Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Natures Beads and a Bit of Fishing

Well Steve had four days off work so inevitably we would have to go fishing.  On boxing day we went up to the williams river for a late afternoon fish, there has been plenty of rain recently and lots of trees have come down in the flooding waters. One of these, and I think it might be a silky oak, was covered in these lovely little nutty, coney things so I made Steve get the boat close enough to acquire a few branches loaded with them . He wasn't too happy having all this herbage in the boat along with plenty of resident spiders, but I promised to clean up the mess and he got over it . Today I striped all the seeds off and gave them a spray to get rid of any lingering wildlife and now have a bowl full of these lovely textured beads, I'm sure I'll find something wonderful to do with them LOL.



We fishing into the dark, didn't get a bite, but it was a beautiful evening as you can see from these photo's

On Sunday we drove up to Glenbawn Dam for the day, left the coast that was hot and humid and drove into some cloud around the ranges. There was no wind on the dam for a change, I hate the wind!! and some big black clouds looming. The dam is well up now and looks like a completely different place since the last time we were there. The fishing was great, a lot more predictable than the weather, which was sunny one moment, pouring the next and breezy intermittently. This was one of the best fish for the day, a nice 37cm, we didn't find any big fish, but all those we got were fat and healthy, so much better condition than they have been recently . As you can see, I'm my usual tidy self, hair all over the place, shirt buttoned up to a fashion,but boy did I get burnt, even with plenty of sunscreen and a more sensible hat than the one in the pic, I've even got dots on my feet where the sun went through the holes in my crocs', looks absolutely ridiculous :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Kisses and a Recipe

Christmas is Oh so close and I haven't put up a decoration or done any cooking!!  But now I have finished work and today is a lovely cool day so the dreaded housework must begin ( once I've posted to my blog of course).

Each year I usually buy  a new Christmas ornament, but this year decided to make one, so here is the Mistletoe Kiss. She is an old Crone who just might sneak up on you and demand a kiss under the mistletoe, so you better keep an eye out over your shoulder :)

Here are a few photo's of her, I've even got a few of her progress this time. She is made on a cloth stump body, her head, hands and mistletoe are polymer clay,  I used apoxy sculpt to attach her head to the cloth and for her wooden staff . Her clothes are made from hand dyed cotton and cotton scrim. The green skirt has been rust dyed too and the waist coat is calico with a layer of textured modelling paste and acrylic paints. As you can see she is all puckered up ready for that kiss.

I have been out for dinner a few time's recently and been very disappointed with the food, I hate going out and spending money on a meal when you come out thinking you could have eaten better at home. This got me to thinking that I just don't do the cooking that I used to and have those great evenings of entertaining friends. So my new years resolution this year, is to do just that, I know I know we never keep  new years resolutions, but I will try. To give me some motivation I'm going to ask Santa for one of those great food mixers, I've only got a little hand beater that was a wedding present 28 years ago, that now only has one beater and really struggles sometimes to get going. I suppose to have any appliance that is that old and still going is a miracle in it's self.  So I am going to share with you one of my favourite Christmas recipes, I made this cake about 8 years ago and now make it every year, it's become one of our Christmas traditions. Louise will miss out this year as she is in the UK and there is only Steve and myself to get through two big cakes, I'm sure we'll manage :). It is a really rich cake and a bit tricky to do and you really do need a bundt or ring tin or it wont cook in the middle, but well worth the effort. Let me know if you give it a try, you might be like me and end up doing one every year.

Rich Chocolate Fruit Cake

220g dried figs, sliced

140g pitted prunes, halved

180 dried apricots, diced

125g pitted dates, halved

½ cup O.P. rum or Grand marnier

1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped orange zest

3 cups plain flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons bicarb-soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

90g good quality dark chocolate

2 cups packed brown sugar

125g butter, room temp

4 eggs

1 cup good quality fruit mince

300g pecan or walnuts

Thoroughly combine the first six ingredients in a bowl, cover tightly and set aside for at least one hour or overnight.

Pre heat oven to 150c.  Butter and flour a 12 cup capacity 28cm bundt tin or a very deep ring tin.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.

Place the chocolate in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add the sugar and grind together, set aside.

Cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in sugar mixture in three additions (mixture will be grainy).  Add eggs one at a time beating well with each addition.

Stir in one third of the dry and half the fruit mince.  Then add the half of the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the mince.

Stir the remaining dry ingredients and pecans into the fruit mixture, add this to the batter and mix well.

Spoon batter into prepared tin and bake for 1 ½ hours or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Cover loosely with foil if the cake browns too quickly.

Remove from oven an allow to cool in the tin for 20mins. Invert onto a rack and leave for a few minutes then gently lift off the tin.  Allow cake to cool completely then brush over with more O.P or grand marnier.

Store in a cool place for up to 3 months

Can be decorated with icing sugar, drizzled with chocolate and choc coated almonds or glace orange slices.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wax, Rust and a Sneak Peek

Well I have plenty of time at home at the moment, but don't seem to be getting an awful lot done, but her are a few pictures of what has been happening the last week or so.
The soy wax flakes arrived a few weeks ago and I have been eager to see what they will do. Karen came round on Monday, so we made up some print paste with the procions, got out some old pieces of very pale fabric and had a play. I love this wax, so easy to use and has great potential. Here are a couple of samples.

Karen tried out a tjanting and this is the wonderful result

Simple block print

I also spent a day trying out the rusting technique from the textured surfaces online workshop I have been doing. This is a totally addictive technique and I could have dyed everything in sight rusty. Here are a couple of samples, the last piece is tyvek that has been ironed lightly, I find I do not have enough control with a heat gun so use the iron and a light touch.

Ok, poor Pandora has been completely neglected while I have been trying new dyeing and painting techniques, so here is a sneak peek of her. She still has a long way to go, but as I have changed some of the materials from the original workshop, it's going to take a bit of experimentation to get her right. I have a few Christmas projects on the go at the moment, but once they are done, I must get back to poor Pandora .

Friday, November 14, 2008

Something Old Something New

  A while ago, I made this box from hand dyed fabrics, threads, silk paper and all sorts of braids ect. I have always intended to make a book to go in the box, at the moment it contains two of my favourite novels. The textured surfaces workshop has given me all sorts of new ideas for pages for the book. With the holidays coming up, who know's I might actually get this done.                                             

My Golden paints arrived early this week and I have had a chance to try them out on two canvases I had prepared for the workshop. I bought three interference paints in green, violet and red and just had to try them all out on these. The red has given them a lovely purple glow. I'm quite happy with the way they turned out, but need to do a lot more experimenting with these new paints to get the best out of them I think.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Coloured Samples

This weekend was a strange sort of couple of days, the weather didn't know what to do with it's self and neither did I. So I pottered about, picking up some of the samples I had made for the Textured Surfaces lessons I am currently doing. Added a bit of this and a bit of that and ended up with the pieces below. 
I have bought some lovely golden heavy body acrylics on line, which arrived today :) so can started adding more colour to the other pieces very soon. 
Senior Art Supplies  carry an extensive range of these paints and are wonderful to deal with.
So here are a few samples, love the way they are turning out and having all sorts of wonderful ideas how to use these techniques.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Seed Pods and Samples

While we were away in Queensland I collected these lovely seed pods. I plan to use the jacaranda seeds in place of the shells in my Pandora piece, and maybe the lovely little flowery looking ones. I was told the names of the trees I collected them from, but for the life of me can't remember what they are. I will be covering them in the powertex which I have been using on my FME pieces which should preserve them.

Jenny, my friend from work collected this lovely paper bark, I'm hoping to use this for Pandora's skirt. 

I have also signed up for another on-line workshop Textures Surfaces run by two amazing textile artist Carol McFee and Lynda Monk.
Here are a few of the samples I have made so far. I have been out in my studio finding "stuff" I have had stashed away for years, just waiting for a workshop just like this one. The trouble is I seem to spend as much time looking for "stuff" as I do making the samples. It's amazing how you can put something away, never to be found again!!

Tyvek pieces waiting to be incorporated into a sample piece.

Moulding paste used with texture plate, stencil, and bubble wrap.

Hand and machine couching, mulberry bark and expandaprint

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Latest Queensland Trip

Back from our two week trip up North, fishing and generally relaxing. This year we drove up the coast as we called into Brisbane to catch up with an old friend. It has been years since we have driven that way and made a nice change. We stopped at Ballina for breakfast, had the best eggs benedict I've had in years, the cafe we chose was right on the waterfront, where we found these wonderful sculptures.

The first dam we fished was Peter Faust in Proserpine, just north of Mackay. The south easterly blew every day we were there, shutting down the fish, and as you can see from the photographs, we had a few showers, not good fishing, but made for some great photo's.

From Proserpine, we drove back south to Awoonga and spent three days fishing the back of the dam and bush camping. The wind still blew, the fishing was terrible and we were hit by a big storm one evening which made for a wet and interesting night!!
From there we went to Cania Gorge and stayed at the cottage for a week, luxury after camping in the back of the 4 WD. The weather improved and we finally started to catch some fish.
We took a day off from fishing to drive up to Kroombit Tops National Park to visit the crash site of a WWII bomber the "Beautiful Betsy"

Bottle brush trees by the river

We stopped at these cattle yards for a coffee, they have been here since the 1800's

If you look carefully at the lean to by the gate, you will see that the stumps are actually a table and stools, I thought of this as one of the oldest out door settings in Australia.

Here you can see how two trees have been utilised and a ramp made for loading the cattle.

This little guy was very obliging and sat perfectly still for this photo.

Finally reached the top and got these pictures from the look out. There was some burning off going on lower down so the view was a bit hazy.

Still a good bit of 4 Wheel driving to go to get to the Beautiful Betsy.

It took a good half a day to drive to the site, but was well worth it. Although it is a very sad place as eight airman lost their lives here, it was also fascinating to see the wreckage that was not discovered for nearly 50 years. Looking at the wreckage, it was hard to believe it had been there for five let alone fifty plus.
We decided to take a different route back, didn't connect with the road we had planned to meet and ended up doing some pretty extreme 4W Driving. This photograph was taken after the hairy stuff when we are nearly back to the main road. Looks quite lovely, but you should have seen what we had to climb to get there!!

Our last camping spot before we headed home was at Wuruma Dam. There were no other boats there and only two other campers so was very peaceful. Sleeping in the back of the 4WD made it very quick to pack up and get on the water, so we managed to squeeze in just one more fishing session before heading home. This proved to be the best session of the trip.

A brown dragon fly on a brown stick in brown water, but see how the sun has made the wings look like cut crystal.

View of Wuruma Dam

Our last camp with the early morning mist on the water - paradise!!

Ok had to include some fish photo's, it was a fishing trip after all

Steve with a nice Wuruma bass.

Another nice bass safely returned to the water.

A pair of 42cms on a double hook up.

Best fish of the trip, a whopping fat 53cm, my best yet and probably the best 
I will see for a long time