Sunday, April 20, 2014


One for all those would be" newby crochet" people.
Forget about trying to perfect your tension.
I know a lot of you are concentrating and trying to get the perfect tension in your crochet.
Its much more important to learn the crochet stitches than the tension.
I have been teaching for almost 50 years now (how scary) and believe me the tension just happens, it just comes itself. The more you crochet the more even your tension will get.
Crochet is not all about the "tension "its all about the formation of the stitches.
I get angry when I hear teachers saying someone has "the tension wrong" no you don't.
Just forget the word "tension "totally and your work will be better more even, because you are more relaxed about it all. Now you are concentrating on the pattern and the formation of the stitches.
Need help, advice, email me, that's what I do.

Crochet bag

Another school break is almost over and tomorrow its back to U3A. I'm tutoring 2 classes side by side for the next 4weeks. My normal folk art class will run side by side with my new 4 week course in "journaling". Sounds a lot to handle but I'm sure everything will be fine. It will be fun and exciting.
For the last couple of weeks I've been on a "rest and take it easy" routine as I haven't been very well.
  This has given me the opportunity to do other things that come under the  "resting" banner.
I've been crocheting, made 2 scarves and a bag. Normally I wouldn't use someone else's patterns, and why should I? that's what I do, have been doing for almost 50 years now, designing patterns.
however last year while on holiday in the UK I bought a pile of magazines, I love their magazines, a lot come with freebies and giveaways, I cant resist.
One called "simply homemade" had the scarf pattern and the gorgeous crochet bag pattern, so I made both. The problem here in Australia is getting yarn similar to the one used originally in the pattern.
How lucky was I, Spotlight are having a sale and I found a thick cotton type yarn called "riverdale"by Panda yarns of Melbourne. The pattern said 200grams of yarn and wonders of wonders it used very slightly more, I had to use the 5th ball for the handles.
The bag is made in motifs joined together, the directions were a bit vague so a beginner would have a bit of a problem I think understanding how it all goes together, it does, however make up very quickly. I lined mine with a pink multi coloured spot fabric, with an internal pocket.
If you would like to check the pattern out go to 'simply homemade" issue 30.
Just a note about the yarn I used "Riverdale" I have never seen this yarn at Spotlight before so my guess is it was a "special" for their sale, it wasn't a good yarn to work with lots of knots, joined pieces, one ball had 4/5 ends to start, another one had a pile of unwoven yarn shoved in the centre, so if purchasing any check it out first. Only good thing, it was the right thickness for the pattern.
Have fun, give it a go.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Posting hassle solved, I think

I've been talking to my daughter, about the problem of posting blogs with more than one part, or if you like chapter. Have you ever noticed that they really read bottom to top, or 1st post goes to the bottom of page, 2nd post sits on top. This makes for a difficult situation if writing a post in "parts" or chapters. I think I may have solved the problem, after writing the post, rather than publishing immediately, write the 2nd or next part, then hit publish for the 2nd post before publishing the 1st post. Does that make sense to any of you? Next time I write a post in parts I am going to try it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Continued Creative Police part 2.

Read part 1 the next blog down first, dopey me forgot that part 2 would come first.

That lady who nominated herself as the police for all art and painting has no idea who I am, what I've done, what I've achieved. Where does this attitude come from?
I learnt very early on in my arty and creative career that what works for me is always right for me. There are no rights or wrongs in art. If it works for you than do it, don't listen to those down sayers who always say, you cant do that", Why cant you.
My rules, Be confident in what you do.
Be proud of what you do.
Own what you do.
Accept that you created it.
Don't let the "police" hinder your creativity.
Keep away from those negative people.
Everyday be grateful that you can think for yourself and be creative.
Creativity is to be nurtured , not denied. As long as you are happy with what you have achieved, you are happy with what you have made what does it matter if you broke "rules" on the way. As long as the end is what you had visualised, isn't that the most important, "rule" of all.

Creative "POLICE" the ones who say you cant do that

Have you ever met any of those people who constantly say, "You cant do that ". Have you ever asked the question "why". Generally they will reply with " aaaaaaaa because, because you cant "or something similar.
Today I would like to tell you a story about the craft or creative police that lurk around me.
In the 1970's I started china painting, learning from an elderly lady, (whoooo someone older than me). A new lady came along to class one day and started painting a plate. Our teacher insisted we trace the design on to the item we were working on and apply the paint a certain way. The new lady said ok, and painted her plate. Well, what an upset, new lady had used the brightest oranges and purples on her plate, hadn't gone softly, softly blending colours. The plate was beautiful, for a beginner the work was amazing. Sadly new lady was kicked out of class, because apparently she broke the rules. How sad, new lady had upset the teacher by choosing her own favourite colours and applied the paint her own way. New lady is probably a well known artist now.
After that I started attending classes to learn all about porcelain doll making. We used pre-mixed china paints to paint the faces with. Well, one day I asked a question, "why cant we use the powdered china paints so that we have a better colour range. "Because we cant, they wont work". To me that made no sense at all, porcelain was porcelain and china was china. So me being me, decided to break away from the limiting colours in pre-mixed paint and mix my own colours. I never said a word to anyone, had the doll head fired. Then the questions started, "how did you get that colour?' Must have been where it was placed in the kiln, closer to elements probably, hasn't fired properly".
My reply "  I mixed the powdered paint myself and used a different colour to the pre-mix one".
Guess what, it didn't take long for everyone, including my teacher to learn how to mix powdered paints. Which they still use today.
Where do these people come from, why do they think there way is the only way a thing can be done.
One day, while I was teaching ceramics a lady came in and invited us next door to the studio to try out some new paint products they had. So off we went. We were handed paint brushes, picture, paper and paints to try and told "paint that. Thinking back it was quite funny. We both started to paint, when quite a large lady, the one in charge I think, came over, took my paint brush of me and 'said, you wont be able to paint unless you hold the brush properly", My reply, "ok". and returned to painting. A few minutes later back she came grabbed my paint brush and said loudly, "not like that, like this, you don't even know how to hold a paint brush ". My friend sitting next to me was getting a bit irate, and said "tell her who you are ". "no, its okay". Well, look out here comes the paint warden again, looking angry now. "stop, you are never going to make a painter, you don't even hold the brush correctly".
It was okay I had finished my picture, I never did tell her who I was or why I held the paint brush as I did. How dare this person tell me that I couldn't do something simply because I did not hold my paint brush how she thought I should. Reason is I have no right elbow so my arm will not straighten. I will continue this in post 2.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Original porcelain Doll

 I recently discovered in a cupboard,  an original porcelain doll that I made many years ago when I used to have a studio and teach. She's totally original,one of a kind, generally has a little gnome standing on her hand looking up at her.
To make something like this, I first sculpted the head and shoulder plate in clay, then from that made a plaster mold. (I used to teach all this)
Next the mold is poured in porcelain slip, then cleaned takes ages as all the rough seams and marks have to be cleaned off, this is a very delicate procedure as the head could break at any time, (called greenware). After cleaning the head is fired in a kiln, to approx. 1200 degrees. Porcelain is the highest firing and most unreliable medium as it has a memory.
 From there the fired head is more stable as it is now considered to be china, After sanding to make it nice and smooth, several coats of china paint  are painted on the doll, each one being fired in the kiln to set, until I'm satisfied. The body has to be made and doll dressed. My doll is dressed in hand dyed  parachute silk, which is showing lots of wear, she also has a hand made mohair wig. This doll is over 30 years old now so wont be long before she is considered antique, one only world wide, basically priceless. Poor baby is showing her age now but still serene and beautiful.
I had my own studio taught Doll making from the late 70's early 80's, one of the original "porcelain doll crowd" here in Queensland. Such an exciting thing to be involved with, shows just about every weekend, from here, North, Gold Coast ,Sydney, Melbourne, travelled everywhere including NZ.

Because it was so "new" it was also tremendously exciting, stall holders and fellow show people were friendly we really did have a lot of fun. Sadly, there's very few of the "old crowd " left and the atmosphere at shows has changed people aren't so friendly now.
My area of expertise, apart from teaching was designing crochet patterns specifically for doll makers. This came about quite by accident, I would dress a doll in crochet for someone, then someone else would ask me for the same outfit that you made for so and so's doll "well I made so many I couldn't remember who got what, so I started writing my patterns down. One thing led to another and I self published 6 books of patterns. Apart from teaching in my own studio I did travelling classes, teaching weekly at Warwick, Gatton, Stanthorpe, Millmeran. For awhile I worked full time too and looked after a household, must have been crazy. Every weekend from February to November there would be a doll show, some 2 days, some 3 or 4 days, most of them I went too. Life was hectic but exciting too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Reviews

I belong to the local library so I'm always borrowing books. Frequently they don't have anything of interest in them. Authors I like are Lee Child, Tony Park, Di Morrisey, I have been known to stay up all night to get a book read as I never read the ending until the end.
As well as selecting my own books I also belong to the U3A book club, we meet the first Monday of each Month, this months book is Nelson Mandelas story, "Long walk home" big, big book but I'm enjoying it.
I usually select my books on the web site, so often I collect, look through and take them back, however recently I selected 3 books, various authors on "making handmade books". Wow, all 3 were great books, very informative.
Book 1: Alisa Golden, Titled  "Unique Handmade Books" 159 pages. Lots of different types of books including one called....... wait for it, "The Exquisite Corpse Book" doesn't that sound fun for Halloween. What I like about this book is the easy to follow patterns and the diagrams showing you how to assemble each  book. 10 chapters packed with lots of information suitable for the "newby"book maker.
Book 2. Author Gwen Diehn, "The Complete Decorated Journal, This is the book I would like to purchase it really is complete" 240 pages. Well illustrated with step out instructions on how to decorate paper, what things to select, paper to choose, instructions on assemblage for the different types of books you are creating. Nothing is wasted, how to alter old worn out books. I love it, may have to check Fishpond out they have free postage.
 Book 3. Erin Zamrzla. "Handmade Books for Everyday Adventures " 196 pages in a hard cover.
At the back of this Erin has shown all the different methods of binding and stitching your books. Simple instructions, lots of diagrams for the novice to follow. Set out well. Lots of fun books to make with this one, including titles such as, "grocery list, lunch box notes, The necklace book, Fishing book" just to name a few. A book for every occasion. Lots of illustrations for binding the pages together good clear instructions for the Japanese stab binding method.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pet Hates

Do any of you have things that you see or read that absolutely drive you crazy? One of mine, now that sounds like I have a lot, doesn't it.
Well, anyway one thing that drives me crazy is English, writing sentences, bad grammar, newspapers are forever writing sentences that make no sense at all.
This is what I have just read on a blog,  "an quarterly magazine", does that make sense??????????
I don't profess to being an expert on English, I left school when I was 14 but I have done a few years at uni and I love to write but I don't get that sentence, do you suppose they meant " a quarterly magazine". I think that reads so much better. Someone has set me a challenge to complete before the end of this month, March. To write 5 blogposts so this is my second, I'm doing well as 5 days left.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stitches and Craft Show

Did any of you get to the Brisbane Craft Show recently?
My daughter, Sharon, friend Julie and myself caught the train on Thursday for what we thought would be a lovely day. Turned out we were way of the mark as the day was a disaster. Those poor stall holders, they had to cope with the unbelievable conditions all day, luckily we didn't.
What happened, the air conditioners weren't working, that we discovered after we paid the $14.00 admission charge.
We arrived just after 10am, by 1pm I was feeling decidedly unwell, so unfortunately could not continue browsing or walking around in the stifling conditions, we may as well have sat in an enclosed box it was so bad.
I'm disgusted with the organisers that they did not provide water, although they did announce "free water down the back",  we couldn't get there or find it. As a large percentage of customers were in the "senior"age group  there appeared to be a total disregard for our welfare by the organisers. We only heard one public announcement regarding the problem. Neither was there any offer made with free ticket to come back another day, the show ran until Sunday.
My daughters friend was working on a stall there, she tells us that it was after 3pm before the air cons were working again. This was at the Convention Centre. Will we go again? There's another show in April, but I'm not sure if its worth the stress.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Using Pellon or Interfacing

I recently read an article about Lutradur and mixed media. I'm not sure if this product is available here in Queensland as I have never seen it anywhere. When describing it, the article said, "non-porous, not unlike pellon or interfacing used in sewing".
 MMMMMMMMMMM, so if its "not unlike pellon"maybe I can use pellon in place of Lutradur.
Well, as there is only one way to find out, I am now experimenting to see what I can or cannot do with Pellon.
First thing, find the pellon or as we generally call it interfacing", for those of you who have never used it before. Interfacing is sold by the metre or in packets, it comes in several thicknesses or weights. Light weight is tissue paper thin, iron or sew on. Then medium weight, its about the thickness of water colour paper. The heavy weight one is like cardboard.
I tried the medium weight interfacing first, just a scrap, I sprinkled and sprayed it with inks, then stamped it, one thing I noticed the ink was almost instantly dry. I used a stamp pad for the stamp rather than paint.
When it appeared dry, I spread gel medium on my journal page placed the interfacing on the gel, then applied gel over the top, As you can probably see from the picture the stamping ink bled a bit. Maybe it require longer drying time. However what is exciting is that the interfacing and it was iron-on, is almost invisible
The second experiment was using the light weight interfacing, its very thin like tissue paper and will, unlike the medium weight, tear into pieces. This piece I attached to my journal page with mod podge applying it over the page, sticking the interfacing down then I used mod podge over the top. I let this dry for some considerable time. Then I used the same butterfly stamp and stamp pad, stamping over the mod podge. Let it dry, Its more invisible than the medium weight is. Feels a bit rough but I think that's because its iron-on interfacing. The stamp is secure.
This is the light weight interfacing, its hardly visible.

I'm now using actual thinned paints to see how that will look. So far its a great outcome, exciting to see it can be used in Mixed media, it's readily available and inexpensive too.
I first mixed a fairly runny paint mix, blue, tied a couple of sections in the interfacing a bit like tie dying, Soaked the interfacing in the paint, squeezed it out on a paper towel, then dried it on the line.
When it was dry I glued it on to my page with the mod podge and let it dry.
I painted the flower with Inktense blocks, added a couple of stencils with acrylic paint.
The friend stamp was already on my page so I have placed the interfacing over the top.  Then I did squiggles in white acrylic.
What I love about this is the translucency, keep in mind that I have used the iron-on interfacing the sew-in may act differently.

This is the medium weight pellon stamped before I applied gel medium
This is glued with mod podge I prefer it to the gel medium.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Finishing steps for Altered Canvas

Hi Everyone, My altered canvas is finished, well, I think it is. This is what I did next.

I mixed texture paste with yellow ochre paint, then using a palette knife, I applied it to a couple of the papers and also to the section next to the papers at the right. I tried to create a stucco/brick effect.
let that dry a bit, then added a few shadows, created an archway on the pinky paper section with the paste mixture.
Painted in more greenery, plus a creeper over the top, painted what are supposed to be steps, added a few shadowy bits.
More napkin flowers. Its now drying .Can you remember what it looked like when I started the canvas had a tree painted on it, scroll down.
with the paste on

finished Altered Canvas "Doors

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tip of the month... February

The method of framing or displaying your piece of art is as important as the actual design itself.
When selecting a suitable frame keep in mind the colours you have used
in your picture, as well as what makes up the design
is it collage, flat, slightly 3D, thick, thin etc.
 does it require non reflective glass to protect it.
Don't select a frame that is so beautiful it could be a piece
of art work or on display by itself.
You want onlookers to admire your art work not be so engrossed in the beauty of the
frame that they don't see your picture.
      Elaborate, intricate , gorgeous frames, rather than enhancing the picture they are displaying,
 detract from it, as they pull the onlookers eyes away from the picture towards the frame.
Select something fairly plain, neutral colour, unless you decide to include
the more decorative frame as a part of your art work.  If that's
the case, select a frame that's darker or has detail that will draw the onlookers sight
to the frame then lead in to the art work.

First steps creating altered canvas New

I learnt so much from my blogging class today.
Anyway now I want to share with you the progress of my new picture I'm working on recycling  the canvas with the tree painted on it (picture) that I posted here yesterday.

I turned the canvas around and decided to use it sideways, Having the blue sky section on the left hand side, that meant the dark or ground section was now on the right, my original signature is upside down in the top right hand corner.

To start I painted a coat of white ghesso over the black tree trunk and branches, then over some of the green foliage.

Next I found some papers and actually cut straight pieces out, these I glued in place using matt mod podge. Allow to dry.

In the right hand corner I glued down a few different floral tissue papers, (serviettes).
A couple of pieces of the backing tissue I scrunched up and glued on to reassemble 3D flowers.

I left everything to dry.

Using 3 different green acrylic paints, plus a brown paint I added a few bushes in the bottom left hand corner.
 Then I placed it on an easel where I could see it frequently so that I could decide where to go next and what my picture was about, what was going on in my painting, what was I supposed to paint.
Totally different to what I had thought I was creating. So keep a lookout for the next instalment when I will complete it. The picture shows where I'm up to.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Recipe Jeans oaty date slice

1cup each of plain flour, rolled oats and coconut,
1/2 cup sugar,
125grams margarine or butter
2. Large spoons of golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
Approx 1cup dates.
Mix flour,sugar,oats and coconut together in large bowl.
Using saucepan, melt margarine and syrup over heat.
When that is melted, add approx 1/4 cup boiling water to bicarbonate mix into saucepan straight away, be ready for it to froth up, Pour immediately into dry ingredients and mix together,
Spread 1/2 the mixture into a non stick square cake pan, then cover with dates, press into mix, cover with rem mixture, cook in oven 180deg for approx 45min,
Cut into slices while still warm it's easier.

How I altered the canvas

This is a fairly large probably 16x20", The one I altered had this tree on it, plus the texture paste only difference was the colour. These were painted for a workshop I had, hence the colour changes.

Step 1. White ghesso over the tree area.
Step 2. I added tissue papers and paper towel. That was coloured with markers from when I made my alcohol inks. never throw anything away.
Step 3. I roughly drew a face using chalk pencil.
Step 4. Next I painted a pinky flesh colour over the face area.
Step 5. Completed the face.
Step 6. decided she needed a hat, so roughly cut one out of white paper.
step 7. painted the hair.
Step 8. Cut a larger hat from coloured paper, glued in place added a ribbon and a bow, voila lovely finished canvas.
Step 9. next day, added coat of mod podge. Result is the lovely choccy box picture below.

Altered canvas

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exciting year

How exciting is this I am now officially a member of the " mixed media art" article writers team, I have so many ideas running around my head don't really know what to create first, but I'm always making new things something is bound to be suitable. Its a wonderful challenge for 2014 isn't it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


After browsing online I found a great website Craft online. As it was located less than an hours drive from here my daughter and I decided to go for a drive and have a look. What fun. Online they say come and have a look at the showroom etc. We found it even though the nav lady wasn't much help,fortunately I used to live in the area so had a basic idea where it was. After finding a park, Sharon (daughter) went to check out the entrance, we'll it was almost vertical very narrow even for a car and it looked like drive in back out. So unless you are an agile monkey or a mountain goat it's not a place to visit particularly if you have any sort of disability like me.  We drove home fairly disapponted that in its self was an adventure as the highway was blocked by an accident so we had to find a back way up a mountain, down a mountain but we got home safely  Where I got online ordered my inks paints etc, this was Monday it's now Wednesday and I have just unpacked my parcel. So many thanks Craftonline, check them

Taking a course in blogging

Today I attended a blogging course, lots of fun and I learnt new things to do on my blogs, how good is that. I've even briefly touched on uploading videos, which may mean I can upload tutorials, so keep a lookout, follow my blog

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My new blog.

Well here I am a new blog, My Arty place to show and share my art work.