Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Well that came around quickly. Makette opens tonight! Makette is a group exhibition, curated by Kart Projects, which I'm lucky to be a part of.

Makette looks at the side projects of eight designers. How do self initiated design explorations differ from work produced for specific clients, budgets and outcomes? What does this allow us to learn and how does it feed back into our main practice?

Architect, Bruce Rowe's ceramic creations. Images via The Design Files. Photography by Scottie Cameron and Sean Fennessy.
The other seven designers include textile designer/illustrator Beci Orpin, set designer Rafaella McDonald, fellow architects Bruce Rowe and Melita Tomic and Graphic Designers Adam Cascio, Stuart Geddes and Joel Priestland. I'm feeling very fortunate to exhibit alongside such great company.

For those that aren't local, the online catalogue will also launch tomorrow. The catalogue with continue to develop over time, providing an ongoing discussion on the topic. Read it here.

Opening Wednesday 10th July 2013 6pm-8pm
Runs 10th July to 31st July

Design Institute Australia Gallery
Level 1, 175 Collins St

re-love challenge: the finished piece

Monday, 29 April 2013

Hoorah! The piece for Feast Watson's Re-Love challenge is now complete! I'm pretty happy with the result. Read more about this challenge and my design intent here.

Keep your eye on the Re-Love website from May 9th for details of the auction. All nine pieces including this one will be sold off to raise money for the Salvos Stores.

If you're curious, I've listed the steps below. I used a mix of Feast Watson's Black Japan Stain & Varnish, Liming White Stain, Liming White Stain with varnish and Dulux's Quit Rust in Black for the metal frame.

  1. The piece was lightly sanded, including the metal frame.
  2. The area around the frame was masked off before applying three coats of the Quick Rust in Matt Black.
  3. The lower board was given four coats of the Black Japan Stain & Varnish.
  4. One coat of the Liming White Stain (without varnish) was applied with a cloth and then a second coat applied with a brush. This coat was allowed to dry completely over a few days.
  5. A tessellated pattern was designed on CAD to suit the dimensions of the table. I started by dividing the table size into equal rectangular blocks and then manipulated the shape from there (using this method).
  6. The pattern was transferred onto contact paper, which formed the stencil. The stencil pieces were cut out then laid over the areas to be blocked out. The contact pieces were stuck onto a piece of fabric before sticking it onto the table. This knocked out some of the stickiness, protecting the limewash on the table and making it easier to remove later on.
  7. Using a cloth (and yes, that is an old sock), the liming wash without varnish was dabbed onto the exposed areas. This coat was layered on quite thick and intentionally patchy. The contact was removed while still wet. This layer was allowed to fully dry over a few days.
  8. To drop the level of contrast out and also seal the finish, the entire top was given another two coats of the Liming Wash with varnish.
Photography and styling by me. Assistance with heavy lifting/props manoeuvring by my sister. Thanks also to my parents who generously allowed me to turn their terrace into my temporary workshop. Thanks a bunch team Leoncio :)

weekend project: 2013 calendar

Friday, 18 January 2013

Over the Christmas break I made myself a little wall calendar using images I've taken over the last year. I layered a few notes-to-self on the images. They're notes from my 2012 self to my 2013 self, as a reminder of what I learned last year.

A friend suggested that others might find Ella's notes to self useful too, so you can download it here. I ended scaling the file down to tile nine onto an A3 sheet, but the original file is a bit bigger. 

If you want to drop your own images in, you can download the InDesign file here (you'll need to grab the calender template by Shutter Sisters and relink). The file expires at the end of the month so be quick. If you do make one, I'd love to see it so make sure you instagram/tweet/email it to me!

PS. Thanks for all the enthusiasm for my weekend projects. In 2012, they were by far my most popular posts. Ahh shucks...the encouragement is too nice. Making is one of my greatest little joys so I hope to up the frequency this year.

weekend project: lacework

Friday, 3 August 2012

Today's weekend project is brought to you by my lovely friend, Tarryn. You may remember her from this interiors project which I blogged about a while back. Tarryn's passion for making has fueled my own interest so I'm very excited to share a few of her pieces here today.

These necklaces are a collage of remnants, left over pieces and fragments. It was important to Tarryn that the private history of each piece was not erased or washed out in their assembly. By piecing these disparate materials together, she added an additional layer. She threaded into the existing structure, tracing previous hands movements, yet making a new mark.

She was particularly interested in the use of vintage lace. The intention was to maintain a sense of veiling and layering of ideas without reducing it to a two dimensional or flattened piece. 

Tarryn describes these as "very much a loose experiment with clumsy, rudimentary, expressed connections." Well, that's Tarryn's version of clumsy anyway. She really takes the word meticulous to new heights.

Photos by me. Text written together with Tarryn.

weekend project: canvas

Friday, 20 July 2012

I've been working on a lot of different projects but none are quite ready to show, so today's weekend project is brought to you by my lovely friend, Laura Summers.

Laura is a web designer and a contemporary dancer. She also does a bit of film making on the side and has recently been working on a short film entitled "Canvas." The film studies a dancer's body as she gradually covers her flesh in red paint. It explores ideas of "the skin as interface to the external world...the skin as external memory keeper and bookkeeper of life events."

Below are some snapshots from filming day. I call it a weekend project but that's just me bastardizing my own system (it's my blog, right?). This is more a snippet of development that's been a long time in the making. The film is currently being edited and will be presented as part of dance+anecdote at this year's Fringe Festival.

I find this little teaser so evocative. I can't wait to see the final product.

Ps. Do those beams look familiar? My friends and I are slightly obsessed with this warehouse space. Seriously though, how good is the quality of light?

Performer: Heidi McKerrow
Photographs: Joel McKerrow

weekend project: carver chair

Friday, 6 July 2012

Today's project is more cosmetic than any stroke of genius but it was still fun. I picked up this carver chair on eBay a few months ago. Due to a rookie seller with an auction finishing on a Friday night, it was only $10. Score for me.* My vintage furniture tastes are usually more mid century, but there's something about the geometry of this chair that is really appealing to me. Perhaps it's that gentle, restrained curvaceousness.

It was originally a lacquered, yellow/red based timber with a brown vinyl seat. Motivated by a desire to make it more contemporary (mixed with an intense dislike of glossy timber and brown vinyl) I painted it black and reupholstered the seat in a natural linen. I used Porters Eggshell acrylic in Aniseed- one of my favourites. It has a beautiful chalky finish which works so well in black.

Call me a cliche of an architect but most things look better in black, right? Ahh. It feels so much more like me.

* Alright. I confess that this statement is riddled with hyperbole. Once I add in delivery, the paint, staple gun, fabric and extra padding, it didn't end up being quite the $10 bargain it first appeared to be. All in all, it still works out under $100. Plus I have a staple gun now. Win.

weekend project: wool necklace 2.0

Friday, 29 June 2012

After making my previous wool necklace, my sister started dropping not so subtle "make me one immediately" hints. Fortunately for all parties involved, I was keen to have another go.

For this one, I prepared 1.5m of knitted chord and used this "knarr" knotting tutorial. Once knitted, I dip dyed the back of the necklace using Rit powder dye in Pearl Grey. I then made black beads using polymer clay to fix the ends.

It seems I was a little off with the water to dye ratio because it turned out almost black. A happy accident though, since I'm a touch obsessed with black and white.

(not a) weekend project: knitting seat.

Friday, 22 June 2012

This is another one of mine but it is definitely not a weekend project. It was more so the result of eighty hours of labour, serious sweating, a few muttered profanities, numerous failed attempts with the drill and a sprinkling of splinters. I designed and built this in my final year of studying architecture as part of one of my favourite subjects, Timber Furniture Workshop.

I was recently asked to photograph it for an exhibition the University is holding to celebrate 20 years of running the workshop. I've been posting so much about handcraft and knitting, now seems like perfect timing to share it.

Entitled "Knit," the seat was designed to support my personal knitting habits. There is a wool dispenser compartment which keeps the wool untangled and helps me keep an even tension. Spare needles are stored just behind for those emergency moments. The seat is wide and low, allowing me to sit cross legged.

Knitting also informed the structure and design. The seat is made up of a series of interlocking, linear elements, gathering to create form.

weekend project: wool necklace

Friday, 15 June 2012

It's well and truly winter now so the knitting needles have resurfaced from the depths of the supplies cupboard. I made this wool and clay necklace using a mix of knitting and knotting techniques. This was the first time I've ventured into the world of knotting and I tell you what, I really liked it there. Knotting is a bit like the linear version of origami, which I'm mildly obsessed with. (Remember this?) I have no idea why I have never explored knotting before.

The tools you need are pretty basic. I couldn't even remember how to cast on so there was heavy reliance on YouTube for this one:

1. Follow this tutorial to make the knitted chord. I used five stitches instead of three because I wanted a chunkier chord. I made about 1.8m worth of chord using 4mm wool. Keep about 10cm of loose wool length either side to help you thread through the tube later.
2. Follow this tutorial to make the central knot. The crew that put this video together have some serious spatial intelligence going on so please watch their other tutorials if you have any interest in knotting.  
It is a 7minute tutorial for one knot, but don't be put off, it's easy to follow and is hugely satisfying. I originally made the full knot (see below) but changed my mind, undid the whole necklace and untied the knot to around the 4min point in the video. I'm much happier with the proportions of the half knot.
3. Using the polymer clay, make a small, curved tube. I rolled mine around a 7mm knitting needle to give a smooth, even surface internally. Pop in the oven and cool. This gives the necklace a bit of weight and also stops the rope from unraveling. Plus I love the crispness of the white against the chartreuse.
4. Time to thread the chord through the clay tube. You need to get a bit MacGyver here with the loose ends as it gets pretty tight in the tube. You eventually want to feed the ends through either end of the tube and have about 20cm of loose chord coming out of either side. 
I threaded end A through the tube. I then overlapped ends A and B and twisted together a little to compress. I secured B to A by tying it on with the loose thread. I then pulled end A back the other way, carrying B with it.
5. Wrap the loose ends down the sides of the necklace to create the rope. Once you get to the knotted pendant, tie the two loose ends together at the back.
Weekend time very soon! Looking forward to my next project already.

weekend project: cement bowl.

Friday, 8 June 2012

I recently experimented with some cement mix using this mix which I bought from Bunnings. I created the form work with a takeaway noodle bowl and a balloon in the centre to create the depression.

Once dry, I waxed and burnished it using these instructions. I liked how lo-fi this process was and how much it emulates natural erosion process. The final finish is almost matte, with a low, satin sheen.

Where the concrete was sitting against the plastic bowl, it is really smooth and quite shiny, whereas the top is much more irregular and as a result, less reflective. Gravity didn't quite flatten the top surface, as much as I had hoped. I needed to work the top with the spoon to smooth out some of the irregularities.  The balloon also shifted around a little, meaning that the edge around the depression wasn't as crisp as I'd hoped. If I were to do it again, I'd probably fill it with liquid to keep it in place.

I'd like to try something long and cylindrical next time, so that the smooth face is more exposed. I'd also be interested in trying different cement pigments and layering these to create striations.

Rather than trying to smooth out the top surface, perhaps next time I'll be more intentional about the irregularity. Omar Abel's bronze bowls are a great precedent of exploiting the irregularities of a material and process.

weekend project: neon ring.

Friday, 1 June 2012

I've been speculating whether to start this series or not for some time. I traditionally blog about projects that are rigorously resolved, so to share my weekend projects in the same space is hugely intimidating.

However, in the blog-istensial crisis that came with my first blog birthday, I was reminded that I started this blog to help me grow as a designer and creator. Whilst I'm hugely inspired by the work of the broader creative community, the research side can be quite the time vacuum. Sadly, this often erodes the time for actually creating, which is what my blog was meant to inspire in the first place. I want to commit to making time for creating. So I'm taking the plunge and starting this series. I'll stick to posting this on Fridays, for those looking for weekend inspiration.

So here goes. Here is my first (very very) little project for the series.

As I've just written a mini thesis, I won't expand too much on my first project. This is a two tone ring made from polymer clay using a mix of Fimo Soft in Lemon and Sclupey III in Pearl.

Happy weekend!

diy air dried porcelain.

Monday, 28 November 2011

As mentioned on my Friday post, I tried this air-dry porcelain recipe (also known as cold porcelain) over the weekend. Oh my goodness, could I have had any more fun? I made a few Christmas presents which I can't share but I also made these coasters (I realize this isn't the pinnacle of creativity, but you've got to start somewhere, right?). I imprinted the pattern using a vinyl doily that I bought from a cheap haberdashery store.

If you're keen to give it a try, here are some of my discoveries which you might find useful:

* The final finish has a slight satin sheen. It's closer to resin than a chalky porcelain but not quite has hard or dense as resin. It also seems to have a little bit of flex in it. I would have changed what I'd chosen to make had I known this from the start.
* I prepared my dough over the cooktop and found that it started burning at 7minutes (they recommend 15mins). I took it off the heat but it was still way too sticky. I threw it in the microwave for an extra 30seconds and that seemed to take it to the ricotta consistency they recommend.

1. At one minute;  2. At 7minutes;
3. My fingers were too sticky to get a pic but it should be a little lumpier than 2.
4. The dough!
* After micro-waving, it's still pretty sticky but don't freak out. If you persist with kneading, it eventually turns into workable dough. I was tempted to nuke it a bit longer and I'm glad I didn't.
* Once it's ready, the dough is surprisingly soft and easy to work with. It also doesn't dry as quickly as I was expecting so you can take your time shaping it. Just make sure you knead it well so you don't get gritty lumps or cracks. It's not like clay so you can't just wet it and smooth out kinks. You can knead it easily after the 24hour settling period.
* Avoid making anything too thin as it starts to get a bit transparent and plasticky.
* I dried mine on wire racks and it sadly it stained the bottom. I might paint the bottom or line it with felt.
* Mr Google suggests that it can be finished with acrylic paint.

Have a go because it's great fun!

a baby mobile.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I recently went to my first baby shower. Rather than dwell on the "my-friends-are-turning-into-grown-ups-heebie-jeebies," I chose to concentrate my energy on making a baby mobile for the mother-to-be.

I used kindergarten squares for the paper cranes.  Before folding, I threaded the fishing wire through and added a bit of tape at the puncture for reinforcement. The twig was found outside, thoroughly cleaned and sanded then spray painted white.  If you're thinking of doing something similar, make sure you spray paint the twig in advance or use low VOC paint so you don't end up handing a toxic jungle to your lovely pregnant friend (as I came very close to doing).

The parents loved it. Fingers crossed the little one will like it too.

Images in today's post by me.

adventures with tumeric.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Image via Studded Youth.
Ever since I came across Jaquelyn from lark + linen's blog post about diy home fabric dying, I've been hankering to turn my kitchen into a laboratory of coloured pots, bubbling with textiles. Given that I already love sewing, the idea of dying my own textiles is really exciting. It takes the notion of creating bespoke clothing to a whole new level.
First trial, was fabric dying with tumeric. It was so much fun! Here are some images of the process:
Step 1. I filled a big pot with hot water and 1/2 cup salt and dropped the fabric in. I brought it to the boil and simmered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. You're meant to use a ceramic pot because metals can effect the colour, but I couldn't get my hands on one. You also should use a spare pot, not one you use for food.
Step 2. 15 minutes before the fabric was ready, I mixed 8 cups of water with 50g of tumeric and let simmer.
Step 3. I strained the salt water out of the fabric, squeezed out the excess moisture and dumped the wet fabric in with the tumeric mix. I did this in the laundry trough so that the fabric had more room to move. I stirred the fabric occasionally to get an even colour. I left it in the mix for about 45minutes.
Step 4. I rinsed the fabric until it was virtually clear and then hung to dry.
Step 5. I sewed the dress together. I cut the fabric before I put it in the pot to reduce the amount of fabric to dye. I bought thread to match after dying.

Unfortunately, today is tragically dreary and the thought of wearing this sunny dress seems wildly inappropriate. I couldn't even take my grey top off for the sake of the photos. So I'm afraid this will have to sit in storage until later in the year. Next time I might try dying some blacks and browns.
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