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Altered Tribe

Hello everyone.  I hope you are well and enjoying the Spring or Autumn weather (whichever applies to you!).  My thoughts and prayers go out to all those suffering in the midst of the hurricanes and whatnot that are happening right now.  Dreadful business.  I keep thinking about all the animals that will be lost and frightened (and of course the people who are in the same situation).  So many terrorist incidents everywhere too.  The world is just not a safe place any more.  I sometimes think human beings are the least human beings of all.

Which brings me to my current arty obsession which is taking over my craft room (and life).  I am still making lots of collages, but now a few of them are featuring characters from what I like to call my “Altered Tribe”.  Part human, part animal or bird (or a combination of all three!), these “people” are a bit of an homage to Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up routine, where he said “To hell with the world, I can make my own people!” (when talking about becoming a parent).  Well, sort of.  Mostly, they’re just an indication of how much I like to cut stuff out (and usually give myself a headache in the process because I seem to always be cutting out teeny tiny fiddly bits).

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I like to add wings to everything (you may have noticed this before) and antlers are also something I love.  Who doesn’t love antlers???  They make things more magical and mythical somehow.  Pop a pretty vintage lady’s head on a bird’s body and bung some antlers on and – hey presto! – you’re making your own people!  I’m particularly fond of birds of prey – those big feet and talons are lovely – but wrens or robins, ducks or doves make me just as happy.

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It can be tricky matching the right head with the right body etc.  If they head isn’t angled in the right way, it can throw the whole thing off.  So I spend ages going through my collage files to find just the right pieces to go together.  Cue more headaches.  I recently bought some nice old children’s books to cut up – they have lots of wonderful illustrations of all sorts of animals, birds and children.

So, I have lots of works-in-progress happening right now.  I try and do lots of prep in the evenings so I can accomplish more on the weekends.  I don’t want to waste too much time base-coating or fiddling about looking for pieces when I am in creation mode.  I just want to get stuck in and make stuff.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made these creatures – they’ve popped up every now and then in my cards and collages over the years.  But right now I am really enjoying bringing them into being and am loving sourcing new body parts!  Gives me another excuse to trawl through op-shops and find more old books 🙂  I’m also trying to branch out into other critters – hares and horses and dogs, to name a few.  There’s really no limit to what can be utilised and put together.  So expect to see a few donkey-rabbit-fish hybrids!

What would your “tribe” look like?
🙂

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Earn Your Stripes (Collage)

Wasn’t too sure about this one.  Possibly because I was working on it at midnight and was half asleep.  It’s only a little collage – another 4 x 4 ” box canvas – but had lots of bits and pieces plus the lettering, which went a bit off course and smudged in places (a bit like me at midnight – wonky and smudgy!).  I was watching Wife Swap for some unknown reason and there was a crazy religious lady who kept screaming “She’s not a Christian – aaaghghghghgghg!!!” in a voice that suggested she was, in fact, in dire need of an exorcist herself.  This may have caused me to craft a bit haphazardly.  Who knows?  I was just determined to get it done and worry it about it in the morning.  This is my new plan – just get it done and stop procrastinating!!!

And, if all else fails, stick a flower or a hat or some wings on it!

Hope you are all well and that life is being kind.

🙂

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Bandy-Cute

Hello, everyone 🙂  I meant to post this a few weeks back but got sidetracked… My Mum turned 70 in November and she had several little get-togethers to celebrate.  On the Sunday afternoon, we met my brother and his family for afternoon tea at a large garden nursery, which also has a delightful cafe and children’s playground.  It’s a very popular spot and can get very busy so we were lucky to get a table for all of us in a nice sunny spot.

As we drank our tea and baby-cinos (obligatory for the four munchkins) and scoffed cake, we were joined by another guest – a Southern Brown Bandicoot  (or Quenda).  These little guys are normally quite shy and tend to come out at dusk, to forage.  Our visitor is was well known to nursery staff, apparently making guest appearances on a regular basis, in order to pick up any table scraps and crumbs left by lunching customers.

img_4257He (I’m going with “he” for now) was happy to wander around our table, under our feet and chairs, and wasn’t the least bit disturbed by the children or my attempts to take photos of him.  I even got to stroke him, which he didn’t seem to mind at all.

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He was wiry to the touch, and very solid (he eats well :)) and about the size of a small cat (with albeit shorter legs).  Bandicoots have long claws, used for digging out underground food items (they are omnivores and will eat insects, fruit, lizards, seeds, mice – pretty much anything they can get their paws on!) and are marsupials (meaning they have a pouch that they carry their babies in).  They live alone, rather than in social groups, and have a running style described as a “gallop” rather than a hop or a scurry.

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We were delighted to have his company and hope to see him again if we visit the nursery. It’s so nice to see wildlife, of any kind, and I’m always very grateful to be able to experience them close up and in a non-captive way.  I guess these little guys are learning to adapt to being part of our community and losing some of their shy ways.  Survival is survival, after all.  I just hope that this particular fellow is healthy and protected and doesn’t come to any harm, being around human beings so much.  He seemed happy enough though – very fat and not stressed at all.  He’s probably living the dream and wondering why other bandicoots are bothering to hunt for their own food in the bush.  As his “people” are solitary creatures, it’s unlikely he’s going to let anyone else in on the action.  This territory is his and his alone!

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Have you had any close encounters with a wild critter lately?  I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Thanks for stopping by x

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Critter-Sittin’

This weekend I took some time out of my box-packing schedule to house-sit for my Aunt and Uncle.  They’ve both been dreadfully unwell the last couple of years and my poor cousin has been run ragged looking after them and making sure they’re ok.  She lives several hundred kilometres away so she is forever travelling to and fro to take them to medical appointments and make sure they’re looked after etc.  Every week she drives over 300km both ways to stay with them.  It’s been a very stressful time for all concerned.

Anyway, my cousin decided it would do everyone some good if she arranged a little weekend getaway, now that my Aunt and Uncle were well enough to travel.  My Aunt, though elderly and not in very good health at all, is a very outgoing lady and not one for sitting around doing nothing.  After a long period of recovery from a very serious illness she is pretty much going stir crazy, just being at home and having to “take it easy” all the time.  So a trip away, just for a couple of days, would be just what the doctor ordered.

My Mum and I happily agreed to house-sit for them.  Although I had SO MUCH packing and organising to do at home, it was actually a nice break from all that and gave me some much needed down time.  My Aunt and Uncle have three lovely furry family members – Heidi, a tricolour Rough Collie, Sox, a black and white moggie, and Fibber, a white pony – and so, of course, they were the main priority.  Heidi is an absolute delight – she is loving and gentle, but also fun and playful (she has the biggest box of toys I have ever seen!) and she is a great companion.  She’s pretty happy to just stay by your side most of the time and doesn’t ask for much, other than a few bouts of tug-o-war or “rub my belly”.

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Sox has always been a bit of a devil child – very wild and bad tempered – but she has mellowed a lot in the last couple of years and is now very placid and will give you a smooch if she’s in the right mood.  She makes me laugh because she actually asks to be put to bed at night.  Come 6pm and she meows and gets you to follow her to her “bedroom” (the laundry) where she has every mod-con available, including a cosy bed inside the linen cupboard.  She gets fed, you close the door, and that’s her done for the night.  In the morning, you let her out but she takes her time actually getting up and isn’t in any hurry to rise and shine.  She has the most amazing, upside-down, heart-shaped markings on her face/muzzle.  So pretty!  I’m glad she’s settled down too, because I don’t like to think of her being ill-mannered with my Aunt and Uncle.  She apparently even had a lap the other night with my Uncle, which was a first!

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Fibber is a gentle little pony with a nice temperament.  She unfortunately has laminitis , which is an inflammation of the soft tissue structures that attach the coffin or pedal bone of the foot to the hoof wall.  Very nasty, painful, and can be fatal.  Proper management is essential.  Fibber’s diet is very strict (over-feeding can often result in laminitis) and she is stabled in deep sawdust to give her a comfortable standing position.  Care of her hooves is obviously very important and she has a regular farrier who makes sure her tootsies are in tip-top condition.  She wears little covers over her hooves that help to protect the damaged parts and she is not lame or suffering at the moment.  She put up with my fumbling efforts at putting her covers on at night and whinnied at me across the paddock when I was bringing her food bucket.  Last night was quite stormy and so she was a bit nervous and jittery, but I managed to get her settled and comfy in her stable with her dinner and a warm coat.

She’s actually going to be moving down to the coast, to stay at my other cousin’s equestrian centre.  I think it will be good for her – she will have more company and my Aunt and Uncle will know she’s being cared for.  Her little stable has already been built – it’s really just waiting for when my Aunt and Uncle can bear to say Goodbye to her.  They themselves might be moving to be nearer to my cousin, so it won’t be Goodbye forever, and at least Fibber isn’t going to live with strangers and have an uncertain future.

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So, a nice, relaxing weekend, albeit with extra responsibilities (which I didn’t mind at all).  I am so looking forward to getting my own cats – I have missed being a “proper” animal person.  Having grown up with so many animals around me, I’ve felt like a bit of a fraud the last few years, not having any pets at all, due to renting and ex-hubby being allergic to cat and dog fur.  Be prepared for many, many posts about cats and all things feline-related in the future!  You have been warned! 🙂

I hope my cousin, Aunt and Uncle had a lovely time away.  They’ve all had a rotten couple of years, health-wise, and I know my cousin is really struggling to keep everything together (why does one sibling always carry all the responsibilities?).  I’m glad I could help out, even just for a short time and I hope it gave them a much needed, well deserved break, and some respite from worrying about their health and life in general.

Have a happy day, everyone.  Take care of your four-footed family and friends 🙂

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Blogging Challenge – Day Four : Your Dream Job

Apologies for lack of crafting posts… I’m packing up my house and unfortunately, crafty times are just not a-happenin’ at the moment…Bear with me x

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Ah, dream jobs…so named because they are, in fact, just dreams, for most of us.  As I have mentioned before, I’ve never known what I wanted to do when I “grow up”.  Now, in my forties, it seems a little redundant to start trying to figure it out.  But I still do try.  I read books on discovering your passion and take online quizzes about “finding your true calling” and all that nonsense.  Really, I just want someone to tell me what to do.  Give me some clue as to what I could do that would a.) bring me happiness and fulfillment, and b.) not leave me broke and living in a ditch or at my Mother’s.

I always wanted to be a writer, as a child, and I still have romantic notions about that happening.  But I have yet to write even one chapter of a book and I don’t even know what to write about.  I could write the story of a very boring girl who doesn’t have many life experiences, but I’m not sure who would want to read it.

So, grand writing career aside, I haven’t many other ambitions.  Most of this is due to a lack of bravery on my part.  I think about different careers but then talk myself out of them because they’re too risky (not enough employment opportunities), too underpaid (I have to live, after all), too stressful (I don’t do stress) or too something (basically I make lots of excuses).  Often, it’s just that I think I wouldn’t be able to do it, or I would do it so badly that somebody would die or lose their home or hold me forever responsible for a lifetime of woe and disappointment, and everybody would hate me.

The other side of it is that I really don’t know what fires me up.  Ask me what I enjoy doing and I will have trouble telling you.  Most of the time I just try and get through the day without falling over or having some sort of accident or getting fired.  I don’t know what I would like to do, if I had the choice, as a long term job.

But, dream jobs are not necessarily based on reality so, if I was going to just brain storm this for a while, here’s a few things I would like to be paid to do :

  1. Have my own doggy day care centre.  I mean, come on…playing with dogs all day, getting to watch their crazy antics and enjoying wuppet cuddles, licks and romps?  What’s not to love?
  2. Animal Massage Therapist.  I heard about this once.  It sounded ideal.  Getting to ease the pain of animals and make them feel better?  Awesome.
  3. Full time card maker.  I could actually do this, if I charged about $45 each for my cards.  As it stands, my prices are not nearly high enough to keep me solvent.
  4. Greeting card sentiment writer.  I used to love Mr Bickley’s job on Mork and Mindy.  You know, the grumpy old dude who lived in the apartment above M & M?  He used to write the verses and words that went in greeting cards.  What a cool job!  I would write sassy, humorous things.  Not all that generic greeting card nonsense you normally get.  But maybe some sappy stuff too, because people seem to like that.
  5. Working with baby sloths.  I don’t care what I’m doing – I will change their nappies or feed them or clip their toenails or read them bedtime stories.  I’ll do anything!  It’s baby sloths!  They’re so darned cute!
  6. Kelly Rae Roberts’ job.  Basically I want to make pretty things that people love and that make people smile.  I want to wake up one day and suddenly have talent I never knew I possessed.  I want to be brave enough to believe I have something to offer and that the world will want that offering.  And buy it.
  7. Cheese taster.  I don’t know if that’s an actual job, but it should be.  I would be excellent at it.  Fat, but excellent.
  8. Ice Cream Flavour Creator.  I seem to be on a food-themed slant here… I would like to ride a bicycle through picturesque villages, dreaming up taste sensations.  Lots of Butterscotch and Pistachio.  An ice cream Willy Wonka, if you will.  And my bicycle would have a little bell and one of those baskets with flowers on.  I might wear a beret and lots of gingham.
  9. Songwriter.  I think being a pop star would be scary and annoying.  But writing songs for pop stars would be ace.
  10. Radio DJ.  Playing music all day and sitting in a little box, not being bothered by other people?  Heaven.  I have a terrible, Minnie Mouse kind of voice though – I don’t know that anyone would want to listen to that.

So, there’s a few jobs I would like to have.  Apparently, if I could combine food, animals, music and art, I would be very happy.  If you know of such a job, let me know.  I will apply immediately.  I have references 🙂

🙂

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Magazine Scrap Cards

Over the last week I have been, among other things, house and dog sitting for a friend.  It’s always hard to do crafting at someone else’s house; you don’t have your stuff there (or enough of it) and it’s not your usual space/routine/cup-of-tea-making-area.  Plus I had two very boisterous dogs to attend to, who did not particularly like me sitting there quietly, ignoring them. At one point, a dog toy came hurtling at me across the table – talk about dropping not-so-subtle hints!

I decided to just bring a very small amount of crafting supplies with me – just glue, scissors, card blanks and mounting tape, plus some old magazines.  I wanted to make some very simple cards for my own personal use and didn’t want to spend too much time agonising over their design.  I went through my magazines (in this instance I used old Frankie magazines – they have that lovely matt-finish paper and lots of pretty images and patterns) and cut out pictures and background designs, text and phrases.

I glued some images to card and cut them out, so I could make them stand out a bit more when mounted on the backing card.  I worked quickly and non-fussily.  It was actually really good fun and freeing – no pressure to make something sale-worthy and I just made designs that I liked myself.  It was easy to make some very cute cards in a short space of time, with limited supplies. It was a great exercise in “just doing”.

First up, a slightly spooky looking deer…

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…and an imperfect gentleman…

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…some good-looking ladies…

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…and a squirrel ready to party (I particularly like his fez!)

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So, just a simple exercise in making do with what you have and creating for the sake of creating, and enjoying some free arty time. Give it a go next time you’re feeling overwhelmed (possibly by your own craft supplies!) or needing to just try something new and simple and satisfying.  It can be a great way to refocus and get back to your self.

Have a lovely week, everyone x

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Gecko

Had a death in the house this week… This tiny little gecko decided to meet his maker, under a pile of my crafting supplies (which I am sure will be my fate someday).  So sad.  I had seen him earlier in the week and had desperately tried to catch him (which also involved me having a conversation with him whereby I tried to convince him he should come out so I could take him outside) but he had disappeared into my book shelves.  Then, when I was clearing up on Sunday, I found his little corpse in between some sheets of scrapbooking paper  😦

Look at his tiny little toes!  Those pretty, gem-like and almost metallic eyes!  The patterns in his skin!  So sweet.  I don’t think he was long gone…his body was still soft and pliant.  I’m glad I didn’t squish him – he wasn’t flattened or anything like that.  Just looked like he was sleeping really.  He may have just gotten dehydrated, stuck in my house, or maybe he was already sickly.  But he’s so tiny!  And perfect!

Apparently geckos are nocturnal and eat insects.  That’s about all I know.  Other than them being cute.  I did have a much larger one in my shed a while back and he scared the living daylights out of me.  He leapt off the wall as I opened the door and basically flung his tail at me.  Which was a bit horrifying.  I (again) was having a conversation with a reptile – “Please keep your tail!  I don’t want to eat you!”- but to no avail.  His tail wriggled and flipped for ages by itself as he ran off into the undergrowth.  Icky!

I’m not sure what kind of gecko this one is.  I guess he’s just some sort of common house gecko.  Let’s go with that.  He wasn’t wearing a name tag.  You can look at some other kinds HERE if you’re in to that sort of thing.

I’ve kept him for now, as my brother sometimes does resin art and uses, ahem, dead things.  But, besides that, he (the gecko) seems too lovely to get rid of.  I’ll bury him if nothing else.  He deserves that, and will go into the earth or be dinner for other critters.

RIP little dude x

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