Monday, July 8, 2013

Piece, dye, stitch

These two pieces of cloth have been picked up and put down over the last four years. They're hand pieced from small fragments of old cotton and silk pieces of kimono from Asia Gallery in Wellington. Dyed with a combination of maple and eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and steel. Then more surface stitching. And once they are finally resolved, they'll hang like paintings on wall or across a chair or bed.

These complex cloths tend to travel with me, offering me still quiet moments to contemplate my life. Sometimes my concerns lead me to pray for my family and friends. Other times its just the opportunity to calm myself because life and.my brain are busy. Or to occupy myself while waiting in a doctors surgery or at the train station.  

I am constantly running my hand across the surface.  They are lovely to touch and a bit like a blankie as they cover my lap when I'm working on them. And the earthy organic smell of the dyepot lingers. There is no rhyme or reason. They just make sense to me. x

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rag Rug Goodness

It's extremely hot here in summer. Some days we hit the high 30s. It's also quite chilly in winter in comparison. We are still trying to align ourselves with our new climate having spent almost a whole year here.

Many of the new homes in Queensland have tiled floors throughout which are cool in summer but cold in winter. I wanted some beautiful rugs underfoot. The cost of lovely handmade ones was beyond us, secondhand ones were in bad condition and I can't stand the cheap acrylic ones. I'm a natural fibres girl wherever possible.

Luckily for me I was invited to a craft group who were making rag rugs. Thank you Varni for sharing your skills and passion.There are lots of online tutorials. Youtube was especially helpful. Learning to make yarn from t-shirts and bedsheets was awesome.

Mine are crochet and made from thrifted or gifted recycled bed sheets. I love them and loved teaching other families how to make their own beautiful bespoke rugs for next to nothing. My favourite was by my nephew Nathaniel who is only ten years old. Give it a go! Fill your home with beautiful things you make or find.

Here's a couple of useful link to get you started ... http://www.sugarbeecrafts.com/2010/02/rag-rug-tutorial.html and http://youtu.be/CRqsG1YqWVU but there's lots of links so look around. You can braid, knit or even hook a rug. Keen to try that. Have fun. x

Nathaniel and Tamira proudly displaying Nathaniel's work. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Holes

I lost my handmade silk dress this weekend. Easily a hundred hours or more patching and stitching her surface. I carry my work with me everywhere and while doing a photoshoot put my bag down on a table at a local community event. Someone picked it up. My silk bag holding my silk dress, the last of my silk thread and my needle case holding my favorite hand sewing needles. I don't hate but I really miss my work. And now there is a wee hole in me. Because I loved that piece of cloth and had almost resolved the work I was doing. I cannot remake those autumnal leaf markings nor the memories it holds. Time however to let her go with the only image I captured. x

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Maunga Tambourine

I went up the mountain to see what taonga I could find.

My skin sister India. A new tribe. Magic cloth. Royal feast. Liquid black gold from Jindaloo. Stitching hands. Autumn leaves. Iron river stones. A fragment of 'my Australia'. Peace. X

Click HERE for India's website

(Follow me on Instagram. #ahiparagirl to find me.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dreamcatcher

Its Autumn, its cooler thank God and we're crafting of course. I've run a couple of workshops, taught myself how to make rag rugs, attended a craft group and slowly am building a circle of artistic and creative friends here in Australia.

I've also started a small craft group and craft ups on the Gold Coast and have been approached by the local community centre to run a group. I've yet to figure out the logistics for this including how to make it pay for itself and whether I want to run a community group or create paid work for myself. In the meantime, I continue to love making for the sake of making itself.

Today I started to make dreamcatchers using things I already had. Our youngest son claimed the first one for himself. It was the opportunity to remind him to pray and ask God for good sleep. There is no power in feathers and mummy's makes. I love children's prayers. Their faith is so uncomplicated. Unlike this first attempt at a dreamcatcher which surprisingly took me hours to figure out. I'm happy with it and more importantly, my boy reckons its awesome. x

(Photos via Instagram. Trialling Andriod blogger app.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yarn Bomb

Our newly formed Hillsong creative ministry simply dubbed 'The Artist' had its first assignment this week. For the next two weeks, we have artists and makers in residence. In conjunction with the release of the new album 'The Chapel', our brief is to create works around The Chapel, the building which is based in Sydney and intimacy with God, as well as the album itself. 


With one hour to create a concept, one day to prepare and one service to complete the task, we were up for the challenge. I formed a project loosely based around stained glass windows and pews, and church being 'home'. Yes I'll admit it was a stretch but with such a short period to form a work, something speedy was called for. I have a collection of thrifted, hand knit blankets that I've accrued in the last two months I've lived in Australia from various op shops. We also scored a couch (modern day pew) from the youth ministry with a goal to create a warm place for people to sit  within our 'chapel'. Other artists are also working on a variety of projects they have formed too. Its going to be a great two weeks at Hillsong Brisbane campus. I'm so excited. x


We had lots of fun and got stuck in with great gusto. One of our youth girls stopped by, threaded up and did her first hand sewing. I love projects that involve lots of people both as spectators and participants. I firmly believe that art should be made as accessible as possible. My time at art school and working in an art gallery put me off the pretentiousness and exclusivity that can exist in some circles. Making purely for the love of making, to share skills and to encourage is how I roll.


Our team had a great time as we worked like the clappers to finish within an hour. The process was as awesome as the outcome. It was a great team building event and I loved seeing all our different ideas come together to create a cohesive conclusion. It was fun explaining to people milling around what we were doing and encouraging others who identified as creatives, to come check out our ministry. I loved working with our team. Thanks Annie, Sabina, Nicola and Jess for a great experience.


 I would have this couch in my home any day. x


I love The Artist ministry. That there is a regular, ongoing place for visual expression within the modern day church. For artists, makers, writers (poets, novelists, bloggers), photographers, graphic designers and the like. Always, church is about loving God and loving people. As someone who loves to create and make, I welcome the opportunity to encourage others in their unique capacities. I also rise to the challenge of creating an awesome atmosphere wherever I go, one that is positive and uplifting. Its so important that God's love is shared in ways that are relevant across the many spheres of society, and for me particularly to young people and their families. But really, just to anyone who is open and hungry, and passionate about life. x

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Here ...

Making cotton dishcloths. 

We arrived in Australia five weeks ago and are currently living in Brisbane with my parents and grandparents. Including my three sons and my husband, that's four generations. The weather is all that its reknowned to be with only one rainy day since we've been here. The heat is overwhelming and they say that with summer coming, we may struggle somewhat. I am used to overcast skies, cooler climes and more wind and rain. The other day the boys wound down their car windows as we hurtled along the highway because 'we miss the wind'. With the temps already mid 20C in Spring, I heartily agree.


Sitting here catching the breeze and marvelling trees have flowers. 
                                   Feeling like a snail with my home on my back, or at least in my basket.

My thrifted basket with some cotton yarn, a great read by an Australian author, my bible, journal and phone. I read Paula's post this week and she said that until she had her home, she  had felt like a snail carrying her home around on her back. I understand that concept. Paula migrated to Melbourne via London from South Africa. She is also my dear friend Shells sister and the other half of their online business Lovely Sweet William

I'm also enjoying Rhonda's book 'Down to Earth'. Go here to find her 'Down to Earth' blog. In a highly consumerist society (try a mega mall every few blocks!), its refreshing to read about the joy of simpler things in life. Of course its nigh near impossible to be all things to all people and I'm certainly no purist but if one finds just a few simple principles that help us look after our planet and one another better, even ourselves, well that can only be a good thing. 
Eating strawberries, watermelon and pineapples just feels plain odd in Spring but we are not complaining. 

Everything as a result is more lush here. The trees have the biggest seed pods which my son and I love collecting. The bird life is prolific and I found a nest on my way to the train station one morning.



We've walked along the shore at Sandgate while the tide is out (for miles) marvelling at the large jellyfish and weird looking blue crabs, collecting shells. Naturally a nature basket has evolved which gets added to on our outings. I love these free treasures that abound. Australia has its own kind of beauty. There is no point making comparisons. It is simply what it is. Vast, hot and lush. And we are adapting to our new climate with a freezer full of ice blocks for the kids, Lipton's peach ice tea and lightweight clothing. 





The kids have settled into their schools and Rich is busy applying for jobs and attending interviews. He is also studying and working towards more qualifications. I have a wee job volunteering at the local Vinnies just a few hours a week. Its good fun and as you can imagine, I've gleaned a few treasures. I am impatient to move but deciding where we settle will ultimately be defined by where Rich works and where I feel I most can serve a community. So far the south side of Brisbane is looking good because its where our church community are and many our family activities revolve around our church life. I really love Hillsong's global outreach into each cities communities. Just people caring for people but when you have a grand scale of people, then grand scale projects are possible. And where there is a selfless community, well that's where I want to raise my kids amongst.  



I realise that though I am ok about using my life to help others, I also require private moments and space where I can collect myself and my family. I am constantly reminded that life is not a sprint, its a marathon, and we must be wise where we spend ourselves if we are to live intentionally and purposefully. These jaunts to the sea have been lifesavers especially now that we are living in a communal manner.


There's been a few struggles. I knew there would be but solutions are coming, its just a matter of time and opportunity. 

Having extra hands which makes managing the children easier, as is having people who can help guide us when we need extra assistance, financial and moral support and having other relatives who've recently migrated offer us companionship. Someone wrote me a couple of weeks ago on facebook and talked about the trade offs between staying and leaving NZ. We have gained so much but I lost a few of my vital supports and without internet access, I've felt very isolated and cut off from things that make sense to me. Its a personal thing and feels intense and complicated at times. So thankful for my husband's steady ways. 



He took me thrifting the other day where I happily scored a couple of vintage blankets. We then headed to the beach with coffee. Fortuitously, it also happened to be the one rare day that it rained and as I stood out in the rain with the breeze coming off the inlet (its not really a beach, more an inlet) and the sound of thunder reverberating above, I felt more energised than I have in a long while. 


Self-care, its something I'm passionate about. We become so accustomed to taking care of others but I'm only too aware that we can only give out what is inside us. If I'm full, I'm able to be about others easily. Its why I craft. Its why I spend time with great friends (speaking in faith for new friends to come) and its why I love quiet days in my own head space just reading my bible, catching up on sleep, journalling, pootling around op shops and walking along a shore. 


And I have to admit, I probably more than the rest of my family am feeling more isolated and disoriented than I have in a very long time. The fact there are so few seaside suburbs and everything is so far away from everything (Brisbane is huge and goes on forever), the fact that I am used to being able to access my friends and my artistic creative community, and now I can't, it presents me with new challenges.


One thing I know is that challenges don't kill, so its just a matter of biding time, accepting the discomfort for a season and trusting God. And when I stand under a booming sky, suddenly I don't feel so alone or separated from what really matters to me.


My kids are tanned and making friends. My husband loves the newness of it all. Its great to see my folks who have been helpful in so many ways from building us our own private room to loaning us a car and resourcing us until we get on our feet. 

And then there is my grandmother. I love praying with Mama and talking with her. She's old and crotchety but every now and then the woman that I knew, the one who taught me the value of making and being creative with everyday things, of being tough and not wimping out just cos it hurt or someone didn't like me, the one who was so magically powerful and insightful when I was a young girl, well she makes an appearance. My youngest son plays with the dogs at her feet and I'm blown away with when I realise that she shaped me like I am shaping my son. 

You see, I collected shells and pinecones when I was a kid. And she had my grandad build a special garden space where I could put my found treasures. She's camera shy (in a grumpy kind of way, lol) and so I have no photo of her but I am thankful for this opportunity to spend these days, months and perhaps years with her, while my children adore their grandmother (my mum) in a similar kind of way. Its synchronicity that I believe has God's fingerprints all over it. x