Monday, July 31, 2006

Crackle Mountain - The Princess Lily

The Princess Lily is the latest post on my folktale blog Crackle Mountain. Why not click through and enjoy the story, it will only take a few minutes:)

The image here is "Haunted Spirit" by Hokusai. Hokusia's most famous work is The Wave from the famous series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Interestingly, Hokusai made this series very late in his life. He had to return to work because his good-for-nothing grandson had gambled the family's money away and left them destitute. Hokusai famously said on his deathbed, "If Heaven had lent me but five years more, I would have become a great painter."

I think he did alright, don't you?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dieter and Boris

Yello - The Race

Yello is one of my all time favourite bands. They were so ahead of their time. The videos are very 80s and I like their music better than the clips though I haven't seen many. But still good to watch:)

The Race is from their album "Flag" which is from their middle period.

I'm currently working on the design for a few of toys based on the Yello album cover "Claro Que Si". I'll be sending them to a toy exhibition I've been invited to at the TINA (This Is Not Art) festival in Newcastle later this year. More on this later.

The toys will be called The Yello Boys and will be one off pieces.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Its in the Mail

I had a lovely surprise in the mail today! I opened up a large stiffened envelope to find this big shiny award certificate. It was a lovely gesture of recognition.

I thought I'd blog it before put it away in my file. Its refreshing to receive a such a token, to know my ExplorAnauts for the Travel Buddies program have been appreciated. It reminds me that little gestures can go a long way to brighten peoples lives.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Delicious Designs

To illustrate the folktales I adapt for Crackle Mountain I use pictures from my own book collection or I trawl through innumerable Google pages seeking "something special". Luckily, I usually find a few gems, many of which are tucked away for future use.

This is how I came across the folk art of watermelon carving. The Japanese have taken their knives to them with exquisite effect. I thought I'd share one of them with you here, and I recommend the quick slide show at this site.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Cliff Richard - Shooting Star ( cartoon from ''Thunderbirds

A supermarionation of Cliff Richard as seen in the Thunderbirds movie, Thunderbirds are Go (or as I refer to it ZeroX).

Cliff really is a "Shooting Star" in this clip!!

My favourite song from the the Thunderbirds series is "Dangerous Games" played by The Shadows (yes the real ones). Lady Penelope is a 'talk singer' undercover as a brunette performer. It's also from my favourite episode "The Cham Cham" - it has everything, exclusive ski resort in the Alps, downed jets, secret codes, cable car sabotage, a narrow escape by Parker using an umbrella, and a hint of romance.

More on the Thunderbirds at a later date...Stay Tuned!

Sunday, July 23, 2006


This is Happy. He's a Sponge Octopus and he's been hanging around my house for a few years. Over that time his smile has become a little more sarcastic, perhaps he too has grown wise to the world?

He was another find from Crazy Clark's. I found him perched upon an island of washing powder happily unaware of his miss-categorization. He also seemed to be waiting for me, like Grover had, but first I had to check to see if this Sponge Octopus was the best Sponge Octopus I could buy. I found the Sponge Octopus isle and proceeded to check each Sponge Octopus in turn; inspecting interesting eye orientation, mouth twisting and leg length. As it turns out my Sponge Octopus of the Island of "Surf" was indeed the most handsome of the entire species. I popped him in my red plastic basket and headed for the teen at the checkout.

Happy has never actually been used as a sponge as he is allergic to water, I hear pure-breeds have such peculiarities, and so his precarious placement by the bath has him a little perplexed - which could explain his expression.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bert's Best

Sesame Street - Doin' the Pigeon

I've been known to do this dance on occasion.

And what about Bert's hat? Nifty!

Super Grover

This is the second incarnation of Grover, my bestest toy friend. Years ago when I was really, really small I got a birthday card with Super Grover on it wishing me a happy birthday. His silver knight's helmet and red cape coupled with that big pink nose and big red mouth somehow agreed with me and from then on Grover was my favourite Sesame Street muppet. Whether he was the bumbling super hero or the waiter from hell, Grover was king!

"I'm SUP-PER Grover! And I'm cute too." What a catch phase.

My Grandmother bought me a big Grover many years ago and he became my favourite friend. When I went away to uni I left Grover behind, thinking it was time to grow up. However, after about a year, I thought better of it and brought him back to live with me.

Then I had another phase where I thought it was best to let go of childish things. This time I was a bit more dire and when I changed my mind, I couldn't recover my beloved Grover:(

This Grover I found in one of those cheap stores where everything is about $2 (Crazy Clark's for us Aussies). He was on the floor looking up at me smiling - I knew straight away Grover had forgiven me and had returned, albeit in a slighter frame.

He's with me to this day and I'll not go through any more of these silly phases of "growing up".

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dolls of Diplomacy

This gentleman is an English Diplomat to France from the early 18th century. I designed and made him over eight years ago. He is a cloth doll with pipecleaner frame. I've embroidered his vest, coat, and hat. His hair has also been needle stitched with perl DMC thread onto felt. Those little shoes are felt and I was pretty chuffed with myself for their design.

As a historical aside, his hat is not meant to go on his head, these hats were to be held only, much like the Japanese gent always held a fan.

He now resides in my studio, retired from public life.


Oh, and my Daylight bulb came today!! Let there be LIGHT! :D

Toys on Film


Special Delivery for Friends of Windbag and Thunder.

This is a top shelf offering, give yourself a 4 minute treat!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wind Me Up!

These little critters live under my lounge room lamp, way up high (at eye level) on the top level of the whatnot. With the exception of the grasshopper they are just simple, cheap toys I've picked up from Hector's Daughter, a local shop in my village. My favourite is the wind-up Ladybug. He does a neat move where he speeds in one direction, flips over on its back keeps rolling forward back on to its 'feet', spins in a circle and then shoots off in an unexpected direction. I often take him with me in my bag, and bring it out when there's need of some icebreaker moments, or if I need a little chuckle.

Visitors always want to see what they do, and their silly little faces draw people to them with magnetic force - just like they did me!

That little ladybird ball game is a winner too. Why? Because its not too difficult to complete, but you feel like you've put enough effort into it to feel a gratifying sense of satisfaction when the last ball slips into its spot - oh and then you notice that the Ladybird is smiling back at you and I go, "Yeah! I did it, thanks Ladybird":D

There's an interesting story about the tin grasshopper. Its made by a Zulu man who makes toys out of tin can and found metal. You've probably seen or heard about this type of toy, but if you'd like to see some more examples and some other cool stuff made from recycled products click here.

Do you have any windup toys that you like or own?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Toyz in da House

This week I thought I would post on the toys I share my life with. I'm sure we all have little friends scattered through our house, room, flat or caravan. Well, I do. They are in ever room!

Above is my Puter's Panda, I gave this panda bear to my computer because it had been good, that is, not crashing and thus keeping my blood pressure down. This panda bear is a Japanese paper ball. It comes flat and there is a hole in the top of its head where you blow it up. My friend and 1337 jeweller Rebecca the Wrecker gave me this panda as a present when she came back from Melbourne last year. I was so happy when I opened it because I had one of these years ago (though not a panda) and I had played with it until it broke - they make quite a satisfying thwack when hit. So I gave it to my Puter, because I love my Puter and the panda is the same colour as Puter is.

I also gave it that niffy pineapple coloured dollie for it to sit on. Pineapples grow here in Queensland so I thought my Puter's Panda could also express some state pride. He's looking at me right now, and he is always happy:)

Does your Puter have any toy friends?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Feels like Home - Day 7 Geek Week

Today is the last day of Geek Week. I hope you have enjoyed the adventure as much as I have. All three of us (Plastic Girl, Rebecca the Wrecker and I) have even learnt things about each other we didn't know. It turns out we have more in common than we thought; we just hadn't confided in each other because we have been afraid of seeming uncool. What a shame!

In fact that has been the whole purpose of Geek Week, it was to open up and show parts of ourselves as they really are.

Above is some of my unusual family; Lilli&Tom my life-size dolls, their pet Novas Infinite Whatsie and Gizmo, and a trio of Munchas. They share my life, maybe that's weird, but as I read on a sign recently "different strokes for different folks." Toys are what I do best, its what I love and it is a great gift to be able to pursue it as a profession.

Now its your turn, share with me what you think is the most geeky thing about you, it might not be as weird as you thought:)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Turning on the light? - day 6 Geek Week

Thought I wasn't posting today? Well, I nearly didn't; that was until I started assembling my new Daylight lamp. Its a beautiful brass lamp with a daylight globe, so I can sew in the lounge room without damaging my eyes. I couldn't wait until tomorrow, though tired, I mustered up the energy to put it together. After following the instructions to the 't', I carefully screwed in the special curly bulb with the anticipation of illumination bubbling within - when POP** the bottom of the bulb suddenly bursts!! :( and all my hopes were dashed. I plugged my old lamp back in and tried not to feel too sorry for myself.

Then I thought, "How many Geeks does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

and I had something to post:) every they say.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dr Muncha - day 5 Geek Week

My favourite doctor is definitely Dr Who. I've loved Dr Who ever since I used to watch it in black and white while hiding behind the couch - it was scary but it was good. Being scared meant that I cared what happened to the characters, not that the show was too violent.

Infact, Dr Who was rarely violent. The Doctor taught us to use our minds to figure things out. He prefered a bag of jelly babies to a gun, and it usually seemed to work. Dr Who taught me to be curious - he always seemed to be poking his nose into everybodies business but in a delightfully guiless way. Curiousity, enthusiasm and fun was the epitomy of what I found in the Doctor.

When I was creating the Travel Buddies for the State Library of Queensland, this was the first concept set I considered essential to life-long learning. Muncha, shown above, embodies the qualities of confidence, energy, enthusiasm, curiousity and funloving. He has more in common with Dr Who than may first appear.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Artists V Geeks - day 4 Geek Week

Artists and Geeks have a lot in common, they can both illuminate the mind and society by bringing to it new revelations, insights and discoveries. They can mess with you head and change the world almost without anyone really understanding how it happened. Creativity is at the heart of both.

I just hope that artists and the art world could just take themselves a little less seriously.

Here is a site that my new friend and "Supreme Nerd God", Merlyn Gabriel, has recently posted on her blog Re-Cycled Crows, It's called One Red Paperclip, this guy, Kyle MacDonald, traded his way up from a paperclip to a house in the most amazing way!! We could all learn from Kyle.

ps Merlyn G. also writes a Star Wars story blog called Daughters of the Empire;)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

High Nerd Score - day 3 Geek Week

My Nerd Score was 80 out of 100, I'm sad to say that 20% of people are nerdier than me. Rebecca the Wrecker believes I must have cheated so I thought I would throw out a couple of proofs for her.

Question: How nerdy is a person who buys computer magazines, given they didn't even own a computer?

Answer: This question invokes an axiomatic stance, the answer therefore implies -Very Nerdy. QED

Question: What kind of artist believes that reading science magazines and books has more relevence to her Arts practice than Arts magazines?

Answer: Statistics indicate that the said person falls into the High Nerd catagory with 87% certainty. Implications of results could include that said artist, (a) prefers real science over pretend science; (B) prefers well writen articles that are both professional and accessable; (C) thinks physics is cool.

But really I'm sure some of the answers in the Nerd Score quiz are skewed in their weighting. My theory is that if you answer the question, "Do you intend on publicizing the results of this test?" with Yes, your Nerd Score goes up considerably more than guessing correctly that Beryllium is a element in the periodic table.

Take the Nerd Test yourself and see.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I, Florence - day 2 Geek Week

If you've been following along the comments of my fellow Geek Week participants, Rebecca the Wrecker and Plastic Girl, you would understand why I've called today's post "I, Florence", if not go read them Now! Right, now that you've done that I'll continue with the post.

As you may have read in the past I studied Art History at Uni and it was my favourite subject. During that time I wrote two essays on Star Trek. The last one was for the course called The Body in Question: Images of the Body in Western Art. I used an image of Captain Kirk and Spock being whipped in the Star Trek Original Series episode "Patterns of Force" which features a Nazi type society. The picture shown is as close to the one I used as I could find. The one I used was of the two lain over side by side being whipped, with their backs crisscrossed with pink (Kirk) and green (Spock) paint. The image I used for the essay was also used as one of the early sets of promotional cards for the show!!

So, what's all this got to do with "I, Florence"? You maybe wondering. Well at the end of that essay, which could have done with a heavy edit, I made the statement that I was a Narcissian Surrealist. Whoa! What is that? (and why the hell was I talking about myself in an essay?). Well, I figured a Narcissus is in love with its own image and a surrealist can hold any number of bizarre concepts as normal, so a Narcissian Surrealist is in love with the multiple possible associations of the self. Well it gives me something to do anyway. Here's some examples, in a non-Star Trek related way.

You can play this game at home too. Just use your digital camera, take a photo of yourself by holding your arm out in front of you and click. Then use an easy to use photo imaging package, I used Picasa which is free from Google, to manipulate these. Easy! Go knock yourself out with Narcissian fun.

These photos don't really show the depth of the surrealist bit, but I'm sure those of you familiar with gaming will get the point, everybody's a Narcissian Surrealist these days!

One last thing for today's Geek Week post, as promised for Miss Wrecker, here's a link to the Japanese dance troop doing Robot Dancing that I found on YouTube. Enjoy!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Black Square on White - Week of Geek

The above painting is called "Black Square"- 1915, by Russian Suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich he intended it as the end point of art, of representational art, of our slavery to the thing as it appears.

My fellow artists, Rebecca the Wrecker and Plastic Girl have formed a troika this week in presenting a Week of Geek - Geek Chic. We invite anyone to take part - to delve inside the square. We have found that there are areas in the Arts scene that are choking on their own image - they are boring, pseudo-intellectual and artificial. We three believe that it doesn't have to be that way at all.

So to celebrate my resurrected trekkie status; Miss Wrecker's new Neo Luddite Jewellery launch; and our general motivation of cracking the arts' veneer of 'too cool for school'. We bring you this joyous exploration of the square.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Chillax this weekend

In reference to Miss Wrecker's question, would I start making Star Trek dolls now?

I sternly reprimanded her. I do apologise.

While surfing through my new friend Jean-luc Picard's blog from Picard's Journal I found another great story blog Captain's Blog by Captain Berk. He's recommended this YouTube offering of Spock's Crib. Check it out (if you haven't already) it very funny. It uses Star Trek dolls for the characters.

So this is for you Miss Wrecker.

And a great weekend to yawl, have fun and "Chillax".

(original image taken from "A Star Trek Catalogue", Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1979, then altered)

Monday, July 03, 2006

My Past Life as a Trekkie

When I went to university in the early 90s things like watching TV fell away. University was such a relief from high school; I finally met people that were interesting and intelligent. Such was this novelty that I completely missed the Gulf War and an Olympic Games in the heady intoxication of youth.

I also left behind my art.

I was studying economics of all things! I like to understand how the world works and money seemed a big part of it, however it was never my intention to become an economist. I later took up a second degree in Arts (Humanities) with a major in Art History. Art History quickly became my favourite subject. But I must tell you, that I was a very lazy student. I had always performed well in exams without much effort, however this didn't prepare me for an academic life. At uni, I soon discovered that the readings set were never discussed in tutorials and I could fulfill most of my obligations by using my memory of the lectures and my naturally creative, flexible mind. I got by, I was doing honors.

But don't think I was lazy in every department, I was studying intensely but what I was studying was not on my academic record, among those extra circular subjects was Star Trek. My friends and I wouldn't watch any other show, but at 11:00pm once a week we would gather in a TV room and switch on the box. I soon became hooked. Having always loved science fiction like Dr Who - anything with space and magic, I fell in love with the world of Star Trek and was fascinated by its story cycles and concepts. Most of my friends were Science majors and I had a high level of maths/science in my high school background so we would discuss the science and the fiction over bad bolognaise and melting bowls of icecream.

It was via this fascination that I found my way back to making art. Thanks to Star Trek I'm on the path of the artist, well that might be a hyperbole, but Star Trek does deserve a large part of the credit. This very early painting above was a quick study in oil pastel of Data dressed as he was in the episode "A Fist Full of Datas." (Data was my favourite ST:NG character btw)

I was a big fan, not a completely fainting, weak-at-the-knees, stalker type fan but enough of a fan to go to conventions and have a Star Trek original series blue science officer shirt, a real killer at raves (but that's another story).

Over the years my life took a few turns but I still managed to hold onto my art and craft thanks to Star Trek so I must tip my hat to an incredible series - it still has a special place in my heart.