growing, spray occasionally in warm weather.  Somehow I think I'll be wetting it a lot more than that!  That is if it isnt just too hot anyway!

Not good on the patience thing, will it be like watching the grass grow..........Let you know in a couple of weeks.....maybe......


Friday, 29 November 2013

I know I was sewing while I was watching, but I'm sure I didnt look away for long.  Even so I didnt see any snow at Montsalvat on Phrynne Fisher tonight.  Did anyone else?

I'll swear that last week's trailer for this week had the front of Montsalvat in snow - did anyone else see that?

Or did updating my grandchildren's Christmas quilts just take my attention for one moment too many?

Whatever,  Artists Open Studios IS on again this weekend -  the last weekend for this year.  And dont forget to visit Margaret Summerton -  she will be at her studio in Rose Avenue, Hurstbridge between 11 and 5, just follow the signs from the Main road.  And you will absolutely  be able to see some of her yarnbombing from Montsalvat  plus her multimedia works.  

AND we will absolutely be yarnbombing again at Montsalvat in 2014!  Watch out!
Snow at Montsalvat!

Of course there is - anything can happen where Phryne Fisher is and when there is filming........

Remember the night we jumped for joy at the end of a great day working in our  Montsalvat studio -

Well I think I must have kept on jumping whilst I took the next photo BUT it does give a glimpse, despite the camera shake, of snow at Montsalvat.

Watch Phryne Fisher tonight and all will be revealed!

Watch out world, we'll be back yarnbombing 
at Montsalvat
 in 2014!

p.s. dont forget to visit yarnbombing Margaret Summerton's studio in Hurstbridge this weekend, 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Art and Fun - thats my idea of the good life!  

Look what came crawling out of the Yarra last weekend - but then its Nillumbik Artists Open Studios ( its on again if you missed last weekend dont miss next weekend!) so I shouldnt be too surprised.  

You've know idea who might be watching you! Even better look at the red dot. A sale always makes a fellow artist feel warm and fuzzy!

But then in the Bend of Islands you never know whats hidden in the bush.  Tim Read has just joined the Artists Open Studios and being an erstwhile OAS artist as well as a  nosey  neighbour I  had to go and have a look. 

Birds nests are a common sight in the Bend - but this one's special.  Its the work of two artists - Tim's nest and Jack Latti's clay eggs.  One of the reasons I really miss being part of this programme is working together with the other artists in this group and the fantastic camaraderie. 

From the moment you turn off Catani Boulevard, past "Mingalaba" at the entrance and down the drive  there's sculpture - everywhere.   You are greeted at Tim's workshop, given a map, and invited to take the "Gully Walk".   As a Bend of Islands resident it seems familiar , a lovely winding path through the bush to the river - but its different here, around every corner, on posts, in the trees, on the ground there's a sculpture.  Lots of surprises!  

Then a campfire to sit by and admire the river and a cuppa at the house.

Tim is a prolific artist and I just grabbed a tiny(and I mean tiny) number of photos on the run.  You absolutely have to visit!

After visiting the newest artist on your way back you can visit some of the original members of the Open Studios programme -  painters and printers, Syd Tunn and Ona Henderson at the Creek House studios (huge and lots and lots to see) in Henley Road.  

Just up the road, a very pretty drive through Christmas Hills takes you on to Veronica Holland and you wont be able to leave her without the biggest smile on your face!

Why you ask, am I devoting so much of my blog space to other people in the Artists Open Studios?  Sentiment to some extent, I loved being part of the programme and only left because of family committments.  Its a great programme. For the visitor its a chance to meet  many talented people in their workspace and see the process involved in producing many different kinds of art including  ceramics, textiles, glass, sculpture, printing and painting.   For the artist, often working in relative solitude, its a great opportunity to show and discuss their work.

Its  your chance to become an art collector too - there is work for sale in all price ranges so you can afford to give a little piece of original art for Christmas presents or indulge in something more for your own  house or garden.   Many artists have very reasonable greeting cards, often a little piece of original art in themselves!

Oh and dont forget to check my last blog to see what my yarnbombing partner in crime  mixed media artist Margaret Summerton is up to and you must visit her Hurstbridge studio!

Visit for maps and information about these and all the other amazing artists in this programme!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Whatever happened to.............

The Birds from wire to beam 

have perched elsewhere

The horse has been on the move too, from here ...

to where?

then of course there is the much photographed tree

it too has been transplanted.............


Visit yarnbombing and mixed media artist Margaret Summerton's studio in Hurstbridge this weekend to find these artworks and more.

Yes folks its Nillumbik Artists Open Studios over the next two weekends - if you've never experienced this event then its time to have a look.  If you've been before its time to visit again.

Its fun, visiting studios and meeting artists in so many fascinating workplaces.  It gets even better -you can acquire you own art, self indulge, and buy christmas presents.  Of course I'm biased, until life got to hectic I was part of the program too.  Thats how I know what an amazing bunch of people these artists are and why they are so great to visit!


Monday, 14 October 2013

I think maybe some self discipline is needed now - I have had a patch of what maybe I could call bloggyslack!

Lots of little stories and a few bigger ones simmering away - but its hard to go near the computer when the sun is shining, spring is bursting out and the garden calls.  I'll start with  last Saturday which was sunny and warm and we took advantage of the weather to spend some time yarnbombing again. 

 Some of you will know that Margaret and I have a project steaming along in Hurstbridge.  Based on a photograph of "The First Train to Allwood" it is a yarnbomb graphic representation of that photo.  We have an amazing 63 volunteers - all who've committed time, energy, and hard yakka to produce pieces of knit and crochet for the project.  

As the pieces are  given to us we spend time at the fence attaching and joining.  Its often very social, toots from passing cars and chatting to passers by.  Its great to work on something that makes people smile!

We are now well through the guard's van which will be the end of the line.  Just a matter of finishing it off, then patching and piecing a few bits in between followed by a bit of sprucing up and voila! and other expletives, we'll be finished .  Over two years in the making and Christmas should see the project well and truly finished!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Watch out world!!!

Margaret and I have, with the help of 63 amazing volunteers, yarnbombed a street in Hurstrbridge.

We have yarnbombed Montsalvat

Then there's this other project

And now we have an exhibition!  There will be a certain amount of yarnbombing, some yarnbomb sculptures, and the odd interactive yarnombing experience............and there's still our joint catch cry "I have an idea....." and you never know what that will lead to.....

So folks, make a note in your diary "who needs permission" at the Eltham Library Gallery , September 2014.  

Oh and that's not all - but we'll tell you about the other two projects coming up at a later date.......


Thursday, 26 September 2013

A typical Melbourne spring day - one moment rain,  hail and the next sunshine.  Never mind the weather Max must move!  Her lengthy and varied stay at Montsalvat is over and she is on the move to agistment in Hurstbridge.  

She takes a little more help than the average horse

And of course she is being transported in the correct horsey manner!

Even the geese are impressed

A final check of the protective wrapping......

Past the Gatehouse, our lovely studio for two months....

Down the drive and off away from Montsalvat.......

Some very expert backing up Margaret's very steep drive.......

Back to manual transport

Many hands make light work.......

Through the back gate............and on to a nice dry corner of  the deck.  At this point sudden hail prevented  getting Max into her designated spot or any chance of a  decent photograph! 

Heartfelt thanks to our helpers, Peter and Michelle with the horsefloat and all that went with it, John, Helge,Tony, Sim and Jeanette for their muscles!


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Well Max is now counting sleeps - she'll be travelling from an empty studio

to a cosy new home in Hurstbridge in  just a couple of days. She'll be travelling in comfort in the most appropriate of transport.  Just wait and see!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

An extra special post tonight.  We'd like to thank everyone at Montsalvat- all the artists in residence who made us so welcome, members of the Board and the administration,  the restaurant (ate there four times) .  Jo and her band of volunteer gardeners  who  laughed at and with us no matter what we did to the garden and Dean who helped us with the horse and ladders.  We'll never forget how  Sigmund  kept his sense of humour no matter what we wrapped in knitting (including himself!).

Sim, Jeanette & THAT tree again!

We are indebted to Jeanette Davison whose invitation to yarnbomb Montsalvat created a never to be forgotten opportunity.   Thanks Jeanette, you looked after us beautifully! Not only did we have  heaps of fun but the experience enabled us to grow as artists in the most unexpected ways   developing  new skills and ideas as we went.


Open Day is over and we have yarnbombed Montsalvat.  So now we pack up.......

First the palm tree

Just about everybody has been photographed under the palm tree except Margaret - until now 

This time its Tony who helps with the dismantling 

And all that was done without disturbing the geese sitting on eggs at the back of the studio

And now ...with much sadness,  the last load into the car

Yep We'll be back!

Meanwhile there'll be less frequent blogs with more details  on our knitty Montsalvat creations over the next few weeks!.