Space Party 1999


There was a time when I knew how to party – it feels like a lifetime ago – and to combine it with my need to create.  You can see here that I wasn’t the only one.  This Space Party was planned by 3 young design graduates, back when we still had no money, but some time on our hands after work.


Our bestest friend Peter had the party at his share house (where Luke’s brother also resided) but we all planned it together.  We decorated Peter’s place with all sorts of props, which looked much cooler than they do here – it is all about the lighting.


The party was actually lit with a black light (UV light) which made some things look fluorescent, but it was too hard to photograph and the flash makes these photos look like they were taken in daylight.

The black light made tonic water glow in the dark – so Luke was drinking G and T’s against much advice about the evils of Gin.  He was wearing an ensemble that included a swimming cap that was hooked up to the hose from an old fashioned hairdryer.  With thick white face paint, he looked like he was a bald white being, with a tube hooked up to his head.  Sadly, after a few G and T’s, his face paint (which was coconut scented) started peeling off, and he became as sick as I have ever seen him.  I think we still have the remainder of that bottle of Gin somewhere, which has not been touched since.



We had all sorts of spacey folk there, but these two had my favorite costumes.  Mark and Ro had exploding alien stomachs.


As part of my costume I had quite a bit of makeup on, and sparkly spray in my hair.  I wound my hair up in a high bun on my head and then arranged the ends of my hair to fall down on my forehead like a very short fringe.  I wore some furry feathery stuff on my head that covered up my bun, and when I arrived at the party, early before any other guests, Peter did not even know it was me.  I guess I looked pretty different.

Tell me about your favourite costume at a party – or even better, why don’t you blog about it.

Berry Messy and The Friday Archive

Berries and a Brass Wombat

I think I have established that I am a little funny and a little precious about my pegs.  Not only do I like them to match when I am hanging out the washing, but I also house them in style (see banner picture) and I never leave them out in the weather.  Once I have pegged out the washing, I bring the basket of remaining pegs back into the house, so neither the pegs, nor the basket fade (or get wet) anymore than they will through use.  Not yesterday. 

I have a sick little boy at home at the moment, and he called out to me while I was hanging out the washing so I abandoned the peg basket to it’s fate (after all people are more important than pegs you know).  Later I discovered that a large bird (Probably a Pied Currawong – there are lots about at the moment) had been using my basket for target practice.

The mess the bird left may be more than a wash in the machine can fix, as the bird had clearly been enjoying the berries you see at the top of this post.  Redecoration may be in order.

That little guy you see in the picture is a little brass Wombat, who is actually a sprinkler.  I have never used him (we are not allowed to use sprinklers, unless they are watering with tank water) but he makes a nice ornament if you ignore the nozzle fitting coming out his left side.

On Monday, Amelia found out that her class teacher will be taking a position at an exclusive Catholic boys school, and will be finishing up next Friday, on Amelia’s birthday.  We are all very sad about this as she is an excellent teacher and a lovely person.  To show our gratitude for the time she has spent as Amelia’s teacher, the two of us have embarked on a project together.  Here is our WIP.

Cloth Doll Work In Progress

Amelia is going to embroider “Thank You Ms Superteacher*” on the little apron.  I just have to assemble this little lady, and add some hair.  This is a pattern I have making up for years, either as Christmas Angels, or cloth dolls.  I usually make Christmas Angels for the classroom teachers, as the school year in Australia finishes at Christmas time.

So what do you all make for Teacher presents?

* not her real name, but Amelia will be embroidering her real name. 

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While I had my folder of patterns out, I found another that I thought I would show you for The Friday Archive.  These are more Christmas ornaments, in the shape of stars.  One for each member of the family.  We have five, that feature our First and Middle names on one side, and our birth dates on the other. 

Family Christmas Star Ornaments

Several years ago I made 12 for my Mother-in-Law, one for each of her Grandchildren.  I have since added 2 more, and will need to make another this November.  That page on the right hand side is a page of swatches of fabrics that I have used, so that I can choose fabric for new stars, that fit in with the others.

Friday Archive a day late

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My Friday Archive post spent most of Friday half written and it is only now that I have gotten to it.  Instead of finishing it, here are some of the things I did….Played with play-dough, Built Lego “castles”, supervised the 2 year old painting (don’t put that brush in there until you wash off that blue first), nipped up to the shops, washed 12 sink loads of dishes, and finally did some sewing.  There were lots more boring things I did of course.

So here is my dip into the archive.

Design Sketches \

This is a page of sketches taken from my Industrial Design Honours Project in 1997.

My basic idea was that mobile phones are like watches.  They are functional objects we have with us all the time, that should allow us to express our personality through more than just different coloured covers (coloured covers were a pretty new thing back in 97).

Essentially, 11 years ago I came up with, and explored the idea that the phone handset would just be a touch screen with only a couple of buttons, and there would be a separate interactive part (think blue-tooth) that would function as the hearing/speaking unit (back then we did not have blue-tooth).  This separate wearable unit could come in a myriad of different designs, ranging from expensive pieces of jewellery, down to kid friendly plastic pieces – much in the way watches range from expensive gold and platinum through to “Dorothy the Dinosaur” kids watches.  The wearable unit was based on hearing aid technology, and could communicate wirelessly with the hand piece, and, like hearing aids, didn’t need to be very big.  The microphone did not have to be held adjacent to the mouth, etc.

Somewhere I have a bunch of models of different “jewellery” interactive units (which is what this page of sketches is of). Some were to be worn like necklaces, others were brooches, tie-pins, and I also had a couple which were to fit onto the side of eye glasses.  The point was that once you designed the technology, you could commission artists and jewellery makers to come up with new designs, to allow people true self expression.

For the past 11 years I have watched phones come closer to my idea, but no one has run with the jewellery thing. It is only a matter of time – but remember, you read my garbled account of it here first!

Here is the sewing I did yesterday afternoon. I took these…


Added some Needle turn applique, and created these for my friend Carolyn’s new home.

Tea Cup and Apple Teatowels

Quite a satisfying little project.

This morning the kids have had swimming lessons, so this afternoon I am heading to my parent’s house to wash the chlorine out of the towels and bathers.  Hopefully this is the last load of washing I will have to do off site.  Then it is Roast Lamb for dinner, yum.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Mr Chocolate and a Tiny Scarf

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Mr Chocolate

This is Mr Chocolate. I made him 4 years ago for a close friend. This little chap was actually the logo of Rebecca’s Online Children’s Clothing Store, which is currently inactive – having your fifth child will do that to you :-).

Michaela\'s Bamboo/Cotton Scarf

I finished Michaela’s Bamboo/Cotton scarf. It is tiny, but perfectly proportioned for her.

She has worn it quite a bit lately, as it has been quite icy.

We have a jam packed weekend, so the post ends here

The Friday Archive

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As regular readers know, Friday is the day to dip into the past, but today I am going to show you a piece of design that is not my work, but is from our family photo archive.  A few people I know have just had, or are going to have babies.  This is the best piece of baby related gear that we purchased, hands down, so we now have three!  It is a fabulous piece of design.

Baby Amelia in the Tripp Trapp by Stokke

This is our eldest daughter Amelia, at 5 1/2 months in January 2001, sitting in the Tripp Trapp highchair by Stokke, a firm from the Netherlands, (the second link takes you to the USA/Canadian site, as it is in English, but the first link shows the chair as it is sold here even though the text is Dutch.  There seems to be a different baby rail sold in the US, which is not as elegant).  Back when we purchased this, they were not sold in Australia, and I think it was my first ever Internet purchase, through a New Zealand importing firm.  A very dear friend had one that her in laws had purchased in Europe, and I thought it was worth tracking down.

An older Amelia on her Tripp Trapp

As you can see, unlike other Highchairs, the Tripp Trapp adjusts from being suitable for a baby right through to an adult.  What you can’t see in this picture is that the baby rail at the front comes off, and the chair seat interchanges with one that does not have a strap.  For an adult, the larger footrest becomes the seat.  At almost 8, Amelia still benefits from that little bit of extra height to sit comfortably at the table.

Now here is what I was doing (with the kids) yesterday.

Sketch Family

I was actually drawing Teddy bears, when Amelia got our her drawings of possible doll faces.  We were talking about proportion again, and how eyes are actually across the middle of a face, and not near the top.  Before I knew it, look who had appeared. Along with various stylized Michaela’s along the bottom, there is one of each of us, (I had to get out a photo to add Luke and I).

Here is a page of Teddies.

Sketch bears

Here is another current project in the works, yet another scarf.

Bamboozle Scarf

This one is quite narrow as it is to adorn a pretty little neck – Michaela’s.  It is made with Bamboozle yarn which is 70% Bamboo and 30% Cotton, so it is super soft and light.  As usual, it was the colour that caught my eye, yet another variegated yarn, in such beautiful fruity tones.  I also have some put aside for me :-).

Lastly this is Michaela’s handiwork.  Inspired by a large creation the bigger kids made, she presented this to me – her first castle – and asked me to take a picture.Michaela\'s Lego Castle

Have great weekend everyone, more regular posting will resume again next week when term starts again.

Life Drawing from the Archive

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Life Drawing

When I was at University, probably my favourite class was life drawing. It was certainly more fun than learning about plastic manufacture or electrical circuits. It was calming, and all about the now. Our life drawing classes were part of our course, but this drawing has a 1997 date on it, the year I was one of 7 to do honours, when it was not. From memory, there was a class in the evenings that you could pay by the week to join.

I really like this drawing, which was a 10 minute pose, according to my notation.

For some, life drawing when we were fresh 1st years, was a little confronting. Our lecturer made sure that he booked models of all shapes and sizes, and alternated between male and female models every week. We also did exercises where he took us out and about to draw “un-posed” life. I remember sitting in the balcony area of the Melbourne Baths, trying to draw people as they swam – very tricky.

Here is another drawing from the same period, which is of a male model. I remember him, he had shaved the front of his head, and had a lonely pony tail at the back. This looks like it was a watercolour or possibly ink, and was a 15 minute pose.

Life Drawing 2

One big lesson I did learn from life drawing was that drawing, like any other skill, could be learnt and improved with practice. This was a period of my life when I drew every day. If I tried this today I would be pretty rusty, and might struggle a bit more with drawings like these until I got my groove back.

The Friday Archives and a Culinary Disaster

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LOTR Display Case design

Back in 1996 I was studying Industrial Design, and one of the subjects I was doing was called “Exhibition Design”. Exhibition Design is the design of all things necessary to hold an exhibition, such as the overall layout, the display of relevant information, design of the display cases and plinths and the design of any interactive elements.

This was a short project to design a display case for a small object, that was in keeping with the style of the object. I chose a small Lord of the Rings Pewter Statue, (which was actually part of a chess set that belonged to my boyfriend of the time) which was about 10cm tall. I am not certain now, but it may have been Gandalf. That shadowy figure in the image, on the right, is a person, to indicate the scale of the display case.

Anyway, this display case was to be mainly made out of segments of PVC piping (as in plumbing pipes) which were subsequently painted, and behind it was a painted silk screen. I would have had to detail it’s construction on separate drawings. I believe that it was a large part of the brief that the display case could be made of readily available materials, and not be too expensive to construct.

I think I did pretty well on this project (got good marks) and you can see from this image that I have always had a thing for sunsets and lot of colour.

Now to the culinary disaster that I mentioned in the title.

Last night, as we were cooking Rory’s birthday cake, the oven made a large bang, belched out some smoke and stopped working completely. Unfortunately, Rory’s cake had barely started cooking. I left the kids with their Grandma and Nanna, who were over to share in the festivities, and raced to the local supermarket to pick up an alternative Cake. The best I could do was that fine example of Antipodean cuisine, a Pavlova. I purchased a base, and decorated it with cream, crushed Peppermint crisp and Flake. Rory was quite happy, and it was certainly something we could whack the candles into and sing a certain birthday song.

Later, Luke scooped out the mush that was the cake, put it in a suitable container, and we cooked it in the microwave. TaDa, looks fab doesn’t it.

Chocolate Cake Disaster

The funniest thing was that when Luke opened the microwave, we discovered the softened butter that I had forgotten to add to the cake. It was never going to taste that good, but at least I could blame it on my oven, that’s what mature adults do.

Happy Birthday Husband/Friday Archive

Happy Birthday Luke!

In honour of my man, I thought I would combine Luke’s birthday and The Friday Archive.Portrait of Luke

This is a portrait that I painted of Luke back in 1999. We had been married for a year, and he was away for the weekend, so I took the chance to paint. It was based on a photo that I had taken two years earlier, when we were engaged.

Photo of Luke

I am no Rembrandt, but I really enjoyed painting it all those years ago. It is the only portrait I have painted, mainly I have stuck to landscapes and still lives. Some purists would argue that a painting of a photograph is not a real portrait, but hey, I’m no purist. Here is a look at what I looked like on the same day…

Photo of Claire

And this is where the painting hangs, in great company on our kitchen wall.

Our Wall

Have a great day Mr.

First Stitcheries, Friday Archive.

Amelia\'s First Stitchery

When I wanted to teach the kids how to sew, I decided to start with back stitch. I figured that it was the easiest stitch to follow along a line. One of the main things I learnt was to give them shapes to stitch that didn’t require any backtracking, (ie. letters s or o or l are good but t or a or x are tricky, as you need to stop and start again in different places). The above Heart and Teddy shapes are both simple outlines made by single lines that begin and end in the same place. I borrowed them from the design of this quilt. The kids did all the hand stitching except for the faces, and I did the machine sewing.

Amelia stitched this in two days when she was five and a half. Rory wanted to join in too, but found it a little harder at three and a half (which was no surprise to me, but he loved to do whatever Amelia was doing).

Rory\'s First Stitchery

Rory picked it up again over a year later and finished it, and only now have I taken the time to put borders on it and bind it (the pins are still in binding at the back, which is why it looks a little wonky. I am going to hang it under Amelia’s one, but can no longer get the dear little hangers, (unless anyone out there can point me in the right direction) so I will have to think of something else.

I have been turning the kids’ drawings into stitcheries on things for years. Here are two of my favourites, taken from drawings that Amelia did when she was younger that I have stitched onto clothing. The first was done when she was about five, and is on a windcheater.

Amelia\'s Cat

This second one is a portrait of her father that she drew when she was four and a half. I put it on a top for Luke for that Christmas. I recreated Amelia’s lines exactly, but just changed the colour of her black lines to white. I love the big eyelashes.

Portrait of Amelia\'s Dad

Both of these required quite a complicated method to mark them out, as even a light box was not going to work. I used coloured pencils, unwaxed baking paper, ordinary sewing thread and finally the stranded embroidery thread that you see here now. One of these days I will have to make a tutorial, as it takes quite a few steps to mark out this way. How do you mark out designs on black or very thick fabric?

The Friday Archive

I wish I could show you a picture of Amelia in her royal finery, as I finished the costume last night, but it was finished after Amelia was in bed. This morning it had to be packed up and sent to school. I will show you all when I can, I am very pleased with it. Instead (as my contribution for the Friday Archive) I will show you a couple of costumes that I made back in February 2007, for a Rock ‘n’ Roll evening at the school.

Rock and Roll Girls

I made these matching circle skirts, complete with stiff calico petticoats to make them stand out. This was so much fun, and so easy, and didn’t the girls look adorable.

Amelia in Rock and Roll skirtAmelia was 6 and a half, and Michaela was only 19 months old.

We had a really fun night.

The school had spent the day with an invited rock ‘n’ roll band teaching each year level a dance, which they performed that evening on the outside basketball courts. Families were encouraged to join in with the dancing afterwards, and everyone brought along their picnic dinners.

In the interest of family harmony, here is a photo of Rory on the occasion. He did not wear a costume, but had had yellow day at kinder, so is wearing a yellow t-shirt that was not usually one of his. Rory was 4 and a half.

Rory in Yellow

It was a perfect summer evening, and lots of fun. The kids still talk about it.