Filtering by Tag: flower jewellery

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 20: Creative Challenge 52

Trishs Sage Tea

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 obsessed with sage this week.

She went on a quest to make an interesting sage tea and came up with a combination comprised of mixed sage leaves and flowers, mint, cinnamon and dried rose buds. Trish says the combination is delicious, and she's enjoyed it hot, at room temperature, and chilled. She thinks it must have all sorts of beneficial properties and one look at her photos has sold me on that idea.

Trish also made a sage 'oil' mix by blending sage leaves, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. She kept it in a jar in the freezer and she's used it in nearly every meal this week: on baked potatoes fresh from the garden, as a baste for baked fish, served with gem squash, and used to flavour some Karoo lamb. Doesn't that sound delicious?

Check out Trish's fabulous food blog for more news of Trish's endlessly creative cooking adventures.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been indulging his shoe fetish again. He started the week by gilding the lily on last week's creation, adding sequins to his paint job. I hear the sequins elicited no end of comment from the naysayers of last week - a very satisfying turnaround.

Kanens brown shoes

His shoes of this week were a very early sequin attempt that went sour on account of the wrong glue. The sequins all fell off on their first outing, leaving a sequin-imprinted gluey residue behind which, unlike the sequins, refused to be dislodged from the fabric. Kanen relegated the shoe's to Jacqui's garage of horrors until the other day when he unearthed them with a rescue plan in mind. A lick of peacock green metallic paint later and they've taken on a sort of reptilian scale effect which Kanen quite likes. He painted the grey lace section gold, so they're not only glamtastic, but patriotic too. This creative legend will be outfitting Australian Olympians in no time.

Kanens Peacock Shoes

Telena Routh

Rolled Felt

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had a week full of meetings, long phone calls to parents, teaching, and house guests, so her felting time has been snatched in small moments, resulting in small creations.

Telena made some flowers this week, felting the larger flower in a single piece with a plastic resist between the layers. She then shaped it to make it stand away from the base. The smaller flowers were felted in long strips, rolled up and sewn to create the bud shape. Her plan in the coming week is to make leaves and stems for some of the flowers, and to turn others into brooches.

Felt Flowers

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has been thinking about fashion and working on a new dressmaking idea over the past few days. She made a pattern this week from one of her favourite skirts, and she's cut out her fabric and is ready to sew. Happily, she wants her new skirt to be longer than the original (and she's added a good inch to the pattern), and that's music to any parent's ears.

Make your own pattern

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has had a huge week looking for repertoire for his new job as choirmaster at Canberra Grammar Junior School. He is responsible for six choirs, from Years 2-6, so he needs lots of different music for the different age groups and abilities involved.

He had the bright idea to make a two-part arrangement of a favourite song - Benjamin Britten's The Sally Gardens, so he wrote a second part under the melody, entered the lot into Finale, and then printed out four versions so he can use it for the choir and also for a couple of high school boys who sing duets. He loves any excuse to work with Finale as he finds it such a brilliant program.

Steves arrangment of The Sally Gardens

Steve also photographed Georgia before she went out for a birthday party on Friday night. Looking good, girl! Nice photo too.

Singer Georgia Bennett

Scarlet Bennett

My creative contribution has a garden theme this week. I dried a coreopsis flower and set it into this brass ring with resin. It's not a classic piece, by any means, but it's fun and funky and youthful. I swear it takes at least a decade off me.

Flower Ring

I've got a job list a mile long in the garden at the moment, because if I don't propagate my seeds now, I'll have no winter crops. My plants need to be well developed before the winter cold kicks in, and Canberra cold is never far away. My first tranche of seeds was started this week - around 250 seeds in total, and I need to do at least that many again over the next few weeks. Mercifully, we've had a cool spell, so I've been able to get the job done in relative comfort.

Propagating seeds

Not only is it planting time, but it's harvest time as well, and my summer crops have flourished. Here's a selection of produce picked yesterday morning to turn into a delicious Afghan eggplant curry - my friend Khatira's recipe. Yum!

Garden Harvest

Week 17: Creative Challenge

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, abandoned her kitchen in favour of other creative pursuits this past week.

Trishs Landscape Panorama

She's been holidaying with family in Magaliesburg, and she took the opportunity to take some awesome photos of her surrounds. You may remember that developing her photography skills was one of Trish's goals when we embarked on the year-long creative challenge. She's certainly succeeding on that front.

Trishs Sunset Diptych

Trish had a problem to solve when she returned home to Johannesburg. Richard needed to use their newly renovated office for meetings and the weather was unpleasantly hot. No problem for a creative like Trish. She whipped up this impressive awning in the blink of an eye. She says she was tempted to take a leaf out of Kanen Breen's book and paint stripes on it (note that she didn't go as far as sequins, glitter and seed beads), but it was too hot to faff about with decorations. They needed a cool office and they needed it fast. Nice work, Trish!

Trishs Awning

As the office window faces out onto their vegetable garden, Trish took a few quick snaps in her garden too. She often throws some marigold and nasturtium seeds into the garden when she's planting cabbages in the hope that they'll deter some of insects that love chewing away on her cabbage crops. This year they've self-sown in an attractive line at the base of the passion fruit and are flowering and looking beautiful. She also reports that her gem squashes are flourishing and that she's got enough tomatoes to regularly enjoy tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella salads. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Trishs Garden

Kanen Breen

On the rebound from another two sell-out cabaret performances at The Vanguard in Newtown, opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has renewed his passion (or should I say, fetish) for shoes.

He bought these converse sneakers because he liked the zipper effect, but they were originally a camouflage design which had no appeal, so he painted them green with his trusty fabric paint. He never really liked the colour he chose (too forest green and he has nothing to wear with that colour scheme), so he rarely ever wore them.

After a couple of years in Jacqui's garage where nature took its course with damp as its ally, and they went even greener - mould green to be exact. Kanen made a half-hearted attempt to resuscitate them, but the paint started coming off and he was going to consign them to the bin when he suddenly thought...'Now come on, don't give up, get creative!' Fabric glue, glitter and masking tape later and we have a re-born pair of shoes just gagging to get grooving. Kanen has a feeling these little lovelies won't have any time to gather moss as they stride out with pride and just a hint of gay abandon.

He says, 'I'm back, baby. How I've missed the shoe transforming caper. More to come, methinks...'

Brace yourselves, people.

Kanens Shoes

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is on the move tonight, at a farewell function before she flies out of Perth at 5am tomorrow morning to her new home in the Gold Coast. Safe journey, Keryn, and we look forward to seeing you back in full creative form next week.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had a painful week in more ways than one. She's been unable to create new textiles - ouch! - because she took a slice out of the middle finger on her right hand on a rotary cutter (with the blade protector in place).

Fortunately, she has a very impressive body of work to draw on while she's incapacitated, and she's showcasing some garments from her own collection this week.

The good news is that even with her injured finger, Telena is still able to knit, so she's planning to mass produce squares and blankets for Wrap with Love. Perhaps there really is a silver lining in every cloud.

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has been in Sydney this week, enjoying her last holiday away from home for this summer. Inspired by the gorgeous clothes she bought while she was away - shopping mostly in Newtown's alternative boutiques - she came home determined to create a sewing nook in her bedroom that she can leave set-up and ready to go. Her first project is to make a pattern from this cute little fitted skirt, and then to make another skirt in stretchy black fabric.

Georgias Sewing Nook

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has had a fiddly week organising (and ordering) tools to finish the kitchen re-build. He's finished the painting this week and properly installed the range hood. He's fitted skirting boards behind the stove and put up architraves around the door. So, nothing glamorous, he says, but lots of necessary finishing up. His next task - once the router bit he's waiting on arrives - is to build the timber cupboard doors.

Kitchen Before
Kitchen After

In the midst of building our kitchen, he also found time to set up a portrait shoot for me. I needed a new head shot for my work, and I'm fortunate indeed to have a live-in photographer at hand. One man, five minutes. Sorted!

Scarlet Bennett

Scarlet bennett

I've been busy on a number of creative fronts this week. I finished a necklace that I started last week. The choker is made from blue sky jasper, all the findings are sterling silver, and the pendant is a mixed media creation featuring a dried nigella flower from my garden. If you look closely you'll see a subtle industrial edge - the border embellishments on the pendant are star washers from the hardware store.

Blue Sky Jasper Nigella Pendant

I've also been drying flowers for use in future jewellery creations.

Scarlets Dried Flowers

I've been flat out in the garden, getting rid of summer weeds, planting fresh batches of lettuce, beet, radish, silverbeet, chia, celtuce, sugarbeet and basil. And I've been harvesting, harvesting, harvesting... You can't imagine how much produce my garden is currently producing. The sample below was just what I picked for today's lunch, and it's an understatement to say that this didn't make a dent in my available produce.

Summer harvest

I was fortunate enough to receive a Sedona food dehydrator for Christmas (just in time to turn our ripening stone fruit into delicious fruit leather), and I've been experimenting with lots of different recipes using this extraordinary machine. A particular highlight this week was my homemade muesli bars. Full of nothing but pure, life-enhancing ingredients, these bars have to be tasted to be believed - so much better than anything you can buy at the supermarket. Here they are half way through the drying process on a Sedona tray, and served with a nice cup of tea at the end of a busy afternoon in the garden. Just the ticket.

Scarlets Muesli Bars
Muesli bars with tea

Week 15: Creative Challenge 52

Having abandoned all pretense at moving on from my flower obsession, I dried some love-in-a-mist flowers from my garden recently to use in some jewellery pieces I've been working on. Embracing the sense of nostalgia evoked by cottage garden flowers, I've gone for a Victoriana look with the experimental piece I've posted today. I made a classic choker using olive jade and sterling silver, and a mixed media, experimental pendant featuring my beautiful, dried love-in-a-mist bloom. The pendant is attached to the choker with a sterling silver bolt ring, which means it can be easily removed and replaced with a different pendant for maximum versatility. Classic jewellery with a twist. The old world charm of this piece just warms my heart.

I've also been experimenting in the kitchen, trying to make delicious food using ultra healthy ingredients to get us all in top shape to welcome in the new year. I've made lots of different things, but for today I'm showcasing my raw vegan cheesecake with blueberry sauce. Sinful on the tastebuds, nutritionally virtuous everywhere else. You've gotta love that. I've posted the recipe at the bottom of this blog in case you're tempted to try it yourself.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been a very good girl this year and, consequently, Santa has obliged with just the right gift. He's delivered a drum carder, an impressive looking gadget that will enable Telena to blend yarn to create just the right colour combinations for her textiles.

Telena's drum carder is a 'Wild Drum Carder' which apparently has deeper teeth so she can add fancy yarns and blend a variety of different colours and textures. She can darken or lighten the hue by adding black or white, creating subtle gradations between colours. Telena hasn't had time to do much with it yet, but she's blended a few colours to get a feel for the results she'll be able to achieve. Telena's new drum carder adds a whole new element to her textile work as she'll no longer be reliant on dyeing her fabrics. Now she can add blended yarn either before or after felting. I think we can expect to see some interesting creations in 2015. Bring it on is all I can say.

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 creating wonderful images rather than cooking up a storm this week. She, Richard, and her sister Penny, drove from Cape Town to Johannesburg, travelling through mostly remote locations and taking three days to complete the trip. Trish took these photos with her phone - hard to believe when you see the quality of her images - with some photos even taken through the window of their moving car. The trio drove through Sutherland to Calvina and Carnavon, with Trish capturing the flavour of the area en route. These photos make me want to pack up stumps and head on over.

In other news, the sexual and gender based violence documentary that Trish and her Left-Eye Productions partner, Andy, made is now up on the HIAS website. Do check it out here. Gorgeous cinematography to support a very worthy cause.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has embraced a millinery theme this past week. He's gussied up a really plain hat that has been lying around Jacqui's house for the past six months just waiting for him to notice it. This effort is both creative and necessary because Kanen says their darling stylist, Dynae, is unavailable for their next two Bedfellow  performances and he's been in a spot of bother without her. While Jacqui has her wig to fall back on, Dynae makes Kanen's hair look slick and fabulous. When he tried to replicate the style himself, he says he looked old and bald - hence the hat innovation. After a quick trip to Daiso, where all the flowers and jazzy bits cost the princely sum of $2.80, Kanen now has a very nifty hair hider for all future stylist-free ventures. He laments that it's not his finest creative hour, but in the absence of day-care, he has about nine minutes a week at the moment to get his bling on. Hats off to you, comrade. Nine minutes well spent.

Oh, and just to whet our appetites, Kanen has given us a sneak preview of a flamingo that's currently undergoing something of a transformation. Watch this space...


Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has given us a glimpse of her Christmas this year and what a busy bee she's been. Flat out packing for the move to the Gold Coast, she's still found time to cook up a storm. She made a delicious Christmas cake and a gorgeous zucchini pie. She also arranged some lovely flowers for her Christmas table. Note the packing paper table cloth - art that grows out of life. Love it.

NB. Santa liked her packing paper table cloth so much he even wrote on it.

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and songwriter, Georgia Bennett, has recorded the song she performed at her high school graduation. It's her own composition - one of my favourites - and it's wonderful to now have a recording of it. You go, girl.


Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett took Georgia and Henry for a pre-Christmas holiday in Narooma. Unfortunately, poor Henry came down with a cold and spent the first couple of days in bed. They stayed in a cabin at Handkerchief Beach, just two minutes walk to the water. Sadly there were lots of bluebottles in the water, so it wasn't safe to swim, but it was lovely going for walks in the sand and enjoying the salty air. Georgia took a guitar down to the beach every day for a spot of song writing, and came up with some new material to develop. Steve had fun with his camera as usual, photographing along the coastline and inland at Central Tilba, a beautiful heritage town from the 19th Century. He still has a few rolls of black and white film from the trip to develop, but these digital photos are ready to go.

Cheesecake with blueberry sauce

This recipe came from a book called Deliciously Raw by Carmella Soleil, which came free with my Optimum Blender. You can see more of Carmella's recipes here.


1 cup almonds; 1/4 cup soft dates; 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract; pinch salt.

Process the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. The mixture should stick when pressed together between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a little water or some agave nectar if you want a sweeter base. Press into the bottom of a pie plate or 7-inch springform pan.


First: 2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour; 1/2 cup water; 1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Second: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil; 1 tablespoon lecithin powder.

Process the first 5 ingredients in a powerful blender, pausing to scrape the sides, until smooth and creamy.

Add the melted coconut oil and lecithin and blend briefly, just to incorporate. Pour the flling  onto the crust. Chill in the fridge or freezer for a few hours or until firm.