Sunday, October 14, 2012


Polyphemus was one mean son of a bitch to Odysseus and his men. 

"The cyclops grabbed two of the men and bashed their heads on rocks. The remaining men cried aloud as he ate their comrades". He ate whole sheep in one bite, and tried to trap sailors in his cave (like a live supermarket for fresh meat).

But Odysseus gets even, poking the cyclops eye out with a stick after getting him drunk on wine before making his escape. 

He was one cool due, Odysseus. When the sirens sang to lure him and his sailors to the deep, he put wax in his ears and had himself tied to the mast so as not to be lured to his fateful death. Pretty resourceful really.

Anyway, here is my tribute to Polyphemus and the most awesomest-ever adventure of Odysseus. This is my most adventurest (is that a word?) assemblage shrine so far, gifted to my husband Luke for his 1/2 century.

Interesting that my biggest source of inspiration - the king kapisi of assemblaaazzzh Micheal deMeng, has just posted a blog on cyclops inspired work - the Santa Clops. I'm probably the world's biggest Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, but Michael puts back some reason for the season. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Making of the Tentacles, for Alberto

This is the story of the making of Polyphemus, the cyclops monster of Homer's odyssey.

Polyphemus grew from some tin foil (or aluminum foil as they say in the states), some wire, Ave's 2 part apoxie clay and a baby doll head. Some say I'm a sick puppy.

Baby's head got seperated from her body in a sad accident (ahhh poor baby). Luckily I found her abandoned cranium and resurected her, gave her a sex change and made her into He-Baby.  A builder left behind at our house, a box of these fabulous nail strips from his automatic nail gun, which I refilled with rusty screws and attached to baby's head. No longer a baby, now some sort of Punk revival dolly he became the base for Polyphemus.

But now for the tentacles...... hmmm how to make these. Alberto had an idea (lightbulb), buy some Finger tentacles from an online shop. Muy buen idea mi amigo Alberto, but not so easy to find finger tentacles in NZ. Too impatient to wait for the American post, I decided to make my own.

Here comes the clever bit. Looked on line and found a great tutorial by Propnomicon, a fellow blogger and tentacle maker extraordinaire. This gave me the basis for the idea. Fueled by the insanely talented Michael deMeng's workshop 'Mad Alchemists Guide to Assemblage', I discovered Ave's 2 part apoxy clay and ordered it up from a local taxidermist supplier.

So.......... take some strips of fencing wire and wrap with foil, bend into shape.

Roll out the Ave's clay into thin strips. Wind it around the foil and smooth over any lumps.

Stick into Punk revival Dolly head (since glued onto the top of my shrine), and add texture to the tentacles with a button or something like that.

I added an evil blue eye (Daniel Craig's), and painted it with gesso.

....added an eye patch, an earing and painted with color washes and.....Bale..... Polyphemus es finito.

This shrine was made for my husbands 50th birthday gift. Next post, I will put up some photos of the completed assemblage. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In a frenzy, yet again.....

I have a million ideas spinning around my head, here is where my prioritizing skills will come in handy.  In November I am part of a group exhibition at A Fine Line Gallery in Matakana called Ink, Paper, Thread. Yes November seems a long way away but that does not seem to reassure me out of my sense of panic when I think about how many works I have yet to finish, and how many more left to start even. But start I have, and hopefully by the time we hang I'll have 6 pieces done. Ink, Paper, Thread is to be presented by a group of 11 women who are either book artists, calligraphers or printmakers. Our work will be varied, but basically the common thread (is that trying to be punny?) is the use of paper, ink and threads as the main medium used in construction. It's going to be exciting and unique.

I can tell you it takes a long time to make 109 tiny paper beads, several cups of coffee and an episode of Junior Masterchef later.........These beads were formally from a 1950s edition of a Boys Our Own annual, the story is called 'Masquerade in Baghdad' which sounds quite mysterious dont you think? These will be incorporated into an installation somehow, don't know quite how but the call was heard and I followed it, destination unknown. Watch this space.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Study is over, time for me to create

Last week I finished my final university paper for a post-grad cert (yahoo). So now no more weekends of study in front of YouTube medical videos on how to find the JVP or what a rhonchi sounds like. I spent an entire 4 days on art work and my psycke is soaring. First up, making two small artworks to donate to a fundraising exhibition for the Matakana-Omaha walkway This is an initiative from ceramacist Mike deHaan and A Fine Line Gallery. Tickets are sold for $40 each, and throughout the evening the artworks are numbered off to match the number on the tickets. So everyone gets to go home with a unique piece of local art. Great idea huh?

The brief was to make a piece around DLE size. This mini shrine is a symphony of diaxozine purple in a tin pencil case. A tiny musical scroll in a little bottle, a light bulb, a mesmerizing photograph of a woman underwater, and lots of luverly super-glue. Not sure what to call her.

My second donated piece is a fine art print of delicate wild-parsley. Quite a contradiction to black skeletons. 

This is a real buzz, first to be asked to contribute, but also to be a part of this amazing community initiative. Tickets are sold out but you can just turn up on Saturday night to be part of the fun, buy a raffle ticket, have a glass of wine and meet some neat people. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Degas to Dali, and around the city for Richard.

On the weekend I went along to the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery to see the....

exhibition. Now I'm not one of these people who likes to take photos of other peoples artworks as such, but I do love to photograph people as they look at other peoples artworks. I find it fascinating to see their responses. But I got as far as the foyer with my intentions, no photography permitted in the gallery and about a hundred gallery staff making sure we all behave ourselves. Interesting that I can photograph Degas in the Musee d'Orsay

Woman in a Gallery (mine 2005)

but not a Degas in Auckland.  So I resign myself to just looking at the paintings instead, choosing my favourite three to take home with me (again, not allowed!! Who would have thought?).  The works are all relatively minor really, compared to the awesomeness of the big European galleries, but despite that I soaked up the creative vibe and just about melted in awe at the Dada wall. In the end I decided I would (like to) take home a Miro, a Tanguy and a Degas. 

Yves Tanguy

And then this little fish went into the big city and spent the afternoon shooting off the hip as I walked about. Here are some of my shots. This is for you Richard - "I'd fly, a rowdy kaka from my body, if I could". For today Richard, let me be your wings. The city waits for you. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Images exhibition opens

Friday night at RD6 gallery Matakana. Exhibition opens to thunderous applause. Well, OK not exactly thunderous but definately a good crowd through the gallery, enough to stroke my ego anyway. Somewhere between 100 and 150 people I'm guessing and the place was buzzing with good conversation, yummy wine and a lovely feel good atmosphere. Thanks to all those who attended - or who  plan to catch up with the exhibition later. My undying gratitude and aroha to Barbie Cope, organiser extraordinaire, and my good friend Sue (that's Sue Who? to you) who was the best back stage manager on opening night and very handy with a tea towel (eh Charlie!).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Festival time

It's that time of year again for the Auckland Festival of Photography, and I am part of an exhibition to be held at Matakana, as part of the Matakana Pictures group, along with Richard Smallfield and Jenny Tomlin and many other great local photographers.  So that's not only exciting but also a privilege to be in such good company.

Help! I better get busy framing before panic sets in.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Going insane about rust...

Today I had the privilege of learning a rusting technique from one of my creative book artist colleagues, Zona. The results were amazing and I'm sure I will be doing this again and again on different mediums to incorporate into my book making and mixed media shrines.

To do this rusting you need 3 spray bottles. The size of the bottle, and hence the nozzle, makes a difference to the result so it pays to experiment. First bottle - a concentrated solution made of tea, we used regular gumboot but I will be experimenting with herbal teas later. Second bottle - solution of ferrous sulphate. Third bottle - weak solution of caustic soda. The second two ingredients come from the hardware store, those blokes at Mitre 10 will be looking at me sideways yet again..... "what, a woman wants to buy men's stuff???".

Peg your paper on a rack over the lawn, or surface where drips don't matter. Spray your paper with each of these solutions, starting with the tea, following with the ferrous and lastly the caustic. Don't wait for the layers to dry, drips running down the paper adds to the effect. Drips are your friend. If after the first go your paper isn't quite what you want, then keep going with layers of each solution until you have something gobsmackingly fabulous. Once the paper is dry you can rinse it with plain water to remove the caustic.

Experiment with different papers, we found that the cheap ungessoed book cloth absorbed the liquids better than the one with gesso. Papers that are coloured or printed give wonderful results.

Thank you Zona for sharing your amazing knowledge. Days like this bring nourishment to the soul.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Learning the caterpillar stitch

Ever since I saw an example of this in 500 Handmade books I've wanted to give it a go. And a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to learn this stitch with Hamilton based book-maker Ann Bell. The first day was spent on making a book using single needle coptic before we could even start on the embellishment stitches. Ann follows Keith Smith's text, only a bit more loosely. She says "inconsistency is OK, as long as it's consistently inconsistent". I'm fond of that philosophy, because when it comes to book binding - an anal retentive I am not.  My caterpillar has legs all over the place, and a body that looks anorexic in parts - a millipede on weed.

Stitching across the spine.

Still, I'm pretty pleased with the overall finished product. It can only get better with practice and a glass of wine.

The girls and their finished books (or some not quite finished).