Thursday, 17 December 2009

On the Move

I've just finished moving house, and I'm so glad that it's over! My new place is a rather grotty one bedroom flat, but the location is quite good, closer to work and shops and public transport. I'm going to be living alone for the first time in my life, which I'm both nervous and excited about.

I think the previous tenant must have been a smoker, as the walls and ceilings are coated with a layer of orangey-brown which I presume is nicotine. Yuck! The carpet is also quite disgusting, and although the agent swears that it was steam cleaned, I cleaned a small patch last night and was able to get most of the dirt out, so I think she might have been telling me porkies. Ah well, the water pressure in the shower is much better than in my old place, so I'll have to be thankful for small mercies. I'm sure with a good scrubbing and perhaps a coat of paint and some new curtains, it will be vastly improved. I used Man with a Van to move my furniture, and if you live in Melbourne I cannot recommend them highly enough. They were friendly and super fast and efficient, and didn't cost that much either.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

We Love Big Hair

I was invited to a Big Hair party a couple of weeks ago, which I was delighted about. I've always wanted bigger, higher, thicker, generally MORE hair, so this was my chance to have my dream hair for a night! I was accompanied by the High Priest and Priestess of Giant Hair, my friend Johnikins and my cousin Alice (from Wamp-Nation).

Back in the day they both had amazing mohawks (as you can see above, John had two) and everything I know about hairspray, crimping and back-combing I learned from them. John, who is now a sensible grownup (haha) with a sensible grownup hairstyle, put his skills to work on a wig, and Alice wore her new noodle hairpieces. You can see the giant can of Cedel Hairspray in the background, which had smoke coming out of the nozzle! So clever.

I achieved my look with the help of a wig attached to the back of my head, some extra pieces of hair, and a lot of teasing and hairspray.

This is our lovely hostess, Georgia. She always has the best parties, and of course giant rabbit ears.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Babies in Skeleton Suits are the Best

I love Halloween. There's something about the combination of dressing up and eating lollies that is so appealing, and this is increased tenfold by the fact that at Halloween it all has a spooky theme. It's like everyone has to be a goth for the day! Admittedly, Halloween is not that big in Australia, in fact, most people I spoke to (ok, burbled excitedly at) didn't even know when it was! For shame! (By the way, the child in that photo is the son of friends of ours, I wish they would dress him in a skeleton suit all the time).

Anyway, inspired by Martha Stewart, I decided this year to host a Halloween Tea Party. I planned and shopped and fiddled around for about three weeks organising it, only to have the weather turn out to be 30 degrees Celcius on the day, and unbearably humid! I cooked from ten in the morning till about half-past-two in the afternoon, and nearly died in the heat from the oven. We couldn't even have the candles lit in the living room because it was so terribly hot with all those extra little flames.

Anyway, it was sort of a success. Here is the first Jack-o'-Lantern I have ever carved. The Wolf designed the face, and I scooped it's guts out with a bent spoon and made them into pumpkin pie!

You can't really see, but there are some lovely handmade pumpkin candles that I got from A Little Light in Westgarth. This photo from their site that shows them much better.

These are the yummy treats I made. Most of them are inspired by good old Martha Stewart, but I tended to use recipes from Nigella Lawson because I find her baking recipes are pretty failsafe. Note the tablecloth made from an old sheet that I potato printed with jack-o'-lanterns. Such fun! I made Meringue Bones with Raspberry Cream, Coffin Brownies (using a Nigella Lawson recipe though), Spiderweb Cupcakes (another Nigella recipe), Halloween shaped biscuits, Savory Pumpkin Puffs, and a pumpkin pie from the Moosewood Cookbook which is a real winner. Here are photos of my biscu

Here I am enjoying our garden in the extreme heat, taken by the lovely Denise.

By the evening I really wanted to lie down and die, but I had a Halloween party to go to. This was when I wondered to myself why I had chosen to go dressed as an Egyptian Mummy! Here are some preparations for my costume a few days earlier. Metres of cheesecloth ripped into bandages and stained with tea, and a papier mache crook and flail, and Nefertiti headdress.

And here is the finished result. I forgot to take photos until we were outside in the dark at the party, hence the crappy image. I was also in extreme discomfort at this point, and really just wanted to go home and take it all off.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

More Presents

How could I forget two of my loveliest presents? This gorgeous Mexican tin mirror is from one of my oldest friends, who loves Mexican stuff as much (if not more) than me, so I'm very grateful that he decided to give this to me rather than keep it for himself! It's so Frida Kahlo-ish, I've hung it in my hallway next to my antique velvet crucifix that came from a Paris flea market.

This bolero was a present from my father, who brought it back from Hungary with him. It's a stunning example of Matyo embroidery, the colours are amazing. I know from experience how difficult it is to get the stitches this neat and even!

Apparently it dates from the 70's, and was made for a television show. Although it doesn't seem to be an authentic Hungarian folk garment (Matyo waistcoats being rather plainer with this kind of embroidery more often used on aprons and shirt sleeves), the flowers are traditional Matyo ones. The stylised flowers and super-bright colours give it a slightly psychadelic air, more so that any other Hungarian embroidery I've seen before, and I wonder if that is the 70's influence coming through!

Here are some close up photos. You can see how thick and dense the embroidery is, every single inch is covered. I feel so lucky to be able to see a piece like this up close, let alone own it.

Monday, 19 October 2009

My Drawing, Embroidered!

A few months ago I posted a Hungarian folk-style drawing I had done. Well, a lovely Hungarian lady, Martimez, saw it and asked if she could do an embroidery based on my drawing, for a Helen Stitcher's Angel Swap. Of course I agreed, and here is the finished embroidery. I am so impressed, look at how neat those stitches are! I think the rose in red is the perfect finishing touch. You can see her blog, 17pillanat (17 Seconds) here.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Birthday Goodies

Here are some of the lovely things I received for my birthday. The Babushka dolls were from my sister. The smallest one is not even the size of a pea, and it opens up! The Turkish plate is from my mother, and the Russian lacquered box in the middle of it is from my brother. The box was actually meant to be a Christmas present for last Christmas, my brother bought it when he went to St Petersburg, but then he put it somewhere 'safe' and couldn't find it! Finally he sent it to me, just in time for my birthday.

Here is a closeup picture of it. The painting is so fine and delicate, they must use the most miniscule brushes to paint the detail. The story is The Scarlet Flower, which is a Russian version of Beauty and the Beast. There isn't actually a scene in the story where the girl sees the scarlet flower growing, but this seems to be a common illustration for this tale. To read the story and to see some more examples of Russian painted boxes based on this tale, click here.

The Wolf gave me this fantastic necklace, which I am calling my Lucky Star necklace. It's from Metal Couture, which is where all my favourite jewellery comes from. I'm in love with horseshoes at the moment.

The black drop bracelet and matching earrings are from my friend Mike and his wife in Tasmania. I'm actually going to turn it into a necklace by adding a piece of chain, as I really need a black necklace, and I think this would be perfect. The charm bracelet underneath wasn't a birthday present at all, but it is new, and quite cute I think. It's from Release the Hounds in Smith St. I've got an idea to get myself a proper silver one with the same theme, kind of a Vegas magician's assistant charm bracelet.

This box (another present from my mother) should appeal to all the sewers (people who sew, not drains!) out there. It's inlayed with mother-of-pearl buttons, how charming! It would be perfect for keeping buttons or any other sewing-related paraphanelia in, but I'm using it for my ever-expanding collection of brooches. One of these is this glass one backed with Japanese paper, and was a birthday present from my friend Paul the Librarian. It's going straight onto the collar of my 40s tweed winter coat.

When you work in a bookshop, people don't tend to give you books, which is quite daft, as I absolutely love them, and can't possibly have enough. Luckily Morgan, Cinty and Alex weren't fooled, and gave me these excellent books, which I am going to go and tuck into right now!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ahoy me Hearties!

What a lovely birthday I had! The weather, which has been abysmal lately, came out all bright and sunny, and quite warm. I was given some fantastic presents (more about them in a later post), and had a great evening with my friends at the pub. Here I am being sung the loudest rendition of Happy Birthday I have ever experienced!
Best of all, three of my girl friends baked the most amazing pirate ship cake! My photograph doesn't do it justice at all. It was sponge covered in chocolate buttercream icing (which I adore) and was surrounded by blue crepe paper waves. There was a giant purple octopus attacking it from the side.

Look, there was even a chocolate plank for prisoners to walk! The Maltesers in the 'water' are canon balls of course.

My favourite part was the little treasure chest made out of a mini Bounty, and filled with sparkling cashews and gum drops. Genius!

The next day was my uncle Peter's birthday, so we had a family lunch at my aunt and uncle's place. I wore my new dress, which was a big hit. The crinoline I wore underneath was so huge, when I got in the taxi to go there, I hardly fit in, there was so much net and skirt! In this photo I am trying in vain not to let my metal-tipped stilettos sink into the lawn!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Illustration Friday - Germs

Here is my offering for Illustration Friday. This week's word is "germs" which immediately made me think of people with colds sneezing! It is actually quite tricky drawing someone who looks like they are sneezing rather than crying or shouting or something else. I'm not sure if I succeeded totally, but there you go. Better luck next time!

Happy Birthday to me!

Only a few days to go until my birthday, on the 10th of October. One would think that at the ripe old age of 27, birthdays would have lost some of their lustre, but I am quite fizzing with excitement! This may be partly to do with the fact that I will be wearing this new dress for the first time.

Isn't it lovely! I bought it online from Vintage Clothing, and it arrived the other day all beautifully wrapped in white tissue paper. It is even prettier in real life than in the photos. The ruched section over the bust is made in a finer but exactly the same pattern cotton, so it gathers better, and there is piping around the bust and waist. I love that vintage attention to detail. It also has two concealed pockets, which makes me so happy!

I'm going to wear it with my aqua cabled cardigan (the pale blue in the photo is actually closer to aqua in real life) and some 60s-style navy leather stilettos with metal heel tips (watch out wooden floors!) that I bought yesterday at Top Hat Vintage in Thornbury.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Happy Birthday Mr Wolf!

Yesterday was the Wolf's birthday. We had a very nice time at the pub in the evening with all our friends, and he got some great presents, including a new iPod, and a rather elegant pool cue. From me there was this wolf shadow puppet brooch from Lola & Bailey, who I think are based in Melbourne. They make a range of these enamel pieces with various animals, including a squirrel and a giraffe, and they come as brooches or pendants in two different sizes.

The Wolf is rather partial to a nice bar of soap, so I went to Kleins and bought the gothiest soap I could find, Mor Cosmetics Onyx Currant soap, which smells divine.

I also bought him this t-shirt, by local label Lychee. It's very fine cotton with the design screen-printed on it. It's hard in the summer when you only wear black, so this is a nice compromise - white but still goth-appropriate!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Dark Tales Exhibition

My sister, Zsuzsa Kollo, had another exhibition in Hobart a couple of months ago, but I forgot to put it up here. Apparently it went really well, and she sold quite a lot of the paintings and got some commissions for others. I love this painting, called "Weasel", it makes me think of a cool, dark forest floor, and the smell of damp leaves.

This one is also one of my favourites. I like how she has taken such mundane and uniform objects and given them a sense of mystery and almost an ominous feeling, with the deep shadows and just a little bit of light and how they are stylised but have a illusion of depth and three-dimensionality at the same time. If I could paint like that I would be very happy! You can see the other paintings from the exhibition here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


(I'm trying a new font here because I think the other one is a touch too small for comfortable reading.)
Last night I went to the see Illustre 09, the NMIT and Chisholm Institute Diploma of Illustration graduate show at Chapel off Chapel. There were a lot of really interesting pieces, and everything was very professional looking.

This is one of the works by Pauline Matthewman, who has a great retro style, very clean. Click on the picture to check it out in detail, it's rather amusing! I love the pink and red colour combination. Check out her blog here for more artwork.

I fell in love with and purchased a beautiful small pen and ink drawing by Ben Lopez, who did the illustration of the flyer above. It's very intricate, black and white with touches of red, and lots of fishhooks. Unfortunately I don't know if he has a website, but I'll post a picture of the drawing I bought when I pick it up.

Meanwhile, if you are in Melbourne, the exhibition is running for a couple of weeks, and is worth having a look at.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Apologies for so many photos of myself in this post, but I wanted to show you some of the clothes I've been sewing, and they look a bit boring when they aren't on a person. So, firstly here are the costumes from my belly dancing end of term student performance.

The banana costume was such fun to make, I love any excuse to put fruit on my head! The bananas were made of polystyrene and when I had them on I was so wide but I kept forgetting and crashing into the edges of doors with them. I made the bra from some stretch leopard-print lycra I had lying around, and I like the 50s style ruching in the middle.

I was very proud of myself for getting together this outfit which I though looked rather nice, and cost nearly nothing. The only caveat for this costume was that it must have a flowing chiffon skirt, and of course a veil (being a veil dance). The single appropriate skirt I had was from the burlesque performance last year, in my least varourite colour of white. I absolutely refused to make another one, as not only do they take a vast amount of fabric, but also involve standing on the kitchen table in high heels while a long-suffering aunt trims the metres and metres of hem to the right length, which you then have to hem.

I decided to go with red and white, with silver accents and pearls. You don't see pearls very often in belly dance costumes, but they seem very middle eastern and Arabian Nights-ish to me. So the skirt and veil were from previous performances, the coin scarf is my usual practice one, and I borrowed the pearl necklaces from a friend at work. The only thing I had to make was the bra, which was an old push-up bra covered with red stretch velvet covered with tiny silver stars and moons.

This is what the Wolf calles my 'caravan skirt' as he thinks it looks like caravan curtains. I bought the fabric at the
Camberwell Market for $3, it is a polished cotton, and I had just enough to make a half-circle skirt, with a side pocket. It took two whole evenings to hand sew the hem, but I think that looks a lot more authentically old-fashioned than a machine hemmed one. I am wearing it
over a black nylon tiered petticoat, just to give it some volume. I think I should have waited until I put my lipstick on, as I am looking rather pale, and I pale orange rose in my hair would finish the outfit off nicely, but all in all, not too bad.

In the background you can see our back garden, with the bungalow, and Hills Hoist washing line taking up pride of place right in the middle. Very 1950s suburbia. It is massive and you can wash all your sheets and towels and clothes and dry them all in a couple of hours, so I don't mind its hidiousness.

I used to be a Goth, and I honestly never though there would come a day when I wore yellow, but here we are. I bought the shoes in Launceston when I was visiting my parents, they are leather with satin bows on the front, and they make me feel very cheerful. The belt was from some cheap shop on Brunswick street, the skirt is second hand, and the top is an old one from Supre perhaps?

And finally, hooray! here is my Cherry cardigan, finished at last! I changed the pattern slightly to make the waist smaller, as I wanted a really fitted Jayne Mansfield kind of look, and left out the waist drawstring and eyelets. You can't really tell, but it is made of an angora/cotton/cashmere/synthetic blend (Rowan Cashcotton, which has very annoyingly been discontinued) so it is slightly fuzzy and very soft and touchable. I am so happy that I have finally made a knitted garment for myself that actually turned out how I wanted it to, and that I want to wear more than once!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Film Festival

The Melbourne International Film Festival has been in town, and I've managed to squeeze in a few films between work. One of these was Katalin Varga, a beautiful, haunting Romanian/Hungarian film by Peter Strickland. It is set in Transylvania, and the scenery is absolutely stunning, it brought back memories of my brief trip there in 2007. Here is a link to a interview with the director and some lovely photos (just letting you know it's a PDF).

The other film I saw was a fantastic Serbian one called Tears for Sale, a wonderful fairy-tale like story set in the 1920s in a remote village where all the men except one have been killed in the war. When two sisters (who make a living as professional mourners at funerals) accidentally kill him, they must set out to find replacement men for the village's women or be forever haunted by their grandmother's spirit. Apparently it is the most expensive Serbian film made to this date, with lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, and lots of special effects, but all this just serves to enhance rather than detract from the crazy plot, which has a distinctly magic-realist feel to it.