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Creative Challenge Finale

Creative Challenge Finale

So...we've arrived at the end of our year long creative journey, and what a year it's been. Creating a significant piece every week is a big undertaking, so congratulations to the creative challenge team for a year of absolutely fabulous design and creation. Here's what we've made to celebrate our grand finale.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has completely finished refurbishing his century old camera, and he took her out yesterday for a test drive. She worked beautifully and was easy to carry around and use. He’s decided to call her Beatrice, and is looking forward to a long and meaningful relationship.

Camera refurbishment
Steve's old camera

The photos below are of Kama Nature Reserve and the Academy of Science at the ANU.

Kama Nature Reserve
Kama Nature Reserve

Georgia Bennett

The Lonely Road Georgia Bennett

Georgia Bennett recorded her first EP in July. It will be available for sale on iTunes shortly, but in the meantime here's a sneak preview of a couple of her songs. Georgia wrote all the songs on the album, and she recorded the guitar part and all the vocal parts as well. This is a huge achievement, and a brilliant result. Have a listen.

A few months ago, Georgia did a gig in Gold Creek dressed as the Black Widow from Captain America to support a local charity. One of the organisers liked her costume so much that she asked Georgia to model for a photo shoot to advertise a new cosplay event in Canberra that she's starting up. Georgia had a great time, and the photos are amazing.

Singer songwriter Georgia Bennett

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has made a wrap this week, inspired by the paving in the Spanish village at Balboa Park in San Diego. 

San Diego

She laid painters’ tape on a piece of brown silk chiffon and covered it with 2 layers of fleece. She then felted it and cut the fleece along the taped lines, felting a little more to seal the edges. She's very happy with the result and thinks it is a lovely reminder of her travels.

Telena's wrap and pullover

Telena has also managed to finish the pullover she's been knitting, with a little help from her furbaby, Hazel! She's already thinking about her next knitting project and has decided that she has OCKD….obsessive compulsive knitting disorder.

Telena has had some lichen stewing for the past few months in a concoction of water and ammonia. It needs exposure to sunlight to help the colour develop into a more purple hue before she can use it in a dye bath. She's glad it's lost the strong eye-watering smell it had when she first made it. 

Lichen eco-dyeing

Telena says she's really enjoyed the 52 week challenge - the excitement of creating new work and the challenge of trying new techniques. She plans to continue to challenge herself this way in the future. Good news.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has managed a quick trip home to Sydney this week, and it gave him a chance to create a fresh look for a lampshade he picked up from the gutter (where else?) using a scrap of wallpaper and some trim from the local Indian supermarket. It took him a total of 20 minutes, and he says that measuring was the hardest part. As rush jobs go, Kanen says it was a quick and satisfying transformation.

lamp makeover

Kanen is back in Melbourne now, and he spotted these little dazzlers on sale in the window of Windsor Smith. He thought they were rather dishy, but he wasn't as keen on the price. His solution? Off to Rivers he went, and for $30 he had his own pair ready to be transformed. One hour later, and his new glitzy boots are drying on his balcony. They're cheap, cheery and every bit as marvelous as the real deal for a fraction of the price. Go for gold!

shoe makeover
shoe makeover

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, is in Venice this week.

While there's bound to be cooking on the horizon, she's been out and about with her camera to capture some shots for our last creative challenge. It's hard to top photos of Venice, after all. Check these out.

Trish Urquhart in Venice

I must also mention that the bells of San Marco were tolling in the background as Trish emailed her photos through. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Trish and Richard are in Venice to run an Allaboutwriting writing retreat. Trish says that the apartments and palazzo are stunning, and the host very kind and helpful. She's enjoyed shopping at the Rialto market and surrounding shops, buying fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, and she plans to go with the cook during the week to shop for their participants.

Trish sends a big thank you to everyone in the creative challenge group for all the fun and inspiration over the past 12 months.

Trish Urquhart in Venice

Keryn Clark

Keryn's garden - before

South African born writer, florist and textile designer, Keryn Clark, has completely transformed her life over the course of our creative challenge. She's moved from Perth to the Gold Coast and has been gradually turning her new backyard into a more inviting living space. Here's a quick reminder of Keryn's starting point.


And here's the transformation below. While the weather still hasn't allowed for abundant growth, there have been significant changes. How fabulous does the garden look? Keryn has transformed her backyard from a concrete wilderness to an inviting outdoor living space. Great work.

garden transformation
Keryn's garden - after

Scarlet Bennett

I've created a series of pieces to commemorate our final creative challenge blog. This journey started (for me) with a horse, so I've ended it with a talisman that celebrates my love of horses. This set is made from sterling silver and carnelian.

Carnelian horse

I have a lot of different pendants (many of which I've made over the course of this creative challenge) that I wear with a plain black necklet. To provide a bit of variety, I made a simple black onyx and sterling silver necklet with a bolt ring centrepiece that will allow me to add any pendant I like. It doesn't look like much on it's own, but it's going to be the perfect backdrop for my pendants. This piece going to be a staple in my wardrobe.

I also made a carnelian necklet to wear with the carnelian pendant I made a few months ago. It's more vintage than classic, and I've got just the outfit to wear with it.

Scarlet's gemstone chokers

My final piece is made with sterling silver and denim lapis lazuli. I made it for my daughter Hannah, who's having a birthday in a couple of weeks. I hope she'll like it.

Hannah's lapis lazuli choker

Hearty thanks to the creative challenge team for a truly inspiring year. Thanks, also, to the readers who've sent encouragement along the way. It's been a really great year.

Week 44: Creative Challenge 52

Author Scarlet Bennett

I don't often lead with my own stuff, but since so much of my creative output over the past couple of years has come to fruition this week, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate it - because it's back to work in a serious way tomorrow. Striking Out was released on Tuesday and now the pressure is on for the sequel.

As befits a published author (skip the snippy messages - it's a joke), I even have a black and white publicity photo these day. Crikey! I could almost pass for someone literary. But don't be fooled. My writing contains bad language, earthy humour, and sex. What's not to like about that?

Striking Out is available from all major online retailers in print and e-book, and direct from the publisher (print only). Check out the customer reviews that are coming in on Amazon. Happy to see these!

Striking Out by Scarlet Bennett

I released a suite of online courses for writers and performers on Tuesday. Please check these out and share with people you think might be interested.

Sincere thanks to Lucy Bennett for the awesome banners she made for each course. Lucy has just completed a Masters of Publishing degree at Sydney University, and she's in her final week of an internship at Allen & Unwin. Message me if you need banners, copywriting or professional editing, as Lucy is now accepting free lance work and she does brilliant work.

The video we made to promote my Goodbye Stage Fright course is my contribution for this week. I can't say I'm über-thrilled with my performance on it, but it's the best I can do at this point in time. I've got more videos to make yet, so I'm sure I'll get better as I go. In the meantime, at least I'm wearing awesome jewellery.

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is making a return guest appearance this week.

Things were quiet at the centre where she and Remy have their florist shop last week, so she went looking for some happiness. She found two budgies in a small cage of the back of a pet shop, squeezed between the fish tanks and the fridge, with only a single neon strip for lighting. She didn't go looking for birds. She just wanted to look at fish, pets - anything but the empty courtyard at the Emporium.

These were the only birds in the shop and because Keryn has a general aversion to birds in cages, it took her another three trips to the shop that afternoon to decide that she could give them a better life and at least surround them with flowers.  Once they were installed at the shop in their temporary quarters, a normal birdcage, Keryn went looking for something bigger.  She found this old cage on Gumtree. It's at least 4 times bigger than their temporary home, and she and Remy spent the week turning it into a Parisienne apartment. Ooh la la!

Keryn's bird cage

The birds are loving their new home in the sunshine. Keryn wheels them into the shop every night, where they settle down quite happily. They love their new life, and if the kissing is anything to go by, they love each other too. In fact, Keryn has been told by enthralled passers by that she needs to get a nesting box. Keryn loves listening to them chirp and fly around their new home, and these lovely new friends have outperformed expectations on the 'bestowing happiness' measure.

Keryn's budgies

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, is back teaching again, with student exams looming, so she's had less time to play around in her studio this past week. Nevertheless, she altered the pattern for her hanging nest and felted one using a wool batt. These are similar to the batts used to insulate ceilings, except they're made of fleece. The wool fibres are coarse and coloured, so they don't need dyeing. Telena laid two layers out at right angles to each other around the resist, then felted strongly to create a dense felt. She likes the way it turned out, but thinks she'll make further modifications next time.

Telena's felt bird's nest

Telena also undertook the tough job, this week, of further culling her wool collection, as she thinks she has enough for two lifetimes. She's had real trouble with this and she thinks a trip to woolaholics anonymous may be in order. On the plus side, she was able to give some wool to her mum, who was delighted. Telena did a fun arrangement on her dining table to commemorate this poignant parting of ways.

Telena's wool collection

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has a stylised, gothic makeover and an opening night to contribute this week.

It was the opening of Sweeney Todd last night, and Kanen delivered 'a scene stealing act as the Beadle' - check out today's review in the Sydney Morning Herald (sorry, Kanen, when I stumble across a review like this, of course I'm going to share).

Kanen says he was as anxious, terrified and self-doubting as he's ever been, but he managed to pull himself together, breathe deeply and apply the brakes on rapidly approaching hysteria, which was an incredibly creative act in itself.

Kanen did his own make-up for this show, and even in this photo you can see that he nailed it. He says he'll have some close-up photos to show us next week. Bring it on.

Kanen Breen as the Beadle

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 been producing delicacies left, right and centre this week and, even better, she's sharing some of her recipes. Trish made togarashi peaches and cherry jam, and now you, too, can share the joy.

Trish's Togarashi Peaches

Take four peaches, halve and stone them. Place in a baking pan. Mix together a teaspoon of togarashi seasoning, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and a tablespoon or two of honey. Drizzle this over the peaches. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped Brazil nuts. Add a splash of water to the pan and bake at a high temperature until nicely browned, adding a little more water if needed. You want some sauce to form in the pan. Serve with Greek yoghurt.

Trish's togarashi peaches

Trish's Cherry Jam

Trish's cherry jam

Weigh the cherries and add 1/3 of their weight in sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of whisky and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Cook in a frying pan until the cherries are thick and jammy, and then pour them into a sterilised jar.

Cherry jam is delicious with cheese on oatcakes, on oat porridge, and with fried haloumi.

Trish's cherry jam

Check out Trish's fabulous food blog to see more of her wonderful food adventures.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett decided to spruce up his music computer area with a custom made rack for various electronic items this week.

He can now organize his toys in a more compact and functional manner, and he's quite chuffed with the result. See the before and after shots.

Also, he did it all for nothing. All the bits he used had been previously clogging up the garage.

You've gotta love a good salvage operation.

Week 34: Creative Challenge 52

Stephen Bennett has produced some wonderful landscape images again this week. His tetraptych is of a ruined cattleman's cottage that he found at Shannon's Flat on the back road from Canberra to Adaminaby. There was no fence in evidence so he bowled up to discover he had the place to himself and then spent a happy hour exploring with his Hasselblad. It's just as well he did, because it's wet and windy in Canberra today - not a suitable photography day at all.

Cattleman's hut landscape photos

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is apologetic about this week's creation. In fact, he claims it's his weakest effort to date which, given his extraordinarily high standards, is hardly discouraging.

He's in Daylesford for Mother's Day where his sister also lives. He hadn't yet come up with any creative plan of note, so he was delighted to find that his uber creative sister, Keele, had fashioned a lamp together out of old bits of other lamps and light-fittings but had yet to tackle the plain, boring lampshade atop her masterpiece. He says he's not kidding when he tells us this dreadful effort (his words!) took him ten minutes.

The fabric is an old skirt of Keele's that he's stretched into place without cutting and then sewed in with the hideous bobble trim she bought for her daughter. Kanen says, 'it aint pretty, but I'll sneak over the line with it and aim for a more considered contribution next week.' I think he's being too modest by far. A Breen original is still a Breen original and this lampshade has a charming retro feel.

Kanens lampshade makeover

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has been frantically busy this weekend with Mother's Day flowers. Aware that she had no chance of contributing anything today, she submitted some photos earlier in the week, documenting her history in Perth.

This little house is where she first encountered her business partner, Remy, nearly twenty years ago. His twin brother is a hairdresser who used to work out of the house and Remy had his art works on display there too. That meeting set in motion a creative partnership that has lasted ever since.

Keryns house
Perth in transition - a photo journey

Keryn wanted to capture Perth in transition in her images. When she first arrived in Perth, Beaufort Street near the art school was undeveloped, but now the city has started to swirl around it. The little grey vintage shop is where Keryn had her first poetry framed, and Wall Candy was a source of inspiration, not to mention an endless source of furniture. Keryn has included a photo of her signature flower, the bougainvillea, even though she says that roses run a close second. Finally, the terrace houses have been overtaken by McDonalds and Officeworks. Keryn says she knew the person who owned one of them and he bought it years ago for $480,000. Imagine what it would be worth now.

Perth in transition - a photo journey
Perth in transition - a photo journey
Perth in transition - a photo journey

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been continuing her exploration of eco-dyeing this week. With all the recent storms, there's been an abundance of kerbside branches in her street, so she's had some fun foraging for suitable plant matter.

Telena has made a lightweight off-white felted wrap comprised of two fine layers of fleece over silk chiffon. After felting, she soaked it for a few hours in a bath of alum and water. She then layered it with leaves and gumnuts and rolled it around some dowel. She tied it and boiled it in a large saucepan with the addition of some bits of rust. She left it in the solution for four days to let the colours develop. As you can see, the foliage has left clear imprints - gorgeous.

Eco-dyed wrap

Telena has also made a felt lace wrap this week for the friend who was responsible for all the beautiful flowers at Rachel's recent wedding.

felt lace wrap

With winter approaching and several friends expecting babies, Telena has been knitting some gumnut hats. She's very fond of this pattern and the yarn is very soft and warm. They don't take long to knit so she now has quite a collection. Telena has damaged a ligament in her ankle so she says it's time to put her feet up and do some more knitting. Anyone expecting? There are hats to spare.

knitted baby hats

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 is still cooking up a storm on Patience, their recently refurbished narrowboat. She's written an erudite blog this week, featuring impressive words like revictual and gongoozler. If these words are as foreign to you as they were to me, check out Trish's blog here. You'll be able to impress the punters silly with your new words, and Trish's travel photography is awesome too.

Trish has also filmed a moody time lapse video from the boat. There's water, clouds and trains and a tangible sense of chill in the air. Love it.

Scarlet Bennett

My friend Kayleen came over for a jewellery making lesson yesterday and I taught her how to make a gorgeous silver cuff, which I then forgot to photograph. Just as well I'd made a small something extra - some cute sterling silver earrings to liven up a cold, grey weekend.

Sterling silver spiral earrings

Week 33: Creative Challenge 52

travel photography in the UK

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 been working wonders in her small galley (narrowboat) kitchen this week.

In addition to profiting from her obsession with tagaroshi seasoning, Trish has created a wonderful new recipe - spiced clementines preserved in honey and cognac. These look really fabulous, and if you're as tempted to make them as I am, check out her Clementines in a Cauldron blog where she's posted the recipe.

Always the productive creative, Trish has also added some new travel photos. They make me want to pack up stumps and head straight to the UK. You're a bad influence, Trish!

Spiced clementines

Kanen Breen

kanens shoe makeover

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is absolutely flat chat at the moment. The Bedfellows are strutting their stuff at the Vanguard, and Kanen is flying to Melbourne early tomorrow morning - no rest for the wicked, clearly. But he's found time to indulge his shoe fetish this week with a truly spectacular makeover.

Just when he thought he'd produced the gayest pair of shoes in Christendom, along came a little product called 'Glitterlites - flexible glittercoat', and he was born anew, trembling like a six year old girl playing with her first My Little Pony doll. He knew that this stuff existed, but it's an American product - pretty expensive to import - and Kanen wasn't sure it would be worth the expense. Imagine his delight to find it, quite by accident, at a shoddy old cobblers in Bondi Junction.

'God bless America,' he says. 'It's brilliant! And you can anticipate a whole new range of camp footware when I return from Melbourne.' Too exciting.

It's advisable, apparently, to match the glitter to a similar background colour, so Kanen painted a pale pink undercoat with leather paint and he says he could honestly have stopped at that point because the shoes looked so smooth and shiny. He then added the Glitterlites, which painted on as smooth as silk.

He's loving these shoes sick now, and desperately hoping to finish another longer-term project to combine them with in time for the opening gala concert at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Can't wait to see that. These sparkly new wheels are really something, aren't they?

pimp my shoes

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is having this week off to celebrate a milestone birthday. Happy birthday, Keryn, from the entire creative challenge team! Another year young with your happiest, most creative years ahead of you. See you next week.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has decided - after going through her wool stash - that she really ought to join woolaholics anonymous. But she's decided, instead, to de-stash and put some of her bountiful collection to good use.

Going through her stash, Telena's eyes fell on some lovely gold bobbly wool and, as she pondered its fate, she thought of a young lady at the gym whose favourite colour is yellow. Telena knew she'd love it, so she's spent much of her spare time this week knitting a scarf and hat for her gym friend's birthday next month - even knitting on the ferry en route to work.

knitting on the ferry

Her next step is to try and muster the courage to donate some of her wool collection to a deserving cause or person. Good luck with that, Telena.

Telena has also fitted in some felting time this week. She's made several prefelts with the idea of creating a sculptural collar. She layered different colours of fleece to achieve this, and as she sews, felts, and cuts away streaks, the different shades will be revealed.

knitted scarf and hat

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been a photographic creative again this week

The photos in the triptych were taken using the Kershaw Eight 20 Penguin camera pictured. He found it in a junk store and paid peanuts to add it to his ever-growing collection of old cameras. It takes roll film and produces 6x9cm negatives It's a very basic camera, and quite clumsy to use, but it works just fine and is a worthy addition to his collection. As you can see, he captured some lovely shots with it.

Kershaw Eight 20 Penguin camera images

Steve created a diptych with a couple of pinhole photos that he took in Boorowa last Sunday for Worldwide Pinhole Day. He used the big old box camera that takes 8x10 film and has no lens on the camera, just a tiny, half millimeter pinhole to form the image on the film plane. Miraculous.

pinhole photos for worldwide pinhole day

Steve also took a lovely portrait of Lucy and Hannah yesterday, taking advantage of Lucy's trip home from Sydney. Gorgeous girls.

portrait photography - lucy and hannah

Scarlet Bennett

I've been in my jewellery studio again this week, completing a set of pieces that I've been incrementally adding to.

I'd previously made a cuff and ring (pictured) with sterling silver and green aventurine, and I wanted a pendant to complete the set.

green aventurine cuff

So I made a vintage style pendant and I'm just loving it. All I'm missing now, it seems, are some Breen-esque shoes to complete my ensemble. Too much? Never!

Green aventurine pendant

Week 32: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been interested of eco-dyeing of late, creating pattern and colour on her textiles with plants and flowers. After her daughter Rachel's wedding, she thought it would be lovely to take some of the flowers and eco-print her a silk scarf.

Telenas eco-dyed scarf

Telena soaked two silk scarves in water and vinegar, then cut off flowers and foliage and arranged them on one of the scarves. She laid the other scarf on top, followed by a cotton sheet, then rolled it up around a piece of dowel, tying it up securely.

Telenas eco-dyeing

Unfortunately, Sydney's recent bout of wild, unseasonal weather delivered a two day power cut, which meant that Telena had to wait until power was restored before boiling the scarf in a large saucepan with some added alum as a fixative.

She's quite pleased with the result because she wasn't expecting the purples to print well, but she's a little disappointed with the results of the roses and leaves - a likely consequence of the power outage delay.

Telena called one scarf 'finished' at the end of the dyeing process, but felted into the second using the colours and shapes of the bouquet. Rachel is pleased with the keepsakes from her bouquet and that's the most important outcome from Telena's point of view. Telena has also pressed some of the flowers in a flower press made by her husband Peter. A talented family!

telenas pressed flowers

Trish Urquhart

Trishs galley cooking

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 been skillfully applying her craft in the small galley kitchen of their narrowboat, Patience.

Trish and Richard are currently enjoying a sojourn in the UK, and Trish has been blogging about their adventures. This week, she's shared some cooking news and a great recipe - check it out here.

Trishs galley cooking

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that Patience has recently been revamped with some necessary repairs - rust removal and an external re-paint. Trish has photographed the transformation. Whose is the smartest looking boat in the fleet then?

narrowboating in the UK

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been making a spectacle of himself this past week. Jacqui asked him to bedazzle a $39 pair of Specsavers glasses for her and, whilst he was at it, he finished off a couple of unfinished symphonies for himself.

The gold pair were an earlier effort that Kanen worked on during our 30 day challenge last year - they were red in their past incarnation - but he wasn't happy with them so he re-did them for Jacqui's Aida opening night - all glitzy and gold to match her jacket.

The pink pair were Kanen's first ever attempt from last year using glue and glitter, which were super flashy but very clumpy. They now have about twenty coats of clear nail varnish over the top to smooth out the look and make them less exfoliating to wear.

Kanens glasses makeover

Jacqui's green and red pair speak for themselves, and Kanen says they're his schmickest job yet, because Specsavers are so familiar with him now, and so amused by his efforts, that they left the lenses out so he could 'work his magic' without any fear of schmutzing the lenses. That's just too funny for words.

Kanens glasses makeover

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, flew in and out of the Sydney storm last week, and has been flat out ever since.

She had to retrieve a flower order that was delivered to the wrong florist in Tweed Heads, she requoted on a corporate job, and she had to get all her Mother's Day orders in too.

Keryns flowers

Never one to rest on her laurels, she's re-decorated the shop this week The formal arrangements are her business partner, Remy's, work but the concept is Keryn's and she also did the heavy lifting, dragging the furniture and props around the shop until she was happy with the new arrangement.

Keryns shop fit out

The accounting project Keryn was working on last week is still a work in progress. She's moving across to MYOB and has had to re-input all of the last three month's worth of work - ugh! It doesn't bear thinking about.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett

Today is Worldwide Pinhole Day, and Stephen Bennett and his friend Pete headed off to the towns of Booroowa and Dalton with their large format pinhole cameras for a feast of photography.

Dalton pinhole photos

Steve's camera is an 8x10 inch format, and Pete's is an unusual 4x10 inch version. The weather was ideally cloudy with soft light, and they both came home with light hearts and some shots in the bag.

pinhole photography
pinhole photography

Scarlet Bennett

I've always loved making hats, even though I rarely wear them. It's an annoying quirk.

On a roll from the past few weeks, I've been knitting some more hats and scarves. On particularly cold days, I might even wear any that I don't give away. This set looks lovely on Georg.

Knitted scarf and hat

I also had a lovely creative hour today playing around with make-up to help Hannah find a new look. With such a gorgeous model, it's hard to go wrong.

make up transformation

Week 31: Creative Challenge 52

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has put her creative mind to marketing this week. She designed this flyer for the shop (Bloom in Design). It was her first attempt at a leaflet and she used Microsoft Word to create it. She's very pleased with the outcome. Now all she has to do is distribute her new flyers. Job done!

Keryns Flyer

Keryn also spent some time this week sourcing flowers, pots, and trying to set up an accounting database for the shop. Just as well she had a creative outlet to return to when the accounting all got too much! Nice job, Keryn.

Telena Routh

Telenas Felt

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been a very busy creative bee, making the most of felting opportunities at her recent workshops. She's been felting sculptural pieces and these require more kneading and strength that normal, so she's had quite a physical workout.

She first made long rectangular pieces of soft prefelt with long carrot-like roots. The prefelts were cut and joined to the roots before being gently felted until they adhered together. The flower, which at this stage still resembled a floppy mass, was kneaded, rolled and thrown about until it had shrunk significantly and was felting more easily. Telena says that the flowers with their attached roots looked as though they could have been related to the mandrake plants in Harry Potter in this early stage. She was just waiting for them to start screaming!

From there, Telena started playing with colour and making prefelts of different layouts and thicknesses, including resists to form new layers, combining them together, making ridges, and cutting to reveal new colours. She was very gentle initially as the pieces were quite fragile, but as the felt became firmer, she exerted more energy to make a strong piece that was sculptural and would stand alone.

Telena notes that one of the finished pieces is inward looking, using colour to describe her inner self, while another is outward looking, reminiscent of coral. Telena says it was hard work creating these pieces and she reports that she slept very well afterwards.

Telena had a wonderful time at her workshops, she came home with more fleece than she left with, and she was very excited to win a beautiful book on textiles in the raffle. So...a successful few days!

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 been working on her travel photography this week. She and Richard are back in London again, and the refurbishment of their narrowboat is now complete. They'll be moving in tomorrow. Trish plans to spend the week getting Patience spick and span internally, and also sewing some fresh curtains to make the interior as fresh and gorgeous as the exterior.

Trish took this week's photos on her phone, and she played around with them in an editing app to add some interesting effects. Most of the pictures were taken in Finsbury Park, with a few taken at Stoke Newington Reservoir. Get me on the next flight to London!

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has applied his creative genius to a variety of projects this week. The frame he stuck to the kitchen wall copped a lick of light gold paint and gloss, last week's lampshade got the finishing treatment - love it! It's been donated to friends for a young girl's bedroom. He painted some red sparkly nail polish on a new $39 pair of Specsavers goggles, and he dyed some hilarious orange fringing from the op shot red. He now has 5 metres of darker orange trim that he's not sure what to do with. Any suggestions?

Stephen Bennett

Steve's been busy with his photography again. He's been working on some images he took in the high country near Perisher Valley when he was away at Easter. He took these photos with a Russian Lomo camera - the Lubitel twin lens reflex that he bought for a song in a local second hand shop. He's getting excellent value out of this bargain.

Scarlet Bennett

It's been cold and wet in Canberra this week, and my focus has continued to be on creating some warm woollies for the wonderful colder months on the horizon.

Hannah has been helping with our horses these past few months, so I made her some essential warm gear for those ultra cool mornings. She's going to be the most stylish person at the paddock. Looking good, girl.

Hannahs hat and scarf

Week 30: Creative Challenge 52

Kanens bathroom makeover

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been cleaning up his Potts Point pad so he can rent it out. His first priority was the bathroom, which needed some sprucing up after a previous effort that was beginning to fail - mould, peeling wallpaper, kitsch diamante stickers everywhere. Kanen swears he'll never put another diamante sticker anywhere since they're next to impossible to remove and have taken far and away the most time on the job so far.

Kanens bathroom makeover

Anyway, paint and wallpaper have been flying thick and fast, and Kanen loves the new beige and gold theme. It's much cleaner and less cluttered than the previous design, and the whole thing cost less that $50 because he bought the vintage wallpaper for $18 at reverse garbage.

Kanens bathroom makeover

When you're finished, Kanen, could you please come over to our place? Loving the new look.

Kanens bathroom makeover

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is still obsessing over her backyard - and the backyard is all the better for it too. Here's a reminder of her starting point...

Keryns backyard - before

This week Keryn reverted to a romantic Mediterranean theme, and the frangipani was moved to the front. The water tanks are now hidden by lillipillies. Once they're established, they'll present as a green wall.

Keryn and her sister found an outdoor setting at the local dump and they managed - somehow - to cram it into the boot of Keryn's sister's Hyundai 130. It's in good condition and it cost nothing. You've gotta love that.

Keryn also managed to persuade her sister to part with a vintage wrought iron pot holder. Somehow, Keryn managed to transport the outdoor setting and pot holder from her sister's place back to the Gold Coast on the train.

It's amazing what Keryn has done to this backyard in the past 2-3 weeks, and we can now see where she's heading with her design.

Keryns backyard makeover

Keryn says that the bougainvillea will ultimately screen the colorbond fence as well as the neighbour's roof. Keryn has bought wisteria and a passion fruit creeper and she now has to find something for them to climb on. She's rethinking the pergola since she's learned that she needs body corporate and council approval before she can proceed.

Keryns backyard makeover

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been in the Blue Mountains this weekend enjoying some felting classes - From the Mud Springs a Flower and Form in Felt. She's excited about the opportunity to play around with new techniques. Telena also loves browsing through the trade stalls to find new fleece, books, and all manner of other goodies. Next week, she plans to share her creations from her weekend workshops.

In the meantime, how much fleece can she squeeze into a car, she wonders?

Trish Urquhart

Trishs rhubarb

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 been working wonders with rhubarb this week.

Trish is still in Oxford, and she bought her rhubarb from a local grocer who seemed to think of rhubarb as an unfashionable relic of days gone by. He obviously hasn't tasted Trish's cooking. But I'll let Trish tell you about that herself...check out her blog.

Trish made rhubarb posset and slow cooked lamb shoulder on a bed of rhubarb. You can find her recipes here. Enjoy!

Trishs rhubarb posset
Trishs rhubarb lamb

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett found some old roll film cameras in a second hand shop a few weeks ago. One of them was this Kodak Brownie. It takes 127 film, which is hard to get, so he ordered four rolls from a store in New York and couldn't wait to put it through its paces during his Easter trip to the Snowy Mountains. Here are a couple of the photos he took with this lightweight plastic camera.

Steves photos

Scarlet Bennett

With the gorgeous weather of autumn upon us here in Canberra, I've turned my mind to keeping warm in the cooler months. That has spawned a flurry of creative activity with yarn, and this week I have a knitted lace hat and scarf to present, knitted in the chunky weight yarn I often favour. Thanks to Georgia Bennett for modeling the hat and scarf for me, and also to Stephen Bennett for the photo.

Scarlets knitted hat and scarf

I also finished off an onyx pendant that I started last weekend.

Scarlets onyx pendant

Week 29: Creative Challenge 52

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 been cooking up a storm in Oxford this week. She's also been working on her travel photography and she has some gorgeous photos to share.

But first, to food...

Trishs Honey Onions
Trishs UK Photos

Trish and Richard have spent a few days in Braunston in the UK, overseeing the refurbishment of their narrowboat, Patience. They're staying in Southfield Cottage, with its picturesque environs and stylish interior. When they arrived at the cottage, they discovered an unexpected gift - a jar of Southfield honey, and Trish was determined to put the honey to good use. She started by serving it with Greek yoghurt and chopped almonds for breakfast. She then created a wonderful caramelised onion side dish using honey and a combination of herbs that she found in the cottage garden. Trish finished her honey extravaganza with a honey and lemon posset. I'm salivating at the thought! To see more details and poach the recipes (pardon the pun), visit Trish's fabulous food blog here. I'll race you to the caramelised onion recipe.

Here are a few of the photos Trish has taken this past week. Anyone for a trip to the UK?

Trishs UK Photos

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been experimenting with a new creation this week. He's been looking for a while now at some 'table-cloth stuff' in the local hardware store, and wondering what uses he could come up with for it. He finally bit the bullet and bought a metre this week for $5 (he does adore a bargain), then delved into the garage of horrors for inspiration.

He came across this battered old lampshade, found (you guessed it) in the gutter, and decided that it would be a good match, since it's ordinary to begin with and the flower plastic stuff is pretty vile too.

Kanens lampshade makeover

Now that he's sewed the plastic on, however, he actually loves it - mostly at night, when it casts a beautiful light, but also during the day when the shine of the plastic catches the light and looks like something your grandmother kept in the good room and never took the dust cover off.

Due to his initial scepticism, he says he did a truly shocking job with the sewing and measuring, but now that he likes the result, he's going to gild the lily in the coming week to conceal his haste and slop.

Kanens lamp makeover

It's absolutely gorgeous now. I wonder how he'll improve it. Glitter? Sequins? An inner sole trim? The mind boggles.

Keryn Clark

Keryns backyard

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has had her dreaded cement box front and foremost in her mind this week. The lone frangipani now has some company and some of the more offensive decorations have been removed - the hanging baskets full of dead basil that just added to the despair of the place, for example. The baskets will be pressed into service later, but this week Keryn planted cordelines that were suffering from air conditioning damage in the shop. She's also called someone in to give her a quote on boxing the water tanks and putting up an undercover pergola on the deck.

Keryns backyard

 After much soul searching, Keryn has decided to go tropical with her backyard space, as she doesn't want to spend a fortune on it. Also, she has a friend who is cleaning out his garden, and he's donating lots of tropical freebies so why not go with that? The plan is to create a tropical jungle. Keryn says you need a lot of imagination to see this, but she has a vision in her head, inspired by a post in Gardinista. If a tropical garden works in a tiny London backyard, Keryn reasons, why not the tropics?

Vintage vase

Keryn has been busy this week. She's also painted some more green walls - this time a delicate sage. The contrast to the existing darker green was to accommodate a beautiful art deco vintage vase her sister gave her.

Finally, if the Gold Coast didn't know that Keryn and Remy had arrived, they certainly do now. Keryn has advertised on a billboard, buying slots for April and September. While the poster was put together by a graphic artist, it was designed by Keryn using the photos she took of a bunch of roses she picked in Perth some time in November. The Perth roses are now a firm feature of their Gold Coast flower shop. Lovely!

Bloom in Design

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, is happy to report that her daughter Rachel's wedding was a wonderful and joyous event, in spite of the rain that fell in Sydney over Easter, Rachel and Cameron are now happily married, and Telena has enjoyed the celebrations with family and friends.

Rachels wedding

In the midst of final wedding preparations, Telena managed to find time to create these eye-catching and unusual neck pieces using the felted beads that she made in previous weeks. How on earth did she manage it? Impressive stuff.

Telenas felt jewellery

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett decided to try his hand at some more music this week, and also aimed for something a bit more melodic and accessible. He feels that he's onto something with this short piece.

Scarlet Bennett

My mum is going abroad at the end of June and I wanted to make her a new piece to take with her, to brighten up her travel wardrobe. Sticking with the vintage theme I embarked upon last week, I created a large pendant using sky blue mountain jade to remind her of the Australian sky (she may not see much blue sky in Europe, even in early summer!), and it's turned out beautifully.

The great thing about a piece like this is its versatility. You can wear it out in the evening or with jeans and a jacket during the day to dress up a casual outfit. The perfect reminder of a sunny Aussie day for those slightly homesick moments.

Blue Mountain Jade pendant

Week 27: Creative Challenge 52

How to make a ring

A friend came over yesterday to learn a bit about jewellery making. I taught her how to make her own ring and, while I was at it, I thought I'd show you too. You can make gorgeous pieces with some basic equipment and for very little cost.

make your own ring

If you've followed this blog or looked at my photo galleries, you'll know that I love bold, signature pieces. My friend Kayleen does too, so I thought we'd start with large 'urban edge' style rings. I taught Kayleen how to make one version, and I made a different version myself using the same techniques to show how versatile a basic method can be.

make your own ring steps 1 and 2

Step 1: Cut your silver to size. Silver comes in sheets of different widths. Kayleen and I used silver that was 0.8mm thick and we cut it 2cms wide so the ring bands would be fat and funky. The final step involves cutting your silver to fit the diameter of the finger you want to wear it on. We cut Kayleen's silver to 59mm and mine to 62mm. Note that you need to add an extra 1mm in length when you make wide rings, otherwise they won't fit.

Step 2: Before you do anything else, you need to soften the silver so it's malleable. You do this by applying heat. I use a jeweller's torch now, but I used a cheap propane torch that I bought from Bunnings for a few years before I upgraded my equipment. You'll need a honeycomb or charcoal base with a large brick underneath to place your silver on. Slowly move the flame back and forth over the silver until it begins to glow red. Plunge into cool water and then jeweller's pickle to remove oxidation (this is cheap and easy to obtain from a jewellery supplier).

make your own ring steps 3 and 4

Step 3: Add texture to the silver. Kayleen used the round end of a hammer to create texture on hers and I made scratches on mine. Because my silver was only minimally handled, it stayed nice and malleable, but Kayleen's hardened and needed to be heated again as per step 2.

Step 4: Use pliers to twist the silver so the ends join. Make sure the join is flush or your solder won't take.

Step 5: Your rings are now ready to solder. Apply flux and 'easy' solder (readily available and inexpensive from jewellery suppliers).

Step 6: Heat the ring carefully under dimmed light (so you can clearly see the process unfolding) until the solder flows.

Step 7: Shape your ring on a mandrel. You can use a piece of round dowel if you don't have a mandrel.

make your own ring steps 5 and 6

Step 8: File any added shape you want around the edges of your ring. Kayleen shaped the back of hers so it would be more comfortable to wear, and I created a flowing shape around both edges of mine. Once you're happy with the final shape, file the inside of your ring and the outer edges, starting with coarse files and using increasingly fine files, until the edges are nice and smooth. Take care, also, to file off any excess solder at the join.

Step 9: Soak your ring for a couple of minutes in Liver of Sulphur to get an aged look, then brush the patina back with 0000 steel wool until you get the finish you want. If you take too much off, just soak it in the Liver of Sulphur and start again.

Step 10: Wear and enjoy!

Kayleen's finished ring

Kayleen's finished ring

Scarlet's finished ring

Scarlet's finished ring

Telena Routh

telenas felt dress

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been experimenting this week with different colours of prefelt, creating this gorgeous two-toned dress.

She's also been making felted hollow beads, cones and flat felt for jewellery. She's building up a collection of these so she can make some colourful accessories to brighten up her winter wardrobe.

Telena's final piece this week is a felted bracelet with slits to reveal the inner layer.

With her daughter's wedding only two weeks away, it's a miracle Telena found time for any creative output at all.

telenas felt jewellery

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 been at an indie book fair this weekend with an Allaboutwriting exhibit. Their short story book,  36 Hours, was delivered to the fair on Friday and Trish is pleased to report that quite a few copies were picked up by interested readers. Richard gave a talk about the contract between reader and writer, and he also moderated a panel discussion. So...a successful weekend!

36 Hours

With the book fair consuming much of her time, Trish found herself with a creative challenge at an impromptu supper she and Richard held on Friday night - she needed an emergency dessert. Trish had bought some Brie and Camember, but after the main course, she thought the plain cheese seemed boring and she wondered how she could make it more special and festive.

She whipped through her cupboard and found preserved figs, quinces and ginger. Trish poured the syrups into a pan and added bay leaves, black pepper, star anise and cinnamon. She let the syrups bubble away for a while, then added the fruits and heated them through. Then she simply poured the whole lot over the cheese and added some almonds. Delicious!

Check out Trish's fabulous food blog for more of her exciting food adventures.

Trishs Festive Dessert

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been up to his impressive sequin tricks again. He's loving his creation this week, largely for the unintentional irony he generated. The choice of sequins for this delightful project initially gave him some concern - too pale and pastel. Three letters in and he feared an unpicking was on the horizon, but then he had a change of heart and thought, 'what could be less intimidating and more ridiculous than this t-shirt in pastel sequins?'

So Kanen persevered and he felt happier and happier as he neared completion. Now he thinks it's a masterpiece of understatement, irony and glamour.

kanens sequined shirt

What the photos don't show is the gorgeous opalescent sheen on the sequins which really catches the light with a pale blue/green flash - perhaps not so understated after all.

Kanen thinks he'll wear his creation to Jacqui's Aida opening night next weekend, possibly even with the gold lapel jacket. 'Too much of a good thing?' he asks. Never!

Security in Sequins

Keryn Clark

keryns floral shoe fetish
keryns babys breath

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, decided, this week, to get creative with some vessels that were lying around the shop, and also with a few bunches of baby's breath from the fridge. Remy argued that they needed to keep the baby's breath in the fridge in case an order came in. Keryn insisted it would be better out forming some kind of display. Ad break for clash of the titans - Keryn won. No sooner was the baby's breath fluffed out and in the vase when someone walked in and said 'I have to have them'. The five words retailers most like to hear.

Keryn has appealed to Kanen's shoe fetish for her creative challenge with this artistic interpretation of flowers on the soles of her foot. One foot sold within moments of being put on display. That leaves just one more to go...

kanens floral feet

Stephen Bennett

Steve was very excited to find a Lubitel Twin Lens Reflex roll film camera (1960) for $35 in a secondhand shop last weekend, and he couldn't wait to put it through its paces. Fortunately, Georgia was all dolled up with a new outfit and fresh from the hair salon, so she agreed to pose for a series of photos. The camera worked perfectly and here are a couple of the shots of Georgia.

singer songwriter Georgia Bennett

Steve also found time this week to process films shot in the Blue Mountains a few weeks ago. These photos are of the Cathedral of Ferns at Mt Wilson, taken with his beloved Hasselblad.

Cathedral of Ferns

Week 26: Creative Challenge 52

Keryn's Roses

We're half way through our year long creative challenge now, and South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has come up roses, as always.

She's been playing with the last of the Valentine's Day roses - 'It's not true that they don't last,' she said, 'these have lasted 5 weeks.' - creating a mignon, a tasting plate, and some gorgeous arrangements in mini cubes. The mini cubes were actually an order for cubed vases gone wrong, but what a happy accident. They're gorgeous!

More Roses
You can never have too many roses

Telena routh

Telenas felted brooches

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had a festive creative week. She's been felting lace wraps for her daughter Rachel's wedding. You may recall that she was working on this project last week and was unhappy with the results of her first dyed purple wrap. She therefore decided to make a new one, leaving it a paler shade of purple. Telena particularly loves the cream wrap, which she says will look very elegant with a bridal gown. The wraps will keep the bride and bridesmaids warm as the evening cools. Telena also made felted and beaded brooches to pin the wraps together.

Telenas bridal wraps
Telenas felted wraps

As if that weren't enough, she entertained about thirty friends for a fun garden/kitchen tea on a glorious autumn Saturday afternoon. There was lots of laughter, conversation and, of course, delicious food. Telena's contributions were some delicious mini chocolate mud cake muffins and some rather flat looking macarons that sadly looked more like brandy snaps but were nevertheless very yummy.

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 been living up to the title 'seamstress extraordinaire' this week.

She's made a skirt from an old Indian quilt, and as well as being absolutely gorgeous, it's reversible. Trish saw a skirt like this in the UK some years ago, and when she saw similar quilts, she knew she had to make herself one. She bought the quilt with her friend Merle and they each took half. Trish has worked wonders with her half.

Trish and Richard will be traveling to the UK shortly for a sojourn on their narrowboat, Patience, and Trish thinks the skirt will make a nice addition to the fairly monochromatic capsule wardrobe that she'll be taking with her. My view is that this skirt would make a fabulous addition to any wardrobe - monochromatic or otherwise.

Trishs quilt skirt
Trishs reversible quilt skirt

Trish's other creative achievement this week was to get the short story book (see Week 23, Creative Challenge 52) to the printers. The formatting and proofing process was a nightmare that took hours and hours. Trish published the Kindle version first, and she's kindly provided us with the link. Check it out here if you're looking for something to read.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, remains undecided about how to further embellish his jacket of last week. For the time being, he's implemented a temporary solution with this brooch - a good stop gap measure if notably light on sequins.

Kanens Jacket

Kanen and Jacqui are in the process of building a dreaded IKEA wardrobe for Jacqui's bedroom, which has necessitated the removal of the chest of drawers next to her bed. She needed something small to put her lamp and phone on, so Kanen ventured back into the garage or horrors and pulled out this little piece, which he found sitting, abandoned, on the nature strip.

It sat by Jacqui's bed for a full 24 hours before Kanen snapped and went in search of his paints. He tried to match the colour to her fancy bed-head, but it came out a little darker, which looks fine. Kanen then took a trip to Wallcandy on Crown Street, Surry Hills, which he swears has the best wallpaper he's ever seen, and he spent $10 on a couple of metres of off-cuts, which certainly beats their usual prices.

The results look cool for very little effort, and what was an interim measure may just become a permanent feature of the boudoir.

Kanens bedside table reno

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has decided to jump off the creative challenge at the 6 month mark. Her workload is very heavy and she's really struggled over the past couple of months to fit everything in. So we'll bid her farewell at this point, but she may return with an occasional cameo appearance from time to time in the coming months.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been processing some photos this week. The first is a panoramic shot of a landscape at Hartley Vale. The second is a series of photos he took in the gardens at the Norman Lindsay Gallery.

He's also taken a few shots of some of our garden produce. Here are some of the chillis we harvested this week, resplendent in their red fieriness.

Scarlet Bennett

I've been meaning for ages now to make some earrings to wear with the sterling silver wire flower pendant I designed last year. This week I finally made it happen.

sterling silver wire flower earrings

And then, without further ado, I wore my creations...