Filtering by Tag: felt dreadlocks

Week 21: Creative Challenge 52

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been up to his famous shoe tricks again. He's submitted this week's creation from sunny Perth, where he reports that hotel crafts completely rock. He says he can't sleep in work accommodation unless there's a liberal sprinkling of sequins, paint and glue on the carpet (can you imagine how popular he is with the cleaners?).

He bought these hideous shoes for $5 and dragged them across the Nullarbor with the express purpose of a cheeky debazzling, and - voila! Given the fact that people are stopping to stare at his sparkly specs, he expects these little lovelies to stop traffic.

Kanens Shoes In Progress

'You know the drill,' he said. 'Paint, glue, sequins, RESULT!'

He forgot his masking tape so the lines aren't as crisp as previous efforts, but they'll get Kanen through the next twelve days in the style to which he's become accustomed, and may even form part of his artsy/casual opening night look if they don't fall apart first (they're not exactly a sturdy shoe).

Kanen says he has an enormous week ahead of him and he wonders what on earth he's going to create during the cracks in his crazy schedule. Hopefully no shoes, he says, but he makes no promises. Just as well. There's an unlikely promise if ever I've heard one.

Kanens Finished Shoe Transformation

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has survived the arduous process of moving, and is busy in her new Gold Coast home, setting up her florist shop. She spent time in Melbourne and Sydney when she first left Perth to set up supply chains and have a look around. While she was there, she created a photo story of her travels.

Her story began with a house sporting a beard - Hipster House, she's called it.

Keryns Hipster House

She walked from St Kilda to South Yarra and beyond looking for flower shops. Some wouldn't let her take photos so she had to go undercover to get these snaps. She saw these places as oases in an urban landscape.

Keryns Urban Oases

The Victorian building squashed between the pop-up and fast food outlets somewhere near Chapel Road reminded Keryn of bloated decrepitude. And the urban art she found struck her as 'voices from the underground'.

Keryns urban art photos

Keryn has (cleverly) named the last two houses Monobrow and Opposites Attract. Love it!

Monobrown and Opposites Attract

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has continued with her jewellery theme, creating felt dreadlocks of different lengths and widths.

Inspired by a photo in the Good Weekend magazine a few weeks ago, she's created two necklaces with a chain-like effect. The darker of the two was made with lots of short felt ropes, the lighter was made from a very long dreadlock that Telena looped around itself.

Telenas Felt Chains

The final necklace combines five thin felt ropes. It's fastened with a clasp, which means it can be worn in a variety of ways - as it falls, twisted or knotted (see photos below).

Telenas felt necklace

Telena says she's been enjoying making smaller pieces lately, but she's also planning some larger pieces. School went back last week, so she's been busy teaching again, and arranging music on Sibelius. Felting time just got that bit more scarce, but I'm sure that won't hold her back.

Trish Urquhart

Trishs Curtains

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 busy on a number of creative fronts this past week.

She's making a set of refurbished curtains for their rental unit. The original curtains were made by Richard's mother in 1965. Trish has re-lined them, as the fifty year old lining was totally rotten on the edges. And she cut off the old tops, threw away the rotten tape, and made a new tab top to replace the old, damaged pieces.

Trishs Curtain Refurbishment

Trish also made an ostrich frittata, using an ostrich egg that novelist Jo-Anne Richards bought in Calvinia on her drive to Johannesburg from Cape Town. She made it with prawns, basil, red onions and gruyere, and Trish reports that it was delicious. To see more of Trish's exciting food adventures, visit her fabulous food blog.

Trishs Ostrich Egg Frittata

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has had a demanding week. She's been sick with a virus that spread through the family with the impressive efficiency of falling dominoes, and she started at a new college on Monday as well.

Nevertheless, she found the energy to make a delicious tomato sauce on Friday afternoon using tomatoes and oregano from our garden. The tomatoes were a mixed batch - all organic and open-pollinated, with a number of heirloom varieties in the mix. The end result was as delicious as it was colourful.

Tomato Sauce

If you think it looks like the tomatoes weren't skinned, you're right, and I'm to blame for that culinary heresy. I attempted to make an authentic sauce once, painstakingly pealing all the tomatoes, and decided - long before the task was done - that life was too short. Ever the pragmatist, I've taught Georgia to make fresh tomato sauce with the skins intact - which makes sauce-making a quick and easy job - and we blitz the end result in a powerful blender. No one who tastes it is any the wiser.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has made a video that is - in his words - truly dreadful. As a neophyte movie producer he came up with the idea of an exciting, gut wrenching thriller called the Kiss of the Carrot, starring Duke and Velvie, with a support cast of extras from Paddock 2.

Things he thinks he learnt in the process:

  1. Learn how to turn the video camera on to record. The red light means it's recording and the green light means it's not. He got this basic concept wrong for a total of 32 takes.
  2. Make sure the microphone is out and working, and use the wind shield when filming en plein air.
  3. Don't try and make a film while feeding horses by yourself.
  4. Don't use daggy scene transitions from the software package.

He feels that his future as the next Fellini is imminent, so he's decided to show his first picture warts and all as a point of reference for future blockbusters.

This short one-acter comes with a warning - it really is awful.

The end.

Scarlet Bennett

Flower Pendant

I made some old style jewellery this week - just trinkets really - for the fun of it. The resin wasn't even dry, however, before the pieces were claimed. Hannah and Georgia have adopted these pendants and I'm delighted they've gone to such worthy homes. I'll probably play around some more with these techniques. They're a relaxing antidote to an overly busy work week and the end result reminds me of a much loved (deceased) grandmother.

Victoriana Rose Pendant

Week 19: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been embellishing necklaces this week. Her daughter, Rachel, is getting married soon and they've been out shopping for bridesmaid dresses together. Rachel has also been draping her belongings around the house to see what she really wants to take with her into married life, so there's been lots of cleaning and sorting activity too. The downside of this is that Telena's studio is now quite full! She plans to remedy that in the coming week.

Telenas Dreadlocks
Telenas Cat

In the meantime, she's taken some of her dreadlock necklaces and added felted balls to create another dimension of interest. The autumn toned neckace is going straight to Telena's private collection, I'm told. Telena has also shared photos of some of her other bead necklaces, and there's a picture of her special studio helper too - just what you need when you're trying to sew knitted squares into blankets. As you can see, Hazel (the cat) has claimed them as her own. Who's a nice, warm kitty, then?

Telenas Felt Beads

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 delightfully creative in her kitchen again.

Her masterpiece this week is an innovative sage pesto, which she served with a roasted garden butternut, fresh out of her garden. Trish's sage is going crazy at the moment and her first butternut was ready for picking yesterday, so she was determined to find a way to combine the two.

She often fries the sage leaves but, after the success of her recent tarragon pesto, she wondered if sage pesto would also be good. As it turns out, it was delicious.

Trishs Sage

Trish took two loosely packed cups of sage leaves and blended them with about a cup of olive oil. She then added six cloves of garlic, salt and pepper, and blended that. She stirred in around two handfuls of chopped walnuts and another two handfuls of ground almonds - thinking that the powerful sage needed this degree of taming - along with two handfuls of mixed grated cheese. She added a couple of teaspoons of honey, and served the pesto with slices of roasted butternut. Do visit Trish's fabulous food blog for more news of her food adventures.

Roasted butternut with sage pesto

Dinner wasn't served until about ten o'clock, however, because Trish was multi-tasking - arranging a bookcase that she'd moved into the living space from their ex-writing room. This, of course, turned into a bigger project than intended and the photos here are a work in progress as she didn't have time to move all the books. Looking good, Trish. Love the paint job.

Bookcase renovation

Kanen Breen

Kanens Gold Shoes

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has effected a five minute shoe transformation this week - a crazy work week for him - and he says he's very happy indeed with the results.

He bought these ultra-conservative shoes last week and wore them to rehearsals where he was roundly mocked for his 'plain Jane' footwear (people can be so cruel). Until then, he hadn't intended to mess about with the shoes but, upon reflection and with a little bit of a nudge from his friends, he decided that they weren't very 'him' after all and something had to be done. Five minutes with his So Soft gold paint and he now has just enough razzle dazzle to satisfy the naysayers and put a smile on his face as well. He says his creative output this week is hardly groundbreaking, but the best his schedule and energy levels would permit. I'm just glad to see him back in the shoe game. Flamingos are all well and good, but I'd definitely being missing his ultra glam shoes. Perhaps a well shod flamingo for next week?

Kanens Shoe Transformation

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has delighted us with another culinary delicacy this week. Always keen to make new things, she had a go at a German Apple Cake and the results, I think, speak for themselves - yes, it tastes easily as good as it looks. To serve, she invented an apple and blackberry sauce using fruit freshly picked from our garden and the combination couldn't have been better. It was a wonderful dessert.

Georgia hasn't done any recordings this week, but she's been prolific with her song writing. She has four new pieces to add to her repertoire once she's refined them to her liking, and we'll hopefully get to hear them in the coming weeks. Keep 'em coming, Georgia.

Georgias German Apple Cake

Stephen Bennett

Grandfathers Chest

Stephen Bennett has had a busy week attending meetings for a new job as choirmaster at Canberra Grammar School, so his creative work this week has been somewhat curtailed.

He inherited an old chest from his grandfather and has been intending to turn it into a bedside table for at least 25 years, so he got on with the job and now can't figure out why he took so long to get around to it. It looks fabulous, doesn't it?

Finished Chest

The tapestry stand he made for Hannah needed a re-design and a few modifications, followed by staining and varnishing, and he completed that job too (not bad for a curtailed week).

Hannah's tapestry stand
Doors in progress

The kitchen re-build is still hanging around his neck like a noose, so he tried to make some progress there. He cut all the rails and styles for the door frames, and when the panel raising router bit arrived in the mail from the USA, he raised the first two panels. He's also gluing up the next panel to be routed. It will be a slow job but he swears he'll get there by next Christmas. All in good time, I'm sure.

Kitchen Panel Doors

Scarlet Bennett

I could take a photo of my computer to show you all the writing I've done this week, but that wouldn't be very exciting, so you're going to have to take my word for it. My fingers have been flying across the keyboard with pleasing fluency, and long may that last is all I can say.

Determined to create something visual, however, I tinkered with some polymer early in the week, making a rose using a few different shades of red. I then added some wire and resin to make the piece a bit more interesting. It's an unusual design and I must say it's growing on me. It looks striking on and the steel wire stops the flower from looking too girly. An industrial passion theme, perhaps, and you've gotta love that.

Scarlets Red Rose

Week 4: Creative Challenge 52

South African born writer, florist, painter and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has baked a mouth-watering delicacy today - a passion fruit Victorian sponge, known in South Africa as a granadilla cake.

Keryns Granadilla Tea party.JPG

Keryn wasn't raised by her mother. Instead she was cared for by her grandmother, and it was her grandmother who taught her how to bake. Despite her mother's uselessness at anything to do with domesticity (you go, girl!), she was inspired by granadilla cake. One day she arrived back in South Africa without warning, just in time for Keryn's school fete. This inspired her to slap on an apron and march into the kitchen with the grand announcement that she was going to bake a granadilla cake.  But tradition bored Keryn's mother and she added her own personality to the cake, which included peppermint flavouring and blue icing.  The cake didn’t rise and it looked a sorry offering on the ladies cake counter at the fete. Imagine a flat blue cake with granadilla seeds lodged like dead flies in the icing. Keryn's never forgotten that cake because they took it home with them unsold. I have to confess that blue icing has that effect on me too.

This week, when Keryn's Country Home magazine arrived, there was a story in it about a retired man who bakes for his family, and he'd declared the Victorian Passion Fruit sponge the all-time family favourite. Keryn was inspired to make one in memory of her mother, and she thinks this recipe worked out well. She likes to think that, sans peppermint, she's inherited some of her mother's drama. Fortunately for us, she hasn't inherited her sense of aesthetics.

P.S. A little birdie told me that the granadilla cake is no longer, and that Keryn ate two slices. Well, you would, wouldn't you...

Keryn's granadilla cake

Keryn's granadilla cake

Kanen Breen

Kanen's in-progress screen transformation

Kanen's in-progress screen transformation

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, says we'll have to take his word for the fact that he's been consumed this week with writing a duet for the Strange Bedfellows performance, Under the Covers, at The Vanguard on December 16.

A number of factors have contributed to this being the case, apparently: 1) He's never written a song before, let alone a duet; 2) he can hardly play the piano; 3) the app he's using on his iPhone to score it legibly keeps crashing and erasing his efforts, which means that whatever section he's been working on has to be reconstructed from his bizarre and meandering, illegible scribbles. The end result of this is that he gets a completely different result every time. Very frustrating (in light of these developments, a blood pressure check may be in order, Mr Breen).

In spite of these limitations, the duet has gone from being a two and a half minute ditty to a full blown ten minute rock opera involving some pretty salacious behaviours in which Jacqui will be required to do her best Michael Hutchence impersonation (you'd best come home from Honkers toute suite, Jacqui, because all manner of mischief is underway in your absence).

Kanen's really been enjoying the challenge of trying to get a musical notion out of his brain and onto the page intact. The lyrics have been coming to him at all hours of the day and night, so he's been keeping a sparkly pink notebook beside him at all times to soak up the 'poetry' as it flows forth. One can only imagine. The lyrics have been coming to him at all hour

He can, of course, reveal none of this before the premiere, but he assures us that his composition will divide the punters and horrify his parents should they choose to attend. Isn't that precisely what children are for?

Lest we think his efforts too intangible this week, he's provided evidence of another (unexpected) screen transformation, which got underway yesterday. He went and saw a great act at The Vanguard in Newtown last week, and noticed an annoying door at the back of the stage that breaks the mood onstage every time someone steps through it. This, of course, prompted a creative inspiration, and Kanen immediately thought of four IKEA doors that he found on the nature strip near Jacqui's place that have languished in her garage ever since, waiting for a purpose. Their wait is now over and they're destined to become quite fabulous in due course. If you've been following Kanen's work, you'll find this very easy indeed to believe.

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 getting about twenty passion fruit a week off her vines. They've built up over the past couple of weeks, so she decided to make a passion fruit and apple jelly for this week's creative contribution.

The recipe was largely based on a recipe for passion fruit jelly from a beautiful book called 'Salt Sugar Smoke' by Diana Henry. Trish followed it fairly roughly, and referred to and borrowed bits from the Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall recipe for hedgerow jelly that has become her trusted recipe for all jellies. And because she can't resist playing around, she added a hint of chopped fresh chilli and a couple of bay leaves. Why oh why did she not make notes, she wonders. She's going to have to make it again, keeping proper notes, so she can post it to her fabulous food blog. But, of course, that's hardly a problem - the jelly is a gorgeous tart and tangy delight, and her passion fruit vine is obligingly producing an abundance of fruits all year round. This is the kind of problem it's rather nice to have.

Trish made some pre-dinner snacks featuring the jelly:

  1. Buckwheat blini with cream cheese, passion fruit jelly and fennel.
  2. Fried goats cheese haloumi served with lovage and passion fruit jelly.

For dinner, she made baked fish with lemon and olive oil. She served it with roasted broccoli and, of course, a passion fruit and apple jelly accompaniment. Way to dine in style, Trish.


Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has roped in her resources to create some funky jewellery this week. She's been making felt ropes - a.k.a. dreadlocks - to turn into necklaces. The necklaces are light and colourful, just the thing to wear with one of Telena's exotic creations.

Telena is busy creating a stock of these for the Christmas Show of the North Shore Craft Group in November. She tries to always have some new ideas for these exhibitions, and the dreadlocks are fun and quite quick to make.

Telena starts by rolling long lengths of fleece in a bamboo blind, joining each piece into a loop, and felting until they've shrunk and become thick, dense felt. When they're strong enough, she can hit them hard on her table, so they have therapeutic as well as aesthetic value - a great way to release those inner frustrations.

Bang! Pow! Wallop! Ah...I feel better now.


Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has been on holidays this past week and she was determined to put a positive, creative foot forward. She's written a few new songs that she wanted to record, and she also wanted to re-record some songs that she posted to her You Tube channel and website a few months ago, because our primitive technology let her down then and we've invested in some better equipment since.

Like most great plans, this one went awry. She spent days recording her songs, only to later discover that the technology was still delivering a sub-optimal result, in spite of the fact that it all looked good when she checked it on the video recorder at the time. So her planning, efforts and early preparation came to naught, and she's had a frantic dash to the finishing line today, with Steve helping to get the audio working better. This is a live recording made with pretty basic equipment, but it's the best we've managed yet and she still sounds awesome.

Georgia's recording set up

Georgia's recording set up

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been a legend this week, all but finishing our new garden infrastructure to allow us to grow more flowers. It was hot here today, so it took a heroic effort to finish these front beds. We need to get in a bit more soil, and we're still trying to decide whether or not to pave the pathways with some kind of mosaic design, but the beds are almost finished. It's been a huge job over the past few weeks and I know Steve's looking forward to getting back to his usual creative pursuits.

Steves Garden Infrastructure

Steve has also been busy with his camera, taking photos for our urban farming blog, photographing my jewellery, and getting out and about for the odd landscape shot whenever he can. He's particularly pleased with the abstract images he was able to create with the photos he took of a few stumps he found lying about. They're really very cool.

Steves Stumps
Steves Urban Farming Triptych

Scarlet Bennett

Yama's pendant

Yama's pendant

I've been juggling creative activities with some pretty heavy work commitments this past week, and I was grateful for the public holiday on Monday, which allowed me to make a couple of pieces that were high on my priority list.

Reiki practitioner, Yama Mehry, commissioned me to make him a lapis lazuli pendant. It wasn't a small piece by any means, not when you consider the size of the gemstones in your standard retail outlet, but it was definitely small by my standards, and I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it was to make. I'd forgotten that the challenges I deal with when setting very large stones are unique to large stones. Far be it from me to ever chose the easy road.

Still on a lapis theme, I made a large pendant for my friend Linda, to accompany the blue polymer flower I made her last week. This is a big piece, roughly 40mm x 30mm, and the stone is an absolute beauty - a deep, dark blue flecked with gold and featuring a sparkling gold stripe. Linda's really going to look the business in this.


Yesterday I indulged myself by playing around with a design that I've been thinking about for a while.

I've had a lot of positive feedback about the red polymer flower I made in our 30 day creative challenge. Every time I wear it, I get compliments, and I like it so much myself that I've been thinking about adding more flowers to my repertoire. I'm absolutely brimming with ideas, but I decided to start with a flower ring. I made the rose out of polymer, using some rose leaves from the garden as moulds, and I strengthened the flower and gave it a glass-like finish with resin. I set the rose on a blackened copper base with a sterling silver ring shank that I etched with a floral design.

It was hard to do justice to this piece with a camera because the surface is so reflective, but 'in the flesh' it's really quite gorgeous. If I'd had any doubts about it's potential popularity, they were dispelled early in the construction process. I had two 'commissions' for the ring before it was even finished. Hannah and Georgia took one look and said 'please could you make me one of those, but with a pink rose?'. The answer is yes, but I can do better than that. Brace yourself for an onslaught flowers in the coming weeks.