Friday, January 31, 2014

Deer and their skinny legs

I'm trying to draw a deer silhouette for a project.  They have very skinny knobbly legs, that I just can't seem to get right...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Drawing dryads

So once again I turn to google images and Pinterest, for images of nymphs and dryads from paintings and statuary, for images of dancers of ballet and contemporary styles to try and get the poses I think i'm looking for. Drawing isn't my best skill, so it takes time and slowly I begin to get a sneaky feeling that this isn't going to work. The whole project seems either to classicly twee or too fantasy art driven. I wait 'till my partner gets home for a second opinion... he agrees, not quite the thing. So time to stop and reasses.

dryad sketches

Bagging pixie dust

Well that is what it felt and looked like. I bagged Cerium, Pumice and grades 80, 220, 400 & 600 of Silicon Carbide at the Glassworks today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wax maquettes chillin' out in the fridge

It's warm in Canberra this week, top temps range between 35-38. My sculpting wax gets rather soft...
A quick spell in the fridge works rather well

Selkie's in the fridge

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Selkie's in blogland

The following is part of a post from Katherine Langrish's Seven Miles of Steel Thistles on Perilous seas in faerie lands forlorn. Katherine talks a little about Selkies and I think to myself that her explanation is very much part of my fascination with the stories. I also downloaded a copy of Troll Mill be updated on my Selkie bibliography.
"And what about the original legends, such as the Cornish Mermaid of Zennor or the Scottish selkie and kelpie stories?  The legends are tremendously inspiring - but you have to think about them, find out what they are saying to you.  I wrote about the selkies, the shape-shifting seal people, in ‘Troll Mill’, the second part of my trilogy ‘West of the Moon’.  The legend is of a fisherman who sees the selkies dancing on the moonlit beach in the form of lovely women, and he snatches up one of their discarded sealskins so that the selkie girl can’t escape into the sea.  She has to marry him and bear his children, but one day she finds where he’s hidden the sealskin.  At once she throws it on, returns to the sea and abandons him and her human (half-human?) children forever.

For me, this legend seemed to be about the difficulty of understanding one another, even in a bond as close as marriage – in a sense, one’s partner is always the Other.  It speaks of the power struggle between couples – and the grief of a failed partnership – and, very strongly I thought, about the new mother’s plunge into post-natal depression.  And that was how I used it in my book, though keeping the magic and lyricism." Katherine Langrish.

A few days later Katherine had a guest post by Laurie Majorie Miller who give us A Selkie story for a new millenium

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I have been looking at a lot of underwater photography, specifically people floating, diving and swimming underwater. I want to capture the delight of being underwater, that weightlessness in the poses. I'm planning a series of etchings that mentally i'm calling the Mirror series. I want a selection of underwater poses that are "mirrored" slightly by the seals (see the lower image), suggesting the dual nature of the selkie.

Now to work on the seals.

Basic poses, now need detailing

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thank you Ruth

Ruth Oliphant is leaving her position at the Glassworks. I will miss her presence there, but life sounds excciting for her with new projects, travels and residencies in the near future. Ruth collects keys so...
Metal and glass keys to unlock opportunities ahead

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Forest light and the seal that almost wasn't

After my etching refresher at Megalo I went back to the Glassworks (a walk of 2 minutes) to continue polishing and shaping the Forest light with Eucalyptus oil. The scent elicited many positive comments and curiosity as I worked.

I got bored of smoothing towards the end of the day and started on an idea I have for the Depths & Shallows exhibition. It's one of those ideas that I'm not sure if it's going to be cheesy or knick-knacky until I try one. I was thinking of sculpting a selkie, the transformation shown with the female form as negative space inside the seal form. I struggled for an hour or so before my lump of wax started to look even vaguley like a seal and then it was time to go.

Polishing wax with Eucalyptus oil

forest light inside

Selkie in progress

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

dryad piece in the kiln

the Dryad piece is now in Kiln 19. The glass is furnace cullet, from when the CGW furnace was emptied before Christmas. Tom brought out the usable glass into patties for me, nice thick chunks of annealed glass. the schedule was a bit of a mash up. I suddenly realised that the Dryad piece is quite thick, so quite a few extra hours were added.

Megalo print studio

I am now a member of Megalo print studio and today I did my WHS studio induction. The airy studio's and gallery are conveniently located near the Canberra Glassworks. I have some ideas for the Depths & Shallows exhibition that I would like to produce as etchings.

The studio's are beautiful, well supplied, staffed & stocked at very reasonable rates.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forest light project

I have this image in my head, that is where I'm trying to get to with this light.

from my sketch book, the one on the left

I haven't done this before, so I'm just going with it. There are elements that I have done before but not quite put together like this. The collage below shows progress over the last 3 days.

forest light stage 1 montage


Today I also worked on my 'Dryads' project for the 'Tree' exhibition at Canberra Glassworks in March. I started because I needed to distract myself from waiting for wax for the forest light (melting or cooling, it always takes too long.)

Similar to some of my other work, but this time I'm combining scale and sandblast imagery. I'm thinking about gold leafing the Dryads but i'm not sure, or trying another colour other than black. Only one way to find out!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tree mastermould panel

Second stage, make a plaster negative. Given that this is a shallow cast I need to give it more time to set and strengthen. I'll remove the plaster and cast in wax tomorrow.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stitching selkies

Here is a first experiment turning my Selkie sketches into textiles with calico, back-stitch, satin-stitch and one french knot. What would be a suitable stitch for hair?

Seal needs one more splotch

Wedding congratulations

Congratulations to newlyweds Jen & Bong, wishing you many happy years together.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Selkie sketches

Here is an idea i'm working up for a non-glass (maybe) idea for our Depths & Shallows exhibition.
Intended as a series of etchings, seal and woman mirror poses.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Woodland tankard out of the kiln

The 'Woodland tankard' prototype is out of the kiln and cleaned from most of the refectory material. It still needs coldworking, as can be seen by the 'drunken' gait of the animation...that lump at the base needs to come off. I thought about casting it in a colour, but if you were to add beer the glass would turn amber anyway.

Woodland tankard in  reused Spectrum '96 nuggets
Add caption

Selkie Bibliography

"I am a man upon the land, I am a silkie in the sea"

Spike's ongoing Selkie bibliography... is of course biased... There is plenty of content not included here, as the purpose of the list is to inspire my visual arts practice.

Folklore and fairytales

Folklore and fairytales: collections & studies
  • People of the Sea by David Thomson (1965)
  • Tales of the Seal People: Scottish Folk Tales by Duncan Williamson (1998)

Fiction: Short Stories
  • The Selkie that deud no' forget by Walter Triall Dennison (1880)
  • One spared to the sea by W Towrie Cutt (c.1970's)

Fiction: Novels
  • Secrets of the Sea House (2013)*
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (2012)*
  • The Selkie Spell by Tara Moss (2011)*
  • Sea Change by Aimee Friedman (2009)*
  • Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks (2008)*
  • Troll Mill by Katherine Langrish (2006)*
  • Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley (2005)*
  • Selkie by Anne Cameron (1996)
  • Seaward by Susan Cooper (1987)
  • The Selkie Girl by Susan Cooper (1986)
  • Selkie by Kenneth Liggington (1985)
  • The Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K. Fry
  • The Selkie by E. A. Van Vogt (not entirely convinced with this one)

Fiction: story thread
  • Fox mask by Juliett Marillier (2003)*

  • The Selkie's Lover (2013)
  • Ondine (2009)*
  • The Selkie (2000)
  • The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

Web resources
  • Orkneyjar: the Heritage of the Orkney Islands, Selkie folk

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Growing tomatoes and the best risotto ever

the tomato enclosure
This is the way my mum grows tomatoes, a method she has come up with after years of experimentation. Protected from avian tomato fans, shaded from the fierce sun, easy to pick and water (each bucket has a spray at the base of the plant)

On New Years day I picked a massive amount of ripe tasty tomatoes of many varities and took them home to Canberra. 

Tonight I made a risotto which I have to admit was super tasty and all you need is:
Tomatoes, 1 red capsicum, 1 bulb of garlic, olive oil & seasoning, butter, 2 cups of aborio rice, a cup of white wine, 3 cups of stock, fresh basil & maybe some cheese.

First I roasted a pan of tomatoes, a whole red capsicum and a bulb of garlic with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.

In a saucepan on low heat I added a scoop of butter and set about popping open all the roast garlic and adding it to the butter.
Add the aborio rice and stir.
Add the cup of wine and stir in.
Throw in the small tomatoes, chop the capsicum and add.
Do the usual with risotto: add liquid bit by bit and stir.
When you have no liquid left turn off the heat, chop the basil and stir through.

To serve I grated a bit of mature cheddar in the base of the bowl before adding the risotto.

mmm yum.

Domestic things: Summer robe

Another thing on my list to sew myself  this year is a light robe / dressing gown type thing. I still have a cosy winter one my mum made me years and years ago but it's terribly hot for summer.

Based on a kimono wrap style robe I winged my way through not using a pattern (just a few measurements and cutting), though my process could have done with a little working out before I threw the fabric headlong through the sewing machine. The fabric is a lovely soft floral Japanese cotton that I bought in Singapore a few years ago. Finally I decided that I wouldn't make a dress out of the fabric, not really a great choice for my colouring, but fine for a summer dressing gown.

If I made another... I would make it wider and longer, add inseam pockets and try a different sleeve.

Kimono style summer robe

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Domestic things: Peg bag

I have been meaning to make a peg bag since we moved into this house, the garden does, after all have a hills hoist. Ridiculously without a peg bag, said pegs end up all over the place and I find my self stuffing them in my pockets, maybe a peg pocket?

On boxing day I made a list of domestic type things I wanted to sew and here is the first.

peg bag
I had a quick look on pinterest and the 'net and decided that the hanger type ones wouldn't do. The Hills hoist can, on a windy day get a bit windmill like and hangers do not survive. Made from bits of himself's old shirt and trousers, ribbon from a present (thank you NGA) and a clip from a former bag, this pegbag is functional if not as pretty as some. Thank you to Nicola Foreman and her posts on swedish pegbags for inspiration.

I made the pattern by scrolling some paper into a cone, trimming, drawing an opening and measuring the resulting circle. Amazingly a maths equation solved the size of the base.

Will post a picture of the bag on the daylight. 

If I make another, I would extend the base for more peg room and maybe stiffen the base as well or add two seam lines and add that pleat at the bottom that many bags have....

pegbag in use and rather bleached out by the bright light

plotting & planning for 2014

Well, this year is looking to be a busy one, unexpected travel plans in the middle of the year (Brazil for 6 weeks) make it even more so. Consequently due to an inner feeling of  "ooh err, help...ulp" I have ruled up a calendar from January to August, bought coloured pens and post-it notes to help organise my priorities and to add momentum to any motivational issues. I do keep an online diary but I find a large in your face, on the wall calendar to be more effective for every day.

2014 calendar Jan to mid August

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 a year that was

2013 was an important year for me. In 2012 I finished my Bachelor of Visual Arts degree in the Glass studio at Sydney College of the Arts and 2013 was going to be my first year out in the world as a non-student artist. So how did it go?

Right after I finished my degree (in late November 2012) we move from Sydney to Canberra for Dougie's work.

January: We were living in a motel, I applied for a graduate residency and worked out a new installation piece on the motel room floor in between the beds.

February: I was one of 4 graduates in residence at the Canberra Glassworks, it was a great experience.

March: We moved out of the motel into a house with a garden, garage and shed. My work 'the Woodcutter's Daughter' was on display at the Ausglass members show at Wagga Wagga regional gallery.

April: I took Masa's class Joy & logic in coldworking and reworked an installation piece that would show for one night at Sydney University for a fundraising night.

May: I was busy with wax and casting for a piece to go in 'Light in Winter'

June: I exhibited 'Talia's lamp' at Kirra Gallery in Melbourne.

July: I knitted, went to op-shops and drew sketches for the 'woodland tankard' project

August: I started casting keys

September: I cast more glass keys and finished 'The forbidden chamber' which exhibited in Art & About at a pop-up gallery in the Rocks. I ran an Adults beginner casting class at the Canberra Glass works and sent in a proposal for a joint exhibition at M16 Artspace.

October: I ran 3 kids casting classes at the Canberra Glassworks with the theme of Antarctic animals.

November: I made more keys, this time as ornaments and polished and drew figures for the woodland scenes. I recieved news that our submission to M16 was successful.

December: I finished the woodland landscapes to show in Bilk's 'Hollydays' exhibition. I made gifts, which unfortunately are still in the kiln.

A good first year as an artist. 2014 already is proving to be extremely busy!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Did I finish my Sewlution? No mistress of the jar, I didn't, woe is me. However I did start an ambitious (for me) project and I learned and did a whole heap of new things, so I don't feel dissapointed with myself, infact I feel quite pleased.

What has the Audrey in Unst Cardigan taught me so far? I can follow a pattern...who would have thought! I knitted for the first time with a 3 ply yarn, knitted acres of Twisted rib, tried my first simple lace stitch and Increased and decreased when told to...mile stones for me.

The knitting came to a halt when it was time for the sleeves, around October. I knew I would need some clear hours of concentration to work out that part, hours which haven't been available so much at the end of the year (and it's much hotter too). 

I will finish, but it was the Sewlution that got me started. Thanks Karen!

CAIU so far, plus cat feet