Scrap Wood Made Good

So last week was a good ole play around with photographs and editing apps. There has been more of that, thanks to more apps, more time messing around, and more chocolate. The muse likes chocolate.
But this week I’ve also been getting my hands dirty (or at least dusty & roughed up a bit) with woodwork. Nothing fancy! I’d better establish that from the get go. We’re talking veeery basic – chopping & sanding, since I haven’t done any projects with wood since Year 8 (i.e. a while ago). I think I’ve even still got the money box I made, somewhere…
But why wood? Why now?
Well, I found a piece. At the side of the road. Just an old shelf with four bonus screws poking out dangerously underneath. [Insert jump for joy here] Coz one thing I’ve been wanting to try for a while is making rustic, artsy little signs (you know the ones; currently breeding like rabbits in a homewares store near you). I think they’re great. And I wanted to create some with my own sentiments and quirks, rather than the usual ones you see.
So I lugged this plank home, ignored it for a couple of weeks, and then finally decided it was time to play. (Stars aligned and stuff like that.) Thanks to Dad being a hoarder of all kinds of tools and handyman shit, I had access to: circular saw, drill, sandpaper, ruler and pencil. The last two I could’ve provided but hey, package deal.
The result: a pile of pieces to sand.

Site supervisor - Nut

Nut decided to supervise.

Actually very enjoyable. And I found the stain on this particular wood created an awesome effect when sanded around the edges only. Bonus!
At this point I was also thinking about ideas and effects. The experimental piece reveals some of my discoveries so far:

Sacrificed for the greater wood. Erm, good.

Sacrificed for the greater wood. Erm, good.

Scratching letters in (channelling the high school vandal I never was), looked great but took too long. Metallic gouache that I had lying around, was shit. No, really. It needs to be chucked. Should’ve known there was a reason for the markdown price. White acrylic paint looked alright but I wasn’t completely sold on it.
Then enter the hero: Ink. Precious ink! that I’d snubbed all these years for no apparent reason in favour of watercolour and acrylic and graphite. I was introduced to this marvellous medium a month or so ago by a graphic novelist at a workshop he was running. Nothing beats ink and brush for creating a damn sexy line, he’d said. I have to agree. Line work, filling in, all of that, it just feels so good with ink. Which led to this morning’s trial run on my first little sign: Hero sign
A bit of free hand calligraphy that fit – thankfully. I’d sketched it first (good idea) coz I’m notorious for just charging in, which doesn’t always work but seems to work enough that I do it more often than not. (Gambler! Rebel!)
I’m currently deciding if I’ll add anything else before finishing. As I said, this is all experimental, and I’m really hoping ink remains the hero by staying permanent and shiny and neat.
If not, well, maybe it’ll be onto plan B. The wood burning kit. Which hoarder Dad remembered (and found!!) last night. Gotta love Dad. But it does mean I’ve gotta cut him some slack re: the overflow of stuff. For now. At any rate I’ll be experimenting with wood burning next!

In other creative news: note pad fail! I’d painted pics on little notepads to sell in gift packs for Christmas, applied clear nail polish over the acrylic paint to seal it, and then this happened:

Oh nooooo!

Oh nooooo!

The whole thing has peeled off like a big sticker (which I can use for something else, I guess) – but ack! Glad I found out now rather than later. Must’ve been the particular plastic cover coz that’s never happened before.

Which leads me to a thought for the week: giving oneself permission to fail. I never used to. I’d have sooner keeled over than made a mistake, let alone tell anyone. But that’s no fun and scares the muse away (chocolate or no chocolate). So I’ve given myself permission to mess up and laugh about it. Even share it with the world. o_O
Be sure to watch this space for future f-ups, triumphs, and the joys of being creative!

Have Phone, Will Create

On that bloody phone again, are we? Addicted much? Should we book in for surgical removal yet?

Huh? Did somebody say something? Oh, hey, howz goin?


That happens a bit now, I’ve found. Such conversations instigated by any number of family members, or my own inner voice, at any given creative time. Coz creative time can now happen anytime and anywhere (yay!), thanks to the marvel that is smart phone + camera + (I’m now discovering) photo editing apps.

Uhh… they’ve been around for years, Kel, I hear you say, bit slow on the uptake there.

Sure it’s not a new concept, but it’s new to me. (Hell, I’ve still got Flappy the carrier pigeon roosting in retirement out back, since I finally caved in to peer pressure and got an iPhone last year.) But what can I say? I’m certainly not interested in racing anybody to high-tech land. I’m a different kind of geek, thank you very much. I’m happy with my leisurely pace and my stumbling upon things in my own sweet time.

So, stumbling upon photo editing, as I have recently, I’ve discovered a whole new world of fun. I was already pleased with the easy, portable nature of a built-in phone camera for capturing those whims and inspirations that strike at odd times.

Bush walking one afternoon...

Bush walking one afternoon…

Now I can take that moment in time, spend hours experimenting, and end up with that same moment in time, just slightly modified. Faaantastic.

After some tinkering

After some tinkering

Also what I love about this is the simplicity. When the muse comes to visit I don’t always have the hours and space to get out drop sheets and paints and brushes. Or knives, embellishments and card stock. To be able to just point, shoot & then tinker is perfect. And I figure I can tie it in with my other projects as well.

Faery Charm, anyone?

Faery Charm, anyone?

Beats pictures of food.

What I’m probably liking most is that there are all these accessible, user-friendly apps that mean streys like me can add an artsy edge to our photos without getting all fancy-pants with expensive equipment and a whole new vocabulary. (I’ve flipped through a bunch of photography mags; I have no idea what they’re talking about.) They can start to sound a bit elitist as well which my photos… are not.



This is Nut. He’s a stray too. Picked him up at the toy-animal pound (aka the local op shop) a little while back. He’s a bit of a character and likes having his picture taken, so he might feature in some more. When I catch him causing some photo-worthy trouble… (often enough).

So this week’s creative spurt has been made possible by the Camera Awesome app, which has its own set of crazy terms for things you can do to photos, plus references to unicorns and other random things. RateCameraAwesome


What other apps have people found good/useful/fun/worthwhile? If you can peel yourself away from them long enough to reply…

Soggy Old Sunday? Just Add A Bit Of Crazy

Well, one of the last things I expected to be doing last weekend was a train dance. Yeah, a train dance. Dancing whenever a train goes past… to the amusement of a hundred or more strangers.

Alright, maybe I’m abusing creative licence by applying the term ‘dance’ to the funny bobbing up and down motion we were doing. It was more… umm… think squats with goofy grins. Or Tweedle dum, Tweedle dee & Tweedle me. Coz there were three of us (I’m not crazy enough to pull off something like that on my own) – me and two guys I’d only met that morning.

Tweedle dee & Tweedle dum

Tweedle dee & Tweedle dum

Tweedle me

Tweedle me

          To set the scene: I run a market stall once a month selling my creative stuffs

Creative stuffs

Creative stuffs


It’s held on the second floor of a carpark next to a local railway station. In theory it’s the perfect setting: undercover, plenty of room, well ventilated… Until you get hit by a trilogy of shitty elements: it’s raining and you discover leaks above your spot, there’s a fat-arse SUV with its gut overhanging into your space on one side, and a food stall is relocated next to you on the other. Oh that last one wouldn’t be so bad, I hear you say. Yeah sure, if you like the smell of bacon & eggs & whatever the hell that thing is, all sizzling on a barbeque and wafting onto you and your stock. Would be perfect for some. But for those of us who would rather pluck out every nose hair than catch a whiff – let alone breathe it in all day – it’s a recipe for agony.

Kel's reaction to bacon

Kel’s reaction to bacon

So anyway, I set myself up (a longer process than usual, as I swore at each leak I discovered, and praised the cellophane wrap protecting my handmade cards), all the while feeling watched. Not a creepy kind of watched, thankfully. Just observed. By my new neighbours across the way: two guys selling auto-care products.

Hmm… young, single guys? I wondered briefly, interestedly (is that even a word? There’s no wiggly red line of shame appearing under it, so must be…). Coz you never know… they sounded like they could be.

But no. Wasn’t to be this time.

Sorry, Mum.

No son-in-law just yet.

What I did discover though, on getting to know these two over the course of the day, was a couple of middle age mates who bring a sense of fun and mischief wherever they go. Like a couple of court jesters on the loose. They came up with the train dance as a response to the slow, cold morning (so much for being weeks away from summer). And soon enough, in contrast to my previous ways, I found myself joining in.

You see, not that long ago I was one of those shy girls with more than a little social anxiety, who would sooner die than join in some public display of mild insanity. But hey, you change your life and then suddenly (it seems) start to find yourself doing interesting things in surprising situations. This was one of those situations.

“So what are the rules, then?” I grinned at them.

“Umm…  It’s gotta be when the trains pull in or out”

“Regardless of whether you have a customer”

“And we’ve all gotta do it”

Cool. Simples. Goodbye customers for the day!

I imagined people backing away slowly or giving our stalls a wide berth lest they catch the loony bug. But then I remembered how much I’ve appreciated the random acts of silliness I’ve seen over the years. The people who make a fool of themselves to bring a smile to others or, even better, amuse themselves first and then everyone else as a result. A bit of contagious crazy. I was up for that.

So there it began. Our rainy, shitty day soon became a fun event as we carried on & called out, laughing and pointing to each other when a train rolled past every 15-20mins. Tweedle dee would get caught while explaining his product to customers. Tweedle me got caught discussing fantasy books one time, and juggling money another.

Occasionally rules adjusted:

“Let’s synchronise!”

 “Nah let’s get it so there’s one up one down and one half way.”

“Speed up if the train’s pulling out & slow down if it’s pulling in.”

And while we received plenty of strange looks and occasional frowns from market shoppers, we also triggered plenty of smiles. A couple of other stallholders even joined in once or twice.

Chatting later on, we agreed spontaneity is the key. Some things are a success purely because they’re unplanned. You embrace a whim and get creative. You have fun, make friends, and bring a little crazy to life in a way that brightens everyone’s day. (And in my case, balance out that chocolate I’d downed earlier…)

By the afternoon, my potential ordeal of a day had turned into a great day. I managed not to scare all my customers away and made some sales. My stuff stayed dry. I survived the food smell waftage. Just.

Soon all that was left were the farewells to my new friends and the long pack up process for me (which I don’t mind; it’s kinda therapeutic).

Then just as they were pulling out to drive off, a train pulled in. I glanced across, still linked to the sound as I’d been throughout the day. Nah, I thought, that’s it, day’s done. I can’t do it alone.

But in the middle of everything, the car stopped.

They both got out.

And together we all did one final train dance – grinning from ear to ear.

Last train dance for the Tweedle 3

Last train dance for the Tweedle 3


Then our day was done.