Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My April TIF Challenge finished!

Yesteday was stitching weather. The southerly change on Sunday night brought cold winds with a hint of snow in them, and sure enough on Monday morning the news showed snow around the alpine region in Victoria and even a little around Canberra! I hope Sharon has her gloves and scarf handy!

My cat raced indoors around lunch time, then curled up on top of the couch with her tail over her nose, a sure sign of very cold weather. I took the hint and lit the gas fire, then settled in with my lap table to stitch my TIF postcard. I finished around tea time, so not too long at all once I decided which stitches and embellishments to use. The 2 photos are printed on some pre-prepared silk sheets, not too happy with them, but my first attempts. They are framed by vintage "new-old-stock" laces and a rose braid from my grandmother. I'm seeing something similar available lately at Craft shows, perhaps they are making some again, but my version is about 40 years old! I've added pearls and colonial knots on the left side, simple lazy daisy stitches, picking up the pattern of the lace, with some sparkly beads in the centres and some dyed flower motifs with a sequin centre. The words are printed on a textured paper and stitched with some straight stitches suggesting fancy photo corners. When it came to the binding, the vintage Petersham ribbon was the wrong colour and a bit too "chunky" so I opted for the reverse of a soft satin ribbon. I'm fairly pleased with this one, and even more pleased to have finished within my deadline.

So my postcard pays homage to the fact that in life, some things just never change. We may grow older and outside events may influence us in many different ways. Fundamentally though, our deep inner thoughts and feelings often remain unchanged and while we often don't realise it, one day you look at something and think "Oh, my, gosh, look at that !" I had that moment when I looked again at these photos, taken some 46 years apart. The head angle, the slight smile, the costumes, the baskets and although you can't see in the modern photo I'm wearing long "socks" in both pictures too!

Monday, April 28, 2008

April TIF progress?

I've been mulling over the April topic for Sharon B's TIF challenge, "How do you see change?" for a couple of weeks now. Everyone has been sounding very "philosphical" about coping with unavoidable changes, how change can mean renewal and regrowth etc.

I've decided though to express a different view, you know some things DON'T change. I've decided to highlight this by working a postcard using some images I printed with my ink jet printer onto silk fabric sheets, not very successfully I might add, grrr! First pass through was fine, but when I turned the sheet around to use the other end, the printer literally chewed it up! I was able to salvage the first printed images though. Enough whining, on to the images!

Both of these have been used before on this blog, but I thought they illustrated my thoughts pretty accurately. The first image on the left is me dressed up for a fancy dress parade at the West Botany Methodist Church, aged 7. A basket of plastic flowers and that Mona Lisa smile complete the look. In the the right hand image I'm slightly older (try 46 plus years) still posing with a basket, LOL, and a costume, and check out the smile (or lack thereof) So you see, some things don't change all that much after all. The laces I've pinned around the photos are vintage laces from various sources, mostly "new old stock" from shops which has been collected over the years, one of my many eclectic collections. The roses braid seemed appropriate since I'm pictured at the Roses from the Heart bonnets ceremony, see previous post. I'm planning to embellish the laces with some stitching and beads and bind the card with some vintage Petersham ribbon to tone in.

I realise the end of the month is in 2 days, so I'll do my best to post before then.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Marking ANZAC Day

The 25th April 1915 is a special day to all Australians and New Zealanders. In World War I on that day a combined force, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps as it was styled, attempted a landing on the west coast of the Turkish penninsula at a place we call Gallipoli. They were sent to the wrong landing place by their British commanders of the time, and the Turkish troops were waiting for them. The terrain was impossible, steep hills and gullies and only a narrow shingle beach. The allies were slaughtered in their hundreds often before they could even leave the beach, it was a monumental defeat by the better positioned Turkish forces. They withdrew after many months, leaving behind their dead comrades but having earned themselves a reputation for fighting against incredible odds.

I know the stories well, as do all my generation of school children who learned Australian history at primary school level. Then came many years of schooling where the subject of Australian history fell out of favour and Maths and Science became more fashionable. Even English language and grammar took a back seat for a while. I'm glad to report that Australian history is now gaining favour again, as witnessed by the huge numbers of young Australians and New Zealanders making the annual pilgimmage to Gallipoli for the commemorative Dawn Service, and attendance at Dawn Services around the country is growing every year as the youngest generation starts to realise the sacrifice that all servicemen and women made on their behalf.

I have a link to Gallipoli and the later war in Europe in WWI and WWII through my father. My father's father Harold Fillingham went to Gallipoli as a re-inforcement with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion 1st AIF not long after the landing. I have photos of him training in Egypt, then sailing through the Mediterannean to Gallipoli. He survived, unlike thousands of others, to be deployed to France in 1917-1918.

The photo shows him posing for a photo in his uniform before he left for Egypt. My youngest brother resembles him a lot, same eyes and that cheeky look. Papa brought back a few items of "trench art", an army cap fashioned from a shell casing, and a pot plant holder fashioned from the top of the shell I think. These used to stand on the hearth in front of the fireplace at his home. I remember him going into Sydney every Anzac day to march with his mates, wearing his best suit with polished shoes and medals, and a sprig of Rosemary for rememberence. They marched, not to glorify war, but to honour the fallen and revisit the good times with mates who had also gone through the horrors with them.

Papa was awarded a Military Medal in 1918 in France and a copy of the citation for his medal is under his photo, above. He came home and married my grandmother Sarah Elizabeth (Tiz) in 1919, and had 2 boys Ken and my father Ray.

Ray served in WWII in New Guinea towards the end of the war. He was in the RAAF, the Australian Air Force and was an aeroplane mechanic on the Catalinas, an amphibious plane. He didn't like to talk too much about the war, other than to tell cute stories about keeping a little native cus cus (possum) in his breast pocket, playing the ukelele ( a small guitar like instrument with 3 strings) and Pigeon English from the natives. He used to love to recite the supposed Pigeon (the native interpretation of English) phrase for a man playing the piano. Let me see if I can remember it,

"Man he sitta down alongside bockus, bockus he 'ave 'im teeth all b'longa crocodile. Man he hit 'im bockus, bockus he cry out!"

Not sure how correct that is, but you can see the picture, I'm sure !

My father died late last year, so although he could no longer march in the Anzac parade, I still watched the televised coverage, and looked for his unit marching. The vetereans are certainly fewer now, after all it has been 60 years since WWII. The televised Dawn Service from Gallipoli and Villers-Brettoneux were both worth watching and very moving.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Memorial of the Bonnets" Day at Parramatta

Today I took my completed Roses from the Heart colonial bonnets honouring my "adopted" convicts to the ceremony at St John's Cathedral Parramatta. What a great roll up of people we had, the cathedral was full. It's Heritage Week, Parramatta has a very strong convict history and it is a very worthwhile project. We were honoring the 25,566 convict women transported to Australia in the early days of the colony.

Now a very brief history lesson. Convicts were no longer being sent to America following the War of Independence, and once the hulks (prison ships) moored in the Thames River were full to overflowing, the British government decided to try sending some to Botany Bay where Captain James Cook had discovered suitable land. However, Botany Bay proved to have sandy soil unsuitable for cultivation, so Captain Arthur Phillip, a gentleman farmer at home, sailed north to Port Jackson and Sydney Cove with his First Fleet. A convict settlement was established, and within 6 months another was established at Parramatta where the land was rich and fertile along the banks of the Parramatta River.

I wore my 1820's costume, as would have been worn by an assigned convict of the time.
I was asked to pose for a few photographs on the day, and a friend was kind enough to take this snap of me in front of the boat full of bonnets and notes to the women. You can see by my shiny face we had a very warm day, LOL. Donated rose petals were scattered amongst the bonnets as well. Christina Henri thanked me for dressing up and gave me a long stemmed white rose as I was leaving. Unfortunately, the poor lady had an accident last week, breaking her ankle and so was confined to a wheelchair, but she soldiered on regardless. A real credit to her and all the organisers of the event, very moving and worthwhile. I will certainly be making a few more bonnets before the deadline expires in about 12 months time. For further information, see her site on the side bar under Roses from the Heart.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

TIF Challenge April - first thoughts on "Change"

Sharon B. has asked us "how do you see change?" this month. As it's almost the second week of April I thought it time to post a response, LOL.

I have to admit I hate it, generally. I recognise that there has to be growth and evolution but I love having the familiar around me all the time. People say we should embrace change, and go with the flow, but I find it very difficult! The biggest changes in my life were unavoidable. I've lived at 6 different addresses in my life, and while I acknowledge that's not as many as some people, all but the last 2 were quite dramatic. I HAVE changed my hair style and colour occasionally, usually for the better each time. Some of the old photos are just horrible ! But I baulk at changing my makeup colours, trying a new perfume, or buying new shoes. I buy shoes when the old ones are nearly worn out but sometimes the new ones are still in their box weeks later.

I only drink tea with milk at home. I always buy the same brands when I shop, it saves time that way, LOL. I can get around the supermarket and out the checkout in 25minutes by always reaching for the same brands on the shelf. Of course, if they run out of my favourite, it takes me ages to decide on a substitute. I'm a creature of habit in so many ways. I have 2 or 3 favourite varieties of lollies and icecream, and when confronted by one of those displays of 40 varieties of ice cream, nearly always buy macadamia or vanilla. Tried and true favourites.

I must sleep on the right side of the bed, can only sleep on my side not on my back, and have to have the window closed (burgulars might get in!) I think you see the pattern here.

I tend to break out in a rash when major change happens. I might seem placid and understanding on the outside, but obviously inside I'm raging / trembling/ worrying myself silly.

My husband recognises this flaw in me, and when he shaved his 30 year beard off for charity he saw how much I didn't like the change and grew it back fairly promptly!!

I once quit a job I absolutely loved because the boss intended to change the way the business functioned, making major changes in price, service and attitude to customers. I'm going to be a grandmother in our Spring, and while I know I should be looking forward to it, and everyone keeps congratulating me (I didn't do anything !!)I hate the thought of being old enough to be a grannie. I've even told my DIL I want to be called Nan, because it sounds younger than Grandma or Nanna.

The only kind of change I can bear is in nature I guess. Plants grow, pets grow up, the sky changes colour and clouds form and die away. The seasons change, well we won't talk about that one, LOL. I wish it was always Spring or Autumn, my two favourites.

I would be quite happy to be one of the ladies stitching in the photo, wouldn't you? Leisure time for simple pleasures, instead of rushing around being superwoman. That seems to be one very negative change that came with "progress".

So how to put those feelings into textile? That will be the most interesting challenge so far, and I haven't forgotten that I owe a piece for March. Now there's something that will never change, I'm always pushing deadlines !!