Had a write-up in this week’s Melbourne Weekly review, nice! Come for a visit and see the mess for yourself.
If you happen to see a tree which has a lot of scratches on the bark, look up! Especially if it is a Messmate tree but not necessarily. Koalas often use the same tree for sleeping in and will scratch the bark as they climb up with their big claws.
Owl trees often have regurgitated food at the base of the tree as they splat it down, such as possum bones or whatever they didn’t digest. A Powerful Owl is big enough to take feral cats! I think that when you are in the forest, looking at the ground occasionally can yield more interest than looking up. The animals may hide, but their traces don’t.
Do you live in Melbourne, looking for something to do this Sunday? Why not go to the Swedish Church to join the scandinavians celebrate Valborg, or Walpurgis Night. If you have been to the annual Christmas market, expect a scaled down version of the same only set by night and with some other traditions. At Valborg, we light a bonfire and sing to the coming spring. Swedes have a song for every occasion, except for maybe why spring is really autumn? I am sure we can wing it regardless. Let’s just celebrate spring together.
When? 4pm-8pm. Fire is lit as dark falls.
Where? Toorak House, 21 St Georges Rd, Toorak
Why? Because it is atmospheric, there will be a small scandinavian market and I will be there with my hats and Swedish stuff. There will be food (skip cooking dinner), cinnamon buns (of course), and some Glogg to keep the spirits up. See you there!
People want to know so much. This is evident by the search terms used to find my site. Here I shall try to answer some of your questions, because I doubt you can find it in the blog anywhere and I would hate to disappoint. Since you are here, I mean.
1. Daylesford in winter, is it so bad?
Where did you get that from! It is not bad at all. All you need is good heating and a decent winter wardrobe. Some extra vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sun and you are set. The low winter light is extremely flattering to the complexion so we are all much more beautiful to look at in winter. Also there is no uncovered superfluous skin, so ditto there. Enjoy the absence of snakes and go hiking. There are also no insects as they have all gone to bed, along with the reptiles. Love winter, and it will love you right back. Hot chocolate. Wood fires.
2. Can I repair cracks with gesso?
Yes, someone actually found my site through this question. Isn’t Google a wondrous thing? What I want to know is why would you want to? How wide and deep are the cracks? If they are hairline only, of course you can. Just paint the gesso , dry and sand. Repeat until happy. Bigger cracks need a hardware product.
2. Can I mould with gesso?
So much to know about gesso! I should write about it more often. Yes, you can, as long as you are not asking too much of it. If it is for low relief on a picture, for instance, sure you can. Has been done for hundreds of years. If you are moulding a three dimensional thing, I would use plaster casting or similar.
3. What are things for couples to do at night at Daylesford?
I am not sure I understand this question. Do couples do different things to non-couples? There is a lively live-music scene, plenty of restaurants, or you might take a picnic and a torch into the forest and look at the nightlife in there. That is a tremendous adventure. Sit quietly, listen and wait. Squeeze each other hands in anticipation of the thrill of a koala’s roar. Is that for couples or not? I think it is. You could always opt out of the handsqueezing if you are not that close. Midweek there is not too much apart from restaurants and pubs, if you are into that, but weekends is more active. The Grande has a little venue in the basement which does regular shows on Friday nights, strongly recommend. Cabaret type things. The Daylesford Hotel is excellent in summer, with a nicely lit outside area which often houses DJ sets, or other events. Nice. Ditto Perfect Drop. Horvat’s does live music on weekends, and is a very cool place to eat and drink midweek too. Or go to Radio Springs hotel, a short drive away but so worth it. There’s plenty more, look at a What’s On guide if you still need more.
4. Disused church Daylesford.
This appears not to be a question but a statement, which is totally fine. It is keyword searches, not a conversation, after all. There is one particularly fine one which was for sale for a while, on Camp Street. Could this be the one and why do you want to know? The For Sale sign is gone, but I don’t think it ever sold. Make enquiries at one of the agents, they will know. Go on, buy it! It could do with a new purpose. Was initially up for 950.000, but this might have been in the too-high range for the time, now I am not so sure as prices have gone up a bit in the last couple of years. By the way, I believe the word is deconsecrated. ”Disused” might just mean a church with very poor attendance?
5. what are the opening hours for Clayfire Gallery?
That is an easy one! According to their website (should have gone there instead of my blog, shouldn’t you?)
Monday 10:30am – 4.30pm
Wednesday 10.30am – 4:00pm
Thursday 10:30am – 4:30pm
Friday 10:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday 10:30am – 4:00pm
Sunday 10.30am – 4:00pm
This is really so simple. You could have a statue which flips or pivots or anything you want, but I chose a book. Here’s how it works:
The books around it have no purpose other than to keep the hinged book company, they are loose and just sit there.
I had to add a block of wood to stop the gate latch from going too far back or it wouldn’t close automatically. It’s not the prettiest but it works beautifully. I first tried to add a bracket on top as a stopper, but it had no effect at all. The book has a tiny hinge attached.
Again the colours look lurid on the screen, what did I do wrong? But the green below really is that green… Looking at something as green as this has got to be good for you, like taking vitamins or eating a lot of spinach.
I recently made some portraits in classic Dutch Renaissance style, mainly because I had a hankering for one myself and once I started I just couldn’t stop. Give me more brown! More gloomy faces!
I start with a sketch on the canvas and fill in the background. I wanted the particular Dutch look so I went for a lot of Van Dyck Brown, a few layers, darker at the edges. Then I work on the portrait itself, gradually building it up. Because of oil taking so long to dry I like to work on several at the same time so I always have some dry spot to tackle. And yes, my studio is far too tiny really but it shows what you can do with a small space. The paintings are leaning on my sewing machine as no sewing can happen when I paint, it is far too dusty.
The vest is my own and painted with white highlights to give shape. It looks very suitable for the period, if you disregard the centre zipper.That was the look I was after, period but definitely not.
So why the bird? No reason, other than the need for a central colour spot. Also, the early paintings often had an addition such as an animal, a flower or a bird added. There is great joy in choosing things to paint. After all, there are no limitations whatsoever apart from your time.
Here is another just past the starting line. She is wearing a headdress composed of two takeaway coffe cups and a teatowel. At least, that is what it will become. The early paintings often did little things with their hands, like religious symbolism for instance. I am going more modern, this one is doing the Shaka, the handsign for the unified people of Hawaii which later become the internationally known surfie hand. I like her bored look, very deliberate. I have seen it all and it bored me! She probably lives in Melbourne and studies art and works as a barista. Or maybe she dosn’t.
This one is of one of my neighbours, she happened to be walking past wearing a gorgeous duffel coat so I put a hankie over her head (as you do when neighbours pass) and asked her to pose. ”Just look serious,” I pleaded, and I think she did really well. Letting someone paint you is to put a lot of trust in the painter. Willl they make me look awful? Possibly. Will you be able to do a thing about it? Nope. By the way, I have no idea what happened to the green, it is not that lurid in real life.
Sunset, outside the house. Wombat Forest in the distance. Aah, summer nights! Soon the blustery winter winds will leave you breathless but for now, just stand still in the setting sun.
The last room to be fixed up is nearing completion! It has been a long time coming but I am in no hurry. There seems to be a fashion to put plywood on walls at the moment. Bare and raw, that is. Though I have no intention of having raw ply anywhere I find it a useful material. These walls are ply top to bottom. I added 90mm pine framework with carefully cut quad as a trim on the bottom half of the walls, and glued hessian to the top part. Is it a good idea to glue hessian on your walls? Definitely. Is it hard? Absolutely. I used plenty of Aquadhere to make it stick, but still it bubbled and wrinkled. If it looks good when you do it but return the next day to find bubbles aplenty, just briskly brush on water and more glue and it will flatten out. Because of how heavy it is you will need to tack it at the edges to stop it from falling down until it dries. Some persistent bubbles I tacked flat also to keep them down.
The hessian will give a nice texture. I wanted to paint mine like wallpaper so I had to give it three liberal coats of paint first. I can assure you that hessian is a thirsty beast to paint, so I went to the recycling station and picked up several free leftover paint tins to completely seal the hessian before I painted the base coat I wanted for colour.
I used acrylic paints for everything but the white flowers, house paint was fine for them. Basically you could do whatever you wanted, stripes was an idea I had at first before I realised how hard it was to glue the hessian totally straight. With the weave being so coarse it would be very visible if my stripes went over the lines. Hence organic lines and shapes. Nobody will notice a crooked line if everything is crooked already. It takes quite some time to do all the flowers and leaves so I work on all the walls at the same time, adding a little all over. This way, as your style changes subtly over the course of the work it will change evenly. The plywood at the bottom half of the walls is getting a woodgrain effect. This has to be the easiest and quickest effect I know. One undercoat to seal the ply, lightly sanded, one coat colour (I used Raw Umber) and one coat of Walnut stain and varnish in one. There are more complicated and more convincing ways to do it but I am pretty happy with this rapid way for large scale covering. Brush on the coloured varnish with a bad streaky brush, comb it with a graining comb, brush again to soften, distress it a bit, soften again, move on. You have to work very quickly if you use a waterbased varnish, a few minutes and it is starting to set. If you can paint badly, you can woodgrain. It is all about being uneven!
Some more flowers added and more woodgrain. There is a secret door in this room. If you move the first of the standing books the door will open. That standing book is a gift, given to me by past guests. Thank you very much. I really appreciated your kind contribution and I hope you see this blog entry! The book is actually a vintage metal book safe. Any book can of course be used but I felt this was a sturdy and attractive option.
The door is an ordinary flat hollow-core door, like this:
Add bits of wood like this. You can’t buy a ready fireplace unfortunately because they will never be that narrow. Unless your door is enormous, of course. Having a good saw is essential for presicion cutting.
Add paint. I undercoated the fire part with gesso, and painted the bricks and shadow with oilpaint. This is a fun idea I used once before, I loved it so much I just needed to do it again. There is something about hidden doors which appeals to many people. Bookshelves, woodpanelling, fireplaces. Anything.
A thing to think about is not to paint flames if you want it to look more realistic. Not because you cannot paint flames, but because the eye needs the flames to move. Bricks or tiles are easy because we expect nothing further from them than to be simply what they are. But flames, we need them to crackle, move, smell. So we are not deceived.
Incidentally, did you know plywood was patented in 1797 by a British naval engineer called Samuel Bentham? Fifty years later the father of Alfred Nobel made it better and stronger and more easy to make by using a rotary lathe to peel the wood in the thin skins needed and laminating them in threes. By 1865 plywood reached America and industrial production began. I used to think of it as a modern material, but it isn’t really.
Have finally made it to installing the landscape I started in November over a year ago. No rush. A lesson I have now learnt is not to make it so big that I can’t reach the back wall without climbing into it. Or at least make more room in the centre so I have somewhere to stand. As it were I had to crouch with a toe on each side of a little island, feeling like Gulliver. ”…the said Man-Mountain shall have a daily allowance of meat and drink sufficient for the support of 1728 of our subjects.” Man-Mountain! That’s me.
The landscape is in two halves which had to be joined and finished (still not done with that) and then given a ceiling of clear stiff plastic. I gave it two layers of plastic with wadded insulation inbetween, creating a flat sky which could still be cleaned from the outside. But when I looked at it from the inside it looked too square, with visible edges so I glued wispy bits of insulation hanging down. This worked very well, and to my surprise catches the daylight in surprising ways, like this:
So why this landscape and is there a point? Good question. I was given a round window from someone and could think of no better use for it than to build a large landscape in a wall, lit from above by daylight and lamplight by night. Just realise the actual window is not in the shot, it will come later. No, there is not much point apart from the fact that it is a peaceful scene where little of note happens. You can look at it for some time and discover detail, people, animals, houses. It is purely for pleasure.
My next problem is going to be the framing, but no rush here either. The year is young.
Daylesford has had splendid weather so far this summer. Cool nights, warm afternoons, occasional rain. The garden has certainly loved it. Gooseberries are plentiful at the moment, other things bud with promise still… It has just had a major haircut and is looking neater than what is perhaps the wilder norm. Actually, looking at these pictures I think it looks pretty rampant still but that is what happens, look away for a second and the wily tendrils are running the show again.
Sat 3rd Dec 10-5pm
Sun 4th December 10-4pm
Toorak House, Swedish Church
21 St Georges Rd, Toorak
I will be there, do come! It is always a great weekend. I did a longer post about last year’s bazaar and a brief guide on How to be Swedish, link here: https://queensberrypipdaylesford.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/scandinavian-christmas-bazaar-and-how-to-be-swedish/, this year I will take more photos if I get a chance.
See you next weekend, hopefully.
It has been a wet winter so I felt the need for some new games, if you like playing boardgames I have some great ones! Some for 1-2, some you need 4 players, but if you are bringing your friends you can have a games night.
Nice to be inside looking out. We have had a tremendous amount of rain so it won’t stay on the ground but it is predicted to drop to minus 1 tonight, let’s hope for more snow which stays around! It’s been snowing on and off all day.
I drove to the Blue Mountains on the weekend, on the freeway. Coming back, I took the high road which is a little slower but just so nice. The road goes through all the little towns and makes for a very pleasant day. Had lunch in West Wyalong. I drove through no less than three cattle drives, complete with horse mounted drovers. Made me really happy. The countryside is green, the cattle is fat. Lovely! If you usually fly from city to city, maybe just the once take the time to drive. You will see so much more of this magnificent country.