July 31, 2008

Back In New Zealand

The rain is tapping on the roof and I am dressed in 2 layers of fleece and heavy socks, reminding me what a different world I have been transported into from the one I just left. It is chilly here, brrr. I am considering sewing up a faux fur toilet seat cover. I think my tanned face and highlighted hair looks a bit out of place in the mirror. The thought of drinking an ice cold soda is so very unappealing.

Our house in Christchurch does not have central heat, so I have to devise ways of heating the spaces I use the most. Luckily the upstairs living area is relatively small and can be closed off from the rest of the house by a sliding door. I also am keeping the bedroom warm (not too warm, just taking the chill off basically). The bathroom has it's own wall heater so I can heat that up quickly whenever I need it.

How chilly is it today? Well it's 10 celcius. That is 50 degrees F. Well that's not THAT cold for goodness sake. I need to toughen up.

So, artistically I am a little on hold until I properly transition myself to being back here in Christchurch. A lot of my stuff is en route in boxes.

In the meantime, I came across this artist, Rex Ray who does some really amazing art using simple shapes and fantastic colors. His large format paintings are amazing. I loved this clip because he talks about how he started into collage by just cutting up magazines. He did a collage a day for a whole year I think. The only point of it was as an exercise; for fun and not to judge the work or TRY to create an artwork out of it. I really like that idea.

Click here for the YouTube clip from Rex Ray.

July 21, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Copic

Okay, so I did it. I bought some Copic markers. What a splurge. But in my defense, I think they are exceedingly useful, valuable, and necessary artists tools to have around. And I got a really good price on them.

Copic markers are the creme de la creme of artists markers. Manga artists use them to get vivid colors, even toning and amazing shading results in their illustrations. They are a lifetime investment as they are refillable and the tips are replaceable. So I feel I have made a good choice. Immediately after bringing my babies home, I sat down and did these illustrations.
That is in order...an Emperor penguin and a Scott Tent.

I haven't actually sat down to draw something in a long time so it is such a relief to know I can still do it. I used photographs for my source material, so I didn't draw this stuff from total memory -- that WOULD be amazing.

These markers make me feel such joy. Even just looking at them sitting in their little box on the table...all lined up like little Soldiers of Creativity. I remember feeling a similar way when I got my first box of Prisma Pencils when I was about 12. I still have that box of pencils and they still work as good as when I first got them. Some of the pencils are getting a bit stubby though.

I am now on my last week here in Southern California. It has been a wonderful visit and I feel I have grown in amazing ways. Creatively I have learned a myriad of new crafts and skills, I have acquired some wonderful tools to use and I feel I have become more in tune with myself and with my spirituality. I feel a sense of excitement for the future.

Now I return to New Zealand, swapping the hot, dry summer weather here for what is sure to be cold and damp conditions in Christchurch. It also looks like I will be returning to McMurdo Station for a short contract in the Finance office starting early September. Well, I don't actually have my contract yet...waiting for that, but I imagine it is forthcoming. I can't wait to see my adorable husband, Anthony, again. We have been apart since February -- it will be 7 whole months before we are together again.

The International Antarctic Film Festival*

Speaking of Anthony, he is arranging an Antarctic film competition in August, starting with a 48-hour film contest and following a week later with a international film festival at which all films will be shown and voted on.

For the 48-hour contest, aspiring film makers are given several random objects, sounds and a speaking line that they must use in their film. The films are shot fast and dirty and edited the same way, since they have to be completed within 2 days. They are short; being only 5 minutes or less in length and are all shot in Antarctica.

This is not the first time he has done this, but the COOLEST thing about this year is that he sent invitations to all the other stations on the continent -- to Australian, Italian, German, British bases, etc. and many of them have shown their intent to participate. So it truly will be an international event.

*we need to come up with a very cool name for this event and a similarly cool acronym. Eg: San Francisco's International Film Fest is called "SFIFF."

Parting Sketch

I drew this in my sketchbook the other day and just thought it was kind of silly.

July 16, 2008

Fusing with Dichroic Glass

My Mom and I have recently done a couple of glass fusing sessions together in her small workshop. My Mom fuses dichroic glass to create one-of-a-kind jewelery items such as pendants and earrings. She sells them at the summer art and craft show in Laguna Beach, called 'Art-A-Fair.'

I am lucky to have been taught the 'tricks of the trade' by someone who knows them so well.

Here I am cutting and arranging tiny pieces of glass on the carbon kiln base. Notice how safe I am with my safety glasses! Raytheon has trained me well!

My Mom lets me pilfer through her 'scraps' -- tiny off-cuts of dichroic glass that I sift through, cut and layer onto bases of solid color regular glass. The dichroic glass is the stuff that gleams in all sorts of fantastic colors. It is an expensive kind of glass so it is nice to get these bits for free.

Here you can see a better photo of my Mom layering the glass into tiny squares. When the glass melts, the squares turn into round pieces.

Once the kiln base has been covered with layered pieces of glass, the kiln lid is placed on top and the kiln is slowly brought to a temperature of about 1500 to 1600 degrees F. At this temperature, the glass melts and all the layers fuse together. At that point, you tilt the kiln base top up to release some heat and 'flash cool' the glass to about 1200 degrees. You have to wear really big, thick leather gloves to do this because the heat coming from the kiln is so intense. This stops the glass melting process in its tracks. Then you turn off the kiln and wait for the glass to slowly to cool to about 100 degrees (before you can remove it from the kiln).

This is one of my batches of finished glass pieces.

A lot of these I will be using to embed into and embellish jewelery that I will be making, therefore I have made a lot of them into tiny dots.

Now it is less than two weeks before I return to my home in New Zealand. I am excited to get back to my house, but sad to leave my 'other' home here in Orange County where my family resides. I am busy packing and tying up loose ends. It's been a great visit.

July 03, 2008


Sometimes it is so easy to forget who we really are in the stress and hustle of every day life: we are utterly amazing, organic, thinking, breathing, living miracles.

I made this for a loved one who is having a hard time.

July 02, 2008

LA, New Art and Addiction

For those of you that are worried about the use of the word addiction in my blog title, I'll have you rest assured that it is only my addiction to Noro yarn that we are concerned about here. It's not life threatening (unless I hole up for the rest of my life, knitting, in a small dark cave foregoing proper nutrition and life's basic necessities for the thrill of 'just one more row'). I just can't get over the gorgeousness of this yarn.

Here is a pair of socks I am knitting using very tiny Noro Kureyon sock yarn (color: S95, 70% wool and 30% nylon). It is kinda expensive and the wool is not really that soft per se, but it's the colors that drive me nuts and they way they gradually transition into each other.

I seem to be stuck on that bright yellow-y green at the moment and that vibrant hot pink is just so yummy. The yarn I made my felted tote out of had similar colors and I just finished another hat in Malabrigo worsted yarn in 'Apple Green.' (I'll post that hat soon, but it's not quite done yet). I need to branch out on the color wheel a little.

This is the thinnest yarn I have ever tried. I love the effect. The top of the socks are a basic 3 x 2 rib with the slight 'twist' of using a subtle cable on every fourth row. These are going to be my socks -- my little treat to myself -- as I have been gifting a lot of my knitting lately.

By the way, fellow knitters, Malabrigo kettle-dyed merino wool yarn is amazing. It is made in a small factory in Uruguay, where each batch is hand dyed. The yarn is so amazingly soft, like baby chickens or maybe the inner area of a kitten's front leg, right above the paw.

I visited the Malabrigo website only to find that they had a fire which destroyed most of their stock (but not the factory thank goodness). They are recovering and have started production again. I have called three out of four yarn stores in the area and none of them have it. I got mine in Arizona when I was visiting there. So if you can get your hands on any, grab it!

Fun in L.A.

I spent the weekend with a high school friend of mine, Bob up in Echo Park where he has lived for years in a cute little apartment. Bob and I hadn't seen each other since high school, but around the holidays last year, he and his family traveled to New Zealand and we were able to meet up there and have a reunion. So now that I am so conveniently close in Orange County, it was great to be able to get together again.

We saw Werner Herzog's new film, "Encounters at the End of the World" that has now premiered in small art house theaters around Southern California. I had seen it before, in the galley at McMurdo Station last December. The fun thing about this film is I know most of the people in it. It's the first Antarctic film I've seen which really addresses the people and personalities of those that travel to the ice continent.

Bob and I also visited Griffith Observatory on Sunday. It just went through a 9.3 million dollar renovation which required lifting the entire building 6 inches on hydraulic jacks. Pretty amazing. They added a whole new area underground.

Apparently this whole front grassy area was excavated to get underneath the building, but now it looks as if nothing ever happened.

Here we are with a very heavy meteorite, down in the new underground section of the observatory.

A newly restored ceiling fresco in the observatory depicting the signs of the zodiac.

de la Torre Brothers -- amazing glass artists

This fantastic glass and found object artwork is hanging on the wall in Bob's apartment. It was created by his brother-in-law's two younger brothers, Jamex and Einar. Their website is very interesting if you get the chance to take a look.

The circular thing in the middle is a painted bicycle tire. Click on the images to get a closer look.

Finally, just had to share this photo of my Mom's cat Patchouli...or Choolie...or Choobacca...or Choozilla... finding a very deep interest in a rather large moth on the screen door.