October 30, 2008


It's late, and I'm sitting up with my laptop, just a quick post before bed. I can't fall over now, the second-to-last day of Blogtoberfest. Not after the superb cake-roundup, Nana's cool shirt, or the pattern goodness with delightful envelope drawings. You - we - have all put in so much effort, written so many interesting and thoughtful posts, and made some new connections.

Everything has gone quiet, and there are fewer trains, just the occasional car, and the sound of seed pods popping on the tin roof as they fall. Today's fierce wind is gone. My latest mini-quilt is a saturated wet square hanging on the line in the dark, wild man of the forest painted, eyes black and mouth spouting leaves. An early Hallow's Eve sprite; an old man of the woods, Jack in the Green.

Tomorrow it all starts up again: work, play, talk, organising, doing, being, out and about. An all-night craft-a-thon midnight pyjama party with my crafty gang, we're going to dabble in the art of stichery witchery. But for now, I'm off to bed to dream of leaves, moss and quiet things.


October 29, 2008

Tea... pots!

I'm playing along in the Veg About going on over at Bellgirl at the moment. My planting progress this week has been a leetle slower than I'd like, but here are a couple of shots of the new residents of my garden.

First to hit the decks and be planted: twelve tiny basil plants.

Grow, kiddies, grow! Youse all gonna be pesto.

Then, this got the dirt good and grubby under the nails as I prepared these pots for the veggies and herbs that await them: tomatoes - 6 roma and 3 tom thumb tinies, coriander, and the strawberries are already in and have been vetted by Mr. Blackbird.

If I have a large pot left over, I'll plant one potato plant, probably kipfler, known as Hattifattners in our house, after our favourite children's books of all time. And I found a self-seeded tomato that looks strong enough to leave it in and see what it comes to.

Finally, if there's only one thing I know about gardening, especially in a pot, it's that vegges really like a nice cup of tea.

They like it strong. Sun-brewed, no milk.

That's manure tea, right: 3 large handfuls of manure, warm water, mixed well and left to sit in the sun all day. Pour it on when the sun goes down (less evaporation, good water wise-ness), and let the plants soak up the muck. Not too often: once every couple of weeks sounds right for me (anyone know for sure? Leave a comment - I could do with the advice!)

More fun over at Bellgirl, where you'll find a list of lovely veggie-planting bloggers, including fun from Life in the Dome and Bowerbirdz. Go enjoy some hunting and gathering!

- B

October 28, 2008

Blogtoberfesting, country style....

Guten Morgen, meine Blogtoberfesteren! (?)

Today we are out and about, looking for creative inspiration. We smile through clouds of bees - in between sneezes. We search for zee seeds of zuper-crafty art ideas!

Ah, I see it now.....

Inspiration is dawning....

I see a range of....

Yellow Quilts!
Yellow bags!
Tissue holders!

(Back tomorrow, I'm just out and about today.)


October 27, 2008

Red roses and resident blackbirds

Paperweights, preserved moths, beetles and shells. (ROM museum, Toronto)

I'm sitting in the window of my front room, looking out at red, red roses glowing in the sunshine. I don't know how it happened, but we have a bumper crop of roses all of a sudden, and they are a real joy. Even to a girl who isn't a huge rose fanatic and who loves eucalyptus flowers, bottly-brush grevilleas and all of our spectacular native flowers.

This is not my garden, but every girl can dream... (South island, New Zealand)

After yesterday's big blog rant, I am uninspired today. Perhaps I burned up all I had to say for the moment. Your comments and emails were much appreciated -- isn't it funny how we're not alone? I spent most of the day working on a freelance contract, but when the sun came out, I just had to dash out into the garden to get some soil prepared for the veggies. I'm participating in the Veg About over at Bellgirl: are you?

Our resident blackbird Papa and Mama perched on the fence and kept a wary eye on me, occasionally darting into the ivy. Whenever I found a slug or an earwig, I put it on top of the garbage bin next to me, and although I didn't see or hear the birds come past me, the offerings disappeared at a regular rate. I've got seven large tubs ready to receive tomatoes, strawberries and coriander, and I've left them for the birds to pick over the soil before heading out to plant one or two things. I do love spring!

Tomorrow, it's back to my volunteer job, and I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting to get to flex these new editing skills and the writing muscles in aid of a cheffy-foody charity that you admire. Hurrah, I say! And another interview. And a talk at the Victorian Writers' Centre in the evening. Busy, and all good.

I'd better plant some tomatoes. So much for having nothing to say... I'll file this one under "Rambles"!


October 26, 2008

This is.... Something I'm surprised I like

I haven't come across Earl and Cookie before now, but they've chosen a good challenge for the week! Click 'This is' button at the right for more....

The thing that surprises me is that I like getting up and about. No, please don't laugh! I've never been the sporty type: I was the one whose glasses were knocked off in soccer, whose glasses were smashed away in volleyball, whose glasses.... you get it. And who eventually took to enacting wildly silly parodies of gym sports with my best friend in class, thankfully with a teacher who encouraged us to laugh and jump around, even if we were playing badminton with no birdie and claiming scores of 72-zillion to 58-billion. "Who cares," I can see she was thinking "As long as they are moving".

For much of my life I've been overweight, and I know the creeping shame and embarrassment, self-loathing and malaise that comes with feeling that there must be something wrong with you, that losing weight is a mountain you can't climb. I still haven't climbed all of that mountain, and I honestly don't know if I have it in me to climb the rest of the way. It really does take an incredible amount of mental energy and anguish. It's not just a case of deciding or not deciding, or being strong or not. It's harder than that.

Last year, I shed 10 kilos with the help of an extraordinary, kind, warm bunch of women at my gym. I'm not a gym kind of gal. I didn't think I would like it. I never - never never ever - thought I would sign up. But I was lucky enough to walk into a supportive environment that told me I should respect myself FIRST, whatever size I am, and dance my heart out, because music is what I love, and the rest - that is, the capacity to make the effort to really work hard to lose those kilos, tiny bit by teensy tiny bit - will follow. I'm only halfway there, but I get up, put these shoes on every single day, and I am continually surprised at how much I love it.


Well, there you go! I'm going to file this one under "Rants"! (big laugh)


PS - I really wasn't sure whether or not to post this, so I scheduled it for an hour later, to think about it. It's a bit scary to say these things, you think you'll be judged. I'm going to go ahead though, not because I want compassion or reassurance, but because I'm trying to say that all the pain about weight is all sort of.... irrelevant now. It's over. But for so many people I know it's not, and I think it's important to say that it is possible to start to move on from that place, to put on those shoes and dance on out of there into a spot where it's just good to be up, and about and alive and moving. That's all.

I guess that makes this a double rant! (This gal got something to say, stand way back!)

Sketchcrawl Melbourne - some pictures!

Yesterday I went along to the much-anticipated (by me) event: the Sketchcrawl! If you are asking yourself what a Sketchcrawl might be, check out my original post, or the global Sketchcrawl blog.

It's damn fun, that I can tell you! There were over 50 locations participating yesterday, as people slowed down to look around and draw (or record) what they saw.

Here's a little story of the day, in sketch and photos.

As my tram inched up Swanston St., I wasn't sure what to expect. How many people would be there? Would they all know each other?

I was even looking around, checking for people carrying sketchbooks, and when I got to the State Library, they were obvious: a cluster of almost 20 people carrying sketchpads and cameras. All ages, some obviously old hands at the sketching game, others with new small notebooks and a pencil tucked in a pocket, and some - like me - waking up rusty old skills.

Several photographers joined us, and my friend Annie raced off to get thin paper and some pastels so that she could do better rubbings of decorative textures. (She found some fabulous art deco lettering by the end of the day.) Janice, aka Jen, who organised the day beautifully (thank you Jen!) handed us our itineraries. Let the Worldwide Sketchcrawl begin!

First stop, State Library of Victoria

City centre, sun worshippers, students, high-rise dwellers. Tourists, trams and groups of men in dark suits, being led first one way and then the other, appearing several times with their guide. Hmm.

After warm-up sketches on the lawn of the State Library, I followed the photographers who were hunting art deco delights, street art and swanky buildings. Here are two of them, Karen and Jenny, in action:

Don't look now, but there's a big green alien above you!

Oh, it's just RMIT.

Then, with the day heating up, off we went through the lanes to... The Queen Vic Market!

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that this is my spiritual home. Food, chat, people, colour and mess - I love it! All the world is at the market.

Even the Mango Mafia were there, debating the share price of mangoes (down, definitely down).

Fabulous flowers - a profusion of shapes and sizes!

I'm in love with my new, pink, brush-tipped pen. It's just the colour to remind me of...

Cool watermelon on a hot, dry and dusty day!

I wondered if there were any big, hairy spiders hiding in all those boxes of bananas...

... but I did not go closer to investigate.

And we dined like kings on cheese, bread, and donuts from the Polish Deli, mmmm, those donuts!

Last stop: bing! bing! Bourke Street!

Teens and tourists, buskers, bikers and fashion-victims, families, friends, and lots of hot, tired people waiting for trams. We settled on the cool steps of the GPO in prime position to sketch them all.

Six Sketchcrawlers, sitting on stone steps.

Jen, our intrepid organiser, is in the front of the photo and I'm at the bottom (with my newly-made blue and white linen shirt). You can see some of Jen's sketches on her Flickr site, or on her blog, Friperee.

There were about 20 of us at this time, and it was amusing to see people walk past.... stop, look, and then ask "Hey, are you guys a sketching class?"

There were some excellent buskers who serenaded us as we drew, and lots of hot and tired shoppers, not moving much:

By this time in was past 3PM, and - can you hear it? That little call? Could it be? Yes! A cool seat in the Block Arcade, tall drinks and lots of water, conveniently located across from Haigh's chocolates.

A round of lemon myrtle chocolates for all, and thank you Annie for introducing me to another gorgeous Australian delicacy. Mm! Food, friends and drawing: it was a whole day of playtime for me!

October 24, 2008

Photos of my new shirts

Hi again,

Earlier this week, I wandered down to my local op shop, and picked up three shirts for $9. That made me happy!

Two of them are going to become stencil-shirts, and the third one went straight in a dye bath.

It came out a little darker than I intended, but I like it! This is a light cotton/linen blend that will be great for hot summer days. The rose print that was on the white has been well-covered by the dye and is now just a subtle mottled pattern.

Then yesterday I finished the other summer shirt I've been making. This one is linen, and it's only the second shirt I've made to a pattern, so I was feeling proud as punch when I finished it, tweaked the fitting a bit, and liked it! Whew.

Here it is next to my dyed op shop shirt:

Ties on the back:
The pattern is New Look 6515 and I made option E. I had to modify the neckline slightly, as the neck was too wide and the V came down past my bra in the front, but that was easily fixed with a bit of trial and error.

What shall I make next? It's a bit of a dilemma: I want to finish off the summer quilt, because it's been languishing for a week or two, but I'm also keen on sewing clothes and bags.

I feel that the job hunt is nearing an end, and I'm glad of that, not least because we need the money, but also because I want the challenge. It's been a long process to examine my skills and decide to make a change in direction, and soon (hopefully very soon) I will re-emerge not as a marketing person, but as an editor. I know that there will be a lot to learn, and that it will be exhausting for the first couple of months so that my time to sew and craft will become limited and very precious. So I've sorted out my sewing supplies and desk, and put all of the unfinished projects into one large box in the hope that I can finish off a few projects before I lose this luxurious sewing time. Wish me luck!


Don't forget: Sketchcrawl tomorrow!

I'm definitely along for tomorrow's Sketchcrawl, and the lovely Annie and Karen from my craft group are both coming, too. Annie's hunting for textures and brass to do some rubbings, and Karen tells me she's got some black and white film for her camera. I've got a new sketchbook to play with and some watercolour soluble pencils for fun.

Will you join us?

Here is a reminder of the details: meet at the State Library steps at 10AM - or a full itinerary and a mobile contact number can be found on the Sketchcrawl blog, so that you can do part of the day if your schedule is tight.

It's going to be warm, bring some water! If you want to say hi, drop me a comment or an email to taccolina [at] gmail.com. I'm looking forward to it!


Friday's love is birthday loot, with dangly bits

I've been a bit remiss recently. I taunted you with my excitement about going birthday-loot-art-supply shopping, and then failed to do the show and tell. Better late than never, I have now got loot photos galore!

On my birthday last week, Mr. Tacc announced that his main present to me was a trip to the art suply store of my choosing. A quick hop through my blog-reading history, and I decided that I wanted to check out Zart Art, given this rave review.

Off we went, trusty map to hand, only to find a cave of delights, an oasis of arty painty papery goodies in the midst of semi-industrial warehouses.

I think I went around the store, doing laps, two or three times. It's important not to hyperventilate on these big occasions.

This is me checking out the fabric paint and fibre section. (Fantastic op-shopped jacket!) I know he's taking a photo, hence the smirk...

Here's what came home with us:

Lino blocks (the soft-cut kind), cutting tools, a roller, foam brush, paint brushes, pencils, two new sketchbooks (eek!), a book about printmakng inspired by the stencil-love and screenprinting excitement, two more colours of fabric ink, and textile paint medium. AAhhh.

But what's this? There's something hanging off the side of the bag....

Could it be?

A bit of bling! We haven't had blingy, dangly earrings for years! (love, love those earrings)


October 23, 2008

Pleased as Punch (or Judy, or Columbine)

Originally uploaded by Taccolina

Today, after a slow start at the Vic Market and coffee in the sunshine, I managed to finish a shirt I'm making for myself. I feel so clever!

See, I have this little mortal fear of patterns - they scare me, they sound like greek, they have dots and dashes and use phrases I don't understand. I feel like the proverbial map-reader, turning the pattern around and around, trying to figure out which way is up.

Maybe that's why I like quilting: all those squares!

If I take a deep breath and go at the directions slowly and carefully, it gradually makes sense. Like ironing out very wrinkly linen - it's sort of miraculous how the whole thing starts to fall into place. That's the attraction to sewing, for me; watching the magic of things taking shape as I stitch, flip, baste, pin, sew (unpick), flip, pin and - shazam! A shirt!

I was worried that this might be a pyjama top, perhaps you recall? I'm using a lovely stripey linen I picked up in an end-of-season sale at Lincraft last autumn. It's white, with blue, green, and dark blue stripes through it. Tomorrow, photos! I'll try not to be shy.

But for tonight, I'm just going to prance around in glee and feel clever. The mistakes don't show (much). Ha!


October 22, 2008

On a new desk...

It's 9:07 PM and I can barely keep my eyes open.... Thank you, my dears, for the kind wishes and good thoughts for starting both jobs today. It was ace. It was hard work. I got up early, I schmoozed over breakfast (superhuman!) I raced home, changed and cycled to my next job. I wrote all day, and managed not to fall in the creek all the way home. My bike seat collapsed. I collapsed. Two chocolate frogs were killed in the accident.

Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow.


Fine french things....

I'm reading this book at the moment:

Although reading might be a bit of an over-statement. It would be more accurate to say that I drool over the pictures and puzzle out a bit of the text. You'd think that 13 years of French lessons in Canada would better equip me to read all about the ins and outs of household management, early twentieth century style, but it's not quite getting me there. Mmm... something about butter shapers, and wire baskets and mmm....

It's slightly too large to fit on my scanner, but I bring you two pages nonetheless. Images, old advertisements (always my weakness), stories and text are beautifully designed. It gives me so many ideas!

Yesterday, in between running around like a mad thing,I managed to pop into the op shop at the church. A quick peruse, and I left with two new t-shirts, for stenciling, and a shirt that hopped in the dye bath and is now a lovely denim blue, instead of white with pink and green flowers. I'm going to like that shirt, this summer! I'll take some photos when I get home tonight.

Big day today, wish me luck - this girl starts a consultancy and a volunteer job. Whoo. I suspect it will be slippers, sofa and stitching this evening.


October 21, 2008

Dressing for the future

I've been looking at a great site recently. Imagine a dress that could change over time. It would adapt to heat and to light, change colour or slogan according to your direction, perhaps also respond to more subjective stimuli, like hugs or baby stains?

Artist Joanna Berzowska has created a selection of dresses for herself, for the needs and aspirations of the next 23 years. Her project is one of six fascinating textile art projects to be found on the Digital Threads website.

Many thanks to Ken Vickerson for the link. You can see Ken's artworks here and Mr. Tacc's post about them here.


October 20, 2008

Stencil festival - Part 2, apples and pears

So, I mentioned that the apple stencil was due to get a friend, and here she is: Ms. round pear!

I left all the stenciling kit all over the table on Saturday night (ahhh), and hit the decks again Sunday with a cut n' colour for another drab Spotlight tea-towel.

Now with a lovely new look:

I liked the apple, but I like the pear even more now that I see them together. This one was a challenge as the paint I was using was a two-part mix: concentrated dye mixed into an opaque fabric paint medium. (The green) It bled a little around the edges, where the foam brush leaked some moisture, but I quite like the effect, and it's pretty subtle, so I am not going to be worried. It proves it's handmade!

These two have been dried and heat-set, and they're wrapped in bright paper with ribbon all ready to be sent to a friend for a surprise. (Let's just hope she's too busy to read my blog this week. I reckon I'm safe!)

I did about 6 or 7 more designs, which I'll reveal as I get to photographing them. Oh, and I discovered that if you are careful, you can re-use a stencil but probably only once.

cheerio pips

October 19, 2008

This is... my favourite movie

In the Movie Classics category (watch this video - don't you love this remix?)

I hesitated to put this down because it's a cliche. But I do adore this movie, for its melodramatic storyline and stilted, passionate characters, for the dark-and-light filming of shadows. It's like a fairytale; dark and formulaic and still satisfying.

In the category of... indulgent artistic delights:

I've been fascinated with this movie since I first saw it. I know that other people hate it, and I can see why - but I love its self-irony, that it's like a stage set in colours of red and green, black and silver, white and gold, blue and green; and of course, Tilda Swinton's acting. I always giggle at Jimmy as an angel. Love, love this movie.

Three chocolate biscuits, a glass of wine, fuzzy slippers and...


Bridget Jones's Diary.

I love this movie when I'm under the weather. It's all about the men in this movie for me: when Hugh Grant walks into the office for the first time, I have to curl up my toes in my fluffy bunny slippers. Woo.

Three movies for a Rainy Day:

How could anyone resist cracking the top of the creme brulee with Amelie?

Totoro, or anything else by Murukami.

Paris, je t'aime.
Wild, wonderful, short films from directors covering the city of light. And shadows.

I could go on and on.... here is a little list of other favourites, in no certain order. Just what comes to mind:

- The Maltese Falcon - they don't do plots like they used to.
- Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) - Italian self-discovery and dark humour.
- Don't think about it
- Her Whole Life Ahead - you can find more about these two on the website for the Italian Film Festival (select the title from the side bar), or our little mention here.
- A Room with a View - sweet mush, but still fun.
- The Blues Brothers - need I say more?

I could go on and on, but I've got stuff to do! This is... is courtesy of Three Buttons, and the completely diverting and time-soaking theme for this week was superbly chosen by Hokey! Click to see what others are saying... I can't wait to see what comes up this week.


October 18, 2008

Stencil Festival - Part 1, the folk apple

We're in business!

Thanks to a rescue parcel of freezer paper courteously offered (thanks Liesl!), I'm raring on the stencil front. Today the new inks, the paper, the cutting mat and the foam brushes all came out - and there was some pretty intense action. Here's the first to emerge from the smoke and dust of activity:

No, I didn't cut on the lines. I changed my mind about the border after drawing it.

A dry-ish foam brush seems to work best. And I've got plastic and a paper towel underneath to soak up any extra paint.

After the first colour has dried enough that it won't smear, the second colour carefully goes in, and the third. We wait for an hour or two while it dries, then:-

Ooooh, aaaahhhh...

Before the stencil is entirely detached, I cut the stem with sharp scissors, held the stencil back down again, held my breath and painted in the apple stem. (I'm amazed I thought to do this before peeling the stencil entirely off).

I'm very pleased with the results: a teatowel with a folksy apple on it - now drying on the ironing board, to be pressed to heat set in the morning. Next: pears!

I wonder if it's a new crafting station

Or maybe there's just a better view from here?

Not a bad idea.