Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Inspiration from Vietnam

I can't believe how slack I am in keeping up with my blog, considering my life is so much more relaxed than this time 18 months ago. I'm sure there must be a wise saying that says something about the more time we have the less productive we become? Or maybe I actually needed to take some 'relax and smell the roses' time?????
Well I certainly am taking in the sights, sounds and not-always-pleasant smells around me, especially in my travels during the school holidays, and thought I would share some of the fab photos I snapped when Vince and I were in Vietnam and  Cambodia over the July break.
I loved the colours and shapes, and thought they would lend themselves to something creative once I am over my 'downtime'.

These oars were in the Kings Palace in Pnomh  Penh and were both wonderful colours and shapes, while being sturdy and intricate in design.

I love the lotus and we sure saw them in all
their glory on our travels throughout both
Vietnam and Cambodia. I would so much
have loved to have been able to have brought
back one of the absolutely gigantic leaves
that I saw - and when I say gigantic I am talking GINORMOUS!!!! Here is my little bit
of lotus love to you :)

I was stoked to find a "chain" of patchwork and quilting shops called Mekong Quilts / Vietnam Quilting and managed to visit almost every one of them throughout the three weeks we were away. The work was really lovely, some stunning colour combinations, and the handquilting was incredible ..... I think if I had measured stitches to the inch it would've been faultless. I was really tempted to buy a quilt but faced reality and left it for someone else to enjoy. Did buy a couple of smaller items as gifts for other peeps though and spent ages just wandering and filling my needs through my eyes :)
First shop - oh happy day in Ho Chi Minh City.
Very very patient he was, was Vince. Lucky they had a seat, though!!!!!!
Everywhere around me I seemed to "see" things that I thought would be so cool made up somehow.....
So maybe now, after another inspiring trip to a land filled with more culture, colour and life (have just come back from a week in Thailand) I might actually start testing my creative spirit again........... 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Jakarta quilting exploration!

Yep - you read right. I went to my first quilty event since moving here in January and it was very exciting!!!!!! Mind you, it was with a little bit of trepidation that we hopped into the taxi, as one never knows if you are actually going to end up where you actually want to be when you give a taxi driver your destination!!!
However, after a couple of stops to ask directions, we got to the display of Agape Quilts & Crafts, a group based in Bandung.
They had the cutest selection of toys, mostly baby related, but so precisely made and finished. I loved the gorgeous Balinese bed these were displayed on.
And hanging behind these lovely softies was an original design which depicted the different regions of Indonesia. All the applique was hand done and absolutely exquisite - not a stitch to be seen! There were several colourways of this same design and one of the ladies I was with was very tempted.
In the room were piles, and I do mean piles, of quilts in single, double and queen size - all machine pieced but ALL hand quilted. OH MY WORD the hand quilting was just out of this world as far as being so precise. No using a busy backing fabric to cover up any mistakes or wonky stitches! This wasn't a quilt exhibition, but more of an opportunity for these ladies to sell their quilts - I think it is an organisation that teaches low income women the skills and then provides them with an outlet for their goods to be sold.
This was a very cool wallhanging made in traditional Javanese batiks and the tall houses were very groovy (as you can see Barbara was very tempted). It was a shame that there weren't as many quilts or other items as I had hoped there would be made in batik. It seems sad that the American patchwork fabrics were the favoured ones rather than their own beautiful cotton batiks. However there were a few quilts made in Bali batiks - you know, the bright ones commercially produced.
A little bit of a closer look - sorry it's a bit blurred, but I don't think the peeps really like me taking photos! Unfortunately you can't see the richness of the traditional batiks....these ones had a lovely goldness to them, and even I could have bought this one which is saying something as I am not really a lover of the browns range.
I did come away with a wee momento.....
...this lovely Bali batik star mat, which I have hung in my bedroom. The folding and sewing is again really precise, and the greens and orange work really well with the green theme of my Jakarta room.
All in all it was a treat to have my first dose of quilting for such a long break and I did get a little longing to hit a machine when I got home but had to be happy to just fondle some fabric instead.
But the good news is that the machine from school is back from being serviced so I am hoping to get that this week and have a bit of a play with it - YAY!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Selamet sore from Jakarta - my new home!!!!

I can't believe it has taken me this long to get to my writing this and I have to say a huge apology to those peeps who have emailed to say where the heck am I ... was I missing in action?

But no - I am very much alive and kicking, just kicking in a different land.

To cut a rather long (but interesting) story short the week of Christmas I applied for, interviewed for, and won, a teaching position at the New Zealand International School here in South Jakarta and flew out on January 3rd. So yes, all very quick but hey, sometimes those sort of spontaneous things are often just what you need after 9 months of dithering!

However it did mean leaving Vince and the boys and Pippa behind in New Zealand... not the easiest of decisions I have to say. 
But I looked on it as if I was doing my own sort of "Eat, Work, Play" experience, not that I look anything like Julia Roberts or that I would have the limitless expense account that she had at her fingertips....damn it all:)

SO into my 4th month and every day reinforces the positivity of my decision.
This is a city of noise, busy-ness, and everchanging-ness ( I know, neither of those last two words are real but I take liberty to create my own words).

I love being back in the class and love my 14 Year 4 mixed bag of treasures. I have a neat bunch of colleagues that I teach and live alongside, I share an apartment with a great young Australian woman half my age who has also left her husband at home. Yes, I miss my man but with modern technology that helps to at least keep in touch.

I have had opportunities already to travel to both Singapore and Hong Kong, and in 8 weeks time both Vince and Mal will be over here for a holiday and then Vince and I will head off to Vietnam.
Hey - is this not an adventure????????

SO - I am back and alive and kicking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Right - off to the gym and then the pool but will share some photos in a couple of days and also update you on the little bit of creativity I have managed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Phew - So that was Christmas!!!!!

And how lovely it was:)
Presents were wrapped and around the new tree...
It had all just got too exhausting for Pippa on Christmas Eve and those stockings were just so comfy!
Could be cos we had been flat out trying to finish this for a Christmas day present!!!!! I think she thought she was camouflaged!!!!!!
FInished, bound and quilted before midnight!
And the jandal buttons on top of the tree were just perfect. This present was for the Canadian mum of my brother-in-law who is over for the summer, and who I was buying for in our family Christmas present "draw". Having been to her house I know it is decorated in black and white, and prior to doing our Christmas "draw" peeps were asked to give three words that meant something to them. Carol put down New Zealand, family and 'Kiwi' (the name of her very precious dog). So.......
I made Kiwi her own snuggly polar fleece blankie complete with her appliqued name and pawprint. And if you look closely inside the pawprint I have cut out the shape of the kiwi bird. Carol thought that was kinda neat, and thinks Kiwi (the dog) is going to love her snuggly blanket.
Rugby jerseys I made for each of my nieces and nephews. Next year is the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand so the idea is that our families will be able to get together to watch some of the All Black games on TV and the kids can wear their shirts!!! The red ones are for my Canadian brother-in-laws family! I appliqued all the letters.
My ingenious presentation of a clothing voucher for Mal!!!
Sam's Christmas Eve revelry caught up with him just after lunch - these young 'uns - no stamina!!!!
Mal enjoying the fruits of his (and other peeps) Christmas cracker treats!
My clever husbands work - he made this for his brothers present. They had it hanging on the shed wall before we left - his brother said if he was a girl he would have shed a tear - how touching!!!!!!!
Boxing Day we had all the troops at our place. It was a glorious day weather wise so peeps were in and out of the pool. Food and drink flowed, great conversation and just a lovely fun time with family and friends.
SO from my family (minus my gorgeous Emma in Canada - love you EM) hope you and your family had a special Christmas with lots of love and magical moments.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas....sort of!

Oh goodness - can't believe it's Christmas Eve! I really feel that somewhere I've lost about 25 days along the line....not very organised at the moment....mmmmm
Anyway - here is my Kiwiana Christmas tree - 
We formed it from chicken wire - that took a wee bit of figuring to get a nice cone shape
Oops that photo is a little blurry - lets try this one - 
I love it when the lights go on - then it's like an underwater scene when you can imagine those really spooky fish that live waaaaaay down deep and have those neon phosphorescent bits in their bodies are swimming around. ANYWAY I'm drifting here!!! Once we had our shape I had the rather long task of "decorating" with my theme of ocean and land -
...starfish, paua shell flowers that I made...
... shells we had picked up on our family holiday in January...
and Pohutukawa flowers, woven flax flowers, little mussel shell decorations I glued onto old curtain loops. It took me a few days to get it all together but it really looks so much better in real life. Now I need to work on an angel for the top that completes it all.
Then I have a wall "tree" that actually hangs all year round and I decorate to a seasonal theme.
I love the decorations on this one - I've been adding a couple of new ones each year all on a summery, beachy, New Zealand theme...

Jandals feature quite a lot... do surfboards. There's a Pukeko - a native bird of New Zealand, and you can see our Pohutukawa - both new decorations Vince gave me earlier this year...
...check out the kiwi lying on the beach sunbathing.....
And at the top an angel made from rolled up paper. The owl - or morepork - is one I received in the NZ handmade decoration swap.
I have one other tree that is in our dining room that is s-l-o-w-l-y coming together but may not quite get together this year ... will see if I can add a photo before tomorrow. But I think it will still be a work in progress.
RIght I really need to get myself off to the supermarket and think "food".
Hope you are all way further ahead than I am in Christmas shopping!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas handmade decorations revealed

Finally I can 'reveal' the decorations I made for my peeps cos I know they have all received them now.
For this  swap I made my group of lovely ladies one of these 
I hope they treasure their Tapa Angels and that they become a wee part of their Kiwiana Christmas tradition.
For the other swap I was in 
I had a really super swap buddy Erin, from Erin Carver Mixed Media Art. She is a very talented lady and I was wondering just how my Kiwiana themed decorations would fit with her mixed media artwork.
Wrapped goodies ...
Matching bag to tuck them in ... and what's inside?

A Tapa Angel and a Pohutukawa fairy. 
However these two had a bit of adventure. I must've had fudge brain as I wrote Erin's name on the parcel, but then proceeded to put my address so a couple of days later they arrived in my letterbox!!!! Doh!!!!!! Finally they arrived at their new home and Erin wrote the loveliest account on her blog
But I, too was spoilt by this lovely gift that Erin sent to me.
Erin has this lovely range of mixed media prints and has produced these cards - I love the one she chose for me "have courage" as that is pertinent as I wait out the job situation. Her handmade star has the loveliest button that has an almost paua look to it - she knew I was trying to start my Kiwiana Christmas decorating this year ... thanks Erin:) and the lovely Christmas card even has an old NZ stamp included in the design!!!! How clever is that!
Aren't swaps fun.