a big fish called mitso

Finally. My big fish is finished!

I began this guy back in the first lockdown but got sidetracked with other projects. He did take a long time to make, but it didn’t have to be two years!

He began as bits of scrunched up newspaper, lots of masking tape and cardboard. Then came home-made paper pulp (with drying time) and air dry clay (more drying time). Then came the paint (yet more drying time). Then came the seaweed scales which meant collecting seaweed from the beach, washing it, drying it (still more drying time), cutting it into scale size and finally gluing them on one at a time with hot glue (at the cost of a few fingerprints).

Lastly came the base.

That was a hard one. Originally I wanted him on a block of wood but didn’t have anything suitable. Then I decided to hang him on the wall where he spent a while, not looking quite right.

Then one day while walking Lainee on the beach, I found the perfect piece of driftwood! Complete with nails and bits of paint. Perfect.

(Lesson 1: walk Lainee on the beach more often. Lesson 2: never leave behind anything which might come in useful one day.)

I already had some rusty bits of rebar (I mean, who doesn’t?) which became the official fish ‘holder uppers’. A bit of drilling, a bit more gluing et voila! Done.

I’m calling him ‘Mitso’. A good greek name. Mitso the fish is now sitting in Cecelia’s Art Gallery in Parikia, along with some of my painted marble. He’s waiting for his forever home if anyone is interested!

I must say, I feel a sense of accomplishment having finally finished him and moved him off my kitchen table!

z

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first attempt at vegetable dye

Perhaps not entirely my first attempt to dye something using natural dyes, but I’m thinking dyeing poodle ears with beetroot juice doesn’t really count…

I’ve also done heaps with tea and coffee, but again, I’ve always considered those more of a stain than a dye.

This time I got it into my head to try to make my own re-usable shopping bags out of the millions of vintage plain linen sheets I’ve been collecting from mom and my aunts. Great fabric, but not great as sheets any more cause most of them were made for shorter beds than we have now.

Anyway, I had the sheets so I cut one up and made 2 shopping bags in the most simple way I could (ie no side gusset). The whole point was to make something I could carry with me easily.

I also wanted the bags to be pretty so I needed colour – using natural dyes and stamps. Hence the Junk4Joy stamps I made. Fiddly for a first attempt at linocut in years.

I wanted to brand the bags obviously. I even added a wonky recycled logo to the name.

I did a lot of reading about natural vegetable dyes online and decided to go with purple cabbage to start with as I liked the colour. Plus I’d just made some rice paper rolls and had purple cabbage on hand.

Following the instructions, I boiled the cabbage, then strained it into a bowl. I added salt as a mordant (cause I have no idea where or how to get pot ash) and got to dyeing.

I wanted an ombre look so I wet the bags and hand dipped them a few times, then let them hang in the solution overnight.

The resulting colour is very soft. Maybe I needed more cabbage and less water, who knows. Still, its quite pretty for my first attempt.

After they dried, I ironed them then got out the fabric printing ink I’d bought with the linocut supplies and stamped on the logo. Last I added a button and some elastic so the bags can be rolled up and put in a handbag.

Pretty cute I’d say.

To be honest I’m not sure I’ll bother trying to make bags to sell… I had a long conversation with myself lately and the upshot of it was that I do too much. I spread myself too thin with all the creative projects I do. I’m better off to stick to what I’m best at and that is painting. I’m an artist AND a creative person with unlimited interests, but I am better off concentrating on the work that I’m best at in order to earn some money from it.

My pet portraits on commission and my marble and rock paintings sell. It makes sense to concentrate on that.

Making bags or critters from recycled fabric or baskets from found ropes etc are all lovely and fun. So are my art from trash dog and bust sculptures. But most of those things take a lot of time and space and so far haven’t sold. The aim is to sell stuff.

I have tried selling online a lot over the years, but postage has always been an issue. I’m not saying I won’t try ebay or my esty shop again, or even Facebook, just that it seems selling something for under 10-20e with postage of over 15e seems ridiculous.

Anyway, there’s always so much to do and so little time.

z

my new spice cabinet

Thought I’d share a little project I finished recently. Of course there are no ‘before’ photos. I didn’t even think of taking one till I had already given the little cabinet 2 coats of paint!

Dad had bought this little spice cabinet way back in the late 70s. It was all dark wood and contained 12 glass bottles and labels so you could organise your spices nicely.

I was once the kind of person who would do that – put all my spices into clear glass uniform jars and label them lovingly… Now I’m more of a ‘just buy the stuff and stick it in the cabinet’ kind of person.

It has sat, unused, for years in mom’s kitchen – most bottles empty and some with very sad, old spices still in them. While I was sorting out stuff in mom’s house in Athens I mostly ignored it, then at the last minute I tossed it into my car to bring to Paros. I’m rather glad I did. I had some leftover chalk paint which I tinted into a darker version of my favourite green – and voila! New spice cabinet for me.

Sure, it might take up a bit of bench space, but it frees up space in one of the upper cupboards and makes it easier to find the spices I want.

Luckily, most of the spice jars I own fit inside and the taller ones fit on top. For now it also holds vanilla essence and a few non spice items. Eh. Its my spice cabinet and I can put anything in it I want!

z

framed photos – small things ticked off the list

A few years ago (…quite a few years ago…) I began this photo display of my dad and his friend as youngsters, dressed up as cowboys for the carnival. I love the photo. I had a lot of old vinyl at the time and decided one of the inner sleeves would make a great mat for it. This is far as I got. (Lumpy and bumpy, I didn’t quite have decoupage under control back then.)

Today I was inspired to get a few things ticked off my arm-long to do list (and out of the way since I tend to leave things that need doing soon on every surface of my small house) so I decided to use a frame I owned and finally get it on the wall and off the bookcase. Of course I didn’t have a frame for the entire thing so had to cut it down, but I’m quite happy with it anyway. It looks nice in my tiny hall.

The frame was a cheapie I’d bought a few months ago, with a light timber look, so I gave it a single coat of chalk paint to let some of the wood show through. The white dot on the picture is a reflection.

I also had this vintage frame that belonged to my aunt. I’d given it a coat of white paint and wax while I was in Athens. I decided this would hold photos of my mom before she met dad.

I chose two photos I really liked, trimmed them to fit in the frame together and used a vintage music sheet from my collection as background.

Since I’m always rearranging things I don’t know if this is its forever home, but I love the look of it over the very chippy shelf/coat rack I was gifted.

Other than that I haven’t done a whole lot of creative stuff. I’ve been more concerned about what job I’ll find to get me through the season and how I can spread the little savings I have to achieve the things I want to achieve… It’s a challenge. I need a whole lot more money than I have to build the house and studio/workshop I dream of… sigh… And I was so excited to make that my goal this year: to start on that project. I can already see me in my new home and studio… getting there is the hard part.

z

a little wall vase

I had this small shelf for a long time and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. Then somewhere along the line I decided it was time to make another of my little wall vases. I used to make things like this in the past (click here to see one of them) but its been a long time since I’d made one.

This time I couldn’t find a metal strap clamp thingy big enough to hold the empty jar so I made my own holder out of an old belt.

I told you I have tons of things ‘on hand’…

First I traced the stencil onto the wood and tried to burn the pattern into it but that didn’t work. I don’t have a wood burning tool, and trust me, a soldering iron just doesn’t cut it.

Next I transferred the pattern using black paint but hated the look. Even after trying to distress it.

As a last resort I decided to just repaint the whole thing. I had the kitchen cabinet colour I’d mixed up for the pull out bottle drawer I’d made a while ago, so I just used that and some leftover grey paint. As a result it kind of blends in on the ‘living room’ side of the cabinet.

Recently I framed and put up these two beautiful photos I’ve had for years. They are the two most beautiful girls owned by a friend of mine in Tasmania – both are long gone now but I remember them every time I look at the photos: Paris and Polly.

The most amazing thing about the photos is the incongruity of it: two standard poodles on a flatbed ute* outside a country pub in a small town in Tasmania. Not a sight you see every day!

*Flatbed ute: a truck with a tray in back, usually holding a kelpie or blue heeler.

Since I had the camera out I couldn’t resist taking a photo of one of my favourite spots in the kitchen – the shelf just over the sink with my collection of old crockery and the cute little bird salt and pepper shakers I’ve had for years. Some may remember them from my easter sideboard a few years ago.

Its nice to take a walk down memory lane… It all seems so long ago now!

z

radio face photo display

This is something I finished a while ago, but it started back in Australia when I found this old Philco radio face in a tip shop. Soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to display photos of my dad in it.

I brought all the way it to Greece with me, I was that sure of what I wanted it to be.

Somewhere along the line I printed out the photos of dad I wanted to display, photos taken from the age of 14 to about 23 going left to right.

In order to finish it I needed knobs. I couldn’t find anything like that here. Perhaps I’d have had better luck in Australia where such things are tip shops and op shops abound, but here… not to lucky.

I ended up buying some new knobs off ebay. No idea what they’re supposed to be used for, I got them for the cream colour more than anything. I glued them in place and now the radio face is in my bedroom on what will ultimately become my gallery wall.

Here you can see where it is, next to the tea bag dress I made for the Art From Trash competion in Australia a few years ago, and above the memory box I made for my grandparents. On the other side is the memory box I made for mom and dad.

I want to make more of these – I have the clothes from my baptism and think a display box with them and photos from the day would be nice, plus one with childhood photos of myself and my brother growing up in Griffith NSW… I’ll get to them one day!

For now I’m just pottering along, living and creating!

z

another sea rope basket

I am loving these guys. They take ages to make but its very satisfying to see them come together. Problem is that during summer there isn’t quite as much rubbish on the beaches as there is in winter so the pickings are slim. I’m almost out of rope bits I collected in winter now so once I use them up I’ll have to get creative to make more baskets.

I’ve had some of my baskets placed in a local gallery now (1 sold already!) so I’m afraid I can’t list and sell any on Facebook till the season is over. Ditto with my marble paintings. I have opened my FB shop to see how it goes and I may re-open my Etsy shop as well. Every little bit helps!

I’m still only working part time (ie I work full time for a bit, then stop for a bit…) great for having fun in the sun, not great for the wallet.

So, Lainee and I have had some fun times. Here she is having a fancy dinner at a beach bar.

And here at a beach side restaurant.

And enjoying a sleep in at home.

I’ve had a lot more time to myself this last week as I wasn’t working, but I used a lot of it at the beach. However, I did use some to finish projects I hadn’t touched in ages, just to be able to set them aside, put them in a gallery, or whatever.

So. That’s my news for now. More later as I share projects finally finished.

z

white recycled rope basket

I don’t know why, but I love making baskets out of rope and other things I find on the beach or road. This one is made from a lot of white bits I found mostly on the road, plus some coloured bits from an unravelled rug I found that my aunt was throwing away.

When you have a brain like mine anything found is a treasure… its both a gift and a curse.

As with all my rope baskets, I collect rope pieces I find anywhere, bring them home and wash them (I bleached these bits since they were mostly white), dry them and then sort them as I sew them together. By hand of course.

This one is my favourite right now, but that changes with every basket I make. I enjoy making them and spend hours watching TV and putting them together. I have the callus on my thumb to prove it

I’m still working on the FB shop page to sell things, still looking for the right gallery to show in and still have no idea what I’m doing.

Eh. Normal for me.

z

sea rope basket

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Things have been a bit all over the place lately, which is my excuse for not posting more often. I thought I’d post while I was on Syros while Lainee had her second operation, but I just couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm for it.

Lainee is doing fine though. She was hungry one hour after waking from her surgery the vet said, and had the staff wrapped around her little paw the whole time she was there. She came out raring to go. The only thing that slows her down is the heat. She really doesn’t do well in the heat. The vet said that’s cause of her heart murmur. So I keep her out of the heat as much as possible. I’ll have to start carrying her back from work when its hot so she doesn’t become tired or overheated.

Meanwhile I started work, in a way. I only had 5 days worth of work to do, then I have to wait for more stuff to do. I hope my job becomes regular soon as I need the income naturally. Though I must admit, I love being a lady of leisure in summer.

So, taking advantage of the not working times I have been working on the tons of projects I have that need finishing (or starting!). I finished the little green cabinet I shared yesterday and have been working on the bigger cupboard I got. That should be finished and back home today if the guy who’s helping me with it can bring it.

Today I thought I’d share the latest finished sea rope basket. I wanted this one to be a bit bigger than the last ones which I made to hold smaller stuff like keys or glasses. This one I’m currently using to hold fruit on my kitchen counter.

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These baskets are easy to do, they just take a lot of time. I have a callus on my thumb to prove that. First I have to collect bits of rope from the beach (usually over winter)… most of the pieces I find are only small, between 2-5 inches long. I bring them home, wash and dry them, then put them in a bag near the couch. I pull out the bits I want as I work on a basket. I work on the couch while I watch something on Netflix. Stops me from wanting to snack all the time.

I’ve already started another one, totally different this time cause its from roadside rope. I will share that one soon as its finished. I enjoy doing them. I like having something for my hands to do.

z

walking dead dolls

I know I’ve shared a couple of my Walking Dead doll remakes, but I found I had this post in my drafts folder and it includes one previously unshared doll: Sasha.

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This is Sasha in the show:

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And this is my Sasha, complete with a high powered rifle with moving parts.

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Remaking Sasha included a total repaint of her face and a new hair style. I made her singlet top and she wears Bratz jeans. I bought her gun on ebay as I’ve bought various other accessories at times when I can’t make them myself. I already have a crossbow to make Daryl… I just have to get there.

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Let’s revisit the other girls… Firstly my all time favourite: Michonne. This is how she began, a very messy Bratz girl I bought in an op shop. That’s one thing I miss here (among other things…) No op shops. I’ve never seen dolls I can remake for sale anywhere for instance. I’m glad I brought a ton with me! When I eventually get around to re-making some again.

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This is Michonne on the show…

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And this is how my interpretation, complete with a katana and a chain to hold her pet walkind dead.

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In Michonne’s case I had to do a total overhaul. I had to remove her hair and make dredlocks by wet felting a combination of wools. I made her top, including a leather vest plus a studded belt. Her jeans are original Bratz jeans as they’re just too hard to make.

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Last but not least, Carol. This is Carol on the show:

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This is what the doll looked like before I started. A typical overdone Bratz doll with wild hair.

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And this is the finished Carol, complete with a gun, a military warrier knife and bag.

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In Carol’s case I did a repaint of the face, gave her a haircut and coloured her hair grey. I made all her clothes and made a pair of Bratz sandals into boots by painting and adding laces.

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I miss remaking dolls. Its one of the things I planned to work on in winter but never got around to it for two winters in a row. This winter I was working on sculptures and last winter who remembers… All I know is that time never seems to be enough.

And I get bouts of laziness and inspiration blocks.

I should really be working on things like this constantly but instead I spend hours doing all sorts of things instead of creating. I really work best when I have a ton of projects going at once cause then I can pick what I want to work on at any given time. Space becomes an issue in a 2 room flat.

Last night I was up till 12.30 working on one of my new (old) cabinets. I didn’t even realise what time it was till I saw it was pitch black outside.

I love it when I’m in the zone like that.

z