Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm still sitting on that mission statement but at least I now have the photos to go with it.  However, in the meantime, the school holidays got in the road along with a long overdue renovation of the bathroom and the kitchen.  We decided that since we couldn't afford to move the toilet out of the kitchen, we would have to transform the kitchen into the bathroom and move the kitchen into what was supposed to be the new bathroom. (still following???? :)

So stage one was to remove as much of the kitchen furniture as possible into the entirely unstarted bathroom (which James was using as a bedroom) and shift James into Matts office where there is a loft bed (which he inhabits anyway as that is where his computer and the music keyboard hangs out. Still with me :)

Then we had to remove a wall and a door (unfinished because the bathroom never got any further) carefully so that they can be reused in the old kitchen which will be divided in half - one end becoming the bathroom and the other retaining the kitchen bench for laundry and dyeing purposes. (It's a long narrow lean to that was probably the original outside laundry/toilet). Then we replaced the (way too small) bathroom window with a recycled one from a demolition yard - larger by far and lets in lots of light.  It came with a type of frosted glass which we could have replaced with clear but we rather like it and the view is straight into the bank so why would we bother. This is now installed and I spent a couple of days cleaning up the dust bunnies and their families and finding places for all the stuff which now has nowhere to go (Question - how much stuff can you fit under a double bed?  Answer - lots if you move it up to its highest notch :).

We now have the job of moving the electrics for the hob and getting the plumbing put in.  Fortunately the shower hangs out in the new hallway so will be operational at all times (if a little public) and the toilet will remain where it is although it will get a much needed facelift (new pan etc).  There will finally be a handbasin and I get to crazy tile another shower :)

The present job is to remove the very rotten window in the new bathroom and replace it with the fancy one from the might have been bathroom.  This is creating some headaches as rather a lot of the wall (inside and out) is also very rotten and we have no idea where the leak is coming from. We will have to live with black building paper for the moment as the budget is non existent but at least the rot will be gone.

The whole thing is turning into rather a marathon effort but the result should be a wonderful bathroom and an adequate kitchen which will turn into something much better if we can ever afford it. And no more washing of hands from the toilet in the kitchen sink!!!!! And no more washing machine in the middle of the back door to sidle around to get to the kitchen and toilet. And no more washing machine blocking up the floor where you want to get dried from the shower. I even get to rip up the horrible lino in various places and give our house a proper 100 year old birthday with some nice new clothes :)


And I washed the socks......

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mission statement

Objective - to build a body of work extending my love of landscape and the bones that lie beneath.  By this I mean the rocks and soils as well as the real archaeological evidence that exists throughout the planet we call home.  I find rock formations of any sort fascinating and am trying to draw out the essence of my experience and make it accessible to others in an emotional/spiritual way as well as a geological way.

Materials - I have an affinity for textiles and all that pertains to the various crafts that come under that heading so it is natural for me to use these as the medium for my explorations. I like to experiment with whatever is available including things that lie outside of textiles.  I have looked into more three dimensional media but am much more at home with minimal input from this as I prefer surface detail and raised surface detail.

What I would like to gain from the proposed course is input from others as I find I don't really like to work solely in splendid isolation. I need to refine what I am aiming for.  I have the beginnings of what I am after but need more to achieve whatever conclusion is out there to be found.

I have been working with the art fibre group for about 4 years now and think I am ready for a new and bigger challenge.  This is something I have been aiming at for years and the time seems right to continue what I have started.

Vivien Dwyer

In case any of you are wondering how this ended up on the blog - it is part of my entry attempt for art school next year.  I did art school several decades ago before fibre art etc was even on the horizon so now I want to continue what I did then with stuff more appropriate to where I am now. The rest will mostly be photos of recent work.

Speaking of which, these are some experiments with marbling and a lino cut ginko leaf which I made a while back.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Spring blossom

Well, Spring has sprung and here are some photos to prove it.  The early blossoms are almost finished already and my bulbs are flowering madly too.
And a random photo of Sprocket:)

viv in nz

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wow!  I didn't realize it was a whole month since I posted.  Not that an awful lot has happened apart from William's birthday (can't believe he is 14!) and the olympics of course.

William did get to do a small part for 'Cinderella' as a page boy with a cart with a fancy orange tree on it for about 5 minutes max :) He is getting a bit large for those parts with the Royal NZ Ballet though so this will most probably be the last page boy he plays.  However, I have been wrong before :) I got the odd photo so here he is -

I should add that we had to use a heap of hair jell on him to get his hair into shape as it isn't long enough yet to tie all of it back.

Apart from that James is facing his first serious school exams with his usual style - no work to speak of because he thinks he knows it all!  These are practice exams for now so I'm making no comments until the results are out.

viv in nz

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My room

I was answering a post at Frugal Kiwi and decided to actually do a proper inventory of the stuff in my room along with its history if I think it is interesting enough.  I'm not going to do this all at once though - that would be epic!!

I'll start with the front wall. There is a large double sash window looking out onto Baldwin Street and the small garden (weed and bulb bed) with a picket fence in need of a touch more white paint. The curtains came with the house and are the only ones I actually kept.  I use them to pin up larger pieces of work in the evening.  They spend all the cold parts of winter closed as these are not double glazed and they take up half the wall. 

On one side is an upright oak desk gifted to my Dad by an elderly client who I used to talk to a lot on my way home from school. (She was often out in her garden)  I was sad to lose her.  This contains oddments and photographs mostly.  At present the top is home to a couple of moth eaten maiden hair ferns which got forgotten and which I am now nursing back to life. There is a shell and a set of cups and saucers, a fire alarm that needs a new battery and some elderly and retired hand knitted socks that have been washed (I will felt them a bit more and cut them up for flowers) and a small being made from an orange pom pom. There is my nice new apron I got from the apron swap over at 'Down-to-Earth' and the handbag I use when I think I might get a sketch done (its got my art notebook and aquarelle pencils in it) hanging off the side.

Next to that and mostly hidden by the dining room round table that used to be my sisters is an old book press that my grandfather got from somewhere. There are three chairs with the table.  One came from Dad's office (oak upright) one came from my sister with the table and the third was recycled from the local rubbish dump for $2.  The fourth person uses my computer chair.

Then there is the old two seater couch which is in the process of falling apart and has been used by three generations of cats as a scratching post.  There are two dragon cushions on that which were originally given to my mum by a Chinese friend from Hong Kong. Above that is a lovely pen and ink tree sketch by a very good friend from art school (about 30 years back!) and one of those small wooden things that hold tiny bits and pieces.  They are;

A wooden animal from a stall
A miniature car that used to be in my handbag for wriggly kids to play with
An ancient tiny cocoa tin
A row of ducks my Aunt gave me
A pottery chinese pagoda thingy belonging to my grandmother - she used it as a pot plant decoration along with a bridge.
A porcelain house
A clay duck and boat made by James when a lot younger
A wax dragon - also James's work
Two chinese pottery boys
A brass tea set (eastern style)
A wooden boat - William this time
A wooden duck from the Steiner fair
A porcelain lady - I made this one.
A wax question mark! William never could decide exactly what it was he made
Another small car - more recent and one of a set
And a knitted chick by my Mum which had fallen onto the floor when I took the photo!

All this in about a foot square!

Hidden in the corner is a Kauri chest containing mostly knitting needles and embroidery cloth and on top of that is a basket of ufos and another fern - this one is in good order despite being 36 years old.  All the ferns are in pots I made during my years as a potter.

All this along just one wall!!!



Saturday, July 14, 2012


I took some photos of the finished hot water bottle cover - it came out really interesting.  I made an I cord for the neck.  Amazing what can be done with a large number of ends. The whole thing is just double crochet stitches with a shell edge and at this point I am almost out of coloured ends. The second one will have to be made in the scrap ball of homespun which is also quite large thanks to the weaving ends from a friend.

viv in nz

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm running a bit behind at present. It's been just too cold to think of much other than keeping warm.  I also inherited the cold J brought home from school.  It's already been round Matt so now it's me and W who has gone all hoarse and has an end of term performance tonight! I just cough a lot. The photos are from a walk around Lake Waihola that the boys did a few weeks back.  Next time I will go too :)

I have been saving my wool ends for a while now and decided to put them to good use.  I need a couple of hot water bottle covers so I got out a crotchet hook and, using the hottie as a measure, began the process.  I'm about half way through now so I might be finished by the time winter is over!!!  I use all the ends from other projects this way.  Anything over about 6 inches gets tied on.  Anything over 4 inches ends up in my scrap hooked rug. Only the little bits get either discarded or used for stuffing depending on what I'm doing. I'll post a photo or so when I've got a little more progress!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

bread buns

This is a little something that is completely off the wall.  My hubby has been making ginger beer for a month or so now and every so often he has rather more left overs than are required for the next batch.

Well I looked at the sludge and put a plateful in the fridge just in case :)  A couple of days later I decided that this was yeast wasn't it and could I not use it to make a batch of bread buns (oven is broken and toaster oven won't do loaves without burning but does manage buns).  So I got out my large bowl, added the sludge with a cup or so of warm water and waited to see what would happen.  It did froth a little so I added a glug of oil and some salt and flour and kneeded the stuffing out of it until it started to feel about right.  Then I left it to rise.  It took around three hours to double in size and I'd had about enough of waiting by then so I gave it a light kneed and made up the buns which I left for another hour or so (I'd lost count by now) until they looked about right and then baked them as per normal.

They actually came out perfectly!!!!!  Not too heavy, not too light but really good.  The first batch never made it out of the kitchen but I did manage to photo the second batch before they too evaporated.  They did taste strongly of ginger beer but then most of us like that anyhow.

A new and yummy use for what would otherwise have been wasted :)

viv in nz

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunsets are grand

This was what I saw out of my living room window so we took some photos outside to avoid the power lines. Then the telephoto function to bring those wonderful trees a little closer. The last one is using the flash and from normal distance.

Enjoy :)

viv in nz

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I just noticed that a whole month has gone by with nothing to say.  That is sooooo not the case as there is always something going on :) Lets see :

The car got crunched in the rear and mended - two weeks without it do tend to show just how bad our local bus service really is! Not to say expensive!!

Youngest took part in Stage Challenge - a musical dance/drama event for schools.  They get 8 minutes to do their best and our lot came second which was a good effort. We couldn't go as it was just too expensive so will have to see it through a dvd.  He is making a 48 hour film with a bunch of friends this weekend for another competition.  No idea what that will turn out like - a fairly typical beginner boys film I should think!

James got a late detention and is staring another one in the face - teenagers!

Grandma reached her 79th birthday - yay:)

We went on a trip to the recycle centre. Now that was an interesting event with sorting and belts taking this and that all over!  It was also rather loud. It's amazing what people put in their recycle bins - so much inappropriate stuff!

I've embroidered greek patterns on one side of three togas for when the class goes to the steiner olympics.  They have to do the other side themselves but time was going to be a problem. I have three more to go but they really look wonderful. The senior girls made ducks in felt for the playgroup kids.  Mostly to see how gussets are constructed. Hopefully this will translate to their main project.

I also did two printmaking days but more of that later.

And after all this, I think I get today off :) And three random photos as I can't make this new set up do what I actually want!

viv in nz

Friday, April 20, 2012


I joined an apron swap over on the 'Down to Earth' blog a few weeks back and sent my effort away and got this in return and very nice it is too. It is going strictly in the kitchen - no horrid dyes/inks/jels for this one :) Mind you, the subject wearing it is not photogenic and doesn't do it justice really.
And that was the better one too!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Picture quilts

I finally remembered to take the photos of those three hangings above my mother this afternoon.

I made them about 5 years ago now. They are constructed using layers of coloured mesh that are then cut away to form the image. The mountain one has around 7 layers of dark blue mesh on a satin ground and a couple of layers of sky colours as well. It takes ages to cut all the various layers down to where you want them!

The beach scene has shells pushed in from the edge of the final layer after quilting and before the edge goes on. I did try to get them in before sewing on an earlier piece but they just interfered too much and several broke so now I plan the stitching so that I can wiggle them in later.

The third piece has a darkish blue satin and a more solid piece of sheer from an old dress as well as a piece of net from an old hat.

Mum picked these three pieces for her wall out of the dozen or so I made at the time. She also wanted the hooked rug I designed and hooked when I was rather a lot younger. I originally made this design for a cross stitch table cloth and adapted it for the rug later just because I thought it had potential and I liked it. (I still have the cloth. I think I was about 19 when I did it.)

They were a lot of fun to do and there are very few limits as to what you can push under the layers of netting. I like to put one overall layer on at the end to stop the edges from lifting before doing the final quilting. Some of these also play with different grades of net and with adding smaller, pre-cut pieces too. And its a great way to use all those shells etc that get brought home from the beach (incurable beach comber here :).

Oh, and my indoor photography sucks! Sorry for the blur and the poor colour.


Friday, April 6, 2012


My capsicums are finally beginning to turn red. I was convinced we had some that simply grow green and stay that way so I am happy :)

This week has been busy with Matt finally getting the rest of the floor into James room so he no longer has a plastic lined conversation pit. Matt used some extra board to line the pit so it is now a secret storage pit with a lift up lid. That meant that I spent rather a lot of time clearing all James things out of the hallway and various other rooms so I can finally walk down there without gaining a few more bruises on all the stuff. Now all I need is for the 6 old computer monitors and the 11 old computers to go to their new homes and the house might feel more like it should. They are part of the school computer club stuff which Matt runs for the kids at lunchtime one day a week. They are going to refurbish them with Linux and use them for this and that. Eventually they will all be given away and the next lot will appear by magic I'm thinking!

I went to the knitting squad on Wednesday as usual and M came in with a certificate he had designed and printed out for my Mum who has donated all her left over (but new) baby knits (she loved to knit this stuff) to the valley project to be given as gifts to new arrivals as a welcome present. Sheila came to give the certificate yesterday and Matt took some photos.

Apart from that, I've made a batch of apple ketchup and thats about it for this week.

viv in nz

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A week of it!

It has been a very interesting week so far. Saturday was pretty normal and I got some knitting done. Sunday things began to go pear shaped. There was the community picnic postponed from last week when it rained 'cats and dogs' all day. It wasn't that much better this week but they held it regardless and a handful of peeps did turn up mostly to see the cycle repair man (that was why we went too). One of our three bikes was fixed and the other two need to go to the serious mend it place. (why do boys always manage to break things that are expensive to mend/replace). We did get to meet a couple of friends and I scored a large bag of tomatoes which I have turned into pasta sauce and preserved. I offered to give some tomato sauce (home made) for the next sausage sizzle in return and did that today.

Monday was supposed to be a free day but somehow wasn't. Mostly spent preserving and catching up with washing as it was dry for once. Tuesday got a bad start when William reminded me he needed a cake for the class party (I'd totally forgotten) about an hour before he left for school! Matt made a frantic dash to the supermarket for some essentials while I started on the making and we got it done just in time (I microwaved it. That recipe is one of the best cakes I know for that as it doesn't come out dry.) I got Matt and the boys out the door with just enough time to beat the bell.

The next thing is I get a phone call. There was an accident and the car was damaged! Somebody rear ended them as they were stopped on a red light. They were ok so were going to walk the rest of the distance to school and would I ring the school to explain why they were late. So I did that thinking that if the car was too damaged, how would we get to work (public transport is unhelpful here). At this point the car arrives home, mostly intact but with a bungy cord holding the boot shut. Nice mess but not too bad so we get to our work places as usual although the car kept sucking the exhaust fumes in through the open boot and even all the windows being wide open wasn't a great help.

After dropping William and his friend at ballet, we went to the panel beater and they took a look, a few photos and then got out a huge mallet (really huge!) and beat the boot back into some sort of shape so that the latch would work. Fascinating :) And we got to go home. The culprit will be paying for the repairs via his insurance. Matt said his car was much worse off than ours.

Today was relatively quiet. I went to the knitting group and finished the baby jersey I made for the community box and then made dinner - very calm after all that!

I forgot to say that we went to a talk by Nicole Foss of 'The Automatic Earth' on Sunday evening and it was a really interesting talk. Its very nice to get to meet somebody whose work you have been reading since 2008. Matt found it a little out of his league but James (at 15) had no trouble with it and was absolutely rapt. William was merely bored. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Tomorrow is parent teacher interviews. Not expecting any surprises there - William brought home an almost perfect report. The boys are going to the makers place where the computer and robot buffs hang out so I get to do that by myself.

NOTHING is planned for Friday!!!! But there is a walk around Lake Waihola on Sunday(I think its Sunday rather than Saturday. Must check that.) The boys are starters but I'm not sure I can do 10 kilometers and if the weather isn't good, I'm not going to try!

Have a nice week!


ps as you can see, I found the rest of the Ophir bridge photos :)

Friday, March 16, 2012


I have been very busy making things for the last few weeks. A winter cardigan for me, a few hats for various peeps and a few small items for the babies of the valley (gifts for new arrivals from the Project which runs the community centre). I also did a class in fabric marbling (very fun) and a trip to Balclutha for a craft crawl - seven houses full of all sorts of crafts from the various local groups. The cost was good and included a devonshire tea at the clubrooms. The money raised is to keep those clubrooms in funds for community use. Rates, repairs and all that. Both of these events can be found on the other website

Other than that, there has been a raft of illnesses mostly introduced from various schools and the weather has been mostly miserable and wet. So here's something to cheer us up a little...
St Bathans
So there you go. Some of our holiday snaps from St Bathans, Ophir, Queenstown, Arrowtown and a quail, and a picture at our almost Cromwell stop. (I have pictures from this spot right back to when we first met :) Not necessarily in that order !


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I finally did the apples on our tree. They are really only good for apple jelly so that is what I made. I have saved a few of the larger ones to make into preserves when I get a proper supply of farmers market apples a little later though. I'm thinking that with some tlc it might become a reasonable tree for cooking apples.

I am also finally working my way up the yoke of my winter cardigan. I have to say that so far I really don't like working on the circular needles - much prefer to use double pointers.

I took my spinning wheel to knitting group last Wednesday and the girls were impressed with the windmill affair made by my Dad to wind wool after plying. My Mum no longer spins so I grabbed it to use for my own work. It works a bit like an umbrella so you can pull the skeins off once they are wound. These are two photos taken by a friend.

I believe the handle came off an old mincing machine :) It is really easy to use too if a little Heath Robinson over engineered.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Three earwigs and a caterpillar

I have spent the last couple of weeks preserving fruit and tomatoes for the year. We got cheap seconds in peaches and nectarines last week and I set to and did the lot - about 18 jars worth. Along the way I found a few 'friends' inhabiting my fruit. They went into the scrap bucket for the hens so I hope they get eaten! The resulting bottles of fruit will undoubtedly get eaten but should last a fair while. I still have pears and apples to go - probably with a few more 'friends' as well. Mostly codlin moths I imagine.

This is the latest item to go up the street (although not with Matt).

I'm also adding some old stone bridge photos from a place called Ophir.

And James with a little friend :)

This hedgehog is now somewhere in the vicinity and probably a lot larger as it was only half grown here. James does seem to have an affinity for small, non human friends. Now if we can teach them not to roll themselves into a ball on Baldwin Street......