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I need to carve a stamp for a printing class tomorrow night. These pictures taken on my weekend away will hopefully provide enough textural material.



Wild weekend

Somewhere along the Old Sale Road, which was my route to Neerim East and a quilting weekend away, I spotted this little fellow bustling along the side of the road. As I walked back after stopping and grabbing the phone, it crossed the road. Good timing on both out parts.

It heard me from quite a distance and quickly buried itself in the soft soil. But I can be quite patient and still and eventually the echidna poked out its nose and was soon on its way again.

The first morning of the Waverley Patchworkers Retreat was very misty and the grass very wet, so walking was restricted to gravel roadways. Up behind the main building were two kangaroos enjoying a morning feed.

Two more were higher up the hill, but after a long staring competition all bounded away into the forest.

The second morning was quite different. Warm breezes came down off the hill interspersed with gusts of cool air from the river. After a pleasant walk before anyone else had emerged, I approached the buildings from the car park. Just ahead of me a long legged bird ran out from a bank planted with assorted shrubs and ducked in again further down the path.  I got to the steps and it rushed off again, across the drive and around the far corner of the buildings. It all happened very quickly, no time for a photo.

I have taken this picture from the Morwell National Park’s website. The female superb lyrebird leaves her nest for a few hours early in the morning to feed, she gets no help at all from the father. The temperature in the nest drops, slowing embryo development and making for a long incubation period. Eggs are laid in winter, so maybe the one I saw was just another very busy mother.

Aardman @ACMI

When the first Aardman films hit the screens I remember being amazed at both the intricacies of the animation and the absurd hilarity of the stories. My kids grew up with them and so it was lots of fun revisiting A Grand Day Out, Chicken Run and all the rest with my daughter and granddaughter at ACMI in Federation Square. The Magic of Aardman is on until 29 October.

The sketchbooks and storyboards were fascinating. My favourite scene is still the train chase from The Wrong Trousers, the storyboard was drawn by Nick Park in 1993. Keeping characters consistent is obviously very important. The note is Nick Park’s comments on fridge magnets produced to support the same film. It shows exactly what it is in each model that gives it personality.

As well as hundreds of drawn sketches, there are Sketch Sculpts.

The exhibition is a boon for doll house lovers. The sets are so detailed and contain lots of puns and surprises that I don’t remember seeing when viewing the film. Lady Tottington’s Mansion from the Curse of the Were-Rabbit took eight weeks to build after many months of design development. It was inspired by many stately homes and the final design is closest to the National Trust’s Montacute House in Somerset.

As well as movies and TV series the Aardman Studios have done a lot of promotional and advertising work. So there are lots of new things to see.

IMG_6567The stand out for me is Dot ‘The world’s smallest animation’ made in 2010 for Nokia to promote the announcement of a medical microscope attachment for one of the company’s phones.

The model is only 9mm tall and was created using 3D printing. Lots of Dots were made in different poses then attached at the head by a wire so she could be photographed in the set made of every day things such as pins, coins and pencil shavings.

The film tells the story of a girl who is dropped into a microscopic world which begins to unravel. Even more interesting is this short documentary on the making of the animation.

Visiting in the school holidays was not too bad, lots of children but so much to see there is plenty of room. At the end there is an opportunity to sculpt a character and film a short animation.


I borrowed a model and made an hilarious 25 frame animation. You will just have to believe me as unfortunately I cannot upload videos here.

Ps & Qs

One of the first quilt guilds formed in Melbourne and still going strong is the Patchworkers and Quilters Guild of Victoria – referred to in all conversations as Ps and Qs. I visited their Biennial Exhibition in Blackburn South and was treated to a display of all sorts of quilts.


One by a familiar quilter was bearing a ribbon and special label, congratulations Fran.

The very textural piece does not photograph well, it is of a view of the Liffey River in Northern Tasmania.

I was really taken with a quilt featuring the Seven Sisters block. While the label did not reference the Pleiades I think the positioning sort of resembles the constellation.

In which case the sisters are Asterope, Taygeta, Maia, Celaeno, Electra, Merope and Alcyone. The quilting adds great movement to this piece.


The cute Blue Hedgehog is one of a pair of linen cushions embroidered with Cottage Garden threads. I new use for the very popular Enchanted Forest colouring book.


Pretty in pink

This post is triggered by seeing a local garden in full spring glory mode. It is on quiet suburban street corner and is a bit of a stand out because it is always clipped within an inch of its life. IMG_6488It got me thinking about the concept of the front garden, partly because I do not have one. So today as I took one of my longer walking routes I paid attention to the face property owners present to the world.

Most of the gardens in my street are dominated by native trees and shrubs with exotics planted closer to the house. Some owners have been careful to plant species indigenous to the area. The reserve that takes up one side of the road is slowly being rehabilitated with lots of weed clearing and intensive planting between the trees and along the restored creek banks.

Some newer home owners are bucking this trend, but because of VCAT rulings, trees have been protected and there is a restricted building footprint. Not that this means a garden full of native plants hiding a sympathetic buildingIMG_6492

Infil housing is happening up the next road, with back and side yards of large properties subdivided off. What looks like a converted Masonic Lodge is actually a new build. The front garden is as uptight as the architecture. The long drive down to a new house takes advantage of the cypress trees next door and has a regimented planting squeezed in on either side of the asphalt.

Most gardens however are typical mixes of traditional plantings and are well maintained.  Like this one with the beautiful deciduous magnolia, a plant that is putting on a stunning display all over Melbourne this spring.


A bit further on one of the original farm houses has a neat front garden typical of its era. Down the side are assorted sheds and there is still a nearby dam despite most of the land being given over to housing. Next comes the high tension transmission lines which are a demarcation line between large blocks and significant acreage.


Ahh for the good old days of government owned infrastructure.

I am now well away from any form of footpath, and the air is full of the scent of Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulate, an environmental weed that establishes very quickly and starves surrounding plants of nutrients, water and sunlight. It is a native plant out of its usual rainforest habitat, but is allowed to grow in yards and gardens probably because it looks quite nice and saves on lots of weeding.

There is a distinct change of style as properties are not just homes for people. At least four beautiful horses have stabling just a gate away from the front garden of one home.

A reproduction of maybe a Victorian period home has an impressive front garden and a tennis court and pool down the side. Definitely a lifestyle place and with gorgeous views. Many  Canary Island Date Palms Phoenix canariensis feature in front gardens, some indicating the age of the house, but most how much the owner was prepared to spend on landscaping. It is definitely the status plant for large gardens.

There are paddocks now between each house and the frontages are getting wider. This next one is an “Exquisite Executive Residence on 10 acres” according to the For Sale sign.

I turn up a road that runs across the crest of the hills. On the corner is a house that dates back to the time when the area was popular for guest houses and country retreats for people wanting a break away from the city. Deciduous feature trees dominate, with lots of shrubberies and borders.


I am in serious horse country now. It is no longer a house with a showy garden, more a place to enjoy all aspects of the equestrian life. The scent in the air has changed too,  freesias have naturalised all along the side of the road.

Less than a half hours walk from home I am well out into the country side. Remnant bushland and paddocks and a couple of alpaca.

Across the other side of the road it is lovely to see an older California Bungalow has been renovated and enlarged rather than bulldozed. Even the windbreak has been kept. No front garden is needed when there is some much beautiful scenery all around.


13 views of Hokusai

There are so many great exhibitions on at the moment I need to visit one a week to keep up. Today’s trip was to NGV in St Kilda Road, a great place to spend a rainy day.

Hokusai is on until 15 October and like all popular showings there will probably be a mad rush at the end. There are a total of 176 works, quite overwhelming.

The exhibition is bookmarked by two charming prints, both thought to be self portraits.

They show his passion for humorously depicting ordinary people engaging in everyday activities. He was at the height of his fame in the 1830s when he was in his seventies.

The most well known of the many series on show is the Thirty Six Views of Mt Fuji, an amazing example of landscape composition, humour and affinity with nature.

Along side the wood block print The Great Wave acquired by the NGV in 1909 is an equally early print from Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, Matsumoto. It was fun to play “spot the difference”.

After seeing the Mt Fuji, Waterfalls, Poetry, Bridges and other series, there are some beautiful woodblocks known as Large Flowers and Small Flowers. His influence on Japanese art is obvious in these works.

Lots of different people are interested in this showing, there were many Japanese visitors, the usual gallery attendees and an audience mainly interested in Hokusai’s Manga. 


The first ten volumes were published between 1814 and 1819 and others came later. They are thought to have been painting manuals for artists interested in Hokusai’s spontaneity and originality, but proved very popular with the general public.

A selection images from Self-taught Dancing Apprenticeship 1814  have been animated by the NGV Multimedia team to demonstrate that he had an understanding of creating moving images well before any similar European animation device.

As usual there is a stunning selection of merchandise created especially for the NGV, all very beautiful and expensive.


I came home with a magnet and the book as it was very hard to choose which images I liked best.

Many people nowadays like

All it takes is a heap of Seville oranges and a lemon and quite a lot of sugar.

Using a tried and true recipe, cook the oranges in water until very soft. Chop like crazy. Cook again with the sugar and there you have it.

Twenty two and a half jars. One batch was a bit overcooked but any …

… marmalade is tasty if it’s very thickly spread.