Sunday, July 31, 2011

:: home garden update ::

as I mentioned a post ago, what began as a soggy, grey Winter has turned into a period of golden weather with picture-perfect bright-blue skies arching over our abundant corner of the world...and, really, now it isn't even cold anymore.  Time to creep outside a little more and begin the waking up of the garden.  And that is what we did this weekend.
We worked steadily at weeding and ruthlessly removing plants that were really 'finished' and then tucking everything neatly back in place with a fresh bed of straw to encourage more worms and retain a little more moisture.  We actually need to water now - that is how dry it has become over the past several weeks!
I did discover we still have a healthy crop of small herbs including Italian Parsley, Oregano, Lemon Thyme and triple-curled parsley...the basil has finally given up and I was very disappointed to uncover the remains of the common thyme, which obviously hadn't enjoyed being overgrown and shaded out by its larger neighbours!  The chillis are delightful to spy, like Christmas ornaments and I'm leaving them there as long as possible...
And along those lines, this lovely Calendula bloom blazes with bright yellow-orange in a few places in the garden beds - I love seeing colour, as well as it being a healing plant and the possibility that a few more bees might visit our little patch of the background are the starry-white clusters of alyssum flowers...another helpful little flower-friend in the vegetable garden.
And, we are being nourished by these tasty greens over in the next bed...Kale, Cavalo Nero, Tat-soi, mizuna, rocket, red mustard (well, red!), silverbeet and perpetual silverbeet are all pretty happy bed-fellows, now that the heat and intensity of the Summer sun has gone.  Also popping up are some lovely self-sown lettuces, which is an extra-nice bonus...I'm all for letting a few plants go to seed and then waving them 'fairy-wand' style over the beds and to see what might come of it!
Most exciting was deciding to make a new 'no-dig' garden bed, extending West of the existing raised beds.  This is significant, of course, as we are only renting!  But, growing our food is important to us and we are running out of space - especially with tomatoes, zucchinis and broccoli on the seed-sowing list!  We scavenge quite a lot for our gardening all up this bed cost a total of $10, which was for the 2 bales of straw.  Aaron and Phoebe went to the skip of the local supermarket for cardboard boxes, which we lay down first (overlapping) - this is called sheet-mulching.  Then, we've found a great source of free wood-chip mulch, which is about 10 minutes away by car - so, admittedly there were two trips of filling buckets and tubs full of this mulch.  This was laid over the cardboard to provide drainage and to begin the process of making a soil base, eventually. This mulch also is heavy enough to hold the cardboard in place itself.  On top of that is laid the straw, quite thickly. The edging material was even free - it is palm tree-trunks, which were also at the mulch-spot!
When it comes time to plant into this bed, of course we will need a mixture of compost/soil - so will outlay some money on buying the compost - as ours is still in the process of maturing.
All in all it was a happy and productive weekend, in the open air, all three of us enjoying being part of our food production and making our home that bit more lovely to 'be' in. NICE!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

:: mid-winter in mullum ::

it is this kind of a day outside here in Mullumbimby today...all wispy clouds wandering over the expanse of the vast blue canvas we call the sky, stretching and morphing endlessly and almost impossibly. Today's variety had me walking home from a meeting with one eye mostly turned upwards...not wanting to miss anything...all so interesting!

This beautiful moon was on display in the morning sunshine back in June...this was the Winter weather we were sold on.  For awhile there it was looking like we were going to have to ask for a weather-refund.  Fortunately, we are now experiencing some gloriously-sunny days and the mud, the puddles and the mold are memories, quickly receding into the recesses of my mind...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

:: sculpture results ::

... so here are some of the pieces I've been busy creating to meet the requirements of the course I'm studying this year.  It is Certificate III in Visual Arts and Contemporary Crafts.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is a needle-felted piece sculpted around a wire has two outfits so far...these Summery leaves with fruit and a limey Spring canopy of leaves with pink blossoms...Phoebe, as you probably can tell from the 'accessories' had quite a long wish-list of things I really ought to create to complete the setting...for the moment, I'm planning on making a set of 'Autumn Leaves' as adornment for...well, Autumn, when that time comes!  I'm going to be brave and enter it into the Ocean Shores Art Expo - first time for everything, they say....well, I shall suck it up and enter...soon.
Arnhem Land style coiled basket
There was tremendous satisfaction in making my first basket that looked like a basket...this one is made from raffia, as opposed to the spinifex grass that is the natural, organic choice in the desert of Central Australia, where this style of coiled basket-weaving originated in the hands and hearts of the beautiful Arnhem land original people.  For some variation, the green is strips of a green silk dress that never did fit me very looks pretty in the basket, I think.
Organic glazed coiled vessels
Green, being a theme running along the celadon glaze in the interior of these little ceramic vessels. "Make something organic using the coil-work" was the brief on day two of our first ceramics experience ever...frozen at the thought of having to turn a squidgy grey square lump of wet clay body into something 'organic' (other than the shape in front of me), I went for the rounded rectangle of an anchovy tin in my 'creative' room at home...and this is the product that emerged...a glazing workshop several weeks down the track at our tutor's studio in the rainforest led to the delicate colour on the insides...they are glazed plain white on the other faces.
funny little houses for the season table?
 These funny little houses are just a crack-up to me...another 'frozen', "what the hell am I going to make?" moment...brief = architechtonic [specifically with angles] and habitat had me petrified and finally I went very angular...tealight shades, perhaps?  they've made a visit to our Season Table as gnome abodes...hmmm
Dodecahedron Family
And these guys...the Dodecahedron Family.  Paper, Scissors, Rock.  The Rock was the clay part.  Here's what I did with paper and scissors for the Assemblage part of our 3D/ Sculpture learnings...I just had to know whether I could make internal cones fit inside a dodecahedron, and then make another...somehow they're the parents and they made an! With external cones...our tutor liked it...hmmm. there you are...a progress report!

:: what has been keeping my fingers and brain busy ::

Phoebe's buff beauty rose...
I love roses, drawing and beauty and this is about 40+ hours of it from me.  The rose is special as it is a lovely, gently-apricot-coloured old-fashioned musk 'Buff Beauty' rose growing steadily over the fence at Possum Bend in the Hawke's Bay, on our property there.  It is very special because it is Phoebe's favourite rose and the photo I drew from was taken by her, although I composed the image for drawing like this, from her photo.
Much was learned through this piece of art...including unexpected physical pain from some rather extended drawing sessions! It is A2 size - so, decently large - and we intend framing it for the home. I did most of the drawing in 2B and 4B and then used a nice smooth graphite PROGRESSO pencil for the dark, glossy leaves - had to darken them three times in three separate sweeps! (oh, I mean, passes!)
Became a labour of love...and in the end...dedication!
Funny thing that happened:  I worked on it the other way - portrait (vertical) and as soon as it was finished I turned it 90 degrees to the landscape view as above and suddenly decided it was much better this way.  Well, I think that was funny!