Monday, January 26, 2015

redecorating - before and after

I always enjoy seeing before and after pictures of people's redecorated homes, so I thought I'd give you a tour of our place, which we moved into a year ago today.

Entrance before


I found the old hand-lettered surgery sign in the basement. You can tell how old it is by the three digit phone number! Too cute.

Two collages by Karl Chitham

Stairwell before

A Bronwynne Cornish Owl Oracle guards the hallway

 Lounge before


Graham Fletcher's big Lounge Room Tribalism painting dominates the main wall, so I moved the sofa forward to give it breathing room.

A Stanley Palmer print, which the artist gifted to my father-in-law in the 60s, hangs above the deco fireplace...

alongside my latest purchase - a gorgeous ceramic house / boat by Carol Robinson that I bought from the Black Shed Gallery in Waipu before Christmas. It reminds me a bit of Howl's Moving Castle (without the legs).

 Dining Room Before



Apart from the dining room, the whole house has been painted in the neutral colour, pearl lustre. I really wanted a warm colour for the dining room though, so I chose Beryl Green from Karen Walker's latest range inspired by the Bauhaus colour palette. 

I found the cute teapot curtain fabric at Spotlight and I've placed my 60s china cabinet beneath the window where I can display my Hanmerware pots and other lovelies. The chubby yellow pot was a recent find in an antique shop in Paeroa.

Two embroidered knitting patterns by Katharine Claypole, bought from Rayner Brothers Gallery  
 in Whanganui look very cool against the pale green wall in the dining room. 

 Master bedroom before


I found the dear little blue bedside tables at Farmers, and splashed out on four metres of Italian linen at Firefly Design in Devonport to make the bedroom curtains.

Kitchen before

The kitchen received a fresh coat of paint and a thorough declutter!

 Laundry Before

We didn't bother painting the laundry, but this was definitely the place where a whole lot of clutter had accumulated and needed to go.


Unfortunately, my 'before' shots of the upstairs have mysteriously vanished from the camera, so the 'after' shots will have to suffice. I couldn't resist the felt beehive light shade from Firefly Design.

 Upstairs hallway
The American books occupy these shelves

 Upstairs Library

Classical and Japanese and Chinese Literature take up these two big shelves. If you want to see the full extent of Jack's library (around 20,000 books) he has a blog devoted to his book collection here: A Gentle Madness

Upstairs Library

The Pania Press archive is displayed in an old china cabinet

Upstairs Guest-room

A Richard Parker vase and an early Graham Fletcher painting are joined by two finds from the basement: an oil painting of a vineyard by Punch illustrator Stuart Boyd, dated 1913, and a watercolour titled Lone Pines, Corsica by an artist whose name I can't quite make out. It probably dates from the  early 20th century as well and was a wedding present to somebody, judging by the sentimental verse written on the back of the picture.

 Upstairs Office

The New Zealand book collection takes up three shelves (built by Jack's brother Jim when he was a teenager).

And last but by no means least, here are the two master painters (and thoroughly lovely gents) responsible for making our house look so fresh and lovely: Dave and Brian from HDL.

Friday, January 23, 2015

making a 3d paper scene

For best results, choose an image (or draw one) that has a clear foreground, mid-ground and background. I'm using a page from a 1972 calendar with pictures of German castles.

Carefully cut out the background, foreground and mid-ground of the picture.

Glue the background onto a piece of card and then glue strips of foam board around the edges to affix the next raised layer.

Glue the mid-ground into place and add further strips of foam board for the final layer.

Glue the foreground to the inside of a piece of coloured cardboard matting, which acts as a frame for the 3d picture.
It's as easy as that!

This one is going to be a birthday card, so I mounted a black card on the back with room for my written message, and I added an illustrated border cut from another of the calendar pictures.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Birthdays

I feel a bit sorry for people who have birthdays in early January. My dear brother Greg has a birthday on January 6th and most years he is woefully short-changed by our family when it comes to celebrating his big day. Post-Christmas gift fatigue is a pitiful excuse, so this year I made an effort and sewed him a 13 piece textile installation inspired by Jill McDonald's School Journal covers from the mid-60s. It will hang on the bedroom wall of the newly refurbished home in Martinborough he shares with his gorgeous partner Celia.

Here's an image of a smaller version hanging on my bedroom wall.

Happy New Year everybody. I hope 2015 is shaping up well for you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

first fall

I've just returned from a trip to Dunedin where I presented a paper about Pania Press in the Art+Book symposium organised by Peter Stupples at the Dunedin School of Art. It was a lovely occasion and I met some wonderful makers and designers, and listened to a range of fascinating presentations about the many aspects of book production and publication. Best of all, I saw that publishing (in its many guises) is alive and well in New Zealand. One of the highlights for me was a presentation by Lesley Kaiser on the pop-up books she has produced over the years. She is truly inspirational! If you are interested, you can see an animation of one of Lesley's pop-ups by clicking here.

I took the opportunity to discuss two new Pania Press publications, which were displayed in an exhibition of contemporary book art in the adjoining gallery space at the Dunedin School of Art, beautifully curated by Natalie Poland and Peter Stupples. The images above are installation shots of the Pania Press display.

Four quilted needle case books for Frances Kelly's short story 'First Fall 
Materials: vintage silk kimonos, cotton, wool, bias binding ties, and embroidered fabric labels

First Fall 

Auckland writer and academic Frances Kelly specialises in neo-Victorian literature and wrote her PhD on A.S Byatt’s novel Possession. Fran’s own creative writing is firmly located in this genre. Her interest in the theme of maternity and in the experiences of women in the 19th century feeds into a good deal of her writing. The fact that Fran is related by blood through her maternal line to notorious baby killer Minnie Dean, who was sentenced to death and hanged in 1895, is also tied to her interest in this historical period.

Fran’s story ‘First Fall’ is set in Dunedin in 1866 and tells the story of Sarah Gallagher, a young woman lately arrived from Edinburgh, who is employed to help single women gain suitable work. As the story develops, Sarah, a gifted seamstress, teaches needlework skills to a group of unmarried pregnant women (described as ‘First Falls’) in the care of Mary Magdalene House. The narrative hints that Sarah herself had a baby out of wedlock, which she gave away before departing for New Zealand.

The theme of the story, with its emphasis on needlework as a suitable female accomplishment, determined the design of the book as a quilted needle-case.

In the process of making the edition of 50 needle-case books, Fran told me about an exhibition she’d seen in London in 2010 at The Foundling Museum, formerly The London Foundling Hospital. 

The Threads of Feeling exhibition, curated by John Styles, displayed textile tokens drawn from the 5000 items in the Museum’s collection. The tokens (fabric swatches, small pieces of embroidery, ribbon cockades, wool hearts, pieces of lace and ribbon), were left by destitute mothers with their babies at the Foundling Hospital during the 18th century. 

Many of the pieces were cut in two and one half was given to the mother as a means of correctly identifying her child if she was ever in a position to be able to reclaim her baby. The online exhibition Threads of Feeling can be viewed here. Here are some images of a selection of foundling tokens in the exhibition catalogue:

Of course, very few mothers were ever reunited with their children. A great many of the babies died in infancy and it is very likely that the mothers, poor and malnourished, did not survive long either. The last image above represents a rare exception though. It is a patchwork needlecase, cut in two, which accompanied Foundling 16516, a boy named Charles, who was admitted to the institution's care in 1767. The catalogue notes that the child was reclaimed by his mother Sarah Bender on 10 June 1775, eight years later. 

Although the time period of Fran's story takes place a century later than the foundling token tradition, I liked the idea that Fran’s character Sarah Gallagher might have left such a token with her child, so I hosted a little sewing bee in my studio to make foundling tokens to go inside each copy of the book.

 Here's Fran with her gorgeous satin-lined wicker sewing box

 Libby Brickell [left], Fran Kelly and Kate Davis busily sewing tokens

The group of tokens we made

The idea is that each copy of 'First Fall' will have a unique textile token pinned to the inside cover, like these:

At the launch for 'First Fall' at my home in Auckland on 9 November people will be able to choose a token to go with their copy of the book.