Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Australia and New Zealand back on the map, please

This morning I had a notification from Etsy that they are about to launch a new selling platform called “Etsy Studio”. Its designed specifically for sellers of craft supplies and tutorials. As a seller of patterns I had a look at the 23 minute promotional video.

This blog post isn’t about my opinions of Etsy Studio. I want to make a more expansive point about how political leadership of a nation can set a tone within international relations that is so resonant it trickles right down to the grassroots of radicalising the little insignificant blog of a female artist in Australia.

About 3.30 seconds into the video Etsy showed a map of the world, presumably to underline how inclusive and world wide their platform is. I had to do a double take and call my husband to confirm I wasn’t (not) seeing things. The whole continent of Australia doesn’t appear on the map, including New Zealand. I was born in New Zealand and lived there till I was 26, my son was born there and I still have a lot of family there, including my father. New Zealand is a small country with a population of barely 4 million.

Australia is an island continent. I find it astounding how a huge organisation like Etsy can present this “map of the world” and nobody notices Australia/NZ are missing. How can I have confidence in an organisation like that? How can I have confidence that America likes and respects Australia when President Trump had a phone call with our Prime Minister in which he responded in ways that were crass, impatient, dismissive and cut short the conversation which was supposed to be an hour after 20 minutes. To his advisors (Bannon and somebody else) across the other side of the presidential desk he described this as the “worst” phone call he’d had with a world leader. A few days later White House spokesman Sean Spicer was trying to justify things and referred to our Prime Minister as Mr Trumble, twice….It is Mr Turnbull. It makes for a very unconvincing apology when you can’t remember the right name of the person you are trying to be sorry to.

President Trump wants to ban people of 7 countries to be able to enter the USA. I live in a very small community of less than 1000 people where we have a fantastic doctor who is Syrian. His sister lives in the USA and is married to an American. I met her when she visited her brother here in Murrurundi last year. She wouldn’t be able to leave America now for fear of the possibility of not being able to get back in again. Nor can her brother visit America because despite being a permanent resident of Australia, and an important and respected member of our town, he has a Syrian passport. He and his sister were born in Syria and their parents still lived in Aleppo until a couple of years ago (our doctor moved them to safety in another middle eastern country as they are aged in their 70s. They did not want to leave to live in either Australia or America)

So this is a story about how the attitudes and decisions of the people at the pinnacle of political power ripple down to effect all citizens of the global village. I think a month ago I would have interpreted Etsys blunder as just the dumb mistake of some underling…..but with the climate in international relations going all topsy turvy and with the way President Trump is playing out his declaration “America First”, you really have to wonder if that implies the rest of the nations the world are going to be allocated, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, etc……according to how President Trump and his cronies rate them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

to model or not...?

This morning Annette posted a comment on my last blog about the release the Two Pegs pattern and I started writing a response to her, then realised it was an interesting question and wanted to share this with my other blog readers...and I welcome opinions anyone else has to offer

this is Annettes comment
I love the new dress pattern. It is going on my wishlist for when I finish up a few of my works in progress. It would be great to see the dress modelled by someone :-)

This is my response - which I want to open to all who might want to give feedback

I've numbered some of my points if people want to address specific statements

Hi Annette,
thanks for your positive response. I often feel ambivalent about showing garments on real models, I wax and wane about some of the pros and cons, such as....
1) personally I seldom select a pattern based on seeing it worn by someone else. This means I'm likely extrapolating my own behaviour onto what I think others would do.

2) I'm only an amateur photographer and a one woman enterprise - so lack confidence in how well I can do the pictures.

Due to my extremely insular personality (ASD - Aspergers) I have huge anxieties about approaching any woman and asking her to model. On a philosophical level I think this should be paid work too, not a personal favour.

I couldn't afford to have pictures done by a professional photographer and that involves other tangential issues such as hiring/paying models, studio or other locations/props, copyright releases et al...

Can't help but be aware in this business many independent design companies who are profitable do use professional photographers, studios and models and one of my problems with it is wondering how "realistic" these pictures are. On beautiful, slender, tall women, posing with perfect lighting (is that dress pinned in at the back? is that collar starched rigid to sit like that...?)...are you really getting what you see? I know on a philosophical level that the advertising industry relies on trying to sell us dreams and aspirations. It would be absurdly counterproductive that they ever showed an unattractive view of the product to be marketed.

3) This last point is the one I will probably get some feedback on....!!! Please be gentle with me!

The majority of tiny independent pattern businesses rely on a model of using a stable of pattern testers who trial the pattern and instructions before they get published. When the designer releases the pattern there is the fantastic benefit of having a group of people who will endorse the design, blog about and provide pictures of themselves modelling the garment.

This is a fantastic model and virtually all small independent designers I know of use it. There are big Facebook groups who have been set up to support the model and provide groups of willing volunteers.

REVELATION....I don't get my patterns tested using this model. I am the only one who sews all the samples, checks, double checks and triple checks the instructions. Consequently, I don't have access to photos that tester groups provide.

Three years ago when I started out I did get my first 3 patterns tested in a group I set up. Regrettably I found the whole process enormously stressful. I don't do interactions with people (I'm crying with stress just writing this, because I know few will understand)

I get crippled with anxiety, I will spend hours, days, weeks consumed with nausea and gut aches because I can't figure out what people mean. I become paranoid, paralysed and catatonic with fear.

Why would I want to put myself in that place? That is why 2 years ago I decided to take the risk of just doing it all by myself. Fortunately I have only had feedback twice about minor issues with pattern instructions. Distaste for interacting with people is a downside of Aspergers, but extreme, obsessive dedication to detail is an upside.

It would be interesting to hear what others think, but please don't be disparaging to me in regard to the way my head works!

.....If anyone wants to volunteer to coordinate and handle a tester group for me I will mint you a medal, or at least barter such services in exchange for art?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Everything is hot, hot, hot.....

The Two Pegs PDF pattern is available to buy in my etsy shop - use link in the right side bar if you want to check it out.

The Two Pegs pattern cover
I haven't opened my shop or worked in the studio for the last 2 days as I'm cowering at home and trying to keep cool as a catastrophic heatwave is engulfing New South Wales. Theres no air conditioning in my shop/studio - or at home either. But at home I can run a cold shower to get under if things get too oppressive. It's 2.30 pm and just hitting on 40 celsius at the moment (105 fahrenheit) so maybe a little hotter to go yet. Or highest ever recorded temperature here was February 2016 at 41.8C. At present some places further inland are 45C now and may get to!!!

I'm trying to keep my mind off the torrents of sweat dripping off my chin and down my back by keeping busy. Yesterday I bought home a bag of adornments from the studio that have never been in the Etsy shop and have been photographing and uploading them.

Jade cuff

Penelope necklace

Mughal cuff

Nippon postcard cuff

Brass Butterfly cuff

All these can be found in my Etsy shop right now, if you want to see other views and prices.

More stuff to add if I don't drop dead from heat exhaustion in the next few days....(my husband is a retained Fireman with Fire Rescue NSW so I'm also desperately hoping he won't get a call out to some raging inferno!)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Boho Banjo shop and studio

Last week my wonderful husband built a new clothing display rack in my shop and its looks so good!

I live in the very small rural town of Murrurundi, in New South Wales, Australia. Murrurundi is a very old town historically as it was settled in the 1840s (heh, that is "old" in the Australian definition that arises from beginning when white people arrived in ships in 1789 - the indigenous have been here 50,000 years...) and has a population of less than 1,000.

Murrurundi is located on the New England Highway(A15), between Scone (42km south) and Tamworth (90km north) at the very top of the Upper Hunter Valley. It is nestled into the foothills just below the Great Dividing Range. Leaving town at the northern end you drive upwards for 610m through Nowlands Pass to the top of Mt Helen and see spread before you the tablelands rolling out on the way to Willow Tree and Tamworth.

I have lived here for 9 years and adore this little town. City living is not for me! The incessant activity of cities sends my ASD sensitivities into hyper drive and I alternate between irritability and zombie like glazedness. Too many people, too much activity = brain overload, meltdowns....

My husband has supported me to work in my own little enterprise for the last 2 years so that I don't have to go to workplaces and work with people around me. Being in workplaces has been a situation enormously stressful for me personally all my life and is for many Aspergers people.

I'm so lucky and want to express my gratitude that his support, understanding and actions have made my life so much happier than it has ever been.

Meantime, now all of you are getting a tour of my shop and studio....

...starting with the entrance foyer, please step in from the street, the shop is through the doorway to the right. The change room is behind the curtain.

entrance to Boho Banjo shop

This is the retail area. The new rack Rodney built is along the length of the back wall. Stacked on the shelf above are some of my older artworks....cloth dolls, mixed media canvas, digital images

Boho Banjo shop 31/01/2017

Glancing behind you, back into the foyer, the the left is a glass display cabinet that I put necklaces/various adornments into. The the right is an old victorian timber mantel that was altered into a display cabinet. The edge of the doorway to the far right is the entrance to my workshop.

A sample of the "Loopholes" dress, my latest published PDF sewing pattern, on a model display, along with a textile necklace I made.

The display cabinet for adornments. Bought this at a garage sale for $15. Rodney put the chicken wire in the back, where there was probably a mirror once.

A close up of items in the cabinet, all designed and made by me

oh dear....then all that lovely tidiness ends as you walk into my workshop...I'm sitting at that little table with my laptop and writing this blog right now

Hope you enjoyed the tour and please call into to look around and say hello if ever passing through Murrurundi

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Two Pegs

These are the line drawings for "Two Pegs" the new PDF pattern I'm working on and hope to have ready to publish in a week. Its called Two Pegs because there are 2 versions, the one with the curved panels is called "Round Peg" and the one with the squared off panels is "Square Peg"

This is the description -

Two Pegs is a womens pull over dress with square neck and bell shape silhouette. The Front dress is divided into 3 panels and there are 2 options for making the panels either curved or with right angles. The curved panels version is referred to as “Round Peg” and is VIEW 1. The right angled panels version is called “Square Peg” and is VIEW 2. Optional inset pockets in the side seams.
Sleeves have the option be made either short or 1/2 length. The back dress has a centre seam and kick pleat at the hemline. The neckline edge is neatened with internal yoke facings that are sewed to the sleeve head seam so that the neck line will always stay neat, sharp edged and never roll.

Two Pegs, line diagrams in the PDF pattern
This design has great potential for colour blocking or mixing prints. I'll publish some pictures of the sample garments on a model in the next few days. It has a wonderful silhouette, the bell shape is quite narrow at the lower calf hemline but the kick pleat at the centre back allows for unrestricted ease of movement when walking and sitting.

I was very chuffed to get this feedback from Kelly a few days ago, who bought and made the Judith dress

" Extremely happy with it, I would have to say it's the most comfortable dress I've ever worn! The pattern was so detailed, everything was easy Peasy! Going to make another 3 now, different fabrics! Thankyou for a great, comfortable, affordable pattern 👍🏻😉

thanks Kelly!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

grab a Loophole

"A couple of Loopholes" PDF pattern is now up for sale in my Etsy and Shopify shops....buttons to the right side of this blog.

This is a fabulous dress by itself or worn over long or short sleeves

Saturday, 31 December 2016

a couple of Loopholes

My first pattern release for 2017 will be “A couple of Loopholes” It needs a few more twiddles then I hope to push the publish button within a few days.

cover page of "A couple of Loopholes" lagenlook style PDF pattern by Pearl Red Moon

I made the sample dress to the right on the pattern cover a few days ago. Its made in viscose rayon which is my all time favourite fabric. 

I did some research on Rayon fabric to be able to summarise its history:

·         *  The Rayon fibre was invented nearly 200 years ago in 1855
·         *  The first commercial quantities were manufactured and sold in 1881 by the French patent holder, the Count of Chardonnay and it was called “Chardonnay Silk”. However it was soon withdrawn from the market due to the dangers of its highly inflammable quality. In the USA in 1953 the FFA ACT (Flammable Fabrics Act) was created to ensure rayon and other man made fibres were produced within acceptable safety criteria.
·        *   By 1889 a better process had been developed – “viscose rayon” and large commercial quantities were being produced by 1905.
·         *  Though rayon is described as “man made” it is the only manufactured fibre not made from petro chemical processing (nylon, polyester, etc) as it is produced from wood pulp, a naturally occurring cellulose based raw material. Wood pulp is an inexpensive and renewable resource but the large quantities of water and energy required for processing mean costs to the environment by the resulting pollution.
·        *   Rayon is capable of absorbing more water than cotton or linen, which makes it a great practical choice to wear in hot climates…i.e.  Australia

What I like about Rayon:

·         *  Superb draping quality
·         *  Lovely surface sheen (why its often compared to silk)
·        *   Great range of colours and patterns its available in due to its excellent retention of colour
·       *    Relatively inexpensive to buy compared to other fabrics
·         *  It sews and irons beautifully
·        *   Easy to care for, quite durable for machine washing and good fade resistant qualities, as I always line dry laundry
·        *   Easy receptive surface to paint, stencil, applique and stitch

I     I wanted to make this plain black rayon fabric look more arty with some hand painted marks. After cutting out the Centre Front panel it was laid flat on the cutting table and I applied all over at random some scratch like marks with a dish scrubber dipped in fabric paint. After considering that I wanted to do some marks that looked less abstract (i.e. as opposed to …ooops, I fell over the paint bucket) so I made a simple stencil from tin foil by cutting out an approximately 3” circle and used this as a background resist to daub largish spots over the scratches. This seemed OK but I wanted to add a bit more detailing so after heat setting the paintwork I machine embroidered circles around the painted ones. To further “integrate” the centre panel with the whole garment I embroidered the same circles onto the left and right Side Front panels before seaming them together. Below are pictures of the Centre Front and Side Fronts during this process and the finished garment.

Loopholes, Centre Front Panel is painted and stitched, the Side Front panels have only the circle motif stitched. The whitish spot near the middle is the paper template I used to mark the circles before embroidering.

Loopholes VIEW 1 from the PDF pattern, with painted marks on rayon viscose

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Dreaming of moonflowers

I'm a hugely enthusiastic Pinterest user and spend time nearly every day pinning.

I think it's possible the concept may be based on the old fashioned hobby of scrapbook collecting. Decades before the digital era it was a popular pastime for people to collect pictures clipped from books, magazines, advertisements and cards and paste them collage style into a blank paged album. As a child in the 1960s I received blank scrapbook albums as presents at least twice.

Scrapbook collections took off in the late Victorian era as mass mechanical reproduction made books and magazines cheap and widely available. Its a quaint idea now, in this age when we're deluged with paper (a great deal of it so utterly disposable that much of it becomes landfill within a few days of being produced) but people once valued the printed paper products that came into their homes. Woman and children had recreational time together choosing and cutting out the pictures that appealed to them to glue into a scrapbook before the remainder of the paper got used for other purposes. Even in the 1980s I remember my grandmother hoarding brown paper shopping bags to reuse....

A few decades ago the term "scrapbooking" was hijacked by another bunch of paper loving crafters and turned into a business model whereby the practitioners created artistic theme albums. However, this new iteration of the scrapbook differed significantly from the older concept in that all the materials collated to paste onto the pages were newly manufactured items purposely produced to cater to the consumers of the newly imagined hobby format.

On Pinterest I have 102 boards mostly dedicated to art in some way or another. In the last 2 years the images I've collected are the most important artistic source I refer to when designing textiles, adornments, digital art and my mixed media art canvases. A lot of the pleasure of collecting images this way is being able to follow the link back to the source. In this way I've read many interesting blogs and joined a number.

A few days ago I came across the image shown below and tracked the source back to a young american artist that I'd been vaguely aware of; Jane DesRosiers - or she recently changed her name to Jane Spakowsky (got married probably?....aaiiieee! why do women still want to adopt their spouse name...???...surely a horrible patriarchal tradition best ditched with distaste) It's no wonder Janes art has great appeal to me...our preoccupations are the same (romantic images of women) executed with quite similiar aesthetic.


Jane has 3 art classes she offers as tutorials for US$25 ea and I signed up for her class "Beyond Skin Deep"  (follow link to her Open Studio group if you want to check out her classes) 

The class includes 2 hours of edited video with commentary while she creates the beautiful artwork above, called "Dear Isis", starting from the blank sheet of paper. It's really well done and I enjoyed the class immensely. It achieved it's purpose and inspired me to want to spend a little time going back to making some fine art. Last night I created this digital image I'll use as the basis to make into a canvas utilising some of Janes techniques.

I call this picture "Dreams of moonflowers"

....however!!! I've made a resolution to finish and publish the 2 clothing designs I've been working on, before I'll reward myself with this little divergence.

Hope everybody is enjoying getting prepared for Christmas Day 

digital image for basis of future mixed media canvas Dreams of Moonflowers. Pearl Red Moon 2016

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

brain farts, scum et al

re blog post yesterday - why did I say that? – that I was bullied in a workplace nearly a decade ago (in truth I have been bullied in 99% of them)

On this blog I rarely mention my “private” life. Apart from my art I don’t think or do much that anybody would find interesting. There are some bloggers, like Eden Riley, who write absolutely amazing stuff about their lives, emotions, world view and kudos to them.

Generally I only feel comfortable talking about my garden, textile art and the things I make.
One of the characteristics of people with Aspergers is that we have difficulty communicating (or so the NTs maintain) Its not that we don’t have feelings, thoughts and experiences that are compelling, it seems to be more about not sharing a language with the neurologically typical that we both understand (actually I often think that NTs simply create the delusion that others are empathising with them…heh, but not going there today)

Being in workplaces can be a daily nightmare for Aspies. Each and every one has its own culture and peculiarities that is the result of the chemistry brewed up by the specific participants in that environment. While its hard enough to negotiate your way in general society then there these unique microcosms that you also need to succeed in. All these organisations pretend to have rules, policies, procedures, ethics, blah-de-blah ,or some other fancy label that somebody in management got paid a lot of money to cogitate up out of their wildest imagination… supposedly defining what you do and how to interact with others in the workplace.

For a great deal of my life I was confounded to find that not a single workplace ever, ever operated like that. Some of them were gobsmackingly blatantly operating in contradiction to their fancy pants declarations. It was only as I got older and wiser, and as the elasticity of the brain stretched to accommodate my real life experiences that I realised such expectations are a very literal and naive Aspergers construct of the world. As scum rises to the top, workplace cultures will rule and they are fashioned by the dominant personalities to suit their own agendas, egos and world view.

Workplaces aren’t about people labouring together to achieve “specified outcomes” (nice bit of selected management drivel); people get paid to turn up to engage in group rituals. Nobody would turn up if they didn’t get paid….would you choose to? When you go to work you do the tasks that are assigned because you get paid for it. Would you do those tasks if no one asked you and weren’t being paid for it?

Perhaps NTs will think – duhhh!!??? well yeah so what! – but it really took me 30 years to work this out…

I won’t do it anymore – go to work and participate in meaningless rituals at the behest of the scum. It has made me literally sick – depressed, psychicly wounded, suicidal. Its just the logical outcome of doing meaningless activity and being the pawns of scum.

I’m trying to “monetise” the work I do now.  In reality(?) my creative enterprises aren’t succeeding on a financial level. Without the emotional and financial support of my husband I would have had to stop years ago. I’m so immensely grateful to him that he values my happiness above requiring me to be in a damaging environment for the sake of the money earned.

I felt I owed an explanation for my unusual blog yesterday. The place name “Port Stephens” pushed buttons and I had a brain fart. Now I look forward to getting back to doing my art and blogging about that.

Monday, 5 December 2016


Nicky Elliot, who is the creative genius that made "Pearl Red Moon" will be having a radio interview at Port Stephens today.

She sent me this:

More great publicity for Createability film 'Pearl Red Moon' today. I'll be chatting live with Bob McKay on Port Stephens FM 100.9, at 11am.

Tune in here

Pearl Moon Northern Rivers Screenworks Pete Delahunty #createability Anthony Scully Catherine Marciniak

Unfortunately my memories of living at Port Stephens are marred by my devastatingly awful experience of working for the Port Stephen Council and I sent this to Nicky in response....

Hi Nicky
remember I used to live at Port Stephens?....many years in fact, about 3 years at Mallabula and 5 years at Soldiers Point. I was a cleaner for the Port Stephens Council, cleaning cabins in their holiday parks. Those bastards in management bullied me so badly (because I was annoyingly pedantic about doing the job properly and sick of always covering for the lazy, incompetent male cleaners....) that I tried to commit suicide in 2007 after being ferociously screamed at by a Park Manager at work on Christmas Day. His name is Steve Paul and he was/is? a notorious bully who caused many workers to live in despair and leave their jobs. An absolute arsewipe. Many more unhappy memories about Port Stephens....may it sink into the ocean with the weight of all the holiday tourists, heh...

wear a  life jacket today, just in case I have more power in the world than I think...
all the best to you!