Week 11: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, had great success at the North Shore Craft Group's Christmas sale last weekend. She wore the rust coloured felt dress that she made a few weeks ago, and she sold the red dress, the pink/purple dress, some scarves, some dreadlocks and also some of her felted Christmas baubles. She was very happy indeed with the result.


Telena spent an enjoyable day with her felting group this week, admiring new creations, chatting, planning a workshop for next year, and eventually getting on with some felting. She decided to experiment with texture, creating layers of fabric within the felting. She laid her fleece out over a length of black silk chiffon and wet it down, adding more silk pieces in differing colours and thicknesses. She manipulated them into ripples and pleats, and rolled the felt until the various fabrics were all attached. She then tied small glass pebbles into some areas of the collar to create a raised and gathered effect. She may also stitch into the felt to shape it even further later on.

Telena says that the technique she used is a type of Shibori, a Japanese form of tie-dying. There are many ways to stitch, bind, fold, twist or compress cloth for shibori, and different techniques can be used together to create even more elaborate results.

Telena plans to continue working on her piece this week, and she'll be unveiling the finished collar next week. In the meantime, she's included a photo of some small felt brooches that she's been using as closures on some of her garments.


In other news, the Christmas concert was a success. All Telena's student played well and the parents enjoyed her arrangement of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Telena is now the happy recipient of almost her weight in chocolate and wine. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has had a momentous week. Her house sold and she's been preparing for a big garage sale today - her least favourite activity in the entire world. She's had no time to be creative using her usual mediums, so she's put together some performance art instead. Recently, as she was wandering along taking photos, she found a life-size Barbie box in the middle of the road on a Sunday morning. Of course, the only thing to do under the circumstances was to stand in it. At six o'clock on a Sunday morning, what else could she do? So this week, Keryn is offering Sporty Barbie. She says, 'Believe me, I hate these photos of myself, but I'm desperate.' We've all had that feeling at one time or another when life gets between us and our creative deadlines. So please join me in giving Keryn a big round of applause for this creative effort. It's a funny, clever idea and a very cool creative contribution indeed.

Sporty Barbie

Sporty Barbie

Kanen Breen


Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been working on his costume for an upcoming Strange Bedfellows cabaret performance. He's had a huge week of Falstaff rehearsals in Melbourne, but the show opens tomorrow night so he's expecting to his life to settle down a bit after that, which is just as well because he says that he and Jacqui still have much to do cabaret-wise. The wicked, apparently, won't be resting.

They're in a lather on account of all the decisions that have to be made - what to wear in their show, how many costume changes to have, when to fit them in..let alone the arduous task of memorising all the lyrics.

Kanen made his life vaguely easier this week with a canny shoe purchase. The shoes are not a style he'd ever wear, but they look like slippers and that got his fingers twitching straight away. The price was right too - $10 down from $130 (where does he find these bargains?). The Strange Bedfellows show is called Under the Covers so Kanen's going for a raunchy pyjama-esque look, and these newly bedazzled slip-ons will fit the bill nicely. The gold paint is more subtle than Kanen would've liked, but it gives the slippers a kind of old-school antique look, offset by the flamboyance of the sequins and gold seed beads. His fingers are falling off from having to force a needle through the canvas, but what price fabulousness, he says. What price indeed.


Trish Urquhart


Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has had a busy week again, this time largely self-inflicted. She decided to make a start on some home decorating projects that will free up space for a guest room and also make their working space more comfortable. Expect to see photos and news of her decorating progress in coming weeks.

She did manage to spend some time whipping up masterpieces in her kitchen this week. Amongst other things, the dining table was laden with her delicious tarragon pesto of Week 8, whole roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce, a whole baby tomato tarte tatin, and a tarragon and ginger roast chicken.

From her garden, she's been picking (and eating) green beans, broad beans, lettuce, sugar snap peas, rocket and radishes.

For her creative contribution this week, Trish made a slightly unusual spanakopita, and I've posted her recipe at the bottom of this blog. I'm going to try this recipe for sure. I have all the same greens in my own garden. Visit Trish's blog to see more of her exciting food adventures.


Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and songwriter, Georgia Bennett, has had a mixed media week. She got creative with polymer early in the week, creating this cute little character. He's really quite adorable and I'm told his name is Geoffrey.


She's also recorded another original song for upload to her You Tube channel. She wrote this song a few weeks ago to capture some of her high school experiences. It all comes flooding back. Nice work, Georg.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been meaning to sort out his workbench for ages, to reduce clutter and make his essential tools easier to access. He decided this was the week to do something about it. The first thing he did was to build a vertical storage space to house his two long wooden planes and a pair of winding sticks. Once that was set up, he was able to get rid of all the clutter. He put up a piece of MDF with a little shelf and positioned all of his most regularly used hand tools into their own spot on the board. He's very happy with the result and finds it much easier to work efficiently and keep track of all his tools. He says he really needs to build a tool cabinet to mount on the wall, and maybe one day that will happen, but it's a rather involved job that requires a significant investment of time. Maybe after Christmas.


Scarlet Bennett

I've been working on a commission this week. My challenge was to make a couple of classic jewellery pieces for a grandmother to give to her two granddaughters for Christmas. The girls are twelve and fourteen years old and I wanted to make them pieces that they'll love now but also still wear throughout their adult lives - remembering how much their gran loved them long after she's gone.

I ruled rings out early because their fingers will grow a lot in the next few years. Bangles and earrings seemed a bit insubstantial, so I opted for classic necklaces with handcrafted pendants, and I'm delighted with how they turned out.

The youngest girl is a fiery customer - confident and energetic with a strong personality. She's a brunette with brown eyes and she wears a lot of black as well as other strong colours. I designed a bold piece for her - no soft tones for this go-getter - using carnelian (which looks more red in real life than it does in the photo) and black onyx. I used an antique patina on the silver to make the overall effect more dramatic.

Sterling silver, black onyx, carnelian.

Sterling silver, black onyx, carnelian.

The older girl is quiet, shy, intelligent and reserved. More inclined to stay in the background than push herself forward. She's blonde with brown eyes and she tends to wear soft colours. I wanted a gentle, romantic design for her - a signature piece that she wouldn't feel too conspicuous wearing. This led me straight to rose quartz, which I think is just the right stone for her. The heart centre piece is a special touch that I'm hoping she'll love.

Merry Christmas girls.

Sterling silver, rose quartz.

Sterling silver, rose quartz.

Trish's Spanakopita Recipe

Fry four finely chopped onions in olive oil until very soft. Add crushed garlic and 3 finely chopped lovage stalks. Fry gently until soft and tender. Add seasoning and finely shredded greens mix - I used Swiss chard, pak choi, lettuce and mustard greens.

When wilted  mix in 3 beaten eggs, a handful or two of crumbled feta cheese, two big handfuls of finely chopped herbs - I used the slightly risky combination of  sage and tarragon. Season well. And then I mixed in shards of shattered olive toffee. (Don't ask - the unfortunate result of an olive jam making experiment - I have vast quantities of this available which I feel I have to sneak into a wide variety of unexpected dishes) Assemble by layering four or five sheets of  phyllo pastry into a baking dish, brushing with olive oil as you go. Then add the 'spinach mix' and another four or five layers of phyllo. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, pine nuts and sesame seeds. Bake at 180 Celcius until golden brown and heated through.