Thursday, December 17, 2009


It's raining again.  Thundering, too.  Delicious after the hot dry wind of yesterday.  The green of new leaves against a white cloud filled sky looks fresh and clean. Just what I need in my mind as I ponder what I will make next.  This morning I've been making fisherman's pants, testing out a pattern. I have so many ideas about what I want to make next that I cant decide where to start.  Need to get some clarity of inspiration from that fresh view outside my window.

Talking about inspiration - how about this idea for a "shot in the arm" - 25 coloured pencils arriving every thirty days for 20 months, building up to a collection of 500.  Each named colour conjours image and imagination.  Here's a sprinkling: Spiffy; Kilimanjarao; Norwegian Sky; Horatio; playroom; blackberry ice.  The pencils are an initiative of the Social Designer website who curate and create goods "for the greater good", the sale of which sees funds donated to a variety of charitable causes.  The rationale behind receiving the pencils in lots of 25 rather than all at once is that
 It's human to have favorites. To be drawn to certain colors, to have others surprise you. We believe the greatest beauty of 500 Pencils is that you don't receive all of them at once, but over the course of 20 months. It gives you new focus as an artist, working with color families and feeling the precious nature of each pencil. We send 25 pencils a month, crafted to order. As you build to 500, the pencils become your story and experience. It's about enjoying an unhurried creative process, and the artist - that over time - you become. 
To subscribe to 500 Pencils or just find out more go here 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

When meaning has meaning

"Have a great Christmas", she said, turning, moving away from me, already on to the next task.  Just empty words, I thought.  She says them to everybody. Maybe so. But then I think, no, she actually means them. Her words are genuine.  It's her actions that belie her.  Made me think about how often my words don't match my actions.  How often does the way I say something suggest that I don't really mean it?

Recently I saw the Japanese film "Departures".  I was moved by the gestures, the ritual around even the simplest of exchanges - hello, thank you, good bye. I found myself moving my body in the cinema, as if to bow in response to the characters, feeling as though they were acknowledging me in their expressive movements.  I know ritual, just like words, can be meaningless:
Shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion   -- (T S Eliot - The Hollow Men)
Ritual can also be powerfully expressive;  reinforcing meaning, honouring of the other.       Seeing "Departures" made me want to slow down and appreciate the moment - what I am doing, who I am with, where I am.  Treating death, and the dead, with reverence seemed to make the characters relish life all the more.  To use all their senses in the most ordinary of actions.  We saw this particularly in the eating of food, the meaningful conversations,  the remembering, and the passion for pleasure, often portrayed through the listening or making of music.  The act of showing reverence to each other, dead or alive,  made there seem like there is something sacred present in even the most base elements of living.  This reverence seems to call forth a deeper dimension. As though if we act like there is something sacred then there is.  In the film it didn't matter what people believed around death, the practices of preparing the dead for cremation or burial seemed to be the same and helped move the bereaved into a transformative psychological space, which is the purpose of ritual. And it was here they could make some sense of what was happening to them.  Find some expression for the unspeakable, unnameable.  The death of someone we love we know changes our life.  It is a big thing.

What about the small things? What difference might it make if I make sure my actions match my words?  For one thing, it enables me to care. To show care and awareness of the other. To demonstrate care for my own life through acting deliberately and intentionally.  It also enables me to have a sense of there being something beyond me.  A sense of  sacred. An awareness of the mysterious way in which ritual is a container where sometimes something unexplainable happens and I am touched, moved, changed in some, perhaps small and often transient way through something as simple as a look, a handshake, a word.  But even when I am not changed there is something about the way in which living as though this moment matters ensures that it does.  And so does the other with whom I am sharing the moment.  And that is a message I would want to convey. It's not just our words but we ourselves have meaning.  Meaning is made when we act as if we matter.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Earlier this year, one lunch time, as I was perusing my favourite Adelaide bookstore, I discovered a Charley Harper colouring book. I'd seen Harper's art works before. They have been with me since childhood. Sharp, graphic, geometric images of birds were familiar to me. I associated them with the 60's - the colours and simple style seemed to fit with that era. I'd never known who the artist was. Since that moment in the bookshop I have searched to see more of Harper's works, amazed by how many there are and how witty they often are. An American, Charley Harper (1922 - 2007) developed his unique style, based on his life time love of nature, while studyin
g at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. If you are interested you can view some of his works here, though a Charley Harper search in Google Images will bring up many of his works.

I felt very lucky to find a small Charley Harper 2010 calendar in Readers Feast bookstore but then, having seen that, I got it in to my head that there would probably be a diary with Harper's art works in it also. I wanted it. Choosing my diary has long been something I do with care. It has to have images in it which I will enjoy through out the year. I began a search for it, looking in many book shops, even went on line to - all to no avail. But then, when I had put it out of my mind and almost decided on a Delicious diary, I found it! I reluctantly attended a workshop for small businesses on record keeping run by the Taxation Department. On my way to to the workshop, as I was walking past The Hill of Content Bookshop, I decided looking in there would be my reward once the workshop was over. There I found my Charley Harper 2010 Engagement Calendar - and felt doubly rewarded.

The picture on the cover is called 'The last aphid', a 1981 acrylic painting and serigraph. I don't have a favourite Charley Harper work of art. I love most of them. This one is very cute, it is called 'Love from above' and like many of Harper's works is a form of silkscreen print, known as a serigraph
and this one is clever. It is called 'Bear in the Birches'.
and these are funny; the first is called 'Br-r-r-r-r-thday', the second one 'Blackberry Jam'
It is the birds, though that I think most typifies Harper's works. Here's one example; it is called 'Green Jay'. Even though his illustrations look simple they are incredibly accurate representations of real species.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Doily Tree

Since most of us don't know what to do with them anymore, it is a good thing that these crocheted ornamental mats don't grow on trees. But yesterday walking along Gertrude Street, Fitzroy I was cheered to see this fabulous application of the old doily. Must have taken someone hours to stitch them all into place. The person I was with wondered what the tree itself might have thought of such adornment. I think if I was a tree I'd be pleased to have my beauty honoured with such an intricate, handcrafted labour of love.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Simple and Fresh!

Trying to live "a hand made life" certainly has some benefits. Better tasting food and a great deal of satisfaction, for starters. Last night I made pizza. It takes some time and planning to make the yeast based dough but it was definitely worth the effort. Topping it with simple fresh ingredients was a good move, too.

Here's the recipe, if you're interested:

Pizza dough:
350g strong baker's flour - plus extra flour for dusting and kneading
1 teaspoon castor sugar
7g packet of dried instant yeast
few grinds of salt (half a teaspoon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
250 ml warm water

Place 1 tablespoon of the flour into a bowl with the castor sugar and yeast. Add three tablespoons of the warm water and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until large bubbles appear on the surface. I put my bowl into the sink filled with warm water.

Then add the yeast mixture, olive oil, salt and remaining water to the rest of the flour. Stir with a round topped knife until mixture comes together. Then turn onto a floured board ready for kneading
Knead the dough for five minutes. This will give those arm muscles a good work out! Then place the ball of dough back in the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour, until dough is doubled in size.

While waiting two trays can be lightly sprayed with some olive oil spray (or greased in whatever method you prefer) and the topping for the pizza can be prepared. Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius.

I used about 150g bocconcini balls, sliced
30g grated parmesan cheese
12 cherry tomatoes sliced - I used the delectable Perino sweet snacking variety
6 swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
8 black olives, sliced
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed and torn.

When the dough is doubled in size, knock down, then divide into two. Knead each into a small bowl. Flour a rolling pin and roll each rounds. Place onto trays and use your hands to press the dough out, making the base quite thin. Then top with all the ingredients, except for the spinach leaves. Bake in oven for about 7 minutes or until the bases are crisp and golden and the cheese has melted and is golden as well. Remove from oven, sprinkle with spinach leaves. Then slice and serve. Bon appetit!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

the first!

Dora Ruby is launched. This was the very first garment and it has already gone to a good home.
Other garments can be found at

Monday, October 12, 2009

What a difference 30 days can make!

I took this photo on the 8th of September. I've greeted this tree as I have greeted the day since moving in in July. I have loved it in it's dark and barren phase, timber against grey sky backdrop. Very conducive for speculating, dreaming, planning, scheming. And it has been just right for the phase of my life where it might have looked to all the world as if not much was happening here, while underneath in silence and hiddenness, new creation was stirring. Just thirty days after the first photo, I took the second one. Same window. Same tree. Now aflame with life, energy and vitality. The transformation has happened so quickly there were times I'd swear I could actually see those buds growing, unfurling into leaves. If the tree from my bedroom window is anything to go by, it must be time to let what I have been working burst forth and flourish like the green of spring.