Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Felt bowls finished.

I finally finished these bowls. I stitched and added hand-dyed gauze to soften the rims and make the bowls a little more interesting.

I use the blue one to keep my found porcelain bits in a safe little nest ...

and the yellow one holds a set of vintage wooden toy skittles I found at the car boot sale. 

Yay for car boot sales!
PS I am so sorry I haven't been around to visit my favourite blogs more often and leave comments. Things are hectic, and in the New Year, once the books have been submitted, I will have more time to cyber-gallivant ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fabric Beads.

I made these beads a couple of weeks ago. I used stuffing for the middle, wound strips of  a beautiful red and green African fabric (bought here) around the stuffing, pinned, and then, with a needle, worked with a contrasting colour thread round and round and through the bead to secure. I have made a necklace and a bracelet.
I admit that they look a bit scrappy on the photo, but they actually look rather nice when I wear them.

We are now entering the critical last phase for the two books that have to be submitted in the first week of January. As I still haven't received ANY text for the second book, you can imagine that I am more than a little stressed. I will probably be eating my Xmas dinner with a red pen in the hand ... rolling my eyes and singing mad little songs to calm myself down.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Japanese slippers.

About a year or two ago a dear friend of mine, who is a crafty soul mate, made beautiful little Japanese slippers for babies. I fell in love with them and have always meant to have a try at making an adult pair for myself. I found a description online on how to put together the baby slippers, but unfortunately there was no proper pattern. So I just put my feet on a piece of newspaper, drew around them, leaving ample allowance for sewing up, and then kind of guessed what the dimensions of the top bit would have to be, and cut it out from a piece of newspaper, freehand nogal*. I then draped the top piece around the sole part to check the proportions, and snipped away at the pattern until it looked right.

I must say that I am pretty proud of them. They even fit!! And I also like the two cotton fabrics and denim inner that I used (all car boot sale finds).

Although they fit, I haven't really worn them, as the bottoms are quite slippery. I don't really want to break my neck in my quest for recycling bits and pieces, do I? Now I need to find out where I can get thin rubber soles to stick onto the bottoms ...
nogal*. In slang usage this is an expression of surprise, meaning "of all things", or "can you imagine?"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yellow necklace.

I have never been a big fan of yellow, but I realised some time ago that it looks really good with grey. So before the current trend for yellow runs its course, I thought I should make myself a bright yellow necklace to wear with my grey tops.

I made the pottery beads myself, had them fired, then painted them with yellow acrylic paint. Finally I varnished them and strung them on a black leather cord. To tie a sliding knot, see here.  (I subsequently redid the knot to balance it more evenly between the two smaller beads and make the necklace a little shorter.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

See No Evil.

Something I started on a few months ago. It is meant to be part of a series of three, but the second one (Hear No Evil) came out a bit of a disaster and I am still deciding on how to rework it. Also, I can't find many pictures of people with their hand(s) over their ears (that is the reason why HNE was a bit of a disaster), or over their mouths. I can't draw from my head, so I need a photograph or something to refer to ... sigh ... This one is from a European fashion magazine. I lightly sketched with pencil on the fabric (an old linen table mat), and then madly stitched it with Mr Darning Foot.

This one is not quite finished yet - I am now going to hand stitch with coloured embroidery yarn to fill in the background and a few other areas.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sitting pretty.

I have two large cushions that I like sitting on. But I needed to make them look a little more interesting. So I dyed some vintage doilies, collected from car boot sales, charity outlets and junk shops, and sewed them onto a continental pillow slip to make a cushion cover.
At the same time I also reworked the cushion with the fabric yoyos that I made ages ago, as it was becoming a bit tatty. Took them all off, washed them (as well as the cover) and restitched them with embroidery yarn

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Eye of God.

I saw this a while ago and thought it was lovely. It is a Mexican symbol called ojo de dios - the Eye of God. I made one using sosatie sticks, black wool and the leftovers of my grey merino wool. Quick to make in between editing.

Then I decided to use my beautiful coloured bamboo cotton and make a bunch of them to use as Christmas decorations.

Aren't they pretty?
And then, being in a philosophical mindset, I started wondering what it all meant? Does it mean God has many eyes, a bit like a spider? Or does it mean there are many Gods? And if so, do they each have one eye, like a cyclops, or two eyes? Or more? And what if there is not only one universe, but a multiverse, what then??
The mind boggles.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


An experiment from a few weeks ago.

I read about this method in a book (have forgotten which one now, but if anyone is interested I will go through my pile to see.) I like it because it uses plain old gel medium instead of the special transfer medium which comes in expensive small bottles.
Simply slather on gel medium on the surface to which you want to transfer (I used a piece of unvarnished wood) and lay your picture (this is from a magazine) on top with the image facing the wood. Smooth out the air bubbles as best you can - the vertical stripes you see in my example are the result of air bubbles. Let dry for at least a day. When completely dry, dampen the paper very lightly, and start rubbing it off with your fingers. It is a bit messy, with all the frumples of paper (that is my own word, in case you were wondering) but I love the result. Also works on canvas fabric, and with images printed on my inkjet printer, but the result is a little more blurry.
This one is going to become part of a mixed media assemblage with some found objects. It has not quite come together in my head yet, but as soon as it does, I will let you know!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Food for thought.

I read this book recently. It confirms what I have always believed about happiness, but says it so much better than I ever could.

Another excellent read  - a treatise on the way we make judgments and decisions. We feel that our choices and decisions are reasoned and logical, but it turns out that this often is an illusion.

Here is a quote:
"Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense, rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance."

And lastly, some TED talks that I viewed in the past week and that I can recommend:

Dan Ariely on how we make decisions - nicely fits in with Kahneman's book above.

Dawkins on why our universe seems so strange. It is because we  live in Middle World!

Brian Greene on the multiverse. Now you can understand it too! Or perhaps not.

Jane McGonigal on living 10 years longer. Although it seems to be about video games (which I am not into), the message is universal and can be applied to your life  even if you do not play a single video game ever.  I really enjoyed it.

Monday, November 5, 2012


For her 3rd adoption birthday Snous went to Art in the Forest. After looking at the beautiful ceramics exhibition (me) and a taking a muddy little walk (Snous and L'USband), it was time for a photo opportunity in the forest.

After that, we went to Groot Constantia for lunch under the trees ...

and ended the day by chasing squirrels.

Happy Adoption Birthday, my Bestest, Most Beloved and Most Beautiful Doggie in the Whole Wide World!
Make that Multiverse.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Some of the line drawings I have done so far while reading Danny Gregory's book, The Creative License:

Scales and bottles in my kitchen. (I collect scales and now have eleven.)

Fruit on cake stand in my kitchen.

Rooftops and trees with sea in distance (from my living room window).

I haven't, however, learnt to draw an egg yet ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I saw this yarn some time ago and I really liked the combination of colours (although the acrylicness of it was a bit off-putting). Anyway, I eventually bought myself a ball as I was intrigued as to how to knit with it. The shop assistant told me to simply use 8 of the loops as "cast-on" stitches, and then to continue knitting through the loops.

I didn't realize I was going to end up with a frilly scarf!

 I am not a frilly person (despite my recent obsession with frilly hyperbolic geometric crochet models). No, I am much more a Woman of Wonk. So wearing it is out, as far as I am concerned. I don't want to look as though I have got a huge strand of kelp or some other demented sea creature around my neck. Maybe I can use it to decorate a cushion cover? Or around the edge of one of my handmade vessels? Hmmm, tough one ...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kindle cover.

A quick project that fitted in nicely between editing sessions - a new cover for my Kindle. (The other one was a little too wide, so I am now using it a pouch to hold my embroidery yarn and scissors when I travel.)

Crocheted from cotton fabric strips, with crocheted bamboo cotton loop, and button made from piece of blue leather with smaller button stitched onto it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting hooked.

A while ago I met a very interesting woman at a tea party. (Actually, it turned out to be a G&T party, which to my mind is the very best kind of T-party there can possibly be, especially when it is hosted by the lovely Miss WhippingItUp, who has magically transformed herself from a pastry chef into a gardener of note, but. luckily for the rest of us, had not forgotten her patisserie skills, and served the most delicious lemon meringue, berry tart and banana cream tart, which complemented the G&Ts rather well, although you may not think so. Phew, that was a long sentence. but now it is finished, and we can finally move on to topic of this post).

The interesting woman (who, by the way, knits the most amazing tea cozies) , told me about this project. You can watch the TED video here. Wow - maths and crochet! Who would have thought that you could illustrate geometric hyperbolic space with a piece of crochet? And create a coral reef along the way?

I just had to try it out. (I do like a bit of maths every now and then to liven things up.) And I can think of many lovely applications, some functional, and some purely artistic.

Pink Hyperbolic Space (wool, crochet)

Never thought maths could be interesting, did you? And while I have you hooked (no pun intended), here is a very interesting and accessible article on maths in the NYT . Go on, read the whole series - you know you want to!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#12 revisited.

Those painted-on dots have been bothering me. What do you think of buttons?

As you may suspect, the buttons are recycled . At the moment I have only prestikked them on, but do let me know what you think before I grab my glue gun and zap away ...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vessel #14.

Reinterpreting the "slabs" method in fabric to make a lidded box.
(For inspiration, look at Beginner's Guide to Embroidered Boxes, by Janet Edmonds.)

I added lots and lots of stitching ...

The front closes with a "tie" made from the seam of the same recycled denim that I used for the box, weighted down with a sinker, kindly donated by my art teacher.

At the moment I am keeping in it my scissors and all the bits that I used while I was making the box: embroidery threads, small pieces of fabric, cardboard, batting, etc. I may keep on using it as a needlework box, or I might use it for stationery.
I would have used it for letters, but nobody writes me letters anymore, sigh ...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vessel #13.

Bird House - a ceramics experiment that I actually like! Yay!!!! This is a box I made from a white clay using the "slabs" method. I scratched out the design, then used a combination of glazes and ceramic pencil to "colour in".

I am not too sure yet what I will use it for. To hold biscuits, sweets, bird seed?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vessel #12.

I made this vase at the same time as the bowl. But whereas the sticker experiment failed charmingly on the bowl, the vase had a less happy outcome. Some of the circles chipped off completely in the kiln, others broke off unevenly, and some didn't come off at all. So I painted on dots. I am not quite happy with it yet - it might go through another reincarnation. Perhaps I will use my stash of rusty washers that I pick up on my walks and glue them on. Perhaps I will crochet around it. Perhaps I will let it drop accidentally.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vessel #11.

This is one of my ceramic experiments that I actually like.
I coiled the bowl, then smoothed it and made holes ...

for stitching onto it, what else?

You know I can't keep away from stitching stuff, don't you?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vessel(s) #10.

Pinch pots made from black clay. I was quite disappointed when they came out of the kiln after glazing. What I had thought was going to be a beautiful light sea-green glaze, turned almost black, with a few dark-green tinges. In the photo below it looks more blue, but trust me, it is dark green and black.

I stamped the inside with a Tibetan stamp of a flower. Well, that is according to the lady who sold me the stamp. For all I know it may be Indian or Chinese. And maybe it is not a flower but something much more sinister. Anyway.

They are kind of starting to grow on me. Slowly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Vessel #9.

Yay - my ceramic vessels have all been fired! Some are less successful than others, I have to add. Here is the first one - made in a lovely terracotta clay and glazed with a white slip.

The little round dots you see are the results of a failed experiment - I stuck on round stickers before glazing in the hope that they would burn off and leave perfectly round, terracotta-coloured dots in the white glaze. Not so, I am afraid. They half-peeled off in the kiln, but the glaze prevented them from getting completely dislodged. While this makes for a very nice, arty effect, it results in a non-functional bowl, as the round dots can be chipped off by inserting your nail in the groove. I know it because I tried it. And unfortunately they do not chip off leaving perfectly round terracotta-coloured dots.  So I had to artfully fix the one dot that I spoiled.

I bet you can't even see it! Oh well, maybe you can ...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Vessel #3 revisited.

I made two of these jute string bowls. I battled to remove the shiny residue left over in the holes, and gave up after various efforts. So I decided to rather weave through the holes. I used black and white "size" ribbon, and the bowls are now called 28" and 33". Great additions to my Wonky series, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vessel #8.

A quick experiment with cotton gauze. 

Cotton gauze layers with fabric threads suspended between the layers. Stiffened with wall paper glue. It has an organic look to it, and I think one can play with that. This one holds a few favourite semi-precious stones on my bedside table.

I am planning to make a few more, but this time using fabric strips, felt and paper ephemera 
between the layers of gauze. Also, I have experimented with dyeing the gauze to get some interesting effects. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vessel #7.

Crocheted with wool, stiffened with wood glue and painted with craft paint. Then I wove through torn cotton strips. I like the wonkiness of it!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vessel #6.

My recycling obsession has reared its head again  - two containers made from those net bags that oranges come in. I wove through cream cotton thread, and stiffened them with wood glue. They can hold candles or (in this case) battery-operated tea lights.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vessel #5.

Bowl made from used teabags, stiffened with acrylic matt medium.