Category Archives: Craft

Focus

I finally finished my dreamcatcher and thought this would be a good time to write a longer reply to a question that was asked by one of my lovely readers in the comments:
“My problem is focus. It’s not desire or motivation, but organized focus. Do you ever run into this?”
Crochet Dreamcatcher
YES! I have many ideas swirling inside my head and often feel oversaturated by the inspiring beautiful art that I see around me and online. I see something I like and I start to wonder what I could achieve with the same medium or in the same style or exploring the same subject. I wish I could try drawing with pastels and coloured pencils, painting with oils, make collages from my own handmade paper, create book illustrations, achieve the level of realistic detail found in botanical illustration, fill pages with the watercolour splashes and puddles, sketch my surroundings daily, paint on large scale, etc. As well as all these above I also love crocheting, knitting, tried my hand at jewellery making, sewing, embroidery, weaving, polymer clay, yarn & fabric dyeing, and would love to learn to make patchwork quilts.

Take this dreamcatcher. I crocheted the middle of it, which took longer than simple weaving would, but I enjoyed using a skill that I mastered as a child. I also wanted the middle of it to look a bit like the compasses of the iron lacework in my paintings and paper-cut.
Centre of dreamcatcher
The weaved beads were made years ago, when I went through the bead-weaving stage, and now I found a perfect use for them.
Weaved beads
And of course the feathers (cockatoo, ghallah & domestic duck) are from my collection that I gathered for the watercolour paintings.
Dreamcatcher detail feathers
Dreamcatcher detail feathers
I wish I could follow my interests in all of these crafts and art areas all at once, but there isn’t enough free time available to me to allow this. Over last few years I was learning to consciously choose what to spend my time on, but also to remember to leave some time for play, research and exploration of ideas. For now I’m (softly) limiting myself to pen and pencil drawing and watercolour painting, as I feel that I have lots of work to do before I’ll master them. At the same time I’m musing on the idea of limiting the themes for my work, instead the medium, because each time I switch to something else I learn something new. It could be fun to explore “painting” lacework & feathers in watercolour, oils, linocuts, crochet, knitting, etc. Today I painted these magpie feathers with watercolours, but maybe next week I’ll see how they would look done in black&white linocut.
Magpie Feathers watercolour

Winsor & Newton watercolours on Arches medium watercolour paper (15 x 21 cm)

Feathers & Dreamcatchers

My son & I found some broken willow branches during our morning walk. I showed him how flexible they were and told him about basket weaving. He wanted to bring the branches home, which I was fine with, yet I didn’t really want to attempt any complex weaving and was wracking my brain for simple craft ideas. Bing! Lightbulb moment. My daughter was asking to make a dreamcatcher for months, but we didn’t have any hoops. Here was my solution to both problems: we could weave the willow branches into simple loops and make dreamcatchers for all of us.

After watching SeaLemon’s “How to Make a Dreamcatcher” video, my son choose some thread, buttons and feathers from my stash and together we made him a dreamcatcher. My daughter made one for herself later that day with the minimal help from me. I’m still making one for myself as I complicated things by wanting to crochet the web.
Two dreamcatchers
Dreamcatchers close-up
I was joking that I’ll have to find something else to paint with my feather collection being depleted, but my daughter found a gorgeous multi-coloured feather and off I went painting few versions of it.
Watercolour of feathers
Watercolour of parrot feather
Watercolour of parrot feather

All feathers were painted with Winsor & Newton watercolour paints on Arches medium watercolour paper (10.5 x 15 cm)

The Promise of a quilt

Somehow, in the moment of weakness or madness or unlimited overpowering parental love, I promised the oldest that I’ll make a dragon quilt for her. I’ve looked through enough quilting books and read enough quilting blogs to be aware of the time commitment and the level of skills required to make one. I’m also painfully aware of my own lack of knowledge and experience. Sewing few squares together and tying the quilt layers instead of tackling hand or machine quilting is as complex as my quilt making got so far.
Patchwork quilt
However I’ve dreamt about making quilts for years. Maybe I should attempt something simple in the interim and yet this is the quilt that I want to make and maybe I can learn as I go along, because having an emotionally strong reason for learning is the best incentive to achieve much more than at first thought possible.

I want this quit to be light in colour – the Girl used to get excited about the snow and the whiteness of the linen. Her nature is gentle and I have visions of her wrapping herself in the warmth and the tranquillity of the quilt when she needs some calm and quite. I don’t want it to be completely white and was thinking of adding blues – like in the chinese pottery (and Russian Gzhel for that matter). I had some old interior design magazines, that I got from op-shop for collaging with kids, and looking through them I realised that I can create a colour board for the quilt to progress with the design.
Sketchbook - colour ideas
Sketches from Melbourne aquarium
I went to the Melbourne aquarium on my own to sketch reptiles to get some visual ideas for the central dragon image. The bulky saltwater crocodile won’t work as in inspiration for this dragon. The lizards could, but what really caught my eye were the seahorses and leafy seadragons. I may go ahead with something based on the seadragons and chinese dragons – the girl likes the dragons in the books to be gentle and kind.
Sketch of seadragon
All sketches were done in A4 Daler-Rowney Ebony Artist’s sketchbook.

Crochet Flowers

Crochet flower brooches
Crochet flower brooches for school’s fundraiser. I haven’t done any for awhile. It felt good to do something I’m familiar with, something I can approach with confidence and finish quickly in between the housework and playing with the children.

Sewing a drawstring bag

While preparing to move to Melbourne from London I gave few things away in the attempt to reduce our possessions. I’m glad I did as life without clutter is simpler, specially in a small space. The only item I missed so far was my sewing machine. I was surprised as I haven’t used it for about two years, but suddenly I wanted to make all sorts of things for the home and the kids and maybe even myself. I shared this need to sew with my friend and she offered me her tiny sewing Genie machine, which only does one type of stitch – straight stitch. I pulled out some fabric from my stash and made a simple drawstring bag for the clothes pegs.
Drawstring bag for pegs
I felt ridiculously proud of my decisiveness and lack of procrastination. I rarely find sewing easy, but that could be because I usually attempt projects that are beyond my meagre sewing skills. Of course this project only whetted my appetite – I’d love to make few more items, maybe even a quilt.

Crafting

Sometimes the answers to the questions, which were asked of no one in particular, but only of self and the Universe, come to us in unexpected ways.  And sometimes the circumstances change removing the need to question altogether.  My daughter is now on school holidays and having much more free time asks me to make things with her.  In the afternoons we are staying at home due to the unexpected summer heat and during her brother’s naps I’m teaching her to knit.

Learning to knitWe also made some Fimo polymer clay beads – a first one for both of us.  I turned some of my daughter’s beads into a simple Chinese knot necklace for her friend’s birthday present.

Chinese knot necklace & polymer clay beadsMaybe this isn’t exactly the type of craft projects I would choose if I was completely free, but I am having fun and enjoying the companionship of doing something together with my daughter.