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It’s just a little Lumpy

On 19 October 2012 I attended the 24 Hour Sew-a-Thon for Breast Cancer charity event hosted by Craftland at Town Centre in Dubai.  Before my scheduled time slot, I had a quick supper at Cafe Ceramique and painted this very expressive wall-climbing frog.

It was difficult to get all the details right with the thick, misshapen brushes they provide, but I was quite happy with my efforts.  It was difficult to imagine the finished product as I was working.   The staff reminded me to paint at least 3 coats on each section to ensure that the final colour would be rich and solid, otherwise it would come out looking like watercolour paints.

I had hoped the detailing on the back would show up well – it took a long time to draw on with the little squeeze bottles.  The bottles themselves were very small, some of them were too thick and some would make an air bubble just as I was getting somewhere with the line work.

Painting done, I reported for duty at the charity event, worked from 8pm until 10pm and was able to help finish off the last pieces of the day.  The next day (the second half of the 24 hour session), I worked from just after 7pm until 10pm.  Like last year, I met some amazing ladies and even a few guys who were inspired to come and help with the assembly, stitching and filling of the under-arm cushions and drainage bag totes.  These bags and cushions are distributed to breast cancer surgery patients to help with their post-operative care.

One week later, Lumpy came back from his firing at the kiln and this is what he looked like:

What a transformation!

I am very glad I chose 2 shades of pink, it added some interest to his body.  The gray was also a nice balance to help even out the contrast with the black.  All in all, I think Lumpy would look great on some large tropical leaf in a jungle!

I love how the spots on the legs turned out:

Although I was a bit disappointed with the pink details on his back that ran together instead of staying as distinct as the white details:

Some lessons were learned for next time:

One, take my own brushes.

Two, have some idea beforehand of what I want to achieve and take some visual inspiration with me (another object, photograph or even cool printed fabric).

Three, don’t rush the design.  Relax, drink a coffee, and enjoy creative time well spent.

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Life sure is busy sometimes…

There is something undeniably exciting about moving to a new house.  The possibilities of colours, arranging furniture, admiring new views from the windows.  I had already planned the layout in the new villa.  But alas, my sale fell through and I am still living in my old villa.  That was a waste of a few weeks of negotiation, discussions, planning, house-hunting and excitement.

Nevertheless, I have some pictures to share of other, more interesting and fulfilling things in my life:

Here is my little Yamaha Arius YDP-140.  I found her second-hand on Dubizzle (naturally!) for a very good price.  The lady had bought her with the intention of taking piano lessons, but after two years she gave up, and sold the piano in mint condition.  She takes up much less wall-space than an upright piano would, but she has a full keyboard and plays 50 demo songs too.  The 50 songs came with the piano in sheet music form as well.  And the best part:  volume control!  I can still play some of the pieces I learnt when I was 12 – wow – all that practice sure paid off.

My set of 30 encyclopedias are now used in a tiny corner, as a “book” shelf.  This is a perfect spot for them, because the kids cannot knock them over.  On top is a tiny work of art I bought years ago, and a piece of coral that washed up in Dubai after they started constructing the large Deira Palm (and as yet unfinished).  It looks like a brain and the encylopedias just add to the visual pun.  I’ve seen some amazing book sculptures and have some ideas floating around in my head, but for now, the encyclopedias are going to stay put in their corner.

Some more progress on the blue pentaptych:  we have now hung it on the wall in the living room.  It looks great and allows me to see it at different times of day (and light conditions) as well as saving space in my studio.  I can also take one canvas down to work on it, and replace it easily.  The white buttons are all sewn onto the white band (shaped like a U) that flows over the three right-hand panels (not really visible in this photo).  I am now planning the design for one of the teal bands.  I’m going to incorporate teal-coloured pearls that I found at Dragon Mart.  They’re only cheap cultured pearls, but they are still heavy.  I want to combine some embroidery stitches with the pearls to fill up the area without overloading the canvas.

On 21 October 2011, I attended a 24-hour sew-a-thon for breast cancer awareness, sponsored by Craftland and held at the Town Centre Mall in Dubai.  We made loads of under-arm cushions and shoulderbags to hold the drainage bags after surgery.  The event took place for 12 hours on the Friday and 12 hours on the Saturday.  Sewing for 10 hours straight is quite a challenge, and on hard chairs it became even more so.  I had to spend the rest of the weekend recovering from back pain.  I met some  wonderful ladies and it was very heart-warming to share this experience with ladies from so many different cultures and age groups.

The rest of my time was spent on Halloween, children’s parties and some pretty weird medical stuff.  But more on that later!

Little House on the Cabinet

I have a “thing” for doll houses.  I’ve loved miniatures and miniature houses since I was a little girl.  I saw this doll house for sale on Dubizzle (yes, I browse their classifieds every day!).  I was so excited about it, I actually asked the lady selling it, to remove the advert immediately, before anyone else could see it and try to buy it before I could get to her house.  Obsessive – who me???  Anyway, the ad stayed up and thankfully, no other buyers called.

She had the house custom-built, at a carpentry shop in Hong Kong.  It’s made of wood covered with wicker, with a roof that lifts up to reveal an attic room.  The front doors hide four rooms, built in a cross formation.  It is a very basic design, almost similar to my doll house that my grandparents made me when I was 7 years old.  I’ll try to find a photo of it, so that you can see the similarities.

Here is an inside view of the doll house with the four rooms.  I’m using it to store my recipe books on the lower rooms.  The books are very heavy and have to lean towards the inner column, otherwise they push the structure out of alignment and the doors cannot close properly.  It’s amazing the structural knowledge I’ve picked up over the years from my design engineer husband!  I’ve stored the odd bundles of chargers/cords and various electronic ephemera that always clutter my dining room, in the upstairs rooms.

Since the doll house is easily accessible to my girls, I don’t want to keep anything breakable in there.  I still have space to store more things in the upstairs rooms and the attic.  It is a bit too low to use as for bottles, otherwise it would have made a pretty cute drinks cabinet.

The lady apologised for the paint being chipped from play, but I like the white, weathered look and won’t change it.  The only distraction is the open windows.  I’ve come up with an interesting solution though!  Ikea have these small wooden frames, cheap and cheerful, that would make great “window panes” for the doll house.  And I can choose what scenery I want to display in them.  Voila – it hides the contents and showcases something more artistic and quirky.  I’ll post photos of the finished window “dressings” after I make a trip down to Ikea during next week.

The little cabinet with drawers is also from Ikea.  I have a few of those in my studio.  They make excellent storage for stamping pads, rubber stamps, dies and templates for my Ellison Big Shot die-cutter and various papers, game boards and quirky bits and pieces.  Deep drawers are such a waste of space, I prefer shallow drawers so that I can see the contents at a glance, without having to dig through piles of stuff.

And, if you’re wondering:  the silver vase is metal and was previously displayed in a friend’s boutique until they closed it.  The silver branches were originally painted brown when I bought them from Home Center in Mall of the Emirates.  It was very difficult to find interesting shaped fillings for the vase, it is very tall and very deep.  I spray painted the branches with chrome, to make them more interesting.

Lastly, the black wire mandala on the wall was also bought from Home Center.  I’m still mulling over some ideas for it, but all I’ve got so far, is an idea of using photographs as leaves, flowers and berries on the “branches”.  It is a striking piece, so I’m enjoying it as it is – until some other wacky idea pops into my head!

A few years ago, a trusted friend of mine looked around my living room and said “You have the most bizarre tastes and collect the weirdest crap, but somehow you make it all work in your house decor”.  It was the nicest thing she could have said.

Long live the quirky decorator!