Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Fossil Finds from the Garden - my artistic collaboration with Nature


I did some more digging in my garden and unearthed some more of my ceramic pieces from my exhibition a decade ago.  The exhibition featured ceramics made to look like fossils.  I made the shell like forms from a variety of clays and saggar fired. The finished surfaces were interesting but never quite natural looking.  Ten years on, nature has supplied the right effect.

My gardening skills are non-existent and unearthing the ceramics is really like being on a dig.  These are some of what I found today.  I know there are more (there is a Trilobyte form measuring 60cm long somewhere out there that really shouldn't have disappeared).  I just have to be patient as I dig out the weeds. 


I also unearthed a bust.  It cracked in the kiln and now has a rather lovely mossy front - possibly the start of a very eco friendly bra.

In the front yard and easy to find is the piece that contributes most to a collaboration between mother nature and me - a giant shell shape.  The shape was designed to be a fossil of something that was definitely extinct - the shell gets smaller and narrower as you get closer to the opening.  In this case however, the form has been highjacked by a native tree that has grown up through the hollow bottom and then a hive of Australian native bees has made it home.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Craft tutorial - Coffee Plunger Cuff made from dress shirt

I had an idea of dressing up my coffee plunger, and wanted something a bit dandy and a bit steampunk.  So I recycled the cuffs from a men's dress shirt into a Coffee Plunger Cuff with a lovely white frill in the centre and button "cufflinks" to join the cuffs.  Here's how...


  • 1 men's dress shirt in black pinstripe (must have cuffs designed for cufflinks)
  • Sleeve of another men's dress shirt in contrasting colour to make the frill (or lenght of white cotton fabric 8cm wide by 58cm approx long)
  • Sewing thread in matching colours
  • 4 loop buttons in matching tones to the cuff (they must fit through the cuff button holes)
  • 1 length of chain (you could use hat elastic if preferred - that's the thin stuff)
  • 4 jump rings in matching tone to chain (not needed if you are using hat elastic)

Cut the cuffs off the mens dress shirt and then carefully unpick the top seam to remove the bits of sleeve.
Press the cuffs and then pin them together to that the two top seams butt together but are not overlapping.  Stitch the two cuffs together along this seam using a wide zig zag stitch. The cuff base is now completed.

From the contrasting shirt, cut one sleeve open and press.  Cut long strips on the grain from this shirt that when joined will form the frill.  Mine measures 8cm wide and 58cm long (a bit more than double the length of the cuff). Join the strips to form a long 8cm by 58cm panel. Press under and seam the two long outer edges of the strip. Press and seam the two short sides of the strip.


Gather the frill by running a line of straight stitching down the centre of the strip using your longest machine stitch length.  Now gather up the strip from each end pulling only either the top or bottom thread. Keep gathering until the strip measures the same length as your cuff.

Pin the frill to your cuff and stitch in place down the centre in matching thread (top and bottom).

The cuff is now complete.

To make cufflinks to secure the cuff in place, either join two sets of loop buttons together using a length of chain and jump rings, or to be slightly easier, try sewing the buttons onto hat elastic lengths. 
I find the best way to get the right length for the cufflinks by making one end up of the cufflink and putting it onto the cuff, them put the cuff in place around the coffee plunger.  Trim the elastic or chain to the correct length and then add the buttons to the other end.


The cuff should wash quite well (its from a shirt after all) but be sure to take off the cufflinks!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Handibot Robot in Patchwork and Stitching magazine vol 13 no 5

This month's Patchwork and Stitching magazine features one of my softies - a robotic friend named Handibot. 

He was a really fun project to create.  I couldn't stop my family trying him out as he was being constructed (or myself either).  He has cool clamp hands, wheel feet, and a warning arrow for when he works too hard. 

He has inspired me to construct more robotic friends - who can stop at one.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Two of my patterns featured in Creating Country Threads Vol 13 No 2


Today's post contained a copy of the latest edition of Creating Country Threads magazine (Volume 13 No 2), and I was pleased to see my doll Ava featured on its cover. 

And, even more exciting, inside was another of my patterns for some stitched bookmarks featuring a Babushka doll and a bird.

I thought if you had checked out the version of Ava in the wonderful photos in the magazine, that you may like to see the version I created for my daughter.  She's called Suzie and is dressed all in aqua. Some food for creative thought...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Market makings - what I have been making for the Brisstyle Indie Designers Market 14 July

I have been putting the finishing touches on some new designs for the Brisstyle Indie Designers Market I am participating in next Saturday at Hamilton.  It's my first market for some years, so I am a little nervous on how everything will be received.

The new pieces I have created are all about how I can reuse resources.  I have created a number of different bird designs all made from either a collection of vintage hankies (thanks to my mothers hoarding tendencies), or from recycled men's cotton shirts.  The birds feature hand embroidered eyes and are very cuddly.

I have also been creating some wallets.  The inners are recycled from men's cotton shirts and are very soft.  They are hopefully very enduring as you can wash and iron them to bring them back to freshness (unlike the store bought variety) and I have played with some fun fronts in the designs as well.

If you'd like to see my work or any of the other very talented Brisstylers all creating original designs, come along to St Augustine's Church on Racecourse Road, Hamilton on Saturday July 14, from 9 to 2.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fossil Dig - Lovely finishes on my ceramics thanks to Mother Nature

 I have been busy in the garden recently, cleaning out the weed beds.  I amongst my plants, I exposed some of my ceramic creations created about a decade ago, and I wanted to share the wonderful surfaces.


The ceramics created were for my Tafe graduation exhibition and were based on fossil forms.  While creating the surfaces on these forms I wanted a weathered, natural look to the works.  I ended up Saggar firing to get blushes of colour.  But the surface was never quite right.


I buried the pieces in the garden and time and Mother Nature have done the rest.  The surfaces are finally what I wanted to achieve.  The colours, the textural elements are brilliant.  Turns out to get the right finish I only needed to hand in my pieces 10 years late!

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Redwork Lady doyley set featured in Patchwork and Stitching Vol 13 No 4

My modern take on the doyley set - a redwork lady and roses designed as a dresser trio features in this month's Patchwork and Stitching magazine.  I wanted to create a doyley but I cannot crochet so I worked a frill-like edge to the design and then trimmed the design with lace flowers, so you could go with either the plain edge or the flowers. 

To give you an idea of an alternative way to complete the stitchery, I recently finished a version in shades of brown on a camel coloured homespun background and with a plain edge.  It's very in keeping with when I was young in the Seventies.