If It Ain’t Broke…

Well, I’ve had quite a day. I decided to try a new WordPress theme, because I wanted more choice on what appeared in the sidebar, but when I installed it my blog disappeared, leaving just a white screen. I couldn’t even get into the admin part to try and uninstall the new theme.

So I tried a few things, got Paul involved, backed up everything, upgraded, and eventually just left it to Paul, who eventually got it all working again by mid-afternoon. Funny thing is, I asked in Twitter if changing the theme was likely to cause problems, and got several replies saying ‘no’. Liars!

I won’t be trying THAT again any time soon.

Mini Books, Miniature Books, and more…

I’ve been working my way through several bookbinding projects lately, using materials found around the house. First there was the Mini Book, which follows pretty closely the instructions for the project on the cover of Rebound:


I didn’t have narrow enough ribbon for the spine, so I used one wide piece.


The next project was a tiny one – a “two-section book with a ‘w’ fold”, made from a Smartie box:



And I also whipped up a few more notebooks, this time made out of pages from a free local calendar that I didn’t need, but didn’t want to throw out.


Homemade Paint Box

What do you get if you combine some pain-killers, mints and watercolour paint?


A portable paint box!


I won’t claim this as my own idea, because I saw something similar on a blog where the artist has used an Altoid tin, gouage and bottle tops. I can’t find the blog now, and that blogger had grabbed the idea from somewhere else, too. However, I did come up with the idea of using the plastic part from a pack of medication. The small amount of paint they hold is still plenty for colouring sketches, and I can keep topping them up.

Prices for portable watercolour paint boxes, when I looked recently, started around $70 – $100 and went rapidly upwards. I’ve seen little ones on blogs, but they appear to be only available outside Australia. This cost me nothing, since I already had the tin, medication and paint.

Sketch Sunday 33


I drew this little single-slide slide viewer to test out the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen’s reaction to being painted over. There was no bleeding of the ink, and I’m very happy about that because I really like the paintbrush style flexible pen tip, and I’ve discovered my sort-of-local art store, Zart Art, stocks them.

Sketchbooks, Journals

Recent I watched a doco on ABC2 about the 1000 Journals Project. A guy came up with the idea of sending 1000 blank books out into the world and seeing if any came back to him. They were numbered, and people could scan and send in pages to a website that tracked them. It took 2 years for the guy to buy, cover and sent out the journals. A book and the doco were made about the project.

There were some interesting stories. The first journals went out in August 2000 so events like 911 and Katrine were recorded. Some people recorded deeply personal events, others just had fun with it. A few people added to what was already there, from ‘making the boring pages prettier’ to covering up some completely, but most just filled new pages. While some journals were left in places for strangers to find, others wound up with a big list of people waiting to have the journal sent to them. One guy nagged the previous person to hurry up, then two days after he received it cyclone Katrine hit and he wasn’t able to pass it on for months.

There was obviously some disappointment that so many journals went missing. The guy who started the project has set up another, similar project called 1001 Journals. It is more of an interactive web project – you get your own journal and either have an approved group of friends who contribute to it, keep it in one location such as a cafe so that strangers can contribute but not take it away, or else use it as your personal journal. Either way, you upload pages as you go. There are a couple of thousand journals going.

In both cases, even if you don’t want to participate, the scans on the sites are interesting to look through – if you like that sort of art and writing – sketches, doodles, collage, reflections, opinions, and wordplay.

Not long after I watched the doco and investigated the websites, in one of those spooky moments of serendipity, a blog that I read manifested a link to The Sketchbook Project. Again, it’s similar but different to the 1000 Journals Project. This time you buy a notebook from the organisers, fill it with sketches and send it back by the due date, and then the sketchbooks go on a roving exhibition throughout the USA. Each time someone at the exhibition reads one, it’s logged, so you can find out which one was most popular. This is the second round of this idea – it was first done in 2009.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, the same people are running The Canvas Project, where they send you small canvasses for you to paint and return to them.

I’m tempted by The Sketchbook Project, but knowing that the exhibition won’t make it to Australia is a bit off-putting. As far as community art projects go, I’m more of a Meet Me at Mike’s Envelope Project kind of girl. I like to see everyone’s contribution, and mine within the whole.

But the doco, these projects, the whole altered book thing, bookbinding, my doodle book, and Sketchbook Sunday have been rubbing together in my head and creating sparks. Or maybe just lots of noise. I find myself wanting to do a dozen things at once. I look at the books I’ve been making and want to fill them up. I want to make more.

I’ve let the ideas rumble around together for a while. Now I’m at one of my favourite stages of the creative process: scribbling down lists, paring off what I’m not interested or capable of, summing up ideas, hoping to turn wild, untamed inspiration into something a bit more structured, practical, sustainable and – most importantly – do-able along with all the other things I want or need to keep doing.


Which, ironically, is what I’ve used my sketchbooks for all along.

Lion Jacket

The first garment in my winter Bernardathon is done:



Pattern: Lion-Neck Cardigan from Custom Knits
Yarn: Patons Inca
Changes: I added stitches at the sides from waist level, so it would flare a little around my hips and the fronts wouldn’t gap too much. Then I decreased at either end of the last three rows to form a rounded ‘corner’ at the bottom front, then continued the ruffle all the way around. I also knit an extra sequence of increases and rib rows to the ruffle to make it wider.

I have plenty of this yarn left over. Probably not enough for a long-sleeved garment, though. Maybe a vest, or if I buy more of this yarn in another colour I could make a striped or two-toned something.

As soon as I’d finished this, I knit and washed swatches for the next two garments in my Bernardathon – Pink and Slinky Ribs. They’ve come out exactly the right gauge.


And after much deliberation, I chose the purple alpaca blend for Pink.

A Booky Find

During an op shop crawl searching for old photo frames last week, I found this:


It’s an old cash book. Huge and rather heavy. There’s a receipt inside dated 1966.


I’m thinking of carving a hollow out of the inside and using it as a box. I’ve read on sketchbook artist’s blogs that old books like this can have really good paper for sketching and painting on – if you don’t mind the lines – so I’m going to reserve the pieces I carve out for bookbinding projects.


Only a few pages inside have been written on.


The list is mysterious. Items include ‘Eastern Princes’, ‘The Burgular’, ‘All Aces’, ‘Immortal Don’, ‘Persian Chief’, ‘Dark Briar’, ‘Fun in the Sun’, ‘Perculator’, ‘Boeing Boy’. What do you reckon they are? Race horses? Teams?

Twill Blanket #2

Lately, the view outside my workroom window has often been like this:


So it’s been a good time of year to have finished this:


Twill Blanket #2 has eucalyptus dyed Cleckheaton Country for the warp, and Patons Vintage Hues for the weft. For more details, see this post.


It’s a longer blanket than Twill Blanket #1, which means it can be wrapped around the shoulders, or folded in half and used as a knee rug.

I’m now torn between starting Twill Blanket #3, or making another Denim Rag Rug. The twill one would use up more of my yarn stash, and it would be good to do the more complicated twill I’m planning while the twilliness is fresh in my mind. But I’m feeling a little ‘over’ twill right now, and a rag rug would be a nice change.

Sketch Sunday 32


The first test sketch with my new waterproof pens. This was the fineliner – a Pigma Micron 0.5mm. The paint is gouage applied with a water brush. Looking around me for something to draw, I saw the cat was doing his ‘if you’re not going to pat me, I will sit with my back to you and sulk’ pose.

The Envelope Project

Over at the Meet Me At Mike’s blog and shop they’re having a little competitiony thing called The Envelope Project.

the envelope project

You decorate an envelope:

And put some things – recycled, handmade, leftovers, nifty things – inside it:

Send it to the address provided and they put the envelope in their shop window. And the contents? After six weeks they draw a name and that person wins everything.