Sunday, January 27, 2013

a challenging space

Here is a small garden shed at the back of a house block.  Its built in the same style and material as the main house.  I'm not sure whether it is a garden shed or a cubby house.
 One side view
The other side view
 The back view.  

The garden shed is actually a solution to the question of  how to make the best use of a difficult bit of space on a triangular house block.  There's no weeding, watering or pruning to be done.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

using supplies not just collecting them..

Some of my purchases at Paperific last year was a 3D rose silicon mold and some lightweight Flexi-Craft clay.  I tried making some shapes when I brought the supplies home but didn't have much success and lost interest. Last week I saw some pictures of gorgeous miniature picture frames in several shades of purple.  Following through the details I went on a creative quest and ended getting out those supplies.
Photo from here

The artist had used Martha Stewart Crafter's clay and molds.  There is a lovely rectangular frame mold in one of the kits. After watching some of the videos I realised my light clay was probably very similar. In fact Fimo, Crayola and Paper MagiClay all have similar products.  My packet of clay had aged a bit since it was last opened but I found this made it easier to handle.  I dyed different balls of clay with drops of Rotring ArtistColor inks and Dee Gruenig's Posh Rainbow Ink. Please note these are both very old supplies! They are intense, concentrated inks so provide lots of colour without making the clay too tacky.

I have some silicon molds from the days of casting molten ultra thick embossing enamel (UTEE) so they were gathered up and  dusted off.  I loved casting the UTEE, making endless Roman columns.
I could get wonderful marble effects but I needed to add UTEE Flex to prevent them being brittle. Even then some still broke.  They were also difficult to attach to cards.

Above are samples of broken UTEE keys and the photo below is a gilded light clay key showing how flexible the dry clay is.

The weight of 5 dry light clay frames versus the weight of one UTEE frame.

The light clay feels a lot like fun foam when dry: light, flexible and spongy.  When coloured before molding it has the look of flock with a mat surface. It was this look that drew me to the purple frames. For the embellishment sitting in the middle of the frame I pushed a small ball of clay into a part of the detail I wanted. This is also useful for using up the last little bit of coloured clay. The shapes add lots of texture to cards and art work without adding (much) weight.  For colouring after molding I liked using the Rotring ArtistColor as it soaked in and didn't fill the fine details like paint does.
 Light clay keyhole coloured with red ink after drying.

So I am using supplies and tools I already own but as I like the picture frame that might become a new tool in the craft room.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

using ideas not just collecting them

The sewing machine has been the focus lately for me with the creation of some fabric storage baskets to go in my Etsy shop.  I have still been hunting and gathering paper based ideas but with the sewing needle still in one hand I thought I would create my version of the cotton reel as a petite pin cushion shown in Craft Stamper*.

Rather than two 3 in circles to make the pumpkin shaped pin cushion I used the Suffolk puff or yo-yo technique so there wasn't any fussy turning through of the fabric, stuffing and finishing off.  What could be simpler than a gathering stitch!

I prepped the cotton reel by colouring it with a Copic pen E31 Brick Beige to give it a honey coloureed varnished look.  There seemed to be a slight amount of lacquer in the Copic ink which gave the wood a satin sheen too.  Have you ever noticed that when you colour seam binding or lace with Copic pens they gets stiffer in texture?

Here is the pin cushion ...
 ... and here is the magazine inspiration.
 I thought of storing one of my measuring tapes on it but I can see it unwinding itself and collapsing around the base like a collection of fallen hula hoops.

* A Stitch in Time by Gail Milburn, page 80 Craft Stamper January 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

inside cool

After doing the last of the watering this morning ahead of a projected maximum temperature of 40 C I picked some of roses likely to get desiccated in the heat and wind.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

just a little bit later

Now I have another learning from the garden.  The flowering gum is flowering this summer after all, just so much later than last year.  In a very low key kind of way though. I was under the canopy packing up the watering hose when I noticed a flash of colour.  Way out of the direct sunlight and the beady eyes of the parrots I was able to get the full picture of the development of a flower.  In the foreground of the picture below is a large green gumnut from last summer's flowering.
Their early stage is a pale green blob that looks like it has been dipped in wax.  The colour starts to change to pale translucent pink.  Next a spike grows out through the centre of the bud and pushes the cap (or operculum) off the end of the bud.
 Here are the stamens at full length out of their bases which will become the fruit or gumnuts.  Some of the caps are still attached at the side of the red stamens.

Friday, January 4, 2013

at last

Years ago we saw some incredible hollyhocks growing in the old style gardens of the houses throughout the Clare and Barossa Valley in South Australia.  Despite the little water and much heat we would see them nodding over fences as heights of  2 or more metres.
At last I have had some minor success here with two hollyhocks planted year before last now flowering. 'Towering' they are not, at 80 cm for the acid yellow one and 30 cm for the gorgeous bright pink one above. There might eventually be 6 blooms on it.   I will continue to nurture them and hope to see them again later this year. It is a plant to be patient with.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

good show

The echinacea plant is sharing a pot with a rose bush.  A few years ago I planted it in with the rose on the spur of the moment to try to save it in trying circumstances.  This just put it more harm's way as the rose had been discovered by Japanese rose beetles and they liked to eat both the rose buds and the echinacea. 
The pot is now in a new position and the echinacea is having a wonderful season.  The common name of the echinacea is cone flower.  The centre cone of each flower is now starting to push up into the familiar cone shape. 
Each main branch has one flower in bloom and many more to continue the show as summer progresses. I have seen a few bees visit the flowers.  Seeds to come perhaps?  As it is a perennial I hope to get it planted in the main garden in autumn ready for another show next spring. I wonder if it can be divided?