Monday, July 16, 2012


Here are a few photos of my recent workshops in Bremen, Germany.

I had Iris as an interpreter when my explainations foundered in technicalities

On Friday we made Christams ornaments. This was quite a nice one day project, the mohair balls were made before the workshop so that we had all day to concentrate on making the miniature polar bear to go on top.
Here's a better shot (thanks Heike!)

I was a little anxious to teach this tiny bear, as I haven't taught anything this small before and miniatures demand a different set of skills. (Sorry about the quality of the image, I cropped it from the larger photo below, but you get the idea....)
A couple of the ornaments, snuggled with some "Sierras"

At the end of the day I was extremely pleased with the results each of the ladies achieved on this challenging little bear, one day I might even make one of these for myself. Every year I think I'll get one done for our tree.........hasn't happened yet!
On Saturday and Sunday we made "Sierra", again a bear with lots of different techniques to learn. I love seeing group shots of bears made in workshops, they all have their own characters and as you can see, choosing a different fur changes the bear's character completely!

The sample head I took along for the "Sierra" workshop

These workshops were held in the home of Holger and Claudia Schlue, near Bremen. While we all enjoyed our bear making, Holger put his skills at work in the kitchen and cooked up some wonderful luncheons. Claudia makes lovely little bears which you can find here
Ralphie on Wooly Mamouth ivory!

And now I must show you this special pendant made by Iris Heerdes of Spirit Bear Scrimshaw. Iris used a photo of Ralph from my blog to create this scrimshaw portrait of him, she really has captured him very well. The piece measures 2cm x 4.5cm, I am amazed at the detail Iris has managed to get into such a small piece. She works through a microscope in order to get the detail needed and uses Wooly Mamouth ivory! Now isn't that something? This ivory is being unearthed in the Tundra and sent all over the world for use where, in the past, elephant ivory was used.
That's about it, I started sewing again but I think I have to ease myself into it again, my hands have had a two month break and I can feel that if I push it I will end up in strife with them again. Today we have had some glimpses of the sun, I'm impatient for Spring.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yes I'm Here!

Yes I am here. Though it may not seem like it, if you have been following this blog lately.........not much activity at all! But in my defence I have this to report.
I am just back from six weeks abroad, I think my body has almost readjusted to the Southern hemisphere again. Jetlag is a strange phenomenon. I have found myself waking at three or four in the morning wanting to eat, my body thinking it's lunchtime and then at times during the day I get overwhemingly tired and I have to force myself not to succumb (otherwise it will take all the longer to retune myself to Tassie time) I think I am almost there, (or here) last night I managed to stay asleep longer, so I am feeling a little more alert today.
It was quite a shock to arrive back in winter after some gorgeous days in Italy (I have a tan!) though, as luck would have it, we spent much of our break enjoying Britain's wettest June on record! But to look at it positively, all that rain has kept the countryside beautifully green, and we had some lovely walks in it. But after all those wonderful, long, midsummer days with their twilights lasting long into the evening, I'm finding it a little difficult fitting everything into our short winter days.
English country garden, family barbeque, the summer that was.

The house was very cold, damp and bleak when we arrived home, a fair indication of that, was the solidified bottle of olive oil on the kitchen bench! And of course, while we were away the mice (rats) played! One of the joys of country life.........ugh! Wallabies and rabbits have also demolished anything that was still growing in the garden, so before Spring we have some serious fencing repairs to make. We also had some huge wind gusts in our absence that have lifted the poly off our yet more repairs.
I'm actually itching to get back into my bears again too. Other than a couple of workshops in Germany, during which I made three littlies I have done NOTHING! But that was a good thing because I can happily report that my trigger thumb has gone! Basically all it needed was rest, and that is certainly what it got.
Our daughter with her Grandmother toasting with tea.

The trip was a good mix of relaxing and full days of sightseeing. Our first few days in England were fabulous with wonderful warm weather (hot even). We caught up with our daughter in London, then moseyed on down to Somerset for a family barbeque and then on down to Sidmouth in Devon for a few days (with mother-in-law) We did a couple of walks down there, one in which we became completely bushed after being turned around almost 180 degrees in a wood! I don't know how that happened, we had an ordinance survey map to help us and still we ended up somewhere we weren't supposed to be.....hmmmmmmm. Still, in that part of England you are never very far away from "somewhere" and we soon found our way and could have a good (if puzzled) chuckle at ourselves.
We then headed back to London and caught a concert (Mazzy Star), it was also the Queeen's Jubilee weekend so there were a lot of happenings (despite a distinct turn for the worse in terms of weather). Then it was off to Amsterdam for a couple of days, with the weather being much the same there as in London!
Amsterdam in a snapshot

We then flew on to Rome. Ah! Bella Roma, what a city! So much to see, certainly too much to see in four days! I loved that you could be wondering around looking for somewhere to eat, maybe, and around a corner you just about bump into some ancient bit of a building or a column or something equally amazing. There's old stuff everywhere! But of course all the well known "old stuff" is really crowded, walking through the vatican museums was like being herded cattle.....literally! There's no stopping to view something more closely, just an inexorable progress through numerous galleries to the prize, the Sistine Chapel. And while Michelangelo's ceiling is a wonderous thing to behold, I found the whole experience to be a tad underwhelming, as by the time we had reached the chapel I was entirely fed up with feeling like part of a herd.
Our best experience in Rome was the day we caught the train out to Ostia Antica. Where? Well, if you're ever in Rome and you want to see lots of really cool "old stuff" WITHOUT THE CROWDS, then head out to Ostia Antica. A short train ride out of Rome. An ancient site that was once a port but which was abandonned after the river changed it's course, and which was subsequently buried. This is somewhere where you can really get in amongst the ruins, there are some lovely fresco remnants and mosaics to see, and I think there is still much to be uncovered.
Ostia Antica, where are the crowds?

After Rome we headed north into Tuscany and four nights in Florence. Another beautiful city, with lots more "old stuff" to see. We climbed the Duomo, from which there is a great view of the city. If I'd had my wits about me I would have counted the steps, but then I probably would have lost count with all the puffing and panting, and the standing aside to let others pass back down......not a good place if you're in the least bit claustrophobic (but google tells me there are 463 steps) We also saw Michelangelo's David in all his glory, another amazing work from this astonishing artist.
From Florence we took a couple of day trips out into the Tuscan countryside to San Gimignano and Sienna, two beautiful towns. But what I really want to do, is get out into the Tuscan countryside and walk! So that is on my wish list, rent a villa somewhere lovely and get out into the real Tuscany.
So, apart from some more wet days spent in England and a brief visit to Germany for my workshops, that's my trip!
I'll write some more tomorrow, about my workshops and I also have something really special to show you. For now I have cleaning to do, I want to start some sewing and I have such a lot still, to catch up on.