Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reginald and Quentin

I had planned to post weekly updates on my progress in making an entry for the Reginald

Instead, I found I had barely enough time to finish my entry before the deadline (I made it with mere hours to spare!).

I did at least manage to take some photos along the way, so I can belatedly share the making process here.

Drawing with pencils, then drawing with thread.

As I realised I was running out of time, I started to bring my stitching everywhere I went - from a Parents' Association meeting to medical appointments.

The person I was trying to recreate in softie form has immaculate dress sense, so I realised a practice dress -a muslin - was needed.

Squeezing the pattern pieces onto an only-just-big-enough piece of felt.

My finished softie portrait - complete with pearly button earrings and matching shoes.

Have you guessed who she is?

I have done my best to make a softie representing Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia (her term as Governor-General ends in just a few days).

When I read the main requirement for entry to the Reginald Softie Portrait Prize (to make a Softie Portrait of someone you admire/appreciate), Ms Bryce was the first person I thought of. Her career and life has been characterised by many "firsts" for women, including her role as first female governor-general. She has shown great commitment to human rights and equal opportunity in many of her roles.

While I have never met her, I see her as a gracious, kind, intelligent woman, with a generous smile and a great sense of style. 

It was my very great honour to attempt this portrait of her.

The dress I made is based on the dress in this photo (via abc news)

One of my favourite aspects of making this softie was the chance to share the experience with my daughter. We got to talk about women in leadership roles (including her lovely school buddy who is now school captain!) and what we admired about them, and about how people can be leaders in many different ways. 

I am so glad that Ms Bryce is the first governor-general she has known.

I love that my girl got the chance to imagine she was reading to Ms Bryce (with the most lovely clear reading voice!)...

... then make her own gifts for "our" softie - a brooch (inspired by this dove brooch) and a bangle made of alfoil and cardboard, and the beginnings of a "crafty handbag" (which will look like a regular handbag but will in fact be filled with craft supplies!).

I loved the whole experience of making this softie, and taking part in this wonderful, supportive competition. 

To discover I was a finalist, and that my work would be on display in the windows of the CAE in Melbourne, was an enormous surprise and honour. If you would like to see all the finalists, you can find the details of the exhibition here. There is also a people's prize that you can vote in online (voters also get the chance to win a prize!).

I nearly forgot... joining in My Creative Space here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Once upon a time, I had a craft blog

I'm not quite sure sure how it happened - how a few week's break from this place turned into more than a year (and far far more than a year since I posted about anything I had made).

The truth is, I miss what this blog means to me - a space to celebrate making things, a space to be reflective and thoughtful, a way to be part of a really lovely community. 

Of course I can do these things without a blog (and I have in the last year - maybe one day I might even show a little of what I've been up to while the blog was sleeping) - but it helps. 

Two lovely friends have written posts about blogging that sum up my thoughts pretty well.

I am also excited that the wonderful weekly ritual and community that is "my creative space" is making a comeback ... to celebrate, I've decided to take on a new challenge. I've decided to enter the Reginald Softie Portrait Competition

That's it. I've said it. I am going to give it my best shot, stop worrying about how I am going to sew a portrait when I'm still unsatisfied with my drawn attempts so far, and, in the words of the inspiring Kirsty, "have a crack".

(if you are interested, entry details are here)

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


At the very end of last year, after returning home from time with family and friends, we came home to a vegie garden that was, frankly, a mess.

One of my biggest disappointments was our potato patch. By early December, I already knew things were not going so well. It was clear that these poor plants were not getting anything like the amount of sunlight they needed - they were long and lanky, flowers few and far between, and over-run with insects. 

A few weeks later, we decided to cut our losses. We prepared to pull out the plants and rummage through the soil.

A surprise was to come. As I expected, our yield was poor. What I didn't expect was the absolute joy I shared with our daughter as she found each "tiny tasty tater" (some of them barely 1 cm in diameter), and the excitement when we found a "colossal" potato (in other words, a potato approaching baby potato size). 

As we worked together, up to our armpits in dirt, I felt incredibly lucky. This girl is so good at celebrating the little things, and being happy with what we've got. 

While growing a garden hasn't quite been the success I'd hoped for, we are growing a pretty wonderful girl.

* A disclaimer - while my description of our wonderful curly-haired girl is accurate (in a biased mother kind of way), she is a real kid with real challenges too ... 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Do you love bright, blue sky, sunshiny days, but secretly yearn for a puddle or two to jump in?

Yearn no more - there is an answer.

Simply pull on your favourite gumboots and fill with water.

Stomp, dance, spin, jump and skedaddle away. 

 (she insists there was skedaddling involved)

Spend the rest of the day wondering why your crazy mum keeps singing "What a feeling!"

Hope your day has been wonderful too xo

Thursday, October 4, 2012

the eye of the beholder

The girl and I had a big talk the other day. Some other kids had told her that her artwork was "ugly," and she felt sad and angry.

We talked about how everyone has different opinions about art. 

I told her about artists - Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat - who were told that their art work was "not good enough" at some stage in their life. 

I told her some of the reasons why I find her art work beautiful - because I loved hearing the stories behind her work, because I love that she doesn't just make art that looks the same as everyone else's, because I can see how much she loves the process of art, trying new ideas and techniques along the way.

We talked about how it feels to be told that something you have made is ugly - and about how, while it's totally OK to dislike someone's art, it's not a good idea to tell them that.

She made this painting for me as a tribute to Georges Seurat, one of my favourite artists. Some might see a few blobby dots - I see thoughtfulness and love. It hangs proudly on our bedroom wall.

How do you handle the "beautiful / ugly" thing at your place?