an interactive reading lamp

While sorting out my blog I found I have a ton of old draft posts I never finished to post. I’ve decided to finish and share them now and then, at least the project related ones, even if they’re from projects I made while living in Tasmania. Projects are projects after all, no matter where you make them!

These photos are from a lamp I began early last year, planning to enter it in the Art From Trash exhibition. Needless to say I never finished it and never entered it cause moving to Greece kinda got in the way. I did sell it to a lady who appreciates wacky things though.

The idea of this lamp, the “Reading Lamp”, is that its made up of broken reading glasses in place of crystals. And the best thing about it is that you can keep adding to it. Never  waste another broken pair of reading glasses again!

My original plan for the lamp had been to paint the base a bright colour instead of the brass as it was when I found it, but to leave the pretty glass decorative bits in the middle. But as I said, it was an unfinished project when I sold it. The new owners get the pleasure of collecting old glasses and adding to the lamp shade. In a way that seems better though, makes it more personal.
And this post leads right into another floor lamp remake which is current… stay tuned.
z

sometimes its good to be a girl

This is my new 120 year old couch. Its a traditional island couch, everyone on Paros had one in their home in the old days.

Mighty uncomfortable… but people didn’t lounge around back then. They sat up all prim and proper.

They make new couches in this old style now, a bit lower, with a deep seat and softer cushions… not the horse hair or straw or rocks they seemed to fill the old ones with. And not the rigid foam that was used to update the old couches a couple of decades ago…

So, this old couch belonged to one of my mom’s aunts, given to her as a wedding present, inherited by her daughter, no longer wanted… its now mine.

Of course I have nowhere to put it… my place has one living kitchen dining office studio room which already has a corner proper lounging couch in it. The only place I could put it is out the back in my tiny courtyard or out front on my patio… It will make a great little relaxing spot. Once I kill the termites who’ve been calling it their home and dinner for the last long while.

I removed and threw away the severely feasted on slats and have painted termite poison on the rest. I wrapped it in cling wrap and will soon be repeating the process prior to chalk painting it white.

For the rest of this summer I’ll just use the hard foam cushions it came with, but hopefully next year I can get some nice soft ones made.

I really wanted it out the front so I could read or entertain but everyone insists it will be stolen. I’m like “really? Who will steal a couch?” Maybe I’m naive.

Meanwhile, my two handy male neighbours helped with the sails. I asked if I could borrow an extension ladder and it came with two very capable guys. Sometimes its good to be a girl.

I finally have both sails up. Not exactly as planned, but they’re up and that’s what’s important.

I originally wanted the small triangle sail at the back to provide privacy and shade to the bedroom and the large rectangle one at the front to provide protection for furniture placed under the resin – sorry, I mean pine – tree.

When the uncle entourage tried to put the big one out the front a couple of weeks ago it didn’t work. So now I have the bigger one out the back and the small one out the front.

Its windy today. We’ll see if its still up when I get home from work…

Having the front sail up finally means I’ve been able to move my outdoor table and chairs to the patio so I can enjoy the space, and its freed up a bit of room at the back so I can work on the couch. And enjoy a nap outside once its finished.

I think I need fairy lights now…

Yep.

I definitely need fairy lights.

z

the next installment

First up, a work in progress photo of the Ikea bookcase. Love the Ivar system. So easy and adaptable.

This is where I had planned to put the bookcase. Notice the powerpoint I had added on the wall where I thought I needed it… See the light fittings. Now look at how things are now:

Ok, maybe its not that easy to see. Basically I first bought a 32in TV thinking I didn’t need anything bigger… I got it home and from the couch it was like “where is the TV?”… so I had to swape it for a larger one. 50in. Much better.

Of course that lead to a lot of changes. The TV needed to be opposite the couch, so I had to move the whole bookcase down. Not to mention the bigger TV wouldn’t fit in the bookcase as it was. I needed to cut the bookcase to adapt it to fit a larger TV. I did that by cutting the front upright in the middle section. I have a bracket I plan to put there for added support for the shelves above. I’ll do that when I start painting the bookcase as I dont really want to be moving the TV twice.

I had planned on adding a narrow section to the end near the door, now I added it to the end by the wall. That meant I had to move the power point as it was now in the way. That was one of those 5 minute jobs that took 2 weeks cause I kept forgetting to buy the right drill bit with the right screws and plastic sleevey things. THEN it took 5 minutes to do.

The bookcase is all secured to the wall at the to so there’s no moving it now.

I ordered my narrow section and realised I forgot to get the little black feet… and didn’t order enough shelves… so now I wait to get those bits to finish the bookcase.

You can see I’ve got one section set up as my laptop station. I’m still not sure if I’ll extend that with a fold down section for a keyboard… We’ll see.

Meanwhile its just a general storage area till I get myself sorted. But there are pockets of pretty. Like this one with the little cactuses I bought a couple of weeks ago. Real ones!

The little stool is something I picked up at an antique store. They are something every greek house on the island had in various sizes – my grandfather made 3 of them for his grandkids. This was a dark green which I painted white. Of course. Its so Paros.

And this is me, right? Brushes and tools, the industrial light fitting, an antique photo frame…

The little table Barbara gave me (thanks again) is my sewing table while it waits for its makeover. It will always be my sewing table, but it will be painted and mended where Petey (her dog) snacked on it.

Another Zefi touch is the covered shoe (and other) boxes. I mean I couldn’t just have ugly boxes holding stuff on my shelves. I used brown paper bags from shops to cover those 3 and an old table cloth to temporarily cover the large one. The bigger shoe box holds the power cables cause who wants to see those?

Outside the front things happened for a while… My uncle and his buddies came over to install a sail for me. A nice big rectangle one. To keep the resin off the pine tree off any furniture I put out the front. They also did a few things out the back for me. The triangle sail to stop the hot afternoon sun from coming into my bedroom and provide some privacy, a washing line (no one seems to have those here… like, what? there is only so much you can fit onto a clothes airer!) And they put up a bamboo screen to the yard next door which does get occupied at times.

Well, in theory the front sail was a great idea. Till the wind grabbed it and ripped the post out of the wall.

Back to square one on that…. Now I’m thinking I’ll put the small triangle sail out the front and see how that goes and move the big rectangle one to the back where its protected from the wind. And next year, before things get busy, I’ll organise to build a pergola for the front. A real one. Built from timber. The wind shouldn’t take that one!

Meanwhile the coffee table is a craft station. I still haven’t recovered the dark brown cushions, I want to cheer the place up a bit. I did make the round cushion cover removable using fabric scraps I had on hand so it can be washed.

And Lainee keeps me company no matter what I’m doing. She’s settled in really well. Still very shy around people but loves other dogs and gets so excited when she sees one.

She’s begun to wag her tail for me, not often, and play short bursts of happy poodle. But the moment I try to join the game she stops… Its so sad. I don’t know why she’s like that. She doesn’t seem to get playing. She’s glued to me like a siamese twin, yet if I call her she will cower at my feet. And if anyone approaches her she just looks really worried.

Still… she’s improving all the time and I’m so glad to have her. She is the sweetest dog in the world and she’s helped to heal my aching heart from losing Montana and Romeo. And not being there when Montana died. She was such a special girl and I adored her. And Romeo was my boy from the day he took his first breath. Leaving them was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. But they both found amazing homes with people who adore them. Its all I could want for them. It was just unfortunate that Montana only had a few months to enjoy the love of her new family.

Enough of that. It will make me cry.

I’m off to work now. No rest for the wicked. I hope that come off season I can get into a better routine and start making things again. Then I’ll have more stuff to share.

z

learning to live on a greek island

OMG!!!! I found this unpublished post when I sat down to write today… I’m so embarassed! LOL Actually, I’m not surprised. Things just get away from me…

So anyway… here is a post from over a month ago! I’m adding updates in italics to make it more current.

Meanwhile I’ll get to work on the next post…

Even prickley weeds have beauty.

Things have been busy lately. As if you hadn’t guessed given the resounding silence of late…

All good though. Only the odd minor drama…

I’ve moved into my new place. That’s if you don’t count the boxes I still have in storage, but since I haven’t yet had the energy to tackle the storage space in the basement I can’t bring them over yet. Its the thought of creepy crawlies or mouse droppings that’s keeping me from the task. And the heat. Then there’s the fact that I’m expecting visitors and 47 boxes in the middle of my living/dining/kitchen area will make life a tad difficult.

My visitors have come and gone. The boxes are still in storage but I’m counting the days till I can bring my stuff home. And my brother cleaned out the creepy stuff in the basement store room so its clean at least.

I’ve ordered my Ivar bookcase from Ikea (now that was a nightmare with their site taking turns recognising me or telling me I didn’t exist or I didn’t have a valid phone number??). It should arrive right when I have my brother staying. I can see it now… “hey bro, since you’re not doing anything…” hahaha

Somehow I don’t think that’ll work…

I got my bookcase up, decided I needed more bits. Its a work in progress.

I got a new coat of paint on the interior before moving in. And already have one scratch on the wall.

New light fitting with entirely the wrong globe. I hadn’t bought globes and the electrician picked these… hm…

The electrician came and changed the wall light fittings to ones I bought and put in some extra power points. He also put a couple of lights under the kitchen cupboards so I can see to burn food and wash dishes.

I got more appropriate light bulbs and I like it so much better now.

I bought a rickety rusty old bench for outside as a work bench and moved the outdoor setting to out the back cause the front is impossible to use.

So far all I’ve used the bench for is potting plants, but thats ok. And what you can see is actually the neighbour’s back patio space. The unit is unoccupied and while its in bank repossession limbo I’m spreading out that way… the area beyond the fence you can see with all the pretty plants is the other neighbours. Much bigger than my patio… I’ve now put up a bamboo screen for some privacy.

I borrowed my uncle’s water pressure cleaner and cleaned the worst off the front porch. On the negative side: the resin coming off the pine tree next door is unbelievable. That space is unusable without a sail or a pergola. I’m opting for the sail this year and see how it goes. Till I get a sail up I can’t even clean out there cause its a waste of time and effort. Not to mention white spirit, which I’d rather not throw around on a regular basis.

The lock on my bedroom window broke so its either open or closed, no in-between…

Thankfully that fixed now and I’m waiting on a quote to get security screens on the front door and window…

My suitcases are here… feels like home!

My car still runs but the back driver side door stopped opening. The knobs on the back seats both broke so I can’t lay the seats down to put big things inside. And I live to transport big things… Occasionally the radio turns itself on out of the blue… I’m sure that one day the lock and/or door handles will come off in my hands… eh. My car has character, what can I say?

The back door is fixed. Thanks to my brother. But the back seat issue remains.

I miss my Amarok. The quiet of WindDancer Farm. My poodles. Working from home.

Pay that matches cost of living – more or less.

Bureaucracy that makes sense.

Sigh.

Still, living on a greek island has its good points.

Like the sea. The views of the sea. Life by the sea. Swimming in the sea. And did I mention the sea?

I’ve got the most romantic mosquito net over my bed thanks to a good friend. Thank you Barbara!

Thats it for this post.

More coming. Soon I hope…

z

old houses

So, I’m back on Paros for the Paros Festival again this year. Three days of tours, dancing, bands, performances and open houses.

Last year I just managed to scrape in a visit to a couple of houses, an exhibition and a tour of the old church. This year so far its just been old houses… I absolutely love old houses.

These old places are old mansions belonging to the aristocratic island families of the past. They are either lived in and kept more or less in original condition, or left empty and are slowly falling apart cause the owners can no longer afford to maintain them.

They contain original collectables and furniture and are more like museums than homes.

They’re beautiful old places, and man, would I love to have the money to buy and restore one… sigh… not in this lifetime!

Meanwhile life goes on at a breakneck pace… whereas things crawled along for ages, a while lotta stuff happened all at once this last week.

For one thing, I now have wifi at home! Which is great cause I had my new 50in TV for a week with no internet access…

I also now have a bamboo screen, a clothes line and a sail in my back patio area. And 4 new plants…

My Ikea shelving unit (aka the bookcase) has been fixed to the wall and most of the stuff sitting on my kitchen bench have gone back to living on shelves… till I sort them out…

I have a washing machine (…maybe… long story…) but no connections for it AND it won’t fit under the kitchen bench… sigh…

There have been broken pipe incidents all over the place at the little community I live in. Apparently, they tell me, when the desalination plant went operational and we were connected to the service, pipes began to burst all over the place. Two reasons for this…. up till now the water was always pumped into a tank and the water ran on gravity feed. Plus they’re old pipes. They couldn’t take the new whiz bang mains pressure. Ugh. The first pipe to burst was next door above me. I came home to no water as they worked to fix that till late evening. Next was a place up the hill from me. And yesterday the place on the corner of my floor had a leaking ceiling cause the unoccupied place above was flooded. That was particularly bad as it wasn’t an outside leak, this one has done more damage.

I have a plumber coming today to put in the necessary plumbing for a washing machine and I was told to ask him to put some kind of pressure limiting gadget on my water line.

Ah… adventures….

Other than that, things move at their usual rushed pace. Get up early to walk Lainee and go to work each morning. Hurry home then to the beach or a grooming appointment. Go home for a shower and change to go out with friends or meet family.

Where is that slow paced life people talk about on a Greek island?

z

unbelievable… then again, maybe not…

Today my Ikea Ivar bookcase was delivered. I was so excited. I’ve been so looking forward to this. After the beach I got stuck into it. Unpacking boxes, lifting out bits and pieces and leaning them against the wall I’d already cleared so I could put it up tonight. Having decided that it was easier to just put it up now and worry about painting it later, like after the summer season, when I wasn’t busy with a job and the beach and all that…

So I opened up all the boxes, creating a pile of stuff to put together, only to find there were no lugs or pegs or bolt-like thingies to hold the shelves onto the sides. I thought maybe I got it wrong… maybe there’s some hidden trick to attaching the shelves. I looked it up on Youtube (as you do) and nope… there are supposed to be lugs or pegs or whatever and there were NONE. One guy on Youtube said they’d all fallen out in the packaging when he got his, but I looked through every bit of cardboard and not a single lug to be found anywhere.

Wonderful.

Now first thing on my to do list for tomorrow is ‘call Ikea and have them send me the lugs’. Then wait a week till I get them so I can put the damn bookcase together and get stuff out of the way.

And I thought I was on the home stretch…

I still haven’t got my sails or outdoor cupboard. I’ve gotten as far as speaking to the transport company which is shipping it but they haven’t located my order to inform me when it will be delivered.

Wonderfuller.

Sigh.

And while I’m whining and complaining… why is it that light switches are never on the right side in Greece? I don’t mean on the right wall, I mean the one on the right turns on the light on the left and the one on the left turns on the light on the right. I mean… how hard can it be to get that right? How about why some light switches are on when they’re up while others are on when they’re down… sometimes even in the same house…

Not to mention the fly screen on my front door … it opens the wrong way entirely. Its a double door, a narrow double door which means that you can walk through if you leave one side of the door closed (the side with the bolt top and bottom), but if you’re carrying stuff you really need to open both sides. Any NORMAL human being would put a sliding flyscreen on the ‘fixed’ side of the door so you can push it half open to get in and out when you’re only using half the doorway. But no. The bright spark who installed the one in my place put it on so you either have to open both sides of the door in order to open or close the flyscreen, or you have to contort and twist to reach around and slide it open or shut with half the door closed.

Really stupid obvious things to anyone with a brain… You’d think.

Ignore me. I’m just in a shitty mood cause I’ve spent the last 3 hours getting ready to set up a bookcase with nothing to show for it but a bigger mess than I started with.

I’m tired.

I’m going to bed!

z

getting there

It seems I have a house! Well, a unit to be exact. A one bedroom unit with a nice livingroom/ kitchen area, a decent sized bathroom and a tiny back courtyard I need to partition off if I want privacy. Plus a shared porch out front with a sea view (not the one pictured), providing you’re happy to ignore the traffic on the road below.

All in all, its a nice little place and its MINE. That in itself goes a long way to making up for its shortfalls: the fact that its not a detached house with a yard on a quiet hillside with views for miles and the sound of cicadas instead of cars…

I’m signing the paperwork this Monday but the bank cheques have already been drawn up. Yay for me.

This where the long wait and wading through red tape to buy a place end, and the adventures of setting up a place begin.

Fun things like getting internet – a 5 week wait apparently. If the legal crap hadn’t taken months, this and getting tradies to do work on the place would have been easy. Now, as peak season breathes down our necks, there’s buckleys to none chance of getting a tradie to do a job at a reasonable price… and I want air conditioning!

Plus getting power switched on in my name… theoretically that should be easy, but I’m in Greece… Water… do I need that turned on and in my name also or is the mains just turned off? I have no idea.

This and many new and exciting things await me as I learn all about being a home owner on one of the most popular islands in Greece.

z

Time flies…

Or drags. It really depends on where you are and what you’re doing.

Lately it just feels like there isnt enough time in the day to get anything done. Partly its cause I’ve been working the 1-7-but-more-like-7.30pm+-shift at work.

It sucks. I always have things to do in the mornings and even though Lainee makes sure I’m up by 8am every day, I never seem to have time to just relax… let alone do the stuff on my to do list.

I really have no idea where time goes, but it just goes.

There are pills to take (for both us girls), then errands to run, not to mention walks to take. If I can squeeze in a quick swim I do it. I’m on greek island for petes sake! I’ve taken to wearing my swim suit when I leave home cause you never know… there’s nothing worse than finding yourself near a great beach on a gorgeous day without swimmers. In fact being on Paros and not being able to swim is my worst nightmare…

After work its rush home to walk the girlie, grab something to eat before its too late according to my stomach’s schedule, then its socialize and chat and drinks till at least 11pm… cause I’m on a greek island for petes sake!

So what keeps me so busy you ask? Well, there are always things that need doing, you know, normal living things like washing, grocery shopping, chasing up lawyers regarding buying my own place, stopping to chat with every person I meet, pat every dog I see… and dog grooming.

The middle of the day work thing is kinda annoying. But its only for this month apparently… then I go to morning shift.

I’m eager to get to the 9am start so I can have an uninterrupted afternoon to myself.

And as if that wasn’t enough I found a sick little kitten on the road and picked him up. No one could take him on for 3 days. The animal welfare societies on the island are volunteer run and everyone is already up to their armpits in kittens. Its that time of year when kittens are born to stray cats or are dumped in dumpsters by uncaring cat owners.

So I had this tiny little man who needs antibiotics once a day and eye drops twice a day for a while. And he’s so cute… and he and Lainee were ok together… but I DO NOT WANT A CAT.

I love all animals but I don’t necessarily want to live with or care for them all. And cats are too sheddy. And they jump on surfaces I’d rather not have decorated with cat hair. And I don’t need another pet to feed or vet. Right now its still a toss up as to whether I can afford to support myself, let alone a pet or two.

When a dinner out costs as much or more than you earn in a day… well… it doesn’t look promising.

z

finding myself through art

One of the things I really want to do with this big move is to find the artist in me again. I’m an artist but I’ve never really worked at it. I feel its time I spent more time creating art at this stage of my life than all the other things I put my energies into.

Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to make stuff cause I love doing it. I’ll still repaint dolls and sew and revamp old furniture and make things out of found objects…

But I really want to paint more.

I realised a while ago that when I paint (in any medium) I feel good about myself. Sure, I often start something, hate it, stop, then go back later, rework it and finish it and love it. And then I get the most incredible feeling inside – achievement, pride, amazement that something I admire came out of my own hands.

So here I am, in Athens for almost 2 weeks now… without my art supplies. So I went out to find pastels (always my first choice of mediums to work with) and I couldn’t find what I wanted. I bought acrylic paints instead and gave them a try.

This is my first attempt with straight acrylics in years.

Its Phaedra, a toy poodle that used to belong to our neighour. I never met her but naturally I’d start with a poodle! I tried to loosed up and make it more painterly than is my normal style. Its something I love when I look at other works of art and always wish I could paint like that. But I’m not totally happy with it, its not really me. I’m not a loaded brush type of person. I tend to work best with washes and less paint than with more…

This is my second attempt.

This is a friend’s cat. For her I used a mix of dry brush and watered down acrylics. She’s not finished yet but I like it much better. I think I found the way I like to work best.

More than that, I realised that what I really want is to mix my media. I want to go and buy myself the soft pastels I didn’t find last time I looked for them (I found a shop which sells them!) and to get some pastel pencils as well. Then I can finish this little cat with charcoal and pastels. That way I can get both the texture and the detail and depth I’m used to getting in my work.

I’m pleased.

A painting a day keeps the depression at bay!

Now I want to go find mom’s old Singer and see if it still works! Cause I feel the urge to make some of my little critters…

Other than that, I’m slowly learning to live in Greece though it not easy. I have friends and family and that helps. I’m still very eager to get to Paros and start sorting out my life there. Till then, I’ll do what I need to do here.

z

katy perry doll

katy4

Yep. I tackled the cupcake dress!!

This is another of the dolls winging their way to the UK and she was the one that took the longest to make.

Obviously.

katy2

Most of the hair rooted – faceless doll heads on pens is a common sight around here…

Firstly I had to order blue hair from my favourite local seller (Custom Doll Hair AU), then I had to re-root my barbie head with said blue hair. And paint on her face, of course.

katy3 (2)

I bought a dress which was suitable as the base for my cupcake skirt. And some cupcakes from ebay. There was no way I could make that many cupcakes in this lifetime…

katy5

The only way I could figure out to make the skirt was papier mache. My old standby. I love papier mache and can make anything with it. I’m pretty good at it, even if I do say so myself. 🙂

So I built myself a ‘scaffold’ from cardboard (ok, its more like a layered cake) and tissue paper. It only took 3 goes to get it right. I gave it 3 coats of white acrylic paint and made 2 different layers of ruffles which I hot glued to the bottom.

I made a matching ruffle for the top of the dress, which I stitched onto the straps and neckline. I then cut the dress to the right length and attached it to the skirt using hot glue. Not while it was on the doll.

Obviously.

katy4 (2)

Headless doll. Another common sight around here.

Once I picked the shoes I preferred and had her all dressed up she was ready!

katy3

She needs one of those stands that holds her up by the legs cause there’s no way that skirt is going to allow her to have a regular ‘around the waist’ stand. What can you do? Its the price you pay for looking so fabulous!

z