The Travels of Mouse, Part 1

G’day people, Mouse here.

I’m writing this post because quite clearly Mum isn’t going to. She is carrying heaps of useless stuff into the caravan, while my Important Things are being ignored. I don’t know whether to be annoyed or alarmed that my walkies bag, harness, lead, bed towel and bowls are still lying around. Mum is being especially nice to me, and gave me milk and some very nice roast pork left over from her lunch roll because she thinks I’m stressed. They were very acceptable, but I’m cross that no-one has explained what is Going On. Also, my red blankie, my Thunder Shirt and my OzDog bandanna have disappeared. I’m sure the Staff mean well, but I am the Boss round here and I should be kept informed.

Dad is noisily blowing up tyres and checking that stinky thing under the car bonnet. Mum is lugging piles of clothes and food and baskets of that sewing stuff she likes into the caravan and hiding it as if it were real bones.

Time to Investigate.

Later:

Well, they’ve finally explained to me. We are leaving tomorrow morning, right after my breakfast and walkies. We are going to spend 4 days driving down to one of my favourite holiday spots at Nambucca Heads.

Uncle Jonathan and Aunty Chippy are driving up from Melbourne to meet us and stay there too, so I can confidently expect lots of cuddles, tickles and spoiling, as I deserve. I’m sure that I can play up a bit longer and pretend to be upset and worried so that the Staff will give me more treats… And of course, now I can look forward to walks on the beach, lunch in the sunshine, visiting my mate Diesel Dog and his Staff, etc. And of course Mum, Dad, Uncle J and Aunty C will be doing a lot of sitting around and chatting and doing weird stuff with their paws while I snooze in the sun, which will be a nice change, as it’s normally just me and Mum (aka Chief of Staff & Quartermaster).

Apparently, our journey is as follows: Home – Tannum Sands – Landsborough – Yamba – Nambucca Heads. And then Nambucca Heads – Glen Innes – St George – Roma – Lake Maraboon – Home, a round trip of about 5,200km (3,200 miles). Sounds like a lot of driving for Dad (aka Logistics & Engineering), but Mum says he’s used to it. I don’t mind whatever happens. I’ll be carrying out the duties I do so well.

Sleeping in the back seat.

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow

Which is foxtrot time, as anyone over a certain age knows.

But it’s also Greyhound Time. 

From this:

To this:

And back to this:

Ah, tis hard to be a greyhound. Such responsibility, to be always beautiful, shiny, winsome, adored and admired. To always be ready for the walkies, the ride in the car, any passing treats, the zoomies in the back yard. Such a hard life demands ample snoozing time. Eh, Mouse?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

ScrapHappy February: A bit of everything

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

I have a mixed bag to show today, having been pretty busy with scrapbusting this past month. As well as the fabric bowl you’ve seen very recently…

The teapot for Dale that you’ve seen slightly less recently…

I also have progress to show on the hexie quilt I’m making for Days for Girls. I haven’t shown that for a while, so hopefully the before and after shots will speak for themselves.

Before

And after

Just a bit of progress, then! Now I look back at everything, I’ve got quite a lot of scrappiness done this month. More lovely scraps saved for a second chance at something useful, beautiful or both.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, Sue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

Next month, I’ll still be on our forthcoming road trip, so I may not have so much to show.

Playing with paper #3: paint and metal

The final stretch, then….

I tried to revive the dried-out little tablet of bole from my gilding kit, but it’s past hope, as is the size and sealer. I got it second hand, years ago, and it was already a few years old then. In case you’re wondering, bole is a sort of clay pigment you add to water and glue to make a coloured foundation onto which you apply your gold leaf. The terracotta colour of the bole enriches and intensifies the colour of the gold laid over it, as well as producing a flat, matt surface for the gold leaf. So, being impatient, unwilling to buy more bole and keen to use what I have, I’ve made my own equivalent with acrylic paint. It won’t be as good, but the colour will help even if the surface isn’t perfect.

I used Reeves® acrylic colours, equal quantities of burnt umber, crimson, brilliant red and flesh, which has produced a nice oxblood red. I wanted a darker shade than the classic bole terracotta because instead of gold leaf, I’m using copper, of which I have a far larger quantity. I bought it for a project over 10 years ago which never happened, and it’s perfect for this purpose. Knowing perfectly well that I won’t get an immaculately flat surface on the inside of the bowl, I’m going for a bumpy, worn and slightly more rustic look (might as well make a virtue of necessity, eh?).

I had to wait till the paint was perfectly dry before applying the school glue (again, an improvisation, but internet research seemed to show that it’s an acceptable hack). I quickly found that rather than waiting till the glue is just slightly tacky as suggested, I had to work very quickly and place the larger pieces over a thin coating while the glue was wet. I could then patch over missing or damaged areas using a small brush for the glue and cutting the foil into smaller pieces just slightly larger than the glued area.

The copper leaf comes in books, on backing sheets, so it’s easy enough to pick up and lay down, but you do need to press it gently into all the bumps, cracks and crevices. This is where the soft makeup brushes come in; if you use a harder bristle you run the risk of damaging the delicate foil. Once it’s all down and dry, you rub it very, very gently with the brush in a swirling motion to rub off any loose bits.

I’ve bound the edge with leftover bias binding, and am going to seal the whole thing with Mod Podge® (yes, I found that too), but for the purpose of posting that’ll be invisible and it takes a long time to dry between coats, so I leave you with the unsealed bowl as a final shot.

I must say, I’m slightly tempted to add a narrow black ribbon to conceal the edge of the pink binding. The only problem is, I’d have to buy it. What do you think? I just find the pink a bit, well, meh… Speak now, before I seal it!

And that’s it for the first, but certainly not the last scrappy bowl…

Playing with paper #2

Only, I suppose this time it’s been more playing with fabric…

What a surprise. This is me, after all.

Onwards. I decided I’d use scraps in pink, green, lilac, teal, blue and yellow, so I went hunting small but gorgeous snippets in my scrap boxes of those colours. Be warned, if you ever make a bowl like this, those tiny scraps generate an enormous amount of ironing… But it’s worth it. I also got a sharp pair of scissors and trimmed the hairiest pieces because lots of fraying is not a pretty look. There’s still some but really, life is too short to snip every frayed thread. So, the prep took some time.

And then it was time to dive in and start glueing. You glue the fabric, not the bowl; the pieces overlap so each piece needs its own thin but even coat of glue or there would be flappy edges. I was on my feet for about 2 hours, but I was really enjoying myself and not noticing the passage of time.

There are still flappy edges I need to seal down and stray threads and frayed bits I need to take the embroidery scissors to, but I’m pretty pleased with the overall effect. The next stage is to gold leaf the inside, finish the top edge with leftover pink bias binding, and then seal the lot with a top coat. That’ll be #3, to follow. Here are 4 views of the bowl from different sides.

What do you think?  I’m pretty pleased with it 🙂

As a side note to the creative stuff, Mouse was sulking today. He has found and torn into many, many pieces the greaseproof paper in which I’d made my lunchtime toastie, on account of the bits of melted cheese still stuck to it…. He’d been to the vet’s this morning to have his ears cleaned and a mani-pedi, since I’m not up for holding onto a very strong, 35kg/77 pound, wriggling greyhound with big white teeth while I swab out ears and cut overgrown nails. The Husband would help… but he’s always conveniently at work when I want to do it. Anyway, at the vets they take no nonsense and Mouse behaves very well once backed into a corner. We rewarded him for good behaviour with a nice lactose-free puppacino at his favourite café (which he adores) and beef & tomato doggy snacks afterwards, but clearly we/I in particular had not been forgiven.

I’ve cleared away all the sticky mess and washed my brush. Time for a cuppa and possibly a bickie.

Oh no! We have a parasite!

Not personally, you’ll be relieved to hear…

Although if I had one, I’d probably be less free with the information… No, the parasite is in the garden. A while ago, I was puzzled to notice some odd-looking leaves on a branch of my Bankok Rose (Mussaenda philippica ‘Calcutta Sunset’). They were linear and thin instead of lanceolate. But it wasn’t of such interest that I had to do something about it.

Today, however, I was pulling weeds in the front flower bed, as I usually do when I go and check the mailbox. This time, the puzzle had reached much greater, and more interesting, proportions. Well, see for yourself. Above is the Bankok Rose. Dangling down there with its leaves and flowers all completely wrong, is a parasite. An interloper. To be exact, a hemiparasite:

Hemiparasite – a plant parasitic under natural conditions, but photosynthetic to some degree. Hemiparasites may obtain only water and mineral nutrients from the host plant; many obtain at least part of their organic nutrients from the host as well. (Wikipedia)

It’s the Australian native Orange Mistletoe, Dendrophthoe glabrescens, making itself very much at home on a branch of the Mussaenda. It’s not going to kill the Bankok Rose, or I’d be whipping it off there quick smart, but it is getting a free meal ticket and a place in the sun. Speaking of which, it’s supposed to flower October to January, but because of the dry weather we had at the end of last year and over Christmas, it has been retarded and is only now bursting into quite lovely and spectacular flowers. It usually prefers a bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.), I believe, but failing that has found itself a suitable alternative.

Apart from being quite pretty, it’s also an important food plant for the larvae of at least 10 species of Queensland butterflies, including the marvellously-named Golden, Black and Scarlet Jezebels and the Amethyst and Silky Jewels.

So I’ll be leaving it well alone, then.

Playing with paper #1

Nothing to beat schoolroom pursuits…

A balloon, a bottle of school glue, a brush, a newspaper and the cardboard ring from inside a roll of masking or packing tape. It sounds like the ingredients for a classic Blue Peter TV craft project, only without the egg boxes (UK residents need no explanation, all others, go here). And indeed, it’s exactly the sort of thing they’d have done on the show, whipping out a perfectly-executed finished item with the famous catchphrase “And here’s one I prepared earlier”.

It was pretty easy. Blow up your balloon. Cut or tear your newspaper into 3 or 4cm strips (say 1½ inches). Put the cardboard ring on the top of the balloon. Brush a newspaper strip with glue and use it to stick the ring to the balloon (having a bowl to put the other end of the balloon into is really helpful unless you have three hands). Work outwards, adding more strips of newspaper (keeping them short helps reduce wrinkling) until your bowl has reached the depth you want. Leave to dry overnight. Wash out your brush. Next day, add more strips to firm the whole thing up. Leave to dry again. Repeat until the bowl is firm and rigid enough not to bend when you press the edge with your finger.

That’s it for stage 1. For stage 2, I’ll be popping and removing the balloon, covering the indentation in the bottom where the ring is with more glued strips, levelling out the top edge, giving any ridges or bumps a light sanding, and then introducing the next layer. For this stage you’ll need a sheet of fine grit sandpaper, a good assortment of fabric scraps, some scissors, some fabric glue and some Mod Podge® or other clear sealer. Don’t forget to watch next week’s episode… er, I mean, look out for the next post.

Old habits die hard. I always wanted a Blue Peter badge…