Wednesday, June 29, 2011


WEAVING has a strong tradition in Morocco. The desert nomads [Berbers and Tourags] were incredible weavers, well - still are. The Moroccan carpets are legendary. It is very much a family affair with the skills and traditions being passed down through the generations. We were treated to a carpet feast [along with the mandatory sweet mint tea], and a few of our group spent up big on lovely carpets to be sent across the seas.
Eliza fell in love with a rag rug that had been made for purely practical purposes for the family. They wanted rather a lot of dirhams for this wabisabi rug, so it is still there. After a while, the tradition of intense haggling and bargaining became too exhausting for us to cope with - we couldn't even look at an item without being hassled and chased down the street with 'what's your best price?'
Carpets loaded up at a local village market...
Inside the Berber 'show' tent...
...gotta love the patches...
This is an interesting take on weaving...
We visited a workshop for women run by Franciscan nuns in the mountains near Midelt. They were creating fine cross stitch embroideries for export.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I am home again after a fabulous week in Brisbane at the 'Textile and Art Academy' conference,  immersed in inspirational creativity. Such a joy to spend my days purely on making stuff - no cooking, cleaning, computer, etc, and the bonus was that I spent some evening time with my sisters.
Keith lo Bue is an Australian/American jeweller/mixed media artist. He calls himself a 'Stuff Smith'. Go to his website for a knockout experience.
Keith is a great teacher and generously shares his tips and hints whilst teaching the most amazing techniques allowing for attachments and integrations of just about any materials. Found objects [often metal and usually antique] form the basis of his works, and the pieces evolve with old photos, watch parts, organic objects, tiny precious gems, crab claws, etc, embedded into lenses, resin, glass, all peeking through and allowing for various views and interpretations of the one art 'object'.
The first exercise was to take one object from our 'stash' from home, one object found in the garden in the school grounds, and one object donated by another student, then to make a wearable piece of jewellery [nothing else added].
This was my 'brooch'.
The green pencil is a relic from my father/grandfather's carpentary days, the red pencils were found in the garden and the perspex was a casette case donated by another student. I learnt heaps whilst sawing the perspex to make a new 'box' and making tiny perspex pins to jam into the sides and base of the pencils to hold the whole construction together. This was a whole day's work. I had trouble holding the front and back together, so at the end of the day I gave up and cheated - the wire was a fourth element, but it was also found in the garden. I figure life's too short to stress about being too pedantic.
The next exercise was to make something autobiographical. My personal martra is 'SIMPLE, HONEST & NOBLE'  -  I learnt to confidently drill holes in a tiny sea tumbled rock to take the pins from an old gold earring, and to house an antique pearl cuff link button -  simple, nonest and noble.
Back to my love of driftwood - I used Keith's favoutite medium, reo tie wire, to make a riveted pin to go through the driftwood with a black rock and rubber washers as features. The memory wire will go through fine scarves and jacket lapels to attach to the garment. Simple, honest and noble once again.
Next, a fun name tag to wear at creative workshops and functions. Antique game letters, driftwood, tiny ceramic beads made 30 years ago, linen thread to mend and hide where the wood cracked under stress, and the rio wire rivet pins again. Lots of drilling tiny holes and trying to line them up.

Keith loves to make 'stuff' that has a dual purpose - usually wearable, but sculptural whilst not being worn, so this was my next piece - a little sculpture that becomes a neck piece.
The 'stand' is an old silver plated salt shaker [thanks Geoff and FaB] adorned with rubber rings and the top is the neck of another salt shaker, rubber ringed, with set in photos from an old family post card and a photo of my daughter on the other side. The radial memory wire pins have watch winders attached to the ends. The material covering the photos is mica. 
The neck unscrews and voila!! the chain is contained within the salt shaker. The sculpture is now a neckpiece.
This is a special piece - started years ago when I did my first class with Keith. It was a lawn bowls 'tape measure' used by my grandfather. I 'de soldered' it, saw pierced out the window, attached the pointy end of the spring steel tape to the front of the housing with the pearl, and tried to make a hinging device to open the window. Not successful. So this week, I drilled out the pin and redid the 'hinge' - it works now. I made a mica window and forged my own brass and rio wire 'S' links to lengthen the found copper chain.
Under the spring is a photo of my great grandmother with me as a baby. I'd like to make a thin round book with all the significant family women in my life to also sit in this space.
The neckpiece can be worn complete, or the spring can be worn on its own. Maybe one day I will make another housing for the spring - just for fun !!

Thanks Keith for a great week.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Leather tanning is a big industry here. Some products are excellent, others are dodgy. Eliza bought a beautiful leather coat which she has worn non stop but her 'deer leather' shoes collapsed the first rainy day. The forgeries are so good these days that I wouldn't take the risk [also I didn't want to carry anything home ].
The tanneries and leather souks [markets] were fascinating, colourful and a tad smelly.
Can't go past a tannery for a great photo op.
...check out the roof - no roofing nails needed here!! This pic should have gone into the 'Building industry' file.
The next pic was taken in a souk - a man was carrying a big bundle of tanned leather on his head - strange picture - a bit disgusting really.
...there's a bit of shoe repairing going on here, 'tho I think the shoes are made from plastic...
I love this for ingenuity - rubber buckets made from old car tyres and inner tubes...
...and pumping up a bike tyre the old fashioned way.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Hi Col - This one is for you.
house painting...
builder's materials...
carpentry [chip board bridal chair]...
mending a table leg.
All I can say is "Hmmmmm".

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


While we are on the 'subject' of camels - here are a few special pics of these amazing animals.
I had a bad experience on a camel many years ago and was very reluctant to join the overnight Saharan desert camp [via a one hour camel ride]. My lovely fellow tourists talked me into it, and I'm so glad they did. It was a gentle swaying meditative ride into the Saharan sunset, [and the wind dropped] - what an experience!!
...getting ready for the 'treck'... into the sunset...
...that's me with the scarf wrapped tightly around my head... 
Our lovely tour guide, Tahar Baba, was over the moon - shoes off and running over the dunes -he was born in the desert and his father still breeds camels out in the Sahara.
...and my daughter Eliza enjoying every minute... 
We 'slept' on camel blankets on the sand in communal Berber tents, a bit like this one but not as big and fancy. Yes, it was a VERY cold at night.
It was possibly the best experience of my whole trip.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Abdelkrim Ouazzani

We came across an exhibition of work by Abdelkrim Ouazzani. It was set up in the battlements portico entrance to the Kasbah of Oudaias in Rabat, Morocco. These unused public spaces seem to be the venues for exhibitions.
I loved this work - fresh, bold, elegantly simple. I was excited to see some wonderful art work at last.
This is the entrance archway to the portico.
This is what I found on the internet about this artist [translated from French].

"This contemporary Moroccan artist, designer, painter and sculptor, lives and works in Tetouan, near the straits of Gibralta, where he is director of the National Institute of Fine Arts. His work is 'beyond the routine' classifications, and embodies the spirit of childhood. Ouazzani has always been faithful to a world view based on his imagination, fun and play, and the sweet harmony of shapes and colors. The wheel and circle are recurrent themes in his works, creating a simple visual vocabulary which is reproduced, combined, and structured.  His flickering human figures are fragile and full of poetry".

I believe there is somewhat of a Miro influence in this work. The works of the great artists of Spain and France are just across the Mediterranean - a feast for the soul for any present day artist.
These are a couple of Miro's works which I saw in Barcelona a couple of weeks later.

I see that I have a few new followers - welcome one and all. I will endeavour to say 'hi' to you all as soon as possible, but I am finding that computer time is limited at the moment - I am preparing for another adventure - yes, already!!! I am off to Brisbane  [only 1 1/2 hours away] to do a week long Keith lo Bue workshop - yeah - this will be my second workshop with Keith - fabulous fun. Check out his web site - it's to die for :)