Thursday, November 10, 2011

Long time etc...

I've had terrible trouble trying to blog over the last couple of months but thought it was time to try again.

What's been happening?
I'm working hard to finish my 1920s Britain book for Pen&Sword. As always the problem is leaving stuff out and not finding last minute new stuff that is so fascinating that you just have to put it in somewhere.

My PhD novel is quietly and slowly taking shape, mainly in my head and note books but it is getting a definite form.

I have a proposal for a graphic novel in with a publisher in New York, so fingers are crossed and double crossed.

And I'm going to the Comics Masterclass in Sydney next weekend, can't wait.

Below are some pictures of assemblages I made years and years ago. I dug them out recently.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back to the blog

Where has the time gone? Appologies for no recent postings. I have been busy finishing my book on highwaymen and women for the History Press UK, entering the three minute thesis competition at UNE, teaching, and getting ready for my Knitted Fairies' Book Launch.

Sunday, the 18th September at Chaucer on Bridge Street, Uralla, 3pm I will be launching the Knitted Fairies. At 2pm there will be a pantomime performance for young children at the gallery as part of a special Uralla open day. Hope you can come.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The End of July is Nigh

So much is happening I haven't had time to blog. The Doiley Birds are away for the weekend thank goodness. They are very sweet but quite demanding. I'm sorry I've been so slow with their caravan. I haven't said to them that I'm really reluctant to go and work in my studio because it is quite cold down there.
Anyway, they are packed off to Trish's for a fun weekend and hopefully will come back with lots of photos and stories.

I've been busy (so what's new?) mainly writing. I put in two manuscripts through the Queensland writers' centre: one for the Allen and unwin manuscript development prgramme and the other for Hatchette's ms programme. Fingers crossed. I've been thinking about writing my conference paper for 1 August. It is called 'Into the Woods'. If you think I have a thing about trees and forests you'd be dead right.

To cheer everyone up I'm posting some dragons. I haven't done a dragon for ages, maybe, while the girls are away...
Dragon Spawn- these are the size of a human baby

 A trio of mischief
 Double trouble
Play the blues
All of these were made for the Australian Craft Show back in 2000 maybe. I think it is time for another dragon session.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Work, work ,work- loving it

At last, lots of committments are out of the way and I can get down to real work. I've got a couple of book covers to do which is exciting but I can't say much more than that. It is so refreshing to get paid for drawing.

Yesterday I went to Stanthorpe with Carl to see Tom Spence's exhibition there. We know Tom from his time in Katoomba and the show was very inspiring. I wanted to get out a sketch book there and then. The trip from Armidale, up through Guyra, Glen Innes, Tenterfield and then to Stanthorpe was beautiful in that silvery grey winter bleak way. I didn't take the camera- big mistake.

Writing is rushing along: Gentlemen Rogues and Wicked Ladies, my first title for The History Press, UK is the dominant project this month. I love doing this kind of research.

I also have two fiction manuscripts I'm entering in development programmes and my PhD novel has started successfully (meaning it has the thumbs up from supervisors, colleagues and my agent).

Lots to keep me busy. Unfortunatley the Doiley Birds are a bit cross because I haven't got further with their caravan. I did explain that it isn't the best weather to be going on a road trip in Armidale but they said that would just make it more exciting. To make up for my slackness on the caravan front I'm taking them to Uralla to a very special shop to buy some supplies. I think they will be thrilled.

This picture is of Genevieve and Tilda's adventure in the forest. These two long time friends had to leave their home when they were thrown away in the skip by the new owner of their house. I must say that the photo looks worse than it really was and neither party was hurt.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mr Kettley

This is Mr Kettley. He is getting old now but he is still one of my favourite pieces. His head is made from an old plastic electric kettle, his body is cloth over wire armature and his features are painted in oil paint. His mouth is a collage of fish.

When our kettle died I looked at this large lump of stuff that was only fit for landfill and my heart sank, what a waste! Since Mr Kettley I have collected other dead plastic kettles with the intention of turning them into something other than terrible waste. When I have time I shall show more results.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

caravan under construction

Just the right sized box for frouf slim dolls to go adventuring in.

Doiley Birds' Caravan

While I was walking the dogs in the Pine Forest yesterday I realised that what the Doiley Birds needed most of all was a gypsy caravan to have adventures in. I knew I had the perfect box.
This is Tilly, she is the first Doiley Bird and she is the one helping me build the caravan. We had thought it should keep its cardboard box origins showing but have since decided a real, brightly painted caravan would be even better.
The Doiley Birds are going to launch their own blog very soon and will post photos of their journey as well as telling about their daring exploits.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sculpture and puppets

Here is another experiment. This is a doll that is for a more grown up audience. I am looking at the cloth form as sculpture and also as puppetry. This poor girl is still waiting body parts and clothes and some beautiful, intricate tatoos.

Unfortunatley a couple of lovely comments about my other latest dolls got lost in the recent Blogger problem. I'd love those people to try to leave them again as all such things mean a lot to me and my humble blog. I also wanted to make a comment on the sock hair question.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Dolls

This is a sneak preview at my latest dolls. These were designed with the desire to make a simple play doll that would appeal to the child and the adult. I have knitted the hair on two of them and the other two have sock hair. I'm thinking of calling them Doiley Birds because their clothes are made from recycled materials including doilies from the op shop.

I want them to have a wardrobe of clothes that can be ordered a piece at a time, accessories and a carry case.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PhD proposal successful

Yes! At last I've had word that my proposal to do a PhD at the University of New England (Australia) is successful. I have been waiting and waiting to see if I have to restructure my plans for the year. The doctorate will be in an area called Creative Practice and it differs from many PhDs in that you aren't limited to writing a thesis (though that does form a part of it). I am going to write a novel for young adults.

My career is forming beautifully. I began with designing and writing a knitting book, then another and now I have four of them under my belt and three non-fiction, text heavy books (meaning that they are more full of words than anything else).

Having finished the 80,000 word text for the first of these, Textiles: a history for Remember When, imprint of UK publisher Pen & Sword, I realised that I could do it. And that was when I began my plans for putting in the PhD proposal.

It is wonderful watching these dreams come true. It is not a miracle, it is not luck (though it helps to have a sprinkling), it all comes down to hard work and determination. I guess for me the biggest lucky break was making contact with Isabel Atherton of Creative Authors, UK She runs a boutique literacy agency and she liked my work (the knitted dolls).

From there it was a matter of building a friendship and a strong working relationship, trusting my agent and following her always excellent advice.

Now, my plans are to become a full time writer, illustrator, artist and toy maker (with my own toy shop called Granny Fi's Toy Cupboard). Let's hope money soon rains down on me to buy me the time to achieve these things.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I want a toy shop

I want to have a toy shop selling handmade toys. I want it to have a black and white chequered floor and those old fashioned windows with lots of small panes.

I want beautiful dolls and cars and dolls' houses and castles and knights and teddy bears and merry- go-rounds and robots and puzzles and wooden blocks and prams and tricycles and pedal cars and tea sets and softy monsters and dragons and glorious picture books and farm sets and Noah's arks and peg dolls and soldiers and mermaids and fairies and sock monkeys and space ships and rockets and ships and rocking horses.
I want it chock a block full of lovely things.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Knitted Fairies

At last! Here is the cover for the Knitted Fairies book. She is now listed on Amazon and will be released fairly soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spider child

Here is my little spider child. She is the daughter of the spider lady I made some time ago and who was featured on this blog last year I think. A teenage girl is the owner of both and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest spider baby who hasn't quite reached full term yet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scrumbling and mermaids

I was trawling through my pictures and found this one of a commissioned mermaid from about 12 years or so ago. She is cloth over a wire armature and painted with oils. The photo was from before digital cameras (at least, I didn't have one) and finally got scanned in last year. I must say I do like her. She was made for a lady who has commissioned several dolls including a very sexy boy one with a bare chest and six pack, unfortunatley I don't have a photo of him.

I think it is time I knitted a mermaid.
Scrumbling is the name for free form knitting and crochet. Below is my first attempt at this addictive pastime. You knit or crochet little bits of this and that and stitch and crochet them together. You can also pick up stitches along one side or off at a tangent and add texture in that direction. It is all about building up texture and colour. It is also a good way of using up oddments and experiments. I have big plans. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chibi Girl Pattern at last!

Chibi Girl
By Fiona McDonald 2010
Please not that this pattern is copyrighted as my design. It is free for you to use but not in a commerical manner. Please acknolwedge me as the designer

8ply yarn 3mm needles
Body make 1
Cast on 26 in underwear colour
Rows1-6: stst 6 rows
Change colour to flesh or singlet colour
Rows 7-8: stst 2 rows
Row 9: k2tog each end [24]
Row 10: purl row
Row s 11-16: repeat rows 9 and 10 until there are 18 stitches left
Change colour to flesh
Row 17: k2 tog along row [9]
Rows 18-20: stst 3 rows beg and end with p
Row 21: inc each st [18]
Row 22: p
Row 23: inc each st [36]
Rows 24-38: stst 15 rows
Row 39: k2 tog along row [18]
Row 40: p
Row 41: k2tog along row [9]
Row 42: p
Row 43: k2 tog x2, k1, k2tog x 2 [5]
Row 44: p and cast off
Legs make 2
Cast on 12 stitches in shoe colour
Rows 1-4: stst 4 rows
Change colour to sock colour
Rows 5-6: stst 2 rows
Change to flesh colour
Rows 7-12: stst 6 rows cast off on p row

Arms make 2
Cast on 3 in flesh colour
Row 1: inc each st [6]
Row 2: p
Row 3: inc 1 each end [8]
Row 4: p
Row 5: inc 1 each end [10]
Row 6: p
Change colour to singlet/shirt colour
Rows 7-14: stst [8]
Row 15: k2 tog along row [5]
Row 16: p cast off
To make up:
Fold body/head piece in half lengthwise and backstitch up from base to just below the neck, leave thread. Stitch back of head from top of head down to just above the neck. The neck is so narrow it is impossible to sew this on the wrong side – it would not turn right side out.
Turn the body and the head right side out. Put some stuffing into top of head. Get a toothpick and wrap sticky tape the wrong side out along it and then bind stuffing very, very thinly around it. Insert into body and up into head. Stuff head and stitch head and top of body closed. Stuff rest of body and stitch the base shut.
Fold leg in half lengthwise, turn right side out and stuff firmly, leave top open. Stitch each leg to base of body.
Fold arm in half lengthwise and turn right side out. Stuff and leave top of arm open. Pin to shoulders and stitch.
Chibi girls are very much in the manga/anime tradition so big, big dark eyes, small mouth and tiny nose.
Use the photo as a guide and place the eyes quite low on the face. I have embroidered these on with embroidery thread. They are basically two large circles with an outline of white underneath. Place a line along the top of circle to form an eyelid and make eyelashes come off it. Eyebrows are a single stitch as is the nose. The mouth is a longer stitch for the top lip and a shorter one for the bottom lip.
Go wild with the hair – lots of it and in bright colours.
I have used the crochet hook technique for this where you cut even lengths of yarn and fold each in half. Insert crochet hook through a knitted stitch and pull the folded yarn back through then pull it through itself to secure.

For this girl I have been very lazy and cut a length of wide lace, gathered it with a running stitch along the top and pulled it tight enough to go around her waist. Use super fine ribbon for shoulder straps.
Warning: Chibi girls are highly addictive and can be made in every colour imaginable.

New Creatures

These two heads have been around for a while. I need to finish them. They are made from DAS which is very tricky to work with.
This is a father and son piece. They are fashioned from wire and wrapped left over pieces and scarps of fabric, old stockings and socks. Oh and a pair of lairy Christmas Tree ornament boots for the father and a pair of vinyl dolls shoes fort he son.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

OMG Gabe will kill me!

Trawling through some old photos I found this from about 1999 or so. Gabe, now taller than me with a beard and hair to his waist, has just been offered a place at university (I'm so proud). This was taken at the Katoomba Wearable Art Awards. Gabe is wearing his dragon hunter's outift I made for him - we still have it somewhere. He was a sensation on the stage and won the people's choice award, kindly donated by sculptor Ian Swift - Gabe is standing with his prize.

I can't believe I haven't posted my chibi doll. I must show this to the Ravelry group and offer them the pattern to try. Chibi is Japanese for small and cute and usually refers to anime style little girls and their pets. Now there's a thought! I might do some pets to go with them.