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How does my garden grow?

Decluttering leads to ‘How does my garden grow?’

I have mentioned that I am using Mary Margaret’s idea of decluttering. Her brilliant idea is to pull a playing card out of the patch and that’s the number of things to remove/sort out over the week. My first 3 cards were two jacks and a queen ~ 100 things decluttered.

Then last week I pulled out a 6. It coincided with a visit to a new clinic for a mammogram. (Bear with me here, I can make the connection!) The clinic asked if I had my previous mammogram for comparison purposes. I dug them out and found out I had collected them for many years. They needed to go. So there were my 6 things….more than 6, but let’s not quibble.

The next step was to find somewhere to recycle the x-rays. Interestingly I found a library that has an e-waste collection system, including x-rays and it is on the way to my Mum’s, I am going to drop them off next week. Out of the house, and recycled. Yes!!

I continued my problem solving by using the paper sleeves of the xrays as weed suppression in the garden.

You know that weeds are a constant problem of mine and I have some, like sour sobs, that are impossible to get rid of. My gardener Linda suggested that I layer cardboard and newspapers over the weeds…and the sleeves from the x-rays!

This week I pulled out 7 out of the pack of cards, and wanted to get rid of more paperwork. Seven files of papers. I am reluctant to put vaguely sensitive papers in the recycling. My brain went zing and decided to recycle them in the garden too. More layers of mulch.

Then a final layer of mulch. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo below, I didn’t buy enough. Back to the garden shop.

Now I can easily get to the compost bins, rather than battle my way through the weeds. So the bin is up and running. Double win.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

It is pleasing to be able to say that I am happy with the garden at the moment. I haven’t said that for quite a while. And the difference? My gardener Linda.

She has come once a month since the beginning of the year. Each visit she mows and edges the nature strip. This used to be the Fella’s job, but over the last few years he has lost the energy to do it, and we were relying on the goodness of neighbours and friends.

And the growth of the grass over Summer was rampant. Not just in my patch, but all along the street. You could practically see it growing before your eyes. Without Linda I think it would have joined us in the house!

Then she attacked the weeds. I have moaned to you on many occasions about how prolific they are. No sooner would I clear out one patch than another would burst forth. Of course they will come back, but I know they will be dealt with. It is very comforting to be able to ignore; or to be able to use a pocket of time ~ 10 minutes is enough ~ to pull out some when they are small.

Previously I had never been satisfied with my plantings under the rose bush, now I think that has changed. It was the first area Linda cleared for me, when it was the right time to plant.

Hard to tell what is growing there ~ and they have really taken off after this photo ~ but there are statice, geraniums, cat mints, sage, salvias, as well as the iris and various bulbs I planted ages ago. Since this photo the cornflower seeds have sprouted, as have silver beet seeds.

Linda fought her way, decimating the weeds, to the compost bins. I am now using them again, which pleases me. Not only are they more accessible, but I also have more time to look after them. Hopefully they won’t become the slimy mess again.

Some times, in past posts about my garden you may have seen a bath lurking under the maple. we took it out of the bathroom many years ago. Occasionally the Fella would ask what I was going to do with it. In the early days I would answer that I wanted to make it into a pond. That was too complicated! So then I would answer hmmmm, not sure.

The brainwave came a couple of weeks ago….make it into a veggie patch. So Linda helped me move it, put it up on some bricks and pavers, and told me how to set up the soil.

So, here it is, yet to be filled with the soil, but sitting gloriously in the part of the garden that gets the most sun. It was also another weedy area, so I am pleased to be making it more productive too. (You can see more of the recent growth in the newly planted garden bed. And yes, that is a self-seeded tomato.)

The other benefit is the area where the bath was. Hellebores grow well there, so I will plant more. As you can tell from the photo other things grow very well there too! Once I would have turned away from it, but now I know that I have time and help to deal with it. It’s good feeling.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

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Odds and Ends

A couple of odds and ends to get me back into the swing of blogging again

It seems to have been a while since I have blogged regularly…and I have missed it. So I am trying to get back into the routine.

Last thing I wrote about was my ‘quilt’. I finished it and was happy with the result.

One of the things that really pleased me was learning how to work my way through the problems that arose. Instead of pushing through I let the solution come when t was ready. Allied to that was enjoying the process without wondering/worrying about what the product was going to be. This blog post will tell you more about my thinking in creating this work.

As it turned out, it was destined to be a wall hanging, quilt-type thing. I even added little triangles to fit a rod for hanging. I didn’t add any wadding, which I thought would make it too thick. I like the thin softness.

Over the last month I have been working on another piece, which is much more complex in stitching as well as the concept behind it. I am going to write about it in my newsletter, which I hope to send in the next few days. If you are interested in finding out more about this work, you can sign up here. In the meantime, a hint at what it looks like……


As well as getting back to a blogging routine, I am trying to clear out those pockets of mess. You know, the things that lurk in cupboards, lie on shelves, hide on bookcases, that stuff that has overstayed its welcome.

So now is the time to make a start. And I have found a great motivating method, thanks to Mary Margaret, who blogs at the Professional Domestic. This is how she describes her method

A deck of playing cards is 52 cards but with the jokers the deck totals 54. Each week I will draw a card from the deck and whatever the value of the card is, that will be the amount of stuff I get rid of for the week. Cards 2 through 10 will be face value but Jacks are 25, Queens are 50, Kings are 75 and Aces are 100. The Jokers? Well they are 500!

I love this idea, and have already drawn a queen and a jack. Fortunately I have enough piles of paper to help me me meet the target of 75 things! As Mary Margaret says, the things don’t need to be physical items, but can be photos on the phone or emails that have built up ~ anything that creates clutter and makes us feel slightly overwhelmed when we think about it.

So thanks Mary Margaret ~ and I am impressed by how disciplined you are being!


And my last odd (or is it an end?) is a shout out for another blogger. Many of us are familiar with The Snail of Happiness, and familiar with her dedication to sustainability. If you don’t know her, have a wander though her blog The Snail of Happiness, full of growing things, mending things and making things.

The reason I mention her now is that she has just opened her shop!! 🥳🎊🎉 She is selling mending supplies and pre-loved craft materials, tools and equipment, as well running courses on making and mending in the Have-a-bashery.

It is in Lampeter, 10 College Street,Wales. Unfortunately not just down the street from me, and quite possibly not from you either. I don’t know if she is doing mail orders, but I am sure if you contact her you will be able to work something out.

And to give you an idea of what is in the shop, have a look at her Facebook page

It’s a fantastic idea and I wish her all the best.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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Uncategorized

Calling all my quilting friends!

My lacy work is evolving in to a small quilt thing…..and I need some advice from all you clever and beautiful quilters (and other non-quilters too, of course).

This is where I am

I have sewn the vertical seams, and will sew the horizontal today. From there on I am unsure. I know I don’t want it to be too bulky nor have a visible binding. I also have to think about hanging it some how.

I have this material for the backing. It is quite soft and light.

So…

Should I use some batting between the layers? I have this that could work.

How would you recommend I attach the layers? Is it as simple as making like a pillow case/cushion cover and turning it inside out?

Do you think it needs binding/edging?

How do I go about quilting the layers? I am happy to handstitch and was thinking about carefully working my way along the seams.

And lastly (unless there are questions I haven’t even thought about!) how do I attach a hanging device, pockets etc? I want that to be as unobtrusive as possible too.

Thank you thank you thank you for any advice you can give me. 😘

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work Texture

On the other side of the hedge

The world is in a difficult place at the moment. The people of Ukraine are at the forefront of our minds. In Australia many are suffering devastating losses due of the recent floods. The pandemic still rampages about. Behind all our anxiety is climate change.

I wonder about sitting sewing, about writing about my art work. Is there something more profound I should be doing?

Charlotte Wood’s words in “The luminous solution” came at the right time.

To create is to defy emptiness. It is generous, it affirms. To make is to add to the world, not subtract from it. It enlarges, not diminishes.

So, here I am.

Last time I mentioned my work I was still deep in the masterclass with Donna Watson. This last month or so has been a great time of exploration for me. I thank Donna for helping me understand that the deeper you go into your self the more reflective your art is. While the outer world has been shit, my inner world is bright and shiny!

And I am definitely on the other side of the hedge.

I have been exploring lace work. My house, like many others in inner Melbourne, has cast iron lacework on the verandah. It has become a little bit of an obsession, my own “wormhole of fascination” to quote Woods again.

I have been playing with ideas, which started with paper and paint. Doing these collages made me realise that I have trouble with backgrounds, an area that I now know has always been weak for me. Textile works seemed to be a way to dodge the issue, not to solve the problem!

This was the first. Two similar ones followed.

The motif in the middle is an element on my lacework. I cut it out from paper, painted it and sewed (laced) it down.

After more pondering I realised that rather than being three separate art works, there was really one, some sort of quilt. (I know there are some of you now thinking “I knew Anne would come to quilting”! Yes Kate, I’m looking at you!)

More pondering and playing to work out what the other panels would be like.

I crocheted for a few hours until my fingers and brain finally worked together to get a shape that I liked. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work with the other bits. I tried odds and ends of lace, different materials and embroidery.

Then, as I was looking for ribbon to tie up the lace bundles, I found twine that florists use to tie up bouquets. I could tear it and twist it and it would hold its form. Perfect! What I was trying to do was make seed heads of the parsley that grows abundantly in the garden. To me these seed heads are also lacy, and bring the garden element into the work.

There’s a little more embroidery to do on this, but it fits with one of the other block like this.

I am hoping that the finished work will look something like this….only less rumpled and more precise!

One of the things I have loved about this is letting the work take its own time. Rather than rushing through, moving quickly to the next thing that catches my attention, I am allowing each element to evolve.

I am gradually accepting that making art is not about sales and exhibitions, although both are wonderful. It is about the process, not the product. It’s about finding the right way to express my ideas, which means refining those ideas. To think deeply and precisely, rather than being slapdash.

Danny Gregory speaks about how art is seen as a commodity in our society, to be bought and sold. We can be made to feel that our work only has validity through outside measures ~ sales, reviews, opinions etc. As though that’s what makes it a legitimate endeavour. But he goes on to say

Making art is mainly about the making. It’s a process, a game, a state of being. Society may insist on evaluating only the result.

But that’s not your problem.

And that’s what I am learning.

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

My street

I was going to write about the garden. However, last night I researched people who had lived in my street. I was intrigued by some of the stories, and I thought you might be too.

This interest has come about from my home being, in an artistic sense, my place. I know some of its history, but wanted to find out more about the people who lived here. I didn’t find any thing about them, but I have a better sense of the unofficial history of the street.

I used the excellent resource Trove, a site with indexed, digitalised, Australian newspapers, maps, images etc. It is indeed a treasure trove!

I typed my street name and suburb into the search engine. The search was not precise, as it included mentions of the suburb and often the abbreviation st, so I had to winnow out the relevant articles.

Articles were from the first half of the twentieth century, and as was the way, usually included a house number with the street name. Now I have a list of at least a quarter of the occupants who lived the street from 1913 to 1968. Some of the information came from death notices and obituaries (“A quiet gloom was cast over Ascot Vale Parish when it became known that Thomas Loughnan….”), one from a notice of a 50th wedding anniversary.

Others came from citizenship notifications, which showed how migrants moved into the suburb in the 1960’s. My next-door-neighbours were there.

I picked out these stories for you. Some of them were rather gruesome, but I suppose that is the way with newspaper articles ~ the more sensational the better.

  • 1917: Mrs Norrish won 7th prize in the Sisters of Mercy raffle. No mention of what the prize was, but you do wonder.
  • 1918: WG Werry was noted for his results in a hen competition
  • 1918: Miss Emmins ran a first aid class as she was a bandaging instructor.
  • 1922 William Morley was fined 5/- for smoking in a non-smoking train compartment, costs were 7/6. That seemed rather out of whack.
  • 1915: John McIver, a fireman, presumably on the trains, had his foot cut off by a train in a workplace accident. Imagine the ongoing trauma this would have caused.
  • There is no date for this one, but it must be early. “‘Joy rider’ jolted from jinker”. James Dillon, who lived elsewhere, stole a pony and jinker from the Ascot Vale Hotel. He drove it in circles in my street until the wheel hit a curb and he was jolted out.
  • And on horses….in 1934 one crashed into a tree, completely wrecking the cart. The horse bolted through several streets “with the shattered shafts trailing on the ground”. The horse was found a mile away, uninjured, grazing in a paddock.
  • 1967 Mrs V. Obese (how real is that name?!) was mentioned in a women’s magazine for her great tip on how to dry a tea cosy. You drape the damp cosy over the warm teapot and it dries in shape.
  • 1951 Patrick Heard, who lived in my street was admitted to hospital with shot-gun pellets in his left leg.

My favourite concerned Charles Allsop, who lived in my street. It was a story that went over a few articles. Allsop, a bookmaker, sued a farmer in Thorpedale for damages to his reputation. The farmer believed Allsop had short-changed him over a bet he, and called him “a robber, a thief and a welsher” at a few race meetings. The defence argued that as Allsop had been a drinking partner of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious criminal, and had been disbarred, he had no reputation to loose! Unfortunately that argument didn’t fly, as Allsop was awarded 80 pounds compensation.

I wonder what noteworthy events are happening in our street now. What will someone find in another 50 years? With the demise of suburban newspapers, probably not the same wonderful tit bits.


Of course, all of this happened on land on which First Nations People had lived for many thousands of years. I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work

Snipping away at the hedge

My masterclass with Donna Watson, “Essence of Identity” has made me think about a number of things. I had just begun in the last post.

The first thing Donna asked us was to deepen my understanding who I am. I have written lists of personality traits, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses and words to describe my art. It is the beginning, to explore deeper, to find my own voice, my own artistic map.

A side note: One of the exercises was to think about what various words mean to you. One was hope. I realised I didn’t really understand the word. I glibly say “I hope you have a good day”, “I hope you get better”, “I hope the world can become a better place.” I wondered whether hope was another word for wishful thinking.

After some reading I now understand that hope is a powerful treasure. Hope implies that there is the possibility of a better future, a vague glimmer of something better. However, it is more than that. It is not just passive wishing, but motivates positive action. It is optimistic and courageous, and gives us confidence. We have hope, I never gave up hope, implying that hope is something you hold dearly. We loose hope and fall into despair.

It’s not delusional , it isn’t denial or pretending. To have hope is to acknowledge the truth of the situation while working to find the best way to cope. It is something to hold onto at all costs.

Meanwhile, back at the masterclass….. The end of this module was to create a self-portrait. I made a book, which itself was part of the portrait. I am very tactile, and love to be making, love to be using my hands, so folding the paper into the book was another part of who I am. Finding ways to express who I am was a good challenge. What would you put into in a self-portrait?

The next exploration was our sense of place, a place that has figured prominently in our lives. I needed to define what that meant for me, and came up with words like magical, safe, interesting, resonates; a place that expands me and allows me to be who I am meant to be.

My place is my home and garden. It nurtures me; it’s my creative space; it is where I have strong roots; it is my safe, secure space. The garden, while frustrating at times, is also a place to explore plants and to connect with nature.

Again our task was to create a representation of our space. This was hard. I found it so difficult to find a way to express in a physical/creative way all of what I feel. It is too complex to distill down into a few images. So instead of making another book I created a mind map.

My latest exploration has been into the design elements I respond to. Design elements are:

  • Colour
  • Value
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Pattern and mark making

Donna’s exercises and examples have helped me understand and sort through my ideas. Some things become much clearer. For example when I was a botanic artist I would start to understand my subject by doing a tonal drawing of it, and my colour matching was often skimpy. I am an artist who responds to value rather than colour, which is why I loved the tonal drawings and struggled at times with the colour. Looking at my photos I see that I am attracted to the highlights of colour and strong contrasts.

Now I also know that I am an artist who responds to organic shapes, rather than geometric ones. That I love texture, but I have always know that. However I have learnt that I think I prefer texture created within the work by using stitch or marks or lines, rather than added onto the work, like bits of lace. This is something to explore further, as I would like my collage and textile work to merge.

Last post I used the image of a hedge as a barrier in my way. I think I have begun to snip away at that hedge. I have hope that my artistic voice will be clearer on the other side.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.  I also acknowledge that this Wednesday, the anniversary of the day white settlers invaded Aboriginal land, is a traumatic day for many Aboriginal people. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work

Standing before a hedge

It’s been a funny old time lately. As I have said a few times and in a few different places my creativity/art practice feels stuck. I realised I didn’t like the idea of stuck, with the image of me in mud, unable to move. My mind is happier with the image of a hedge in front of me. It’s a barrier, but even if I can’t chop it all down, I know that I can snip my way through it.

So what’s in the hedge, what’s stopping me?

  • Mess and stuff, which seems to have accumulated around me. I have begun to tidy, clean up and throw out/recycle, and am happy to take this one cupboard/box/basket at a time. (Wasn’t this what lockdown was supposed to be about ~ cleaning out cupboards?!)
  • Having enough finished works. Part of me thinks, why do I want to make more?
  • The lack of inspiration. In my life BC (before covid, of course!) I loved to meander through galleries, along beaches, in new towns and along highways. That came to a halt, and I still feel wary about getting out and about at the moment.
  • and other things that are going on in my life. They aren’t my stories to tell but still demand my time and energy.
  • Maybe too there is the general malaise that many of us are feeling. Weary, uncertain, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Then the perfect online masterclass came along. “The essence of identity” with Donna Watson. The goals of the course seemed to fit me perfectly ~ “This class is ideal for you if you are looking for clear strategies and exercises to move your creativity forward and if you are ready to go deeper, raising your level of creative consciousness.” Yep, that’s me.

Already I have insights, that arose out of Donna’s simple request to write down the strengths and weaknesses of my art. I love doing the collages of reeds, mangroves and rock pools, and I thought I was showing the fragility and importance of those habitats. However I wasn’t sure where to go beyond that. More of the same? Another habitat? I realised I had an interesting technique but that I needed to go deeper with the concept of environmental fragility that lies behind these works. I am not sure what I mean by that, but I want to find out.

At the end of the course I would love to have integrated the different parts of my art. I have a range of techniques in my toolbox. I am excited by collage and I love textile work. I want to learn how to use the different technique/element from my toolbox at the right time and in the right place. I think that will come when I have delved deeper into my art and practice and found my own voice.

As I mentioned in my SAL post, I am not taking on any projects at the moment, either textile or other. I want just play with ideas, bits of paper and stitches, to see what emerges.

However, not having a project is difficult. I am quite outcome driven, and not knowing what I want to do before I sit down can be quite uncomfortable. The mantra “Don’t think, don’t name” is useful. So is remembering that uncomfortable is good if I am prepared to work out the why’s of that feeling.

This exploration coincides with an idea I just found today ~ to go deeper not wider. It comes from David Cain, and the idea is to use whatever you have for a year, a Depth Year. Use the materials, the skills, the books, the musical instrument that you already have, and gain experience and find value in those things.

I like that idea although I am not sure about the books, especially if it includes Library books. I am attracted to the next bright and shiny thing ~ a piece of material that I might need, a pencil that will make my work sing, a new sketchbook, a new technique ~ especially a new technique. Using the skills, knowledge and materials I already have is another way of focussing and limiting my options.

So, I am going exploring. I will be fooling around and playing. I will be thinking and meandering in my own head. Also I am hoping that my thoughts and ideas will come tumbling out onto blog posts.

(I am reminded of the delightful children’s book “How Tom beat Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen” by the wonderful Russell Hoban and illustrated by the irrepressible Quentin Blake.Do you know it?)


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Categories
My art work SAL

SAL

I haven’t been sewing anything in particular lately. Instead I have been inspired by Claire Wellesley’s idea of a stitching journal. I am just stitching, playing with stitches, with no thought for the finished product. In fact I hope there is no product, and maybe no finish.

It is on off cuts of linen from a dress I recently sewed. It didn’t matter to me that the off cuts were odd shapes, nor that the edges are raw. The seams are handsewn French seams.

I was practising how to control running stitch to get different effects.

Circles in chain and stem stitches. They were fun to do, after I had traced around a 20 cent coin.

I will happily work on this, probably adding more linen as I go. However I am not starting any other textile projects for a while. At the moment I am working out where I want my art to go. Part of that is thinking about how to meld my textile work to my collage. I don’t want to just add textile bits to a collage, but instead to have the two media work together, where it is appropriate.

So, I am doing a lot of thinking rather than much making. This will be my last SAL, for a while at least. However, the others on the list below, will still be creating wonderful embroideries.


AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
Odds and Ends SAL

SAL ~ last one for 2021

You were all correct….my embroidered yoke needed time to talk to me, to tell me what was to come next.

I added more pistol stitches to each flower (although I think they may also be fireworks!); they gave the flowers/fireworks more oomph. Then it needed a line of stem stitch weaving its way. One line become a couple close to each other.

Once I had finished that I realised that the fancy, feathery yarn that was a feature of the front pockets would now work, as there is enough stitching to carry it.

My pattern was slightly out, as I found when I sewed the patch onto the yoke of the jacket….but not enough to worry me. If you look closely in the photo below you can see that the right shoulder doesn’t quite come to the sleeve.

And from the front

I am really happy with the jacket. It was the perfect weight to wear today, when the weather was cool enough to need an extra layer, but not something too heavy. It was fun to wear, and even the Fella said it looked okay. That’s high praise from him!

Thanks to the Fella for the photographs. He is improving, as he didn’t cut my head off in either of these!

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


Update on my possum problem

Neither the possums nor I have got the upper hand yet. I have doubled the number of strings to train the shoots up. A couple of shoots have reached the wires of the pergola, only to be eaten when they get to the top, but there are more inching their way up. I am optimistic, and determined, that I will succeed! However, to be sure I am still wrapping up the delicate little shoots at night. It keeps me amused!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.