The flowering inferno

the flowering inferno

Abandoned an onion on the chopping board, halfway through cooking lunch yesterday, to spend an hour sketching because I haven’t been doing much drawing lately, and I have missed it so much that, suddenly, it was the only thing I wanted to do.

For a subject, I picked this pair of Dragon Lady high heels (because I always knew I would draw them.) These shoes hang from the corner of a bookshelf at home…I didn’t buy them to wear (they’re so high that they’re ridiculous) but as decoration. I treat them the way you’d treat a painted pair of wooden clogs, or a bark skirt from Papua New Guinea, or an antique kimono…a kind of textiles and costumes branch of anthropology.

I love that these cheap, mass-produced contemporary shoes—made in China, ironically—are now merely playing to the sort of Hollywood stereotypes of Oriental exoticism and sensuality that the image of a cheongsam (or qipao) from Shanghai in the 1920s also evokes…and that they are being marketed on shopping sites for Western women who want to dress the part. It’s a funny “retail culture meets cultural appropriation” where Chinese manufacturers are peddling Chinese stereotypes to non-Chinese.

They’re fun and quick to draw, though…the cheap brocade, all that silky, glossy red, the 5 inch slope from toe to heel…

Lady Luck…shining like a saint, tattooed like a sailor.

Lady Luck

Marita Albers just posted a new painting, Lady Luck, on her blog. I think this is just so beautiful…reminds me Russian icons, the circus, and the fantastic tales of Angela Carter…really, it’s this sort of work by Albers that I mean when I say that I would love to get my hands on one of her pieces; but I don’t think I can afford paintings right now, and so I trade my journals for her plush cats. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mushroom Kitty! But it’s Marita’s paintings that burn with a lighthearted fire.

She’s got this painting at her house right now (so she says on her blog)…

I am seriously contemplating an art heist in her part of the neighborhood. But man! she’s got tough security! Her evil hench-chickens roam vigilantly around her garden and inside her house at all hours…

Cinderella the Chicken

Yes, the chook’s name is Cinderella, but I mustn’t underestimate the danger of this mission. Look at that mean eye! I need a fabulous fox assassin…

via midnight in the garden of evil knievel

Wrapping the week up…

Langkawi sky

Selamat datang!

It has been a busy week. My day job boss (I do one day a week, as a kitchen hand and serving at the counter, for a vegetarian takeaway in the Smith Street mall) asked me to fill in for an absent co-worker.

I grabbed the chance to earn a bit more money because, last Wednesday night, I did a pretty crazy thing: my friend Jenni, who lives in Langkawi, sent me Air Asia’s latest Promo Flights e-mail, and as I was  clicking through the destinations and the prices I thought, “Why not?”

I’ve never been to Malaysia. I have a few friends there. I love the multicultural influences of their Indian, Nyonya, Malaysian, and Chinese cuisine. I’m comfortable and familiar with Southeast Asian culture. And the flights were thrillingly cheap…albeit travel dates were all the way in February 2012.

So I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur, with plans of heading down to Langkawi, and over to Penang. In a daze, I told Kris that night “Um…I’m going to Langkawi and Penang…” His response was (and this is Kris, all over), “Great idea! When do you go? The food is Penang is fabulous…” Have I said how much I love this man? Well, I say it again. ❤

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Penang MalaysiaThen that same night I received a comment over on my other blog from pc, the warm and enthusiastic craft and family-life blogger of MeiJo’s Joy. She lives in Penang. It seemed like a sign that I had made the right move. I wrote to her, and she replied with a thrilled “Selamat datang!” We’ll be meeting up when I get there. I know it’s half a year away, yet, but I can’t help it, I’m excited!

 The Royal Darwin Show

The Royal Darwin Show

An annual event, The Royal Darwin Show is happening next weekend (from Thursday, the 21st to Saturday, the 23rd). This is its 60th year, and so there’s going to be a bigger celebration this time around. I must confess that I have not yet been to a show…these large agricultural & community shows are a facet of Australian culture that I haven’t been able to relate to, not having such a thing in the Philippines. Should I get a denim shirt and a slouch hat? ;D

Well, that’s all about to change…I’ve been asked to come to The Show as a judge of entries in the newly created Bookbinding section. I had to laugh when they asked me…I haven’t had a chance to enter my own work in the event, and here I’m going to be judging! I fret that I’m not qualified to judge other people’s bookbinding creations…it seems like a big responsibility to carry around. But I said yes, and will try to do the job as gracefully as I can.

I’ll let you know what the Show was like, after I’ve been. In between being all big-gestured and swaggery, seein’ as I’ll be Ms. Judge an’all, and everyone callin’ me “Yer Honor,” (You’re not that kind of Judge, Nat!) I’ll be firing my camera like mad. What should I be on the lookout for at The Royal Darwin Show? Can you give me some tips? I hope I spot cowboys…I really want to shoot some cowboys. *yee-haw!*

Heritage Collection Banjo Patterson lady's hat in fawn

The Homemade Gift Wrap


And a spot of color to end this post: I sold another wooden journal through my Madeit shop the other day, and the lady who bought it said it was a “gift to herself”, so I thought I’d wrap her purchase up…just a bit of ‘pretty’ to surprise her when she gets her parcel.

I know there are fancy cutters and dies that you can do this with, these days…as well as lovely printed papers and matching cutouts, decals, tags to be bought at shops. But I like to do things myself, using what I have, and putting a bit of playfulness and care into the job. Buy yet another machine, just to do this? Why? When my goal—half the time, anyway—is to be creative, see what I’m capable of, and make things intensely personal? (To spend less on ready-mades and mass-produced items being the other half). I don’t want to be dependent on companies, shops, specially-made niche-market products, and spending, just to make something pretty; and I don’t want to have to share my satisfaction, when it’s done, with a brand name.


It isn’t perfect. I made a little tear in the red paper when I was pulling the masking tape off. But I don’t mind, and I don’t think my buyer will, either. After all, it’s just something she’s going to remove when she gets her journal.

I took some pictures when I did this (really, you don’t need pictures, it was that easy, but anyway…) and will put a post up on From Hell to Breakfast soon, if you want to see how it’s done.


Crazy Circus Chair (Book 902, and already gone!)

Remember this?

I love old chairs, especially the leather ones with deep wings and curly legs…but instead of the standard upholstery, I like to dress my dream chairs up in glossy red leather and stripey gold and pink silk brocade—inspired by gypsy circus tents, Tim Burton, goth-queen ballgowns, and Angela Carter’s “The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman”! I made this painting a couple of months ago, but finally made up a journal with it, which was the plan all along, last Monday (or thereabouts).

I put the finished journal in my online shops the following day, and this morning woke up to find that it had sold to a long time Flickr contact of mine—the amazing photographer and artist salbug00! Yay!

I’m thrilled that she liked it enough to brave the steep postage and shipping fees (did you know that the U.S. Customs asks a US$ 9.00 surcharge for any parcel that is over 500 grams (1.10 lb.)…it’s bad enough Australia Post’s International Shipping fees are highway robbery, but with this U.S. tariff on top, salbug00 may be the last North American buyer I will ever see!

It went soooo quickly, but I thought I’d post pictures of it here, just to say “Hey, look what I made!” Yes, folks, the Crazy Circus Chair Journal was here, briefly.

May it bring joy and offer a quiet place of solace and refuge to its new owner.

Yay! Fun!

Och! I am having so much fun, holed up all the rainy weekend in this little floating room, it almost feels reprehensible. The little last bits of hesitation have disintegrated, and I am fully engaged in this playful creativity now. The characters walk in unbidden—barn owls and lacy underwear, heart-shaped doilies and stripey socks—and all I have to do is find a spot and draw them in. This is always a fantastic place to be, and I am savouring every minute of it.

A little something (nothing) everyday

Finished the embroidery on the back cover of the Moleskine cahier I am working on for the Sketchbook Project 2011. Haven’t decided what to do on the front yet (it will still be blackwork embroidery, but it has to have more oomph than the back cover) though I really should get working on it by tomorrow—there’s not a lot of time to do this!—so I’ll make my choice in the night, and get cracking.

I finished this part of the painted canvas book covering, today, too. It looks a bit Christmassy here, but the real thing is slightly less red, a little more pink/magenta. I tried to kill the saturation a bit in iPhoto (the original doesn’t seem quite so ruddy) but something was up with my exposure/white balance today…I blame it on the low natural light: the sky was heavy with rainclouds all day, and the blue color cast threw everything out of whack.