Saturday, 21 February 2009

Virtual Jewellery

My newest venture is making virtual jewellery for a couple of the participants of an online RPG I'm involved with. Tokens of esteem have been exchanged, and I offered to turn them into virtual wearable jewellery.

The first was a cinch - just a matter of finding the right frame, and then the right colour tartan. Then the magic of Photoshop to combine the layers, and Hey Presto, a beautiful brooch:

The lace piece is proving a little more challenging, trying to make it look masuline! Here they are:

The first is a relatively wide lace, backed by ruched blue organza ribbon, with a blue ribbon & pearls embellishment, and an amethyst pin.
The second is a narrow ribbon, tied with gold yarn, and decorated with small fresh water pearls on silver chain.
Both would need to be starched to maintain their shape during wear. I'm not sure if they're masculine enough, but then if you tell a woman you need to swap tokens of affection, and she's not prepared, you get lace, LOL.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Rangitoto Island From St Heliers Beach

This postcard was made for a February/Winter exchange on Goldilocks and Friends, and measures 18x15cm.
The materials: "sky dye" fabric for sky and sea; commercial batik cotton for island and grass, rocks & flax bushes; rust dyed fabric for sand. I put a very thin layer of fused then teased Aurora Crystalina Angelina on the sea to make it sparkle. Fussy cut rocks and flax, hand and FM machine embroidered.
On the rear of the card is a brief description, and pronunciation guide to the Maori words I've used.
I almost became unstuck when I came to bind the edges - my original plan was a wide black bias tape, but then discovered it would cover the words on the back, so plaited some lovely fibres from the scrapbook shop and handsewed them on.
It's currently summer in New Zealand - we had 30 deg C (84F) and 100% humidity for a week, with temperatures averaging around 25 deg C (78F) and 80-90% humidity. To even think of doing a "winter" theme was laughable.
Auckland city is built on an isthmus, at its narrowest only a mile or so wide, with the Manukau Harbour and Tasman sea on the western side, and the Waitemata Harbour and Pacific Ocean on the other. This site has been fought over for hundreds of years, before and after the coming of Europeans. The isthmus is covered with over 50 volcanic cones, and while many are extinct, some are only dormant. The last to explode was the island of Rangitoto, only 600 years ago.
Rangitoto Island is an iconic landmark, and a piece of what we call "kiwiana" - an idyllic EnZed summer.
For those that are interested, the rear of the card says:
Rangitoto Island from St Heliers Beach, Auckland, New Zealand. (Pron: Rang-e-toe-toe)
Phonetic pronunciation & translation:
Haere mai ki te Waitemata o Tamaki Makaurau.
High-ray my key tay Why-tea-ma-tar O Tar-Mar-key Mar-cow-row (rhymes with cow)
Maori (Mow-ree) greeting: Welcome to the Sparkling Waters of Tamaki of One Hundred Lovers.

I really enjoyed making this - I love doing the fussy cutting - I have a lovely pair of sharp-ended, spring-loaded Fiskars' scissors, and fuse iron-on webbing onto the fabric, leaving the paper backing on to provide some stiffening. I usually cut this sort of thing out while watching TV - as I'd rather be doing other things during daylight.
I have three more cards to do - one for March, and two for Easter/April - tho of course it's not actually Easter in the southern hemisphere.... but we won't go there right now.
There's a batch of fabric on the rust for a fat quarter swap - tannin dyed first.
Oh, and don't forget the TT1 & TT2 stuff. TT1 has been pretty boring, and I don't want to go out and buy any fabric. TT2, I've already bought most of the bits, and already used one technique - the angelina, so that's more useful.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Anathema of Altered Books and Collage

I’ve just come back from visiting Devonport on Auckland’s North Shore, to check out the second-hand bookshops that are there.

I found some interesting, and some lovely books at the bookstore. There was an illustrated guide to New Zealand Wildflowers, with beautiful watercolour paintings; there were similar books on insects, birds and marine life; a really cool book on Forensic Science with accompanying autopsy photos (I want!); a book on Megalithic culture in Britain; another on NASA pictures of Earth. The oldest book I found was printed in 1891 by the South Canterbury Cattle Breeders Association, and was a Herd List, with the names of all current breeding bulls and cows.

I was looking for an old book suitable to use for mixed media collage, altered books and art quilting. Having just finished reading the latest issue of Quilting Arts, and Cloth Paper Scissors, I’d been inspired by some of the illustrations featuring printed words and images from old books. The only problem is, I was also slightly disturbed by those same images, and anything that involved ripped up pieces of paper that appeared to have come from a book.

What I realised as I crawled around on the floor, scanning through the images in these books, is that to deliberately damage, rip, tear or wound one of these books would be a complete anathema, a bĂȘte noir – a black beast. That last thought is pretty ironic, as I consider my depression to take the form of a black beast.

I could no more deliberately injure a book, than I could injure my child. Yes, I tend to break the spine of books I’m reading, but I could not write or draw in them, rip or tear them, not even to create something that may later be called art.

One of my first jobs was working in a library, repairing books. Nearly 40 years later, I will still repair a damaged book before returning it to the library. I will neatly stack and order books on shelves, adjusting dustcovers so they sit properly.

So, I won’t be making any altered books, or collage/art quilts involving pages ripped from books. If I can find material that’s been scanned from a book, and printed off, maybe I can use that.