Saturday, 31 December 2011

New year, new adventures

Something very exciting is happening in 2012. I am departing the public service, moving cities, and starting a Bachelor of Textile Design! Textile design is about designing the appearance and texture of fabrics used in everything from clothing, home furnishings, wallpaper and car interiors to packaging.

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to my change of career. Although the prospect of having little to no income is a bit terrifying, I am really happy about the decision I've made. In fact, you can't wipe the smile off my face at the moment.

A lot of people look at a change of career as going back to the start again. Regressing to a confused 17 year old staring into a dim and uncertain future. But we are the sum of all our experiences. We all take the knowledge and skills we have into any course or career that we choose. I'll be a wiser student, milking every drop from every class. And I'll bring my skills to my new job, those that you need everywhere, like managing people and managing projects.

If you're thinking about a change of career, I'd encourage you to take it seriously. Take some time - I took a year - and think about all your options. The experts say your career should align with your values in life, so you might want to start thinking about that too. And talk to a career counsellor! I have found them very helpful.

So here's to a new year, new career. May it be filled with excitement, adventure, and lots of creativity!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas time

Christmas is a great time for trying out your creative ideas... home-made crafty Christmas gifts, and crafty recycled Christmas wrapping!

Check out Dorothy Yuki's blog for some great ideas for how to repurpose items for very stylish wrapping.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

My favourite things

At the moment I'm mostly trying to not buy anything new, aside from essentials. This is partly to save money, and partly because I like going to second-hand shops and op-shops to see what things already in existence take my fancy.

But every so often I buy something new. And these two things above seized my eye because I found them so beautiful. They are four aqua resin beads (from the Bead Shop) and a ball of exquisite green Italian cotton (from Stitch 'n Time).

In particular, I loved the colours. I must be going through a green phase at the moment because I felt drawn to these two items. I'm not even sure what I will do with them at this stage. Just looking at them makes me happy!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bright young things

There's nowhere better to get new ideas and inspirations for all things artistic and creative, than turning to students. I love going to student art shows. And this time of year is the best time to see one. I'm going to recommend two: the Twentyseven exhibition by twenty seven textile artists from RMIT in Melbourne, and the ANU School of Art Graduating Exhibition. Some images from the two exhibitions are above and below. Go! And be inspired.

**Photos in this post are from the ANU School of Art website and the Twentyseven exhibition website**

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Hifi and lofi

What's better? The latest sophisticated technology packaged in a fancy digital SLR, or a $30 plastic medium-format film camera?

Tough choice, I know.

I'm going to go with the $30 camera, even though it came in a cardboard box labelled 'toy camera'. Why? Because old school, lofi film cameras are cool. Film cameras are what digital are based on - the photo proportions, the ISO, the film speed, the white balance... everything is based on what film does. And the 'accidents' created by film - accidental overexposure, yellowing due to age, light leaks, all of these fantastic effects are what is copied now by digital cameras. Your hipstamatic app is just a pale imitation of the beautiful, unique images you can get on a film camera. And the best thing about film? Every shot is unique. You can't recreate it. And if you develop it in a darkroom (I know, I'm getting really old school here), every print you make is a one-off.

Now that's what I call creative.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Last chance to book into December workshop

It's your last chance to book into simoneandginko's upcycled jewelry workshop on 1 December. It will be held at the Artists Shed in Queanbeyan, only 15 minutes from Canberra civic centre and 5 minutes past the airport. 

We'll provide the materials and guidance to help you create beautiful pieces of contemporary jewelry.

Date: Thursday 1 December 2011
Times: 6-9pm 

Location: the Artists Shed, 14 Foster Street Queanbeyan
Cost: $40 (includes all materials)
Bring: jewelry and beads that you would like to up-cycle

If you'd like to enrol in the class, contact us beforehand and bring your course fee to the workshop. See you there!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Washington: museum city (but in a good way)

I'm not usually a museum person. There's the people who poke around museums endlessly on their travels, and there's the ones who soak up the atmosphere outside. I am usually the second kind. I'm not even a national monument person, and I don't get excited about West-Wing style politics. So when it looked like Washington DC would be a stop on my whirlwind tour of the US, mainly due to my return flight to Australia, I wondered exactly what I would do there.

To my unexpected delight, I really loved the museums in Washington. For one, they are amazingly well-funded and well set up. They have fantastic exhibits. And they are free.

The Hirschhorn Museum has a wonderful collection of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Museum of American Art and Portrait Gallery has a great collection of folk art, and an amazing atrium in the centre of the building where one could (and perhaps did) spend hours just hanging out with a book.

The world-famous Natural History Museum has its mammoth, and stuffed lions and tigers, but also a fantastic exhibition on race - a very topical issue for Americans - that was curated by the American Anthropological Association. The Air and Space Museum has its fair share of planes and other craft suspended from its ceiling.

The American Indian Museum is probably my favourite. It has remarkable exhibits on native American arts and crafts, as well as exhibits exploring native American identity and contemporary culture, plus a great gift shop and a very tasty cafe with all native foods. Yum.

Suffice to say I was a complete convert to museums, at least the ones in Washington. Amazing, inspiring, and a great way to end my stay in the US.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

New simoneandginko workshop dates!

Do you have jewelry you no longer wear? Do you have broken necklaces, or a collection of beads you love but don't know what to do with? Did your grandmother leave you some gorgeous beads that you'd love to make into something for you to wear?

Good news! simoneandginko is running two upcycled jewelry workshops in November and December. They'll be held at the Artists Shed in Queanbeyan, only 15 minutes from Canberra civic centre and 5 minutes past the airport. We'll provide the materials and guidance to help you create beautiful pieces of contemporary jewelry.

Dates: Thursday 3 November or Thursday 1 December
Times: 6-9pm 
Location: the Artists Shed, 14 Foster Street Queanbeyan
Cost: $40 (includes all materials)
Bring: jewelry and beads that you would like to up-cycle

If you'd like to enrol in the class, contact us.

We look forward to seeing you there!

New York? Schmoo York...

Sorry everyone, but I really was a bit disappointed in New York. I know, it is amazing and enormous and blah blah blah, but I think everyone, me included, talked it up just a teensy little bit. So when I finally arrived in this city of great promise, it fell a little short for me. It didn't help that I was sick for three of the six days I was there...

Lest you think this is just a blog of complaints, I did do some fun things in New York. One of them was to attend a short course in extraordinary embroidery at 3rd Ward, a very cool warehouse space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that offers space for artists to rent, a range of short courses, a gallery and numerous events and other activities.

The course was run by Iviva Olenick, a wonderfully inspiring visual artist who creates clever and insightful commentaries on human relationships through her embroidery pieces.

And, in fact, I found that my art blossomed in the face of adversity. I created two pieces (one above, one below) that reflected my musings on the contrasts of New York, between the aspirational signs, billboards and big screen tvs I saw around me, and the realities of a tough and sometimes exhausting life in a big city.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Resin in Canberra!

Last Saturday heralded our very first resin jewellery workshop in Canberra, courtesy of Bqueen with enthusiastic support from simoneandginko. On a beautiful sunny afternoon, at the Belconnen Arts Centre, overlooking the lovely Lake Gininderra, Canberrans created gorgeous bangles and rings in all the colours of the rainbow.

We learnt a lot from our tutor Bron, including the important safety issues when working with resin, but also how to create beautiful contemporary jewellery.

It's great to have such an exciting new workshop happening in Canberra. And simoneandginko will be running the next three workshops! They will be on Saturday 5 and 26 November, and 10 December, at the Belconnen Arts Centre. Details of how to book are at Bqueen or Belconnen Arts Centre. We hope to see you there!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Denver: Mountain high

Colorado is gorgeous.

If you catch my slightly incredulous tone, it's because no one ever told me that. In fact, most guide books seem to dedicate about four pages total to the parts of Colorado (Denver, Boulder, and the Rocky Mountains National Park) that I visited. Maybe it is just a really well-kept secret. In any case, I'm really glad I decided to visit my friends in Denver as part of my US trip and discover this really lovely place.

I spent my first day in Colorado wandering the rather quaint streets of Boulder, a red-brick university town, and admiring the flatirons - a series of steep granite outcrops that the sporty people of Boulder like to rock-climb (when they're not mountain-biking up sharp inclines).

(scenery near Boulder)

We'd made plans to hike in the Rocky Mountains National Park the next day, but the weather forecast didn't look great - cold weather and possible rain. We kept our fingers crossed, put on a couple of extra layers and headed out the next morning. The sky was grey and as we got closer to the mountains, a low-lying fog prevented me from seeing all but the lower peaks.

The air was cold and crisp as we exited the car and started walking on the trail to Bear Lake.

As we climbed higher and higher, the scenery became more enveloped in fog. We would pause at scenic spots, where my friends would assure me, regretfully, that 'if it wasn't for the fog, this would be an amazing view of granite peaks'.

I assured my friends that I didn't mind. The pines and fir trees, coupled with the lakes and fog, had me enchanted. In fact, some of the scenery reminded me of the haunting images captured by Swedish photographer, Denise Grunstein. You don't get this kind of scenery in Australia, and so on some level I didn't really think it existed until I saw it with my own eyes.

I don't feel that my photos have done the scenery justification, but I can assure you that it was beautiful. And while I haven't now decided to become a landscape artist, I loved the ideas that this scenery inspired. I hope they inspire you as well. At the very least, visit Colorado! It's gorgeous.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

San Francisco: Everything old is new again

The funny thing I found about San Francisco was that it seemed to be stuck in the sixties. Lots of friendly people, lefty politics, psychadelic artwork, and drug-addled homeless. It makes sense I guess - the sixties was a big deal for San Francisco, when little towns like Canberra were barely smudges on the landscape.

One fun and inspirational thing that I did in San Francisco was to enrol in a workshop at SCRAP. SCRAP is a big warehouse that sources end of line products and scraps from factories and other sources, then sells or gives them away, mostly to schools for art and craft projects.

The workshop I did was called 'from the free section', referring to part of the store where everything is free. The idea of the workshop was to use these miscellaneous products to make beautiful and useful things. To make treasure from trash, to make old things new and shiny.

One of my favourites was making little notepads using paint sample strips. They were just the right length to wrap around a small pile of paper, and stapled at the end to hold it all together. For an added innovation, a notch in the top of the fold created a pencil holder. Pretty clever! Looks stylish too (see below).

Other items we made included paper photoframes (top right in the photo), bound photo albums with paddle-pop sticks (I guess they call these popsicle sticks?) and a rubber band, and for the most beautiful and complicated item, we reused pages of old calendars to make beautiful Japanese origami wreaths (below).

All this with the aid of our helpful and inspirational teacher, Monica Lee. Monica is really clever at seeing the potential in items that we can too easily throw away. Things like pretty postcards or nice wrapping paper that we just don't know what to do with anymore.

So I guess the biggest thing I took away from the course was not the items itself (although the three that I managed to bring back to Australia are fabulous), but more the skills and ideas to see inspiration in scrap. Thanks Monica!

PS: If you want to know more about places like SCRAP, Australia has a few reverse garbage warehouses in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Or you could start your own!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Los Angeles: Lofty heights

So some of you may be aware that I was just in the USA for three weeks on holiday... I intend the next few weeks to be filled with posts about the inspiring ideas I had on my trip.

In Los Angeles I was overawed by the ambitions of architects with grand visions and seemingly unlimited budgets. In the midst of this sprawling city, awash with dry heat, stood various buildings so extraordinary, enormous yet elegant, that I felt compelled to blog about them.

One of my favourite buildings was the Getty Center, perched high on a hill overlooking LA. Not one building but a series of buildings all intertwined, this center is a homage to geometry. To the glory of the grid, more specifically. Each panel on the buildings, each railing, even the distance between each tree, is measured according to a specific grid. The architect was Richard Meier, who listed Frank Lloyd Wright as one of his key influences.

I'm not exactly a grid person, myself. But in attending the architecture tour at the Getty Center, I was inspired by the vision of the architect and his ideas about order and disorder. For example, by laying the gardens out in an accurate grid, he was able to interchange plants and trees to create a sense of order in disorder. That for me is a wonderful creative insight that can be applied to craft and design in many other areas.

Other buildings I adored included the silvery curves of the Walt Disney Concert Hall (not a Mickey Mouse in sight, thank goodness), the LA County Museum of Art and for design of an earlier era, the Richard J Riordan Central Library and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

simoneandginko jewelry workshop!

Last Saturday a group of Canberrans gathered for the very first, official simoneandginko jewelry workshop. Participants spent two and a half hours disassembling, reimagining and reassembling their beads and other goodies. A fun time was had by all and some beautiful pieces were created. Included above and below are some of our favourites.

To find out more about the next simoneandginko upcycle jewelry workshop, contact us! Or we could help you to host your very own upcycle jewelry workshop for your friends.


Monday, 29 August 2011

Why collaborate?

I find my best creative ideas come when I interact with others. Creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is about bouncing ideas about with your creative friends, getting inspired by something completely unrelated that you can just see will help your idea with something else. Like the colour and texture of a dying Singapore orchid - what a great fabric idea for a dress!

I'm going to give myself a big dose of creative collaboration. On Saturday I'm off for three weeks of travel through the USA, and I can't wait. While the States has created a lot of stuff (pertaining to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch of my last post) the country is also stuffed full of wonderfully creative, innovative people with great ideas of how to collaborate creatively.

One place I'm really excited about going to is 3rd Ward in Brooklyn, New York. They have a big warehouse space with spots for artists and artisans to rent, great woodworking facilities and lots of courses. They also have exhibitions and provide a real hub for artsy New York folk to get together and collaborate. Another place is SCRAP in San Francisco, which sources waste materials and end products from factories and companies and sells them cheaply for reuse in creative projects. They also run courses and programs for schools.

I'll certainly blog more about my finds once I'm back. And I haven't forgotten to blog about my recent simoneandginko jewelry workshop, which was a great success! As soon as I get my photos together I will get you up to date with all my news.


(Photos are from SCRAP and 3rd Ward)