Monday, November 30, 2009

Papercuts Short Film

Via Swissmiss

A lovely friend of a friend sent me this link, and I thought it far too beautiful to keep to myself. What's with New Zealand having outrageous amounts of talent these days? (Thanks Lorna!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Singer Sewing Table Restoration: Part IV

I am both really excited and really frustrated by my progress with this project at the moment. Excited because so much of the green has disappeared (hooray!) but frustrated, as I now realise I am going to have to detach the small drawer units to get the green paint off the insides. (You can see some paint on the right which I've stripped, but can't access to wipe off.) It's tricky work, and I've still got a lot of rust to scrub off the base before painting it glossy black.What has pleasantly surprised me though, is the lovely grain of the wood coming through. This back part has a perfectly centred, feather-like design in the wood, which is a real treat.

Now, a question for all of you playing at home: would you varnish this or polish it with an oil instead? I don't really want it too dark, and am leaning towards an oil at this stage. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Darien's Birthday Quilt

My friend Darien turns 30 tomorrow, and came out from the UK to celebrate with her identical twin! I knew that Darien's lounge room has lots of blues and reds in it, and that she loves all things handmade, so I made this quilt for her to snuggle with in Manchester.

I had some hesitations about making a gift: what if she hated it? And what if all my other friends who read this think, 'I hope she doesn't make one for me one day!' So tell me, dear readers, what are your thoughts on handmade gifts? (For the record, I love them...)
This new little label is made from one of my handmade stamps, and might be a recurring feature on my quilts. Now, to get to the huge quilt backlog!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Cutest French Storyteller You Have Ever Seen

I need to stop what I'm doing RIGHT NOW, go to France, conceive a child, wait about three years, cut her hair into a cute bob and then record her telling stories like this one.

In a non-creepy way, you understand.

Edited to say: I think one of the cutest bits is the face she makes at 1:51. Ok, and the rest of it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Autumn Swap Package

Yesterday I received my gorgeous Autumn Swap parcel from the lovely Danielle. I'm so lucky - this year and last I have received such generous and thoughtful gifts. I've used her photography here, too, as it's just too lovely (and I couldn't take the photos nearly as well!)

So I am now the proud owner of so many lovely goodies. Thanks Danielle - so very kind of you!
I'd encourage everyone to participate in swaps: it's such a lovely way to get to make new friends and to think up creative gifts. Wheee!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Singer Sewing Table Restoration: Part III

I'm sure you've been hanging out to see these, dear readers?! Well after a few more hours of backbreaking work over the past few weekends, I have got rid of more green in favour of some lovely looking wood.
In the photo above you can see how much rust is on the treadle. I have been scrubbing it off with a wire brush, but it is stubborn. Think at this stage I'll definitely have to paint it glossy black to get it back to its former glory.
Basically this is all I have left to do: the back and the insides, and a bit of detailing all over. At this stage, my thoughts are this: paint stripping needs a lot of effort and time. For me, it's been worth it, as I'll have a piece of heirloom furniture that I love. But I can see how this could never be a viable business model - it just takes too much time.
And this is what it looked like before remember?! Why green, Dad, why green?!

*Again, please excuse the photo quality. These were taken in a garage, and the light is really bad.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Charley Harper Prints

I have long been obsessed with Charley Harper's illustrations, and especially these birds. I keep thinking how wonderful they'd look on our walls. Sigh. For now I can look at them here in my virtual blog-house.

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Sewing Machine Repair: An Un-endorsement

I am not a precious person, and nor do I post negative reviews or posts, but I feel compelled to write this as a constructive warning. I recently took my sister's sewing machine to Chatswood Sewing Centre in Sydney for repair: the stitching was off-kilter and I thought it could do with a professional looking at it instead of me.

But let me tell you a story about rude service and a pretty sneaky racket. For my small repair - I suspected the machine needed a new bobbin case - I was quoted "between $100 to $140" for repair, which I thought was staggeringly high. Needless to say, I am pretty time-poor at the moment, and need the machine to finish a birthday present, so I accepted that quote. Importantly, I was told clearly that if the quote were to change, they would call me first in order to discuss. In fact, that quote and promise was written on the receipt that I got to keep.

So far, this had not been a tale of sneaky intrigue or suspicion.

Two weeks later, and still not having received a phone call from them, I called the centre to enquire about the status of my machine. I was told that the machine had been ready for "ages". Ok... But upon handing over my receipt yesterday, I was told that the repair would cost $157.95. Very gently, I told that woman that I hadn't authorised any extra payment, and that the receipt she was holding clearly stated "up to $140". The woman scrunched up the receipt in her hand without looking at it, looked me straight in the eyes and told me that it was $157.95: afterall, they had installed a new bobbin case and a new bulb.

To cut a long story short, I was very calm, but stuck to my point: I went to law school long enough to know that the receipt constitutes a contract, and that they had changed the terms of that contract without informing me. I was also pretty sure that they were in breach of something in the Trade Practices Act (it's been a while...) And I didn't ask for a new bulb to be installed, so I didn't think it was right to be charged for one. The two gruff saleswomen looked at each other, then back at me and said, "Well, we could take the bulb out?" I said that would be fine, (I think that's known as 'calling their bluff') and was met with an uncomfortable, "Well, there's no one here who can do that today, so you'll have to come back next week." Hang on, come back in a week's time for something that I didn't authorise?

Dear readers, you can see that this story seems to be going in a different direction than I had hoped.

In short, they acquiesced to my firm but gentle insistence that I was going to take my machine home and that I was only going to pay $140. The saleswoman said, "Well, we don't call you if it's only a small amount over the quoted price", but I felt that on principle, they should have called me. (And what if it had been $40 more? Or $100?).

As I walked away (silence had greeted my "thank you - and goodbye"), I wondered this: how many women get bullied by these two saleswomen into paying more than they were quoted? The fact that my receipt was scrunched up with such gusto seemed to indicate that they knew they were in the wrong - or at least that they knew they had exceeded their quote.

So, dear readers, do you have an alternative sewing machine repair centre in Sydney to endorse? While I wish them no harm, and have no ill-feeling, it's pretty clear that I won't be hurrying back to the Chatswood Sewing Centre.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Surprise Robot!

Recently the Pal went to Shanghai for a week of work training. He bought me back an AMAZING robot, which I adore. Thanks Pal - I love him!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Up: Vintage Posters

These prints sum up everything I love about the film 'Up' and vintage posters - what a package!
All images here and here via here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dan-ah Kim

These images from Dan-Ah Kim made me breathless. I don't know if I even need to say anymore: just enjoy!
All images via here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Singer Sewing Table Restoration: Part II

Remember this? Well, I've got a start on it with some seriously good paint stripper and a lot of elbow grease. And I'd say after a good couple of hours, I'm about 10% of the way there... This green stuff likes to stay on! (A most excellent stress reliever, though. My grandma sits by me with a cup of hot water and lemon and we chat while I scrub.)
So far, one side looks pretty great, although there are heaps of green flecks on the decorative part. And the top (below) is also looking a lot less green, too.

On closer inspection, the wrought iron base and treadle is also very rusty - I think I'm going to have to get some rust remover and/or some glossy black spray paint for it, but I'll see what it looks like post-greenness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Space Quilts

After posting about map quilts, you would think I couldn't find more spatial quilts, right? Well, how about space-ial* quilts? Jimmy McBride is one mean quilter, and these bad boys, with names like 'Phobos' (one of the moons of Mars) are phenomenal.
Jimmy sells them at his etsy store, and despite being expensive, are entirely worth it, given the time, intricacy and unique designs. And dare I say, they're out of this world?**
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*Sorry, couldn't resist a bad pun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finished Papercuts

Remember my papercuts? I finally finished them, and they're sitting framed on my dressing table. I loved cutting these, but don't think I have the patience to take this up as a hobby!

Thanks Em, for such a lovely present. xx

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Alphabet Shelves

These alphabet drawers from Kent and London are made from oak and stand at about waist height. Waist height! They contain 26 little drawers for all the little trinkets you could stand.
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By the way, I was lucky enough to receive a 'heartfelt award' from PetSugar - thanks so much! I'm notoriously bad at naming other bloggers, but I hope to get around to it soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Singer Sewing Table Restoration: Part I

Apologies for the blurry photo - there's not much room or light in the tool shed and this was the best of many! Also, there's not a missing drawer - I had just removed it to see it in the light better.

This Singer sewing machine table has been sitting in my grandparents' tool shed for many, many years. It was given to my grandmother by her mother on the occasion of her marriage to my grandfather. Not only is it in pretty bad condition, but my Dad - in his infinite wisdom! - painted the, ahem, antique a delicious swamp green colour in the 70s.
My plan is strip the paint and sand it back for use as a side table in our apartment. I'm unsure as to the condition of the wood underneath, so depending on how well the paint comes off, I plan to keep it without repainting it.I was not surprised (my Grandma is a keeper of all things!) to find receipts from the 1940s, old buttons, pins and cotton reels in the drawers.

I'll keep you posted as to my progress!*

*Edited to say: I took these photos agges ago and haven't had much time between now and then to do much. Turns out this thesis thing is all-consuming at the moment. So progress may be slow. But it will come!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Foux de Fa Fa

This deliciously Frenchy poster has been making the internet rounds lately. It makes me think about one of my favourite Flight of the Conchords songs: "Bonjour mon petit bureau de change" is surely one of the best lines ever written.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mapping Old Ireland

The lovely Ali sent me this link to some maps of old Ireland, and I think they are superb.

By the way (and this doesn't have too much to do with maps), I just wanted to say thank you to my friends who read this. I've been in the last stages of writing my thesis for some months now, with a deadline that keeps extending. You have understood my canceling dinner dates and generally being quite crazy, and you still send little treats my way and letters/emails/calls of encouragement. It means the world (geddit?) to me, and I couldn't do it without you. xxx
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

(Pretty) Teaching Aides

Alongside my thesis, I teach English and debating to high school students, aged all the way from 11 to 17 years old. It's a real pleasure of mine, and I'm lucky to have a part-time job which I enjoy so much and which allows me to write for big portions of the day. Over the years, the most important lesson I have learned is that as a teacher, you need to be incredibly flexible with every new class: no student (or group of students) is alike.

Recently, I've started teaching groups of new students aged 13-14, who presented me with an entirely new set of cultural and teaching differences. For one thing, the group is comprised of both boys and girls together, which is a difference, but moreover, the students are really reluctant to hear feedback about themselves in public: they want to know how to improve, but become deeply embarrassed to talk about their strengths and weaknesses in front of each other.

Enter my newest invention! I made up these individual pocket books for each student in which I write feedback on slips of paper for the students to read in their own time. That way, I can feel as though I am saving them the embarrassment they seem to feel, but also communicating with them about their progress.

Since this group is particularly competitive, I added a small table where I can put different stickers for their behaviour: yellow for effort, green for improvement, blue for excellence and red for bad behaviour (signified by a grumpy face on the card!)Every few weeks or so, I will count up the good stickers and award small prize bags like these - they seem obsessed with both chewing gum and stationery - to the students who are either doing really well or trying really hard, or both. It seems to have worked so far: the students are happy, motivated and keen to contribute and concentrate, and I think they are really learning well.

Monday, November 2, 2009


This just arrived. I will be hard-pressed to do anything but read it. For now it sits, beckoning, from the lounge room in all its hardcover glory.

I know the whole Internet's gone Sendak-crazy, but I feel as though I have some social ownership here: I wrote my Honours thesis on Eggers, thank you very much!

(You will probably see it in my 'books I've read' sidebar any minute, even though I should be doing other important things, like finishing off the current thesis...)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More Quilt Love

I was going to apologise for becoming a quilt-centric blog, and then I saw this. Patchwork quilt doubters be damned!
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