explainin loooosy

WELCOME to the Forest Flaw.
If you are here to check out my portrait work, please click HERE!
If you would like to see my Pet portraits, please click HERE!
If you would like to see my Forest Flaw babies, see HERE!
If you would like to follow me on facebook, click HERE

You can see by my blog that I have many interests, including sewing, drawing and writing about various crafty art related things.
Custom orders are available, just message me.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

To keep is to save, to store is to hoard

When I keep things, it is for a purpose.

A lamp might break, but the shade is still good! A handle comes off something, but the pattern on it is too nice to throw away! A jar lid might break, but the jar is still perfectly fine!
Now, sometimes I admit, keeping bits and pieces might be holding onto junk, but I figure if I put those pieces to work within twelve months - it's a save! otherwise, I will go on a spring rampage and throw things out (then look for those things two months later and kick myself for getting rid of it).

Of course, when my husband keeps things it is because he is a hoarder and no good can come of it...

So, upon reviewing my broken, salvaged items for a spring clean, I decided it was time to use it or lose it. The first items on my agenda: jars.

I had always admired the beautiful tiny worlds of 'gardeney goodness in glass enclosures' - (or terrariums). I don't know why I had never thought of giving it a go before. Perhaps I was concerned that, as my husband pointed out;
 'we are going to end up with moldy jars decorating the house in a month or so'.
But no. I have done my hasty homework and I realise the mechanics of gardening in jars...I think. I'll let you know in a month or so.

My research has led to this: there are two types of terrariums, open jar and enclosed. The open jar is suited for dry rockery plants, such as succulents. The closed jar is a little more tricky, and can be used for ferns and humid climate plants. In this type, you really need to add activated charcoal (apparently) or the dreaded moldy jar syndrome (or husband is right-itis) might ensue. 

So open jar appeals because of the ease of care and - well I'm trying to use the jars with broken lids - hence the whole not hoarding but saving dilemma. I used large pebbles on the bottom for drainage, coir mixed in with the soil (also for drainage) and more large and small pebbles on top. Mist with water until it is damp but not wet. Then pop in a couple of plants and sit back and wait for the mold garden to grow. 

Having said that, I am eyeing off the rice and pasta glassware for potential garden-ariums. 

My attempts are very simple so far. But I know myself too well by now to know that they will end here. I already have plans (and jars) for moss carpeted scenes with little cutesy pie figurines and tiny ferns and oh my god I might just want to go live in one. 

So, I say, let the hoarding saving begin!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Drawing from experience

"I hate your stupid face".

This has been heard at my house a bit lately.
No, there's not marital problems or tourettes sufferers visiting. I have been getting my hand back in at portraiture.

There's an old saying ' use it or lose it'. It seems that in the years between art school and sketching for fun, my hands have forgotten the pathways that lead from what my eyes see to the paper. So I am beginning to 'use it' again, but I fear I may have already started to 'lose it'!

This life has held many artistic endeavors for me, one of them for some time was pet portraits. I drew animals in pencil or pastel from photos, because they are incredibly hard to make sit still for a few hours.
But most of all, I have always enjoyed sketching people in pencil. Hands, faces, friends, poses; a sketch pad was never far from reach. But now, living in a house the size of a large postage stamp has changed my habits considerably.
'I'll just pull them out when I need them', I said to myself as I delicately stuffed them in to a place where they fit.
I think we all know what happened next...
Somewhere, by a large armchair, next to a floor lamp, behind a creaky wooden door lives an old gothic style desk. In that desk live a number of things, all crammed in with napkins and unused teatowels, covering my sketch pads and pencils. 
So now, if the urge grabs me, I think of that armchair, floor lamp, creaky door etc., and am too damn tired and lazy to go grab my gear. I'll make a cup of tea instead. Or take a nap. Equally important in the scheme of things.

Now since I put my mind to it, and decided to cut back on the tea and naps, I have pulled out all my tools, thrown away the dusty teatowels with pictures of cats on them (I also decided I am never going to dry my dishes with horrible, cottony abominations), oil that creaky door and DRAW to my heart's content.

Since I have done this, however, I have not been so content. The whole process is far more swear-y than I recalled, a lot more hateful and somewhat embarrassing when reviewing attempts.

But as my ever wise and beardy husband said to me - "keep failing until you don't" ... then "stop swearing at me".

I have put my efforts into one of those things - I can't promise both...

the bearded wise guy

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Learning is the new black

Some years are just earmarked for growth. 
They are painful, trying, and ultimately you come out the other end changed in some way.

Last year was just like this. 

But life is about change and if I don't get it, I sabotage myself. It's a pattern that I'm familiar with and however much I know it's true, doesn't stop it from happening. So after five years at the one job, every little thing started to build up to one great big thing, like a pyramid built stone by stone, layer upon layer; the weight of standing still overcame me.

Instead of bowing out with dignity and grace - I did what I always do and scurried out of there when one incident gave me the catalyst I needed to leave. Instead of going before it became too much, I waited until I had my "aha, look what you made me do" moment. 
What I didn't know, is that it wasn't just the job that was making me feel this way. It wasn't just sick days and feeling anxiety and my legs literally buckling under me for psychosomatic reasons. 

I took a job in a plant nursery. My dream job, running it all by myself, in the great outdoors! And the pain remained. 
The pain got worse.
After a few months, I could no longer perform the physically demanding job, couldn't sew, couldn't hold a pen properly and the great big break from the Forest Flaw - the thing I loved to do - began. 

I took another job in a cafe, I was running for 7 hours with a ten minute break, and in tears by the end. I took another job and another, the pain shot through my body like a bullet. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown and I wasn't even forty. I won't lie, my mind went to some pretty dark places. 

Eventually my husband dragged me to the doctors to get some answers. It seems ridiculous now that it took so long before I decided it was a physical problem and not a mental thing. I underwent x-rays and blood tests. 

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

You have surely heard of this; it is an autoimmune disease, that inflames joints and soft tissue in your body. The doctor put me on steroids for a month or so and I nearly cried when I realised I had no pain for the first time in over a year. 
You don't know what you've got til it's gone I guess.

Medication is hit and miss, you can bomb yourself out and not function, or put up with pain and get on with life. I chose the latter - not because I am a super martyr, but because I still had so much to do and I wasn't giving up working and creating because my body is a jerk. Also, the diagnosis could have been so much worse - 

So here I am, I still work two jobs and do the Forest on the side. I would love to work more from home but sewing copious amounts is not an option for me now. I would love to have more time for painting and making - and I will - (I am bloody minded when I get an idea in my head!) but I am content to be plodding along  - walking the tightrope of doing too much  one side and being fulfilled mentally, or sitting back sometimes and learning to say 'no'. 

Learning is the new black I guess.

pain schmain!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

sign of the times

So, if you read my blog, you will know I have had an extended period of inactivity followed by a recent influx of posts.
I have been spending my time branching out in other directions.
Originally, this blog was just set up for my critters, so it didn't even occur to me that I could post other artsy endeavors on here. So this, combined with a week off one of my jobs (week off! woooo!), means time and inclination to share what has been going on behind closed doors. Or behind the trees if we are keeping to forest-y sayings. 
In the bushes maybe? 
So, to go out on a limb (eh?) I am going to overload this space with pictures and crazy things. If I make a nice item, i'll post it. Heck, if I make a particularly artistic sandwich, it might make a mention. 

As showcased in the 'illusion' post, I worked on an Ames room recently. I also made a sign to explain it's cunning inner workings. 
For this one, I painted an mdf board in matt black paint (chalkboard paint would work) and used oil pastels for great popping colour. It was then sealed with spray lacquer. 

Unfortunately, people love to touch with grubby fingers, so it got a little smeared in these photos before I had a chance to clean it up.

Now, while we are still at the science centre, here is the A frame I did in similar style:
these were done with chalk paint, harder to control.

A couple more signs are below, they are a set of four i'm currently working on. I would LOVE to post the others, but the event hasn't happened yet so I don't want to spoil it. I will post them later on for your general perusal. 

I love how the oil pastels really pop on the black background, while still giving that chalkboard feel.

So signing off, (eh?) for today, but be assured I will be posting more and varied items soon!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Why didn't you say sew?

 People often ask me if there is a way they can view all the 'other' things I sew. 

"So, what do you mean you sew other things?" they ask. 
"I don't know," I reply. "Clothes, hats, pillows, tableware, general...misc."

There is the inevitable pause while they formulate the next question. 
"Can you show me something?"
Then there is the other inevitable pause while I contemplate pulling out my phone, flipping through random pictures of my dog, meals I ate, places I've been, feet I've accidentally snapped with my finger half over the lens.
But as there is no alternative, I do and it always goes like this:
"Oh, that's my dog...that's my backyard...haha, my feet..."
You can see their faces go from 'mild interest' to 'I think someone's calling me" in a few seconds flat.
"Oh, here's a dress I made, oops, my dog again, haha, more feet!"

By the time I have found a few pictures of genuinely interesting items, they have had a tour of my shoe collection, enjoyed all the seasons in my backyard and traveled the world through pictures. Well not the world, mostly my neighborhood and occasionally a town 20 minutes down the road. 
I am more of a grasshopper than a globe trotter.


          A nautical dress I made from an old coat. 
The lapels were the cuffs from the sleeves.

Fact is, I only really started sewing a few years ago. I am more of a general maker. 
Skilled in the art of 'crafting'. 
Proficient in the ways of painting and drawing, 
Fantastic at fluffing.
 Positively wondrous at time wasting.

Satin lined and handmade labeling in my garrison caps

So this post, whoever you are, is for you. 
If you have ever had the misfortune of asking me to see some of the 'other' things I sew, I have conveniently decided to extend my blog past the critters that it once exclusively showcased. 
Yep, I'm opening it up to the glorious world of MISC.
You can be sure to see more posts in the near future of all the 'other' 'other' things I do.
After all, It is for your benefit, lest you want to see my outstanding, blurry, finger covered shoe collection. 
This is just a small selection of things, more will come in other posts, but what's that? I think I hear someone calling you...

                                                               Deer oh Deer dress


Placemats and table runners - my, that pattern looks familiar...
 Leftover material from curtains were made into bonus pillows. BONUS!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

It's an illusion!

To steal every bad speech writer's favourite trick, I looked up the definition of 'illusion' in a dictionary. It says: 'something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality'.

Not very useful. If I was to write a dictionary, I would like to think that the definitions would be somewhat provocative, stimulating... questioning even. My dictionary might say after every entry, 'what do you think it means?' Then we could all use any word, anytime and ascribe our own meaning to it. Solved! The end. More wine please!

Wait, I haven't written anything vaguely interesting yet. 

Ok, so this year has almost come and gone and I have not blogged or tweeched or generally put myself in anyone's cyber face at all. So instead of placing all my achievements in one overwhelming post, I have decided to drip feed them into the seething pit of insta-webness so as not to overwhelm anyone with my sheer awesomeness... 

Earlier this year, I was able to spend some time creating a mural for the science centre, Discovery, here in Bendigo.
The brief was to create something on a wall of an Ames room. If you have never heard of an Ames room, it is basically the principal they used behind filming the Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings. Stand in one corner and you look tiny, like a dwarf. In the other corner you are enormous! Like Hodor! or Hagrid! or if you prefer it more old school, a heffalump!*
Either way, luckily I was painting the outside, or it could have become crazy confusing. (I actually did paint the inside later on - but that's another blog altogether).
nearly done

I came up with a few different designs, giant beakers, amoebas, Newton and his telescope. But in the end, since it was a room for illusions, I was given the go- ahead for a 'Trompe Loiel'. This became quite the catchphrase about the place while I was painting. Partly because it's fun to say, but mostly because everyone thought I was some kind of snobby artistic weirdo who liked to use phrases they had never heard of. 

n.b. in my dictionary, 'Trompe-L'oiel' might mean; a fancy toilet. 
blank canvas

peeling paper
Painting illusions is such a satisfying thing to do. It means getting angles and perspectives spot on, but the results can be amazing. If you feel the need to see more images of Trompe L'oiel, click here. However, if you are impressed by my meagre attempts, don't click and spoil the illusion... 

just hanging out in this dimension

So my aim was to make it appear that the walls had giant holes in the plaster and you could see into (and through) the room. It took a while to create the effect, it was the middle of summer and the AC was being fixed, I was on my own and I'm pretty sure the building is haunted...But it was great to be painting again!

This was my first attempt at a Trompe L'oiel. and for a fancy toilet, I am pretty pleased with the result.

 *note, Ames room does not give you the illusion of an amazing beard or hunchback or turn you into a purple elephant.