Friday, 30 August 2013

revamped footstool

Yes, yes. I know its been a long time between posts. To be honest I've just been too wrapped up in my own little world to want to get online, much less blog.

But here I am... sharing a project from work.

Some of you already know I work as a disability support worker as my 'real job' to support my art habit. I'm lucky enough to be able to do some creative work in that role with some of the guys I work with.

For instance, this repurposed footstool is a project I've been working on with some young men in one of those programs.

The aim of the program is to find, fix up and revamp items found in tip shops in order to develop the guy's skills and produce something which can be sold to buy materials for the next project.

This footstool had been hanging around in the store room for a long time. It was just crying out to be reborn into something pretty...

We went looking for bits of dowel, finials and knobs. We drilled holes, attached knobs and stained dowel. We painted it a nice light blue colour, then sanded, repainted and re-sanded...

The lowly footstool was reborn into a cute, handy little kitchen shelf. 

Or bathroom shelf.

Or craftroom shelf.

I took it home to dress it up and photograph it cause the guys really do want to sell it. They're proud of it and rightly so. I think it looks terrific!

The rods come out so you can put rolls of paper on them instead of hanging tea towels or pots and pans. Its both useful and pretty.

We've entered it in the Kingborough Salvaged Art competition and I'm posting it on Facebook. It is definitely for sale. We'll be selling it through a silent auction.

If you're interested in buying this one-of-a-kind piece of recycled art, please contact me on and put in your bid. I'll be keeping track of all bids and at the end of the competition, on October 6th, I'll announce the winner on Facebook and by private email.

The money raised through the sale of this masterpiece will be used to create MORE masterpieces in the future!

Go on! Make a bid!


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Friday, 16 August 2013

art from trash - my new bag

I am never happy with bags.

Handbags are just too small.

Or they hold too much and become too heavy.

I used to use backpacks. They make sense... After all its better to carry the weight of your life on your back than on one shoulder. With the amount of crap I carry in my bag its amazing I don't lean to one side permanently.

But somewhere along the line I decided I needed to start using handbags. Or rather, shoulder bags.

Then I got my big diary...

It wouldn't fit into any of my handbags/shoulder bags so I started using canvas shopping bags as my work bags.

They're ok, but they have no pockets, no inner dividers, nothing to hold things in place... I was constantly losing pens, car keys and my mobile phone.

I was sick and tired of it.

So I made my own shoulder bag.

I got this bee in my bonnet about it one night last week. I looked through the cupboard in my office, found some upholstery fabric samples which might work then started thinking of ways I could use the fabric to make a bag.

I was limited by the size of the samples. I didn't want to make a patchwork carpetbag looking thing so I didn't want to mix and match too many fabrics.

In the end I only used one sample for the body of the bag, though I turned the fabric inside out on the sides just for contrast.

I'd never done this before but it wasn't that hard. I just had to work out the size and design, then cut.

Or cut and then make it work.

The living room was back to normal again.

Normal means a coffee table full of crafting stuff. That's more normal than clean and tidy round here.

One thing I wanted was a pocket to hold things securely. I wanted a divider inside the bag so that I could put the diary in that part and it wouldn't fall and lean..

I cut one piece of fabric which I stitched in when I put the bag together, it forms a divider 'pocket' at the back of the bag for the diary. I added a couple of fabric loops to hold pens inside that pocket too!

I re-used one of my canvas bags for the strap, flap and inner pocket. I just cut or picked off the bits I wanted from the old bag. I put the small zipped pocket inside on the divider, and put the straps on the sides of the bag.

I reinforced the sides where the straps join and I put in some stiff fabric under the bottom of the bag to help it hold its shape.

Lastly I needed to pretty up the flap/front of the bag...

I was inspired by this image on Pinterest:

I used scaps of burlap and another fabric (using both sides) and some blue cotton yarn for the stitches. I opted to leave out the beads. Knowing me they'd be flying off left, right and center.

Ok, it looks nothing like my inspiration, but I still think its pretty ok. And it'll hold my diary and TWO pens!

I've decided to enter it into the Salvaged Art Competition being held in Kingston next month. Why not? Its all recycled!


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my big diary

This year I decided I needed a bigger diary than I've had for the last 100 years.

Up till now I've had a Filofax and various variations on the good ol' A5 sized 6 ring binder diary. It fits into a handbag, its easy to flip through, its portable.

But there are only 2 choices: week at a glance where the amount of space you get for each day is tiny enough that if you could fit everything you needed to do in a day in there, then you really don't need a diary. Or you can go with day to a page which is better, but if you're like me and need to be able to picture the whole week ahead of you so you can stress, then flipping pages back and forth just ain't gonna cut it.

So this year I bought myself a plain, boring A4 diary. Nothing fancy. Just the diary. No pen holders, no business card holders, nothing.

I bought a compendium and put the diary inside - then I had a big bulky heavy briefcase of a diary to carry around, but I had a place to put a notepad, business cards, even a zippered section for money. No pen holder though....

The compendium wouldn't fit into any of my 'handbags' so I started using canvas shopping bags as my work bags. Not ideal.

After I got back from Greece I decided it was time for the compendium to go. I was tired of carrying such a huge thing around... I would manage with just the diary. The plain boring old blue cover diary...

No I wouldn't. I would fix the diary so it wouldn't be plain and boring! I did a decoupage kind of thing on it. I used dictionary pages with images printed on them, wrapping paper of different types, some scrapbooking embellishments I had for some reason, and some printed out definitions. These were all leftover bits from previous decoupage projects.

I added a ribbon to it as a 'closer' but I didn't make it long enough so its almost totally useless. I think I'll go and add a velcro closer as I did to one of my notebooks. That's working great.

It still lacks a pen loop, but I've made up an elastic circle I slip over the diary to keep it closed. It has a little loop in it which holds a pen so it works for now.

Maybe I'll think of something better for next year.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

today was a nice day

Today was a nice day. 

It was sunny, not cold. No rain. No wind.

I had some dogs to groom in the morning but I was determined to get outside and spend some time with the horses.

Soon as I finished the last dog I took some brushes and a halter and went out and got Cass. We spent some time bonding over some intense back rubbing. I think she loved it more than I did... I was choking on horse hair.

I swear, I've never seen a horse shed as much as she does. The other day I was watching her in the paddock after we'd taken their rugs off so they could get some sun... Cass shook and a cloud of white hair rose around her, settling on the ground like snow.

Its still there now! After a whole week and many many inches of rain!

In fact when you walk around the paddock you'll see spots... "This is where Cass rolled, this is where she shook"...

The view from Cass' back.
I had to get Wayne's help to saddle her up. I can't do up a girth. I'm a weakling.

Then I had to use a milk crate to get on her.  My legs can't get up high enough to put my foot in the stirrup... And my arms aren't strong enough to lift my butt off the ground...

Let's not go there.

After the ride. Sleepy Cass.
Wayne said he wasn't going to ride. He was just going to hassle watch me ride Cass around the paddock. The aim of the exercise was to just get to know eachother. I haven't ridden in YEARS. I need to build my confidence. And Cass thought she'd come here to retire. We brought her here, fed her and let her do her own thing for months, what's a girl to think?

In the end, Wayne got jealous. He got out his gear and saddled up Wally, then we both ambled around the paddocks, letting the horses relax under saddle and with eachother and us on their backs. 

Basically it was a very relaxed hour.

I plan to make this a regular thing. Its a promise to myself. To start doing something we planned to do when we bought Wind Dancer Farm. We bought this particular property cause it has access to good riding areas both on our own property and beyond it. Yet we've been here for over 2 years and haven't ridden together yet.

Now I have Cass, its time.

Meanwhile, its good to be home. Though I when I opened the shed last week to get something, this is what I was greeted by:

I hadn't left it like that. Believe me.

The poodles were in there hunting a possum. Or two.

One of them didn't make it apparently. I found a LOT of grey possum fur when pooperscooping the yard that first day... Wayne said he had to bury an ex-possum while I'd been away. The poodles went feral, wreaking destruction to get at the possums... 

You should see the new car's fender...

I almost came back to ex-poodles.

I also found some red possum fur. That little guy did make it. Though he was stupid enough to come into the yard again. The other night he was frozen on top of the trellis while the dogs paced around below. The poodles were like "I know he's around here somewhere but I just can't see him..."

The possum was still as a statue thinking "If I don't move maybe they won't notice me."

Poor little thing... He had quite a few bald spots. Luckily no injuries, just bald spots.

I got the dogs inside and he escaped... I hope he's smart enough to find another hangout.


Monday, 5 August 2013

almost back to normal - and chocolate crepes to boot

Have you noticed the new, almost back to normal, header?

Thought it was time to go back to a normal "Zefi's Blog" banner again, seeing as its back to normal for the blog now the holiday is over.

I'm back to my normal life again. Back to rain, mud, cold, horses, chickens, ducks, dogs to feed, partner to feed, firewood to bring in, fire to keep us warm, cleaning, washing... and a sick partner. Poor Wayne, he's got the flu. Not very nice for him with all the aches and pains, coughs and mucus. Not very nice for me hearing him moan.

I've been making healthy home cooked meals. Isn't it the law that you feed sick people soup? Well, I made an almost entirely home cooked soup for dinner tonight... I actually found it in the Campbell Soup Recipe book years ago. Its like a supercharged tomato soup. 

Browned onions, carrots, red lentils and a can of tomato soup. Yum.

Then, for dessert I whipped up some crepes. The pantry was rather bare of toppings.... I didn't have any chocolate sauce or nutella (the obvious choice for chocolate crepes), no bananas or ice cream, no cream to go with jam.

What I did have were a couple of half eaten blocks of chocolate. One dark and one milk chocolate with hazelnuts.

When the crepes were cooked I rolled each up with pieces of chocolate in it... By the time we were ready to eat them the chocolate had melted nicely.

In order to serve, I dusted them with icing sugar - things always look better dusted with icing sugar.

They were very good. But more chocolate would be better.

Yes, more chocolate would have been better.

Much better.

Still, they were good.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

one last paros project - shabby photo frame

This is one of the smaller projects I worked on while on holiday in Greece. I had a huge collection of old buttons (I really wish I had them here!), a large collection of old doilies, ribbons, lace...

Then there were the other odds and ends my aunt Marisa found for me. One of which was this little heart shaped basket. 

She said "Do you want this? Can you do something with it?"

I said, "Sure, I can do something with it."

My standard reply. 

Never say no to 'stuff'... it will always come in handy one day.

In order to prevent becoming a hoarder featured on one of those awful reality tv shows "Buried Under A Ton Of Crap" however, you have to actually USE the stuff you're given/collect to make more stuff which you can either sell, give away or display prominently in places like your kitchen, toilet or garage.

I decided the little basket would make the best photo frame for Marouso's bedroom... she has a little alcove in there which is bare and desperately needed something pretty. So between working on the light fitting for Zefi and some small hearts like these for my aunt, I started putting together this little baby.

I used some old buttons, some still on the card, some old curtain lace, a bit of rusty wire and a bead... plus a little bow and icon pin from a christening. You can't see it well, but at greek christenings they hand these little pins out as a memorial. My aunt had (of course) a collection of them.

Zefi, I'm sure you're reading this... you promised you'll collect me some!

Next step was a photo... Marouso had a few really nice ones she'd taken with her kitten, and I had a great one I'd taken of her and her 'titini'... a bodyless stuffed toy cat which she's had since she was a baby. Its sort of like Linus' security blanket. No one knows what 'titini' actually means, its what she called it back when she couldn't talk. For all we know it means "Get that stupid cat toy out of my cot right now!"

Marouso and her 'titini'.
I had a play with the photos on - I don't have Photoshop on the netbook so I had no other way of altering the images. I wanted to go with an old fashioned black and white look but when I got them printed I decided to go with the photo above.

Great photos though. I love the one above where the kitty is all eyes.

I slotted the photo in behind the buttons where I'd left a 'photo tucking' gap, tied a ribbon to it for hanging and voila. Done.


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Thursday, 1 August 2013

lace doily light fitting for a cousin

Well, I'm back home. Back to Wind Dancer Farm, back in Tasmania, back to my own little family. Its good to be home despite the fact that it means no more lying around on a beach, no more Paros, no more mom and cousins around me.

The trip was good, considering it was LONG and the seats on airplanes these days are made for height challenged individuals with eating disorders.


Have you ever tried sitting in one of those seats for 14 hours straight?

If you're of 'average' height and you try to slouch in your seat you end up kneeing the seat in front of you. They used to have foot rests under the seat in front but they're gone, ensuring that if you stretch out your legs, the seat has a sort of tourniquet effect, cutting off circulation to your lower legs. The new, improved individual monitors are a great idea... till you realize that you don't actually enjoy having a screen 12in from your face. And that if the person in front of you leans his seat back, the monitor barely misses scraping your nose. You used to be able to say "excuse me" and sort of squeeze past the people sitting beside you if you needed to get up, all they had to do was sit up and pull their legs back. Now you have to get everyone to get up and pile into the aisle, or what passes as an aisle, so you can get out. Heck, even getting in and out of your own seat required contortions reminiscent of a pretzel if the person in front of you has the seat laid back. I remember being able to get up and walk the aisles during a long trip and loiter near the back of the plane doing stretches. This trip four of us were standing in line near the toilets and had to dodge stewardesses and serving carts... Bet they were pleased to have us in their tiny work area.

Hey. I know I'm older. I know I'm no longer as flexible as I was, but even if I still had the figure of my 20s, I still wouldn't be able to squeeze past my co-sardines' legs or lean back without touching the seat in front of me.

On the positive side, the food is a whole lot better than I remember.

So, I'm back home. The tan is fading fast and jet lag is keeping me up when I should be asleep... thought I'd share my last big project on Paros before life goes back to normal and the blog goes back to being about living on a farm with poodles and other critters. (I don't mean Wayne.)

The lace doily light fitting in little Zef's bedroom.
When I first got to Paros my aunt Marisa was all set on getting me to make a lace doily lightshade for Zefi's bedroom. She had seen one of these in a shop and wanted one badly. Only difference was, the one my aunt loved had a wire frame inside.
Great idea if you have a wire frame. A very round balloon and tons of glue could also make this but it wouldn't hold well in damp conditions I was betting. I started looking for alternatives.

I saw a rusty trap similar to this at Souvlia but it was bent beyond repair. I did find a new one for sale eventually (in a fishing shop, go figure!) but by then I'd moved on...

What I decided to do was build a kind of chandelier doily and lace light using 2 of the sieves I'd seen previously at a grocery store.

I went and bought a couple of these little beauties, limed them white and got a friendly uncle with a drill to make holes for chains.

I then started planning how to place and sew on the doilies and lace without cutting or ruining them, as per aunt Marisa's instructions, and without aunt Marisa watching my every move and making suggestions as to how to do it better...

I ended up using quite a bit of old curtain (since I was allowed to cut that) as an under-layer, then layered and joined the doilies over that. I embellished it with ribbons and buttons and pieces of lace.

Only one doily was hurt in the making of this light shade... it was just too big and I really wanted to use it.

I was working in Zefi's place, hiding from aunt Marisa... when she walked past and saw me. First words out of her mouth were "Oh, you cut that doily" before Zefi hustled her off with threats to her life if she said another word.

Zefi and I searched every hardware store on Paros to find the right chain. She was the one who found the perfect one - large links in bronze.

We'd also asked Andreas (Zef's husband) to see what he could find in Athens and he'd brought us some silver chain. In the vein of waste not want not, I thought we should use the silver chain as well. I secured the chains to the sieves with wire and hid the silver chain with lace 'sleeves' made from the old curtain hems.

That way I didn't have to sew any more than necessary!

I had to buy a pair of wire cutters to cut the sieve for the light fitting to go through, but that was easy enough.

Lastly, while Zefi was at the beach I climbed on her bed, and with her daughter Marouso's help, put the light up on the hook already in the ceiling, fed the light through and replaced the globe.

Let there be light!

It came up pretty good even if it does look like an upside down wedding cake!

Payment for this: some very old doilies and a gorgeous old cut lace curtain.

Thanks guys! My next trip will be longer so I can plan on working for part of it! :)


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