Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The wonder of Gumtree

Isn't it wonderful how one can meet new, like-minding people simply by selling on one's used items? This is what happened to me yesterday. 

To go back a bit, I've been methodically going through items that we no longer are using and preparing them for their next home. I enjoy having the opportunity to love and cherish these things for the last time. I wash, polish, make minor repairs or simply dust them. I want them to look their best. Then I photograph them in the way I want to remember them.

Countless memories have been embedded into these items, memories like:

~ This bike trailer pulled my oldest back and forth to school every day. He would fall asleep on the way home. Sometimes we'd stop and pick up a few things at the shops. Many a stick rode in this trailer.

Early morning ride to school

~My youngest learned to balance and ride on this terrific blue balance bike. Thank goodness I have video.

~ The boys played in this fort every day. My oldest learned to swing by himself on the long swing. It's hard to let go but the money will help us make new memories on new adventures.

The fort in action

And there is the pram, the trike, the shadow rider, the child's workbench, the bike rack, the clothes.....etc. Plus all the many items yet to come. 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of selling on our beautiful wooden doll house to a wonderful family who will love and cherish it. Not only was it lovely to know that the doll house was going to a good home, but I enjoyed meeting this mum so much. We found we had much in common and had a very lovely conversation about schooling, parenting and art. 

When I first began selling things on Gumtree, I thought it was simply about getting things out of the house. I hadn't reckoned on the added bonus of connecting with people within my community who I might otherwise have never met. It's been good. :-)

The dolls house

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


The Basement Quilt

 Hello. It's been a while. A very long while.

The winds are changing ever so slightly and it feels like it is time to come back to my blog after a very long hiatus. 

Lots has happened over the last few years. We built a new house, we adopted a young boy and I've moved on from the school craft stall. The Bubster, who is no longer a bubster but a big 11 year old boy, has been immersed in school, ballet and recently was a delegate at the Montessori Model United Nations in New York City. He and I just spent a month traveling the states together, visiting family and having a wonderful grown up adventure. It was marvelous.

What have I been doing instead of writing here? Well, Facebook! :-) I love the immediacy with family and friends and the fun conversations that arise. However, I'm hankering to dig deeper into my creative process and try to develop some discipline once again. My hope is that I can come back to blogging as a way to engage myself with my artwork and other creative interests. It's time.

So to get into the swing of things, above is a detail of a long term project I have been enjoying. I began this quilt about 2 years ago and it's one of those things that comes out, goes away, comes out, goes away. I am now at a point where the end is in sight and I think I can get there. "I think I can I think I can....!" It is to be for our youngest boy, who we adopted a little over 2 years ago.

To back up a bit, quilting is not my main go-to thing but I love to play with fabric. About 5 years ago, I had the pleasure of going through my mothers 3 story house after she had moved into assisted living. There was a lot to get through. Like all creative people, my mother loved to make things and had the supplies to prove it. My entire childhood wardrobe consisted of clothes made for me by my mother and grandmother. 

While sorting through the boxes and boxes of stored fabric and remnants, I found the perfect collection stored in a broken down box in the basement. It housed an assortment of scraps and off cuts from Mom's many years of making clothing; scraps from the 1930's which would have belonged to my grandmother right up to the 1970's. My clothes. 

So I shipped it home. Eventually I got to cutting. Then piecing. And then finally, hand quilting. Whenever I pick it up, I think of my mother in her sewing room, her sewing machine rumbling along, or my grandma fitting wedding gowns on her clients, or skirts from photos from the 1950's, or those cute shorts, or the pinafore dress from 5th grade. It is a rumble jumble of colour and memories, all pieced together in no particular order, just because. It's me, my mother and my grandmother.

It's almost, almost..........almost done. And there are plenty of scraps to make 1 or 2 more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The roses in my garden are beautiful today. It's such a fleeting moment, they bloom and are gone. I just wanted to catch them while I could. These colours are gorgeous. I especially love the coral pink one. Hoping to spend some time on my blog again. Life moves way too fast for me to keep up with the technological side of things! Happy Spring to all.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hark! Who goes there? It's me, Karin!

I'm back. Hi everyone!

Over the summer I was very busy preparing and rehearsing for a 2 1/2 hour evening of dance with The Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy. We performed 3 full evenings of Italian renaissance dance over 2 weekends at The National Gallery of Australia in conjunction with their current exhibition entitled 'Renaissance',  an exhibition of paintings from 15th and 16th Century Italian Renaissance from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. 

In addition to learning, memorising, and polishing a dozen new dances, we also wanted to research early Italian renaissance dress in order to create accurate, new garments for those of us without our own. I certainly did not have anything from the 15th or 16th century just knocking around in my closet! 

We began our research project in November, identifying the shapes and forms we wished to recreate. Our main inspiration were the paintings of the Florentine master, Domenico Ghirlandaio, who is noted for his detailed frescos depicting citizens in contemporary dress.

Additionally, we needed to construct a half a dozen or more chemises as there were none available within the EDHDA collection. We used this excellent pattern of Jen Thompson's from Festive Attyre

We then began planning for the undergowns and overgowns, restricting ourselves to the most suitable fabric and colours from our already existing fabric collection. Aylwen splurged on some extraordinary trims to help make the garments pop with regality.

By January, in an effort to streamline our working schedule, we re-evaluated our costume needs. Time was starting to tighten. By creatively thinking outside the box, we were able to pull together already existing garments in the EDHDA collection to reshape and refashion for our needs. While not initially our plan, this worked our beautifully. A variety of garments from different time periods and countries allowed us to span over 200 years, from early Italian renaissance to Elizabethan. providing variation and interest within our dance displays. Some of these garments needed the addition of appropriate trims, re-hemming, or slight reshaping. Our seam rippers were busy during those working bees.

Both refashioned and new garments needed sleeves! For my own undergown, I chose to make long sleeves with vents at elbow and shoulder. I used white cording instead of modern grommets to create the channels through which my sleeves were attached at the shoulder, and my gold sleeve cording was woven. 

By February, we had finished refashioning our existing garments and had 4 complete new Italian renaissance wardrobes.

Here we are at dress rehearsal in the NGA theatre.

And here I am with John at dress rehearsal, performing Bellezze d' Olimpia. :-)

Since these photos were taken, I have added more lace on the bottom of the undergown and I have acquired a crown and snood for my hair. I then christened myself - Contessa Corina Bellaflore. 

It really was a tremendous amount of fun. I very much enjoyed creating my own Italian renaissance wardrobe from scratch while at the same time, learning some very fancy dances for which my flowing gowns and fancy sleeves were perfectly suited. From pavans, to galliards, to canarios, to contrapasso's, we danced each night away. I even found myself pavaning through the video shop after one of our events.

Gabriel Bieniek and me.

Now it's on to the Jane Austen Festival. It's always a lot of fun each year. I have so much sewing to try to get done in the next few weeks!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

School Holidays; Blogtoberfest Days 5 and 6

It's school holidays around here. I'm struggling with a cold, oh the blocked nose! I'm really just shuffling through my days. But The Bubster is doing just fine!

Remember those days of having no front teeth? Well here we are! It doesn't take long to get a little bigger does it. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Retro Goodness - blogtoberfest day IV

It's Blogtoberfest! Hello to all who are participating and who have visited my blog for the first time and thank you to Tinniegirl for another year festering!! I'm a few days late getting started but I have a good excuse (honest!) I had a Minuet and Mazurka dance workshop this weekend. 9am to 5pm nonstop minueting and mazurka-ing for 3 days, followed every night by a collapse on the couch with a glass of wine and takeaway. 

The calves have been complaining but sore calves do not keep this dancer down! We finished our weekend wandering Floriade in 18th and 19th century clothing, bursting into a minuet or two on any open lawn available. Pictures will hopefully be forthcoming!

In keeping with Tinniegirl's post today, I wanted to share some of my retro goodness, vintage Barbie clothes! I've been whipping these outfits up for the upcoming fete at my son's school, where 3 of us mum's run the craft stall. I've been busy busy busy. You will see!

To take us out for today, here's a little bit of Justin Timberlake, doing Marvin Gaye. :-) You just can't look at these outfits without a little Marvin Gaye and JT is rather gorgeous, one has to admit. :-) Give it up!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spring is here!

The trees are blooming, the daffodil's are bright and beautiful, my anemone's are lovely. It's so fun to see Spring on it's way. 

I'm busy preparing for the craft stall for our annual school fair in October. I'm immersed in making bags, Barbie clothes, felt food, capes, placemats and coasters, tie hats, tutu's, helmets, and just recently finished 30 aprons! I'm on a roll.

And importantly, I finally tidied up my art space so I can actually utilise the area properly. I've tackled the mountains of paper that can so easily accumulate; chucked and shredded and filed. Still have more to do there but Yeah! for getting started!

I guess I'm Spring cleaning. 

I need to find a job or some work. I've felt so unsure about how to do this. It's been years since I've actually worked. I often think about starting up an online business selling my stuff but perhaps lack the chutzpah to really pull that off. I probably wouldn't make much extra money anyway. (see, there I go shooting myself in the foot before starting). But I do need some income. We have had so many extra expenses this year for our son, it's really cutting in to our savings for our house deposit. I feel quite intimidated by this. I just don't know where to start.

And lastly, a cat has been visiting us. It seems he wants us as his family. He comes every day, several times a day. The bubster just loves him. We are not allowed pets in our rental, which I always think is so mean. We are decent, tidy people and know how to take care of an animal properly. But when I asked last year if we could have a pet, our owner said no. Our son really needs the companionship of a friendly pet. This cat, who we've called Whitely (he's white), is so friendly, eager and chatty. He's lovely. It's another reason to get our house built as soon as possible, so we can be free from the landlords!!!

Whitely, the neighbours dog Otto, and the Bubster.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Right Where I am Project: 12 years and one day

Lemons from our lemon tree. Usually there are just one or two worthy of picking. This year, a full tree. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Well, I chose to make several tart lemon custards instead.

This post is written as participation in Angie's, from Still Life With Circles, very beautiful blog project, Right Where I am. Such a good idea. Thank you. It's bringing me out of my blog hibernation.

Yesterday was Søren's 12th birthday. Søren was born 12 years ago but died 2 1/2 days later from an ecoli infection that he contracted before birth. 12 years sounds like a long time doesn't it. 12 years. It feels both near and far. Time is weird isn't it.

I've been spending the last few days looking at my old journals and the photos of Søren that we have - so few, never enough, never enough. Shouldn't there be more? I always wish I could find one that I didn't know about, to just turn over a page, and surprise! Wow! A new photo. I'd like this mystery photo to be perfectly clear, the result of a steady hand capturing the details of our beautiful boy, not the shaking, shocked hands that tried desperately 12 years ago to find, through blurry eyes, the right moments to save. I'd also like this camera to be a sharp, finely tuned digital camera that could have captured his long long eyelashes, or his beautifully shaped mouth, or exquisite brow, or compact little ears or his long fingers. Perfect. 

But we didn't have this. And we don't have the mystery photo now. As absurd as it sounds, I have to  periodically take the time to feel the disappointment of no new photos, even though of course I know that all the years of my life will be lived without a new photo. And really, it's the 12 year old I want to see.

I know too that my blurry or disappointing images are better than no image, which is what my sister got. Nothing. No photos. She didn't even get to hold her daughter. 

In Søren's journal I found this entry, written sometime within the first month of his death; I didn't have the energy to date it:  

She (our nurse) asked me if I was getting to spend time with you whenever I wanted. I thought it was a thoughtful question. Some people I expect, would be uneasy about being around a dead baby. I never thought I would have to face such a possibility in such an intimate way, to ever have to consider what it meant. I discovered though, that being with you made me feel calmer for a time. It was reassuring to know that you actually existed, were real. That you had weight and substance. That you filled my arms in a certain way. I could sit and look at you for hours, your eyelashes, your fingernails, your mess of a nose, beaten by the ventilator. Without this time with you, it's just a perpetual nightmare that should be happening to someone else. I could hold you and know that you were real and simultaneously know that you were gone.

12 years later, the hold is still there. The connection I made with other mothers from that time is still there. I still remember. I still wonder. Somedays I wonder a lot. Other days less so. So much other loss has occurred during that 12 years; Imogen, Heloise, Roku and Seven. Sometimes it's a blurry overwhelming mess of loss which defies description. Other times, it's more matter of fact, it's my life. It's part of my large tapestry that takes a lifetime to create and complete. 

And our special gain too; Magnus. Our cherished lad has been wonderful and challenging at the same time. I'm discovering (well it's not that much of a surprise but I finally have some resources) that he's a highly sensitive child and have been spending time learning about that as well as about audio-processing disorder. I haven't really had energy to write about this side of daily life or even known what to say about it. Some days are actually really hard and I feel like a crap parent with no sense of patience or consideration. It's hard, by no means as hard as my losses but hard none-the-less. I've been eating a lot of tart lemon custard.

Yesterday for Søren's birthday we watched Star Wars and played with our Star Wars lego. Magnus made an ice cream cake with sprinkles, all by himself. I was so proud of him. 

The final scene in The Return of the Jedi, where Luke looks back and sees Obiwan Kenobi and Anikin watching over him from the world beyond always squeezes my heart. If our children could see us, I hope they would be proud.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm still here!

I'm still around. Just not bloggin' much. It's a strange thing to feel so wordless. I can't seem to find them. It's not that my head isn't full of them, just that they aren't coming out through my fingers. I'm trying to find a way forward through this but it's a slow process. 

In the meantime, a few photos of the Bubster, the little guy who is much bigger and for whom time does not stand still. We just bought him 2 new pairs of shoes yesterday. It always amazes me to see the new shoes, so much bigger and shinier than the previous pair. His foot has gone up two sizes since last Spring. That amazes me.
The Bubster, around 18 months.

The Bubster, a few weeks ago, 6 years. 

I'm off to work on Barbie clothes now, my latest obsession and plan for using up small scraps. I've been smiling a lot. :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Why yes! We are!!!

Soon to be at Shop Handmade. :-)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year to all

Christmas 1964

Me, with my brother and sisters. Boy, that was a long time ago!!

Here's to another year. I hope it is a healthy and happy one for all. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's birthday month

It's birthday month for Magnus. He turned 6 years old in early December. How it all goes by! His actual party is tomorrow. We will be having it at Kids Pantry, a lovely cooking school here in Canberra. We snuck a peek at the venue a few days ago. It's a beautiful place surrounded by trees and gardens. I think it should be a really fun party. I can' wait!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Working away the day

We are on the home stretch of the final week before the Spring Fair. I feel revved up, sewing machine waiting in the wings. I am about to go work on a few more of these: 

Poor little knight is tired........

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 13! (on Day 14)

Whoa, time is flying! I'm not getting on here every day (really??), as you can see. :-) But Tinniegirl has announced Day 13 to be Blogtoberfest Self Portrait day. :-) I cannot pass that up.

Self Portrait, Age 9 - crayon, chalk and watercolour

I thought I'd share a few self-portraits that I've done over the course of my lifetime. It's something I've always done. I remember as a child, lining up my dolls and drawing their portraits, choosing different clothing or hairstyles, and then doing my own. 

Self Portrait, KCAI - Ink, watercolour, conte 

When I went off to KCAI, one of my foundation year courses was to do a portrait a day for 5 weeks. 5 weeks is a long time when you are doing a portrait a day! It was probably my most favourite foundation year workshop because it was so illuminating to watch everyone work. Looking at oneself in the mirror every day, scrutinising every detail, anguishing over every accuracy or inaccuracy, battling against the demon of time - it was exhausting. But also, the most fun I've ever had in my life. All of us in the workshop would be in the studio late into the night, listening to music, chatting, surging through. We each learned how to let go of unnecessary details and get to the core of what we were trying to uncover about ourselves. A self-portrait could be a achieved in 3 lines if they are the right ones.

Movement Self-Portrait, used in the performance of "Getting off in Chicago?"

My next self-portrait study came to me through the medium of dance while a member of the Susan Warden Dancers. Incorporated into a long piece of choreography, each of us was given the task of doing a movement self-portrait. What did this mean? I had never thought about my movement as being another form of self-portraiture. As I watched the other dancers improvising and choreographing their self-portrait phrases, I could see each of them so clearly. One dancer just laid down on the floor - his self-portrait was about refusing to move. How perfect for him. Making difficult decisions challenged him, especially ones that would compromise the feelings of others. Mine evolved into an examination of angry outbursts which I found quite confronting. It wasn't how I wanted to be inside but yet it was a true representation of my emotional landscape and one that I've faced time and again over the years.

Butterfly Boy - Watercolour and conte

I returned to formal portraiture after our son Soren died unexpectedly from an infection acquired at birth. My craving to know him better helped me to produce numerous paintings and drawings of him and myself as his mother, incorporating my grief into my life as an artist. At the worst time in my life, I created some of my best and most loved work. I simply did not know any other way to release my mothering desires than to carve out his likeness on paper. It was my way of spending time with him as I tried to make sense of life.

Mummy and Magnus, by Magnus

Our 5 year old recently drew this portrait of the two of us, walking hand in hand. It's on the fridge as a reminder to me to be a good mommy. I love him so much, handful that he is. I find myself thinking a lot about my movement self portrait of years ago and how hard it is to completely change a core ingredient that makes us who we are. I also remember the lesson I learned in the self portrait workshop, to let go of unnecessary detail. I spend time most nights reflecting on the day, taking a moment to go over any conflicts and thinking through better solutions. I cue myself to step back more, let him find his way. I think about making memories, good memories. Every single day is a good memory opportunity. Let go of the detail. See the overall picture of your life.

Me, this morning, surrounded by tulle. It's Spring Fair tutu making time. 2 weeks to go!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Costumers Picnic

The ACT Costumers Guild picnic at Lanyon House, Canberra. Just a quick little get together to see the homestead and to wear our gear.

I am wearing my bright blue 1873 Polonaise, with walking skirt. It was not that hard to make. I plan to add in detachable lower sleeves and a detachable bodice for my neck line. I only had a hunk of lightweight cotton fabric to protect myself from the sun. I hate getting sunburnt on my chest. Yuck.

Once I've made a proper Victorian corset it will all hang much more smoothly and beautifully. Corsets are so awesome. Really!! 

Sharon and Karin.

My The Searchers pose.