Sunday, 7 April 2013

Letters from NZ

Letters from NZ

All stitched up in time (just) and pieces posted off to the Living Threads exhibition as promised. The only question remaining is will the postal service live up to its delivery promise and get the pieces there on time and in one piece? I sent a birthday parcel to my sister in law on the same day which arrived very battered and beaten. So my fingers are crossed. Have a look at my blog ( to see the completed pieces if you can’t get to the exhibition or to the Beetroot Tree ( later in April when the pieces will be exhibited again.

I then had fun with my embellisher (dry felting) machine and created 72 cards from the scrap bits of fabric and thread ends left over. A few beads and voila! - a new set of greetings cards are ready to get to the galleries.

There is an annual event in Wellington which many textile people will have heard of, this is the ‘World of Wearable Art’ (WOW) ( . It has grown since 1987 from a costume display to promote a gallery in Nelson in a classic car museum ( The live show is described as a two hour theatrical extravaganza of performance they describe as Mardi Gras meets haute couture at a Peter Gabriel concert directed by Salvador Dali. I think that is about right!

Quirky use of space is a bizarre and possibly unique NZ thing to do as just down the road from us in Browns Bay there is a gallery sited in an electric bikes showroom. To get back to the point, a promotional exhibition with film and costumes from WOW was at the Auckland museum this month, so I absolutely had to go to see it. In fact I went twice in the end with different family members and they were as amazed and intrigued as I was. Unfortunately no photography was allowed, so do use the links above to get a look at the costumes. Of course we filled in lots of the raffle tickets for free tickets to the actual show and my brain is spinning trying to decide whether I should have a go at entering and if so, what on earth would I make which was over the top enough to be acceptable?!

This morning was the first rainy morning for ages – I thought at first that I would have to get out the gumboots to walk the dogs. Gumboots are almost the same as Wellington boots, or as my dyslexic daughter called  them ‘willies’! However, the worst weather soon cleared and though cloudy I didn’t need more than sandals and t-shirt for my appointment at the Te Atatu Peninsular with the curator of the Harbourview Sculpture Trail ( ). This is a fairly new sculpture trail and is held on a site which has some wonderful views over the harbour to Auckland city and is to be held in March 2014. I am thinking of applying. 

I have often contemplated the possibilities for using textiles outdoors and encouraged others to think about this when running workshops, I thought that the combination of a site with salt marsh and freshwater water would suit the stainless steel fabric which I use. Especially having seen what the stainless steel fabric does as light plays across it – it looks tantalisingly like the play of light over water, have a look at this video created for me by Steve at Big Ant Video ( By walking around the site, lots of ideas have come to me, lots of options for sites, scales, materials and themes. Now I have to get my to get thinking cap on – or actually, to take the thinking cap off, to calm down, slow down and hold the ideas and materials virtually in my head, begin to visualise the concepts I want to work with but not ‘end game’ and become too specific at first.  I have to work through these and put many of the options on one side for later and submit a proposal for just one or two sculptures. Isn’t it just the hardest part to park some ideas and concentrate on a single one? Given time (and money), I could probably fill the sculpture trail on my own!

Last weekend friends who were on a whistle stop tour of the North Island ‘swung by’ (your NZ slang word for this month), literally only stopping for a coffee before continuing their travels. Remember, if anyone else is down our way, do get in touch, we are happy to see you.

Amber is the baker in our family, this week she treated us to homemade chocolate brownies. They are just scrummy – on their own or warmed with ice-cream. Try them, whilst I go running again to earn another one or two!
·     1 cup (225 g) butter, melted
·     3 cups (600 g) white sugar
·     1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
·     4 eggs (add one more for a cakier result)
·     1 1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
·     1 cup (70 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
·     1/2 teaspoon salt
·     1/2 teaspoon baking soda (to give them a nice crust - omit if you don't want that)
·     6 oz chopped semisweet chocolate or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (180 g)
Preheat oven to 350oF (175o C).

Melt butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with the paper from the butter
It's a real time saver to measure everything before you get started.  So get out that scale and a couple bowls, and let's get everything ready!

Turn on your scale, and place the bowl for your sugar on it.  Tare the scale so it reads 0g.  Pour in the sugar until it reaches 600g.  

Repeat for the flour and cocoa.  You can tare the scale again after adding the flour and before adding the cocoa, but I just added the numbers together to get the weight I'd need.  

Whisk flour and cocoa together with soda and salt.  

See, you never need to dirty up measuring cups again! 
Combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.
Gradually stir in the flour and cocoa mixture on low speed.  
Toss the chocolate chips in a light dusting of flour, and stir into the mix with a spoon or spatula.

The flour will keep them suspended in the batter and prevent them from all sinking to the bottom!
Pour into prepared pan.

Spread the batter in the pan, slightly mounding on the sides so it will all bake evenly (avoiding the typical mound you get in the middle after baking).

Bake for 35-40 minutes.
The brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

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