Monday, December 8, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

On Saturday we decided to drive down the South Coast across the border to Kingscliff in Northern New South Wales for the day. The new Tugan Bypass takes what seems like an hour of waiting in traffic off the trip. The plan was to head to the beach so that Remy could have a game of soccer, a nice cool swim and then we'd all enjoy a long relaxing walk along the beach.

So following all that activity, we settled down under a large shady tree at Fingal Head, to a picnic lunch of sliced chilled Tandoori chicken, Coleslaw, tiny seeded Dinner Rolls and my version of a Greek cous cous salad (actually its one of Ainsley Harriott's recipes that I've adapted) along with some fresh cherries, slices of cold watermelon and crunchy seedless green grapes, followed by a bottle of iced Tea...Yum!

All was going to plan until just after lunch when Remy managed to recline on an Ants nest. These were not just your average little black ants, but really big, black, nasty, ferocious stinging ants.

Within seconds the area around his entire right eye blew up, then the right side of his snout, followed by the bottom and corner of his left eye. The poor little guy was in agony and trying to rub his eye with his paw. We managed to settle him somewhat with an towel dipped in icy water, but after about 20 mins decided to head back to Brisbane to the 24 hour vet hospital at Manly. Remy lay across the back seat of the car and tried to sleep, but his little face resembled that of the incredible hulk, minus the green tinge. I could feel his radiating pain, poor little guy.

After driving for an hour and what seemed like eternity in the waiting room we managed to see the vet. By this time it was over two and half hours since he'd been stung and some of the swelling had started to subside. He was given two injections, antihistamine and steroid.

The vet said he'd feel alot better after that. Anyway the swelling had disappeared by morning and he was back to his usual self. The funny thing was as soon as we got home from the vet he was keen to have a game of ball in the front garden. No way I told him, you're going to hop on your bed and have a little rest.

"Grumble, grumble, grumble. Geez mum to I have to?"

This will be my last post till next year. Summer is here in Australia and I have tonnes of holiday reading to keep me amused, might also find some time to laze about the pool in the back garden. The water was clear, sparkling and so very refreshing on the weekend.

Have a enjoyable festive season and most happy new year. To my Aussie friends have a great summer and to my many friends on the other side of the world, stay warm. Catch you all in 2009.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And the winner is........

Ok, so we now know who the winner is of the 2008 Swarovski Creative Beading Competition... drum roll please................."Caroline Fung" with a fabulous creation entitled "Dance of the Fire Phoenix".

Caroline is a member of our very own Australian Beading Forum, a talented bunch of Designers and Artists in their own right, these girls and boys are reaping prizes and publicity the world over.

Caroline's piece is an absolutely stunning work of art. She states that her inspiration came from some gorgeous Swarovski pendants which she found on the Internet whilst searching for information about Thailand as she planned a holiday there.

She goes on to add, having seen pictures of Thai dancers with their rich and vibrant costumes of red and gold along with their very unique posture, she set about working in an attempt to incorporate all those images gathered in her mind. The whole design has been constructed via wire wrapping techniques and using different gauges of gold filled wire.

You can view Caroline's masterpiece at

As well as in the next issue (Dec 2008) of Australian Creative Beading.
In the Jan 2009 you'll also find a profile of Caroline's work. Caroline has won a trip to Austria. Congratulations Caroline, fabulous effort.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Five Stages of Jewellery Acquisition

1) Infatuation — "I want it."
2) Justification — "I must have it!"
3) Appropriation — "IT'S MINE AT LAST!"
4) Obsession — "Precious!"
5) Resale (usually after you're sick of it) — "Make me an offer."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christmas Dog

Been messing about with the Nikon again, trying to decide on photos for my special Xmas cards this year. I managed to get the young fella to sit still long enough for me to snap off a few pics. As usual he got bored and starting yawning (well I think that's why he was yawning), then lay down with his nose between his paws, had to bribe him with a liver treat. Then he lost his Santa hat and looked at me as if to say "well come on and pick it up, so we can get on with it" He really does have the patience of a saint and is so very obliging whenever he's asked to sit for pics. It was overcast today, so lighting's not so good. I might try again when the sun comes out.

By the way, did you know that Border Collies yawn the most out of all the different breeds of dogs. According to a report in the London Daily Mail dogs yawn when their owners do, although I've never tried this with Remy. Yes indeed yawning is infectious, we all know that, but new research shows that dogs can apparently catch yawns, too. Scientists from the University of London's Birkbeck College found that 72per cent of dogs placed in a room with a yawning person would follow suit. And they don't do so out of tiredness or boredom, the researchers suggest, but as a way of empathising with their master.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Little Miss Peppa Pants

Here's Miss Peppa Pants... as I call her because she is such a little bossy britches and a mind of her own (well she is a female after all)
Peppa is Remy's (my border collie's) niece, born the same day as him and I get to pet sit her occasionally. She must be fed first and get all the
Remy just takes it all in his stride, he's so easy going. They get to spend heaps of time together, running in the park, on the beach, playing Frisbee although Peppa won't return it and I have to send Remy to get it when she finally drops it...It's a funny sight. We meet up with Peppa's human parents fairly often.

Here's the pic of her I used to do the painting.

Not exactly the same pose but I think its a good likeness of her and her little personality.

I used Atelier Interactive Acrylic paint and this time I tried a new sealer from Windsor and Newton - Galeria Acrylic Medium Gloss Varnish. It went on easily enough but like most sealers one needs to be mindful of not over brushing and only using a light coat, otherwise it can tend to look milky on the canvas.

Solomons Treasure

Don't faint I actually made something... lol

Mother inlaw has been bugging me for one of my bookmarks, it was a struggle to pull out the beads, but funnily enough once I got going on it.. well you know how it it. She's turning 75 next week so this will go with the rest of the present we got for her.

I used czech crystals, glass pearls and beads and some faceted semi precious stones I had lying around in the left overs drawer. The fish came on a strand of beads I bought last time I visited the "Feeling Inspired" show here in Brissy. I made the squiggly shape, a beaten piece of wire and managed to hit my finger in the process. ouch! In hindsight I think the beaten wire kind of looks like rolling waves.

Oh and I added a little Turtle (Solomon) who inspired the whole piece.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Solomon Honu"

Finished this little fellow yesterday, I love turtles so this one is all mine. Ever since I visited Heron Island off Gladstone a few years back I've been amazed by these wonderful creatures. Although, the Turtles visiting Heron Island are mainly Loggerhead, this fellow is a Green Turtle.
Once again I used Atelier Interactive Acrylics, but this time I used a glaze too, a mix of paint and thinning medium to give the effect of the coral being under the sea.

The canvas measures 1200x900, so its probably one of the biggest paintings I've ever attempted.
I also got to use some of my fave colours too, gorgeous mixes of blues and greens for the sea.

Anyway he's now hanging in the hallway off the back deck against a golden sand painted wall and he looks devine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Froggy No. 4

Just finished another painting. You may have guessed by now if you follow this blog fairly regularly that I adore frogs. Lamp worked (of which I've used several in the many pieces of jewellery photographed for this blog) painted, real or otherwise.
This little guy is a "White Lipped Tree Frog" and is happily perched upon one of my favourite tropical garden flowers, a Heliconia.

I used Atelier Interactive Acrylics and pigment ink for something different. I love these interactive paints, the colours are so vibrant and a joy to use.
This is probably one of the largest paintings I've ever completed measuring 900 x 900.
Interestingly, yesterday I happened upon a book about "Picasso" whilst cleaning out my book cupboard. That book bought back lots of happy memories. Inscribed on the first page was a hand written note:
"Presented to Bernadine Yourell. First Prize Kilcoy Show 1977. Donated by Mr. A Tulloch."
The painting that won first prize from memory was a Still Life study, would you believe, of Oranges, cut, peeled, quartered etc. I forget how many countless pencil, pen and other drawings I had to complete as part of my study, before tackling that painting.
Unfortunately I no longer have it, being completed in ordinary old student acrylics there were certainly no archival qualities associated with that paint.
We tackled lots of interesting projects in those classes, lino cutting, screen printing (yep I still have the afternoon tea cloth to prove it and its in original condition, never been used) charcoal and pencil drawings, designing posters using mixed media, doing portraits, never pets always, are some of things I can recall.
I have been painting for a very long time on and off and way before 1977. Alan Tulloch, now a Brisbane Artist, was my Art Teacher for two years in the late 1970's.
So Alan if you happen to read this, thanks for the happy memories and knowledge you passed on to me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I've really gotten into the Pet Portrait thing lately. Here's my latest a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel by the name of "Cookie". He belongs to my niece Samantha, but has a very strong attachment to her mother, my sister-in-law, Jennifer.
Cookie tends to get a bit put out when Remy appears on the scene, because Cookie is an older dog and dislikes having a young pup jumping all over him

A couple of weeks back at a family BBQ Cookie saw Remy appear and scampered off to sit with his back to us all between his mum's feet , a very funny sight. If Remy is doing some of his tricks, Cookie is always keen to join in so he can score a treat too.

This painting will make up part of Jennifer's Christmas gift and was painted from two original photographs shot by both Jennifer and Samantha.

PS.. Jan '09
The painting was very well received, Jen said she loved it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whats Up

Gosh, its been a while. Spent half of winter laid up with some illness or another.
Luckily I had two weeks of Olympic Sport to keep me amused. Mind you, the games were almost over, when my DH decided that he'd better go out and buy a Set Top Box so that I could see all the action in High Defination. Well frankly, don't know what all the fuss was about, sport is sport and it looks the same to me whatever the Defination. Perhaps having a TV the size of a movie theatre screen would help, maybe should have put in my order for one of those too. hehe.

Anyway what have I been up to lately???? Lots of reading for a start, thank goodness for the local Library and of course my mate Remy has been great company. This pic sort of gives you an idea of what he's been up to most of the time. Typical Border Collie pose whilst sleeping.

I've also gone back to painting. Yesterday I finished my first Pet Portrait, of guess who? What fun, ended up searching my computer for all the pics I've taken of Remy for the last 14months or so and found one of my fav's, printed it in A4 size on photo paper, just so I could see more detail.

I've never painted animals before in such a large format and felt really inspired by some of Brisbane Artist Tracey Keller's animal portraits. I love her unique fun style. Anyway I've given the portrait to DH, who had a good giggle and commented on how I view Remy's mezmerizing stare. Remy really does have the most amazing eyes in real life.

Now I've just got to think about my next project whilst I'm in the mood to paint. I'm enjoying the way the hallway downstairs is starting to take on the feel of art gallery.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008 Swarovski Creative Beading Awards

Wow. Some amazing pieces have so far been entered in the "2008 Swarovski Creative Beading Awards" (Aust) Many of these sparkling and fabulous entries are from the very talented members of the "Australian Beading Forum". Its a such a privilege to know these ladies and gents, their talent is incredible.

Its difficult to pick a fav, all are winners in my eyes and I do believe the judges will have a very hard time, picking a winner this year. Can't wait to see the top 25.

If you're interested in checking out the entries so far go on and visit

Monday, July 21, 2008

Birthday Present for Jennifer

I made this bracelet a while back using some of Bev's glorious Lampies. I teamed the Lampies with Stering Silver and Swarovski crysals that are half silver and half crystal. They really give a glam look to the whole piece. The beads were actually commissioned for a customer who then changed her mind and wanted one of my gorgeous green lampie bracelets also made with Bev's beads.

Thought the black and silver plum beads made a great winter piece, so as its my sister-in-laws birthday in a couple of days time, she has scored it as her birthday present along with a set of sterling silver, grey and black toned earrings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yes, we have no Bananas!

On my recent trip to North Queensland we passed through the town of Innisfail on the "Great Green Way". Innisfail was severely devastated by Category 5 Cyclone, Larry, in March 2006. The town has a population of about 8,000, and is the centre of the Johnstone Shire, which has a population of around 19,000 all up. It is located on the Cassowary Coast (named after the rare local native bird - more about these in a future post )between World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

This region today is Australia's largest producer of bananas, rivalling sugar as an income earner. Tea, Papaws and exotic tropical fruits are also grown.
Beef cattle are processed in a modern abattoir near Innisfail for domestic and overseas markets. Aquaculture also plays an important part in the region's economy, ranging from prawn, barramundi and fresh water crayfish to crocodile farming.

After more than two years life seems to be getting back to normal although there are still the odd one or two wrecks of houses remaining. We were told by a local tropical fruit winery owner that most of those would have been under-insured and if they hadn't rebuilt by now they had no plans too. The winery's crop of passionfruit was entirely wiped out too, so now they buy all their fruit in. Their Passionfruit wine is rather a nice drop too I might add, think it would go down mighty well with Strawberry, Mango and Passionfruit Pavlova. yum!

I was utterly amazed at the number of houses that have bright shiny new roofs in and around the town, it must have been terrible, almost every house seems to have been damaged. Innisfail is also known as the Art Deco capital of Australia. Many of these buildings can been seen in the centre of town. These were built after the town was devasated by a cyclone in 1918, so the town was rebuilt in the style that was popular at that time. There are many examples of Art Deco design facades including Spanish, Sicilian, Moroccan, Italian and Anglo Saxon.

I was also interested to see how the Banana crops were coming along. Things have improved somewhat as not that long ago, supermarkets were charging around $10.00 kilo for bananas. Now things have improved they're back to their pre cyclone prices.
Lots of green fruit appear to be hanging from trees all brightly bagged to keep fruit flies away. The bags reminded me of brightly coloured balloons of red, yellow blue, orange, silver and green hanging from the trees.

The pic above was taken on the way to the Tully Gorge a popular spot for White Water Rafting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Logged on to the Australian Beading Forum this morning to find an interesting and heated discussion on Copyright. I must say I was sad to find the thread closed by the time I got to the last page, although anything that I might have added I've already posted here in this blog previously. (Click on the Label below entitled "Copyright" to see other posts)

Lets hope that the thread on the forum doesn't get deleted this time as it contains some very useful info and can certainly be used as a reference by any new and unfortunately inexperienced beaders.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just back from Holidays

Returned home late yesterday from Far North Queensland, hence the reason I've not posted for a couple of weeks. Found both good news and bad news sitting in my email in box.

Received a very nice email from "Burkes Backyard Magazine" here in Australia after submitting a little story and accompanying photo of Izzy Liz.

Here's what I said in my original email to them

"Hi there Don. Just thought I'd send you a pic of our friendly backyard eastern waterdragon "Izzy Liz". Sadly she is no longer with us, but as you can see she wasn't to be trusted around food and her table manners were a little lacking... ie...foot in the bowl. She loved to raid leftovers off the table on our back deck and not too long ago I found her sitting amongst upturned tea cups helping herself to the biscuit crumbs after I returned from seeing my guests off at the front gate.

I snapped this particular pic one morning a couple of years back after my husband Michael left his cereal unattended whilst he made coffee. She loved grapes, cherries and strawberries and the odd painted I learnt really quickly not to paint my toenails orange and sit barefoot at the table.... ouch!!

She became very friendly around 4 years ago when Michael was digging and levelling an area in our garden which was to be paved. He kept throwing her earth worms that he dug up as he came across them. From that moment on, she hung about the back veranda and would sleep in one of our hanging orchard baskets till the end of April each year and then would disappear till the beginning of Spring. Occasionally she would come into the kitchen via the back door and one day I even found her investigating the corridor off the kitchen. She became so friendly that I could just call her by name and she'd appear from the back garden, often getting up on the chair beside me and resting on the back of it whilst I read or made jewellery. I occasionally fed her worms from the pet shop, these she would take straight out of my upturned hand, plus she would also let me stroke her neck."

Here's the magazine's response

"What a great story, sounds like you had a wonderful relationship with Izzy Liz. Your photo really captures that cheeky side of her that you described so well :)

I have sent your photo off to the shortlist for possible publication.

Good luck!"

I won't write about the bad news as I'm still digesting it as well as coming up with an apt response to the nutter who sent it.

Another thing I really hate is the amount of junk mail that hits my in box. I arrived home to find about 300 time wasting emails. You've won the Lottery!! We want to give you USD24,000,000 as we've found a long lost relative of yours!! Can we launder money in your bank account and then clean you out of house and home!! Please tell us you user name, password and birthdate so we can clean up your email account!!

Time I got a new email address which only my friends will be privy to.

To all those fraudsters, I hope the long arm of the law eventually catches up with you and you get what you fully deserve. A nice long holiday without your own set of keys!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gimme a break. I'm still learning.

"Ooooh, its a Sheep! What am I supposed to do with them again"?


Do I operate or not?

Mean't to post about my fun day a couple of Friday's ago...

Early in the morning went to check on my aquarium and feed the fish. Thought I caught sight of a bug caught in the plants that are growing in the tank. Went off the grab the net, then I heard a crunching noise.

Well too late, the bug which just happened to be a giant roach was swallowed up by my 16cm long fancy tailed Shabunkin which I've had for sometime now. Darn, now what to do? Could see the fish wasn't able to swallow the whole thing and part of one of its barbed legs was hanging from its mouth. Oh that's just dandy I thought, I'm going to loose that fish, he's going to die for sure. Not happy Jan, that fish cost me Forty big ones.

Sms'd hubby at work, no sympathy there. So then joined an Aquarium forum and of course not too many people had experience with this sort of thing. Why me? Someone suggested that I could perhaps operate on him by removing the bug with a pair of tweezers. Eeeek! I'm squeamish at the best of times and was sure that I'd gone out in sympathy with the fish without even knowing it. My throat felt like it had something caught in it all day. Darn that fish! By this time said fish, was lying on the bottom of the tank, still upright, but obviously not feeling very well.
"Serves you right for being a little pig", I said.
Of course every time he opened his month slightly I could see the bug lodged in his throat, which made me feel sicker.

ok ok a plan was forming. I'd wait till Hubby came home then he could help with the operation. After all, he'd kept fish for years as a child and young adult, surely he'd know what to do. By the time he came home, fish had managed to get all of the bug into his mouth and was obviously swallowing it slowly as he digested it. Several more hours of sitting on the bottom of the tank, hardly moving and continuing to look very sorry for himself followed. After about 36 hours he was fine and swimming around looking for something else to gobble up. Just hope he doesn't decide to eat the rest of the goldfish in the tank, just because he thinks he can.
PS... that's him in the pic above swimming about happily today.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A fun way to select colours for Jewellery Design

Most of us at one time or another have trouble coming up with new and exciting colour combinations. Of course one way to get out of trouble is to use seasonable colour charts many of which are accessible on the net; one such site that comes to mind is Fire Mountain Gems who are actually a bead and finding supplier in the USA and you can check out the 2008-2009 colour forecast guide on their website.

Alternatively you can raid the paint charts and chips which are also seasonal and available at your local hardware store, but one of my favs is to use fabric or a piece of clothing out of my very own wardrobe.

Here's a piece of jewellery I designed around colours in a new blouse I bought in the summer. It was a combination of deep violet, white and rust tones.
I had been saving a luscious strand of violet dyed large fresh water pearls to make something for myself. I teamed these with sterling silver, and various swarovski crystals to match the colours in the fabric.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer time Bracelets

This is one of my favourite bracelets. I adore the colours of the Swarovski crystals and pearls together, but the big feature opalite bead in the centre to me seems to capture the essence of summer from within.

Guess I'm just trying to remind myself that summer will reappear again in a few months. Today its dark, gloomy and cold outside. Rain is forcast along with a possible storm. Maybe a good thing we could certainly use some rain and goodness knows my garden would love it to.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Something not quite right

Last week was a stinker of a week. It started off well enough, then on Monday a dust storm hit without warning. No ordinary dust storm, this one was man made. Let me explain.

The property behind our house was sold a few months back and now seems bought by someone intent on pissing his neighbours off before he even moves in.

The house was "demolished" on Monday with no warning, after being delivered a letter to say the house would be "removed" on Saturday. We naturally assumed that the house would be removed on the back of a very large trailer around midnight with a police escort as is often the case with old Queenslanders in our area. But, at 6.30am on Monday morning we were all rudely awakened by an excavator crashing about, smashing roof tiles and basically creating havoc and unsettling years of dust, which I might add managed to find its way over my back fence, showering my upper and lower outdoor entertaining areas including the pool with dust and filth. Took me four days to clean up the mess which wasn't easy when we're not allow to use more than 140 litres of water per person per day here in Brisbane because of our drought and so called lack of planning by councils and Government.

On Tuesday to add insult to injury and whilst I was at the vet with Remy, all the vegetation was removed including a large Jacaranda tree, more noise and more dust. These clowns also managed to wreck a section of our back fence whilst trying to remove a very large Cocos Palm. That fence also encloses our pool area. Enough was enough. Over I went and let 'em have it. Normally I'm a very patient person and will put up with all sorts of crap, but not anymore.

They proceeded to tell me that there wasn't that much dust. "Well how come then, that guy over there is wearing a mask", I said. Some very sheepish looks and a promise that they weren't fly by nighters and would fix my fence that evening. Well yes they fixed the fence, in dark. Needless to say the job was pathetic, tonnes of bent nails and unsupported work that had to be ripped out and put right on the weekend by Hubby.

I'm sure this is not the end of trouble. I can hardly wait, I would rather have continued looking at a very green if somewhat unkept backyard that provided tonnes of privacy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another use for a Bear

Couldn't resist snapping this pic. Here's Remy fast asleep using his bear as a pillow. Funny when he's had a big weekend, he spends the whole of the next day fast asleep.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Winter is here

Its not even the 1st June yet, already its starting to freeze. Can't wait to head north even if just for a short period. Nothing better than a warm sunny day with a cooling breeze, sitting under a tree on a stunning beach...sigh..roll on.
Why do the days before you go holidays always drag by?

I started to pack my suit case weeks ago, am I keen or what? I'm struggling with what to pack. Should I pack a wrap for evening just in case? Been working though my to do list before I go and its slowly getting shorter too. Spent the last two weekends pulling old palms fonds out of the garden and putting them through the mulcher, as well as repotting/planting, prunning etc. We got a really heavy down pour on Saturday night and I could hear the garden yelling out its thanks whilst it greedily tried to swallow up as much of that refreshing aqua it could.

I lost my prized double red standard camilla during this hideous dought. On the weekend we finally dug it out, added some sweet new compost to the spot where it had been and planted a new double flowered white one tinged with pink on the edge of the petals. Hope it survives. At least that nasty possum that had been eating the other one has now disappeared. We found him with his head stuck under the back garden fence, silly thing if it had turned its head slightly it would have been able to release its self from what was to become its nemesis. These critters eat everything in sight. I'm told they have no taste buds, hence I guess the reason they strip my chili trees bare of fruit, leaves, the whole lot. Am hoping that the new pots I planted full of herbs, cherry tomatoes, chili, mixed baby lettuces and egg plants survive long enough for me to harvest them for dinner. Well I guess I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yes Indeed the Proof's in the Pudding

Two engineers trying to fit a new bicycle in the back of a 4 wheel drive, they lay one side of the backseat down (the other side is in use) proceed to slide the bicycle in handlebars first, find it doesn't fit as the back doors won't close.

So they take the bicycle out and decide to take off the front wheel, only to find that they can't get it past the brake pads, no tools...hummm....what to do?
Fiddle about for a while talking amongst themselves.

Meanwhile onlooker with other places to be says "Why are you doing that, put it in back end first, so that you can maneuver the handle bars around and the door will close"

So they do as suggested and it fits perfectly. What does that prove?
That an x officer manager (me) is a far more logical thinker than two Engineers (Husband and Brother-in-Law) put together.

Yup and I won't let em' forget

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another photograph, this time of a storm brewing out at sea off Heron Island. Heron Island is a little coral cay off the Queensland coast near Gladstone.

It's that time of year when most of the resorts are offering cheaper holiday deals as its coming into the winter season here. I was reminded of Heron having seen a recent add for cheap holidays, although this shot was taken in the month of February a couple of years ago.

I must admit I loved it. Great snorkeling, fishing and diving, but just as wonderful for doing nothing and lazing about the beach reading. A word of warning however, as beautiful as the place is, October through to February is nesting time for Black Noddy's and they are everywhere. My best suggestion is to wear a hat, even on the walk to the restaurant for dinner. Believe me, no-one is safe from being blitzed by bird droppings.

You can also see Turtles hatching in Feb. I was lucky enough to see hatchlings run down the beach to the water right in front of me. It so happened that it was a bright sunny day, when suddenly the sun become covered by a cloud, and practically turned day to night. This was followed by a scampering of little flippers in an urgent rush to get to the water before the sun returned. That indeed was an amazing sight.

Friday, May 2, 2008

2008 Swarovski Creative Beading Awards

Its on again. Check out the 2008 Swarovski Creative Beading Award Entries at Vote for your fav each month until the end of the comp when the offical judges pick the final 25, and of course the winner. As usual great prizes up for grabs, terms and conditions of entry can be found at

All in the Family

Was looking through some of my photo albums of various holiday pics and came across this one. Taken at Melbourne Zoo a couple of years ago now, how cute is that?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Emerald - Birth Stone for May

Emerald, the stone of Love.

This stunningly beautiful green stone belonging to the Beryl family, was mined from as early as 3000BC and it is said the Egyptians took them from a source near the Red Sea that was later to become known as "Cleopatra's Mines". These mines were thorougly exhausted of any gems by the time they were rediscovered much later again in the 19th centuary.

Cleopatra, herself was known to adore the jewel. Well if that's the case all I can say is the woman had darn good taste in stones, but not necessarily in men.

Down through the ages the Emerald has been worn as a sacred talisman, been worshipped by the Aztecs and Incas and carried by Montezuma himself, while its name derives from the ancient Greek word smaragdos, meaning green gemstone.
Pliny also commented that green gladdened the eye without tiring it. Personally I never tire at looking at green, particularly those amazing sea greens.

The Emerald's colour is said to symbolize spring and rebirth, whilst the stone has strong ties to Love; probably because the Ancient Romans dedicated its colour to Venus, Goddess of Love.

In the middle ages the Emerald was used to predict the future and protect against evil. It is the stone of inspiration and infinite patience and is supposed to bring domestic bliss and loyalty. It keeps a partnership in balance. But beware, if it changes colour it may be signalling unfaithfulness. It is helpful to those who suffer from claustrophobia, but more importantly, it is the stone of wisdom.

Nearly all natural emeralds are found with inclusions, this give them a soft mossy green appearance which is known as jardin, meaning french for garden.
Jardin however does not necessarily detract from the stones value. Stones with good colour can sometimes be the most included; as long as inclusions do not run so deep as to cause weakness in the stone.

Emeralds are precious and therefore must be treated with care. They are not be immersed in detergents, so remove them when washing up. Nor should they be cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners. They must also be professionally re-oiled every few years, because they are normally treated with oils and resins whilst being cut and polished. This process fills any cracks thus producing a nice neat finish.

Best places to wear your Emerald are on the little finger, the ring finger, over the heart or on the right arm. However, do not wear it constantly or it may trigger negative emotions.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beading Competitions - A wake up call to Organisers

Much of my wire work is very distinctive, I mean you gotta know its mine, anyone who knows my work will recognise it immediately. Not only have these pieces been blogged about, featured on other websites and in galleries, published in magazines both here in Australia and the United States, but heck, won an award or too and travelled this country on display.

I'm sending a loud wake up call to jewellery and lapidary competition organisers.

Start paying more attention to the "Terms and Conditions of Entry" from a legal and copyright point of view. If you're a judge, you're supposed to know about the work, technique and style you're judging, you should also know if the work is original, particularly if you know your subject.

Do you not realise that there are people out there blatantly copying the work of others and then passing it off as their own and you are encouraging them by awarding them a prize, a placing or even acknowledging them. Put them where they belong, disqualify and ban them for life. If you can't do that then give the job to some-one who can. After all these people are cheats and thieves with no natural artistic talent of their own, let alone a vivid imagination. Obviously, one thing they are good at is searching the Internet or Magazines for images, printing and studying them with a magnifying glass. Some talent!

Sure everyone looks at others designs for inspiration, but changing the colours of a bead or moving them about does not let them off the copyright hook. Rules of copyright also extend to asking the original designer for permission to recreate his or her work and the reasons why you want to do this. If you do not have written permission then don't do it. The designer might sue. If you do have permission then you must also reference the original designer. There are also people out there who will reference the designer, without permission to recreate. These are the sneaky low lifes that annoy me. You also cannot manufacture copyrighted work for resale. Nor should you enter copyrighted work into competitions, because its not your own original work and you'll more than likely be breaching the Terms and Conditions of Entry. If you want to be treated fairly, then play nice, afterall I'm sure you wouldn't want anyone doing this to you.

To those beading comp organisers don't sit there and tell us designers its between you and the thief. You want to publish or display so called winning, unoriginal work in a public arena, then be prepared to be kicked in the butt, because I gonna be on your tail from now on.

I'm interested to hear what others have to say on this topic, so if you're reading this, feel free to leave your thoughts under the comment link below.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Featured Artist

Just wanted to say thanks to Cyndi Lavin over at for featuring my Artist Profile on 24th April, it was indeed very kind of you to do that Cyndi.

For those who'd like to have a peek you can find it at:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Memories of a Tropical North

This year holds a couple of milestone dates for my family so in order to celebrate those, Hubby and I have decided to mark the occasion with a trip to Far North Queensland. We last visited Port Douglas and surrounds about three years ago, so have decided to do an overnighter and then head off to our real destination by hire car the next day. Our actual destination is to be Mission Beach about an hour and half South of Cairns, just across the water from Dunk Island.

I love "Port" as its affectionately known, having been back there many times since I left in 1974. I first lay eyes on the place in 1967 or there abouts, time has dulled the memory for exact dates, but I loved it from that moment on.

I'm sure Mum was less than impressed when she first saw the house (that's a pic of it above years after) we were to live in. It was perched on a cliff, an old rambling, rusty roofed, mice inhabited wreck, with a view to die for. That land today is worth millions.

We couldn't watch TV for three years, as Flagstaff Hill (located to the right of the house), blocked any hope of getting a decent picture. The old wreck of a house stood beside the lighthouse three quarters of the way up Wharf Street, I never really realised how bad that house was until I saw a huge sepia print of it hanging on the wall in the Court House Hotel a few years ago. It bought back many memories. Like the day my two year old brother fell between the rickety old front steps and got his head caught, or the day the neighbours gave me a the biggest bag of sweets I'd ever seen, because I'd placed second in a singing Eisteddfod in Cairns. Those were the days when a cent coin would actually buy something. I think that bag of sweets cost Fifty cents and it was full to the brim. Other memories came flooding back - Rock pool fossicking and oyster cracking, beach bbq's, reef walks at Low Isles, falling off the slippery slide and spraining my ankle and riding my Dragstar everywhere. Little did I know that bike would be a collectors item today. I laughed out loud when I was watching "Extra" on TV the other night and how the Queensland Museum had recently acquired one of these bicycles for use in future 70's displays.

Other memories of swimming at the wonderful little paper gummed lined natural cove behind our house. The cove was later wrecked by the community who raised thousands of dollars in order to build a stinger proof pool. The gums where removed along with all the huge rocks and no doubt shore life. Later, it had to be filled in to create a park because it was totally unusable. I only swam in it twice, the water was always muddy looking and it was downright scary as most of the time it was deserted. The usual crowd of morning swimmers just disappeared and were no doubt as upset as I at this ridiculous ruin.

My other memories of "Port" are taking a ride with all the other kids in the Amphibious vehicle that came to service the Lighthouse. I was supposed to alight at the centre of town, but ended up riding all the way to Four Mile Beach where the vehicle had come ashore from its ship. I remember seeing that ship, tired, rusty and worn, berthed near New Farm on the Brisbane River a few years back when I was on my way to work by Ferry one morning.

I've always remembered a story told to us by the then publican of the Court House Hotel and how her kitten had gone missing. She had gone down into the cellar thinking that maybe the kitten had been locked in there accidentally and sure enough yes....
However, a sinister looking reptile had found its way in there and had her kitten bailed up in the corner, ready to devour her. The long and short of this story was that the publican had then called the glass cutter over from the gallery who killed the snake. The snakes skin was tanned and hung in the pub on the wall behind the bar. No-one in the family seems to remember this, except me. I hadn't been drinking, nor did I have a vivid imagination - well not at that time. My husband still laughs at this story today.

In the 70's before vegetation was cleared for housing, massive tropical pythons would occasionally pop out of the surrounding rain forests. I remember seeing one that someone had obviously hit with a car one night. Of course it was dead and rather smelly by then, but someone had lay it out in its entirety. It was massive. At least as long as the school bus we were on and it wasn't a small bus. That bus carried about 80 kids.

We lived in that house on the hill till around 1970 when we moved into a newly built house beside the Police station. My Dad back then was the local constabulary.
Port was a one man station at that time. A hole in the wall, sandwiched between the local Post office and General Store. You couldn't swing a cat in that space and the place was dark, dingy and musty and as well always seemed to be overflowing with files.

After a few years of fighting for a real station and a proper house, the Qld Government gave approval to build the required facilities, but not after much kicking and screaming from a few of the locals; one of whom proceeded to tie herself to a 100 year old Mango tree in the horse paddock that was to be bulldozed for the new residence and station. Guess it takes all sorts! Like my Dad always said "You can't stop progess"

Now years later it's on again. A much larger facility is required and is due for completion in Aug, 09. Most people want the station relocated nearer to the towns school, which I might add is a fair way from the town centre. I guess most see it as a blot on the landscape because of its proximity to the shore line and want the area retained as parkland. I must admit, I do agree.

My tricolour pet angora goat "Gidi" lived in the cell yard at the police station or rather slept there at night, most days she was tethered in the paddock beside the house. There was an occasion when a dunk who had been locked up for the night awoke to find a goat staring at him from outside on the steps. He (the drunk) then proceeded to call out to my Dad telling him that he thought the Devil himself had come for him. Who knows what that guy had been on!

In the early 70's the town was growing, progress was evident and tourism was becoming a big thing. On Sundays, bus loads of tourists would arrive from Cairns to take in the sights of the Cook Highway, ie.. Ellis Beach, Hartleys Creek Zoo (home of Big Charlie the Croc) and "do" lunch at the "Catalina Restaurant" in Port. This restaurant was a tiny shop front that then had to be extended with a another dining room at the back, but in front of the owners living quarters. Years later it was demolished to build a new and much bigger restaurant by the same name, however it has since closed.

Of course the other thing tourists loved was the local art gallery, where I occasionally hung out on Sundays helping out. Sets of etched glass goblets made from beer bottles or stubbies were a hit with the tourists. In those days some of the wine companies bottled their brews in Green and Clear glass Carafes, so these where also etched and often sold as part of a set.

to be continued....
Old House on the Hill circa late 1970's - Photographer unknown

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ancient Greek Jewellery

Recently I was going through my jewellery box polishing and inspecting some of my trinkets when I remembered I had a very special pendant that I purchased a few years back whilst visiting Crete in the Greek Islands.

We had visited Knossos, the largest Minoan Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, earlier in the day and then had made our way to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum which was basically a hop, skip and jump from our hotel, to view some of the ancient artefacts that had been unearthed at various sites around Crete.

Next door to the Museum was a jewellery shop and of course some of the pieces in the window caught my eye. Amongst them was a gold pendant that had been fashioned on a piece of jewellery that I had seen and admired in the museum. I have since discovered that the orignal pendant was not actually found at Knossos, but not far from the Place of Malia which is the third largest of the Minoan Places and that my pendant is known as The Malia Bee.

The Palace of Malia, which covered an area of 7,500 sq.m., is considered the most "provincial" from an architectural point of view and according to tradition the third son of Zeus and Europa, Sarpedon, had ruled there.

About 500m north of the palace was the Necropolis or royal burial enclosure, which most certainly belonged to the ancient lords of Malia. It was surrounded on all four sides by levelled areas and possibly Porticoes.
This is where the now famous Bee pendant which is on display at the Museum was found.

The pendant is in the shape of two bees, or wasps, storing away a drop of honey in a comb.


This piece contains Swarovski crystals in Alabaster and Garnet, Silver Seed Beads, Swarovski Pearls and some lovely little glass flowers with an AB finish.
It has an oversized sterling silver plated comb and would look wonderful in upstyled hair. Still available for sale on my Bridal Website.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cream and Golden Shadow

Continuing on with colour themes, I don't believe that this piece has featured yet on Hooked on Wire, so here goes.

These gorgeous pearls caught my eye late last year whilst on a bead buying spree. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but then decided they'd look great as a choker. I've added Golden Shadow Swarovski crystals for a bit of glint and a pair of long drop earrings complete the set. These pieces would indeed look fabulous with an off the shoulder cream wedding gown. Visit my Bridal Jewellery site for these and other pieces still available for sale.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


On the weekend I decided to go shopping for a new handbag and wallet. I really wanted a new Lime Green wallet. Lime green it one of my fav colours and I destest dreary Black and Brown wallets. If you own a green wallet it is said that your wallet will always have money in it. Might be an olde wives tale, but so far my trusty battered lime green Oroton wallet has never let me down.

Would you believe after weeks of searching and having almost given up ever finding a new green wallet I found three in one shop and yep I secured all three of them, mainly because I couldn't choose between All were gorgeous.

One is oversized in Lime Patent faux Croc skin with two silver buckles on the front. I think this one is probably my fav, the second one is plain faux ostrich in pale apple and the third is a dark forest green with a really neat looking clasp. All are different designs as well I think I've found my fav bargain shop for bags and wallets.

As my birthday is coming up, I also scored a wonderful Fossil brand summer handbag from hubby, reduced from $259.00 to $49.95. I'm in heaven.

So if you're visiting the Gold Coast, make sure you visit Harbourtown at Helensvale, as most of the shops are having a great summer clearance sale at present.

Having bought all those wallets inspired this piece of Jewellery which contains dyed freshwater pearls in Lime of course, Swarovski Crystals in Montana, Ernite and Peridot which pick up the colours in the beautiful Lampwork bead by Bev Butler from the NSW north coast. The clasp and bead caps are all sterling silver.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Australia's National Treasure - Part 2

Fire of the Desert..... What picture does that conjure up? Amazing colours of Red, Orange and Yellow. Imagine the Desert at night, Black as Black, no city lights casting a Silver haze on the horizon.

I've only ever experienced this once and it wasn't in a desert, but on a tiny coral cay off the coast of central Queensland. It was dark, I mean really dark, if it wasn't for a torch I would have been seriously lost till morning. So what does all that have to do with Australia's National Treasure or rather Opal?

I while back I wrote about Opal in the form of Yowah Nuts that I discovered on a trip to the markets on the North Coast. I thought that I might continue as promised and cover some of the interesting Opal mining areas of Australia.

Around 1993 Opal was declared to be Australia's National Gemstone. Makes sense really, we are home to the world's highest quality, precious Opal with the best known found at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. Lightning Ridge is known for its Black Opal which is almost only found in Australia. Black Opal has a background of black, blue or grey with colour plays of red, green, blue, violet, magenta or yellow. I guess therefore its easy to see why our indigenous people named Opal, Fire of the Desert. Opal which is made up of silica minerals, is rather unique in that it has no true colour of its own. The amazing colours are actually created when light rays hit planes of microscopic spheres contained in the opal.

Other well known opal mining areas in Australia are White Cliffs also in New South Wales and Coober Pedy in South Australia (yes this is where people actually live underground, but more about that later.) The opal found in these areas tends to be white and is the most common of the precious opals.

Australian Opals are known for their brilliance and renowned for their stability, as they don't crack or craze whilst being cut or polished or during hot, dry conditions. Most Opals in Australia are formed in weathered rocks deep underground in very arid areas. A good example of this is Coober Pedy in South Australia.

I've always been rather fascinated by the town of Coober Pedy and hope to visit sometime in the future. It's a bit of a tourist mecca, attracting 100,000 per annum and with a population of around 4,500 from approximately fifty different countries in the world. The locals are described as a colourful lot, quickly making art of many things.

Guided tours to various places of interest are available, as well much of the town and its homes are underground. Where else in the world could you stay in an underground Bed and Breakfast or visit an underground Art Gallery, Pottery, Museum, or Church of which there are a few.

Homes or Dugouts as they're known are located underground too. In summer and winter, they are insulated from the harsh climate, remaining at a pleasant 25 degrees C. There is also an award wining designed shopping complexe and a golf course without a stitch of grass. I expect that most of the course is made up of Overburden dug from mine shafts.

From April to October the weather is pleasant. What is typical of a semi desert climate, the days are cool (16 to 20° C) but the nights are cold. From November to March the weather becomes very warm and summer temperatures range from 35° to 45°C just in the shade. There are also occasional dust storms. Rainfall is minimal at around 175mm per annum and can fall during any time of the year.

North-east of Coober Pedy is the longest continual construction in the world - a Fence. Stretching some 5,300kms, a little less than China's great wall at 6,700kms, it begins south east of Brisbane, Queensland and ends up north of Ceduna in the Great Australian Bite. Originally the fence was built to protect sheep country in the south from Australian native dogs or Dingos. Now days it also keeps out Rabbits, Emus and other wild life.

"Mad Max" and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" movie fans, can visit "Moon Plain" not far from Coober Pedy. It is a vast rocky plain unlike anywhere else in the world. The lunar like landscape has been the set for many movies, and I thought Mt Wellington in Hobart, Tasmania was eerie.

Photograph taken by Bernie of Mt Wellington - Tasmania
Dept of Natural Resources - Qld Government
Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Rediscover Opals in Australia - Stephen Aracic
South Australian Government Tourism

Beaded Bookmark Treasures

Its been a while since I posted any beaded things, so here are a few of my more recent pieces. I rather enjoyed beating that wire into interesting shapes.
I think my fav is the next pic where the wire takes on the form of little sea creatures and treasures. A fish and the spiralled internal compartments of a shell.

Of course there are also pearls and other interesting left over beads in many gorgeous tones of blues and green. Once again these remind me of those beautiful colours found in the coral sea around North Queensland. I used silver plated bookmarks, 925 chain and head pins.

Bookmarks are a good way to use up beads with no remaining partners and make wonderful little gifts for lovers of books. Gee I should make one for myself...these were either gifts or pieces that I sold at a recent jewellery party.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

More Art

I've now decided to set up one of my websites purely showcasing my art some of which will be for sale. Those changes will happen over the coming weeks and as I get round to completing more canvases. These won't need framing as they're stretched on frames with the sides neatly painted so they'll look fab from any direction.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Art and other Bruises

Today I decided to bite the bullet and with a little encouragement from he who might be obeyed (occasionally) I'm going to enter my first community art show. If nothing else it will provide me with a little more exposure in Brisbane and if I'm lucky I might even sell another piece.

The closing date is still some way off in August, which means I have a fair amount of time to consider what I might do. I already have a couple of ideas and as all entrants are limited to two pieces I might do one fairly large piece and then a set of two if that's allowed. Anyway am now awaiting the entry form and details in the mail before I set anything in stone.

Went to the library again this morning on the way to the Art store, gee I seem to be living in both these places lately. So many books and materials and so little time.

Raided the Art section in the library again and came home with another armful of books. Also decided that I can get two things done at once if instead of reading I'd just get an audio book out to listen to. Last week I had Elizabeth Adlers "Summer in Tuscany" a total of 8 CD's, took me a few days to get though them, as one really does need to concentrate to get the whole story. This was my first audio book, I rather enjoyed it and it certainly made me want to visit to Tuscany again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yep...It's a Dogs Life - Too tired to Party

His royal highness is way to tired to party this morning. After waking us up at 5.45am with his usual tap at the door wanting to be let in, which I did, he then proceeded to keep reminding us it was time to get up. I think this is all a ploy at getting back at me I was awake when you were asleep! I expect though it was the long walk before breakfast that did him in.

Oh well the party games can wait till later in the day. He seemed pretty happy with his new toy though, a chase stick, even put it down beside his bowl whilst he had a breakfast of Salmon and Dill biscuits and his fav cheese on toast. The biscuits were a hit by the way and so far he's managed to polish off four. The rest I've put in a press seal bag to keep fresh. I hope they last till the weekend.

Anyway here's the recipe I promised, am sure they'll go down a treat with with any fur baby.

Rem's Salmon and Dill Wholewheat Biscuits.

210g tin Red Salamon undrained
1 teaspoon each of dried Dill and Parsley or if you prefer use fresh or paste.
3 teaspoons each Sesame and Linseed (used a coffee grinder to grind the seeds down)
3 eggs (I removed the shell, but the original recipe said to include the shell)
2 cups wholemeal self raising flour

Put the undrained salmon, dill, parsley and seeds into a food processor along with the eggs, blend till smooth, then gradually add the flour and continue blending until
a dough forms.

Remove from the processor, the mixture should be firm and not sticky. Press out on a floured board until about 1cm thick, flour your chosen cutter and cut out shapes. You can then press any remain mixture together and continue cutting shapes.

Bake on a greased and floured tray for 20 mins at 180 degrees or 170 if using a fan forced oven, then turn tray and reposition and cook a further 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Little Guy's Birthday

I've been a bit lazy over Easter, hence the reason for my non posting. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things later this week, after I finish all my chores, thank goodness its a short week.

Am now off to bake Rem some Salmon and Dill biscuits for his 1st Birthday tomorrow. Searched everywhere for a fish shaped biscuit cutter and in the process found one the shape of a bone as well. If the biscuits are a hit I'll post the recipe here too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Just continuing on from yesterdays post thought I might pop a few pics of Stradbroke Island up here. These were either taken during a camping trip on Flinders Beach or during a stay at a holiday home which we rented along with other family members.

The first one is the view from our beach campsite on Flinders Beach at Sunrise, such a wonderful view to wake up to. It was slightly chilly and from memory was around April 2006. I snapped it with my tiny 3.5mb Nikon Coolpix camera.

There are around 250 different species of birds on the island too. An inquisitive little guy a "Major Mitchell Parrot" had obviously found himself a home in this gum at Amity Point. The more pics I took of him, the more he posed from me.
I love the contrast of colours with the hot pink of the parrot again the vivid blue sky and grey-white of the tree.

Above is a pic of "Main Beach" on the Island. As you can see it goes for km's. Its great for 4 wheel driving (you do need a permit)and you're always bound to find a spot for a picnic lunch.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Capital idea with muddy beginnings (Gov Gibbs Landing)

In the 1840's the people of Brisbane insisted that their town should be the capital. Many of the squatters, objected to Brisbane being the capital on the grounds that it was some distance from Moreton Bay and that wool and other produce would have to be shipped down the Brisbane river at considerable cost.

By this time the squatters had established their own newspaper, the "Moreton Bay Free Press" at Ipswich which they considered to be the capital. They also attempted to build a rival port at Cleveland on Moreton Bay.

From Ipswich they built a road direct to Cleveland, but in March 1842 Sir George Gibbs, Governor of New South Wales, visited Moreton Bay on the ship "Shamrock" in order to settle the question of where the capital should be.

It is said that there was some official prejudice against Brisbane because of its penal associations and its remoteness from the sea, so the Colonial Secretary in Sydney directed that a new site should be chosen.

Gov. George landed at Cleveland when the tide was out and had the misfortune to sink deep into muddy ooze as he stepped ashore. This unfortunate accident, which apparently annoyed the pompous Governor somewhat marked the end of any thoughts that Cleveland would be the site of a port.

Gibbs chose Brisbane instead. Pastoralists weren't discouraged in the least by this and persisted in their attempts to develop Cleveland, by building a sawmill, a wool store, and a shipbuilding yard.

For a time the town was the social and political centre of the squatters and their supporters. However in 1854 Cleveland became unpopular as a port following the wreck of a ship nearby and the loss of another by fire.

Bibliography - Carina State School's 75th Jubilee Book 1917-1992

The above is a little background on my next watercolour pencil piece, which I painted last Sunday from a park at Cleveland on Moreton Bay. It is the actual site of Gov Gibbs landing.

As you can probably make out, not much has changed today there's still plenty of mud at low tide. Also it wasn't a particularly clear day, lots of ominious looking grey cloud, with the sun trying to peer through on occasion. It was indeed amazing to watch colours change as I drew. The little muddy island of trees to the right, went from dark forest green to almost lime green as the clouds moved around whilst here and there bits of silver grey sea turned to sparkling turquoise.

Closer to the shore are a few mangroves where the mud takes on a reddish tinge, the soil around many of Moreton Bays communities is a brilliant red, very fertile and still supporting vegetable and flower farms.

ED: Forgot to mention that the rising landmass in the background is North Stradbroke Island which is 32 kilometres long, 11 kilometres at its widest cross-section. The island has become a great tourist destination and is probably the most accessible island in Moreton Bay.

Point Lookout, Amity and Dunwich are the three main settlements on 'Straddie' as it is colloquially known. It has a total permanent population of more than 3,500.
Point Lookout is also the major tourist centre and was named by Captain James Cook on his discovery voyage to the east coast of Australia in 1770.

At "Straddie" visitors can enjoy world class beaches, famous for fishing and surfing, watch humpback whales on their Northern migration, scuba dive nearby rocky reefs or simply soak up the laid back island lifestyle. It also has some wonderful beach camping sites that are dog friendly.

To get to "Straddie" you can either catch a water taxi or the car ferry from Cleveland.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First attempt at Watercolour pencil and Ink

One afternoon a couple of weekends ago, on our way back from Point Cartwright after a walk to the point and along the beach, back up the hill past the lighthouse and down the boardwalk and then lunch in the park, we decided to take a detour and travel back via the beaches at Caloundra.

We've done this a few times, so by the time we hit Moffat Beach at Caloundra its usually afternoon tea time. We park in the car park and carry our chairs and esky over to the edge of the green nature strip that overlooks the sea. Its a great spot on a summer afternoon, usually breezy with lots of activity on the beach below.

I sat for a while gazing at the landscape to the left and then to the right of me.
Decided that it was a bit too hazy to the left and settled down to draw the headland to the right. I used a superfine Indian Ink Pen on 300gsm rough and then proceeded to colour in with Derwent Aquatone (reasonably expensive) and Faber-Castell (really cheap)watercolour pencils. This is my experimental piece as its the first time I've tried this medium and I wanted to see how each of these brands of pencils would perform and interact with one another.

The Aquatone pencils are solid watercolour sticks wrapped in protective paper, no real need to sharpen unless you want a point, so its just a matter of tearing the paper back. The colours are strong and vibrant, right up my alley.

The Faber-Castell pencils are also nice to work with and as far as I'm concerned just a vibrant. These pencils do need to be sharpened as the colour is contained inside wood, just like a normal pencil.

I've never painted with straight watercolour mainly because I'm one of those artists who likes to see a strong outline and vibrant colour which is why I prefer acrylics. I don't think I can achieve those requirements with just water colour although I'm sure it can be done with the correct technique and a good teacher. Such is my reason to try out Watercolour pencils with Ink.

I'm reasonably pleased with how my first attempt turned out, it took me about two hours to complete, not bad for a quick sketch and swash of colour. I do think however the sky could have been better, there appears to be too many stops and starts and so the colour doesn't follow on and blend as I think it should. It would have best been done with a broken piece of pencil used side on like chalk to give a more even finish and leaving some of the paper white to give the impression of clouds.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Colour Purple or is it?

So how do you mix Purple?

Anyone who has even had an art class will answer by mixing Blue and Red together.
Sounds simple enough doesn't it? However some research reveals a story about purple that spans back into the history of ancient china and involves a buried Terracotta army.

In 1974, a province in China was suffering a drought, so farmers began digging an irrigation well, the fact is that they didn't find water, but what is now widely considered the Eight Wonder of the World. What they discovered below the earth were more than 8,000 life sized warriors, horses and other figures made to accompany and protect Qin Hi Huang, the very first Emperor of China on his journey into the afterlife.

Many of us have seen pics of the warriors in their natural Terracotta colour, but they weren't always this colour apparently. Two thousand years ago, the warriors were actually brightly coloured, no two the same.

One of the colours found on these model warriors, supposedly the highest ranking of the officers, was known as Han Purple. It seems this presented an interesting conundrum to archaeologists, in that Purple pigment was rarely found on ancient artefact's.

Han Purple has since been found scientifically to fade in acid, so colorless particles found in pigments containing Han Blue and Han Purple may be particles which were originally purple but which faded after burial in acidic conditions.

Blue and Purple are not colours found in surface soils and would therefore not have been created using earth. Blue pigments only began to appear in history when mining began and even then they were extremely rare, as was the case with Lapis Lazuli. A blue stone which was once powdered and mixed with oil to create the pigment named Ultramarine meaning "Beyond the sea" and which is often seen in the beautiful blue Renaissance paintings of the 1600's.

The original source for Lapis lies in the valley of the Kokcha River, at Sar-e-sang meaning "Place of Stones" which is in the province of Badakshan in north-eastern Afghanistan. Marco Polo mentioned these mines in 1271 and he noted that the stones were processed to make colour, although Ultramarine has been made synthetically since 1828. Lapis came to Europe via Venice, which was the main trading port between Europe and the East. Today it is still mined by hand and when the stones are brought to the mine surface, they are sorted into three general categories being "Rang-i-ob" meaning "Colour of Water", "Rang-i-sabz" meaning "Green" and "Surpar" meaning "Red Feather". Surpar is considered the highest quality of Lapis, because it has a deep blue-violet tone.

Good Lapis is very rare and very expensive although a new source in Chile has provided a good alternative to the that found in Afghanistan and at a slightly cheaper price. The Egyptians held Lapis in high esteem, it was as precious as gold and as a consequence they were often used together in jewellery and still are today.
Purple has always been associated with royalty, power and wealth.

So how did Ancient China mix up the colour purple?
A bit of detective work reveals that it was indeed synthetic. This means that Chinese artisans were performing synthetic inorganic chemistry more than 2700 years ago.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fur babies

We've had a house guest the last four days, or rather Rem has. His litter mate Peppa Hammond has been visiting whilst her folks were interstate. Needless to say Rem is way too busy catching up on sleep to do anything with me today. He's exhausted from playing ball, chase, frizbee, tug, swimming and walking. Presently he's asleep on the mat behind my chair. Well at least he's graced me with his company if nothing else.

Peppa is a gorgeous little Black and White girl from Bojak Border Collies, full of beans and very clever. Her mum Lilly, a shy black and white border was secretly pregnant and gave birth to her and her two sibblings the same day Rem was born to Maggie. Maggie had eight or nine pups, so Lilly helped look after them along with her three. At the time we really didn't know that Peppa would go to a couple who lived close by and it was by chance that we all signed up for Puppy school with the same dog trainer. That's how we all met.

Peppa can Spin and do a Figure 8 through and around legs. She is also very food orientated and would come sit in the kitchen when ever I was preparing meals during her visit. Jet our previous collie has a lot of the same traits as Peppa. Rem is way too laid back and acts like the protective Uncle. He watches everything from a short distance, rarely ever barks, without first being asked to "Speak". I often wonder what's going on in his head, whilst he's soaking up all the action.

Check out the photo of him with his protective paw on her. He uses his paws a lot and has done so since he was a tiny pup. I never ever saw Jet do that. When I throw the Frizbee to Rem, he races after it, waits for it to land, and then folds it over in half with his paw and picks it up with his mouth. Peppa was even doing that by the end of her stay. At first she tried to pick it up whilst it was flat on the ground and was having some difficulty, but watching Rem seemed to clue her in.

I promised Cathy and Russell that I'd try to teach her to "Speak". I found it a little difficult at first, because she kept jumping up every time I gave the command and hand signal. Cathy had warned me that she does this whenever she hears a strange noise from one of them. In the end I kept asking Rem to speak which he did and eventually Peppa copied him. So that indeed goes to prove that dogs do learn from watching one another.

A funny little story from the weekend.... I was tidying up the palm fonds on Friday afternoon as I knew that these two holy terrors would no doubt by the end of the weekend pull them off the drying heap and out into the garden. We tend to stockpile the fonds till they're dry and then put them through a palm shredder as they make good garden mulch.

Peppa was helping me take a few to the bin, spinning around and racing about the garden with them, Rem was obviously peeved with this, because usually I scold him for dragging palms fonds about the yard, so he doesn't do it much anymore. He's sitting beside me watching Peppa spin about with the the palm in her mouth, and then gives me a couple of nudges on the leg in quick succession as if to say " Well look at Peppa, how come I'm not allowed to do that?" I just burst out laughing, gave him a little cuddle and said "Its ok we're putting them in the bin, you can go help her bring them out." which he did.

Ever watchful Uncle Remy

Photos courtesy of Russell and Cathy Hammond

Friday, March 7, 2008

Beads etc... 2008 Designer of the Year Competition

If you've not been lucky enough to view the entries in the Australian Beads etc... 2008 Designer of the Year competition, the winners and place getter's have now been published in issue 16. The top 50 entries can be viewed at

You can vote for your fav up until 30th May, 2008, if you can see them that is. Note that voting is open world wide, but only Australian residents are eligible to win prizes.

The pics were postage size when I checked at the beginning of the week, but word has it that some maintenance is to be done on the site to allow the thumbnails to be enlarged.

No, I didn't enter in case you're wondering.

Broken Links - Designs to Love Gallery

Seems the link to my "Designs to Love" Gallery isn't working. I've emailed the administrator, the problem appears to be at their end so hopefully it'll be fixed soon.

In the mean time you can still access the site above, go to the "members" tab and search for me by entering bstoopman in the seach function.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Orient - Mixed Media

Thought I'd write a post about my latest painting which was commissioned for a newly renovated apartment decked out in Black, Red and White.

My brief was for something abstract in Black, Red and Foil - both Gold and Silver, other than that I was left to my own devices.

I decided on a series of three or a Triptych as these are known. Each canvas is around 93cm high x 46cm wide also I wanted to include some texture as the paintings are to be hung on smooth white plasterboard wall. I ended up using Matisse Impasto and a palette knife to create the texture which I then proceeded to paint in vibrant red Atelier acrylic. I then decided the red texture needed a little more definition, so the peaks were dry brushed with a little Carbon Black. I like the effect that its created. This particular Atelier paint tends to stay open a lot longer than my usual acrylic paint and as yet, I've not used it to paint anything other than abstract art. So am dying to give a scene a try.... perhaps next week.

I ended up naming the series "Orient", mainly because in its abstract kind of way it reminds me of a Geisha girl, who becomes a blur or whirl by the third piece. In the first of the series you can make out a side on view of the head/hair and the highly decorated Kimono which was created using torn Gold and Silver Foil. There are also some leaves floating on the breeze, on two of the paintings, these were drawn on using an Indian Ink Pitt pen, so indeed, it is a mixed media piece.

The interesting thing with this series is that it could be hung in any direction, ie up or down and moved around within the series to give the owner and its on-lookers a little more to ponder on... who knows what else could be found in there.

I do so hope the customer likes it, because I really enjoyed creating it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Some very sad news

Am very sad to have to write this post. Yesterday I found Izzy Liz had died out in the garden near the pool, not really sure how it happened, but her little body was limp and lifeless, her eyes shut tight.

I will really miss all her crazy little antics and the fact that she'll now longer be around to sit on the back of my chair when I'm out on the veranda.

RIP Miss Izz, you will always be remembered with great fondness.