Sunday, August 27, 2006


I came across this picture while browsing through some old photos. This is how the visitors saw the island in the earliest days of the island being a tourist destination.
Bernie's cousin Marie devised a way of transporting the larger numbers, converting old lorries in tourist buses. A full or half-day "Island Tour" was, and still is, a "must" for our visitors. Norfolk may only be five miles by three, but is said to have more than 100 miles of driveable roads (I have never really checked that one out...I suspect it might involve travelling each road in both directions!)

It must have been a somewhat bumpy ride, as few roads were tarsealed in those days. Most of them were dirt or mud, with a surface coating of crushed coral in the busier traffic areas.

I might add that Marie is still enterprising and forward-thinking, even though she turns eighty this year!
And believe it or not, the A-model Ford in front is still in service. The remarkably sound and simple 'works' are still kept in tip-top condition by our much-loved garageman Ralph Holloway.
Charles uses the 'bus' to drive the visitors who come to the Pitcairn Settlers' Village. However, it still ocasionally has an outing on the roads, particularly for street parades and other special occasions.

In the picture below, the old girl has been pressed into service to carry the less mobile folk on the 'Bounty Day" march. Cousin Marie and Bernie are standing in front.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Well, not really...though it will come round soon enough!
A discussion on one of the online Crazyquilt lists I belong to reminded me of a Christmas ornament I have. Someone had been making a sweet little pincushion demonstrated on this site (it is in French, but the pictures explain it all.)

I recalled a lovely hanging ornament that I had bought at a little Embroidery/Quilt display we came across in Hastings, NZ, about 4 years ago. It is made using a similar technique. You start off with two pieces of fabric. In this case they are rectangles, each side embroidered with a lovely angels, and stiffened at the back. You join the two pieces by oversewing, but you start by attaching the corner of one rectangle to the middle of one of the long sides of the other. You end up with an intriguing twisted box shape. Cover the seams with a cord, add a tassel and a hanging loop, and you have a lovely decoration.
While I was up in the attic looking for this ornament (we keep the tree up there decorated ready from year to year), I decided to bring down another memorable ornament to show you.
Some years ago, I was staying in Buderim with friends, and went to a Christmas Fair at the local Community Centre. There was a stall selling a variety of little handmade tree ornaments. It was "manned" by two elderly ladies, but I think they were selling on behalf of other people also.
I came across this funny little Father Christmas ornament. Although it was somewhat 'tacky' and kitsch, I thought the design had possibilities for me to improve on it, so I handed it over with the money to one of the ladies.
As she was removing the price tag, and preparing to wrap it, the other lady looked down at it somewhat disapprovingly and said:
"What on earth is that ugly thing?"
"It is Santa Claus" was the reply.
"Well, it looks more like a member of the Klu Klux Klan!"
Somewhat embarrassed, the first lady said:
" lady is buying it."
The second lady looked at me, looked at the ornament, then said:
"Oh well, in that case, it is very nice!!!"
Talk about diplomacy.
Needless to say I will always treasure this somewhat homely little Father Christmas, because of those memories.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It is not a great photo, because I cropped it out of a much larger one of our Pineneedles Quilt group. I suspect that Maggie was not really enthusiastic about being captured by the camera at any time!
Maggie (More) and her husband John left the island on Wednesday, to make a new home for themselves in Nelson in New Zealand. They took a holiday there a year or two back, and decided this was the right time to make a move. For them, the Nelson area had good vibes, and anyone who has been there would agree with them.
But it is a little harder for us who are left behind to understand how they could bring themselves to leave behind those four decades of roots they have grown in this community, not to mention their wonderful home, with all its home-made and handmade evidence of their craftsmanship and creativity.
We so much loved our quilting afternoons at Maggie's. The house was very much in the style of the area from which Maggie came, which was Colorado, but with wonderful concessions to our more subtropical climate, with a large breezeway between the two halves of the house. The garden, too, was a typical Sunset magazine garden, with drought tolerant plants, very sculptural, but cottagey and homely at the same time. I would describe Maggie and John's home as a unique blend of minimalism coupled with a warm and welcoming mellowness. We just loved relaxing in those capacious window seats, with their valley views!
Maggie and I have been stitching companions for many years. Our styles have always been completely different, but we have still been able to share so much inspirstion together. I have always been amazed at Maggie's colour sense, and her ability to combine pink, orange and red and make them look just stunning! I have always found our American sisters are far more comfortable with these combinations than we are here downunder!
Well, Maggie and John have well and truly downsized, and left so much behind them. They are off on a grand adventure. We will miss them so much.
I know the new owners really love the house and appreciate its unique character. Jezzie the dog has been lovingly settled into a new home with a lovely family. And each of us...Maggie's stitching pals...will have little reminders and warm memories of the many hours we have spent together reflecting on life as we plied our needles in and out!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Today the new Government launch finally had its christening test run down at Cascade Bay. It was a glorious winter's day, with hints of Spring just round the corner. The sky was clear and blue, and water was calm and sparkling in the sunshine.
We arrived just as the crane let the boat down into the water, with 4 people aboard - John and Darren from the Joinery, Matt from Admin Works Department, and Short Graham at the helm. The first 3 were the main ones who had worked on the boat, while Short was there because he has been driving the Government launches for decades (and his father before him.) I believe the new launch is to be named after him! In any case, you could not wipe the wonderful smile of pride and pleasure from his face as he put the launch through its paces!
Everyone agreed that it glided just beautifully through the water, and did everything expected of it, and more....
John Deadman, the Lighterage manager, told us it is almost exactly 50 years since the last Norfolk built launch, "Philly"(named for its builder Philly McCoy) was built. He said that they are considering restoring "Philly", as it will almost certainly outlast the imported metal ones that have since been imported.
After half an hour or so, the launch came back to the pier, and some others were invited aboard, including Bernie, and others who had been involved in the project, including John's apprentices Adrian and Jake.
Having passed its test run with flying colours,"Short" will go into serious service towing the lighters in a week or so when the next ship comes in.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We seem to live in an uncertain world, where the news on TV is so often disturbing and stomach churning. Here on Norfolk Island, the past few months have been somewhat tense and unsettled, as we deal with political difficulties without and within, plus an economic downturn that has forced us to tighten our belts somewhat.
Nevertheless, it has also been a time to re-assess priorities, and to savour the good things and wonderful people around us. Life is full of wonderful experiences and opportunities right here on our doorsteps and at our fingertips.
And speaking of fingertips, I am incredibly thankful to live in the age of the Internet, emails, and more recently- blogging!
You see, even though I may not have taken a holiday for a couple of years, last night my fingertips took me to Spain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, Switzerland and the U.S.A. On my journey, I met many likeminded people, women of all ages who share passions and interests of mine in varying degrees. They welcomed me into their homes, introduced me to family and friends, shared secrets, advice, and aspirations, took me on a tour of their galleries and studios and workspaces, and allowed me to feast my eyes on their works of art and works-in-progress. From time to time, I was able to leave a comment in a "visitor's book". Within minutes an email reply came from a lady in England, whose stunning wallhanging I had admired. And she was asking for my help with a problem she was having in managing her blog. As I visited sites, I received directions and signposts to other sites and blogs that would please me and stimulate me.......and so my journey continued. Unexpectedly, I would find myself in the studio of someone whose name was familiar to me from books and magazines, people whom I almost regard as "gurus",and I would feel just so honoured to be right there, as it were, listening to them and learning about their own artistic journeys.
And when the hour was getting late, I just switched off and climbed into bed, and thought of all the wonderful treasures I had shared....and looked forward to going on another journey tomorrow evening.
I barely scratched the surface. Anytime I wish, I can take a tour to visit people who do Crazy Patchwork, Collage, Art dolls, Surface Design, Fibre and Textile arts, Beading, Mixed media Art, quilting, Creative Embroidery, and all sorts of other pursuits that delight my heart and eyes. Last night I visited just a few of the sites in the "Surface Design Webring." There are hundreds of blogs and websites out there, little galleries, shelters of sanctuary, welcoming studios, forums, personal exhibitions, Art Journals and diaries, open houses and at-homes, free tutorials and workshops, noticeboards...........a rich and welcoming interactive smorgasbord from the global community of artists and artisans and craftspeople. The internet has provided opportunities, not only to share and display one's work, but to receive satisfying feedback, and an instant and easy way of sharing and communicating with others who share your passion all over the world.
Deep down, I am conservative, nostalgic about the good old days, like the simple life, and am even a bit of a technophobe. But I count myself blest to live in 2006, where the world, particularly the creative world, is at my fingertips when I sit at my computer.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I am always looking for something new to make with Crazy Patchwork, and last year I found a pattern for a beret. The design was developed by Annie Whitsed from Canberra, and I have actually seen Annie wearing one of these berets with great flair and panache.
I pulled out my jazziest scraps and went to town.
I took the attitude that if someone is brave and eccentric enough to wear a beret like this, then I may as well make it really loud and showy!
Fortunately I was able to email Annie when I needed a bit of explanation for the instructions at one stage, and Annie was, as usual, very generous with her help!
I embellished the beret as lavishly as I dared for something which does, after all, have to be practical enough to be worn!
For the underneath part, I used some felt that I had made myself. I bought a black woollen jumper at the Op shop, and washed it in very hot and cold water and detergent. In other words, I did all the wrong things for washing pure wool, and the result was a nice bit of thick felt with just the slightest bit of stretchiness. The lining was a lovely taffeta in the richest fuchsia/purple shade.
I certainly will not be the one who will wear the beret. I made it a little too small for my head. In any case, it looks as if it belongs to more cold and wintry place than Norfolk Island!
Meanwhile, the beret hangs decoratively on the post at the foot of the stairs, along with the bag I made to match it. One of these days, hopefully, I will find just the right person to give it to!
I was going to post a picture of the matching bag, but I will have to do that some other time. You see, Basil the cat had decided to take his nap on top of the scanner, and I could not possibly disturb him!

Friday, August 04, 2006

KOOL DYEING Nancy is a lovely lady who comes and stays in our apartments two or three times a year. Her home is in Florida U.S.A., but Norfolk is her second home, and while she is here she transforms No. 12 into her own homely little nest, with her bits and pieces that she leaves here between visits.
This time I emailed Nancy and asked if she could bring with her some sachets of Kool Aid. This is a concentrated drink powder, artificially coloured and flavoured, which makes up to 2 quarts of flavoured drink ..that is more than 2 litres!
I had heard that lots of the American girls use Kool Aid to dye ribbons, lace and fabric, so I thought I ought to give it a go.
Nancy found she had trouble buying individual sachets. They are mostly done up in packs. The shop assistants told her that this is because the kids target them for is easier to hide a single sachet. Evidently the young ones have taken to using them to dye their hair!!!
Anyway, Nancy managed to bring me about a dozen colours/flavours, and I had a session dyeing, using some pieces of silk.
I put a bit of powder into a cup, added a trickle of vinegar, then just enough boiling water to dissolve the powder, but not to dilute it too much. I then poured it over the fabric, with a folded piece of silk from the end of the bolt to catch the excess.
The fabric took the dye straight away, and almost none could be rinsed out. But to be sure, I zapped the silk in the microwave in 10 and 20 second bursts until it was almost dry, then finished it off with the iron.
The exercise brought back memories of a time when I was a teenager. I was going to a big Youth Rally, and wanted a pair of green gloves to match what I was wearing. So I got a pair of old white gloves and "dyed"them with green food colouring. They looked quite good.
But half way through the evening, it got quite warm, and my hands were feeling sweaty. So I removed the reveal bright green hands!! It is one of those embarrassing moments that only seem funny after several decades have passed.
The Kool Aid experiment was somewhat more successful.
The piece below in the picture is part of the scrap I had underneath to catch the excess dye. This piece contains about 6 colours/flavours. You can still smell them!
It is a bit crumpled, but the colours are wonderful. But just imagine what it does the those kids' insides, let alone their behaviour!
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